An Innovative Approach to Liberum Arbitrium in the Thirteenth Century: Philip the Chancellor, Albert the Great, and Thomas Aquinas
In this dissertation, I contrast the methods of approaching free decision (liberum arbitrium) that we see in the writings of Anselm of Canterbury and Peter Lombard with the methods of the thirteenth-century authors Philip the Chancellor, Albert the Great, and Thomas Aquinas. My goal is to show that, in the writings of Philip, Albert, and Thomas, we see an innovative way of approaching human free choice. A secondary goal of this work is to offer reasons for these changes in philosophical method. The first four chapters of the dissertation prove that innovations took place in four areas and suggest reasons for these innovations, including the reception of the works of Aristotle. Anselm and Peter Lombard begin their discussions of free decision by asking whether freedom is the power to sin, but the other authors begin the discussion of human freedom from the perspective of a study of human nature. Again, the earlier authors analyze free decision as a given fact, while Philip, Albert, and Thomas show a new interest in accounting for the existence of human freedom. There was also a change in the components required for a complete account of free decision: each of our thirteenth-century authors insists on free decision's character as a power of the soul and clearly specifies its relation to reason and will. Lastly, Philip, Albert, and Thomas made use of new characteristics of reason and will in the discussion of free decision. The fifth chapter of the dissertation discusses continuity of ideas in the writings of these authors and its impact on philosophical method. The five authors share the insight that freedom involves a relation to God and is a sharing in the divine nature; they were also convinced that free decision was not the ability to do evil and could not be lost. These forms of continuity were partly motivated by Christian and Augustinian teachings: however, they also provided unity and structure to the debate on liberum arbitrium. The changes made by the thirteenth-century authors are in many ways motivated by the desire to preserve these insights.
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