The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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Aristotle believes we are responsible for all our voluntary actions; the Stoics hold us responsible for what comes about "through us," that is, whatever is causes by our impulse and assent. The terminology is different, but i conclude that the Stoic and Aristotelian classes of what one is responsible for are coextensive, and their criteria defining responsible actions are nearly identical (where impulse provides the internal origin of the action and assent provides the awareness of what is being done). The only significant difference is that Aristotle claims such actions are in our power to do or not to do while the Stoics say that such actions are fated and predetermined (by our internal nature as well as external factors). However, the final analysis will show that even this difference is not as great as it seems.


Priscilla Sakezles presented “Aristotle and Chrysippus on the Psychology of Human Action: Criteria for Responsibility” to the Society at its meeting with the American Philological Association in San Francisco in 2004. A revised version was published in the British Journal of the History of Philosophy 15.2 (2007) 225-252.

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