Fra Prohairesis til Wille og Willkür: En historisk og kritisk studie av fri vilje hos Aristoteles, Augustin og Kant
This metaethical and historical dissertation concerns the history of free will with a special spotlight on the theories of Aristotle, Augustine and Kant. My point of departure is Hannah Arendt and her thesis that Augustine is “the first philosopher of free will”. Through an examination of the ethical theory of Aristotle in general and this concept of “choice” (prohairesis) in particular, I try to show that Arendt is right in claiming that we do not find a concept of free will in classical Greek thought. In contrast, the theory of Augustine contains a concept of “the free choice of the will” (liberum arbitrium voluntatis), which means that the will is free to choose between following reason and desire. Although it is true that Augustine develops the first systematic theory of free choice, I nevertheless think that the roman stoic Epictetus anticipates Augustine in developing this concept. Since I think it is important that a free will is a will that is not determined by other factors (for example God) than the will itself, as Rousseau learns us, I do think we have to dig further in the history of philosophy to find an adequate conception of it. A prominent candidate for such a conception we find in Kant’s ethics and his understanding of free will as an autonomous will. Our “choice” (Willkür) is free to choose between practical reason and desire, but it realizes its freedom only when it chooses to follow practical reason, since it is identical to our own “will” (Wille). However, it is possible to argue that the scholastic philosopher Scotus anticipates Kant in developing the concept of autonomy. It is also possible to question whether the moral law in Kant’s theory actually represents a construction of our will or rather an independent moral fact valid for all rational beings. This question leads me into the large debate between modern Kantian scholars on moral realism and constructivism.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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