This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Question Of Free Will: Descartes, Hume, And Nietzsche

2474 words - 10 pages

The power of acting without necessity and acting on one’s own discretions, free will still enamors debates today, as it did in the past with philosophers Nietzsche, Descartes, and Hume. There are two strong opposing views on the topic, one being determinism and the other “free will”. Determinism, or the belief a person lacks free will and all events including human actions are determined by forces outside the will of an individual contrasts the entire premise of free will. Rene Descartes formulates his philosophical work through deductive reasoning and follows his work with his system of reasoning. David Hume analyzes philosophical questions with inductive reasoning and skeptism with a strong systematic order. Neither a systematic philosopher nor a rigid thinker, Nietzsche offers his own nihilistic spin on the topic of free will. The three different approaches of free will by Nietzsche, Hume, and Descartes all obtain their strong suits as well as their pitfalls. Nietzsche insists free will is created by theologians and therefore denies its existence, while Descartes embraces free will, and Hume individualizes the meaning of free will.
With the “Design Argument” in Meditations on First Philosophy to ignite his proclamation of the topic of free will, Descartes summons free will is given entirely through the creator, God. With his robust belief of God, Descartes concludes free will attributes to God’s creation of a person. Descartes announces, “I make mistakes because the faculty of judging the truth, which I got from God, is not, in my case infinite” (54-55, Meditations). Descartes believes errors of judgment are given to him from God, but in the end the choice is up to no one but himself. He takes full responsibility for his decisions, the ultimate attribute of free will. Explaining further, “…errors depend on simultaneous concurrence of two cases: the faculty of knowing, that is in me and the faculty of choosing…” (56-57, Meditations). The power of knowing and the power of choosing combined lead one to create faults, nothing more and nothing fewer. A person, God’s creation, is made to decide and follow certain paths, and errors will be made due to the finite abilities of a person. It is a mistake to not take advantage of this freedom of the will, for it is the infinite God’s plan. Descartes’ philosophy revolves around certainty and entrustment of God, so it comes at no surprise the backbone of free will is based on belief of God. Descartes pronounces, “…it is an imperfection in me that I do not use my freedom well” (61-62, Meditations). If free will, or freedom as he states, is misused, that indicates only an imperfection in him. Full responsibility for mishaps in judgments and decisions are only caused by an individual’s finite ability given from an infinite being. Further Descartes says, “…willing is merely a matter of being, able to do or not do the same thing” (57-58, Meditations). Descartes entrusts being alive accompanies obtaining a...

Find Another Essay On The Question of Free Will: Descartes, Hume, and Nietzsche

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

Empiricism versus rationalism: Descartes and Hume

645 words - 3 pages Rationalism and empiricism have always been on opposite sides of the philosophic spectrum, Rene Descartes and David Hume are the best representative of each school of thought. Descartes’ rationalism posits that deduction, reason and thus innate ideas are the only way to get to true knowledge. Empiricism on the other hand, posits that by induction, and sense perception, we may find that there are in fact no innate ideas, but that truths must be

Hume, Descartes, and Nietzsche's Views on Immortality

1290 words - 6 pages vanity: it was precisely all the failures, all the rebellious-minded, all the less-favored, the whole scum and refuse of humanity who were thus won over to it. The ‘salvation of the soul’—in plain language: ‘the world revolves around me.’” (Nietzsche, 224) However, Descartes claims that immortality does exist. He says that: “Human soul does not die with the body, and that God exists, certainly no unbelievers seem capable of being persuaded of

the problem of free will

2334 words - 10 pages In the following essay I will describe the problem of free will and explain several different responses to the problem. These responses will be derived from the determinist, libertarian, and compatibilist views. I will end the essay by arguing that the compatibilist view seems to best address the problem of free will, but does not necessarily solve it. The problem of free will arises from two conflicting ideas. The first idea is that people

The Illusion of Free Will

1180 words - 5 pages independent decision is known as free will. Some biologist say that free will is just an illusion like Cashmore. What you call a conscious intention is more predictable than a cause of your behavior. When you have a conscious experience of deciding to move our hand or feet, the behavior is already starting to happen. Other biologist and philosophers reply that you do make decisions, in the sense that something within you initiates the action. Even though

The Free Will of Macbeth

816 words - 3 pages The Free Will of Macbeth      Destiny "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." (William Jennings Bryan) Are we in control of our own destiny, our own fate, or are our lives really already planned and mapped out for us? Does Macbeth willfully choose evil in order to achieve his "destiny"? Or, is his "destiny" doomed by the witches' prophecies

Morality. Rene Descartes, Thomas Hobbes and David Hume were all after the truth

608 words - 2 pages Rene Descartes, Thomas Hobbes and David Hume are well known philosophers of the time. These three men were after the truth. The truth about life. The truth about how one exists. The truth about the world around them. They questioned, thought, and reasoned. This is what they did. There goal was to arrive at true and certain knowledge.Descartes and Hobbes were both rationalists. They did not trust their senses. Senses deceive and cover up the

Relinquishment of Free Will in The Birthmark and Carnal Knowledge

1202 words - 5 pages , and they justify that choice with emotional devotion. Both stories describe how this voluntary relinquishment of free will results in misfortune and unhappiness. The use of weak characters in major roles allows the authors to illustrate the dangers of putting oneself in such a position. WORKS CITED Boyle, T. Coraghessan. "Carnal Knowledge." The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000. 242-255. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The Birthmark." The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000. 277-288.  

Nietzsche as Free Spirit and New Philosopher

1890 words - 8 pages conceptualizes himself, as I will show, as both a "free spirit" and as a "new philosopher."   Nietzsche spends a great deal of time describing the characteristics of both of these types. The central characteristic of the complex characterization of the free spirit is freedom - although Nietzsche conceptualizes this freedom in a non-traditional manner: it is not a political freedom, and it is certainly not democratic. In fact, this freedom "is for

Descartes and Hume: A Look at Skepticism and Finding Stability

905 words - 4 pages considerations…in order to render them, within their sphere, the proper criteria of truth and falsehood,” (Hume 37). Hume believes that accepting specific exceptions about the senses will allow one to continue using them to further find truth, rather than to discard them altogether, as Descartes does. One final distinction between Descartes and Hume is that along with being unnecessary, Hume feels that Descartes’ method is simply impractical because

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

698 words - 3 pages :  "Would not one rightly judge and say that on me, these things were sent by some malignant God?" (Sophocles 828-829) Yet he never answers his own question.  Near the end of the play, Oedipus acknowledges, "It was Apollo, friends, Apollo, that brought this bitter bitterness, my sorrows to completion" (Sophocles 1329-1330), yet he recognizes the god as the agent who will work this out, not as the sovereign of fate.       These citations reveal

Similar Essays

The Question Of Free Will Versus Fate

1164 words - 5 pages The question of free will--the idea that we are free to make decisions unhindered by external forces--is very disconcerting to deal with because most people are not willing to accept that we are not in control of our lives. It is also controversial because it wrestles with the idea of a world possibly without moral responsibility. If there is no free will how do we hold a person responsible for molesting someone or for stealing? If someone

Descartes Free Will Essay

1957 words - 8 pages which we do not have a complete understanding of. Descartes’ argument, as I will briefly describe, is quite sound, if you agree to all his conditions (being that the intellect is limited and the will infinite). I am not, as of yet, sure if I necessarily agree to the later of his two conditions. I will strive to evaluate different discernments of what will is, and if it is truly free. Then apply it to his argument. But first let me explain

Damn The Fates The Question Of Free Will

1452 words - 6 pages she would like to lead and have the freedom to live according to their own means and thus choose their own destiny; determinism is the circumstance of a higher being ordaining a man's life from the day he was born until the day he dies. Free will is in itself a far-reaching ideal that exemplifies the essence of what mankind could be when he determines his own fate. But with determinism, a man has a predetermined destiny and fate that absolutely

An Essay With Personal Opinions On Hume And Descartes On The Theory Of Ideas

613 words - 2 pages David Hume and Rene Descartes are philosophers with opposing views about the origination of ideas. Descartes believed there were three types of ideas which are, innate, adventitious and those from imagination. He stated since he exists and his idea of what a perfect being is, such as God, then God exists. Hume, on the other had, believed ideas came only from one thing, impressions. Both theories have their strengths and weaknesses but I like