Sunday, 10 February 2019
Ulrich Volp: Prohairesis in Origen
The origin of the fundamental concept of prohairesis (often translated as “will”, “volition”, “intentional choice”, “intention”, “moral choice”) is usually attributed to Aristotle’s use in his Nicomachean ethics, and to the Stoic philosophy of Epictetus. It is prominent in the ethical theory of Clement of Alexandria, in the preaching of John Chrysostom, and in Gregory of Nyssa. However, Origen uses the terminology just as often as Epictetus, and it is still a matter of debate how it entered his thinking. The short communication is going to argue that not only Clement and pagan philosophy, but also the use of the terminology in the Septuagint plays a significant role for the concept of prohairesis in Origen. Moreover, the implications this has for the formation of ancient Christian ethics and for the difference between a patristic and an Aristotelian or Stoic outlook on ethics will be demonstrated.