Stoic Conceptions of Freedom and their Relation to Ethics

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ABSTRACT: In contemporary discussions of freedom in Stoic philosophy we often encounter the following assumptions: (i) the Stoics discussed the problem of free will and determinis; (ii) since in Stoic philosophy freedom of the will is in the end just an illusion, the Stoics took the freedom of the sage as a substitute for it and as the only true freedom; (iii) in the c. 500 years of live Stoic philosophical debate, the Stoics were largely concerned with the same philosophical problems of freedom. In this paper I argue that (i) can be upheld only in a very restricted way; (ii) is altogether untenable; and regarding (iii), that, although there may have occurred little change in the Stoic philosophical position on freedom over the centuries, we can detect more than one transformation of the philosophical problems that were at the forefront of the discussion. Moreover, that all the conceptions and problems of freedom were linked to Stoic ethics, and that the differences between them become transparent when one considers their various roles in this context.
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