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Title: How the Stoics solve Plato's greatest difficulty : causality and responsibility in Plato and the Stoics
Author: Vazquez Hernandez, Sergio Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 4418
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis offers a reconstruction and analysis of a debate about responsibility, and causation initiated by Plato, and continued by the Stoics. The pivotal moment of the discussion is a problem I call ‘the greatest difficulty,’ found in Plato’s Parmenides. The debate, however, involves a complex network of arguments including subordinated or parallel discussions about ontology, method, ethics, and epistemology. Instead of isolating the main topic, I highlight the structure of the debate, and the interconnection between its parts, to show the complexity and sophistication of the argumentation in both Plato and the Stoics, and the depth of the Stoics’ engagement with Plato’s works. The motivation for doing this is to better understand many of the otherwise unexplained and odd starting points of the early Stoic philosophy. But since this requires a reconstruction of the dialectical background the Stoic texts assume, this means that the bulk of the thesis is devoted to discussing Plato. The hope is that by showing the structure of the debate in Plato’s dialogues, the connections in the Stoic fragments will show with more clarity. The thesis is divided into five chapters. The first two are dedicated to Plato’s discussion of causality and responsibility in Phaedo 95e8-105c7, and Republic 6, 506d7- 509c4. The third chapter discusses ‘the greatest difficulty’ in Parmenides 133a11-135c4 as an objection to the main arguments of the previous dialogues. In chapter four, I analyse how Plato revisits the greatest difficulty in Sophist 245e6-249d5. Finally, in chapter five, I examine surviving evidence from the early Stoics, to argue that they engaged with Plato’s ongoing debate via the Sophist, and that their views on these topics are a careful continuation of this debate.
Supervisor: McCabe, Mary Margaret Anne ; Pink, Thomas Leonard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available