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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • FIRST PART (FP: QQ 1-119)
      • Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF FREE-WILL (FOUR ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF FREE-WILL (FOUR ARTICLES)

We now inquire concerning free-will. Under this head there are four
points of inquiry:

(1) Whether man has free-will?

(2) What is free-will - a power, an act, or a habit?

(3) If it is a power, is it appetitive or cognitive?

(4) If it is appetitive, is it the same power as the will, or distinct?



Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether man has free-will?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that man has not free-will. For whoever has
free-will does what he wills. But man does not what he wills; for it is
written (Rm. 7:19): "For the good which I will I do not, but the evil
which I will not, that I do." Therefore man has not free-will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, whoever has free-will has in his power to will or not to
will, to do or not to do. But this is not in man's power: for it is
written (Rm. 9:16): "It is not of him that willeth" - namely, to
will - "nor of him that runneth" - namely, to run. Therefore man has not
free-will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, what is "free is cause of itself," as the Philosopher
says (Metaph. i, 2). Therefore what is moved by another is not free. But
God moves the will, for it is written (Prov. 21:1): "The heart of the
king is in the hand of the Lord; whithersoever He will He shall turn it"
and (Phil. 2:13): "It is God Who worketh in you both to will and to
accomplish." Therefore man has not free-will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, whoever has free-will is master of his own actions. But
man is not master of his own actions: for it is written (Jer. 10:23):
"The way of a man is not his: neither is it in a man to walk." Therefore
man has not free-will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] Obj. 5 Para. 1/1

OBJ 5: Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 5): "According as each
one is, such does the end seem to him." But it is not in our power to be
of one quality or another; for this comes to us from nature. Therefore it
is natural to us to follow some particular end, and therefore we are not
free in so doing.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Ecclus. 15:14): "God made man from the
beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel"; and the gloss
adds: "That is of his free-will."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Man has free-will: otherwise counsels, exhortations,
commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain. In
order to make this evident, we must observe that some things act without
judgment; as a stone moves downwards; and in like manner all things which
lack knowledge. And some act from judgment, but not a free judgment; as
brute animals. For the sheep, seeing the wolf, judges it a thing to be
shunned, from a natural and not a free judgment, because it judges, not
from reason, but from natural instinct. And the same thing is to be said of any judgment of brute animals. But man acts from judgment, because by
his apprehensive power he judges that something should be avoided or
sought. But because this judgment, in the case of some particular act, is
not from a natural instinct, but from some act of comparison in the
reason, therefore he acts from free judgment and retains the power of
being inclined to various things. For reason in contingent matters may
follow opposite courses, as we see in dialectic syllogisms and rhetorical
arguments. Now particular operations are contingent, and therefore in
such matters the judgment of reason may follow opposite courses, and is
not determinate to one. And forasmuch as man is rational is it necessary
that man have a free-will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As we have said above (Q[81], A[3], ad 2), the sensitive
appetite, though it obeys the reason, yet in a given case can resist by
desiring what the reason forbids. This is therefore the good which man
does not when he wishes - namely, "not to desire against reason," as
Augustine says.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Those words of the Apostle are not to be taken as though
man does not wish or does not run of his free-will, but because the
free-will is not sufficient thereto unless it be moved and helped by God.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Free-will is the cause of its own movement, because by his
free-will man moves himself to act. But it does not of necessity belong
to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as
neither for one thing to be cause of another need it be the first cause.
God, therefore, is the first cause, Who moves causes both natural and
voluntary. And just as by moving natural causes He does not prevent their
acts being natural, so by moving voluntary causes He does not deprive
their actions of being voluntary: but rather is He the cause of this very
thing in them; for He operates in each thing according to its own nature.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: "Man's way" is said "not to be his" in the execution of his
choice, wherein he may be impeded, whether he will or not. The choice
itself, however, is in us, but presupposes the help of God.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] R.O. 5 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 5: Quality in man is of two kinds: natural and adventitious.
Now the natural quality may be in the intellectual part, or in the body
and its powers. From the very fact, therefore, that man is such by virtue
of a natural quality which is in the intellectual part, he naturally
desires his last end, which is happiness. Which desire, indeed, is a
natural desire, and is not subject to free-will, as is clear from what we
have said above (Q[82], AA[1],2). But on the part of the body and its
powers man may be such by virtue of a natural quality, inasmuch as he is
of such a temperament or disposition due to any impression whatever
produced by corporeal causes, which cannot affect the intellectual part,
since it is not the act of a corporeal organ. And such as a man is by
virtue of a corporeal quality, such also does his end seem to him,
because from such a disposition a man is inclined to choose or reject
something. But these inclinations are subject to the judgment of reason,
which the lower appetite obeys, as we have said (Q[81], A[3]). Wherefore
this is in no way prejudicial to free-will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[1] R.O. 5 Para. 2/2

The adventitious qualities are habits and passions, by virtue of which a
man is inclined to one thing rather than to another. And yet even these
inclinations are subject to the judgment of reason. Such qualities, too,
are subject to reason, as it is in our power either to acquire them,
whether by causing them or disposing ourselves to them, or to reject
them. And so there is nothing in this that is repugnant to free-will.


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether free-will is a power?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that free-will is not a power. For free-will is
nothing but a free judgment. But judgment denominates an act, not a
power. Therefore free-will is not a power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, free-will is defined as "the faculty of the will and
reason." But faculty denominates a facility of power, which is due to a
habit. Therefore free-will is a habit. Moreover Bernard says (De Gratia
et Lib. Arb. 1,2) that free-will is "the soul's habit of disposing of
itself." Therefore it is not a power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, no natural power is forfeited through sin. But free-will
is forfeited through sin; for Augustine says that "man, by abusing
free-will, loses both it and himself." Therefore free-will is not a power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Nothing but a power, seemingly, is the subject of a
habit. But free-will is the subject of grace, by the help of which it
chooses what is good. Therefore free-will is a power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[2] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Although free-will [*Liberum arbitrium - i.e. free
judgment] in its strict sense denotes an act, in the common manner of
speaking we call free-will, that which is the principle of the act by
which man judges freely. Now in us the principle of an act is both power
and habit; for we say that we know something both by knowledge and by the
intellectual power. Therefore free-will must be either a power or a
habit, or a power with a habit. That it is neither a habit nor a power
together with a habit, can be clearly proved in two ways. First of all,
because, if it is a habit, it must be a natural habit; for it is natural
to man to have a free-will. But there is not natural habit in us with
respect to those things which come under free-will: for we are naturally
inclined to those things of which we have natural habits - for instance,
to assent to first principles: while those things which we are naturally
inclined are not subject to free-will, as we have said of the desire of
happiness (Q[82], AA[1],2). Wherefore it is against the very notion of
free-will that it should be a natural habit. And that it should be a
non-natural habit is against its nature. Therefore in no sense is it a
habit.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[2] Body Para. 2/2

Secondly, this is clear because habits are defined as that "by reason of
which we are well or ill disposed with regard to actions and passions"
(Ethic. ii, 5); for by temperance we are well-disposed as regards
concupiscences, and by intemperance ill-disposed: and by knowledge we are
well-disposed to the act of the intellect when we know the truth, and by
the contrary ill-disposed. But the free-will is indifferent to good and
evil choice: wherefore it is impossible for free-will to be a habit.
Therefore it is a power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: It is not unusual for a power to be named from its act. And
so from this act, which is a free judgment, is named the power which is
the principle of this act. Otherwise, if free-will denominated an act, it
would not always remain in man.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Faculty sometimes denominates a power ready for operation,
and in this sense faculty is used in the definition of free-will. But
Bernard takes habit, not as divided against power, but as signifying a
certain aptitude by which a man has some sort of relation to an act. And
this may be both by a power and by a habit: for by a power man is, as it
were, empowered to do the action, and by the habit he is apt to act well
or ill.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Man is said to have lost free-will by falling into sin, not
as to natural liberty, which is freedom from coercion, but as regards
freedom from fault and unhappiness. Of this we shall treat later in the
treatise on Morals in the second part of this work (FS, Q[85], seqq.; Q[109]).


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether free-will is an appetitive power?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that free-will is not an appetitive, but a
cognitive power. For Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 27) says that
"free-will straightway accompanies the rational nature." But reason is a
cognitive power. Therefore free-will is a cognitive power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, free-will is so called as though it were a free
judgment. But to judge is an act of a cognitive power. Therefore
free-will is a cognitive power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the principal function of free-will is to choose. But
choice seems to belong to knowledge, because it implies a certain
comparison of one thing to another, which belongs to the cognitive power.
Therefore free-will is a cognitive power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 3) that choice is
"the desire of those things which are in us." But desire is an act of the
appetitive power: therefore choice is also. But free-will is that by
which we choose. Therefore free-will is an appetitive power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The proper act of free-will is choice: for we say that we
have a free-will because we can take one thing while refusing another;
and this is to choose. Therefore we must consider the nature of
free-will, by considering the nature of choice. Now two things concur in
choice: one on the part of the cognitive power, the other on the part of
the appetitive power. On the part of the cognitive power, counsel is
required, by which we judge one thing to be preferred to another: and on
the part of the appetitive power, it is required that the appetite should
accept the judgment of counsel. Therefore Aristotle (Ethic. vi, 2) leaves
it in doubt whether choice belongs principally to the appetitive or the
cognitive power: since he says that choice is either "an appetitive
intellect or an intellectual appetite." But (Ethic. iii, 3) he inclines
to its being an intellectual appetite when he describes choice as "a
desire proceeding from counsel." And the reason of this is because the
proper object of choice is the means to the end: and this, as such, is in
the nature of that good which is called useful: wherefore since good, as
such, is the object of the appetite, it follows that choice is
principally an act of the appetitive power. And thus free-will is an
appetitive power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The appetitive powers accompany the apprehensive, and in
this sense Damascene says that free-will straightway accompanies the
rational power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Judgment, as it were, concludes and terminates counsel. Now
counsel is terminated, first, by the judgment of reason; secondly, by the
acceptation of the appetite: whence the Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 3) says
that, "having formed a judgment by counsel, we desire in accordance with
that counsel." And in this sense choice itself is a judgment from which
free-will takes its name.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: This comparison which is implied in the choice belongs to
the preceding counsel, which is an act of reason. For though the appetite
does not make comparisons, yet forasmuch as it is moved by the
apprehensive power which does compare, it has some likeness of comparison
by choosing one in preference to another.


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether free-will is a power distinct from the will?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that free-will is a power distinct from the will.
For Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 22) that {thelesis} is one thing
and {boulesis} another. But {thelesis} is the will, while {boulesis}
seems to be the free-will, because {boulesis}, according to him, is will
as concerning an object by way of comparison between two things.
Therefore it seems that free-will is a distinct power from the will.
Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, powers are known by their acts. But choice, which is the
act of free-will, is distinct from the act of willing, because "the act
of the will regards the end, whereas choice regards the means to the end"
(Ethic. iii, 2). Therefore free-will is a distinct power from the will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the will is the intellectual appetite. But in the
intellect there are two powers - the active and the passive. Therefore,
also on the part of the intellectual appetite, there must be another
power besides the will. And this, seemingly, can only be free-will.
Therefore free-will is a distinct power from the will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 14) free-will is
nothing else than the will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The appetitive powers must be proportionate to the
apprehensive powers, as we have said above (Q[64], A[2]). Now, as on the
part of the intellectual apprehension we have intellect and reason, so on
the part of the intellectual appetite we have will, and free-will which
is nothing else but the power of choice. And this is clear from their
relations to their respective objects and acts. For the act of
"understanding" implies the simple acceptation of something; whence we
say that we understand first principles, which are known of themselves
without any comparison. But to "reason," properly speaking, is to come
from one thing to the knowledge of another: wherefore, properly speaking,
we reason about conclusions, which are known from the principles. In like
manner on the part of the appetite to "will" implies the simple appetite
for something: wherefore the will is said to regard the end, which is
desired for itself. But to "choose" is to desire something for the sake
of obtaining something else: wherefore, properly speaking, it regards the
means to the end. Now, in matters of knowledge, the principles are
related to the conclusion to which we assent on account of the
principles: just as, in appetitive matters, the end is related to the
means, which is desired on account of the end. Wherefore it is evident that as the intellect is to reason, so is the will to the power of
choice, which is free-will. But it has been shown above (Q[79], A[8])
that it belongs to the same power both to understand and to reason, even
as it belongs to the same power to be at rest and to be in movement.
Wherefore it belongs also to the same power to will and to choose: and on
this account the will and the free-will are not two powers, but one.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: {Boulesis} is distinct from {thelesis} on account of a
distinction, not of powers, but of acts.
Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Choice and will - that is, the act of willing - are
different acts: yet they belong to the same power, as also to understand
and to reason, as we have said.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[83] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The intellect is compared to the will as moving the will.
And therefore there is no need to distinguish in the will an active and a
passive will.





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