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Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being:
Part 2, Chapter 17.

    Now that it is known that we have no *free* will to make an affirmation or a denial, let us just see what is the correct and true distinction between will and desire, or what may the Will be which was called by the Latins voluntas. [N1]
[Note N1]: B adds: or good will.

    According to Aristotle's definition, Desire appears to be a genus containing two species. For he says that the Will is the longing or inclination which one feels towards that which *is or* seems good. Whence it appears to me that by Desire (or cupiditas) he means any inclination, be it towards good, be it towards evil; but when the inclination is only towards what is *or appears to be* good, or when the man who has such inclination, has it under the appearance of good, then he calls it voluntas or good will; while, if it is bad, that is, when we observe in another an inclination towards something which is bad [N1] he calls that voluptas or bad will. So that the inclination of the soul is not something whereby affirmations or denials are made, but only an inclination to obtain something which appears to be good, and [N2] to flee from what appears to be bad.
[Note N1]: B: and if, on the contrary, it is bad, or towards evil ...

[Note N2]: B: or.

    It, therefore, remains to inquire now whether the Desire is free or not free. In addition to what we have already said, namely, that Desire depends on the idea of its objects, and that this understanding must have an external cause, and in addition also to what we have said about the will, it still remains to prove that Desire is not free. Many people, although they see quite well that the knowledge which man has of various things is a medium through which his longing or inclination passes over from one thing to another, yet fail to observe what that may be which thus lures the inclination from the one to the other.

    However, to show that this inclination of ours is not of our own free will (and in order to present vividly before our eyes what it is to pass over, and to be drawn, from one thing to another), we shall imagine a child becoming aware of something for the first time. For example, I hold before him a little Bell, which produces a pleasant sound for his ears, so that he conceives a longing for it; consider now whether he could really help feeling this longing or desire. If you say, Yes, then I ask, how, through what cause *is this to happen*? Certainly not through something which he knows to be better, because this is all that he knows; nor, again, through its appearing to be bad to him, for he knows nothing else, and this pleasure is the very best that has ever come to him. But perchance he has the freedom to banish from him the longing which he feels; whence it would follow that this longing may well arise in us without our free will, but that all the same we have in us the freedom to banish it from us. This freedom, however, will not bear examination; for what, [N1] indeed, might it be that shall be able to annihilate the longing? The longing itself? Surely no, for there is nothing that through its own nature seeks its own undoing. What then might it ultimately be that shall be able to wean him from his longing? Nothing else, forsooth, except that in the natural order and course of things he is affected by something which he finds more pleasant than the first. And, therefore, just as, when we were considering the Will, we said that the human Will is nothing but this and that Volition, so also man has no other than this and that Desire which is caused by this and that idea; [N2] Desire [in the abstract] is not anything actually existing in Nature, but is only an abstraction from the particular acts of desiring this or that. Desire, then, as it is not really anything, can also not really cause anything. So that when we say that Desire is free, it is just as much as if we said that this or that Desire is its own cause -- that is, that before it existed it had already arranged that it should exist; which is absurdity itself, and cannot be.
[Note N1]: B: I say that this freedom will not stand the slightest test. This will be clearly evident; for what, ...

[Note N2]: B concludes this chapter as follows: If then we say that Desire is free, it is just as if we had said that this or that Desire is the cause of itself, and, already before it existed, had brought it about that it should exist: which is absurdity itself and is impossible. And Desire, regarded as a universal, being nothing but an abstraction from the particular acts of desiring this or that, and, beyond this, not actually existing in Nature, can, as such, also cause nothing.

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