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SECTION LXI. The Volitionating Spirit, Freedom of Will.

(2) Man is a willing, a volitionating, spirit; the goal of his life-movement is for him a conscious end. He is not impelled unconsciously and by extraneous force toward that to which he is to attain, but he knows the end, and himself directs himself toward it,—he chooses the known goal by virtue of a personal will-determination,—that is, in his willing he is free. The end of rational willing is the good, and, in so far as this is to be realized by freedom, the morally-good. That which in nature-objects takes place by necessity, becomes, in the sphere of the moral will, a “should;” that which in the former case is natural law, becomes here a moral precept; that which is there natural development, becomes here moral life. But the will of the created spirit differs from the prototypal will of God by the fact that its development in time is not unconditioned, but is always conditioned on free self-determination, so that consequently there exists the possibility of another self-determination than that toward the true end,—that is, in a word, by the fact that man’s freedom of will, as distinguished from the divine (which is, at the same time, eternal necessity), is freedom of choiceliberum arbitrium. The finite spirit can, and should, attain to the good as the purpose of its life, but it can also—what it should not do—turn away from this good; and it attains to the good only when it freely wills to attain to it. Man, as created good, has this freedom in the highest degree, so that it is not limited or trammeled by any tendency to evil inherent in his natural non-perfection, as, for example, by his sensuousness. It is incumbent upon ethics to describe and explain the 46development of the natural freedom of the, as yet, undetermined will, into the moral freedom of the holy will.

The moral freedom of the will is distinctly presupposed in the Biblical account of primitive man. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it” [Gen. ii, 16, 17]. God’s injunction addresses itself to the free will of man, and requires of him moral obedience. When, now, man nevertheless actually did that which was forbidden, he simply did the opposite of what God’s holy will was; and he thereby demonstrated in fact, though to his ruin, the reality of human freedom of choice. Scripture knows absolutely nothing of any other view of the true nature of man than that he was capable of freely choosing good or evil. For this idea of freedom of choice, however, Scripture has no specific expression; for ἐλεύθερος, ἐλευθερία, originally used in a legal sense, designate the condition of mall as emancipated by Christ; the idea of man’s freedom of choice is expressed rather as a “choosing between good and evil;” for example, in Isa. vii, 15, 16, where the time of the spiritual maturity of a man is called the time when he “shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good” [comp. Deut. xi, 26 sqq.], or when he can do “according to his pleasure” [Esth. i, 8], or that which is “good in his own eyes” [Gen. xvi, 6; xix, 8]. The view of freedom of choice as presented in the book of Sirach xv, 14, holds good in its full sense evidently only of man as free from the bondage of sin. In the New Testament, man’s freedom of choice is implied by θέλειν (for example, in Matt. xxiii, 37; whereas the “power over one’s own will” mentioned in 1 Cor. vii, 37 refers more to our moral discretion).

In the Christian church the full moral freedom of choice of man before the fall, has been uniformly admitted; and the notion that human actions are necessarily determined, just as uniformly rejected [comp. Apol. i, p. 52, 53; Form. Conc. ii, p. 580, 677]. The “supralapsarian” predestinarianism of Calvin has never been ecclesiastically sanctioned, nor in fact does even it deny freedom of choice as a principle, and expressly, 47but only actually. Entirely different from this teaching of Calvin is the fundamental denial of freedom of will in all Pantheistic systems since Spinoza. In Pantheism there is no place for freedom, and what appears there under this name is something entirely different from that which the consciousness of all nations understands thereby. Where conscious spirit is not the ground, but simply a product of the collective development of the All, there the individual spirit is in its entire existence, essence, and life, absolutely determined; and its single life-manifestations are quite as absolutely determined as is its being itself;—in which case the rational spirit can never have a consciousness of freedom, but only a “sense of absolute dependence,” and hence there can be no room for any moral responsibility. The seemingly moral life is as immediate and necessary a manifestation of the “all-life” as is the growth of plants, and it differs from the nature-life only in the fact, that man has a consciousness of that which he does necessarily, in fact, but which he fancies he does freely. The will differs from unconscious nature-impulse only by the consciousness which attends it, but it is, in fact, quite as absolutely determined and unfree as is the latter. This view is expressed most clearly, simply, and consequentially, by Spinoza; and it is neither in the interest of clearness nor of scientific honesty, when more recent systems, based on him, make free use of fair-sounding words about human freedom. In essential agreement with Spinoza, Schleiermacher, in his “Discourses on Religion,” rejects the freedom of the will. The essence of religion is a sense of the absolute unity of the universe and the individual existence,—a consciousness that our whole being and activity are the being and activity of the universe itself, and are determined thereby.—Schelling, who subsequently attributed to the idea of the personal will a very high significancy, held as yet in his “Lectures on Academic Study” (1803) to the unconditional necessity of all apparently free phenomena. History is quite as fully an immediate and necessary manifestation of the absolute, as is nature; men are but instruments for carrying out that which is per se necessary, and they are, in their reality and peculiarities, quite as fatally-determined as the actions themselves. Actions appear as free 48or arbitrary only in so far as man makes a necessarily-determined action specifically his own, but this action itself, as well as its result in good or evil, and hence also man in all his life-manifestations, is but the passive instrument of absolute necessity; all that which is apparently free is but a necessary expression of the eternal order of things. Subsequently (1809), Schelling sought to rise above Pantheism, and, in some manner, to comprehend the freedom of the will, but he did not rise beyond wide-reaching contradictions. The assumption of an ante-mundane fall into sin was intended to reconcile freedom with necessity (Phil. Schr., 1809, i, 438 sqq., 463 sqq.). On this we remark here simply, that from an ethical stand-point it makes no moral difference whether free self-determination is precluded, for our whole mundane life, by an absolute natural necessity, or by a pretended ante-mundane free determination of man himself, but of which he has not the least consciousness. Where there is no continuity of the consciousness, there is also no unity of the person; and a pretended free act which I am supposed to have done, but of which I know absolutely nothing, is not my act but is absolutely foreign to me; and a fettering of my freedom, by a, to me entirely unknown, timeless act cannot be regarded from a moral point of view as other than a simple being-determined by unconditional necessity.—Hegel has left the idea of freedom, in many respects, in great uncertainty; he is very fond of talking of freedom; but his system itself is compatible only with a universal all-determining necessity; freedom is nothing more than “the not being dependent on another, the sustaining relations to one’s self;” in its full sense, however, this is true only of the spirit as absolute; individual spirits are only transient manifestations of the collective life, and are determined by the same.—More recent philosophy, wherever it deviates from strict Pantheism, uniformly attempts to bring personal freedom of will more clearly before the consciousness. There is here no possibility of a middle-ground, and ambiguous rhetoric can no longer deceive. Where God is not the infinite eternal Spirit, but comes to self-consciousness only in man, there the thought of a real freedom of will is impossible. The infinite domination of the All leaves no place for the free movement 49of the individual spirit; the misused freedom of a single creature would throw the collective universe into disorder, for the unfree All affords no possibility of preserving moral order as against the free actions of individuals. On this ground there remains a freedom only for thoughtless contemplation; and this would then, of necessity, lead to the ethics of an unlimited self-love which can seek and find in the bedlam of individual wills nothing higher than itself. Freedom is possible only where a free Spirit rules in and over the All. The personal God is able, in almighty love, to create free spirits, and to guarantee them in their freedom, namely, in that he lovingly withdraws his direct activity from the sphere of will-freedom, and thus preserves the created spirit in its spiritual essence which is freedom itself; and such a God is able in the midst of the diversity and multiplicity of free actions, and even of ungodly ones, to preserve the moral order of the universe.

(The question of freedom of will has of late been much discussed, mostly from the stand-point of recent philosophy and in relation thereto. Daub: Statement and Criticism of Hypotheses Relating to Free-Will, 1834; Romang: On Free-Will and Determinism, 1835 [starting out from Schleiermacher’s stand-point, he attains only to a semblance of freedom]; Matthias: The Idea of Freedom, 1834; [since Hegel] Herbart: On the Doctrine of the Freedom of the Human Will, 1836 [critical, rather than furnishing new matter]; Vatke; Passavant: On the Freedom of the Will, 1835; K. Ph. Fischer, in Fichte’s Zeitschrift, iii, 101; ix, 79; Zeller, in the Theologische Jahrbücher, 1846; and others).

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