- The philosophy of the early Stoics is all too often interpreted in modern terms: their determinism has been compared to Laplace's, their views on causality2 represented as Humean and their account of freedom and responsibility characterized as soft determinist. This tendency may seem innocuous enough, even if one judges as misguided attempts at giving ancient thinkers a coat of modern analytic varnish. But, as we shall see, analytic respectability is only purchased at a price and much that is bizarrely original in the Stoic theories is lost as a consequence.
- I am not however suggesting any radical revision of recent interpretations of the Stoic account of causality3, in discussing which I merely aim to provide the necessary background for the subsequent discussion of Stoic freedom which is my main concern. On the latter issue, misunderstanding of the Stoic texts is acute and extensive. Remarkably, there is an almost total failure (apparently stretching back to the ancient commentators) to recognize that philosophers who were concerned with both determinism and freedom could treat these topics in virtual isolation from each other. Consequently, interpretations almost invariably reflect some kind of sensed conflict between the two ideas. …
Footnote 1: Truncated when it gets too technical, and bibliographical footnotes omitted.
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