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Agency and Integrality

Philosophical Themes in the Ancient Discussions of Determinism and Responsibility

  • Michael J. White
Book

Part of the Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy book series (PSSP, volume 32)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Michael J. White
    Pages 8-68
  3. Michael J. White
    Pages 69-97
  4. Michael J. White
    Pages 98-139
  5. Michael J. White
    Pages 140-172
  6. Michael J. White
    Pages 173-214
  7. Michael J. White
    Pages 215-245
  8. Michael J. White
    Pages 246-270
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 276-286

About this book

Introduction

It is not very surprising that it was no less true in antiquity than it is today that adult human beings are held to be responsible for most of their actions. Indeed, virtually all cultures in all historical periods seem to have had some conception of human agency which, in the absence of certain responsibility-defeating conditions, entails such responsibility. Few philosophers have had the temerity to maintain that this entailment is trivial because such responsibility-defeating conditions are always present. Another not very surprising fact is that ancient thinkers tended to ascribe integrality to "what is" (to on). That is, they typically regarded "what is" as a cosmos or whole with distinguishable parts that fit together in some coherent or cohesive manner, rather than either as a "unity" with no parts or as a collection containing members (ta onta or "things that are") standing in no "natural" relations to one another. 1 The philoso­ phical problem of determinism and responsibility may, I think, best be characterized as follows: it is the problem of preserving the phenomenon of human agency (which would seem to require a certain separateness of individual human beings from the rest of the cosmos) when one sets about the philosophical or scientific task of explaining the integrality of "what is" by means of the development of a theory of causation or explanation ( concepts that came to be lumped together by the Greeks under the term "aitia") .

Keywords

Aristotle Plotin autonomy concept conditional cosmology dance determinism ethics future indeterminacy model time

Editors and affiliations

  • Michael J. White
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyArizona State UniversityUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-5339-0
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 1985
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-94-010-8857-2
  • Online ISBN 978-94-009-5339-0
  • Buy this book on publisher's site