John Locke's Argument Against The Will Being Free

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This essay discusses John Locke statement: “it is as insignificant to ask, whether Man’s Will be free, as to ask, whether his Sleep be Swift, or his Vertue square: Liberty being as little applicable to the Will, as swiftness of Motion is to Sleep, or squareness to Vertue.” Locke came to this conclusion while writing on the subject Of Power in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Subsequently, I argue whether Locke is successful in establishing this parameter against the Will’s being Free. I conclude that Locke makes an inconsistent and unclear argument about this specific subject. This conclusion will be address in this essay. In order to perform this task, I will first state the argument that Locke makes. An explanation of the argument will follow after. Next, I will offer an argument that contradicts Locke’s view. Finally, I will demonstrate how Locke’s argument can be attacked, making it unstable to its previous claim. On Book II, Chapter XXI Of Power in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke argues against the Will being Free. Locke reasons that Will is a power: “This power which the mind has, thus to order the consideration of any idea, or the forbearing to consider it; or to prefer the motion of any part of the body to its rest, and vice versa in any particular instance is that which we call the will” (2.21.5). In addition, Locke claims that the exercise of directing this power in any particular action is what we call “volition or willing” (2.21.5). According to Locke, Liberty is also a power, however, this power is found “in any agent to do or forbear any particular action, according to the determination or thought of the mind” (2.21.8). After these two clear distinctions have been made, Locke argues th... ... middle of paper ... ...hat the mind occasionally has the liberty, with respect of willing, to perform actions. Locke also seems to add a second distinct characteristic that liberty has. In this case, not only liberty has the power to do or forbear action, it also has the power to suspend the execution of action in order to decide what course of action to take. Lastly, he insist that freedom cannot possibly be asserted by will, yet later he reasons although he believes improperly that, free will is the power to suspend execution in order to decide. This essay discussed John Locke’s view about the Will’s being Free and how he concluded that the Will was not free. This is an outcome that he discovered while writing On Power on An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. I have offered reasons for why this is an argument that seems to contradict itself, which makes it inconsistent and unstable.
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