Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Freedom of indifference

Definition: The power to choose between contraries. (The choice between good and evil is essential to freedom.) Freedom resides in the will alone.

1. Excludes natural inclinations from the free act; they are subject to choice. In regard to these inclinations, freedom is indifferent.

2. It is entire from the first moment. No stages of formation and progress are required. There is no middle ground between being free and not being free.

3. It is entire in each free choice, in theory: each act is independent, isolated from other acts, and is performed at the instant of decision

4. It has no need of virtue, which becomes a freely used habitude, or of finality, which becomes one circumstance of actions.

5. Law appears as an external restraint and a limitation of freedom; it creates an irreducible tension with it.

6. Freedom is locked within self-assertion, causing the will to be separated from the other faculties and the individual to be separated from other freedoms.

7. It creates a moral theory focused on obligation and law; its relationship to Scripture is limited to texts imposing strict obligations.

Freedom for Excellence

Definition: The power to act freely with excellence and perfection. (The choice of evil is a lack of freedom.) Freedom resides in reason and will together.

1. It is rooted in the natural inclinations to the good and true, to what has quality and perfection. It springs from an attraction to what appears true and good, and from an interest in it.

2. It is bestowed in embryo at the beginning of moral life; it must be developed through education and exercised, with discipline, through successive stages. Growth is essential to freedom.

3. It integrates actions in view of an end, which unites them interiorly and insures continuity.

4. Virtue is a dynamic quality essential freedom, a habitus necessary for its development. Finality is a principal element of free action.

5. Law is a necessary external aid to the development of freedom, together with the attraction to the true and good, which is a note of inner freedom. Law is especially necessary in the first stage of education. It is progressively interiorized through the virtues of justice and charity.

6. Freedom is open to allowing all human powers to make their contribution to its action, and to collaboration with others for the common good and the growth of society.

7. Its foundation is the attraction to the true and the good, and the desire for happiness, focusing on the virtues and oriented to quality and perfection, lending itself to a relationship with all of Scripture.

-Servais Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics

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