more from René Descartes

Single Idea 5008

[catalogued under 20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 4. Responsibility for Actions]

Full Idea

That the will should extend widely accords with its nature, and it is the greatest perfection in man to be able to act by its means, that is, freely, and by so doing we are in peculiar way masters of our actions, and thereby merit praise or blame.

Gist of Idea

The greatest perfection of man is to act by free will, and thus merit praise or blame


René Descartes (Principles of Philosophy [1646], I.37)

Book Reference

Descartes,René: 'Philosophical Essays and Correspondence', ed/tr. Ariew,Roger [Hackett 2000], p.240

A Reaction

This seems to me to be a deep-rooted and false understanding which philosophy has inherited from theology. It doesn't strike me that there must an absolute 'buck-stop' to make us responsible. Why is it better for a decision to appear out of nowhere?