Ethics and Human Action in Early Stoicism by Brad Inwood

By Brad Inwood

This booklet reconstructs intimately the older Stoic idea of the psychology of motion, discussing it in terms of Aristotelian, Epicurean, Platonic, and a few of the extra influential glossy theories. very important Greek phrases are transliterated and defined; no wisdom of Greek is needed.

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When the the true sense of the Stoics' psychological monism has been explained, I would hope that any lingering temptation to attribute radical monism to Chrysippus or to any other of the early Stoics will be dissipated. -41- Chapter 3 The Psychology of Action (a) The Nature of Impulse We have seen that the Stoics held that animal soul is characterized by the powers of presentation and impulse and that man has, in addition to these, the powers of reason and assent. These four powers are used in the analysis of animal behaviour and human action.

It is hormetic because it indicates to the animal the presence of something of interest to it, something which will contribute to its health, well-being, pleasure, the fulfilment of its individual nature, etc. These characteristics are here grouped under the general term kathêkon. In other, usually ethical, contexts this term is translated as 'appropriate'; here it might better be rendered 'of interest' or 'relevant'. This means that the Stoics, like Aristotle and Epicurus, accepted the principle laid down by Plato 89 that all action is goal-directed and purposive, and is undertaken in order to get something worth having for the agent or to avoid something it would be better not to have.

To . '. The imperatival operator would, in Greek, be certain inflectional forms of the verb of the predicate; in English, we would sometimes have to use the exclamation mark to avoid ambiguity. In this way the hormetic proposition to which assent is given would be closely parallel to the imperative, and they would share the same predicate.

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