|Descartes' Thoughts On Freedom
Descartes regards the freedom of the
human will "or liberty of choice
to be so great" that it is the respect in
which we most resemble divine infinity. His initial analysis of human freedom-as "our
having the power of choosing to do a thing or choosing not to do it"-seems ordinary
enough. But then he shows us a more complicated version of his definition, "it
consists alone in the fact that in order to affirm or deny, pursue or shun those things
placed before us by the understanding, we act so that we are unconscious that any outside
force constrains us in doing so."
He holds that the power of free will
"is the greatest perfection in man," through the exercise of which we become
"masters of our actions and thereby merit praise or blame."