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This essay focuses on the notion of the created agents’ will not in relation to God’s causality but in order to refine our understanding of what Duns Scotus meant by ‘freedom’. Unlike most of his predecessors, Duns Scotus considered a “synchronic” power for opposites as fundamental to human free will and set out to give a detailed account of the metaphysical makeup of the power through which we possess free will. The author of this essay, however, argues that this cannot be the full story, because Duns Scotus also maintained that freedom is compatible with necessity. To get a clearer picture of Duns Scotus’s overall understanding of freedom, this essay begins by focusing on how Scotus engaged with Anselm of Canterbury’s definition of freedom. After addressing the exact nature of the power for opposites that Duns Scotus frequently associated with freedom, this essay turns to the “formal concept” (ratio formalis) of freedom and how it is common to God and creatures. The conclusion is that freedom is for Duns Scotus fundamentally a power for self-determination rather than a power for opposites.
Aquinas, as a good historian, reads the text of the Ethics closely and tries to work out Aristotle's intention, from the context and from other works. Aquinas's efforts to reconcile his interpretation of the chapter of the EN with his other views about Aristotle require us to understand "rational by participation" in two ways. Once we think more carefully about what historical accuracy might properly involve, we can see why it would be unreasonable to avoid philosophical judgments, and why it might be quite appropriate to rely on one's own philosophical judgment in the exposition of Aristotle. The question should not be about whether interpreters argue on the basis of their philosophical judgment, but about whether their judgment contributes to the understanding of Aristotle's intentions or of his achievement. If we want to reach a historically accurate account of Aristotle, we ought not to ignore Aquinas's contributions to this goal.
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