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Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being:
Part 2, Chapter 16.

    Now that we know the nature of Good and Evil, Truth and Falsity, and also wherein the well-being of a perfect man consists, it is time to begin to examine ourselves, and to see whether we attain to such well-being voluntarily or of necessity.

    To this end it is necessary to inquire what the Will is, according to those who posit a Will, [N1] and wherein it is different from Desire. Desire, we have said, is the inclination which the soul has towards something which it chooses as a good; whence it follows that before our desire inclines towards something outside, we have already inwardly decided that such a thing is good, and this affirmation, or, stated more generally, the power to affirm and to deny, is called the Will. [N2]
[Note N1]: B omits the words "according ... Will."

[Note N2]: Now the Will, regarded as Affirmation or Decision *is different from true Belief and from Opinion. It* differs from True Belief in this, that it extends also to that which is not truly good; and this is so because it lacks that conviction whereby it is clearly seen that it cannot be otherwise; in the case of true belief there is, and must be, this conviction, because from it none but good desires emanate.
    But it also differs from Opinion in this, that it can sometimes be quite infallible and certain; this is not the case with Opinion, which consists in guessing and supposing.
    So that we can call it Belief in so far as it can proceed with certainty, and Opinion in so far as it is subject to error.

    It thus turns on the question whether our Affirmations are made voluntarily or necessarily, that is, whether we can make any affirmation or denial about a thing without some external cause compelling us to do so. Now we have already shown that a thing which is not explained [N1] through itself, or whose existence does not pertain to its essence, must necessarily have an external cause; and that a cause which is to produce something must produce it necessarily; it must therefore also follow that each separate act of willing [N2] this or that, each separate act of affirming or denying this or that of a thing, these, I say, must also result from some external cause: so also the definition which we have given of a cause is, that it cannot be free.
[Note N1]: B: which does not exist.

[Note N2]: It is certain that each separate volition must have an external cause through which it comes into being; for, seeing that existence does not pertain to its essence, its existence must necessarily be due to the existence of something else.
    As to the view that the efficient cause [N2N1] thereof is not an Idea but the human Will itself, and that the Understanding is a cause without which the will can do nothing, so that the Will in its undetermined form, and also the Understanding, are not things of Reason, but real entities -- so far as I am concerned, whenever I consider them attentively they appear to be universals, and I can attribute no reality to them. Even if it be so, however, still it must be admitted that Willing is a modification of the Will, and that the Ideas are a mode of the Understanding; the Understanding and the Will are therefore necessarily distinct, and really distinct substances, because [only] substance is modified, and not the mode itself. As the soul is said to direct these two substances, it must be a third substance. All these things are so confused that it is impossible to have a clear and distinct conception about them. For, since the Idea is not in the Will, but in the Understanding, and in consequence of the rule that the mode of one substance cannot pass over into the other substance, love cannot arise in the will: because to will something when there is no idea of that thing in the willing power involves self-contradiction. If you say that the Will, owing to its union with the Understanding, also becomes aware of that which the Understanding understands, and thus also loves it, *one may retort to this:* but since awareness is also an apprehension, [N2N2] it is therefore also a mode of understanding; following the above, however, this cannot be in the Will, even if its union [with the Will] were like that of the soul and body. For suppose that the body is united with the soul, as the philosophers generally maintain, even so the body never feels, nor does the soul become extended. [N2N3]. When they say that the Soul directs both the Understanding and the Will, this is * not only* inconceivable, * but even self-contradictory,* because by saying so they seem to deny that the will is free, which is opposed to their view. But, to conclude, I have no inclination to adduce all my objections against positing a created finite substance. I shall only show briefly that the Freedom of the Will does not in any way accord with such an enduring creation; namely, that the same activity [N2N4] is required of God in order to maintain *a thing* in existence as to create it, and that otherwise the thing could not last for a moment; as this is so, nothing can be attributed to it. [N2N5] But we must say that God has created it just as it is; for as it has no power to maintain itself in existence while it exists, much less, then, can it produce something by itself. If, therefore, any one should say that the soul produces the volition from itself, then I ask, by what power? Not by that which has been, for it is no more; also not by that which it has now, for it has none at all whereby it might exist or last for a single moment, because it is continuously created anew. Thus, then, as there is no thing that has any power to maintain itself, or to produce anything, there remains nothing but to conclude that God alone, therefore, is and must be the efficient cause of all things, and that all acts of Volition are determined by him *alone.*

[Note N2N1]: A: the idea of the efficient cause.
[Note N2N2]: A: an apprehension [or "conception"] and a confused idea.
[Note N2N3]: A continues: For then a Chimera,in which we conceive two substances might become one; this is false.
[Note N2N4]: B: ... such an enduring creation as they admit; for, if one and the same activity...
[Note N2N5]: B: ... as this is so, no causality can be attributed to the thing.

    Possibly this will not satisfy some who are accustomed to keep their understanding busy with things of Reason more than with Particular things which really exist in Nature; and, through doing so, they come to regard a thing of Reason not [N1] as such, but as a real thing.[N2]. For, because man has now this, now that volition, he forms in his soul a general mode which he calls Will, just as from this man and that man he also forms the Idea of man; [N3] and because he does not adequately distinguish the real things from the things of Reason, he comes to regard the things of Reason as things which really exist in Nature, and so he regards himself as a cause of some things. This happens not infrequently in the treatment of the subject about which we are speaking. For if any one is asked why people want this or that, the answer usually given is, because they have a will. But, since the Will, as we have said, is only an Idea of our willing this or that, and therefore only a mode of thought, a thing of reason, and not a real thing, nothing can be caused by it; for out of nothing, nothing comes. And so, as we have shown that the will is not a thing in Nature, but only in fancy, I also think it unnecessary to ask whether the will is free or not free.
[Note N1]: B: no more.

[Note N2]: B continues: and thus regard themselves as the cause of some things; as happens not infrequently in the matter about which we are at present speaking.

[Note N3]: B continues: if then the question is asked, why people want this or that, they answer...

    I say this not [only] of will in general, which we have shown to be a mode of thought, but also of the particular act of willing this or that, which act of willing some have identified with affirmation and denial. Now this should be clearly evident to every one who only attends to what we have already said. For we have said [N1] that the understanding is purely passive; it is an awareness, in the soul, of the essence and existence of things; so that it is never we who affirm or deny something of a thing, but it is the thing itself that affirms or denies, in us, something of itself.
[Note N1]: In B this paragraph begins thus: "Now in order to understand whether we are really free, or not free in any particular act of willing, that is of affirming or denying this or that, we must recall to our memory what we have already said, namely, ..."

    Possibly some will not admit this, because it seems to them that they are well able to affirm or to deny of the thing something different from what they know about the thing. But this is only because they have no idea of the conception which the soul has of the thing apart from or without the words [N1] [in which it is expressed]. It is quite true that (when there are reasons which prompt us to do so) we can, in words or by some other means, represent the thing to others differently from what we know it to be; but we can never bring it so far, either by words or by any other means, that we should feel about the things differently from what we feel about them; that is impossible, and clearly so to all who have for once attended to their understanding itself apart from the use of words or other significant signs.
[Note N1]: B: ... because they make no distinction between the idea which the soul has of a thing, and the words in which the same is expressed.

    Against this, however, some perchance may say: If it is not we, but the thing itself, that makes the affirmation and denial about itself in us, then nothing can be affirmed or denied except what is in agreement with the thing; and consequently there is no falsity. For we have said that falsity consists in affirming (or denying) aught of a thing which does not accord with that thing; that is, what the thing does not affirm or deny about itself. I think, however, that if only we consider well what we have already said about Truth and Falsity, then we shall see at once that these objections have already been sufficiently answered. For we have said that the object is the cause of what is affirmed or denied thereof, [N1] be it true or false: *falsity arising thus,* namely, because, when we happen to know something *or a part* of an object, we imagine [N2] that the object (although we only know very little of it) nevertheless affirms or denies that of itself as a whole; this takes place mostly in feeble souls, which receive very easily a mode or [N3] an idea through a slight action of the object, and make no further affirmation or denial apart from this.
[Note N1]: A: ... the cause of that about which something is affirmed or denied; B: the cause of our affirmation or denial thereof, ...

[Note N2]: B continues: that the whole is such; this takes place ...

[Note N3]: B omits "a mode or."

    Lastly, it might also be objected that there are many things which we *sometimes* want and [sometimes also] do not want, [N1] as, for example, to assert something about a thing or not to assert it, to speak the truth, and not to speak it, and so forth. But this results from the fact that Desire is not adequately distinguished from Will. [N2] For the Will, according to those who maintain that there is a Will, is only the activity of the understanding whereby we affirm or deny something about a thing, with regard to good or evil. Desire, however, is the disposition of the soul to obtain or to do something for the sake of the good or evil that is discerned therein; so that even after we have made an affirmation or denial about the thing, Desire still remains, namely, when we have ascertained or affirmed that the thing is good; such is the Will, according to their statements, while desire is the inclination, which we only subsequently feel, to advance it -- so that, even according to their own statements, the Will may well exist without the Desire, but not the Desire without the Will, which must have preceded it.
[Note N1]: B continues: or about which we [sometimes] assert something, and [sometimes] do not assert it ...

[Note N2]: B continues as follows: For, although they are both of them an affirmation or denial of a thing, they nevertheless differ in this that the last occurs without regard, and the first with reference, to the good or evil which is discerned in the thing: so that, even after we have made the affirmation or denial about the thing, the Desire itself remains, namely, to obtain or to do what we have ascertained or affirmed to be good, so that the Will may well exist without the Desire, but not the Desire without the Will.

    All the activities, therefore, which we have discussed above (since they are carried out through Reason under the appearance of good, or are hindered by Reason under the appearance of evil) can only be subsumed under that inclination which is called Desire, and by no means under the designation of Will, which is altogether inappropriate.
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