What is it about?

Albertus Magnus is known for his rational approach to explaining various phenomena; a method that would be acquired and applied by his pupil Thomas Aquinas as well. In this paper, I am focusing on the concept of freedom, i. e., on the question of what it is that constitutes the freedom of the free will in the account of Albert the Great. I investigate this question from the perspective of natural philosophy, a field that Albert was particularly interested in. In the first part of the paper, I study Albert’s definition of free will and its implications as they are tackled in De homine, De anima, and Ethica. Albert regards the free will as a capacity of the rational soul, capable of choosing from opposites. Albert confronts the definitions of free will presented by Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Anselm of Canterbury, and in each of these cases he advances his argument from the perspective of psychology. In the second part of the paper, I identify the topics in which the general definition of the free will is applied in a naturalistic context. Those are the debates on fate and free will, on the question whether animals have a free will and, finally, on natural circumstances such as age or gender, limiting the freedom of the free will. Subsequently, I aim at expounding Albert’s balanced, yet not tension-free position in the debate between determinism and free action. Although several extensive studies on fate in Albert have been produced, the problem of free choice in Albert’s works remains surprisingly understudied. The present paper intends to open a path for further research and debates on this relevant topic.

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Why is it important?

This article studies the general notion of "freedom" in Albert the Great, as well as its limitations by the conditions nature poses on human free choices.

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This page is a summary of: I Want to Break Free, Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch für Antike und Mittelalter, December 2018, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/bpjam.00021.mit.
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