The Stoics

R. J. Hankinson

in Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780199246564
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597572 | DOI:
The Stoics

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An interest in causation and explanation, as these concepts pertain to action, production and agency, is a characteristic of Hellenistic philosophy, and the Stoics are typical in this respect; a cause, or aition, for the Stoics, is something that actually does something. In this chapter, Hankinson discusses Stoic materialism with its distinction between Active and Passive principles, and discusses in detail the Stoic analysis of causation, which is conceived as corporeal and transmitted by contact. Hankinson shows that, while the Stoics embrace determinism to a greater degree than any of their predecessors, they nevertheless retain a genuine possibility of human freedom of action, with emphasis upon the notion of Fate (e.g. in Chrysippus) and responsibility (confatalia). The Stoics’ thoroughly materialistic view of the world does not rule out the presence of intelligence; intelligence, or pneuma, is itself also a material substance, which is identical with God.

Keywords: action; Active and Passive principles; aition; determinism; Fate; freedom; Hellenistic philosophy; materialism; pneuma; responsibility

Chapter.  14378 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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