more from Baruch de Spinoza

Single Idea 4843

[catalogued under 16. Persons / F. Free Will / 5. Against Free Will]

Full Idea

It may be objected, if a man does not act from free will, what will happen if the incentives to action are equally balanced, as in the case of Buridan's ass? Will he perish of hunger and thirst. ..Personally I am ready to admit that he would die.


Buridan's ass starves to death because it can't decide between two piles of hay

Gist of Idea

Would we die if we lacked free will, and were poised between equal foods? Yes!


Baruch de Spinoza (The Ethics [1675], II Pr 49)

Book Reference

Spinoza,Benedict de: 'Ethics, Improvement of Understanding, Letters', ed/tr. Elwes,R [Dover 1955], p.123

A Reaction

A nicely defiant way of demonstrating his rejection of free will. I have to agree with him. Even if there were such a thing as 'free will', it is hard to see how it could act as a tie-breaker. Which way would it freely decide?