St. Thomas explains the freedom of the will though the indetermination of the intellect: we choose in virtue of some concept or idea, but our idea is not determined to some one particular, so neither is our choice. Whenever I read debates about “libertarian free will”- or scientific trials that hook up electrodes to a guys head to anticipate what he will decide when we tell him to make some random choice- I get the sense that the debaters have a much more elaborate notion of “free will” than St. Thomas had. Who can object to the idea that we act in virtue of concepts that are not sufficiently determined to one result, and so far as this is true, our action is not determined to a result? Do we really need to argue about this? There is mountain of after-market qualifications we can add to this rather weak account of free will. Habits (which for St. Thomas are any determination of a power, whether this arose from personal, cultural, or genetic origins) certainly play a role in fast-tracking our undetermined concepts to one deteminate thing. A good deal of life needs to be simply executed automatically, and so much of our action- probably much more than is worth thinking about- is almost certainly “determined” in the sense of foreseeable by another. Do we really need a brain scan to tell us this? Can’t we figure this out by living with someone for a week?
Ramble on free will
December 29, 2009 at 8:26 pm (Uncategorized)