A Later Stoic Theory of Compatibilism

Susanne Bobzien

in Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199247677
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597091 | DOI:
 A Later Stoic Theory of Compatibilism

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Central passages: Alexander of Aphrodisias On Fate 181–3, 189, 192, 205, Nemesius On Human Nature 105.6–106.13;

Although in the first three centuries AD there were several Stoic theories of fate in circulation, only one systematic exposition of a later Stoic compatibilist theory has survived. This is found in Alexander of Aphrodisias’ On Fate, with parallels in Nemesius. These are the only sources that provide a Stoic account of that which depends on us and its relation to Stoic fate theory. This chapter is devoted to this theory and its reception by opponents in later antiquity. It is shown that this theory goes back to a particular second century AD Stoic view, which, although ‘orthodox’, differs noticeably from Chrysippus’. The reason for the modifications can be found in the confrontation with the newly developed Middle Platonist and Peripatetic theories of fate and freedom, and the shift of emphasis to the predetermination of ‘mental events’ as opposed to actions only, which forced the discussion of Stoic type determinism and that which depends on us to a new level. It is in the context of the confrontation of these theories with the Stoic ones that problems similar to modern problems of free will and determinism arise, and both the Stoics and their opponents introduce new arguments designed to cope with the new state of the debate.

Keywords: Alexander of Aphrodisias; compatibilism; fate; free will; late antiquity; late Stoicism; Middle Platonism; peripatetics

Chapter.  25910 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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