Byzantine Philosophy and Its Ancient Sources

By Katerina Ierodiakonou | Go to book overview

4
John of Damascus on Human
Action, the Will, and Human
Freedom

MICHAEL FREDE

John of Damascus (perhaps born as early as AD 650, but no later than AD 680, died in AD 749, or shortly thereafter) has a complex account of human behaviour and human action. This account is mainly to be found in his Expositio fidei orthodoxae (

), the third part of his tripartite Fons sapientiae (). In this account a doctrine of the will () plays a crucial role, because John of Damascus believes that to understand human actions we have to see that they involve an exercise of the will, or at least a failure to exercise the will. It is because we have a will that we are responsible for what we are doing. For, if, for instance, we behave in a way which is open to criticism, it is either because we chose to act in this way or because we failed to exercise our will in such a way as to choose not to act in this way. Thus, how we behave depends on our will and the way we exercise it. In principle our will is such as to enable us to make the right choices. But we can fail to avail ourselves of this ability, or use this ability without the indicated care, with the result that we fail to make the right choice or that we make the wrong choice. Such failure to use the will, or to use it appropriately, in complex ways affects the will. It affects it in such a way that it diminishes our ability to make the right choices. A will is free (), and correspondingly a person is free, if the will is not thus diminished or constrained, if one’s ability to make the right choices is not thus reduced, for instance by having fallen into the habit of making in certain situations the wrong choices. But quite irrespective of whether or not one’s will in this way is constrained, it remains the fact that how one behaves depends on oneself in the sense that it depends on oneself how one exercises one’s will. This feature of a person John of Damascus calls . This term often is rendered by ‘freedom’ or even ‘freedom of will’ or ‘freedom of choice’. But it should be clear already from what has been said that this is

Myles Burnyeat generously read and made helpful comments on this chapter.

-63-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Byzantine Philosophy and Its Ancient Sources
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 312

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.