Augustine's Idea of Freedom

Essay by alxinldnUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, April 2006

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Countless authors wrote about the topic of freedom. Some about freedom from certain obstacles in life, others spoke of freedom of action - the ability to do what we want to do. Aristotle saw freedom as the ability to choose our actions. But we must take responsibility for these actions. He believes choices are only free when they are caused by us alone, our conscious decisions, and not by some external force. These choices are our own in the sense that it is caused by who we are, our character. For Augustine, these definitions of freedom are simply not clear enough. He believes human beings are capable of a completely different dimension of freedom. The freedom of choice itself.

An important point of this work is the fact that we have free will. Just like our intellect is our ability to know, our free will is our ability to choose.

If our character causes our choices, it would mean external forces determine our choices. This is because our characters are based on how we were brought up by our parents, our environments and many other factors. For this reason, even if an individual makes a choice, these choices are still a product of something outside of the individual.

Free will not only lets us choose to act on our desires, but lets us choose which desires we wish to follow as well. Augustine strongly felt that, while actions may stem from our choices, to say that our choices are the result of our character is to deny freedom in the highest sense. This is because our choices are a product of forces beyond our control.

For Augustine, our will is only free when not caused by any external forces or internal conditions, thus desires that come from our character, do...