Spinoza Free Will Analysis

Discussion regarding free will is inescapable in philosophy, as a correct characterization of free will is paramount in comprehending our place in the world, as well as how to navigate it. Spinoza and Descartes have both conjured up an interpretation of free will that is consistent with their own systems of metaphysics but drastically different from the conclusions of their counterparts. In this essay, I will summarize and contrast their views, and demonstrate how each of their analysis of free will is significant in the context of intellect and freedom. It is evident that while Spinoza and Descartes’ conceptions of volition are irreconcilably different, humanity is still responsible for its own being in either case.
Spinoza: Free Will
Spinoza’s rejection of the conventional notion of free will is built upon his construction of the primal substance (i.e. God/nature). Unlike the traditional Judeo-Christian conception of God, who possesses the ability to choose, God for Spinoza must necessarily conduct itself in the way that it does as a part of its
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In addition, because it is from God (who is perfect and un-deceitful), it is a “faculty of judgement” that will never be false when deployed correctly. Furthermore, this free will is “not restricted in any way”, which means that humanity shares an equal amount of freedom in comparison to God. (This is in contrast to Spinoza, for whom the freedom enjoyed by the determinations of God will always be lacking in comparison to the freedom of God itself). As a faculty of judgement, the nature of will is that it is always inclined to choose that which is obviously good. Therefore, when one is in a state of indifference, i.e. “when there is no reason pushing [one] in one direction rather than another,” it is “the lowest grade of freedom” for Descartes, as it is the poorest way in which one can exercise their freedom of

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