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On Free Choice of the Will (Hackett Classics) Paperback – October 1, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0872201880 ISBN-10: 0872201880

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Product Details

  • Series: Hackett Classics
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (October 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872201880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872201880
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Translated with an uncanny sense for the overall point of Augustine's doctrine. In short, a very good translation. The Introduction is admirably clear." --Paul Vincent Spade, Indiana University.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

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Customer Reviews

I picked it up and began to read it and couldn't put it down.
Anita Baalman
It is a short book that is concise and explores some of Augustines thoughts on free will and the consequences such as evil.
Robert
Buy this book and read only Book 2, and see a masterpiece of philosophy.
Ben Masters

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you were looking for a significant and representative but introductory level medieval Christian philosophy text, you would be hard pressed to find one better than this. When I teach intro to philosophy, I often choose representative texts from the ancient, medieval, early Modern, and roughly contemporary periods. I start with Plato, either the Apology or the Meno or both. Then we read this book. Then Descartes' Meditations. Finally, we read something from Nietzsche, de Beauvoir, or from an early American philosopher (e.g. Thoreau).

This book is an excellent part of the sequence because it introduces free will, and introduces it in a way that is very relevant to Descartes' discussion of will in connection with error. Plato (and the ancients generally) didn't really have a notion of the will: our choices are dictated by our level of understanding. Augustine understood that the Christian notion of sin entails something more radical than mere ignorance -- I must, he thought, be in some real way capable of unmotivated choice if I am to be blamed for my actions.

There are other great bits in this dialogue -- one that it IS a dialogue and so forms a nice segway from Plato's dialogues. Another is its articulation of a proof of existence that prefigures Descartes' cogito and a proof of God that is remarkably similar (though very different in intent) to Descartes' first proof in the meditations.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Alexander W. Jech on October 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is one of Augustine's early writings, from soon after his conversion. It records a conversation between himself and Evodius regarding free will. ... Augustine had very little access to Plato, and at this point in his life, probably nothing not quoted by another source. The dialogue is in fact based upon a real conversation, and not just a literary creation (a result of the philosophical community that Augustine lived in for some time after his conversion). However, Augustine edited it and added material (most of Bk. III) before publishing it.
The main things I thought a reader ought to note when reading this short work are (1) This is still the beginning of work on the will - it was not a major issue in philosophy until Augustine, although bits and pieces may be found, e.g. in Cicero; (2) Augustine's style is quite different from what most people are used to, especially since this is a record of an actual conversation; (3) the problem of evil for Augustine is of a different nature then that promulgated in modern times; (4) the only two people who had a paradigmatically free will were Adam and Eve - everyone else has a less than free will and requires God's grace to will effectively, even when they wish to do good.
It is an interesting work but still represents the early thought of Augustine. Those without a Neoplatonic background will find some of its arguments strange. There is no good introduction to Augustine - in my experience, you have to read a great deal of him in order to understand the typical way he thinks and the concepts he relies upon implicitly. Some Plotinus is probably useful.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
Excellent work on the "problem of evil" in religion. For serious intellectual contemplaters only. Whether you ultimately agree or disagree with Augustine's premise, you will certainly appreciate the depth in which he addresses an issue that the world's most prolific religions readily ignore. If God is all good and God is the creator, why is there bad?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ben Masters on July 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Aa far as I have discovered, this is the eighth English translation of this work. It is the most modern and readable. The others are out of print. It is not a fast read. Augustine often backs up five steps to make a point as solid as possible. In such a small book, only a limited number of the ramifications of the issue of free will can be well covered.
Although the main topic of the book is man's Will, which Augustine addresses effectively [another reviewer's comment that only Adam&Eve had full Free will is of paramount relevance to this problem], the real gem in this book is to be found in Book 2: the nature of Truth.
I guess I should not be surprised that no reviewer has commented on it here. None of the eight editors of the eight versions since 1929 of this work makes a significant comment on this most important of topics. Throughout history only a handful of people have commented on the topic: Anselm, Grosseteste, Aquinas, Malebranche, Nash. Please visit my website to see the results of my research on this topic.

In Book Two, spread out over many paragraphs, is Augustine's Definition of the word 'Truth'. It is the earliest and best formulated definition of 'Truth' in all of literature. There are hints in the Hermetic writings and earlier church fathers that show that Augustine possibly had some help in his formulation. But in spite of the fact that he depends upon the erroneous Platonic ideas that numbers and geometric shapes are eternal, his definition is unsurpassed but sadly overlooked.
Buy this book and read only Book 2, and see a masterpiece of philosophy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Arthur F. McVarish on March 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Any serious student of Western philosophy,theology or history of ideas must eventually confront this icon of Western thought and Church Father ultra non plus,St.Augustine of Hippo.The man is the West's first--premier--EXISTENTIAL psychologist.His response to "angst"(found in Intro to THE CONFESSIONS)is yet unsurpassed and probably unsurpassable:LORD WE WERE MADE FOR THEE...AND OUR HEARTS ARE FOREVER RESTLESS UNTIL THEY REST IN THEE.

His CITY of GOD vs.The PAGANS is prodigious philosophy of history surpassing both Hegel and Mercea Eliade(History as "slaughter bench";and history as "Terror")because Augustine..."heretic extraordinary" before conversion...understood SALVATION History is chart of Man's True Destiny(with Crucifixion and RESURRECTION of CHRIST as axis and entlechy).Ana Benjamin and L.H.Hackstaff's translation of On Free Choice of the Will(De Libro arbitrio Voluntatis)remains classic "interpretation" of this essential study on the NATURE of Fallen Man;Original Sin and degree of FREE WILL subtending the Human condition.

PLATONIC dialogue format of the treatise is readable but daunting. Augustine...never a modest man...does his best with pseudo-paradox of All Knowing/Loving God and radical EVIL. Augustine's concept of Original Sin bending/denting pristine Free Will is interesting if not totally convincing.(St.Thomas Aquinas will do better with foundational LOGOS interpreted through Aristotle rather than gnostic Plato). Still it is game and important effort that meets "Modern" questions of NURTURE vs. NATURE in the drama of Good vs.Evil better than slews of psychologists from Freud to May;Nietzschean nihilists;or Hideggerian PM anti-Christians.
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