Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm concludes that one requires two wills to be free by arguing that to be free is to have an ability. In this paper I will argue that Anselm believes that this ability is incompatible with an Aristotelian doctrine of the will and that to have this ability, we must have at least two wills. Only in such a model is one free. Then I will argue that the agent who abandons justice differs from the one-willed creature Anselm considers in chapter 13,because the latter is not acting freely, whereas the former is acting freely.

In the 3rd meditation of Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes thinks he has proved the existence of God. Given that God is good, and that he exists, Descartes must now explain why we make mistakes. He argues that we make mistakes because we make judgments about ideas that are not clear and distinct. If we refrained from making judgments in those cases, we would not make any errors. This raises a puzzle: Granted that we can constrain our will when we dont have clear and distinct ideas, can we constrain our will when we do have clear and distinct ideas? Or are we compelled to judge on things of which we have clear and distinct ideas? If the latter is the case, then it appears we dont have a free will which would raise serious issues about responsibility for sin and so forth.

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According to the Aristotelian doctrine of the will, our will is directed towards a single end, which is happiness. All deliberation that one makes will be in regards to the means to this single end. There can be no mistake in the direction of the will. If a mistake is made, it will be in the deliberation process or in the execution of the desired means to the end. In either case, the mistake will be such that one has no control over it. Otherwise if one did have control over it then one would simply deliberate the potential mistake. But, Anselm thinks, since mistakes are made, and they must be explained in terms of the will since everything is done according to the will, then it would appear that there must be some sort of malfunction in the way in which we were designed by God. But he assumes that God did not make an error in the creation of man because doing so would make God less that perfect.

The general worry in the Aristotelian doctrine of the will is that since there is a single end, then we cant make opposite judgments because there is only a single will. We are compelled to act on our will, and that would rule out the possibility of free will, and responsibility that goes along with free will. In chapter 4, Anselm explains this problem in discussing how the Devil sinned. He writes,
T.But no one keeps justice except by willing what he ought, and no one deserts justice except by willing what he ought not.

T.Therefore, by willing something that he was not supposed to will at that time, he deserted justice and thereby sinned.

S.This follows. But I ask: What did he will?
T.Whatever he already had in his possession he was supposed to will.

S.Yes, he was supposed to will what he had received from God, and he did not sin by willing that.

T.Therefore, he willed something which he did not already have and was not supposed to will at that time.
T.But the Devil was able to will nothing except what is just or beneficial.
The thought is that if we have one end which is happiness, then everything we will is willed in accordance with this end. Therefore, if the Devil deserted justice, he did it by willing in accordance with this single end. That being the case, how could his deserting of justice have possibly been a sin, since it was done in accordance with the will he had been given by God? The only way the Devil could have sinned was by acting contrary to his will, which Anselm thinks is impossible if you only have one will.
What is necessary but absent in the Aristotelian model is the liberty of indifference. The liberty of indifference is to be able to make a contradictory judgment or refrain from judgment, even in the face of a powerful inclination. That is to say that even when the idea is presented to the will by the intellect with clarity and distinctness, the will is not compelled to judge and can judge otherwise. In the Aristotelian model, however, mistakes that are made involve irrationality because there is only one will. Therefore, in order for a mistake not to involve irrationality, Anselm thinks we need two wills. Otherwise it would appear as though we make irrational mistakes because we are not rational enough, which would indicate that God erred in his creation of man.

By will, Anselm does not mean two distinct instruments for willing. Rather, he proposes that the will have two inclinations. One inclination is the do what makes us happy because we seek happiness, and the other inclination is to do what is right because it is right. The fact that there are two wills makes it possible that we might choose one over the other. This view makes the liberty of indifference possible because acting contrary to one will does not make it necessary that we be making an irrational mistake.
The Anselmian model of two wills allows one to be free because in certain cases we have the ability to choose one inclination over the other. In the Aristotelian model, since we could only do what we will to do, there is essentially no freedom to choose since there is only one will. Freedom implies that there be an ability to choose between two choices, which entails responsibility. In chapter 5, the teacher says to the student, You are certain that if the good angels were not able to sin, then they kept justice not by their own ability but by necessity. It would follow that they no more merited grace from God because they remained standing while the others fell than because they preserved rationality, which they were unable to lose. The teacher seems the think that it is not appropriate that God give grace to the angels that did not fall if falling was not a possibility. If their uprightness was guaranteed then there was never a possibility that they could fall, which would imply that the good angels took no part in their remaining upright. Yet it seems unwarranted, in this case, that God should give them grace. To deserve Gods grace, it must be the case that the angels chose to remain upright, which entails that they are upright because of their own ability. So in any given case where the intellect presents to the will ideas that are clear and distinct, it may be that we choose between means that which will make us happy, or between means that are just. And we may also face having to choose between what makes us happy or what is just. In either case we have the ability to choose, and so we have freedom of will.

It is clear, Anselm seems to think, that Satan sinned because he deserted justice. An objection might be made that since Satan no longer possesses justice he only possesses the will for happiness. If he only has the will for happiness, then he cant be responsible for his sins since he would only be acting then in accordance with the only will he has. Therefore, he no longer has free will, as in the Aristotelian model. Anselm disagrees, and in chapter 13 he describes the one-willed creature that would not be subject to free will. This creature will not be able to will anything other than happiness since the will for happiness is the only will he has. Furthermore, he will will to a further degree that which he thinks will bring the greatest happiness. It follows that since this is the only will he has, he cant stop willing happiness because he would have to will to stop, and that will is distinct from the will for happiness which has already been postulated as being the only will. God is the greatest happiness, but this creature cant be God so he will will any lesser benefits he is able to attain. Anselm writes,
T.When he willed unclean and very base benefits in which irrational animals take pleasure, wouldnt this same will be unjust and blameworthy?
S.How would it be unjust and blameworthy, for it would will what it had received not to be able to keep from willing?
T.However, it is evident that this will is the work of God, whether when it wills the loftiest benefits or when it wills the basest ones. And it is evident that neither justice nor injustice is in this will. Therefore, insofar as this will is a being, it is something good. But as far as justice or injustice is concerned, this will is neither good nor evil.

Since this creature is operating under the only will it has, the justice or injustice of its actions are irrelevant. In essence, this creature is not acting freely.
The Devil is given both the will for happiness and justice. Unlike the one-willed creature, the Devil is free to choose. Anselm writes in chapter 14, Thus possessing a just will-for-happiness he could and should be happy. And by not willing what he ought no to will, although able to will it, he would merit never to be able to will what he ought not to will. And by always keeping justice by means of a tempered will, he would in no way experience need. It happens to be, however, that the Devil realizes that what would make him happy is to be like God insofar as having an autonomous will. That is to say, doing things because he wants to do them. But this would require that he abandon justice, which is to do what God wants him to do because God wants him to do it. Nevertheless, he believes that although he must abandon justice he will increase his happiness, and so he chooses to do so.
The Devils situation having deserted justice is different from the situation of the one-willed creature. In chapter 16, Anselm explains,
T.Before that will received this justice, was it under obligation to will and not to will in accordance with justice?
S.No, it was not under an obligation with respect to what it had not received and therefore did not have.

T.However, you do not doubt that it was under an obligation after it received justice unless it were to lose justice as the result of some overpowering force?
S.I think that the will is always bound to this obligation whether it keeps what it has received or whether it willingly deserts it.

The thought is that though having deserted justice it would appear that the Devil is no longer subject to justice, he ought to have justice and since he no longer has justice then he is deemed unjust. The one-willed creature was not unjust because it was not the case the justice should be there, whereas the Devil has deserted justice and in so doing created a void. In this case, since one cant be happy without being just, the Devil has made a big mistake and now he is neither just nor happy.

Nevertheless, despite the fact the Devil is operating solely under the will for happiness, he still has a free will. He realizes that he is mistaken and he wants to regain justice. But he can never regain justice because that requires that he do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. The Devil wants to do the right thing because he wants to be happy. That is to say that he knows he cant be happy without doing the right thing. Therefore he will never be able to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. So he will never regain justice and will always be operating under the will-for happiness. But this is not to say that he is not operating with a free will, like the one-willed creature.
Bibliography:
Anselm of Canterbury, On the fall of the devil