Freedom of the will : Parallels between Frankfurt and Augustine
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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At first glance it seems strange to compare the views of two philosophers from such different contexts as are Harry G. Frankfurt1 and Aurelius Augustinus. After all, Frankfurt makes virtually no use of Augustine, virtually no mention of his philosophical doctrines—whether on free will or anything else.2 And yet, the two have more to do with each other than initially meets the eye. For in their own ways both of them sketch a respective theory of freedom that is similarly insightful; moreover, the theories of both lapse into paradox (paradox of which each author is aware but from which neither seeks to escape). Of course, Frankfurt's articulation of his theory is more systematic, more focused than is Augustine's. Indeed, Augustine seems to make most of his points as if en passant; even in De Libero Arbitrio he shows little interest in sustained treatment of the topic heralded in the title. So what links Frankfurt and Augustine is not their philosophical style but rather (1) their putative triumph over the philosophical elusiveness and the conceptual impenetrability of the notion of freedom-of-will and (2) the fact that in coming to cognate conclusions, they share similar strategies. Thus, they admit of plausible comparison.
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