This seminar will approach central topics in Aristotle's philosophy of mind and action through the works of one of his greatest commentators, Alexander of Aphrodisias (2nd-3rd c. CE). In his On the Soul and On Fate, Alexander attempted to develop Aristotle's views on these subjects systematically, taking into account and responding to recent developments in Hellenistic philosophy, above all in Stoicism, which tend to connect more immediately with contemporary concerns than Aristotle's own text sometimes allows.
In particular, Alexander is concerned to show that Aristotle has a better and more nuanced conception of the mind than the Stoics' reductive materialism. He is arguably the first philosopher to articulate fully the view that the mind is an emergent power that supervenes on the material, and he revises and defends Aristotle's account of representation, belief, and desire, to serve as an alternative to the Stoics' account of propositional attitudes.
Alexander is also one of the earliest philosophers in antiquity to lay out systematically a libertarian conception of moral responsibility, which rejects Stoic determinism as false and as incompatible with moral responsibility, and in so doing offers the framework for an Aristotelian conception of agency.
Knowledge of Greek is not required for students registering through Philosophy. For those who have Greek, an extra section will be held to read texts in the original.