A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought

A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought

A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought

A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought

Synopsis

Where does the notion of free will come from? How and when did it develop, and what did that development involve? In Michael Frede's radically new account of the history of this idea, the notion of a free will emerged from powerful assumptions about the relation between divine providence, correctness of individual choice, and self-enslavement due to incorrect choice. Anchoring his discussion in Stoicism, Frede begins with Aristotle--who, he argues, had no notion of a free will--and ends with Augustine. Frede shows that Augustine, far from originating the idea (as is often claimed), derived most of his thinking about it from the Stoicism developed by Epictetus.

Excerpt

Michael Frede’s untimely death in 2007 marked off a forty-year era in the study of ancient philosophy upon which he has left his unique mark. This imprint owed much to his intellectual persona. At Göttingen (1966–71), Berkeley (1971–76), Princeton (1976– 91), Oxford (1991–2005), and, in his final years, Athens (2005–2007), he was a magnet to younger scholars, many of whom have gone on to become leaders in the field. For them and others he set an inspiring example by his dialectical practice of live discussion, which, provided that it was accompanied by sufficient coffee and cigarettes, was liable to continue hour upon hour without limit. He was unfailingly supportive of his countless former students, in many of whom the spirit and style of his scholarship live on.

For the wider world, however, his writings were the primary conduit of his influence. They started with Prädikation und Existenzaussage (1967), his seminal monograph on Plato’s Sophist, and continued through his superlative book on Stoic logic (1974), his celebrated commentary (coauthored by Gunther Patzig) on Aristotle, Metaphysics Zeta (1988), innumerable articles and chapters . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.