Freedom of the Will

April 22nd, 2009 § 0 comments

It may possibly be thought, that there is no great need of going about to define or describe the will; this word being generally as well understood as any other words we can use to explain it: and so, perhaps, it would be, had not philosophers, metaphysicians, and polemic divines brought the matter into obscurity by the things they have said of it. But since it is so, I think it may be of some use, and will tend to the greater clearness in the following discourse, to say a few things concerning it.

So begins Jonathon Edwards’ Freedom of the Will. I recently began re-reading the book to prepare for an essay (and an ensuing sunday school lesson) on human freedom (or the lack thereof). The book, though inconsolably dry, has bits of humor, no doubt unintentional. I stumbled across one such ironic passage in the preface.

It [the tendency to name things] may arise from the disposition there is in mankind (whom God has distinguished with an ability and inclination for speech) to improve the benefit of language, in the proper use and design of names, given to things which they have often occasion to speak of, or to signify their minds about; which is to enable them to express their ideas with ease and expedition, without being encumbered with an obscure and difficult circumlocution.

I find this to be a perfect example of irony. His sentence is not self-exemplifying.

P.S. A second essay on depravity is forthcoming. It’s mostly written.


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