[“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John, 8:34)]

Excellent post at Just Thomism.

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[To be free is to be intelligent. To be intelligent is to be real.]

(This post is continued from a previous post, here.)

“A high level of free will must employ a combination of these three levels thus: an idea or value or ideal in the intellective sphere must arouse an appropriate emotional response in the animic sphere, and that in turn must trigger a corresponding outward action. Where activity is consistently directed on this basis, the person in question is said to be an authentic being. (This is also a major example of the universal action of ‘vertical causality’, as opposed to the physical kind, acting here in the individual person, and so is under his or her direction.)

The converse of this is the case where the contents of the intellective sphere have little impact on the animic, whose emotional responses are nearly always triggered instead by whatever stimuli happen to be present. In this case, the contents of sense-perception, including the inclinations of other persons, are the causes of one’s actions because of their unopposed access to the animic sphere which prompts action. Where this condition is dominant, it is that of the inauthentic being, who is failing to exercise free will in any significant manner…

…The difference between the authentic and inauthentic person can also be understood in terms of the soul’s representation of its world. In the former case, the soul has full awareness owing to the conscious relations it has both to the intellect and to the senses, whereas in the latter, self-awareness is stifled by the soul’s habitual confusion of itself with the sense-content of its world. Such failures to realize the difference in degree of being between the self and its world reduce the power of free will. When the self puts itself on the same level as that of its own mental contents, or even lower, it is committing the fundamental confusion which I have already called the ‘cosmic illusion’, because in this case the individual cannot distinguish himself from his ‘cosmos’, or see himself as anything other than an item in the system which depends on his conception of it. All things under the headings of sins and crimes and vices result inevitably from this confusion. Such things are obviously failures to realize values in practice, because the nodal point or fulcrum of value, the difference in degree between the person and his perception, has been lost from his awareness.”

Source: Robert Bolton, Self and Spirit, pp. 93-4,95

[The Capacity for Freedom]

This post is continued from a previous one here.

“[The] interior complexity of man means that each person has the means to unite himself or herself in an equally natural way to either the Providential or the Fatidic order. However, we do not apply the term ‘free will’ to both of these options, because what we understand by freedom does not belong to nature, where all is subject to efficient causality, but rather to Providence which comprises the archetypes or formal causes of all that belongs to nature. This is said to be free because it comprises the essential realities of the world as they are ‘before’ being instanced in material form and so subjected to all kinds of constraint.

The soul which aligns itself with Providence, and therefore with freedom, will thus be the one which realizes the possibilities of the spiritual nature to the fullest extent possible for the individual concerned. This involves an orientation of the whole person which is not to be confused with the divisive effects of an unintegrated intellectuality which is made an end in itself, and so denies its spiritual and sacramental role. On the contrary, it applies to the body as well, by its participation in the soul, which in turn participates in intellect; it too is spiritualised in its own way, therefore. Concerning the effect of this union, Guénon says: ‘In uniting itself to Providence and consciously collaborating with it, the human will can become a counter-balance to destiny and finally neutralize it.’ In the words of Fabre d’Olivet,

The harmony of the Will and Providence constitutes Good; Evil is born of their opposition. Man has received three forces adapted to each of the three modifications of his being…and the unity which binds them [these forces], that is to say Man, is perfected or depraved, according as it tends to become blended with the Universal Unity or to become distinguished from it.

In other words man approaches either perfection or depravity depending on which of the two poles of manifestation he gravitates towards: the pole of unity or the pole of multiplicity.

This also makes it easier to see how each soul can choose its own destiny, since the inward relations it makes with its material, psychical, and spiritual possibilities are in effect the formal causes of its relations to the external conditions under which it lives and develops. In other words, it is not so much a matter of the person being modified by a set of conditions as of a soul gravitating to a set of conditions which corresponds to its interior relations, and under which the latter will be best able to realize their potential. This leads to certain questions about the will which are hardly ever treated theoretically, particularly concerning the distinction between the things we do and the things we suffer. If the movement of the will is based on the component wills of Instinctive, Animic, and Intellectual principles, it can be seen that the adverse wills which confront us need only be the counterparts of unintegrated acts of volition within us.

Like wills can only connect with like, but if the whole person is harmonized in relation to the intellective principle, the will must be free, and so not liable to attract adverse volition to itself, having none within. The choice of freedom and free will outlined above is implicitly obedience to the will of God, where the universal Divine will can be discerned by means of the threefold constitution of the being. Its implication is that each person is born with a destiny to develop as much as possible through the Instinctive, Animic, and Intellective levels, with the grace of sacred tradition.”

Source: Robert Bolton, Self and Spirit, pp. 79-81