But in truth Philo is neither a determinist nor a believer in absolute free will. He is aught between these two poles of opposition. Nor is his dilemma peculiar to himself. It is shared, as we shall see, by all the Platonists of our period. The Platonist position maintained the autonomy of the will, in order to preserve the basis of ethical judgments. In his assertion of our free will, Philo is really concerned above all to assert our liability to praise and blame. But yet every Platonist wished to maintain the doctrine of God’s Providence. Without that, one would fall into Epicurean atheism, and once again there would be no objective basis for ethical judgments. We shall find Atticus later abusign the Peripatetics for nullifying Providence in fact while asserting it in theory, and being thus worse than the Epicureans. The Platonists are thus caught in what is, if not a contradiction, at least a profound tension between free will and determinism. If Philo’s various stances appear contradictory, therefore, the contradiction is at least not peculiar to himself, but one common to all Platonists.”

-John Dillon, The Middle Platonists: 80 B.C. to 220 A.D. (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1996), 168.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s