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Title: Descartes' Experience of Freedom
Author(s): NEUMANN, Daniel
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie
Volume: 83    Issue: 3   Date: 2021   
Pages: 403-425
DOI: 10.2143/TVF.83.3.3289988

Abstract :
In current debates on Descartes’ metaphysics of the mind, the question tends to be whether his position is that of a libertarian or of a compatibilist concerning the freedom of the will. I intervene in this discussion by focusing on the experience of choosing freely. To do this I take a closer look at the 'feeling of not being determined by external forces', an up to now too little discussed passage of the 'Fourth Meditation'. In successively considering God, an evil genius and the faculty of understanding as external forces acting on the will, I show how Descartes’ discussion of freedom of choice implicates both his ethical and epistemological ambitions in a way that could benefit the libertarian-compatibilist debate. To determine the nature of the freedom of will in Descartes, one may not only discuss the causality of the operations of the will, but also the perception of this causality by the mind, in other words, the experience of freedom.

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