Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us Faculty of Philosophy Organization News & Events Events

Suárez on the Will as a Two-Way Power (Dominik Perler, Humboldt University)

When:Fr 21-06-2024 15:45 - 17:15

The talk is part of a two-day workshop on medieval and early modern philosophy (see the full programme). Of course, everyone is very welcome to join for other parts of the programme as well.

In his theory of action, Suárez defends a voluntarist position. He claims that we are free agents because our will is a two-way power: it can always accept or reject an action-guiding judgment. But why is the will not obliged to accept the judgment that is provided by the intellect? Why can it reject even the best possible judgment? I will discuss these questions by connecting Suárez’s theory of the will with his theory of causation. First, I will examine his arguments against intellectual determinism, paying particular attention to his fundamental claim that the intellect is not an efficient cause: the intellect cannot act upon the will and
force it to accept a judgment. Then I will look at Suárez’s account of the relevant cause, which is always a final cause: the goal of an action, which is presented in a judgment, somehow attracts the will. If the goal is not perfectly good, it does not fully attract the will; consequently, the will can reject it. I will spell out the functioning of the final cause as a form of normative attraction and argue that the issue of normativity is at the center of Suárez’s theory of the will as a two-way power: the will is free because it can resist normative attraction.

Short bio:
Dominik Perler is Professor of Philosophy at Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, and co-director of the research center “Human Abilities.” His research focuses on medieval and early modern philosophy, mostly in the areas of metaphysics, epistemology, and theory of action. His recent publications include Feelings Transformed: Philosophical Theories of the Emotions, 1270-1670 (author, 2018), Eine Person sein: Philosophische Debatten im Spätmittelalter (author, 2020), Causation and Cognition in Early Modern Philosophy (co-editor, 2020), Powers and Abilities in Early Modern Philosophy (co-editor, 2024).

More information available from Han Thomas Adriaenssen: h.t.adriaenssen