Saint Thomas Aquinas and his stand on Free Will

Does man have free will?

Is free will a power?

Is free will an appetitive power?

Is free will a power distinct from the will?


These are the questions that Aquinas aims to give a clear answer to. But we may have different opinions about this. I will try to give a summary of Aquinas’ answers and my opinions about it. Note that the summary of Aquinas’ answers that is written below is based on my interpretations on his complete answers on the questions. A link to the full copy of the answers of Aquinas to the questions will be posted below this article.

You are free to choose only between the two. Are you truly free?

So, does man have free will?

Aquinas believes that humans have free will. He believes that the humans are born with will and that the will is and will always be free. He argues that there are laws that prohibits humans to do some things because of the fact that humans are originally free to do anything that they want. Therefore, human has free will.

What I think: I do not think that humans have free will. The very fact that law exists that prohibits people to do certain things contradicts the very essence of free will. Also, the reality is that humans are bound by some social rules, which makes us not free. For example, even though I am free to go to school naked, I cannot and will not do it, because it is not socially acceptable. There is a restraint to do what I want to do, therefore, no free will.

Is free will a power?

Aquinas believes that free will in a sense, denotes an act. But in principle, act is both power and habit. And when humans act, it is not just based on habit, but is based on a power with a habit. Therefore, free will is a power.

What I think: Free will is power. Like I said earlier, I do not believe that humans are totally free, but hypothetically, if humans are truly free, it just means that they have the power to do anything they want, which makes free will a kind of power.

Is free will an appetitive power? Note: You may wonder what appetitive power is. Read his answer to find out.

According to Aquinas, the free will is having choices. And he believes that in choices, there is an appetite, meaning, a power in which it makes humans want to do something. So appetitive power causes humans to seek and desire things. Because humans choose something based on his wants and desires, it means that free will is an appetitive power.

What I think: For Aquinas, there are two kinds of power that needs to be considered when it comes to having choices, the cognitive power and the appetitive power. And I believe that those two powers should be in sync with each other, meaning, even though humans want something, they also tend to think whether to act on those want or not. A good example would be going to school naked. Maybe there are times where people want to go to school naked, but they never do, because they think about the consequences when doing that and there is choice there. Therefore, to answer the question, I think that free will is not just an appetitive power but both a cognitive power and an appetitive power.

Is free will a power distinct from the will?

For Aquinas, the will is already free from the start, therefore, the power of will and free will is the same. Free will, according to him, is the power of choice and that the will is the want of something, and because humans choose something that he wants, both will and free will are basically the same thing. He used intellect and reason as a comparison to this. He said that “intellect is to reason, so is the will to the power of choice, which is free will.”

What I think: I think that will and free will are two distinct powers. For me, will is the state of having a choice while free will is the state of having any choice. In short, free will is a state of will. So while they have some similarity, they also have a distinction between one another.

Now that you have read on what Aquinas’ opinions on free will and my replies to each point. Let us hear what you think.

If you want to have a copy to the full answers of Aquinas, go to this link: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1083.htm

Final note: This article is made of my interpretations and opinions on the questions about free will. No other copy should be made from this.

Have a great day!

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Group discussion images 1

 

Group discussion pictures

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This entry was published on August 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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