Augustine's Thoughts on Free Will Essay

Augustine's Thoughts on Free Will Essay

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One thing that philosophers are great at is asking big questions, usually without providing answers. However, Saint Augustine has a more direct approach to his speculation, often offering a solution to the questions he poses. One such topic he broached in The City of God against the pagans. In this text, Augustine addresses the problem of free will and extends his own viewpoint. Stating that humankind can have free will with an omniscient God, he clarifies by defining foreknowledge, free will, and how they can interact successfully together (Augustine, 198). Throughout his argument, he builds a compelling case with minimal leaps of faith, disregarding, of course, that you must believe in God. He first illustrates the problem of free will, that it is an ongoing questions amongst many philosophers, then provides insight into the difference between fate and foreknowledge. Finally, finishing his argument with a thorough walk-through on how God can know everything, and yet not affect your future decisions.
Before we dive into what Augustine has to say about free will, we must first understand what the problem is. In The HarperCollins Dictionary of Philosophy, the problem of free will is defined as:
“If all human actions are caused, then how can concepts found in our everyday experience such as blame, responsibility, duty. . . be made meaningful?. . . If God has complete foreknowledge of everything that will happen, and is also omnipotent, then God must have organized all things to happen the way in which God has foreknowledge that they will happen” (Angeles, 115-116)
What this quote says, is that how can we possibly be responsible for our own actions if God knows what we are going to do anyways, and if God does know everyth...


... middle of paper ...


...e a firm belief in God to apply to everyone, this same argument may be tweaked just a bit to fit an atheists point of view on free will, thus making it more accessible to everyone. Reading through Augustine's argument has only made my own belief's on free will stronger.


Works Cited

Angeles, Peter A. The HarperCollins Dictionary of Philosophy. 2nd ed. New York: HarperPerennial. 1992. Print.
Augustine, Saint.  “Of the Foreknowledge of God and the Free Will of Man, Against the Definition of Cicero” Book V. Chapter 9.  The City of God Against the Pagans.  Ed. and Trans. R. W. Dyson.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1998. 198-204. Print.
Augustine, Saint.  “Whether Necessity Governs the Wills of Men.” Book V. Chapter 10.  The City of God Against the Pagans.  Ed. and Trans. R. W. Dyson.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1998. 204-206. Print.

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