Ethics and Human Action in Early Stoicism by Brad Inwood

By Brad Inwood

This e-book reconstructs intimately the older Stoic idea of the psychology of motion, discussing it relating to Aristotelian, Epicurean, Platonic, and a few of the extra influential smooth theories. very important Greek phrases are transliterated and defined; no wisdom of Greek is needed.

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30) have the sort of variability which makes possible a theory in which actions are determined by the variable dispositions of the agent. There is a correlate in Stoic psychology for the ethical belief that actions are determined by character. It is almost certain that a power was posited in the soul by Zeno to correspond to and govern at least each of the three motions which he seems to have mentioned in his psychology of action: those of presentation, assent, and impulse. 115 It is impossible to tell what sort of technical terminology he used to describe their status.

This uncertain notion is no doubt encouraged by the now entrenched translations 'impulse' or 'tendance'. 23 But it is fundamentally wrong. This is not because the Stoics did not think that animals have innate tendencies to develop and act in certain ways. Such tendencies are very important and are called aphormai, 24 inclinations. But simply to identify hormai with instinctual behaviour patterns or primal drives would contradict much of the evidence we do possess about hormê in the old Stoic analysis of action.

The account of Stoic ethics in Stobaeus, thought to have been compiled by Arius Didymus in the time of Augustus, gives a great deal of useful information about the workings of the psychology of action; most of this information is compressed into the severely abridged chapter On Impulse(ch. 9, pp. 86-8). This is the only surviving report on this standard topic of Stoic ethics, 87 but it is a reliable report as far as it goes. It is conrirmed at many points by less detailed sources, and it fairly bristles with the technical terminology so -55genial to the old Stoics and so rare in the writings of later Stoics.

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