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Free will, is it an illusion or not? This is probably one of the most famous arguments in Philosophy. It is a historical argument where each philosopher has his or her own views. Many philosophers’ opinions are divided when it comes to the discussion of free will. To begin with, free will, as defined by Psychology Today is the “ability to consciously make decisions that are not determined by the physics and biology of our brains. It is the idea that we are able to have some choice in how we act and assumes that we are free to choose our behavior.”
With respect to free will, one cannot simply leave out determinism and pre-determinism without discussing such terms. Determinism can be defined as “the philosophical idea that every event or state of affairs, including every human decision and action, is the inevitable and necessary consequence of antecedent states of affairs” (Information Philosopher). Pre-determinism shares the idea that “the entire past as well as the future was determined at the origin of the universe”.
Saint Augustine did not deny that Man has free will, but he strongly believed that God had pre-determined everything in advance. Thus, according to Saint Augustine God has foreseen how we will live. On the other hand, Rationalists such as Descartes and Spinoza do not believe that Man has free will at all. They suppose that God is in control of the whole universe, including our lives, and they believe that God had already pre-destined each and every life in advance. To put it simply, Rationalists advocated that Man has no free will, so, free will is an illusion according to them. Spinoza, in particular, claims that “we don’t control everything that happens in our body. Neither do we ‘choose’ our thinking. Man therefore does not have a free soul. According to Saint Thomas Aquinas Online, a website that’s dedicated to him, claims that St. Aquinas believed that the will of Man is free. He supposed that Man has free choices to choose from, unlike what rationalists such as Spinoza and St. Augustine claimed.
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