Because will's act of choosing is what we ordinarily associate freedom with, I've been focusing on choice in showing how freedom is preserved in the thicket of necessities that characterize Aquinas's account of volition. So it's noteworthy that issues connected with freedom of choice are ignored in the opening stages of Aquinas's account of the divine will, even in what I'm calling the argument from freedom. There are good reasons for this, and for the fact that the series of seventeen chapters devoted to will in God exhibits a development in which the attribution of divine freedom of choice emerges
unmistakably only at the very end of the series.
22 The titles of the chapters provide a rough sketch of this development: 'God is volitional' (72); 'God's will is his essence' (73); 'What God principally wills is the divine essence' (74); 'In willing himself God also wills other things' (75); 'God wills himself and other things in a single act of will' (76); 'The great number of things willed [by God] is not incompatible with divine simplicity' (77); 'The divine will extends to individual goods' (78); 'God wills things that are not yet' (79); 'God wills his being and his goodness necessarily' (80); 'God does not will things other than himself necessarily' (81); 'Arguments leading to absurdity if God does not will things other than himself necessarily' (82); 'God wills something other than himself with conditional necessity' (83); 'God's volition is not for things that are impossible in themselves' (84); 'Divine volition neither removes contingency from things nor imposes absolute necessity on them' (85); 'A reason can be assigned for divine volition' (86); 'Nothing [other than God himself] can be a cause of divine volition' (87); 'There is free choice (liberum arbitrium) in God' (88).
For Aquinas's initial concern is with divine will solely in the respect in which the Aristotelian principle of universal appetite entails an appetitive aspect in all being—and thus especially in first being—considered just as such.
Volition in us is typically directed toward the acquiring or achieving of something we don't already have—typically, but not always. You couldn't exist as a person without the sort of inner life that is essential to personhood. It isn't anything you could acquire or achieve; it isn't even clearly distinguishable from you. And yet, of course, it is something you want, as you can verify by imagining your reaction (in normal circumstances) to someone's offering to obliterate your thoughts and feelings. In willing your inner life in this way, even if only dispositional^, you might reasonably be described as willing your self. This static sort of appetite, the wanting of what one already has or even is, Aquinas identifies as appetitive rest, which is emphatically not to be confused with the end p.213
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23 See e.g. 72.620, the 'second argument from intellect' in sect. 4 above; also the passages quoted in n. 4 above.
In our case, static appetite is standardly dispositional, especially when its object is an aspect of our essence. As for the occurrent, conscious phases of such ordinarily dispositional appetite informed by intellect, they will count as acts of (static) volition. And all of us lucky enough to possess something we want will know what Aquinas means by using 'joy, 'pleasure', and 'love' as his standard designations for the occurrent manifestations of static volition for something we intellectively cognize as good, especially when we have
already achieved or acquired it, and even if it's part of our own nature.
24 See e.g. In Sent. 18.104.22.168c (n. 10 above) and QDV 23.1, ad 8, quoted on this page. See also Aquinas's detailed general discussions of love (ST IaIIae.26-8) and of pleasure (31-4).
(In Chapter Eight we'll be considering such acts of static volition.)
In any case, an object of static volition is something that can be recognized as at least counterfactually chosen—something the wilier has or is and would choose to have or to be if an occasion for choosing it were to arise. But, with luck, such occasions don't arise very often, even for willers as vulnerable to threats and losses as we are. And, in any case, static volition itself involves no actual choosing, even when the currently possessed object of it was originally achieved as a result of choice. Dynamic volition, our willing to have what we recognize as good and don't yet have, is the sort of willing characterized by ordinary acts of choice and the sort we're bound to be far more often aware of. But static volition, too, is easy to recognize even in contingent, temporal, often disappointed beings like us.
It is in virtue of one and the same nature that something moves toward a goal (terminum) it has not yet attained and rests at a goal it has already attained. For that reason it pertains to one and the same power to tend toward a good when it is not yet possessed and to love it and take pleasure in it after it is possessed. Both these [activities or states] pertain to an appetitive power, even though [such a power] gets its name more from the activity in which it tends toward what it does not possess—which is why it is said that appetite belongs to what is imperfect. Will, on the other hand, is related to both [those activities or states] in just the same way (indifferenter). That is why, in a strict sense, will is attributable (competit) to God, but not appetite. (QDV 23.1, ad 8)
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One's inner life, my example of an object of static volition, also contributes to a paradigm of the determinate sort of volition that has as its object the willer's person or, more precisely, the willer's self-fulfilment. Self-fulfilment—individual human happiness in our case—typically involves self-preservation, too. But it's certainly a real possibility that a person—an imperfect person—should want something else even more than self-preservation, that such a person's intellect should, perhaps correctly, discern something else as better than the preservation of oneself, presenting it to one's will as nobly self-sacrificial, or perhaps even as self-fulfilling, as directed toward happiness, the ultimate end specific to human beings. Aquinas's Aristotelian account of human volition explains the contingent desirability of any extrinsic object of a person's volition in terms of its contributing more or less directly to the achieving of that formally necessitated end, self-fulfilment, the desirability of which is axiomatic, the volition for which is predetermined and not the outcome of choice. The fact that we will to be happy (feiices) has to do not with free choice but with natural instinct' (ST la. 19.10c).
In light of these considerations it's not surprising that almost all the arguments we've seen Aquinas using to support his attribution of will to God have to do with static, determinate volition whose object is in no way extrinsic to the wilier—volition for what the wilier fully possesses or, more
precisely, simply is.
25 The sole exception is the argument for divine will as entailed by divine intellective causation (72.622)—of things other than God, of course. See n. 14 above.
And since there cannot be unactualized potentialities or non-occurrent dispositions in absolutely perfect, atemporal God, this static, determinate divine volition that has as its proper object perfect goodness—God himself—must manifest itself in eternal love and pleasure, in ways we'll be investigating in Chapter Eight. If there is no being devoid of some sort of appetition in some appetitive state or other, eternal love and pleasure certainly seem to be at least the primarily appropriate aspects of absolute perfection. 'All things, in so far as they are, are assimilated to God, who is being, primarily and maximally. But all things, to the extent to which they are, naturally love their own being, each in its own way. Far more, therefore, does God naturally love his being. Now his nature is perse necesse esse (as end p.215
Kretzmann, Norman , (deceased) formerly Susan Linn Sage Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Cornell University, New York
The Metaphysics of Theism
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26 The Marietti editors supply a reference to 15.124, where this formulation is introduced in argument G6 (see Ch. Three). However, the identification of God's nature with per se necessary being is argued for not in 1.15 but in 1.22, esp. 22.205 (see Ch. Four).
God, therefore, necessarily wills that he be' (80.680), and, we might add, naturally and necessarily enjoys his being.
But eternal divine pleasure or joy is not to be identified as formally analogous to human happiness, as a divinely specific ultimate end for divine volition. Because of God's essence—perfect being and thus perfect goodness itself—and because of considerations of absolute simplicity, only God himself could qualify as the ultimate end for divine volition and, thereby, as the universally ultimate end for all creaturely appetition, even though not universally cognized as such.
In the case of any wilier, what is principally willed is a cause of [the willer's] volition. For when we say 'I want to walk in order to be healthy', we consider ourselves to be indicating a cause; and if someone asks 'Why do you want to be healthy?', we will go on assigning causes until we arrive at the ultimate end, which is what is principally willed, which is [in turn] a cause of volition altogether on its own. Therefore, if God principally wills anything other than himself, it will follow that in his case something else is a cause of volition. But his willing is his being (esse) (as has been shown [1.73]). Therefore, something else will be a cause of being for him—which is contrary to the essential nature of first being. (74.635)
Besides, 'the ultimate end is God himself, since he is the highest good (as has been shown [1.41]); therefore, he himself is what is principally willed by his will' (74.636). 'The principal object of the divine will, therefore, is the divine essence. However, since the divine essence is God's intellective cognizing and everything else that is said to be in him, it is clear, further, that in that same way he principally wills his cognizing, his willing, his being one, and whatever else is of that sort' (74.637-8).
Here, then, at the core of divine volition, in what is principally willed by God, nothing could be left to choice.
God necessarily wills his being and his goodness, and he cannot will the contrary. For it was shown above [1.74, in the passages just quoted] that God wills his being and his goodness as the principal object, which is for him the reason for willing other things. Therefore, in connection with everything willed [by him] he wills his being and his goodness—just as sight end p.216
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God's necessarily willing his own nature and existence is entirely in keeping with his perseity, or metaphysical independence. And, although this willing involves no choice, it doesn't exclude every sort of freedom: 'in respect of its principal object, which is God's own goodness, the divine will does have necessity—not, of course, the necessity of coercion but, rather, the necessity
of natural order, which is not incompatible with freedom.
27 At this point Aquinas cites Augustine, De civitate DeiV [x],
. . . For God cannot will that he not be good and, consequently, that he not be intellective, or powerful, or any of those things that the essential nature of his goodness includes' (QDV 23.4c). Although this freedom compatible with natural order rules out any real alternatives and is quite clearly and explicitly not freedom of choice, even an incompatibilist libertarian can, and
should, acknowledge it as a species of freedom.
28 On issues of freedom and necessity, particularly in connection with God's will, see Stump 1990.
It can be characterized as willingness or, more positively, as counterfactual choice—the sort of volitional stance I described earlier as normally taken by a human being toward its naturally necessitated inner life of thought and feeling. If Richard's positive attitude toward his naturally necessitated susceptibility to emotion, say, is just what it would have been if he had freely chosen an inner life characterized by emotion from among relevant alternative possibilities and had found that it measured up to his expectations, then Richard may reasonably be described as having counterfactually chosen it, as willing his susceptibility to emotion freely, even though necessarily. And, of course, as a finite, imperfect being, he almost certainly will not have this positive volitional stance toward every aspect of his essential nature—I mean, toward those he recognizes as natural limitations.
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