Grace, Free Will, And Human Nature

2041 words - 9 pages

When the Renaissance dawned over Europe’s Dark Ages, half a millennium of intellectual thought, long unchallenged, found new opponents on all sides. Aided by the printing press, fresh ideas in science, art, and religion spread freely across the Western World, falling under the scrutiny of an ever-expanding population of the literate. With this widespread intellectual excitement came greater individualism, more celebration of human achievement, and stronger focus on the secular world—a major shift from the heaven-focused outlook of the Middle Ages, in which people felt they were little more than the feeble playthings of fate. But are human beings really able to change their destinies through their choices? Are they capable of good? Three significant Renaissance writers—Machiavelli, Erasmus, and Luther—each provide an answer to these essential questions of the day.
Among the three, Machiavelli takes a unique position, writing from a purely secular point of view. Throughout his book The Prince, he champions human ability, describing how a would-be conqueror can use his skills, talents, and cunning to gain and keep power. Since each chapter in the book focuses almost exclusively on strategies and qualities that aspiring princes should use and develop, it is obvious that Machiavelli believes that human will, used carefully, is powerful enough to conquer something as significant as an empire. In Machiavelli’s view, no higher power—whether it be fate or God—has complete control over who governs. His shrewd, analytical, and completely irreligious point of view was actually rather radical for his time, since many people still believed in the divine right of kings.
Machiavelli, however, does acknowledge that it would be naïve to assume that princes, no matter how well they plan, are never affected by circumstances beyond their control. In Chapter XXV, entitled “How much power fortune has over human affairs, and how it should be resisted,” he writes, “I am not unaware that many have thought, and many still think, that the affairs of this world are so ruled by fortune and by God that the ability of men cannot control them…I am disposed to hold that fortune is the arbiter of half our actions, but that it lets us control roughly the other half” (Machiavelli 84-85). He then explains that with the proper preparation, fate can be held at bay, and he provides an example of a river that often floods. Although nothing can be done when the flood has already come, the calamity can be prevented altogether if dikes and dams are built up in strategic places beforehand (Machiavelli 85). In this chapter, he also mentions that, in general, men are successful when their methods are suited to the circumstances. Therefore, if a man can adapt to new situations by becoming flexible enough to know when his usual methods will not work, he will have more power to navigate changing affairs (Machiavelli 85-86).
The attitude presented in The Prince brings up an interesting paradox:...

Find Another Essay On Grace, Free Will, and Human Nature

Free Will And Determinism Essay

679 words - 3 pages Gregg Andrews Phi 130 November 1, 2001 Writing Assignment 2 Free Will And Determinism The problem of free will and determinism has troubled the mind of man since time began. The reason it is a problem is that no one knows the truth. There are two sides to this issue. One side says, "Everything in the universe is governed by causal laws." This view is called hard determinism. The opposite if this view is the libertarian theory. This view believes

Any interpretation of obedience to authority, whether good or bad, or examination of the phenomenology of obedience to authority will lead a reader to make judments on human nature.

1566 words - 6 pages human nature. It supplements ideas individuals use to make decisions in life and confirms with their conscience if the choices they make are morally valid. Human conscience is an inborn instinct, a "gut" feeling that drives a person to think twice about their decision. While human instincts are inborn, society influences one's decisions in life.Humans instinctively adapt to a situation without being taught. In the Zimbardo experiment, "guards were

Freedom and Exercising Free Will

1917 words - 8 pages , including every human decision and action, is the inevitable and necessary consequence of antecedent states of affairs” (Determinism). This provides the view that every event, including human actions, is brought about by previous events in accordance with the “law of nature” that governs the predetermined path. If this were true, we aren’t responsible for any actions, natures would be at fault as we have no free will. “Does the fact that

Free Will and Determinism Views

1954 words - 8 pages The aim of this essay is to prove the reliability of and why Libertarianism is the most coherent of the three Free Will and Determinism views. It refers to the idea of human free will being true, that one is not determined, and therefore, they are morally responsible. In response to the quote on the essay, I am disagreeing with Wolf. This essay will be further strengthened with the help of such authors as C.A. Campell, R. Taylor and R.M

Free will, determinism and fatalism.

1533 words - 6 pages human freedom. We are simply biological entities behaving in accordance with the laws of nature. If you knew all the laws, then you could determine all of our behavior". I believe this theory holds some truth, it applies to more important choices an individual will make, like for example in the area of love. It is difficult for me that a person was for each another. In the notes, "Hume and Stace simply redefine freedom to be acting in accordance

Free Will, Determinism, and Responsibility

946 words - 4 pages Free Will, Determinism, and Responsibility There are many events in a person's life that have an impact so large, that the person' life is forever changed. Hopefully most such events are positive, and help him in his life. However, there is also the undeniable fact that bad things happen. It is not uncommon to hear someone wondering aloud why an event took place. A person's actions come into question, and it is wondered what the

Human and Nature

1490 words - 6 pages -16). He knows the importance of work and responsibilities. At this particular moment, he realizes that he has to go to his destination, and tasks need to be finished. Erin illuminates, “the idea here is that there is time to rest when job is finished” (2). He is aware of his personal relationships, promises, and responsibilities. He knew woods are dark, and lovely. But, he has to go against his free will. He has to leave the nature behind and

othello and human nature

576 words - 2 pages that he must force Cassio out of his lieutenancy position by any means; and his way of doing it is by playing mind tricks with the gullible and ignorant Othello. What Shakespeare intends to get across with Iago’s evil character is that society will do anything to get what they desire. In general, Shakespeare disputes the effect hypocrisy has on human nature; he intends to say that lying to get further in life is meaningless, and one should rather be satisfied with the good in their life.

Science and Human Nature

2077 words - 8 pages created and the reinforcement of other side characters and social background, both authors have built up a dark side on their character’s ambiguities, revealing a fact that any scientific study that goes against human nature, will not be helpful but harmful to both the scientist himself/herself and others. In these two novels, both authors have used their main characters, the two scientists, as the narrators of their stories. With first

Analysis of John Gardner's Grendel as being an illustration of the shattered innocent/fallen from grace archetype, as well an accurate depiction of human nature

810 words - 3 pages People believe in things. They believe strongly. And when those beliefs are broken, they often feel personally betrayed by that. This is the idea expressed in John Gardner's Grendel. In this story, Gardner illustrates what can happen when everything a person believes is challenged and how they may react to that.Grendel, in this story, represents the common man. He is not overly intelligent, but nor is he stupid. He illustrates human emotions and

Destiny, Fate, Free Will and Free Choice in Oedipus the King - The Paradox of Free Will

1315 words - 5 pages A Paradox: Oedipus's Free will in the Play Oedipus Rex William Shakespeare once wrote, "Who can control his fate?" (Othello, Act v, Sc.2). A hero and leader must acknowledge above all else his honor, and the pride of his image.  In ancient Greek beliefs, a hero was a man who stood taller than the rest; he was able to better any conflict.  He did this not for himself or for any token award that may be given to him, but for the security of

Similar Essays

Consciousness, Free Will, And Purpose In Human Life

891 words - 4 pages Consciousness, Free Will, and Purpose in Human LifeIn the book Minds, Brains, and Science, author John Searle discusses the ability of humans to provide their own consciousness and free will. He poses the question, "Why exactly is there no room for the freedom of the will on the contemporary scientific view?" (93). In short, his argument is that contemporary science (such as physics) looks at problems from the bottom up. The smallest parts and

God's Nature Vs. Man's Free Will

1915 words - 8 pages arise, however, when the ideas are brought together as a system of beliefs. Some parts of God's nature seem to disallow the possibility of free will. How can God's knowledge of all actions - past, present, and future - allow any human to make a choice of his own volition? By its very nature, omniscience is infallible, therefore it seems that one is not free to choose anything other than that which God knows. This apparent dichotomy was presented to

Philosophical Exploration Of Human Free Will

1144 words - 5 pages his ideas and comes up with the idea of dehumanization. (Midgley 2003) Simplifying ideas leads us to make choices those will result with humans’ free wills. In other words, having free will comes with simplicity of human beings. Another theory that Midgley argues with is Blank Paper theory which says that humans born just like a blank paper. Then we can shape and fill this paper as we would like to. Midgley opposes with this idea. She says that it

Spinoza And Free Will Essay

984 words - 4 pages going to sleep in late? The belief that God knows everything and all things big and small does highly contrast with the fact of if we have free will or not. There are many different views on the way free will is looked upon, but there are other cases that can show that human body does not have free will. Is there something that governs our bodies, that controls them in ways where we have no clue that it has happened until seconds to minutes after