The Issue of the Freedom of Man
Keywords: determinism, indeterminism, absolute freedom, negative freedom
The freedom of the individual was already thematised in ancient times (Atomists, Aristotle, Epicurus, Stoics), as well as in the Medieval period (Augustine, Thomas Aquinas), however this topic became extremely important in the modern period – not only from a theoretical point of view, but also because of attempts to arrange state and society. When Aristotelian science developed in the Middle Ages, it was problematic to synchronise causality in nature with the freedom of actions of the individual. This was one of the reasons for reviewing Aristotelianism in Christianity.
Thinkers inspired by Neoplatonism did not doubt the freedom of the individual, they even emphasized it. Cusanus, Ficino, and mainly Pico della Mirandola pointed out that a human is a free being on principle, not only because of his/her ability to make decisions, ← 27 | 28 → but also because of their ability to produce them. Pico della Mirandola believed that a human is absolutely free, not only does he/she decide on his/her actions, but also whether he/she will be a plant, an animal, a human, or an angel. He did not mean that we can change our morphological and physical structure, but implied that it depends on us how we conceive our own being. If our greatest concern is going through our lives as comfortably and easily as possible – in a vegetative state – then we are not much different from plants. If we concentrate on pleasures, we live like animals. We become...
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