Epicurus' Insufficient Arguments for Sovereign Freedom
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This essay analyzes and criticizes Epicurus’ arguments for sovereign freedom. Epicurus argues for a type of libertarianism in which one is the ultimate and sovereign source of his or her actions. By arguing for physical indeterminacy, Epicurus attempts to salvage free will from physical necessity. However, I argue that his arguments for sovereign freedom fail on three levels: Firstly, mental states are supervenient upon atomic conglomerates, and are therefore permanent and determinate in their nature, thereby emphasizing the impossibility of sovereign freedom. Secondly, Epicurus fails in his arguments regarding emergent mental states, since he posits that emergent mental states are the cause and effect of sovereign freedom, thereby refuting himself. Thirdly, Epicurus undermines sovereign freedom by his epistemology; one cannot have self-originating freedom if all knowledge is acquired through the senses. My arguments against Epicurus show that Epicurus, unintentionally, puts forth a philosophy of “inverse compatibilism,” which combines physical indeterminism with psychological determinism.