6 May 2022


Will in Philosophy

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Academic level: College

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Spinoza writes that the will cannot be considered to be a free cause, but a necessary one in one of his propositions. This is because will is only a particular method of thinking, just like intellect is. Therefore, one’s will cannot be said to be independent of itself, but is occasioned by another action for its occurrence. For example, one is willing to act in a specific way because of a set of circumstances presented before them without which they would act in another way. The simple fact that will is preceded by an environmental setting suggests that it is not a free cause, but a dependent one. This paper describes Spinoza’s understanding of will power, its counter-argument and a rebuttal argument.

Having understood the dependent nature of the will, it becomes imperative to understand that a third party force is required for willpower to be brought into motion. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that will is a necessary cause, arising from the necessity to respond to external circumstances: “thus, however it be conceived, whether as finite or infinite, will requires a cause by which it should be conditioned to exist or act” (Fieser, 2015). However, instances where things occur without a cause are present, such as God. In such an instance, one wonders if will is considered as a free cause. He is an infinite being whose existence preceded that of abstracts such as will, but His existence is paramount to the survival of creation. Thus, it can be argued, from the deity perspective, that will is in play as a free cause.

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While the existence of God may not have been necessitated by man, the acknowledgement of his existence came about from the need to explain the unexplainable phenomena in human living. Therefore, God himself is not a product of will, but acknowledgement of his existence is. Therefore, God is a free cause, but the existence of God is primarily based on will and therefore a necessary cause.


Fieser, J. (2015). BENEDICT SPINOZA: The Highest Good . Retrieved from Modern Philosophy: Essential Selections: https://www.utm.edu/staff/jfieser/class/315/7-315-spinoza.htm .

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