My thoughts on Volition

Dear Ernest,

In answer to your compendious letter, “Seeking your thoughts on Volition“, I reply that, to the best of my knowledge, every single thought that I have ever produced has been formed entirely on volition, and that I still lack the dubious and scarcely sighted experience–to which your title seems to allude–of producing thoughts in some other singular manner that is, I presume, involuntary.  Furthermore, I would like to make it clear that, if by chance, the interpretation of your letter be erroneous that is presupposed by my replay, and if in fact, you had intended more literally to seek my thoughts by virtue of your own volition, rather than by my compliance–if this be so, then I not only apologise for the mistake, but do myself whole-heartedly urge you to disengage in your vain attempts at telepathy immediately, returning as soon as possible to a more conventional and pragmatic method of dialogical discourse.

That being settled, I voluntarily offer you someone else’s thoughts which I found quite interesting.  They are both on and about volition:

[H]omo est dominus suorum actuum, et volendi et non volendi, propter deliberationem rationis, quæ potest flecti ad unam partem vel ad aliam.  Sed quod deliberet vel non deliberet, si hujus etiam sit dominus, oportet quod hoc sit per deliberationem præcedentem.  Et cum hoc non procedat in infinitum, oportet quod finaliter deveniatur ad hoc quod liberum arbitrium hominis moveatur ab aliquo exteriori principio quod est supra mentem humana, scilicet a Deo. 

“Man is sovereign over his acts, both willing and not willing, according to the deliberation of his reason, which can be turned to one part or another.  But that which he deliberates or doesn’t deliberate, if he were also sovereign over this, this would need to be according to a preceding deliberation.  And since this may not continue ad infinitum, it must finally come to an exterior principle by which man’s free decision is moved and which is itself above the human mind—that is, God” (Thomas Aquinas, S. T. 1a2æ. 109, 2).

Your servant,

TWM

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