Single Idea 4838

[catalogued under 20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / a. Will to Act]

Full Idea

Saying that human actions depend on the will is a mere phrase without any idea to correspond to. What the will is, and how it moves the body, no one knows.

Gist of Idea

Claiming that actions depend on the will is meaningless; no one knows what the will is


Baruch de Spinoza (The Ethics [1675], II Pr 35)

Book Reference

Spinoza,Benedict de: 'Ethics, Improvement of Understanding, Letters', ed/tr. Elwes,R [Dover 1955], p.109

A Reaction

As so often, the rationalist Spinoza agrees with many empiricists about this one. If there is no such thing as the will, then there isn't much prospect of it being free, thought one might talk about 'freedom of thought' instead.