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Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought$
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R. J. Hankinson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246564

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199246564.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 October 2021

The Stoics

The Stoics

(p.238) VII The Stoics
Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought

R. J. Hankinson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

An interest in causation and explanation, as these concepts pertain to action, production and agency, is a characteristic of Hellenistic philosophy, and the Stoics are typical in this respect; a cause, or aition, for the Stoics, is something that actually does something. In this chapter, Hankinson discusses Stoic materialism with its distinction between Active and Passive principles, and discusses in detail the Stoic analysis of causation, which is conceived as corporeal and transmitted by contact. Hankinson shows that, while the Stoics embrace determinism to a greater degree than any of their predecessors, they nevertheless retain a genuine possibility of human freedom of action, with emphasis upon the notion of Fate (e.g. in Chrysippus) and responsibility (confatalia). The Stoics’ thoroughly materialistic view of the world does not rule out the presence of intelligence; intelligence, or pneuma, is itself also a material substance, which is identical with God.

Keywords:   action, Active and Passive principles, aition, determinism, Fate, freedom, Hellenistic philosophy, materialism, pneuma, responsibility

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