A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought

A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought

Paperback Sather Classical Lectures (Paperback)

By (author) Michael Frede, Edited by A. A. Long, Foreword by David Sedley

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  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Format: Paperback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 206mm x 18mm | 249g
  • Publication date: 1 February 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Berkerley
  • ISBN 10: 0520272668
  • ISBN 13: 9780520272668
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 410,924

Product description

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.

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Author information

Michael Frede, who died in 2007, held positions successively in the departments of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, and Oxford University, where he held the Chair of the History of Philosophy. In 1997-1998, he was Sather Professor of Classical Literature at UC Berkeley, where he delivered the lectures that make up this volume. A. A. Long is Professor of Classics, Irving Stone Professor of Literature, and Affiliated Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life and From Epicurus to Epictetus: Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy. David Sedley is Lawrence Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and the author of Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity (UC Press).

Review quote

"As readers will quickly discover, the quality of the text that [Frede] has bequeathed fully matches the brilliance and incisiveness for which all his work is admired." From the foreword by David Sedley

Table of contents

Foreword Editor's Preface Chapter 1. Introduction Chapter 2. Aristotle on Choice without a Will Chapter 3. The Emergence of a Notion of Will in Stoicism Chapter 4. Later Platonist and Peripatetic Contributions Chapter 5. The Emergence of a Notion of a Free Will in Stoicism Chapter 6. Platonist and Peripatetic Criticisms and Responses Chapter 7. An Early Christian View on a Free Will: Origen Chapter 8. Reactions to the Stoic Notion of a Free Will: Plotinus Chapter 9. Augustine: A Radically New Notion of a Free Will? Chapter 10. Conclusion Abbreviations Notes Bibliography Index