A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought by Michael Frede

By Michael Frede

The place does the suggestion of unfastened will come from? How and while did it strengthen, and what did that improvement contain? In Michael Frede's considerably new account of the historical past of this concept, the concept of a unfastened will emerged from strong assumptions in regards to the relation among divine windfall, correctness of person selection, and self-enslavement because of unsuitable selection. Anchoring his dialogue in Stoicism, Frede starts with Aristotle--who, he argues, had no proposal of a unfastened will--and ends with Augustine. Frede indicates that Augustine, faraway from originating the belief (as is usually claimed), derived so much of his wondering it from the Stoicism constructed through Epictetus.

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Extra resources for A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought (Sather Classical Lectures)

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In fact, it makes the flower turn towards the sun, when the sun is visible. Quite generally, the nature of an object 16 / Introduction is such that, given certain specifiable conditions, it cannot but behave in a certain identifiable way. It is only when we come to more complex animals and, of course, to human beings that the behavior is not entirely determined by the nature of the object and the circumstances or conditions the object finds itself in. Animals can learn, be trained, or even be taught to do certain things.

If the animal now perceives something it likes or dislikes, the impression it has takes on a certain coloring. In one case it is an agreeable impression, in the other it is a disagreeable impression. Depending on the complexity of the animal, an agreeable or disagreeable impression may produce memories of past encounters with this sort of thing and expectations about the future. But, whether or not it does so, in the appropriate circumstances the impression in itself, given its coloring, will constitute an impulse either to go after the thing perceived or to avoid it.

But they had a very different conception from ours of what constitutes a cause or explanation. Perhaps the most crucial difference is that nobody in antiquity had the notion of laws of nature, meaning a body of laws which govern and explain the behavior of all objects, irrespective of their kind. For the most part, at least, philosophers believed (and this is true, though in different ways, of Aristotelians, Platonists, Stoics, and Epicureans alike) that the most important factor for one’s understanding of the way things behave is the nature of an object.

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