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Chapter 3 - Voluntarism and the Condemnation of Intellectualism

from Part I - Free Will

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 November 2020

Tobias Hoffmann
Affiliation:
The Catholic University of America, Washington DC
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Summary

Chapter 3 is about late thirteenth-century voluntarist theories. It discusses three ecclesiastical condemnations of philosophical propositions, one in 1270 and two in 1277. Among the censured propositions are some that express intellectualist views about intellect and will. The chief part of the chapter gives a comprehensive account of Henry of Ghent’s theory of free will, the most influential theory at the time. At its core is the belief that the intellect does not control its act, so all control of a person’s acts must be traced to the will. For Henry, the fact that only the will, but not the intellect, controls its acts implies that the will can choose even contrary to the intellect’s judgment of what is best to choose. The will’s relative independence from the intellect, in turn, implies for Henry that the will moves itself to its act, while the cognized object (the desirable object presented by the intellect) is no more than a presupposition for the will’s act – a so-called “causa sine qua non.” The chapter also examines in some detail Peter Olivi’s theory of free will, which resembles Henry’s on many points. It ends with a brief mention of other voluntarist thinkers.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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