Akrasia in Epictetus: A Comparison with Aristotle

Apeiron 53 (4):397-417 (2020)
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This paper argues that Epictetus’ ethics involves three features which are also present in Aristotle’s discussion of akrasia in the Nicomachean Ethics: 1) A major problem for agents is when they fail to render a universal premise effective at motivating a particular action in accordance with that premise. 2) There are two reasons this occurs: Precipitancy and Weakness. 3) Precipitancy and Weakness can be prevented by gaining a fuller understanding of our beliefs and commitments. This comparison should make clear that akrasia is certainly not absent from Epictetus. Rather a very Aristotelian understanding of why we fail to act in accordance with what we take to be in our own best interests remains at the center of his ethics.
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Archival date: 2019-06-26
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