Arthur Schopenhauer

Essay on the Freedom of the Will

The winning entry in a competition held by the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences, Schopenhauer's 1839 essay brought its author international recognition. Its brilliant and elegant treatments of free will and determinism elevated it to a classic of Western philosophy, and its penetrating reflections still remain relevant.Schopenhauer makes a distinction between freedom of acting (which he endorses) and the freedom of willing (which he refutes). The philosopher regards human activity as entirely determined, but he also posits that the variety of freedom that cannot be established in the sphere of human activity resides at the level of individuated will—a reality that transcends all dependency on outside factors. Because the essay's clear and rigorous argument reveals many basic features of his thought, it forms a useful introduction to Schopenhauer for students of philosophy or religion.
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    Mikael Fischer Lassenhar citeretfor 4 år siden
    But in some cases it has been observed that a man, without being hindered by material obstacles, was restrained by mere motives—such as threats, promises, dangers, and the like—from acting in a way which, if these motives were absent, would have certainly expressed his will. Consequently, the question was raised whether such a man was still free, or whether the actions which express his actual will could really be checked and prevented just as effectively by a strong countermotive as by a physical obstacle.
    Mikael Fischer Lassenhar citeretfor 4 år siden
    Accordingly, in this physical meaning of the concept of freedom, animals and men are called free when their actions are not hindered by any physical or material obstacles—such as fetters, or prison, or paralysis—but proceed in accordance with their will.
    Mikael Fischer Lassenhar citeretfor 4 år siden
    Most frequently, however, we conceive of freedom as an attribute of animate beings, whose distinctive feature is the ability to originate movements from their own will, that is, voluntarily. Thus such movements are called free when no material obstacles prevent them.

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