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Degrees of Freedom
Degrees of Freedom

(Self-governance and responsibility in the Byzantine concept of will)

Author(s): Smilen Markov
Subject(s): Metaphysics, Ethics / Practical Philosophy, Philosophy of Middle Ages, Systematic Theology, Eastern Orthodoxy
Published by: Издателство »Изток-Запад«
Keywords: Responsibility; freedom; self-governance; virtue; physiology.

Summary/Abstract: The Christian concept of free will connotes responsibility of the individual subject. The fact that the Byzantine speculation on rational will contains a gradation of two levels of freedom, the latter being commensurable with the divinized state of human nature in Christ, poses the question of the cognitive and anthropological grounds of human responsibility. By focusing on some emblematic conceptualizations of the act of will in the ascetical and in the philosophical tradition, the text demonstrates that the determinants of the volitional self-government are not derived merely from the ontological characteristics of the objects of will – be it the final goals or the means leading to them. The cognitive content of the act of free will integrates a component of self-reflection. Through the γνώμη, dealt with in the second conceptual unit of the article, the individual subject modifies the mode of his interaction with the other human hypostases and with Christ. The referential framework of volitional self-reflection is the perfection of the union of soul and body in every single human existence. Instructive is the fact that the optimal values of this union, namely the virtues, are validated in a physiological discourse, and not through a set of behavioral principles. The last section of the text studies the relation between physiology and freedom in view of the holistic anthropological model.

  • Issue Year: 2015
  • Issue No: 21
  • Page Range: 17-35
  • Page Count: 19
  • Language: English, Greek, Ancient (to 1453)