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Josef Seifert

But are we free? Five questions

Jun. 20, 2009, at 11:04am

But are we free? Do we possess freedom? And can we know this with our pure human reason or only accept it on faith? We need to distinguish here five questions, two general and three more specific ones:

(1) What is the nature of freedom? In what does it consist? This we must understand not only in order to assert the existence of human freedom but also in order to deny it. If we did not know WHAT freedom is and what we mean by this word, we could neither assert nor deny the existence of freedom because we would not understand at all what we are saying when we say “We are free” or what we are stating when we claim “We are not free.” Both judgments make no sense without understanding what freedom is.
(2) The second fundamental and quite independent question is: Does freedom exist?

This second question can again be divided into three distinct questions:
(a) whether human (and angelic) freedom or
(b) [only] divine freedom or
(c) both human and divine freedom do exist.

A most fundamental question for all our understanding of the human person, is no doubt whether WE are free, whether human freedom exists.

But can we truly know that we are free? Before we can answer the question whether we are free and how we can know this, we have to inquire into the nature of freedom, as we have already said. But this first huge question has to be tackled another time.


Jules van Schaijik • Jun 20, 2009 - 11:30 am

Great questions!

Wouldn’t it have been clearer, however, if you had inserted the word “only” also in question 2a?  That way the logic of the division stands out more:

a - whether only created freedom exists
b - whether only uncreated freedom exists
c - whether both, created and uncreated freedom exist.

Or have I misunderstood your questions?

Anyway, I hope we will soon get Freedom 4, 5, and 6, to answer all three.  (And Freedom 3.5, I suppose, about the nature of freedom.)

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