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FREE WILL IN MONTAIGNE,

PASCAL, DIDEROT, ROUSSEAU,


VOLTAIRE AND SARTRE

Currents in Comparative Romance
Languages and Literatures


Tamara Alvarez-Detrell and Michael G. Paulson
General Editors

Vol. 209

PETER LANG
New York Washington, D.C./Baltimore Bern
Frankfurt Berlin Brussels Vienna Oxford

Mary Efrosini Gregory




FREE WILL IN MONTAIGNE,
PASCAL, DIDEROT, ROUSSEAU,
VOLTAIRE AND SARTRE








PETER LANG
New York Washington, D.C./Baltimore Bern
Frankfurt Berlin Brussels Vienna Oxford

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Gregory, Mary Efrosini.
Free will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau,
Voltaire and Sartre / Mary Efrosini Gregory.
p. cm. (Currents in comparative romance languages and literatures; v. 209)
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
1. Free will and determinism. I. Title.
BJ1461.G74 123.5dc23 2012023822
ISBN 978-1-4331-2067-1 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4539-0937-9 (e-book)
ISSN 0893-5963



Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.
Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche
Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available
on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de/.





Portions of Chapter 3 on Pascal copyright 2008 from
An Eastern Orthodox View of Pascal by Mary Efrosini Gregory.
Reprinted by permission of Light & Life Publishing Company.
Portions of Chapter 5 on Rousseau copyright 2008 from Evolutionism in
Eighteenth-Century French Thought by Mary Efrosini Gregory. Portions of Chapter 5
on Rousseau and Chapter 6 on Voltaire copyright 2010 from Freedom in French
Enlightenment Thought by Mary Efrosini Gregory. Portions of Chapter 4 on Diderot
and Chapter 7 on Sartre copyright 2011 from Search for Self in Other in Cicero,
Ovid, Rousseau, Diderot and Sartre by Mary Efrosini Gregory. Reprinted
by permission of Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York.


The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability
of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity
of the Council of Library Resources.




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This book is dedicated to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
He did so much for us,
I would like to do something to honor Him.
He gave His created beings the gift of free will
and the responsibility that goes with it.
How shall we use it?
I will use mine to follow Him;
I want to do His Will.



Contents









Introduction..................................................................................................... 1
1. The Bible.................................................................................................. 18
2. Montaigne ................................................................................................ 29
3. Pascal ....................................................................................................... 45
4. Diderot ................................................................................................... 104
5. Rousseau ................................................................................................ 119
6. Voltaire .................................................................................................. 145
7. Sartre...................................................................................................... 154
8. Freud ...................................................................................................... 186
9. Bernays .................................................................................................. 196
10. Neuroscience........................................................................................ 209
Conclusion .................................................................................................. 220
Notes ........................................................................................................... 223
Bibliography ............................................................................................... 259
Index ........................................................................................................... 285
Introduction









The way in which the world is imagined determines at any particular moment what
men will do. It does not determine what they will achieve. It determines their effort,
their feelings, their hopes, not their accomplishments and results.
1
Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion (1922)
We certainly like to think that we are in charge, but are we really? How
much in control are we if our subconscious is surreptitiously pulling our
strings behind a curtain like the Wizard of Oz and our brain has already
begun taking action a full 10 seconds before we are even aware that we have
made a decision? Even though this is true, the finest minds on the planet
psychiatrists, neuroscientists, philosophersstill cannot reach a consensus
and therefore, it must be conceded at the outset that if we are looking to them
for the definitive answer, we will not find it. On the one hand, neuroscientists
view the brain from a purely mechanical stance, much like Diderot and La
Mettrie did in the eighteenth century. The philosophes argued that there is
only cause and effect based on physical matter. Similarly, modern neurosci-
entists advise that multiple processes occur in the brain simultaneously that
the parts are interdependent. There is only neuronal activity, no force acting
from the outside; hence, we do not have free will, but respond mechanically
based on heredity and environment. However, others dispense with the term
free will and use the phrase ability to make rational decisions instead.
They argue that if a persons brain is not damaged and he can make a rational
decision, he can be held morally responsible for his actions. However, if the
brain is impaired either by heredity or environment (such as an accident), an
argument can be made that he cannot be held morally responsible for his
actions. When viewed from this context, it appears that most humans do
indeed have the ability to employ reason and hence, they do have free will.
This conclusion, reached after centuries of heated philosophical debate and
fervent scientific inquiry, takes us back to the Bible, which teaches that we
2 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

do indeed have free will and that we should be held morally responsible for
our actions.
As scholars debate this issue, it should be pointed out that humans
around the world are busying themselves trying to influence the choices that
one another make. Some parents try to impose their will on their children,
while others employ reason to teach them to make wise decisions. Political
activists strive to convince others to adopt their points of view. Realtors try
to persuade potential homeowners to view a particular property. Corpora-
tions, advised by public relations specialists, are spending fortunes on adver-
tizing to manipulate the subconscious mind to sell their products. Pop-up ads
pepper our computer screens as we try to conduct research or send an email.
Politicians carefully scrutinize their speeches before delivering them to en-
sure that they will not offend potential supporters. Medical researchers are
making stunning breakthroughs in neuroscience that hopefully, will one day
permit Alzheimers patients to regain their memory and hence, control over
what happens to them. Therefore, one may be tempted to conclude that per-
haps we really do have free will after all because so many people are trying
to figure out how to either manipulate it or return to us after we have lost it
due to illness or accident.
Let us begin by comparing the definition of free will to that of its an-
tithesis, determinism. The Oxford English Dictionary defines free will as
1Spontaneous will, unconstrained choice (to do or act). Often in phr. of
ones own free will1611 BIBLE Ezra vii.13 All theywhich are minded
of their owne free-will to goe vp to Ierusalem2The power of directing
our own actions without constraint by necessity or fate1654 HOBBES
Liberty, Necess., etcThe third way of bringing things to pass, distinct from
necessity and chance, namely freewill.
2

Tomis Kapitan defines freedom thus: First, freedom requires an absence
of determination, and second, one acts and chooses freely only if these en-
deavors are, properly speaking, ones own.
3

In contrast, determinism is defined as 1. The philosophical doctrine that
human action is not free but necessarily determined by motives, which are
regarded as external forces acting upon the will1855 W. THOMSON in
Oxford Essays 181 The theory of Determinism, in which the will is regarded
as determined or swayed to a particular course by external inducements and
formed habits, so that the consciousness of freedom rests chiefly upon an
oblivion of the antecedents to our choice. 2The doctrine that everything
that happens is determined by a necessary chain of causation.
4

Introduction 3

The difference is that free will is unconstrained and determinism occurs


when external forces act on the will.
Compatibilism vs. Incompatibilism
Because external stimuli vary, there are varying degrees of determinism: an
action may be caused, but not necessarily forced. A college student may be
inspired to major in French because the language is beautiful, the philosophy
is rich, and the professors encourage lively classroom discussion, but he is
not forced to select it as a major; no one is pointing a gun to his head. Those
who hold that free will is compatible with deterministic circumstances are
called compatibilists or soft determinists.
On the other hand, there are those who posit that determinism and free-
dom are incompatible and thinkers who embrace this incompatibilism are
called incompatibilists. We must note, however, that there are two sides to
the incompatibilist spectrum. On the one end, there are those who feel that
humans have no free will at all and that every action is the result of preced-
ing deterministic actionsthese incompatibilists are hard determinists.
On the other end of the incompatibilist spectrum are those who agree that
freedom is incompatible with hard determinism, but who staunchly maintain
that we are free to choose and act at every moment despite preceding circum-
stances. These thinkers are also incompatibilists, but of the libertarian or
indeterminist stripe. Kapitan defines the two kinds of incompatibilism thus:
Incompatibilism maintains that determinism precludes freedom, though
incompatibilists differ whether everything is determined. Those who accept
determinism thereby endorse hard determinism (associated with eighteenth-
century thinkers like dHolbach and, recently, certain behaviorists), accord-
ing to which freedom is an illusion since behavior is brought about environ-
mental and genetic factors. Some hard determinists also deny the existence
of moral responsibility. At the opposite extreme, metaphysical libertarianism
asserts that people are free and responsible and, a fortiori, that the past does
not determine a unique futurea position that some find enhanced by devel-
opments in quantum physics.
5

Now let us examine in detail three broad categories into which scholars
group philosophershard determinist, soft determinist, and libertarian.
These three categories indicate how much free will they allow for in their
thought.
4 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Hard Determinism
The hard determinist holds that every action is caused and that none is un-
caused. He declares that if we were to stop and thoroughly investigate all the
events that precede any action, we would be able to identify its cause(s); it
may even be a long chain of cause and effect. Therefore, because there are
antecedent causes for every action, the hard determinist will argue that no
action is free and that free will does not exist.
Thales (6
th
century BC), Leucippus of Miletus (5
th
century BC), his pu-
pil, Democritus (460370 BC), Epicurus of Samos (341270 BC), and Lu-
cretius (first century BC) were early hard determinists who held that all
events that transpire in the physical universe are the results of the random
collision of atoms. They averred that random molecular activity, not the
capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action, is the foundation of
human experience. Leucippus is the founder of the atomic doctrine of matter.
His student, Democritus, also held that all matter is comprised of solid, con-
crete atoms. These atoms are eternal and uncaused and they are perpetually
rearranged by motion, which originates from a preceding motion. Epicurus
agreed that the universe result from the random collision of atoms. Lucretius
On the Nature of Things (first century BC) is the fullest extant statement of
the physical theory of Epicurus. Lucretius used the term clinamen (swerve in
Latin) to describe the random motion of atoms.
Epicurus and Lucretius were also hedonists and held that pleasure is the
sole motive of human behavior, including the inclination toward religion.
They maintained that all human action tends to maximize pleasure. Thus,
they were atomists, hedonists, and atheists who denied free will.
Not all the ancients agreed with the atomists. Plato (427347 BC) repu-
diated the views of Democritus not only because the latter held that the uni-
verse is the result of random chance, but also because he denied the existence
of the soul. Plato maintained that there is such a thing as the soul and that
reason arises from the functioning of the souls higher, rational part.
In the Republic (), Plato posits a tripartite soulthe vegetative
(generative), animal (conscious), and rational parts. The vegetative soul
controls generation, nutrition and growth in living beings. The animal soul or
the conscious soul has the function of sensation or sense perception. The
rational soul has the faculty of reason and it is here that decisions are made.
Plato held that when people make a determination as to a course of ac-
tion, they always act according to their understanding (or ignorance) of what
Introduction 5

is good. No one would deliberately choose a bad course of action. Those who
commit evil deeds do so out of ignorance and therefore, the wicked are
slaves to ignorance. Because Plato held that mens acts are thus limited to
that which they perceive as good, he could be deemed to be a determinist.
Eighteenth-century philosophe and physician, Julien Offray de La Met-
trie, seizes upon Platos three essential functions as the requisites for life and
shows how they agree with the science of his century regarding the brain,
nervous system, sensations, memory, imagination, and passions.
6
La Mettrie
is a biological materialisthe holds that the world and man can be explained
solely through the laws of physics, chemical molecules, the brain and nerv-
ous system. He is a hard determinist who denies the existence of the soul;
when he uses the term soul [me] in his writing, he employs it as a meta-
phor for the mind. Hence, La Mettrie exploits Platos three systems of the
soul to the hilt, all the while associating them with mans physiological struc-
tures only. He cleverly uses Plato, who did believe in the existence of the
soul, as propaganda to further his own materialist agenda.
Plato was amazingly prescient in his acknowledgement of the three func-
tions required for life by todays standards, too. Todays neuroscientists
agree that the brain is comprised of a vegetative core that controls physical
functions such as appetite, heartbeat and kidney functioning, an animal layer
on top of that linked to emotions, passions and fears, and a rational layer on
top of that containing the thinking and reasoning faculties.
While the ancients had philosophical disputes regarding the random un-
derpinnings of human experience and the existence of the soul, modern
thinkers who are hard determinists also address chance events and issues of
the mindnot the collision of atoms, but the combination of DNA traits;
recessive genes that come to the fore and become dominant; birth order in a
family (i.e., whether one happens to be the oldest, middle or youngest child);
the family, society and culture into which one happens to be born; issues
relating to the neuroscience of the human brain. Todays hard determinists
use heredity and environment to argue that there are antecedent causes for
every action and that therefore, no action is free.
Examples of hard determinists are B.F. Skinner, who invented the Skin-
ner Box and worked on behavior modification with pigeons; Sigmund Freud,
who held that we are motivated by unconscious desires lurking in the sub-
conscious mind; Ivan Pavlov, who conditioned dogs to salivate; the etholo-
gist Konrad Lorenz; the sociobiologist Richard Dawkins. It is understandable
that social scientists investigating learned behavior would naturally gravitate
6 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

towards hard determinism. Other examples of hard determinists include Isaac


Newton, Jonathan Edwards, Anthony Collins, the materialists (Denis Dide-
rot, Paul Henri Thiry dHolbach, and Claude-Adrien Helvtius), Joseph
Priestly, Pierre Simon Laplace, Clarence Darrow, Edward Bernays, John
Hospers, Ted Honderich, John Watson, Galen Strawson, Derk Pereboom,
Richard Double, Daniel M. Wegner, and Saul Smilansky.
Diderot was a materialist who, like La Mettrie, dHolbach, and Helv-
tius, thought that all human activity is caused by the determinism of heredity
and environment. The Nun chronicles the tragic consequences of forced
monasticism and sequestration that prevents the absence of fresh input into
the human psyche from society. Madame *** walks and behaves in an awk-
ward, disjointed manner that may be a product of heredity or perhaps, a psy-
chological response to her sheltered existence. Rameaus Nephew begins
with a portrait of a man who is either schizophrenic or suffering from bipolar
disorder. Diderot, patiently and methodically, like a diagnostic, records every
detail of the symptoms of the person he is diagnosing and lets the reader
decide whether the unfortunate victim is a product of nature, nurture, or
perhaps a combination of both.
7

However, despite his hard determinism, Diderot was an ardent moralist
and eternal optimist and was able to reconcile determinism with activist
politics: his lifes work reiterates that it is up to the educated, legislators, and
philosophers to champion and bring about free and universal public educa-
tion. This will move society forward, expose people to new ideas, advance
the arts and sciences, invigorate business, and with that, raise the standard of
living for all. He also thought that the republican form of government was
the best suited for the happiness of all. He petitioned Catherine of Russia to
permit her nation to have a constitutional monarchy.
Diderots Observations on the Nakaz (1774) opens with the famous dec-
laration, There is no true sovereign, except the nation; there is no true legis-
lator, except the people.
8
Diderot makes it clear from the beginning of
Nakaz that the only legitimate rule is that of the general will of the people.
The statement is a reiteration of his article of 1751 entitled, Political Au-
thority, in which he affirmed, The power which comes from the consent of
the people necessarily presupposes conditions which makes its exercise le-
gitimate, useful to society, advantageous to the republic, fixing and restrain-
ing it within limits. For a man neither should nor can submit himself entirely
without reserve to another man
9

Introduction 7

The sovereignty of the people is repeated in the second paragraph of Na-


kaz. Take careful note of the stunning advice that Diderot gives to those who
are currently forming a brand new system of government and are in the proc-
ess of constructing a new constitution [code]: The first line of a well-made
Code should bind the sovereign. It should begin thus: We the people
10

This impassioned declaration bears a stunning resemblance to the preamble
of the United States Constitution (1787), which would be penned thirteen
years later: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more
perfect Unionpromote the general Welfaredo ordain and establish this
Constitution. The Nakaz is surprisingly prescient precisely because it does
embody the true spirit of the Enlightenment as articulated in the republican
paragraphs of Montesquieu, Rousseau, and others. The framers of the United
States Constitution could not do otherwise than to recognize the wisdom of
and adhere to the principles articulated by the French philosophes.
Hence, Diderot reminds us that despite the determinism of heredity and
environment, despite the fact that the poor and uneducated are at the mercy
of their social status and have negligible free will, the powerful have the
moral responsibility to ameliorate their society. To do otherwiseto ignore
the plight of the suffering massesis to abdicate ones moral responsibility.
The issue of moral responsibility continues to be a topic of contention in
modern times. When we dichotomize the problem of free will into two
campsthose who aver that people are free to act as they wish and those
who maintain that actions are determined by external eventsthe question of
moral responsibility inevitably arises. Does moral responsibility for an action
require that the persons decision to act be freely made? Most thinkers agree
that moral responsibility for an act exists only if the person is free to act as
he does; he is not morally responsible if he was forced to commit the act or
was unable to avoid doing it.
Let us take a look at how hard determinism can be successfully used by a
defense attorney in a court of law to obviate moral responsibility. Such an
example is seen in the famous 1924 hearing that involved the grisly murder
of a 14-year-old boy.
On May 21, 1924 Nathan Leopold, 19, and Richard Loeb, 18, drove up
alongside an acquaintance, Bobby Franks, 14, as he was walking home from
school. Loeb invited Franks into the car and then stabbed him multiple times
in the back of his head with a chisel as Leopold drove the vehicle away.
Subsequently they hid Franks body in a drainage culvert and demanded
$10,000 ransom from his parents. The two were apprehended because Leo-
8 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

pold had dropped a pair of tortoise shell glasses with an unusual hinge that
was traced back to a Chicago optometrist.
Famed attorney Clarence Darrow was hired and he strategized how to
save the killers from the death penalty. First, he had them submit a guilty
plea. He chose this approach for two reasons. First, the State of Illinois in-
tended to try them twicefor murder and kidnapping, both of which carried
the death penalty. By having them plead guilty, Darrow reduced the number
of opportunities for capital punishment from two to one. Secondly, by plead-
ing guilty, they would avoid having to face a jurythe public was angry and
most people wanted to see the death penalty enforced. The guilty plea meant
that they would have a hearing before one judgein this case, Judge John R.
Caverlyand Darrow would have the opportunity to prey on his conscience,
as Caverly alone would decide whether the two teenagers would live or die.
Darrow succeeded in arguing determinism via heredity and environment.
Douglas O. Linder summarizes Darrows defense thus: The defense pre-
sented extensive psychiatric evidence describing the defendants emotional
immaturity, obsessions with crime and Nietzschean philosophy, alcohol
abuse, glandular abnormalities, and sexual longings and insecurities. Lay
witnesses, classmates and associates of Loeb, were offered to prove his bel-
ligerence, inappropriate laughter, lack of judgment, and childishness. Other
lay witnesses testified as to Leopolds egocentricity and argumentative na-
ture.
11

Darrow connected the dark nature of the teenagers reading material with
the effect that it had on their psyches. Linder advises, Loeb read mostly
detective stories. He read about crime, he planned crimes, and he committed
crimes, although none until 1924 were crimes involving physical harm to a
person. (Darrow and Leopold later saw Loebs fascination with crime as a
form of rebellion against the well-meaning, but strict and controlling, gov-
erness who raised him.) For Loeb, crime became a sort of game; he wanted
to commit the perfect crime just to prove that it could be done.
12
Leopold,
on the other hand, voraciously devoured the works of Friedrich Nietzsche,
author of Beyond Good and Evil: Leopold agreed with Nietzsches criticism
of moral codes, and believed that legal obligations did not apply to those
who approached the superman.
13

Columnist Sam Roberts explains that Darrow had argued that they were
too young to be executed and that their moral compass had been distorted by
the teachings of Nietzsche. It is hardly fair, he maintained in his argument,
Introduction 9

to hang a 19-year-old boy for the philosophy that was taught him at the
university.
14

Darrows efforts succeeded and Judge Caverly spared the two killers
from the death penalty, opting for life imprisonment instead. Thus Clarence
Darrow was victorious in persuading the judge that his young clients did not
have free will, could not make their own decisions, had no options, and were
powerless puppets whose strings were pulled by inherited nature, hormonal
imbalances, a rebellious response against strict upbringing by governesses
hired by wealthy parents, and the influence of books glorifying crime and
questioning moral ethics that piqued their interest.
Soft Determinism
While there are some thinkers who agree with the hard determinist point of
view, there are others who would be quick to point out that there is a big
difference between causing and forcing an action. We call these thinkers soft
determinists. They hold that actions can be both caused and free: they con-
cede that we can always look to a chain of events that precedes an action, but
that does not necessarily mean that we are compelled to choose that action.
Because they feel that free will is compatible with causation, they are said to
be compatibilists. Michel de Montaigne, David Hume (see Enquiry Concern-
ing the Principles of Morals); Baruch Spinoza, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke,
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Franois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire, G.E. Moore,
A.J. Ayer and Harry G. Frankfurt, embrace soft determinism.
Kapitan advises, Its supporters include some who identify freedom with
autonomy (the Stoics, Spinoza) and others who champion freedom of spon-
taneity (Hobbes, Locke, Hume). The latter speak of liberty as the power of
doing or refraining from an action according to what one wills, so that by
choosing otherwise one would have done otherwise. An agent fails to have
liberty when constrained, that is, when either prevented from acting as one
chooses or compelled to act in a manner contrary to what one wills.
15
Meth-
ods of diminishing liberty include coercion and manipulation.
16

Montaigne recognizes that humans are trapped within the confines of
their culture. He discusses horrific practices in exotic lands such as cannibal-
ism and the practice of dragging ones father through the streets. He also
notes that people find themselves entrapped by childhood habits that, once
acquired, remain for the duration of ones lifetime. However, he believes that
it is possible to break out of these vicious cycles by 1) relying on reason and
10 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

not emotions when making decisions, 2) getting into the habit of doing things
differently (i.e., travelling, eating new and different foods, making new
friends), and education. Montaigne prides himself on maintaining his compo-
sure and objectivity in trying situations and advises his readers that the best
way to maintain control of the will is by resolving to employ reason and
logic and then by adhering to the resolution.
Spinoza also finds that determinism can coexist with free will, noting the
importance of not letting ones emotions be based on external events. Nigel
Warburton summarizes Spinozas views thus: He was a determinist. This
meant that he believed that every human action was the result of earlier caus-
es. A stone thrown into the air, if it could become conscious like a human
being, would imagine that it was moving at its own willpower even though it
wasnt. What was really moving it along was the force of the throw and the
effects of gravity. The stone just felt that rather than gravity, it was control-
ling where it went. Human beings are the same: we imagine that we are
choosing freely what we do and have control over our lives. But thats be-
cause we dont usually understand the ways in which our choices and actions
have been brought about. In fact free will is an illusion. There is no sponta-
neous free action at all.
17

However, Spinoza also held that determinism does not necessarily obvi-
ate free will and self-control. Warburton adds, But although he was a de-
terminist, Spinoza did believe that some kind of very limited human freedom
was possible and desirable. The worst way to exist was to be in what he
called bondage: at the complete mercy of your emotions. When something
bad happens, someone is rude to you, for example, and you lose your temper
and are filled with hatred, this is a very passive way to exist. You simply
react to events. External happenings cause your anger. You are not in control
at all. The way to escape this is to gain a better understanding of the causes
that shape behaviorthe things that lead you to be angry. For Spinoza, the
best way that we can achieve this is for our emotions to emerge from our
own choices rather than external events. Even though these choices can nev-
er be fully free, it is better to be active than passive.
18
Therefore, like Mon-
taigne the century before, Spinoza sees reason and logic as the key to the
preservation of free will and self-control during trying situations.
Rousseau agrees that while men are limited by heredity and varying de-
grees of physical strength and intellect, they do have free willthis holds
true for both natural man and civilized man. Harold Bloom summarizes
Rousseaus views thus: There are two characteristics which distinguish man
Introduction 11

from the other animals and take the place of rationality as the defining qual-
ity of humanity. The first is freedom of the will. Man is not a being deter-
mined by his instincts; he can choose, accept, and reject. He can defy nature.
And the consciousness of this liberty is the evidence of the spirituality of his
soul. He is aware of his own power. The second, and least questionable char-
acteristic of man, is his perfectibility. Man is the only being which can
gradually improve its faculties and pass this improvement on to the whole
species. All the superior faculties of the mind seen in civilized man are
proofs of this. They are now a permanent part of the species, but they did not
belong to it naturally. On the basis of these two basic characteristics of man,
it can be said that natural man is distinguished by having almost no nature at
all, by being pure potentiality. There are no ends, only possibilities. This
constitution leads him away from his original contentment toward the misery
of civil life, but it also renders him capable of mastering himself and na-
ture.
19

Bloom advises that while natural man has free will, it is the determinism
of the harsh conditions of forest living that force him to band together with
others for the purpose of survival. Here we see a combination of free will
(man gravitates toward the formation of societies because they are useful)
and the determinism of geography and climate that force him to choose be-
tween life or death: Natural man, then, is a lazy beast, enjoying the senti-
ment of his own existence, concerned with his preservation and pitying the
sufferings of his fellow creatures, free and perfectible. His motion toward the
civilized state is a result of unforeseeable accidents which leave unalterable
marks on him. He is forced into closer contact with other men by natural
catastrophes. He develops speech and begins to maintain a permanent estab-
lishment with his woman and children.
20

Once man joins society, he finds that it is useful to surrender his free will
to the general will in order to gain certain benefits, i.e., protection of his
person, family, and property. By identifying with the general will, he feels
that he has not really surrendered his freedom: the accomplishments of the
group are viewed as his own. Bloom summarizes, Man, free by nature,
needs government to organize and regulate the life in common to which he
has become committed. But precisely because he has developed terrible
passions which necessitate government, a just government is rendered factu-
ally difficult because the men who form the laws are under the influence of
those passions, and the citizens continue to possess those passions and have
every interest in altering the government for the sake of their satisfaction;
21

12 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Law is the product of the general will. Each individual participates in legis-
lation, but the law is general, and the individual in his role as legislator must
make laws which can conceivably be applied to all members of the commu-
nity. He makes his will into law but now, as opposed to what he did in the
state of nature, he must generalize his will. As legislator he can only will
what all could will; as citizen he obeys what he himself willed as legisla-
tor.
22

Voltaire was another philosophe who, while acknowledging determin-
ism, held that reason could triumph and improve the lot of humanity. Hu-
mans do have some free will and it is up to them to ameliorate their situation
by eliminating superstition and fanaticism. Richard H. Popkin recapitulates
Voltaires compatibilism thus: Voltaire insisted that there is a natural basis
for ethics and justice. If people examine legal and moral questions without
prejudice, especially religious prejudice, and will employ reason, they will
find natural human laws. These laws will allow for just decisions and just
societies. The human condition can be improved to some degree. But Vol-
taire lacked the great optimism of Condorcet, and saw improvement and the
achievement of human happiness severely limited because of so many incon-
trollable natural and human factors. But he proposed specific ways in which
the educational and judicial systems could be improved to better the human
condition.
23

There are also modern scholars, i.e., Harry G. Frankfurt, who hold that
determinism and freedom are compatible. However, todays thinkers care-
fully weigh how much moral responsibility a person has if, say, he is forced
to act a certain way. Frankfurt reflects on the relationship between determi-
nist factors and free will and concludes that people can be held morally
responsible for their actions, despite determinism. Kapitan summarizes
Frankfurts thesis thus: Others challenge the idea that responsibility requires
alternative possibilities of action. The so-called Frankfurt-style cases (devel-
oped by Harry G. Frankfurt) are situations where an agent acts in accord with
his desires and choices, but because of the presence of a counterfactual inter-
venera mechanism that would have prevented the agent from doing any
alternative action had he shown signs of acting differentlythe agent could
not have done otherwise. Frankfurts intuition is that the agent is responsible
as he would have been if there were no intervener, and thus that responsible
action does not require alternative possibilities.
24

In a landmark paper entitled, Alternate Possibilities and Moral Respon-
sibility, Frankfurt defines what he calls the principle of alternate possibili-
Introduction 13

ties and then proceeds to refute it. This principle states that a person is mor-
ally responsible for his actions only if he could have done otherwise. Frank-
furt declares that this principle is false and that the principles plausibility is
an illusion.
25
He holds that a person may be held to be morally responsible
for an act he has committed even though he could have done otherwise.
Frankfurt grants that there are times when the circumstances that bring
about an action also make it impossible for a person to avoid doing it, i.e.,
coercion, hypnotic suggestion, or an inner compulsion.
26
However, there are
also circumstances that constitute sufficient conditions for a certain action
to be performed by someone and that therefore make it impossible for the
person to do otherwise, but that do not actually impel the person to act or in
any way produce his action. A person may do something in circumstances
that leave him no alternative to doing it, without these circumstances actually
moving him or leading him to do itwithout them playing any role, indeed,
in bringing it about that he does what he does.
27

Frankfurt provides the example of an action performed by a Mr. Jones.
Jones decides to commit an act; then someone threatens Jones with a penalty
if he does not do it; then Jones performs the act. The question arises: is Jones
morally responsible for his behavior? Frankfurt considers the possibilities. It
may be that Joneslet us call him Jones
1
did what he already decided to
do and that therefore, the threat had no effect on him. Here Jones is morally
responsible for his act. It should also be added that in this example, the threat
neither coerced him, nor deprived him of alternative actions. Despite the
threat, Jones
1
was still free to behave in an alternative manner.
28

Another possibility is that Joneslet us say Jones
2
was so over-
whelmed with fear because of the threat, that he committed the act for that
reason alone, even though he had previously decided to commit the act. Here
he is not morally responsible for the act itself because he was coerced; he is
morally responsible for his earlier decision, even though that decision played
no role in his action.
29

There is a third possibility. Let us says that Jones
3
made an earlier deci-
sion to commit the act, was later threatened, and he committed the act solely
because he had already decided to do so, not because of the threat. He is
morally responsible because his action was based on his own decision, not
the threat. However, the question arises as to whether since he was threat-
ened, he can still be held morally responsible. Frankfurt holds that the an-
swer is yes: Even though a person is subject to a coercive force that
precludes his performing any action but one, he may nonetheless bear full
14 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

moral responsibility for performing that action;


30
His knowledge that he
stands to suffer an intolerable harsh penalty does not mean that Jones
3
, strict-
ly speaking, cannot perform any action but the one he does perform. After all
it is still open to him, and this is crucial, to defy the threat if he wishes to do
so and to accept the penalty his action would bring down upon
himJones
3
s inability to resist the threat does not mean that he cannot do
otherwise than perform the action he performs;
31
This, then, is why the
principle of alternate possibilities is mistaken. It asserts that a person bears
no moral responsibilitythat is, he is to be excusedfor having performed
an action if there were circumstances that made it impossible for him to
avoid performing it. But there may be circumstances that make it impossible
for a person to avoid performing some action without those circumstances in
any way bringing it about that he performs that actionFor those circum-
stances, by hypothesis, actually had nothing to do with his having done what
he did. He would have done precisely the same thing, and he would have
been led or made in precisely the same way to do it, even if they had not
prevailed.
32

Frankfurt concludes that the principle of alternative possibilities should
be revised so as to assert that a person is not morally responsible for what he
has done if he did it because he could not have done otherwise.
33
Because of
this definition, he will not be morally responsible for what he has done if he
did it only because he could not have done otherwise, even if what he did
was something he really wanted to do.
34

The issue of moral responsibility will be more heavily debated in future
courts of law as developments in neuroscience and genetics reveal physio-
logical reasons that men act as they do and defense attorneys argue that their
clients could not have done otherwise.
Libertarianism
The third category entailed by the problem of free will is indeterminism or
libertarianism. Indeterminists hold that not all events are caused, as per the
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, for example. While mechanical causality
may be true of inanimate objects, it does not apply to human beings, who are
conscious and can think. The indeterminist defends his school of thought by
arguing: 1) I can do X, 2) I want to do X, and 3) I can do something other
than X.
35
With humans, more often than not (unless they are being held cap-
tive behind enemy lines), all three conditions are met, and so, determinism is
Introduction 15

false. Jean-Paul Sartre held that at every moment, we are free to choose how
we will be (see Being and Nothingness). Immanuel Kant was also an inde-
terminist who held that humans act because of reasons, not causes. More-
over, determinism does not address the perspective of the person. Humans
can reflect on their situation and on morality. Therefore, they have the power
to choose how they will behave. Other examples of indeterminists are John
Duns Scotus, C.A. Campbell, Roderick Chisholm, Richard Taylor, John
Thorp, Michael Zimmerman, Richard Swinburne, Godfrey Vesey, Alan
Donagan, William Rowe, Robert Kane, David Widerker, Carl Ginet, Ran-
dolph Clarke, and Timothy OConnor.
Sandra Lafave explains the indeterminist position thus:
When I think about how to behave, I consider reasons. I never think about causes,
because insofar as I am an agent, they are never relevant. I have to make choices,
and I choose on the basis of reasons. In other words, the model of physical causation
does not fit at all when you try to apply it to human choices. Even if all human
choices were determined, the HD model would still be completely inadequate to de-
scribe the perspective of the agent, which is what really matters for morality. The
HD position is simply at odds with human experience because it continually asserts
that as far as human experience is concerned, things are not what they seem. (What
seems voluntary really isnt, for example.)
The indeterminist says you will find that there is undoubtedly a freedom to
make or withhold moral effort, which exists no matter what a persons past condi-
tioning has been.
Consider the following example: Take two people A and B. Suppose A has had
a wonderful childhoodloving, supportive parents, no worries about money, good
health, etc. Suppose B has had a terrible childhoodhis parents didnt want him,
beat him up, never enough money, etc. Suppose now that A and B are grown up.
They have a mutual friend Z, who goes on vacation, and leaves a key to his apart-
ment with A, and another key with B. Z has a watch that A and B both like very
much; it occurs to both of them to steal it. Stealing it would be simple under the cir-
cumstances. Given their respective conditionings, what can we say about the relative
strength of the temptation to steal the watch in A and in B? Probably, the temptation
will be stronger for B. Another way of saying this is that the amount of moral effort
required by B to resist the temptation will be greater than the amount required by
Aboth A and B have to decide whether to expend the amount of moral effort re-
quired to resist the temptation. Both have to choose, and neither ones conditioning
determines how they will choose. This choice is a free choice. Conditioning does
not determine how they will chooseit determines only the degree of difficulty of
different moral tasks for different people. Either A or B can choose either way.
So when we say that some people are at a disadvantage because of their condi-
tioning, we mean that choosing rightly will be harder for them, but not impossible.
More moral effort will be required by a person with unfortunate conditioning; how-
ever, we always suppose that a person is responsible for the amount of moral effort
16 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

he puts forth, no matter what his conditioning. Perhaps it is more likely that b will
not put forth the effort; but A can slip too. Thus, by looking at actual cases of deci-
sion-making, the indeterminist says that freedom to make or withhold effort (moral
effort, or other kinds of discipline, e.g., saving money, physical training) is clearly
not illusory, and the existence of responsibility for choice cant be denied. Effort of
the will is an illusion only if you deny your own experience.
36

In this study we will take a journey through the corridors of time to examine
the evolution of thought regarding free will. Because of discoveries in neuro-
science in the 20
th
and 21
st
centuries, philosophers, ethicists, sociologists, and
neurobiologists today have come to understand that a redefinition of free will
is needed as well as how we think about it. For example, neuroethicist Mar-
tha Farah, Director of the University of Pennsylvanias Center for Cognitive
Neuroscience, suggests that the focus should be on rationality, not free will,
so that we can address moral and legal responsibility for our actions.
37
A
criminals ability to be rational will be argued more and more by defense
lawyers in the years ahead and neuroscience advances in leaps and bounds
and identifies the relationship between behavior and brain activity. Discover-
ies in the lab will also be applied to disciplines as diverse as ethics, psychol-
ogy, and sociology.
In the 20
th
century advances in psychology have made it possible for
public relations executives such as Edward Bernays to determine how to
transform the purchasing public into hordes of compulsive shoppers. This is
effected by causing the subconscious mind to associate inanimate objects
(i.e., cigarettes and sleek automobiles) with unconscious desires. Hence,
cigarettes in the hands of women are associated with androgyny and male
power; sports cars, driven by men, also symbolize power and dominance.
By the end of the book we will have considered issues challenging both
the will of the individual and the general will. We will have been reminded
of the vision of a republic held by the eighteenth-century philosophes, which
was the foundation of many constitutions since the eighteenth century. We
will observe the tension between private interest and that of the individ-
ual/general will. Montesquieu advised what happens when men have ceased
to love virtue above all else. The baron de La Brde calls out to us across the
centuries, warning, when virtue is banished, ambition invades the mind of
those who are disposed to receive it, and avarice possesses the whole com-
munity. The objects of their desires are changed; what they were fond of
before has become indifferent; they were free while under the restraint of
laws, but they would fain now be free to act against law (Spirit of Laws,
Introduction 17

3.3).
38
When virtue flees, the passions and private interest fill the voidmen
act out of greed and respond only to fear; men cease to obey the law and that
is the end of the republic.
Chapter One
The Bible









Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the
door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Rev 3:20
The notion that man has free will is a basic premise of Judaism. The Old
Testament is liberally sprinkled with terms that connote volition and choice;
an examination of all of them would lead one to conclude that free will is
emblazoned across every page of the Old Testament. Let us examine the
recurrence of terms that can be translated as free will and choose.
James Strongs Concordance indicates that the English word freewill
occurs 17 times in the King James Version of the OT.
1
Of these occurrences,
the original Hebrew ned-aw-baw is used 15x; ned-ab (Aramaic), 2x. Strong
advises that ned-aw-baw (which comes from naw-dab) is defined thus:
prop. (abstr.) spontaneity, or (adj.) spontaneous; also (concr.) a sponta-
neous or (by infer., in plur.) abundant gift.
2
When we count the number of
times that ned-aw-baw occurs in the OT, we find that it appears 35x. Strong
advises that the KJV translates it as freewill offering (15x), offerings (9x),
free offering (2x), freely (2x), willing offering (1x), voluntary offering (1x),
plentiful (1x), voluntarily (1x), voluntary (1x), willing (1x), willingly (1x).
3

Strong points out that This offering is always given willingly, bountifully,
liberally, or as a prince would offer. It refers not to the nature of the offering
or the external mode in which it is offered, but to the motive and spirit of the
offerer.
4

Let us examine two more words that connote free will. One is naw-dab.
Strong defines it thus: a prim. root; to impel; hence to volunteer (as a
soldier), to present spontaneously.
5
It appears 17x in the OT and Strong
The Bible 19

avers that the KJV translates it as offered willingly (6x), willingly offered
(5x), willing (2x), offered (1x), willing (1x), offered freely (1x), give will-
ingly (1x).
6

Another word is ned-ab (Aramaic). Strong states that it corresponds to
naw-dab and defines it thus: be (or give) liberal (-ly).
7
It is used 5x in the
OT: freely offered (1x), freewill offering (1x), offering willingly (1x),
minded of their own free will (1x).
8

When Hebrew Scriptures mention free will, they use it as an adjective to
modify offering (s) to God. Strong indicates that ned-aw-baw is used to
articulate that the Jews made free will offerings to God in the following
verses: vows, and for all his freewill offerings (Lev 22:18); or a freewill
offering in beeves or (Lev 22:21); thou offer for a freewill offering (Lev
22:23); and beside all your freewill offerings (Lev 23:38); of in a freewill
offering, or in your (Num 15:3); your freewill offerings, for your burnt
(Num 29:39); vows, and all your freewill offerings, and the (Deut 12:6);
nor thy freewill offerings, or heave (Deut 12:17); of a freewill offering of
thy hand (Deut 16:10); even a freewill offering, according as (Deut
23:23); was over the freewill offerings of God (2 Chr 31:14); beside the
freewill offering for the (Ezr 1:4); a freewill offering unto the LORD (Ezr
3:5); the gold are a freewill offering unto (Ezr 8:28); the freewill offer-
ings of my mouth, O (Ps 119:108).
9
Ned-ab is used to show that the Jews
exercised their free will in these two verses: their own freewill to go up to
Jerusalem (Ezr 7:13); with the freewill offering of the people (Ezr 7:16).
10

Related to freewill is freely and this English word occurs 17x in the
KJV7x in the OT and 10x in the NT. Examples of freely in the OT,
using ned-aw-baw include I will freely sacrifice unto thee (Ps 54:6);
backsliding, I will love them freely (Hos 14:4).
11

Another word that frequently recurs in the OT is baw-khar and it is used
to signify that a choice is to be made. The KJV translates baw-khar as
choose 77x; chosen, 77x; choice, 6x, chooseout (5x); acceptable
(1x); appoint (1x); excellent (1x); chosen men (1x).
12
Hebrew words that
connote choice include baw-khar; baw-khoor; baw-raw; baw-rar; mib-
khawr; kaw-bal.
13
Choose occurs 59x in the KJV of the OT; choosest,
2x; chooseth, 3x; chose, 24x; chosen, 194x.
Let us examine some verses in which men are exhorted to choose from
among various alternatives. Scholars point out that the entire biblical teach-
ing on reward and punishment is contingent upon the notion that man is free
to choose whether to do good or evil. This basic premise is clearly articulated
20 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

in Deut 30:1519. In these verses God instructs His people, See, I have set
before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee
this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his
commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and
multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou
goest to possess itI call heaven and earth to record this day against you,
that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore
choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live (Deut 30:1516, 19).
Choose in the exhortation choose life is the English translation of the
Hebrew baw-khar, meaning to try, implying to select or to choose.
14

The 30
th
chapter of Deuteronomy is a call from God to make a conscious,
deliberate choice between monotheism and paganism. This choice will have
consequences and will result in either life or death. In Deut 30:1718 and 20
several verbs are employed that indicate that people have free will: But if
thine heart turn away; so that thou will not hear; But shalt be drawn
away; and worship other gods; and serve them; therefore choose life;
that thou mayest love the LORD thy God; that thou mayest obey his
voice; that thou mayest cleave unto him. Here the listener is called upon
to choose not to turn his heart away, avoid hearing, be drawn away, or wor-
ship or serve idols. Rather he is implored to choose life, love God, obey His
voice, and cleave unto him. Not only is volition implied, but it is hyperbo-
lized by the significance of the outcomelife or death.
Baw-khar first appears in the Bible in Gen 6:2: That the sons of God
saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all
which they chose. Here the sons of God are free to choose whom they will
marry. Another example where baw-khar refers to mans free will choice is
Lot chose [for himself] all the plain of Jordan (Gen 13:11).
15

However, Strong points out that although baw-khar often refers to hu-
man choice, sometimes it signifies Gods choice: (3) In more than half of
the occurrences, God is the subject of bachar, as in Num 16:5: The Lord
will show who are his, and who is holy;even him whom he hath chosen
will he cause to come near unto him. (4) Neh 9:78 describes Gods choos-
ing (election) of persons as far back as Abram: Thou art the LORD the God,
who didst chose Abram (5) Baw-khar is used 30 times in Deuteronomy,
all but twice referring to Gods choice of Israel or something in Israels
life(6) Being chosen by God brings people into an intimate relationship
with Him
16

The Bible 21

Just as God calls upon the Jews to make a decision and choose life in
Deut 30:1120, he does so once more in Josh 24:15: choose you this day
whom ye shall serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were
on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye
dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Here the peo-
ple are called upon to choose; Joshua and his family have already made the
decision to remain faithful to Gods divine calling.
Two more Hebrew words that connote volition are yawd and zade,
which the KJV translates as presumptuously. Yawd is used in the following
verse and the King James Study Bible points out that here, humans willfully
rebel against God: But the soul that doeth aught presumptuously, whether
he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and
that soul shall be cut off from among his people (Num 15:30). The King
James Study Bible advises that in Num 15:30 Presumptuously literally
means with a high hand, such as a raised or clenched fist in defiance of
God and His commands. This seems to be illustrated in verses 3236 by the
gathering of sticks on the Sabbath. Note Hebrews 10:2631, referring to
Deuteronomy 17:26; cf. Mark 3:29; 1 John 1:7; 5:16.
17

Strong assigns number 3027 to presumptuously in Num 15:30, refer-
ring to yawd: a prim. word; a hand (the open one [indicating power, means,
direction, etc.], in distinction from 3709, the closed one
18
Strong advises
that presumptuous occurs 2x in the OT and presumptuously, 6x. These
eight verses suggest that when humans engage in various actions, they do so
of their own free will. For example, Keep back thy servant also from pre-
sumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright,
and I shall be innocent from the great transgression (Ps 19:13). The King
James Study Bible advises that here, The man of faith can only respond with
a prayer that he be kept from both hidden sins (v. 12) and willful sins (v.
13).
19
Strong assigns number 2086 to presumptuous: zade; from
2102; arrogant:presumptuous (1x), proud (13x).
20
Number 2102 is zood;
or (by perm.) zeed; a prim. root; to seethe; fig. to be insolent:deal proudly
(4x), presumptuously (3x), presume (1x), be proud (1x)
21

Other instances in which the KJV translates a Hebrew word as pre-
sumptuous or presumptuously are But if a man come presumptuous
upon his (Ex 21:14); LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill
(Deut 1:43); and the man that will do presumptuously Deut 17:12); hear,
and fear, and do no more presumptuously (Deut 17:13); but the prophet
hath spoken it presumptuously (Deut 18:22).
22 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Volition is implied again in Jeremiah: If that nationturn from their


evil, God will withhold punishment; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey
not my voice, then God will mete out retribution (Jer 18:8, 10). Here
divine reckoning is contingent upon human choice.
There is also a prophecy in Jeremiah that brings the issue of free will to
the fore. It concerns the belief that God punishes children for the sins of their
ancestors, and parents, for the sins of their children. Jeremiah announces that
the day will come when this form of punishment will never be mentioned
again: In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour
grape, and the childrens teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his
own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on
edge (Jer 31:2930).
This prophecy is fulfilled in the 18
th
chapter of Ezekiel in which the
prophet declares that the word of the Lord came to him and instructed that
the people of Israel would no longer repeat this saying: What mean ye, that
ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have
eaten sour grapes, and the childrens teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the
Lord GOD, he shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Is-
raelBut if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and righthe is just,
he shall surely liveIf he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of
bloodhe shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him. Now, lo, if he beget
a son, that seeth all his fathers sins which he hath done, and considereth, and
doeth not such likehe shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall
surely live (Ezek 18: 23, 5, 910, 1314, 17). Not only is free will under-
stood to be a basic premise in these verses, a distinction is made among the
choices made by individual family members.
A few verses later, we learn that God wants people to obey Him, He does
not force Himself on anyone, and does not take pleasure in punishing them
when they choose to walk away from Him. This notion will be reiterated
several times in the New Testament. Ezek 18:32 says, For I have no pleas-
ure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn your-
selves, and live ye.
Therefore, because of the abundance of terminology such as free will,
freely, choose, choice, presumptuous, and presumptuously in
Holy Scriptures, and the application of retribution to individuals rather than
to entire family lines, it is not surprising that the majority of Jewish thinkers
throughout the millennia have taken the position that humans do in fact have
free will and are the authors of their own actions. Examples are Saadiah
The Bible 23

Gaon, Judah Halevi, Abraham Ibn Daud, Maimonides, Martin Buber, and
A.J. Heschel. The Encyclopaedia Judaica summarizes the views of these
thinkers thus:
Saadiah Gaon. it is impossible to think that God could compel a man to do some-
thing for which he would later punish him. Furthermore, if man has no freedom of
choice, both the righteous and the wicked should be rewarded equally since they
would be equally fulfilling Gods will. Saadiah brings another proof for free will:
man feels that he can speak or be silent, that he can take something or leave it. Simi-
larly, he feels that there is no one to deter him from doing as he wishesevery ac-
tivity is preceded in time by the ability to carry it out or to refrain from doing so.
This ability can be viewed as having a real existence, and its being prior to every ac-
tion is what underlies free choice. Refraining from performing a certain action is al-
so to be counted as an action in this respectSaadiah does not see any contradiction
between mans freedom of activity and Gods prior knowledge of what man will
choose to do. This foreknowledge, according to Saadiah, does not limit mans free-
dom, since it does not cause his actions.
Judah Halevi. The first cause of everything, according to Judah Halevi, is God,
who produces the intermediary causes, according to which all actions and occur-
rences are either natural (i.e., resulting from natural order), accidental, or voluntary
(resulting from human choice)there is no contradiction between the notion of free
choice and the view that God knows in advance what will happenGods fore-
knowledge cannot be regarded as a cause which brings about the event.
Abraham Ibn Daud. He classifies causes into divine, natural, accidental, and
voluntary. There are some people, he says, in whom good or evil habits are so deep-
ly ingrained that they are actually never required to exercise their free choice; but
the majority of people are between these two extremes, and must therefore choose
between good and evil. When they choose the good they become worthy of divine
providence, while he who chooses evil is abandoned to his own resources.
Maimonides. with regard to free will: every person may choose to be good
or evil. God does not determine in advance whether a particular man will be right-
eous or wicked. A man can carry out any action, be it good or bad. If this were not
so, the entire Torah would be purposeless; the wicked person could not be punished
for his sins, nor the righteous be rewarded for his good deedsWhat is known be-
yond a shadow of a doubt is that man is responsible for his own deeds, and that God
neither influences nor decrees that he should act in a certain manner.
Martin Buber. For Buber the main problem is not whether there is choice (in
the realm of I-Thou), but the quality of the choices madefor good or evil. Since
man is free to choose evil he is also free to overcome evilFree man is not without
influences from outside himself, but only he can really respond to outside events
and perceive the unique in each event. External events are preconditioned for his ac-
tion, not determining factors in his character. The free man responds where others
react. Mans freedom lies not in the absence of external limitations but in the ability,
despite them, to enter into dialogue, i.e., I-Thou relation.
24 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

A.J. Heschel. The essence of mans freedom is his ability to surpass himself.
To a certain extent man is enslaved by his environment, society, and character, but
man can think, will, and take decisions beyond these limitations.
22

Moreover, scientists who are Orthodox Jews are able to reconcile the teach-
ings of Judaism with the latest discoveries in science. For example, neurosci-
entist Benjamin Libet, an Orthodox Jew, hypothesizes that the biblical idea
that man has free will may not be contrary to recent discoveries regarding the
physiological workings of the human brain. Libet made this statement after
he discovered that unconscious brain processes begin before the conscious
intention to act in his test subjects. Although these findings may, at first
glance, suggest that volition is a fantasy, Libet does not abandon the biblical
notion of free will. Rather, he redefines it: The role of conscious free will
would be, then, not to initiate a voluntary act, but rather to control whether
the act takes place. We may view the unconscious initiatives for voluntary
actions as bubbling up in the brain. The conscious-will then selects which
of these initiatives may go forward to an action or which ones to veto and
abort, with no act appearing.
23
Libet concludes, This kind of role for free
will is actually in accord with religious and ethical strictures. These com-
monly advocate that you control yourself. Most of the Ten Commandments
are do not orders.
24
The implication here is that God must recognize that
human beings have the ability to negate every vile, sinful notion that bubbles
up from their subconscious; if He did not think that they have this ability, He
would not bother to command them to repress their urges. Thus, even today,
among neuroscientists who are investigating the question of whether we do
in fact have free will, those who are men of faith can argue the affirmative
side of the debate when those who are agnostics or atheists are quick to deny
it. Libets landmark experiments on the neuroscience of free will are dis-
cussed in Chapter Ten.
Free will has always been a basic premise of Judaism and therefore, the
earliest Christians also held this assumption. Today, two millennia after the
advent of Christ, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church,
and some Protestant denominations teach that humans have free will. Let us
begin with the Bible to see why this is so. Willfully occurs once in the
KJV of the NT: For if we sin willfully after that we have received the know-
ledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins (Heb 10:26).
25

The original Greek is (pronounced ek-oo-see-oce), meaning vol-
untarily, willingly.
26
The King James Study Bible advises, If we sin willfully
reveals that this act is deliberate
27
and refers the reader back to OT verses in
The Bible 25

which humans willfully rebel against God, i.e., But the soul that doeth aught
presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same re-
proacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people
(Num 15:30); it also refers the reader to Deut 17:26; Mark 3:29; 1 John 1:7;
5:16.
28

Another instance in which the KJV translates a Greek word as presump-
tuous is Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are (2 Pet 2:10). The
Greek word used here is (pronounced tol-mee-teece) and it means
daring; audacious.
29

In the NT the apostle Paul exhorts the Romans to use their free will to
turn away from sins of the flesh: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal
body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof (Rom 6:12); Neither yield
ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield your-
selves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as
instruments of righteousness unto God (Rom 6:13). Both of these verses are
exhortations to Pauls listeners and readers to resolve to behave a certain
way. The King James Study Bible points out, Let not (lit., stop letting):
The believer is to stop letting sin have mastery over his life.
30
Similarly,
regarding Rom 6:13, Neither yield ye (lit., stop presenting): In the day-to-
day confrontations with sin, stop giving in. But yield (lit., present your-
selves): Paul calls for a determined commitment.
31
These primary sources
indicate that the earliest Christians accepted the notion of free will as a basic
premise of their faith.
This verse is related to 2 Pet 2:20, in which the Apostle Peter warns his
listeners as to the consequences of willfully abandoning their faith after they
have become Christians: For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the
world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are
again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than
the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of
righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy com-
mandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to
the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that
was washed to her wallowing in the mire (2 Pet 2:2022). The implication
here is that humans have free will to continue on the path on which they find
themselves or digress, and take another; if they reject God, there will be
tragic consequences.
There one particular NT verse that reveals that God has His Will, hu-
mans have their will, sometimes the two are at odds with each other, and
26 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

when this happens, God does not foist His Will upon men. This is the famous
verse in which Christ stood overlooking Jerusalem and bitterly wept over it:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them
which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children to-
gether, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would
not! (Matt 23:37; see also Lk 13:3435).
Moreover, there is an abundance of verses in the New Testament that
explicitly state that it is Gods desire to save everyone. For example, He
came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received
him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that
believe on his name (John 1:1112); so must the Son of man be lifted
up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoso-
ever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God
sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world
through him might be saved (John 3:1417); I exhort therefore, that , first
of all, supplication, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for
all men (1 Tim 2:1); For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our
Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge
of the truth (1 Tim 2:34); For there is one God, and one mediator between
God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all
(1 Tim 2:56); The Lordis longsuffering toward us, not wiling that any
should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9, NKJV);
we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he
died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves,
but unto him which died for them, and rose again (2 Cor 5:1415). These
verses show that it is Gods will that all should believe in Christ, but that He
does not force Himself on anyone.
There is also another verse in which Christ makes an appeal to men and
then awaits their free will response: Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:
if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will
sup with him, and he with me (Rev 3:20). The Eastern Orthodox Church, as
we shall see in Chapter Three on Pascal, points out that although Christ may
be knocking at the door, it is up to man to open it of his own volition.
There are also several examples in which Christ extends a gift to people
and it is up to them to accept it. This is seen in an analysis of the recurrence
of the English word freely in the KJV of the NT; it occurs 10x. The Greek
word that is used is (pronounced do-reh-an), meaning gratuitously,
The Bible 27

freely, without a cause. It comes from (do-ron), a gift. Strong assigns


it number 1432 and advises that it appears in Heal the sick, cleanse the
lepersfreely ye have received, freely give (Mt 10:8); And let him that is
athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Rev
22:17).
32
In the first example, the apostles align their will with Gods so that
they can willfully and freely heal the sick. In the second example Christ
makes eternal life (metaphorized as the water of life) available and it is up to
man to reach out and take it.
The last chapter of the Book of Revelation chronicles the culmination of
human history. Several verses suggest the final outcome for each individual
will rest solely on choices that he made when he was alive on earth. An angel
of God instructs John not to seal up the prophecies of the Book because the
time of their fulfillment is at hand: He that is unjust, let him be unjust still:
and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him
be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I
come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his
work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first
and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have
right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For
without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and
idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie (Rev 22:1115). These
verses indicate that reward and punishment will be based on choices that
humans have madebelievers are vicariously clothed in the righteousness of
Christ through his Sacrifice for their sins; unbelievers will be judged guilty at
the Great White Throne judgment.
One might ask why, since the earliest Christians embraced the notion of
free will, many Protestant denominations have taken a sharp turn and em-
braced predestination instead. The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth
century, whose chief proponents were Martin Luther (14831546) and John
Calvin (15091564), denied free will. In 1505 Luther joined the monastic
order of Augustinian eremites and was ordained a priest in 1507. As a Ger-
man Augustinian friar, he adhered to the teachings of Augustine regarding
predestination. Scholars recognize that Luther influenced Calvin much more
than vice versa. Luther pointed to specific verses in the teachings of Saint
Paul to argue efficacious grace, the omnipotence of God, the foreknowledge
of God, election, predestination, and the weakness of man, and to deny free
will. The Catholic Encyclopedia summarizes the teachings of Luther and
Calvin thus:
28 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

they drew the conclusion that the human will, instead of being master of its own
acts, is rigidly predetermined in all its choices throughout life. As a consequence,
man is predestined before his birth to eternal punishment or reward in such fashion
that he never can have had any real free-power over his own fate. In his controversy
with Erasmus, who defended free will, Luther frankly stated that free will is a fic-
tion, a name which covers no reality, for it is not in mans power to think well or ill,
since all events occur by necessity. In reply to Erasmuss De Libero Arbitrio, he
published his own work, De Servo Arbitrio, glorying in emphasizing mans help-
lessness and slavery. The predestination of all future human acts by God is so inter-
preted as to shut out any possibility of freedom. An inflexible internal necessity
turns mans will whithersoever God preordains. With Calvin, Gods preordination
is, if possible, even more fatal o free will. Man can perform no sort of good act un-
less necessitated to it by Gods grace which it is impossible for him to resist. It is
absurd to speak of the human will cooperating with Gods grace, for this would
imply that man could resist the grace of God. The will of God is the very necessity
of things. It is objected that in this case God sometimes imposes impossible com-
mands. Both Calvin and Luther reply that the commands of God show us not what
we can do but what we ought to do. In condemnation of these views, the Council of
Trent declared that the free will of man, moved and excited by God, can by its con-
sent cooperate with God, Who excites and invites its action; and that it can thereby
dispose and prepare itself to obtain the grace of justification. The will can resist
grace if it chooses. It is not like a lifeless thing, which remains purely passive. Wea-
kened and diminished by Adams fall, free will is yet not destroyed in the race
33

Thus we have a dichotomous interpretation of the NT in which the apostolic
churchesthe Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholicallow for both free
will and predestination and the Protestant Reformation (notably the Lutheran
and Calvinist traditions), denies free will completely. There is an in-depth
discussion of why the earliest Christians held that man has free will in Chap-
ter Threes refutation of Pascal.

Chapter Two
Montaigne









I believe nothing more certainly than this, that I cannot be hurt by the use of things
to which I have been so long accustomed. Tis for custom to give a form to a mans
life, such as it pleases him; she is all in all in that: tis the potion of Circe, that var-
ies our nature as she best pleases.
1

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essays (15721588)
The topic of free will is a thread that is interwoven throughout Montaignes
Essays. In this work he accompanies us on an exploration into the farthest
recesses of his soul, drawing from personal experience, the classics, and
history to provide some acrid, but stunningly prescient views on the topic.
He questions how much free will we really do have, addresses numerous
determinist factors that obviate free will, and makes suggestions as to how
we might conquer those forces so that we can exercise the maximum amount
of freedom of choice that heredity and environment will allow.
Let us begin by taking a look at the high-level positions that Montaigne
held in government, who his powerful friends were, and the turbulent times
in which he lived. This will provide insight into passages in which he de-
clares that he serves his king out of a sense of public duty, rather than self-
interest; paragraphs in which he calls for reason and self-restraint when ad-
vising powerful leaders of opposing factions; his broadmindedness regarding
the right of all people to engage in freedom of thought and religious prac-
tices; and the great chance he took in choosing to analyze cultural practices
in foreign lands with the dispassionate eye of an anthropologist, rather than
quickly condemn them, as would the religious doctrinaires that surrounded
him. A biographical sketch of the famed essayist and skeptic reveals that he
chose to exercise his own free will by speaking fearlessly with candorin
his writings, in his interactions with powerful people, and in his civic duties
30 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

as magistrate and mayor. It was precisely because Montaigne was a highly


visible public figure that he had ample opportunity to put his tolerant views
into action: he served as magistrate for 13 years in the Parliament of Bor-
deaux (15571570); he served two consecutive 2-year terms as mayor of
Bordeaux (15811583; 15831585); he negotiated peace between Catholic
King Henri III and Protestant Henri de Navarre during a period when reli-
gious wars were raging in France.
Regarding Montaignes years as magistrate, the Encyclopedia Americana
advises, Heexpressed a real distaste for the pomposity of judges, the
complications of legal procedures, and the venality of justice;
2
As mayor of
Bordeaux, He served two terms, doing his best to maintain peace and order
and yet avoid tyranny in a region beset with violent religious strife.;
3
Mon-
taigneremained politically active as a negotiator between Protestant Henry
of Navarre and the Catholic Valois family. (He was once attacked by sol-
diers, once arrested). A practicing Catholic all his life, Montaigne nonethe-
less favored Henry and was delighted when he converted to Catholicism and
became King Henry IV of France, putting an end to religious strife;
4
If
Montaigne always remained a faithful Catholic, he counted Protestants
among his family and friends. His own religious position was a brand of
fideism: faith and reason may be contradictory, but faith must prevail in
religious mattersa position strengthened by his very real doubts about the
capacity of reason to discover eternal truths of any sort; Montaignes toler-
ance stemmed from a deep conviction that customs and mores vary from
land to land and from culture to culture. His humanistic admiration for clas-
sical antiquity was complemented by an admiration for the natural goodness
of primitive man (the essay Of Cannibals), and he sharply criticized the
abuses of European colonization of the New World (Of Coaches).
5

This background information should clarify Montaignes use of the first
person singular and his interjection of personal anecdotes in passages in
which he calls for reason and dispassion when protecting the public welfare,
the interests of the state, and advising those in the midst of civil war.
Habit Obviates Free Will
Montaigne reiterates throughout his Essays that habits, customs, manners and
mores, once learned, remain with us throughout life. He leads his readers to
question how much free will a man really has if his behavior has been incul-
cated in him from birth. In a chapter entitled, Of Custom, and of not Chang-
Montaigne 31

ing a Received Law (15721574), Montaigne declares that the force of


habit causes people to mindlessly repeat the same behavior from the cradle to
the grave. As an example he offers a humorous tale about a woman who held
a newborn calf in her arms, petted it, loved it, and daily continuing to do
so as it grew up, obtained this by custom, that, when grown to be a great ox,
she was still able to bear it.
6
He metaphorizes habit as a violent and treach-
erous schoolmistress who takes away our free will: She, by little and little,
slyly and unperceived, slips in the foot of her authority, but having by this
gentle and humble beginning, with the benefit of time, fixed and established
it, she then unmasks a furious and tyrannical countenance, against which we
have no more the courage or the power so much as to lift up our eyes.
7
Here
he suggests that habits, whether good or bad, begin with random chance
(they start by little and little because of circumstances that come our way)
and they become ingrained with repetition (with the benefit of time).
Therefore, our free will is determined by random chance (circumstance) and
learning (repetition).
In the example of the woman carrying a heavy ox, we have the parallel
metaphor of gained physical strength (her muscles develop over time) and a
strengthened behavior pattern. Her physical muscles are metaphors for her
mental tenacity. While this comparison is implied at first, Montaigne contin-
ues by making the overt statement, how much custom stupefies our
senses.
8
Here habit not only obviates free will, it actually causes some phys-
ical change to take place, as it modifies the five senses. As an example, he
mentions that when he wears a perfumed doublet, at first it is pleasant, but
after three days he is no longer aware of the perfume even though the people
around him are. In another example, a child is scolded by Plato and he com-
plains, Thou reprovest me for a very little thing. Plato replies, Custom is
no little thing. Therefore, Montaigne warns that it is imperative that children
be stopped the first time they engage in improper behavior. He demonstrates
that since free will is obviated by determinism, it might as well be the deter-
minism of education provided by a wise teacher and not that ingrained by
habit begun by a chance event.
Montaigne attributes learned vice to the indifference or laxity of parents.
He recounts stories of parents who watch with amusement as their children
wring the necks of chickens, torture dogs and cats, and strike peasants. Here
the seeds of habit are formed that, if unchecked, will metamorphose into
greater acts of cruelty: Yet these are the true seeds and roots of cruelty,
32 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

tyranny, and treason; they bud and put out there, and afterwards shoot up
vigorously, and grow to prodigious bulk, cultivated by custom.
9

Customs, Manners and Mores Obviate Free Will
Habits, if enough people practice them, with the passage of time, become
social customs. Montaigne enumerates strange customs in foreign lands that
are incrementally more and more repulsive and heinous, until finally, he
arrives at cannibalism. He surmises, there is nothing, in my opinion that
she [custom] does not, or may not do; and therefore, with very good reason it
is that Pindar calls her the ruler of the world.
10
To illustrate his point, Mon-
taigne provides an example in which beating ones father, generation after
generation, becomes a firmly entrenched family practice: He that was seen
to beat his father, and reproved for so doing, made answer, that it was the
custom of their family; that, in like manner his father had beaten his grandfa-
ther, his grandfather his great-grandfather, And this, says he, pointing to his
son, when he comes to my age, shall beat me. And the father, whom the
son dragged and hauled along the streets, commanded him to stop at a certain
door, for he himself, he said, had dragged his father no farther, that being the
utmost limit of the hereditary outrage the sons used to practice upon the
fathers in their family.
11

Montaigne concludes that conscience is not born of nature, as Europeans
say, but of societal customs that ensnare a given population from birth. Thus,
he introduces the notion of relativism: horrific practices such as cannibalism
and physical mutilation are dictated by conscience in distant lands and there-
fore, notions of conscience, goodness and natural law are dismissed as non-
absolutes. He explores cannibalism from the relativist point of view in detail
in his famous chapter, Of Cannibals (15781580).
The Good Opinion of Others Obviates Free Will
One reason that we find ourselves trapped by societal customs is because we
seek the approval of others: everyone, having an inward veneration for
the opinions and manners approved and received amongst his own people,
cannot, without very great reluctance, depart from them, nor apply himself to
them without applause.
12
Moreover, Montaigne demonstrates his modernity
by assessing that peer pressure trumps the power of reason: But the princi-
ple effect of its power is, so to seize and ensnare us, that it is hardly in us to
disengage ourselves from its grip, or so to come to ourselves, as to consider
Montaigne 33

of and to weigh the things it enjoins.


13
For example, democratic nations
favor their form of government as the best and would not surrender it; those
that have monarchy also defend their system of governance and would not
exchange it for a republic. Some cultures eat their dead because they feel that
they honor them by offering themselves as sepulchers, while others cremate
their dead; each is horrified by the practice of the other and would not ex-
change its customs. Plato recommended that the way to eliminate vices such
as incest from society is that the poets, and all other sorts of writers, relate
horrible stories of them and portray them in a negative light.
14
Plato knew
that the will of the individual surrenders to public opinion.
Montaigne also mocks the extravagant styles of European attire that do
not serve the true purpose of clothingthe service and comfort of the indi-
vidual who wears itbut rather, restrict motion or are blatantly comical. As
examples he cites square bonnets and the long tail of pleated velvet that hang
from womens heads. Fashion is an obvious example of the surrender of
comfort and logic to societal pressures.
The Kind of Education that Preserves Free Will
In the chapter entitled, Of the Institution of Children (15791580), Mon-
taigne gives advice to Diane de Foix, the Countess of Gurson, who was then
expecting her first child. He stresses that a tutor should be chosen with care;
he should be one with a well-made head rather than a well-filled one; charac-
ter and understanding should be required of him more than learning.
Montaigne stresses the importance of teaching a student to suspend
judgment. He strongly felt that we can exercise our free will to the max if we
do not rush to draw conclusions, but rather, postpone judgment. His peda-
gogical method was influenced by the for and against discussions of Aris-
totle and Cicero, who always took care to show that opposing views have
their rational bases. For and against discussions teach us that rational ap-
pearances are deceptive. In most of the chapters of the Essays, Montaigne
reverses judgment, shifts perspective, and addresses the issue from a differ-
ent point of view. In fact, iudicio alternante (alternating opinion) is engraved
on the beams of his Prigord castles library, a landmark that tourists visit
today.
His motive is not to destroy an argument, but to balance it with others. In
order for this to be effective, all points of view must be presented. For exam-
ple, there are several moral authorities and among them are custom and rea-
34 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

son. His discussions of the practices of exotic cultures in faraway land, jux-
taposed with some ridiculous practices of European civilization, show that
people everywhere are slaves to their society, customs manners, and mores
into which they happen to be born. Hence, one could argue that random
chance is at the foundation of the choices that humans make.
Since the notions of truth and justice are relative, we must question the
value of mens opinions. The tutor should teach his student to question eve-
rything and keep an open mind from an early age: Let him make him exam-
ine and thoroughly sift everything he reads, and lodge nothing in his fancy
upon simple authority and upon trust. Aristotles principles will be no more
principles to him, than those of Epicurus and the Stoics: let this diversity of
opinions be propounded to, and laid before him; he will himself choose, if he
is able; if not, he will remain in doubt;
15
he cites Dante: It pleases me to
doubt, not less than to know.
16

We should avoid rushing to judgment because the moment we do, we
become attached to a single point of view, it becomes entrenched and habit-
ual, and we lose our free will to remain open to the truth if it should come
our way. The resolution to keep an open mind should be evident in our
choice of words: a child should be taught to say, Perhaps, To some ex-
tent, They say, and I think.
A wise tutor will also interweave the subject of self-interest into his cur-
riculum. He should teach a child to be loyal to his king only because of a
sense of public duty and not because of self-interest;
17
the judgment of a
man who is hired (bribed and prepossessed by obligations) is determined
by his duty to his employer and he loses his free will to think and act;
18
a
kings courtier has neither the power nor will to speak or think otherwise
than favorably and well of a master;
19
favor and profit corrupt his
freedom.
20
Throughout the Essays Montaigne returns to the theme of re-
maining loyal to a prince because of a sense of duty, and not self-interest,
and he frequently stresses that he, himself, is loyal to his king because of
duty alone. The advantage is that it gives him the freedom to speak the truth
as he sees it, rather than lie in order to serve himself.
In addition, a tutor should teach his student that it is not only permissible
to admit that one is wrong, it is desirable: to acknowledge the error he
shall discover in his own argument, though only found out by himself, is an
effect of judgment and sincerity.
21
People should have the freedom to ar-
ticulate the truth as soon as they perceive it, even if they have to admit to
others and to themselves that they were originally mistaken. This shows true
Montaigne 35

honor and courage. It also liberates the individual to exercise his free will
without shame or fear of reproach.
Montaigne opposes the emphasis that teachers place on rote memoriza-
tion and recommends that instead, the formation of judgment and character
be at the core of education. The tutors goal must be to develop judgment and
character via life experience, something that cannot be imparted by sitting in
a classroom and recalling maxims and facts. Therefore, students should be
encouraged to get to know their classmates, interact with them indoors and
outdoors, and engage in action and playful activities: By which means our
very exercises and recreations, running, wrestling, music, dancing, hunting,
riding, and fencing, will prove to be a good part of our study.
22

A tutor should also teach his student to seek to do only good and to be-
have virtuously. While a young man should know how to carouse and get
drunk with his comrades and have the strength to do it, he should be taught
to not to will to do those things.: Let him be able to do everything, but love
to do nothing but what is good;
23
he should refrain from engaging in de-
bauchery not for lack of power or knowledge how to do it, but for want of
will.
24
He cites Senecas maxim, There is a vast difference betwixt forbear-
ing to sin, and not knowing how to sin.
25
Thus a man will be prepared to
interact with all kinds of associates, participate in unwholesome activities if
necessity requires it, but will not be entrapped in a dissolute lifestyle. As an
example Montaigne mentions a French nobleman who became drunk three
times while tending to his kings affairs in Germany. Montaigne surmises
that this man must have been well-trained by his tutor when he was young
because this was an isolated incident and he did not allow it to take root like
a habit.
The Passions Obviate Free Will
In a chapter entitled, Of the Inconstancy of Our Actions (15721574),
Montaigne observes that humans frequently act with inconsistencyso
much so, that it is often difficult to believe that the same person has commit-
ted two widely disparate acts. He cites several examples of human will exer-
cised in an inconsistent manner and then offers a surprisingly modern
explanation for the phenomenon. In the first sentence of the chapter, he ob-
serves that human actions contradict each other so often, that it seems im-
possible that they should proceed from one and the same person.
26
One
moment the younger Marius is a son of Mars, the next, a son of Venus.
27

36 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

The tyrant Nero, famous for his cruelty, grieved bitterly when he had to sign
an order condemning a criminal to death. Therefore, we should note that
Publius Syrus, the Roman writer of farces, wisely advised that bad is the plan
that will not allow for change.
28

Montaigne declares that he can hardly believe a mans constancy, but
he would believe nothing sooner than the contrary.
29
He cites Demosthe-
nes, who advised that the beginning of all virtue is consultation and delib-
eration; the end and perfection, constancy.
30
Free will is manifest when we
retain the ability to consult with and deliberate with others, and remain con-
sistent according to plan. The oppositeimpulsivityindicates that some-
thing other than free will is the motivating force. These motivators are the
passions.
Our appetite carries us to the left or right, upwards or downwards, ac-
cording as we are wafted by the breath of occasion. We never meditate what
we would have till the instant we have a mind to have it;
31
We are
turned about like the top spun by others;
32
We do not go, we are driven;
like things that float, now leisurely, then with violence, according to the
gentleness or rapidity of the current;
33
Every day a new whimsy, and our
humors keep motion with the time.
34

Montaigne cites the example of a young woman who lived near his estate
during the religious wars between the Catholics and Protestants (1562
1594). A soldier was quartered in her house and he showed an interest in her.
Rather than submit to him, she unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide twice,
first by jumping out of a window, then by cutting her throat. Afterwards,
Montaigne was surprised to learn that both before and after this incident
occurred, she was anything but a virtuous woman. Therefore, he advises,
be as handsome a man and as worthy a gentleman as you will, do not
conclude too much upon your mistresss inviolable chastity for having been
repulsed; you do not know but she may have a better stomach to your mule-
teer.
35

Montaigne searches the human psyche and produces a list of factors that
may be at the foundation of human inconsistency: when we see a man be-
have courageously one day and cowardly, the next, anger, necessity,
company, wine, or the sound of a trumpet had roused his spirits; this is no
valor formed and established by reason, but accidentally created by such
circumstances, and therefore it is no wonder if by contrary circumstances it
appear quite another thing.
36

Montaigne 37

There we have it: free will is obviated by the determinism of the passions
(i.e., anger), necessity (which covers a broad spectrum, i.e., the instinct for
self-preservation during immediate danger, or some other form of need, such
as poverty), human persuasion or peer pressure (company), chemical or
pharmacological intervention (wine), or abject fear (the sound of a trumpet,
indicating imminent force). Here we have the prescience and inclusiveness of
Montaignes thought: he identifies fear and necessity as motivatorsfactors
that would one day be incorporated into the fight or flight response of 20
th

century psychology.
Another determinist factor that drives human will is mood. As moods
change, so do the choices we make: For my part, the puff of every accident
not only carries me along with it according to its own proclivity, but more-
over I discompose and trouble myself by the instability of my own pos-
ture;
37
I give to my soul sometimes one face and sometimes another,
according to the sides I turn her to.
38
Montaigne enumerates as many moods
as he can think of: bashful, insolent; chaste, lustful; prating, silent; labori-
ous, delicate; ingenious, heavy; melancholic, pleasant; lying, true; knowing,
ignorant; liberal, covetous, and prodigal.
39
This pairing of opposites hyper-
bolizes the multiplicity and strength of forces in the human psyche that ac-
count for the inconsistent choices we make.
To combat this, Montaigne advises his readers that they must remain
goal-oriented and consciously resolve to direct their lives in a certain path.
People need goals because the events in life are governed by random chance:
Seneca said that chance has so great a dominion over us, since it is by
chance we live. It is not possible for anyone who has not designed his life for
some certain end, to dispose his particular actions; it is impossible for anyone
to arrange the pieces, who has not the whole form already contrived in his
imagination.
40

Thus far we have seen that the passions obviate free will. Montaigne digs
a little deeper and, in Book 3 of the Essays, he goes on to explore the driving
force that is lurking beneath the passionsself-interest.
Self-Interest Obviates Free Will
Because he was well-taught in the classics from an early age, Montaigne had
read Aristotle and knew Aristotles three motivators that drive human will:
the honorable [kalon], the useful [sympheron], and the pleasurable [hedu].
41

In a chapter entitled, Of Utility and Honesty (15851588), Montaigne
38 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

compares the honorable and the useful and applies it to people in leadership
roles. He provides examples of how various historical personages were
forced to choose between the honorable thing to do and their own self-
interest. Tiberius had the opportunity to rid himself of his enemy, Arminius,
by poisoning him, and thereby extend Romes borders. However, he recog-
nized that while killing someone by surreptitious means may be useful, it
was not honorable. He preferred to go to war, give him the opportunity to
defend himself, and defeat him in battle, openly, with weapon in hand Mon-
taigne observes, he quitted the profitable for the honest.
42

Having given an example of the rarity of honor and virtue, Montaigne
explores the ubiquity of the useful: but there is nothing useless in nature,
not even inutility itself.
43
Therefore, ambition, jealousy, envy, revenge,
superstition and despair have so natural a possession in usand cruelty
serve a purpose.
44
What use do the passions serve? The answer is self-
interest.
At this juncture let us briefly digress from the Essays to review the
events of the day, as they play a part in Montaignes discourse on the topic of
the free will of a negotiator vs. the self-interest of the public figures he
serves. In the 1570s and 1580s Montaigne tried to negotiate peace between
Catholic Henri de Guise (who would later become King Henri III) and Prot-
estant Henri de Navarre (who led the Huguenots). As one might suspect,
involvement in an ongoing heated religious dispute could eventually lead to
personal strife, and in Montaignes case, it didhe was harassed for having
a moderate view by both Catholic and Protestant extremists. In 1588 Mon-
taigne journeyed to Paris to represent Henri de Navarre in negotiations with
Henri III; he ended up getting arrested by order of the Catholic League, but
was released.
Having noted Montaignes role as a negotiator between unyielding fac-
tions and the fact that it was imperative that he remain aloof and reasonable
even as he was harassed and arrested, let us now proceed in our examination
of his views on the exercise of free will in incendiary situations.
Montaigne turns to the topic of evil that exists in government. He sur-
mises that vice survives in government and is manifest in the choices that
public leaders make because it is useful; so much so, in fact, that society
could not exist without it. Turning to a discussion on government, Montaigne
observes, Vices there help to make up the seam that holds the fabric of
society together just as poisons are useful for the conservation of health;
45

the publics welfare requires that men should betray, and lie, and massacre;
Montaigne 39

let us leave this commission to men who are more obedient and more sup-
ple.
46
As an example, he cites judges who entice criminals to confess their
deeds by offering them a false hope of pardon. Readers can add their own
modern day examples of the presence of vice in all levels of government, as
debatable as they may be, such as plea bargaining, capital punishment, and
pre-emptive war.
Montaigne enumerates more examples of factors that obviate free will:
the passions (i.e., love, hate, anger), personal injury, obligation, private inter-
est, and need. He gives ample advice as to how a public office holder should
conduct himself. When he reiterates the need for reason over the pas-
sions/self-interest, we should keep in mind that he, himself, has felt the full
weight of his own responsibility to the public he served, King Henri III, the
law, and maintaining the peace between Catholics and Protestants: having
been a magistrate, mayor, and negotiator between Henri III and Henri de
Navarre, and having witnessed the workings of the courts, city government,
and Kings court amidst bitter religious civil wars and incendiary politics, he
spoke with candor from his own experience.
Montaigne also mentions negotiations between royal figures in which he
participated and declares that he always chose to speak openly. While pro-
fessional negotiators are very reserved and pretend to be the most moderate
imaginable and nearest to the opinions of those with whom they have to do,
Montaigne opted to tell the truth to powerful people.
47
To emphasize his
point, he cites Hyperides declaration to the Athenians, who, when they
complained about his blunt way of speaking, retorted that their only con-
cern should be whether he speaks without a bribe, or without any advantage
to my own affairs.
48
Montaigne reiterates that he himself is motivated to
serve Henri III only out of a sense of public duty and not self-interest; since
he has no ulterior motives, he is free to employs reason and a sense of jus-
tice, rather than see his free will obviated by the passions.
However, it should be noted that Montaigne recognizes that there is one
thing that does obviate free will, even in the most honorable of men, and
always takes precedence: survival or self-preservation. He admits that if his
estate were in danger of destruction, I will make use of all the length of line
my duty allows for its preservation.
49
This statement as to survival leads us
to the topic of self-interestboth that of the individual and that of the state.
At this juncture let us note that he wrote Of Utility and Honesty during
15851588. A deadly plague had devastated Bordeaux and Montaigne, who
was just returning from Italy, had to make a choice between remaining at the
40 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

outskirts of the city to preserve his own life and that of his family and enter-
ing the midst of the contagion in a display of solidarity with the citizens. He
wisely chose the former, reasoning, first of all, that self-preservation is the
primary concern and secondly, that the death of a mayor would serve no
purpose. Let us keep this in mind as we see him acknowledge the determinist
role that self-interest plays in the exercise of free will.
Montaigne also says that a monarch, because he has a responsibility to his
country, should always choose that which is honorable over that which is use-
ful. When a king betrays his nation and sullies his own integrity by opting for
that which is useful, vice it is not, for he has given up his own reason to a
more universal and more powerful reason.
50

A question arises in the readers mind as to what this more universal and
more powerful reason might be. The answer is self-interestnot that of the
individual, but that of the state or, to use another term, reason of state. Here
Montaigne justifies the Machiavellian notion that a monarch should do every-
thing that is necessary to save his countrythe ends justify the means. Reason
of state should take precedence over and obviate the interest of the individual.
Pierre Force advises that in the Essays, Montaigne observes that some-
times a monarch finds that he must make a choice between what is best for his
country and the honorable thing to do. When this happens, reason dictates that
he protect the interests of the public he serves, and dispense with the honor-
able. Here the ends justify the means. Force says, two definitions of interest
coexist. On the one hand, there is the common interest, the public welfare.
When a conflict arises between the honorable and the useful, and the prince,
mindful of the public good, chooses what is useful for the State against what is
honorable for the State, he has abandoned his own reason to a more universal
and powerful reason. In a limited endorsement of reason of State theory,
Montaigne takes the Stoic view that an act is comparatively better when it
serves larger interestsinterest and reason are nearly synonymous.
51

Force also observes that in at least two other passages, Montaigne dis-
cusses a different kind of interestnot the interest of the state, but rather that
of the individual. The interest of the individual is nearly always synonymous
with the passions: Our outward and inward structure is full of imperfection;
but there is nothing useless in nature, not even inutility itself; nothing has
insinuated itself into this universe that has not therein some fit and proper
place. Our being is cemented with sickly qualities: ambition, jealousy, envy,
revenge, superstition, and despair have so natural a possession in usand
crueltyof the seeds of which qualities, whoever should divest man, would
Montaigne 41

destroy the fundamental conditions of human life.


52
Montaigne asserts that
there is nothing useless in nature, everything has a function, even passions
such as ambition, jealousy, envy, and revenge. Their function is to further
ones self-interest. Therefore, the passions and self-interest are inextricably
intertwined.
In another passage Montaigne declares, But we are not, as we nowadays
do, to call peevishness and inward discontent, that spring from private interest
and passion, duty, nor a treacherous and malicious conduct, courage; they call
their proneness to mischief and violence zeal; tis not the cause, but their inter-
est, that inflames them; they kindle and begin a war, not because it is just, but
because it is war.
53
In this example, an advisor to a monarch is promulgating
warfare, not because of the interest of state, but out of personal inter-
est/passions.
The Importance of Self-Restraint
In a chapter entitled, Of Managing Ones Will (15851588), he empha-
sizes the need to maintain self-control in trying circumstances. We should
make a resolution that is followed by a conscious effort to live our lives in
such a way as to remain indifferent in inflammatory situations: Few things,
in comparison of what commonly affect other men, move, or, to say better,
possess me: for tis but reason they should concern a man, provided they do
not possess him. I am very solicitous, both by study and argument, to enlarge
this privilege of insensibility, which is in me naturally raised to a pretty de-
gree, so that consequently I espouse and am very much moved with very few
things.
54
Thus Montaigne acknowledges that although the passions are natu-
rally a part of the human psyche, so is the intellect and therefore, it is possi-
ble to rise above and remain in control of them via the power of reason and
the application of study. The classical method of studythe for and against
analyses of Aristotle and Cicerohad taught Montaigne that there is always
more than one point of view and that therefore, it would be wise to remain
skeptical, even after a conclusion has been drawn, because new information
may arise later that proves to be significant.
The Pleasure/Pain Principle
Most people are motivated by the search for pleasure and the desire to avoid
pain. Montaigne finds that this, too, obviates free will: One must moderate
oneself between hatred of pain and love of pleasure; and Plato prescribes a
42 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

middle way of life between the two.


55
Again, he speaks from personal ex-
perience. In 1578 he suffered from a kidney stone, the disease that killed his
father. The pain stayed with him throughout his life, but he did not let it
poison his love of life. Writing this chapter 710 years after the initial epi-
sode, he demonstrates that flight from pain and attraction to pleasure are
basic instincts that people of reason can consciously will to rise above.
Recruit Habit to Your Camp
How much free will do we have if we are condemned to repeat behavior by
force of habit? In the final chapter of the Essays, Of Experience (1587
1588), Montaigne concedes that habit is the potion of Circe and credits it
with giving form to our lives.
56
However, he ends his voluminous tome with
a surprise twist and stunning observation: just as habit puts some people in a
rut, it liberates others to face the risk of change: These are the effects of
custom; she can mould us, not only into what form she pleases (the sages say
that we ought to apply ourselves to the best, which she will soon make easy
to us), but also to change and variation, which is the most noble and most
useful instruction of all she teaches us.
57

Thus, Montaigne ends his work on a positive note with the key to exer-
cising our free will to the maximum that heredity and environment will al-
low: get into the habit of facing change and variation. This is something
we can choose (we ought to apply ourselves to the best form). Therefore,
the most fortunate people are those who have acquired the habit of doing
things differently. Obviously, the tendency to engage in change and variation
must be instilled from childhood: an adult who has led a narrowly restrictive
lifestyle is not going to suddenly embrace the unknown. Therefore, the de-
terminism of environment must be recruited to become an ingredient in
Circes potion.
There is some irony in the solution that we can defeat habit by recruiting
it to work on our behalf. Since habit will always win anyway, we might as
well be victors along with it. For example, parents and tutors can encourage
the young to eat different foods each day, make new friends, face risk, enter
into new situations, experience their independence apart from them, travel
away from home without them. Again, as is his custom, he advises his read-
ers from personal experience: he was accustomed to facing change and varia-
tion his entire life, and so it is no surprise that the travel journal that he left
Montaigne 43

behind indicates that during the period 15801581 he traveled across France
to Switzerland and then on to Germany, Austria, the Alps, and Italy.
In summation, Montaigne was a compatibilist: not only did he believe
that free will and determinism can coexist, he advised that the determinism
can even be recruited to help us exercise our free will to the max.
These are some determinist factors that impede free will:
Reason of state (survival or preservation of the state).
The instinct for survival or preservation of the individual.
The passions.
Private interest.
Obligation.
Need.
Societal customs, manners and mores.
The force of habit (initiated by random chance and strengthened with
repetition and time).
Peer pressure (societal pressure, the need for approval from others).
Moods.
A call to war.
Chemical or pharmacological intervention.
Fear.
Superstition.
These factors empower free will:
Reason.
Self-restraint; maintain self-control and indifference in inflammatory
situations.
Speak openly and honestly.
Be tolerant of the customs of others.
Writers should exercise their free will by portraying vice in a nega-
tive light to encourage public opinion to condemn it.
Suspend judgment; do not rush to conclusions.
Examine all sides of an issue.
Question everything.
Be loyal to authority out of public duty, not self-interest; then you
are free to speak openly.
44 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Be quick to acknowledge that you are mistaken. This liberates the


individual to exercise free will without shame or fear of reproach.
A tutor should instill good judgment and character from childhood.
Educate the young to desire to do only good and act from virtue.
Retain the ability to consult and deliberate with others.
Remain consistent according to plan.
Remain goal-oriented; consciously resolve to direct your life in a
certain path.
Get into the habit of change and variation from childhood.

Chapter Three
Pascal









every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are
labourers together with GodBut let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
1 Cor 3:810
The material below is taken from the introduction, Chapter One, Chapter
Three, and Chapter Six of Mary Efrosini Gregory, An Eastern Orthodox View
of Pascal.
Selection from the Introduction
Skeptics have asked throughout the ages and they still do today, Is there any
scientific, mathematical, empirical proof that God exists? The objective of
this study is to demonstrate that the answer is a resounding, Yes, and that
Blaise Pascal does provide evidence to answer this question. Pascals genius
resides in his ability to prove the existence of God using probability theory as a
tool: because he was a brilliant scientist and mathematician, he was able to
demonstrate that the fulfillment of hundreds of Messianic prophecies in the
person of one man, Jesus Christ, the historicity of miracles, the unity of the OT
and New (ie: evidence of the Holy Trinity in the OT and types), all fall outside
the realm of statistical probability and that therefore, they provide clear evi-
dence of the Will of God. The first five chapters of this study will examine in
detail these proofs based on probability theory. We believe that Pascals evi-
dence does substantiate the thesis that God exists.
However, Pascals personal brand of theology, Jansenism, based on Au-
gustine, is erroneous in its tenet that God predestines people to believe or dis-
believe and that they have no free will in the matter. His Augustinian belief
system holds that God chooses to impart irresistible efficacious grace to some,
46 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

but not to others: those who receive it, believe and are saved, while those who
do not, remain in unbelief and are damned. This tenet, as Pierre Force points
out in The Hermeneutical Problem in Pascals Writing (Le Problme herm-
neutique chez Pascal), leads to a vicious cycle out of which there is no escape:
a person believes (receives grace) by reading the Bible, but he needs Gods gift
of grace in order to understand Scripture.
1
For this reason, the last chapter of
this study will offer an alternative to the Augustinians flawed theology: this
alternative, which sets forth a logical plan for Gods redemption based on the
original texts of Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, comes from a different tradi-
tion, one generally unfamiliar to Western Christianity, and which was foreign
to Pascal: that of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Hence, the title of this book.
The Augustinians doctrine of the election of the damned was based on a Latin
mistranslation of the Greek verse of Rom 5:12 and this error will be examined
in detail.
As thorough a job as Pascal did of providing empirical, mathematical, re-
ality-based evidence as to the existence of God and the Divinity of Christ, he
also, tragically enough, sifted the truth with lies and gave his readers a sack of
flour mixed with sand. Conscience dictates that any eulogy of Pascals apolo-
getics must also address his errors. Therefore, Chapter 6 (Predestination vs.
Free Will) will provide a criticism of Pascals views on predestination and
specifically, of his notion of the election of the damned. Pascal held the erro-
neous notion that God has predestined most people to eternal damnation and
punishment in the everlasting flames of hell through no fault of their own. This
position is unscriptural, given the original Greek text of the NT, heretical, and
also blasphemous, given its negation of Gods goodness and justice. Pascal
was influenced by the Jansenists interpretation of Augustineand Augustine,
himself, who was not well versed in Greek, relied on a Latin mistranslation of
the original Greek text of Rom 5:12. Hence, Pascals mistaken view that man
is 100% predestined and has no free will at all is the result of two layers of
error that antecede himthe doctrine of Augustine, who relied on the mis-
translation of Rom 5:12 (pertaining to the fall of man), and also on the theol-
ogy of the Jansenists, who added another layer of error over Augustines, in
their zeal to break with the casuistry of the Jesuits.
Unfortunately, the Latin Vulgate (completed by Jerome in 405) and other
Latin translations that existed during Augustines time mistranslated a key
Pauline verse, Rom 5:12, from the original Greek. The original Greek says,
literally, Therefore as through one man sin entered into the world and through
sin death, so also to all men death came inasmuch as all sinned.
2
A synonym
Pascal 47

for inasmuch as is because, so the last clause can also be translated so
also to all men death came because all sinned. The point here is that men have
inherited death and disease, the consequences of Adams sin, not Adams sin
itself. Each of us carries the sins that we commit, but not Adams.
The Latin Vulgate translates Rom 5:12 as Propterea sicut per unum
hominem in hunc mundum peccatum intravit et per peccatum mors et ita in
omnes homines mors pertransiit in quo omnes peccaverunt. It is significant
and unfortunate that the Latin Bible translates the last clause as in quo omnes
peccaverunt (in whom all men have sinned). The original Greek says, be-
cause, not in whom. This is key. The Latin erroneously implies that guilt is
inherited from Adam and carried from one generation to the next. The Greek,
eph ho, is correctly translated as inasmuch as or because. This concurs
with For the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), which applies to Adam and to
all who sin.
Therefore, the key difference between the East and the West is that the
East does not teach that all generations subsequent to Adam inherit the guilt or
even his sin; they commit their own sins. Rather, they inherit the consequences
of sin, mortality (death and disease), which is the cause of all subsequent dis-
obedience.
Because Augustine relied on the mistranslation of Rom 5:12 as in whom
all men have sinned, all of his subsequent hypotheses hinge on the notion that
man is born carrying Adams sin. From this the Wests arguments are derived
regarding the damnation of babies who die before they can get baptized, a no-
tion that the East rejects.
Augustine posited that man is totally depraved because he inherited
Adams sin and Gods grace is needed for salvation. Unless God gives a per-
son the gift of irresistible efficacious grace, he cannot believe, no matter how
hard he tries, and he cannot conform himself to Christs image. God chooses to
impart His grace to some, who are relatively few in comparison to all the peo-
ple who have ever been born. God chooses those to whom He will give grace
(the elect) and those from whom He will withhold it (the damned). This heresy
of double predestination or double election is the corollary of the Latin Vul-
gates mistranslation of Rom 5:12 from the original Greek.
Pascal reiterates in Thoughts and in Writings on Grace that God imparts
irresistible efficacious grace to those he wants to save and that He withholds
it from those that he has decided to damn. We will examine this heresy and
compare it to the earliest writings of Christianity regarding election. The East-
ern Orthodox Church has relied upon the teachings of John Chrysostom,
48 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Palamas, Macarius, Maxi-
mus the Confessor, Photius, and Symeon the New Theologian, to name just a
few, rather than on those of Augustine. As a result, it has remained unchanged
throughout the centuries and is untouched by the apostasies, heresies, schisms,
and controversies that have torn Western Christianity apart. Therefore, we will
use it as a prism through which to observe the great divide that exists between
early Christianitys beliefs about the relationship between predestination and
free will and the controversies that erupted when western theologians began to
interpret Augustine.
Pascal was a heretic who repeatedly expounded on the election of the
damned. For this reason, Pascal was somewhat of a paradox: he was a man of
reason who declared that reason should be the basis of morality; he had experi-
enced Gods goodness; he had the privilege of witnessing many miraculous
healings performed by an original thorn of Christs Crown of Thorns; and yet,
he embraced a theology that taught that God chooses to damn people to the
flames of everlasting hell through no fault of their own. For this reason, there
is a great advantage to examining Pascal through the lens of the Orthodox
Church: Orthodox theologians, relying on the original Greek text rather than a
translation, can greatly clarify Pauls statement, For whom he did foreknow,
he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might
be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:29) and Peters phrase, Elect
according to the foreknowledge of God (1 Pet 1:2); they can shine a halogen
lamp to illuminate and expose the errors in Pascals theology due to mistrans-
lation.
Pierre Force points out that there is a vicious cycle inherent in Pascals
theology: a person receives grace by reading Scripture, but he needs grace in
order to understand it.
3
We observe that this endless cycle promulgates an ab-
surd theology and serves to concretize atheists unbelief, rather than dispel it.
For this reason, we are compelled to present the theology of the Eastern Or-
thodox Church, which is logical and free of this cycle.
Orthodoxys position is this: God created man in His image, and therefore,
man, like God, has free will. Moreover, modern man also knows that time and
space are dimensions of the created universe. Therefore, one must necessarily
extrapolate that when Christ spoke and caused the universe to come into exis-
tence, that was the moment when He created time and space. Therefore, God
antecedes time. He exists outside of it and therefore He is not bound by it; the
past, present, and future are all the same to Him. Because He is not limited by
the confines of time, He knows the future before we make our choices. Ortho-
Pascal 49

doxy posits that just because God knows the choices that we will make in the
future, it does not mean that we do not have free will. We are still free to
choose and we do have free will.
Rom 8:29 says, For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be
conformed to the image of his Son. Gods foreknowledge of the future is
based on the choices that we make of our free will. The future is fluid, liquid,
subject to change from moment to moment, based on our decisions. Bishop
Elias Minatios, in an article entitled, On Predestination, provides three ex-
amples taken from the Bible in which God makes it clear that the future is fluid
and that man is free to change it at any time.
4

In one particularly striking example, King Hezekiah is told by the prophet
Isaiah that he will soon die. When Hezekiah prays and pleads with God, God
grants him an additional fifteen years of life (2 Ki 20:16). Minatios points out
that here, the Bible clearly teaches that the future is fluid, subject to change
from moment to moment, and contingent upon mans behavior.
5
Thus, Mina-
tios brilliantly puts his finger on a biblical passage that shows that in Gods
scheme of things, the future can change, that it is open-ended, rather than pre-
determined. Gods foreknowledge of the future is based on our choices. It is
not the other way around: our choices are not determined by Gods foreknowl-
edge. When we take a step towards God, God reaches towards us. The moment
that we believe, God infuses us with grace and we embark on a journey in
which we will be conformed to the image of His Son.
Regarding election, the Church teaches that men are coworkers (synergoi)
with God (1 Cor 3:8). The NT has many verses that warn believers to use their
free will wisely. We find that Orthodoxy is closest to the Semi-Pelagian view
(Jesuit) that sufficient grace is given to all and it only needs free will to make it
efficient.
What Critics Have Written
on Pascals Apologetics
To date, there exists a substantial body of research that addresses Pascals
method of using reason as a tool to entice the skeptic to examine the Bible for
the fulfillment of prophecy; on the paradox of Pascals use of reason to save
souls when he believed that they have already been predestined for Heaven or
hell; on the endless cycle people receive grace by reading Scripture, but grace
is required in order to understand Scripture; on the influence of Jansenism
and the notion of double predestination in Pascals theology. However, an
50 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

analysis of Pascals application of probability theory to the proofs of Christ has
not been done. There are no studies that address Pascals argument that the
fulfillment of hundreds of Messianic prophecies in the person of one man, Je-
sus Christ, the historicity of miracles, and the absolute unity between the OT
and New, clearly fall outside the realm of statistical probability, and that there-
fore, they provide evidence of the Will of God. Furthermore, a criticism of his
heresies from the vantage point of the earliest writings of Christianity has not
been done. There are no studies of his heresies (double predestination and his
thesis that God has deliberately veiled Messianic prophecies so that the non-
elect would not understand them) as seen through the prism of the Eastern Or-
thodox Church. This study will attempt to fill that void.
There are many fine histories that provide a background on Jansenism:
Antoine Adam, Du mysticisme la rvolte: Les jansnistes du XVIIe sicle;
6

Henri Bremond, Histoire littraire du sentiment religieux en France depuis la
fin des guerres de religion jusqu nos jours (volume 4, LEcole Port-Royal,
treats Saint-Cyran, Mre Agnes Arnauld, and Pascal);
7
Augustin Gazier, His-
toire gnrale du mouvement jansniste depuis ses origines jusqu nos jours;
8

Jean Marie Frderic Laporte, La doctrine de la grace chez Arnauld;
9
and Char-
les-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Port-Royal (2:379 and 3:7464 address Pascal).
10

The histories of Gazier, Laporte, and Sainte-Beuve are pro-Jansenist.
Bremonds is anti-Jansenist. In addition, Leszek Kolakowski, God Owes Us
Nothing: A Brief Remark on Pascals Religion and on the Spirit of Jansen-
ism,
11
provides an excellent analysis of the influence of Augustine, Jansenius,
Arnauld, and Saint-Cyran on Pascal, as well as explain the differences among
the Molinists (Semi-Pelagians, Jesuits), Pelagians, Calvinists, and Jansenists.
On Pascals Augustinianism we also recommend Philippe Sellier, Pascal et
saint Augustin
12
and Michael Moriarty, Grace and Religious Belief in Pascal,
in The Cambridge Companion to Pascal.
13

Because Pascal believed that at the foundation of the world God has al-
ready elected those that he would save or damn, critics have examined the
question as to whether Pascal was troubled by the apparent futility of trying to
save anyone. The fact is that he did make a great effort to put together a thou-
sand fragments that would one day be incorporated into a Christian apologetic
designed to convince skeptics to believe. Harold Bloom, in Blaise Pascal, is
able to reconcile Pascals belief in predestination with the fact that he worked
very hard to save souls through his apologetic project. Bloom explains that
Pascal had written that it is the duty of every Christian to believe that he be-
longs to the small number of elect and also to believe the same thing about
Pascal 51

every other human being. The Book of Life, which contains the names of the
saved, is Gods secret. Therefore, the duty of the Christian is to believe that
every man has the opportunity of being saved as long as he is alive.
14
Hence,
Christians must work relentlessly to preach the Word as if all that they meet
might be saved, and they should leave the judgment to God.
Pierre Force, in The Hermeneutical Problem in Pascals Writing (Le
Problme hermneutique chez Pascal), points out the cyclical dilemma of Pas-
cals belief system.
15
Force advises that it was Pascals belief that it is in the
Bible that God speaks to man and gives him reason to believe. However, he
also held that the divine nature of these texts is evident only to those who al-
ready have faith. It is a cycle out of which there is no escape: man receives
graces by reading Scripture, but grace is required in order to understand Scrip-
ture.
16
However, Force explains Pascals way out of this dilemma. Pascals
approach to the problem is to use reason to entice the skeptic to read the Bible
and place him in the position of reading Scriptures with the objective of inter-
preting them.
17
Having exposed the person to the Bible, the next step is to
show him that there is a hidden meaning beneath the surface meaning.
18
Once
the skeptic sees that, he will understand that hundreds of prophecies were ful-
filled in Jesus Christ. When the skeptic sees that the OT was fulfilled in the
New, the apologist will have proven the veracity of both texts to him. The
Christian apologist can use reason to appeal to the mind; however, only God
can plant the seed of faith in the heart. The most that the Christian apologist
can do is to appeal to the mind until faith takes root in the heart.
Leszek Kolakowski, in God Owes Us Nothing: A Brief Remark on Pas-
cals Religion and on the Spirit of Jansenism, comments upon Pascals here-
sies.
19
Kolakowski points out that in Thoughts, he continually reiterates that
God veils his Messianic prophecies in the OT so that only the elect would un-
derstand them. Kolakowski says, the dominant theme of the Penses: the
hidden God. God discloses himself in part and conceals himself in part, and
this is just. The prophecies, conforming to the same order of things, both
enlighten and blind: they are understood unhesitatingly by those who are pure
in heart and they portent doom to obdurate sinners. This is indeed both a Jan-
senist and a Calvinist principle: there is enough clarity to enlighten the
electThere is enough obscurity to blind the reproved and enough clarity to
condemn and leave them without excuse (B578/L236/S268).
20

Kolakowski also examines Pascals tenet that God imparts grace to the
elect in their hearts. This is possible as the heart, also called instinct and intui-
tion, can grasp the notions of the dimensions of length, width, height, numbers,
52 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

and mathematical abstractions. Therefore, if the Christian apologist can dem-
onstrate that the fact that Christ fulfilled hundreds of Messianic prophecies is
beyond the realm of statistical probability, the skeptics instinct or intuition
should be able to grasp that. Similarly, miracles such as those of the Holy
Thorn constitute physical proof that God exists, and again, intuition or the
heart can apprehend that.
Pierre Force, in Self-Interest before Adam Smith, points out that the wager
is not intended to convince anyone that God exists because wishing that some-
thing is so does not prove that it is.
21
Rather, Force advises that Pascal is show-
ing the skeptic that it is a perfectly rational thing to bet that God exists.
22
If the
skeptic replies, I know that it is rational to wager that God exists, but I still
cannot believe, Pascal would reply, You admit that it is irrational to wager
that God exists, but you do not act on this belief. You are not behaving ration-
ally. If you still cannot believe, then diminish your passions.
23
Force demon-
strates that for Pascal, the passions are blocks to faith: they take control of the
person and rule over his power of reason. During the course of this study we
will see that that is why early Christian mystics stressed the necessity of purg-
ing the passions by fasting, prayer, and silence in order to attain theosis (union
with God).
Marvin R. OConnell, in Blaise Pascal: Reasons of the Heart, observes
that Pascals method of apology is a marriage of faith and reason, of the heart
and mind. The Christian apologist must recognize the importance of reason:
Submission is the use of reason in which consists true Christianity.
24
How-
ever, faith, which is the apologists objective, is also important: If we submit
everything to reason, our religion will have no mysterious and supernatural
event.
25

OConnell holds that Pascal decided that he would bring faith to the skep-
tic by speaking to his heart, as well as to his mind. The heart is a euphemism
for intuition. People know the truth when they hear it: their intuition tells them
when something is true. OConnell explains the importance that Pascal placed
on appealing to the heart: In Pascals vocabulary, the heart is a term that
means, not simply feelings or emotions, but intuition-immediate comprehen-
sion and understanding of certain things that we have without having to reason
our way to them. Through the heart, we immediately apprehend basic princi-
ples that reason cannot discover on its own, and that reason requires as givens
for its own operation. Through the heart, in fact, we apprehend truths that
reason, if left to its own devices, would never touch. In one of the most famous
portions of the Penses, Pascal warns the lovers of reason that the heart has its
Pascal 53

reasons of which reason knows nothingIt is the heart which perceives God
and not the reason. That is what faith is: God perceived by the heart, not by the
reason.
26
Pascal describes Christianity as a religion of love whose God fills
the heart of the believer with joy and peace. The Holy Spirit indwells the be-
liever and teaches him all things; thus, the believer is never alone because the
Holy Spirit lives within him. The believer has Christ, who is the Prince of
Peace, and He fills his heart with peace: The God of the Christians is not a
God who is simply the author of mathematical truths, or of the order of the
elementsButis a God of love and comfort, a God who fills the soul and
heart of those whom he possesses, a Godwho unites Himself to their inmost
soul, who fills it with humility and joy, with confidence and love, who renders
them incapable of any other end than Himself.
27

OConnell points out that in the wager, if the skeptic argues that he wants
to believe, but he cannot, Pascals response is that he should diminish his pas-
sions: But at least learn your inability to believe, since reason brings you to
this, and yet you cannot believe. Endeavour then to convince yourself, not by
increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions.
28
Here we
see a paradox: the heart is where the Kingdom of God is found. The heart is
where the Holy Spirit makes His home and indwells the believer. Conversely,
it is also a repository of filth and every vile passion. Pascal demonstrates that
the passions are at war with God: the passions are obstacles to faith. The heart
must be addressed and the passions that reside within must be nullified, disen-
gaged, rendered powerless. The question arises as to how this may be done.
The Desert Fathers have the answer.
An important Eastern Orthodox work, The Philokalia, makes an analogy
which clarifies Pascals point and instructs how to cleanse the heart of pas-
sions. The Philokalia is a compilation of the writings of early Christian mystics
from the 4
th
century AD to the 15
th
century. This work teaches that Gods ulti-
mate purpose for man is to deify him and unite him with Himself. This deifica-
tion or union with God is called theosis. The Philokalia explains that the
process of theosis may be metaphorized as going to a well to draw water. If
someone goes to a well to procure some water, but the well is cluttered with
garbage, then the man will not be able to reach the water. The thirsty man must
first remove the garbage from the well and then attempt to get water. Similarly,
the heart is full of impurities (the emotionsanger, greed, covetousness).
These must be addressed and removed before one can become an image of
Christ or be pure enough in heart to see God. This leads us to recognize the
brilliance in Pascals assertion that the passions (which are emotions born of
54 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

self-interest) are obstacles to God. The seeker of truth must set self-interest
aside and feel that he has nothing to lose if he wishes to find God. During the
course of this study we will examine the precious theological jewels in The
Philokalia and they will shed light on why Pascal, and all those who choose a
life of self-abnegation, hold that monasticism, renunciation of worldly pleas-
ures, denial of the flesh, are necessary to see God and realize the spiritual state
that God intended man to have.
However, despite Pascals great efforts to write an apologetic that would
save souls, he did embrace the Jansenist heresy that God foreordained the vast
majority of all the people who have ever been born to be cast into the flames of
an eternal hell. Anthony Levi comments upon the tragic consequences of Pas-
cals conversion to Jansenism. Levi brilliantly establishes a causality between
the fact that Pascal left his Penses unfinished, and the futility of trying to save
anyone that is intrinsic to Jansenism. Levi hypothesizes that continually focus-
ing on and arguing on behalf of the doctrine of election, which was an essential
point in his Penses, and the focus of his Writings on Grace, may have, ironi-
cally, caused Pascal to give up on trying to save the skeptic: if people have
already been elected, his apology would be of no use in saving anyone.
29

The futility of trying to save the non-elect may be one reason that Pascal
left his Penses unfinished. There is another reason that Levi also considers:
perhaps Pascal, himself, questioned the rigid belief system that people are des-
tined for non-election through no fault of their own. Levi speculates that per-
haps Pascal questioned Jansenism and needed more time to consider whether
he wanted to continue to promulgate this brand of theology.
30

Pascals flawed belief system, based on the Jansenists interpretation of
Augustine, was the reason for this studys Eastern Orthodox focus of Pascal.
The Eastern Orthodox Church is an iconic representation of early Christianity.
It has remained unchanged and unscathed throughout the centuries, while
sharp divisions have torn western Christianity apart. It has seen many miracles
in the past and continues to do so today. Like Pascal, it holds that self-denial is
a step on the ladder to mans spiritual purification. Therefore, we will judge
Pascal according to his century, but where his statements are antithetical to
Christs own words, we will compare his doctrine to that of the earliest Chris-
tians, embodied in Orthodoxy, and show his errors.
Pascal 55

Selection from Chapter One
When Christ was teaching the Pharisees in the Temple, He alerted them to the
fact that their visitation from the Son of God (Prov 30:4) was at hand. As God
always does, He respected their free will to accept or reject Him. Pointing out
the significance of Ps 110:1, He asked them, What think ye of Christ? whose
son is he? They replied, The son of David. Then He asked, How then doth
David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou
on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call
him Lord, how is he his son? Matthew tells us, And no man was able to an-
swer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more
questions (Mat 22:4146; Mark 12:3537; Luke 20: 4144). It was well
known that the Messiah would be from the line of David. What Jesus was
demonstrating was that He would also be Davids Lord. He was talking to the
Pharisees, who were the teachers of the Law. The reason that they did not ask
Him any more questions was that it was evident from Jesus question that the
Messiah would also be the divine Son of God (being teachers of the Law, they
knew Prov 30:4), and therefore, one in essence with the Father, that He would
proceed from the Father, true God from true God, Light from Light, and that
He would be worthy to be worshipped as the Creator of the universe and Lord
of all created beings (Mic 5:2 and Prov 30:4). This was all implicit in The
Lord said to my Lord and was concretized by Mic 5:2 and Prov 30:4.
Selection from Chapter Three
Jesus went to Matthews house and sat down to eat with tax collectors and sin-
ners. When His disciples were asked why He was dining with tax collectors
and sinners, Jesus heard the question and declared, I am not come to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mat 9:13). Hence, He points out that all
have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. Christ came to minister
unto those who had the humility to admit that they were sinners. All that was
required was for the individual to own up to the fact that he was a sinner in
need of forgiveness: Christ always forgave those who asked for forgiveness.
Hence, the statement, I am not come to call the righteous is a statement that
recognizes that man has free will: either he can declare himself to be perfect or
else he can admit that he has shortcomings and that he needs to be forgiven.
56 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Selection from Chapter Six
One cannot read Pascals Thoughts without getting a steady dose of the elec-
tion of the damned. This Jansenist heresy that was continually before him as he
wrote his apologetics must have undoubtedly been problematic, given the
Christian notions of Gods goodness and Gods justice. Anthony Levi suggests
that an argument can be made that his belief in double predestination may have
caused him to give up on finishing his apologetic work.
31
Either he needed
more time to decide whether he really embraced Jansenist theology or else
perhaps he decided that it was not worth the effort of trying to save anyone. In
addition, Jansenist fanaticism may have caused him to abandon science and
mathematics. James A. Connor observes that Pascal had read in Saint-Cyrans
book, Reformation of the Interior Man (Rformation de lhomme intrieur)
that Jansenius had taught that science is synonymous with the evil of concu-
piscence;
32
an argument can be made that this fanaticism dictated that Blaise
would live out the remainder of his Christian life renouncing his natural abili-
ties in mathematics and science that God had given him; that he would be at
continual war within himself to reconcile the injustice of the election of the
damned with reason, and his natural talents with Jansenius teaching that sci-
ence is as evil as lust.
In his work Pascal argues that the fulfillment of prophecy, the historicity
of miracles, and the unity between the OT and New, are not merely the result
of random chance, but rather, that they provide evidence that the will of God is
at work; that it is God, and not random chance, that has created the universe
and continues to bring order out of chaos even today; that God has provided a
plan for mans redemption from sin. Hence, Pascal does provide mathemati-
cal/empirical evidence of the existence of God and of Christs divinity to intel-
lectuals and skeptics who ask whether such evidence exists. Unfortunately,
however, what Pascal has wrought with his right hand to carry out the Great
Commission, he undoes with the left and negates all of his efforts: he offers an
irrational, unjust, and paradoxical view of Gods plan by promulgating the no-
tion of double predestination. This Jansenist heresy concretizes the atheists
view that religion is ridiculous and inconsistent. Therefore, let us proceed by
demonstrating that Scripture indicates that man does, indeed, have free will;
that the future is fluid or liquid and not predetermined; that the Fathers plan
for man is that he become Christ-like and achieve theosis or union with Him-
self; that the Fathers intention is that Christ be the firstborn among many
brethren (Rom 8:29).
Pascal 57

Let us begin, then, with a definition of terms. The Oxford English Diction-
ary defines predestination thus: 1. Theol., etc. The action by which God is
held to have immutably determined all (or some particular) events by an eter-
nal decree or purposea. The action of Godin foreordaining or appointing
from all eternity certain of mankind through grace to salvation and eternal life.
(In this sense=election, and opposed to reprobation.)b. The action of God
(insisted upon in some systems of doctrine, esp. those associated with the
names of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Calvin), in foreordaining the
future lot and fate of all mankind in this life and after death (including their
salvation or perdition); and, generally, His foreordaining of whatsoever comes
to passc. In reference to a similar doctrine in certain philosophies (not nec-
essarily implying Divine action)2. In lighter or more general sense: Previous
determination or appointment; fate, destiny.
33

The OED defines free will thus: 1Spontaneous will, unconstrained
choice (to do or act). Often in phr. of ones own free will, and the
like2The power of directing our own actions without constraint by neces-
sity or fate3. attrib. (in free-will offering)=given readily or spontaneously.
34

What the Bible Teaches about
Predestination and Free Will
An examination of the NT reveals that predestination and free will both exist
in Gods plan for mans redemption. Both concepts are supported by Scripture,
especially by the words of Christ and the writings of Paul. For example, Christ
asks the apostles, Have I not chosen you twelve (John 6:70); He tells them,
I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may
be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me
(John 13:18); Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained
you (John 15:16). In addition, Christ prays to the Father: I have manifested
thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they
were, and thou gavest them me (John 17:6); I pray for them: I pray not for
the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine: (John
17:9); Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast
given me (John 17:11); those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of
them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled
(John 17:12); Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with
me where I am (John 17:24). All of these verses reveal the Divine initiative
and that God makes the first move. Also, John teaches Herein is love, not that
58 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for
our sins (1 John 4:10). Moreover, the following Pauline verses declare that
God chose those that He would one day welcome into His kingdom from be-
fore the foundation of the world: Rom 8:28, 29, 33; Rom 9; Rom 11:5, 7, 28;
Eph 1:45, 11; Col 3:12; 1 Th 1:4; 2 Th 2:13; 2 Tim 1:9. Paul continually reit-
erates Gods predestination of the elect: he uses phrases such as whom he did
foreknow, he also did predestinate, whom he did predestinate, them he
also called, Gods elect, touching the election, the election of grace,
the election hath obtained it, he hath chosen us in him before the foundation
of the world, having predestinated us, he chose us, he predestined us,
and we were also chosen, are a few examples.
Paul explains that God predestined believers: For whom he did foreknow,
he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might
be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:29); Moreover whom he did
predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified:
and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom 8:30); Who shall lay any
thing to the charge of Gods elect? It is God that justifieth (Rom 8:33); Even
so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of
grace (Rom 11:5); What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh
for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (Rom 11:7);
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Eph 1:4); Hav-
ing predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,
according to the good pleasure of his will (Eph 1:5); To the praise of the
glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (Eph
1:6); In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated ac-
cording to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his
own will (Eph 1:11); Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved,
bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering
(Co. 3:12); Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God (1 Th 1:4);
God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification
of the Spirit and belief of the truth (2 Th 2:13); Who hath saved us, and
called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his
own purpose and grace, which was given us in Jesus Christ before the world
began (2 Tim 1:9).
John also advises that God chooses us. Christ told the apostles, Ye have
not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and
Pascal 59

bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask
of the Father in my name, he may give it to you (John 15:16).
Peter also declares the election of God. When addressing the strangers
scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Peter
says that they are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood
of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:2). Here Peter specifies that all three persons of the
Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, participate in the re-
demption of the elect. The Father elects believers according to his foreknowl-
edge; the Son has obeyed the Father and has fulfilled His mission of
Crucifixion and Resurrection; the Holy Spirit indwells and sanctifies the be-
liever. The Holy Spirit steers the believer towards the things that belong to
God and prevents him from committing serious sin.
However, despite the proliferation of material in the NT concerning pre-
destination, there is also ample text supporting free will. For example, Peter, in
his epistle, addresses believers in a manner that indicates that they do, indeed,
have free will. He advises those who will hear or read his letter, to behave as
obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in
your ignorance, But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all
manner of conversation (1 Pet 14:15). The fact that Peter implores the listen-
ers and readers of his epistle to be obedient to Christ and His commandments,
to turn away from their former sins, to fashion themselves after Christ, and to
be holy in their conversation, presupposes that they have free will.
Furthermore, the NT indicates that not all early Christians choose to be-
have in a holy manner. In fact, Christ gives quite a stern warning to the origi-
nal seven churches in Rev 23: He cautions believers in His church at Ephesus
to repent of their sins or else He will remove their candlestick from its place
(Rev 2:17); He admonishes the church at Pergamos to stop eating food sacri-
ficed to idols and engaging in other serious sin (Rev 2:1217); He issues stern
warnings to the churches at Thyatira (Rev 2:1829) and Sardis (Rev 3:16);
the church at Laodicea was warned that if it did not return to its first love of
Him, He would vomit it up out of His mouth (Rev 3:1418). Christ advises
that the first step down the slippery slope of idolatry is a cooling of ones
original love for Him and turning towards other attractions, such as money,
power, and material comforts (this was the sin of the Laodiceans).
It is precisely because Christians do have free will that Christ issued these
warnings to the early churches: if they did not have free will, he would not
have bothered to do so. The Bible teaches us that man has free will when Paul
60 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

advises, every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour
(1 Cor 3:8). Paul reiterates the notion of free will when he adds that we are
coworkers with God (1 Cor 3:9). The original Greek uses the term synergoi
or coworkers: we are coworkers with God.
The Orthodox Church holds that the notion of free will is an essential doc-
trine to both the Old and New Testaments. If Adam did not have free will, then
he could not have been held responsible for his choices, he could not have
sinned, and a Redeemer would not have been necessary. Christians also have
free will: otherwise, there would be no reward, each according to his own
labour (1 Cor 3:8). Men have the power to accept or reject Christ (John 10:9,
Rev 3:20). If they accept Him and are baptized in obedience to His command,
then they have eternal life (Mark 16:16). The Father will send the Holy Spirit
to indwell them, make them holy, set them apart from the world, and teach
them all things (John 14:1617, 26). When they believe in Christ, they take the
first step towards theosis (union with God). Their goal is to conform their im-
age to that of Christ (to be obedient to the Father and to conform their will to
His in all things).
Death for all livings things is the result of the choice that Adam made to
disobey God: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto
the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt
thou return: (Gen 3:19); All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn
to dust again (Eccl 3:20); For the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). In addi-
tion, the Bible also teaches that once we die, we will be judged by God and
held accountable for our sins unless we are justified by the Blood of Christ.
We have the free will to accept or reject Christ. If we choose Christ, we are
justified by the work that He did for us on the Cross: He that believeth and is
baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark
16:16); I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall
go in and out, and find pasture (John 10:9); He that heareth my word, and
believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into
condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (John 5:24); If a man keep
my saying, he shall never see death (John 8:51); For the wages of sin is
death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom
6:23); And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judg-
ment (Heb 9:27); For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ;
that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he
hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Cor 5:10).
Pascal 61

Christ makes it clear that men have the free will to either accept or reject
Him. Moreover, they not only have free will, but they should use their free will
to diligently persevere, unceasingly, to be a means by which Gods will on
earth will be realized. The believer must continuously work hard to carry out
God will: Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but
the labourers are few (Mat 9:37); Let both grow together until the harvest:
and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first
the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my
barn (Mat 13:30); if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandmentsIf
thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou
shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me (Mat 19:17, 21); Re-
pent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the re-
mission of sins (Acts 2:38); But in every nation he that feareth him, and
worketh righteousness, is accepted with him (Acts 10:35); You, my brothers,
were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful na-
ture; rather, serve one another in love (Gal 5:13, NIV); Live as free men, but
do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God (2 Pet
2:16, NIV). All of these verses indicate that believers are commanded to per-
form works, to strive diligently to conform themselves to the image of Christ,
and to carry out the Great Commission.
At this point it must be interjected that works do not save anyone. Paul
makes that very clear: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph
2:89). Works do not save people. Belief is a gift of God and it is the first step
up a ladder leading to union with God (theosis). Once we believe, then we be-
gin a journey up the ladder in which we conform our image to that of Christ.
The Desert Fathers teach that this is accomplished by cleansing our minds and
hearts of vile thoughts and passions, continual prayer, and fasting. These are
all works. The purpose of this effort is to turn away from the ephemeral, false
attractions of the world and to turn towards the things that belong to God. The
Desert Fathers and Pascal recognize the importance of cleansing the heart of
passions. It is also a holy thing to take care of the poor, widows, and orphans.
These are works, too. We do them because the Holy Spirit leads us to do what
is right, not because works in themselves save. This was true in Pascals case:
before he died, he devised a mass transit system comprised of carriages that
would stop along fixed routes in order to permit the poor to travel around
Paris. Any profits were to go to charity.
62 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

The NT indicates that men may freely accept or reject Christ; they have
the free will to accept Christ and thus take the first step in conforming them-
selves to His image, or else go their own way and determine their own values.
If they choose Christ and are baptized as He commanded, they will be indwelt
by the Holy Spirit who will guide them in all things. When they choose Christ,
they take the first step in what will become an intimate spiritual relationship
with the Living God: And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you an-
other Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth;
whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth
him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you: (John
14:1618); At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me,
and I in you (John 14:20); Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love
me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come
unto him, and make our abode with him (John 14:23); But the Comforter,
which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall
teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I
have said unto you (John 14:26); Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch
cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye
abide in me. I am the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the
vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same
bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (John 15:45).
When someone accepts Christ, he enters into an intimate spiritual relationship
with the Living God that both the Old and New Testaments metaphorize as a
bride/groom relationship. This metaphor implies Gods faithfulness, compas-
sion, and counsel.
The question arises, then, How do predestination and free will work con-
currently, as the Bible mentions both? The answer is in Rom 8:2830: And
we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them
who are the called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28); For whom he did
foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:29); Moreover
whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he
also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom 8:30).
In Rom 8:28 we have those who love God and these people are also those
that God calls according to His purpose. Some people love God and He calls
them. Good in all things work together for good means conformity to the
likeness of Christ, that is, a change of heart that happens so that people become
more like Christ, Himself. In Rom 8:29 God foreknows people; because He
Pascal 63

knows the future and can see into the hearts of all people, He knows everyone
even before they are born. Foreknowledge is based on the future. It is not the
other way around: the future is not based on foreknowledge. Men have free
will and are free to make choices. It is the choices that they make that deter-
mine Gods foreknowledge. This is the position of the Orthodox Church.
In Rom 8:2930 there is an enumeration of verbs that indicates a sequence
of events that happen. These events happen in this order: 1) foreknow, 2) pre-
destinate to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, 3) call, 4) justify, 5) glo-
rify. It is significant that the first verb in the sequence of events is foreknow.
What does God foreknow? Everything about us, our future actions, and how
we exercise our free will. God knows in advance whether He can use us ac-
cording to His purpose. All of the verses in the NT that deal with predestina-
tion/election address step 2 in the sequence, a point that occurs after
foreknowledge of the future. Again, it must be emphasized that it is the future
that determines foreknowledge, not the other way around.
What the Orthodox Church Teaches
about Predestination and Free Will
Our objective here is to do what Pascal was unable to do: we will give the
reader the truth about the role that mans free will plays in his redemption. The
source of truth will come from a tradition different from that to which Western
Christianity is accustomed. Since the position of the Eastern Orthodox Church
is that of Christianitys earliest belief system, based on the Bible and thinkers
uninfluenced by Augustine, let us see what it has to say about the question of
whether or not man has free will. Then we can compare the position of the Or-
thodox Church with those of the Jesuits and Jansenists, who were at odds with
each other. We will get a clear understanding of why the Jesuits, who em-
braced the middle of the road view that predestination and free will are inter-
twined, take the scripturally based position, and why the Jansenists, who like
Augustine, emphasized predestination to the detriment of free will because
they, too , were embroiled in polemics against works, do not have a scriptur-
ally based position.
The Orthodox Church teaches that man clearly has free will. Timothy
Ware, in The Orthodox Church, stresses that Saint Paul taught that man and
God work together:
64 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

the fact that the human person is in Gods image means among other things that we
possess free will. God wanted sons and daughters, not slaves. The Orthodox Church
rejects any doctrine of grace which might seem to infringe upon human freedom. To
describe the relation between the grace of God and human freedom, Orthodoxy uses
the term co-operation or synergy (synergeia); in Pauls words: We are fellow-workers
(synergeia) with God (1 Cor 3:9). If we are to achieve full fellowship with God, we
cannot do so without Gods help, yet we must also play our own part: we humans as
well as God must make our contribution to the common work, although what God
does is of immeasurably greater importance than what we do. The incorporation of
humans into Christ and our union with God require the co-operation of two unequal,
but equally necessary forces: divine grace and human will.
35
The supreme example of
synergy is the Mother of God Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone
hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in (Rev 3:20). God knocks, but waits
for us to open the doorHe does not break it down. The grace of God invites all but
compels none. In the words of John Chrysostom, God never draws anyone to Himself
by force and violence. He wishes all to be saved, but forces no one
36
While we
cannot merit salvation, we must certainly work for it; since faith without works is
dead (James 2:17).
37

Ware directs the reader to Rev 3:20, in which Christ says, Behold, I stand at
the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come
in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
38
That is the answer to the
debate: man has free will and Christ indicates that that is so, time and time
again. We have seen that as He was leaving the Temple, He stated that He
wanted to minister unto the nation of Israel many times, but it chose to reject
Him. God does not abrogate mans free will.
Wares book is very valuable because it pinpoints the biblical verses that
indicate the role that mans free will plays in his redemption. Ware points out
that we know that man has free will because he has been made in Gods image
and God has free will;
39
Paul declares that we are coworkers [synergoi] with
God (1 Cor 3:9);
40
the supreme example of synergy is the Mother of God.
41

Mary was ready and willing to submit herself to Gods will at any time and
God knew in advance that He could rely on her to be an instrument by which
He could accomplish His will. For example, when the angel informed Mary of
Gods plan for her, her response was, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it
unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38). Moreover, her words to Elizabeth
indicate her great faith, her personal relationship with God, her willingness to
submit to His will, and her humility: My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my
spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of
his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me
blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his
Pascal 65

name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the
imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and
exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and
the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath helped his servant Israel, in remem-
brance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed
forever (Luke 1:4655). These are the words of someone who would not hesi-
tate for one moment to work together with God to accomplish His will. She
was totally obedient to God.
In The Orthodox Way, Bishop Kallistos Ware
42
continues to support the
role that mans free will plays in his redemption. Ware begins his discussion
by pointing out that it is volition that distinguishes man from the animals:
Where the animals act by instinct, man is capable of making a free and con-
scious decision.
43
Furthermore, Ware also advises that since God has free
will, and He made man in His image, so man, too, has free will and the right to
exercise it
Ware calls attention to the fact that free will and grace coexist together and
are intimately intertwined. Man must continuously exert great effort to carry
out Gods will; mans will is needed because God works through mans will:
the active life requires on our side effort, struggle, the persistent exertion of our free
will. Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to lifeNot everyone that says
to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of
my Father (Matt 7:14, 21). We are to hold in balance two complementary truths:
without Gods grace we can do nothing, but without our voluntary co-operation God
will do nothing. The will of man is an essential condition, for without it God does
nothing
44
(The Homilies of St. Macarius). Our salvation results from the convergence
of two factors, unequal in value yet both indispensable: divine initiative and human re-
sponse. What God does is incomparably the more important, but mans participation is
also required.
there is also the need to fight resolutely against the deeply-rooted habits and
inclinations that are the result of sin, both original and personal. One of the most im-
portant qualities needed by the traveler on the Way is faithful perseverance. The en-
durance required from one who climbs a mountain physically is required likewise
from those who would ascent the mountain of God.
God demands everything from a manhis mind, his reason, all his actionsDo
you wish to be saved when you die? Go and exhaust yourself; go and labour; go, seek
and you shall find; watch and knock, and it shall be opened to you
45
(The Sayings of
the Desert Fathers). The present age is not a time for rest and sleep, but it is a strug-
gle, a combat, a market, a school, a voyage. Therefore you must exert yourself, and not
be downcast and idle, but devote yourself to holy actions
46
(Starets Nazarii of
Valamo). Nothing comes without effort. The help of God is always ready and always
66 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

near, but is given only to those who seek and work, and only to those seekers who, af-
ter putting all their powers to the test, then cry out with their whole heart: Lord, help
us
47
(St. Theophan the Recluse). Peace is gained through tribulation
48
(St. Sera-
phim of Sarov). To rest is the same as to retreat
49
Yet, lest we should be too much
downcast by this severity, we are also told: The whole of a mans life is but a single
day, for those who labour with eagerness
50
(The Sayings of the Desert Fathers).
51

Having seen verses that address mans free will (Rev 3:20; 1 Cor 3:9), we can
better understand Rom 8:29. God calls all men. He stands at the door and
knocks. Hence, God makes the first move. The moment that a person reaches
towards God, God reaches towards him This is a far cry from Pascals heresies
of the election of the damned and his hidden God who veils Messianic verses
so that readers of the Bible would not understand them.
Archimandrite Christoforos Stavropoulos, in Partakers of Divine Nature,
advises that the earliest fathers of the Church have always stressed that free
will and divine grace coexist together, but that faith is freely offered and man
can either freely accept it or reject it:
According to the tradition and teaching of the Eastern Orthodox Church, grace and
human freedom are expressed concurrently and may not be understood the one without
the other. There are not two separate moments. At the same time that a person freely
makes the decision from within for the good and for the Christian life, at the very same
moment divine grace comes and strengthens him. Just as this grace is given to the in-
dividual, the individual makes a free choice. Gregory of Nyssa says, The grace of
God is not able to visit those who flee salvation. Nor is human virtue of such power as
to be adequate of itself to raise up to authentic life those souls who are untouched by
graceBut when righteousness of works and the grace of the Spirit come together at
the same time in the same soul, together they are able to fill it with blessed life
52

The more freely each human being receives the divine gift of grace, so much
more does the Christian life become in fact grace-filled and complete; and in the same
measure do the Christians good works increase and does progress in virtue grow.
What this means is that the Christian increasingly practices good works and virtues
strengthened by graceon the way toward the realization of theosis.
53

This background on the Eastern Orthodox point of view on mans freedom to
act will come in handy as we examine the fact that Augustine was 1) working
with a mistranslation of Rom 5:12 and 2) forced to move to one side of the
spectrum, as often happens during modern political debates, because his oppo-
nent, Pelagius, positioned himself on the extreme other side and argued salva-
tion through works. Fortunately, the Orthodox Church does not rely on
Augustine, so it has remained unaffected by his theology.
Pascal 67

Grace and free will are also discussed in The Philokalia, a compilation of
writings dating from the 4
th
century AD to the 15
th
century. In this work,
Makarios of Egypt, in the Makarian Homilies, teaches:
We receive salvation by grace and as a divine gift of the Spirit. But to
attain the full measure of virtue we need also to possess faith and love,
and to struggle to exercise our free will with integrity. In this manner
we inherit eternal life as a consequence of both grace and justice. We
do not reach the final stage of spiritual maturity through divine power
and grace alone, without ourselves making any effort; but neither on
the other hand do we attain the final measure of freedom and purity as
a result of our own intelligence and strength alone, apart from any di-
vine assistance. If the Lord does not build the house, it is said, and
protect the city, in vain does the watchman keep awake, and in vain do
the labourer and the builder work (cf. Ps 127:14).
What is the will of God that St. Paul urges and invites each of us to at-
tain (cf. 1 Thess 4:3)? It is total cleansing from sin, freedom from
shameful passions and the acquisition of the highest virtue. In other
words, it is the purification and the sanctification of the heart that
comes about through fully experienced and conscious participation in
the perfect and divine Spirit. Blessed are the pure in heart, it is said,
for they shall see God (Matt 5:8); and again: Become perfect, as
your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48).
54

Grace Enters through the Heart
In The Art of Persuasion Pascal says that God prefers for truth to enter man
though his heart rather than through his mind: I know that he wanted them to
enter from the heart into the mind, and not from the mind into the heart, in or-
der to humiliate that proud power of reasoning which claims it ought to be the
judge of what is chosen by the will, and to heal that feeble will which is com-
pletely corrupted by vile attachments.
55

Pascals apology of the Christian faith is a marriage of faith and reason, of
the heart and mind. Pascal surmised that faith is important: If we submit eve-
rything to reason, our religion will have no mysterious and supernatural
event.
56
However, we cannot disagree with reason: Submission is the use of
reason in which consists true Christianity.
57

68 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Pascal decided that he would bring faith to the skeptic by speaking to his
heart. Now the heart is also a euphemism for intuition. People know the truth
when they hear it: their intuition tells them when something it true. Marvin R.
OConnell, in Blaise Pascal: Reasons of the Heart, explains the importance of
appealing to the heart in Pascals apologetics: In Pascals vocabulary, the
heart is a term that means, not simply feelings or emotions, but intuition
immediate comprehension and understanding of certain things that we have
without having to reason our way to them. Through the heart, we immedi-
ately apprehend basic principles that reason cannot discover on its own, and
that reason requires as givens for its own operation. Through the heart, in
fact, we apprehend truths that reason, if left to its own devices, would never
touch. In one of the most famous portions of the Penses, Pascal warns the
lovers of reason that the heart has its reasons of which reason knows noth-
ingIt is the heart which perceives God and not the reason. That is what faith
is: God perceived by the heart, not by the reason.
58

OConnell also observes that Pascal describes Christianity as a religion of
love whose God fills the heart of the believer with joy and peace. The Holy
Spirit indwells the believer and teaches him all things; thus, the believer is
never alone because the Holy Spirit lives within him. The believer has Christ,
who is the Prince of Peace, and He fills his heart with peace: The God of the
Christians is not a God who is simply the author of mathematical truths, or of
the order of the elementsButis a God of love and comfort, a God who fills
the soul and heart of those whom he possesses, a Godwho unites Himself to
their inmost soul, who fills it with humility and joy, with confidence and love,
who renders them incapable of any other end than Himself.
59
Christ told His
followers that He would always comfort them, give them rest, and heal their
broken hearts: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek
and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest in you r souls. For my yoke is easy
and my burden is light (Matt 11:2830); The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he heath sent me
to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering
of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised (Luke 4:18).
The Orthodox Church agrees with Pascal that grace enters through the
heart. Stavropoulos points out that the descent of the grace of the Holy Spirit
must take place in our heart.
60
He explains, Our heart is the workshop of
righteousness as well as unrighteousness. It is the vessel which contains every
sin. However, at the same time God is found there; there the angels; there the
Pascal 69

life and the kingdom; there the light and the apostles; there the treasures of
grace (Macarius of Egypt). When grace conquers all of the springs, desires,
and expressions of the heart, then it reigns in each of our members and in
every thought, because the mind and thoughts of the soul are found there in the
heart. When the grace of God passes through the heart, it penetrates the whole
of human nature. Consequently, the descent of the grace of the Holy Spirit
must take place in our heart. And the Holy Spirit must guard over our heart.
61

What Augustine Says about
Predestination and Free Will
Augustine based his theology on the Latin Vulgate, which mistranslated Rom
5:12 from the original Greek. The original Greek says, literally, Therefore as
through one man sin entered into the world and through sin death, so also to all
men death came, inasmuch as all sinned.
62
This is a critical verse because it
states that death came to all men because (inasmuch as) all sinned. The point is
that the original Greek text indicates that Adam sinned and caused punishment,
that is, death and disease, to come into the world; death came to all men be-
cause all men sinned. Each man commits his own sins. He does not inherit any
of Adams sins. This is impossible. What we have inherited from Adam is the
punishment for sin, death and disease, not his sins.
The Latin Vulgate mistranslates the last clause as in quo omnes pec-
caverunt, in whom all have sinned. This is a heretical statement and has con-
founded Western Christianity since it was written. The Greek text says that we
have not inherited Adams sins, we commit our own. Babies do not inherit
Adams sins. This is why the Orthodox Church rejects the notion of the dam-
nation of unbaptized babies. It is unscriptural.
Let us see what this mistranslation has caused Augustine to posit. Kola-
kowski sums it up beautifully: The doctrine of hereditary guilt, or of our un-
avoidable participation in the actual sin of Adam, is important insofar as it
helps explain why all those damned by God are damned justly.
63
From Au-
gustines point of view, man is rotten to the core because he has inherited
Adams sin and without Gods grace, he is incapable of doing any good on his
own. He is driven by his passions, not reason. Only Gods grace can turn him
away from his passions and put him on the road towards denying himself and
conforming to Christs image. God decides to whom He will give His grace.
These are the elected few. The road to perdition is wide, but narrow is the gate
and few are those who find it. God gives His elect irresistible efficacious
70 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

grace. Those to whom it is given receive the gift of faith and the power to
conform themselves to Christs image. Those who do not receive it are incapa-
ble of belief. Hence, we have the vile, heretical concept of the election of the
damned.
Below is a summary of Augustines views on election:
Grace (the free and unmerited favor of God) is a gift of God (Eph 2:8).
God can choose to give or withhold this gift.
Gods grace is not universal. God gives it to certain individuals.
The notion that all have sinned in Adam is derived from the Latin
Vulgates mistranslation of Rom 5:12 from the original Greek. This
led Augustine to erroneously conclude that all men carry Adams sin
in them.
Gods grace is needed for salvation. Unless God imparts the gift of
grace (faith), man cannot believe.
Therefore, only some will be saved.
Thus we can extrapolate predestination. From the foundation of the
world, God has elected those to whom He will give grace (those He
will save) and those from whom He will withhold it (those He will
damn) (this is called double predestination).
Augustine does suggest double predestination, but he usually dis-
cusses only the election of the saved.
Why the Orthodox Church
Ignores Augustine
There is a stark difference between what the Orthodox Church teaches about
predestination and what Augustine/Jansenius/Pascal set forth. Let us begin by
examining what the Orthodox Church teaches. Bishop Elias Minatios has writ-
ten an excellent article entitled, On Predestination, that explains the position
of the Orthodox Church on the subject and how it differs from that of
Augustine.
64
However, theologians do not always agree on certain issues and
so, another Orthodox theologian, Father Michael Azkoul, criticizes some of
the points that Minatios makes in a review of his article.
65

Minatios begins his refutation of Augustine by reminding us that because
God is just, it is His will that all be saved. He cites the following biblical
verses: He wills all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4); that having granted the
law to all, He excludes no one from His kingdom (St. Ambrose); For there is
Pascal 71

one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who
gave Himself as ransom for all (1 Tim 2:5); One died for all (2 Cor 5:14);
shown forth for all, lived for all and died and is risen for all (St. Gregory the
Theologian).
66
However, Minatios goes on to explain that although God wants
to save all, he does not impose His will on man: man has the free will to either
draw closer to God or to go his own way. God created man in his image: God
has free will and therefore, man, too, has free will. Orthodoxy teaches that it is
up to men to cooperate with God.
67

Minatios points out that there are several examples in the Bible where man
was required to perform certain works in order to carry out Gods will. For
example, God wanted to save Noah, but first Noah had to build the ark. Simi-
larly, God wanted to heal Nehemiahs leprosy, but Nehemiah was required to
wash in the Jordan. Jesus instructed the blind man to wash in the pool of
Siloam. Minatios observes that the Bible indicates that it is up to man to coop-
erate with God not only in the execution of His will, but also in his salvation,
as well.. Hence, man has the free will to either align his will with Gods or to
go his own way.
In addition, Orthodoxy holds that Gods foreknowledge is based on the fu-
ture, it is not the other way around. The future is not based on Gods fore-
knowledge. The future is fluid or liquid and subject to change from moment to
moment. Minatios observes that Christ was not the reason of Judas betrayal,
but rather, Judas betrayal was the cause of Gods foreknowledge of the future.
This is the answer to the whole issue. In contrast, it becomes apparent that the
mindless, vicious cycle in Pascals redemption is contrived, warped, and erro-
neous: in Pascals theology, grace is required to understand Scripture, but one
must understand Scripture in order to be saved. This circular reasoning does
not exist in Orthodoxy.
Minatios gives four examples of the fluidity of the future and of the fact
that Gods foreknowledge is the result of future events. In the first example,
the apostle Paul was held captive on a ship bound for Italy. A storm arose and
the people aboard were worried about the turbulence. God sent an angel to tell
Paul, Fear not, PaulGod hath given thee all them that sail with thee (Acts
27:24). This meant that for the crewmen to be saved, they had to choose to
remain in the boat with Paul. If any of the sailors chose to jump into the water,
he did not have the protection of God. Minatios advises, Does Gods destina-
tion change? Yes, it can be no other way. Except these abide in the ship, ye
cannot be saved.
68

72 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

These Bible verses teach us that destiny can actually change from moment
to moment because man has 100% free will 100% of the time. It is Gods will
to save everyone, but man must cooperate by obeying God, by being the in-
strument by which Gods will is done. In fact, it is in the Our Father prayer:
Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven reminds us that our purpose, as
Christians, is to become the instruments by which Gods will is done. This
requires our choosing to align our will with Gods will.
Minatios offers a second biblical example of the fluidity of the future:
King Hezekiah becomes sick and the prophet Isaiah tells him, Thus saith the
Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live (2 King 20:1).
Minatios says, The unfortunate Hezekiah turns his face to the wall, sighs,
cries, pleads. What are you doing, oh hapless king?! Has not God appointed
you to death? Is it not in vain that you cry and plead? Can one whom God has
ordained to die, live? Does Gods decision change? Yes, brothers and sisters,
this determination also changed! God had pity on the tears of Hezekiah and
determined that he live. He even granted him fifteen years of life. Thus saith
the Lord, I will add unto thy days fifteen years (2 Kings 20:5, 6).
69
This
teaches us that the future is fluid, liquid, subject to change from moment to
moment. While God knows the future and it is known only to him, man has
free will and the power to effect changes in his life, even in the future. Again,
Minatios extrapolates, The future does not flow from foreknowledge, but
foreknowledge from the future.
70

Minatios cites a third example: Jeremiah went to a potters house and he
saw the potter drop a pot that he had been working on. The form of the pot
became distorted and the pot was ruined. However, the potter picked it up and
started to rework it and made it like new. God told Jeremiah, Behold, as the
clay is in the potters hand, so are ye in mine hand (Jer 18:6).
71
This is another
example of the fact that things can change at any moment, given the fact that
man has free will.
Minatios ends his article with a fourth example, this one about the Oracle
of Delphi. One day a man decided to try and see whether he could make the
renown Oracle out to be a liar. In order to accomplish this, the man brought the
Oracle a sparrow that he was holding in his hands and that was covered with a
piece of cloth. It was his intention to ask the Oracle whether the bird was alive
or dead. If the Oracle were to say, Dead, the man intended to show him that
it was alive. If the Oracle were to reply, Alive, the man intended to strangle
it and show him that it was dead. When he asked the question, the Oracle re-
sponded, It depends on you to decide, to show what you hold as living or
Pascal 73

dead. Minatios ends his article by making a brilliant analogy between the
Oracles reply and mans free will: It depends on you to decide. Your predes-
tination depends on the will of God and your will. The will of God is always
ready. This means that things are determined only by your will. God desires
(your salvation); if you desire this also, then you are predestined for eternal
life.
72

Theologians do not always agree with one another, and so Father Michael
Azkoul criticizes Minatios for simplifying predestination as the union of Gods
will and mans will.
73
Azkoul points out that in order to fully understand pre-
destination as it is expressed in the Bible, Orthodox thought, based on St.
Gregory of Palamas, distinguishes among Gods Uncreated Divine Energies.
For example, the Will of God must be distinguished from Gods foreknowl-
edge. These are distinct and separate Energies. Hence, God foreknows that evil
will occur, but He does not will it. God foreknows that some people will reject
Him and go their own way, but he does not will it (Theol. Chap 100, PG 150
1189D).
74
It is this failure to distinguish between Gods Will and His fore-
knowledge that led Pascal to continually reiterate the heresy of double predes-
tination that includes the notion of the election of the damned, and the lie
that God veiled the Messianic prophecies in the OT so that the reprobate
would not recognize Jesus when He came. In addition, Ware points out that St.
Gregory of Palamas was able to avoid pantheism by distinguishing Gods Es-
sence from His Energies.
75

Azkoul agrees with Augustine that mans desire for salvation is initiated
by God, but he is quick to point out that this first initializing motion is based
on Gods purpose. Rom 8:28 says, to them who are called according to pur-
pose. There are many examples in the Bible in which God chooses those
whose disposition is such that they would be willing to carry out His purpose.
God knows what is in the hearts of men and He knows who would be willing
to work for Him and with Him. For example, on His way to Galilee, Jesus
finds Philip and says, Follow me (John 1:43). This implies that the Lord has
foreknowledge of the location of Philip and searches for him. Philip follows
Him and then tells Nathaniel, We have found Him, of whom Moses in the
law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph (John
1:45). Jesus has foreknowledge of Nathaniel, as well, and He knows that there
is no guile in him. Jesus tells Nathaniel, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom
is not guile! (John 1:47). Nathaniel asks Jesus, Whence knowest thou me?
Jesus replies, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree,
I saw thee (John 1:48). When Nathaniel understands that Jesus had fore-
74 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

knowledge of him he declares, Rabbi, thou are the Son of God; thou art the
King of Israel (John 1:49). Christ replies, Because I said unto thee, I saw
thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than
theseHereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending
and descending upon the son of man (John 1:5051). Jesus chooses Philip
and Nathaniel because He has foreknowledge of their disposition and he
knows that they would be willing to carry out His will.
In another example, Jesus is walking past the customs table and He says to
the tax collector, Matthew, Follow me; Matthew arises from the customs
table and follows the Lord (Matt 9:9). Christ knows beforehand that Matthews
disposition is such that He can rely on him to carry out His will.
Rom 8:28 says, And we know that all things work together for good to
them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. God
calls (or initiates the communication between Divine Will and mans will)
those whom He can use to carry out His purpose. In other words, God can look
into the hearts of men and identify those whom He can use according to His
purpose. One thinks of the conversion of the Pharisee Saul. Saul was a sinner
who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen to death. Despite Sauls his-
tory, Christ had mercy on him and revealed Himself to him on the road to Da-
mascus. He looked into his heart and saw that this Pharisee would be willing to
carry out Gods purpose, that he would be willing to become an instrument by
which Gods will is done. When man accepts the gift of faith that is available
to all, he is on the way leading towards theosis.
Hence, Azkoul declares that Orthodoxy does teach predestination based on
foreknowledge, but unlike Augustine, maintains that there is no compulsion
involved. The foreknowledge is knowing the heart of someone and identifying
the person who would be willing to carry out Divine Will. However, God
forces no one.
Azkouls article is valuable because he has a thorough knowledge of
Augustines many books. Azkoul cites from a diverse selection to show that
not only was Augustine a proponent of the election of the damned, but that he
single handedly opened the door to the Protestant Reformation by arguing pre-
destination and the notion of the invisible and hidden Church known only to
God. Azkoul does an excellent job of proving that Augustine was unwittingly
responsible for the fragmentation of Western Christianity. Having cited a
plethora of passages from Augustines works, Azkoul concludes that, ironi-
cally enough, Augustine might be considered the Father of the Protestant Ref-
ormation: As an Orthodox bishop, Augustine might have said that the elect
Pascal 75

are members of the visible and historical Church; but he did not. For him,
those predestined to glory belong to the hidden and true Church, the invisible
Church, known only to God. Augustine is thus the precursor to the Protestant
reform idea of the Church. Such an ecclesiology radically alters the traditional
understanding of the Church and her Mysteries. His theory of predestination
surely changes the patristic teaching on God and Christ.
76

Azkoul concludes his article by reaffirming that the Orthodox position is
diametrically antithetical to that of Augustine. Man does have free will and
God chooses according to His foreknowledge of whom He can use to carry out
His will: In other words, the omniscient God bases His decision of our indi-
vidual destinies on the way we received Christ, obeyed His Church, and sought
to make all men our brothers. Contrary to Augustine and his tradition, each
person is indeed intimately responsible for whether God predestines him to
eternal lifeIn a sense, each of us predetermine his own fate by our love for
Him and our quest for the Grace of the Spirit, if I may quote St Seraphim of
Sarov. The Mercy of God is that Christ died for the human race, since it is the
Will of the Blessed Trinity (wishes?) that all men come to the knowledge of
the Truth and be saved. He has done all that can be done in Love (John 3:16)
to rescue the creature from death and evil; by the Cross he destroyed him that
had the power of death
77

The Orthodox Church Teaches
that Mans Purpose Is Theosis
The definition of theosis is divinization or union with the Living God. The Or-
thodox Church teaches that Scripture indicates that this is exactly what the
purpose of man is: union with the Living God. The Philokalia declares that the
way to achieve theosis may be metaphorized as a ladder to God. Christians
embark on a journey. The first step on the ladder is faith. Once they believe,
they begin a journey on which they become more and more like Christ.
Daniel B. Clendenin, in Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Per-
spective, cites Christoforos Stavropoulos, author of Partakers of Divine Na-
ture:
In the Holy Scriptures, where God Himself speaks, we read of a unique call directed to
us. God speaks to us human beings clearly and directly and He says: I said, You are
gods, sons of the Most Highall of you (Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34). Do we hear
that voice? Do we understand the meaning of this calling? Do we accept that we
should in fact be on a journey, a road which leads to Theosis? As human beings we
76 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

each have this one, unique calling, to achieve Theosis. In other words, we are each
destined to become a god; to be like God Himself, to be united with Him. The Apostle
Peter describes with total clarity the purpose of life: we are to become partakers of the
divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). This is the purpose of your life; that you be a participant, a
sharer in the nature of God and in the life of Christ, a communicant of divine energy
to become just like God, a true God.
78

Doing the things discussed in The Philokalia is a good way to proceed up the
spiritual ladder towards theosis or union with God. The Philokalia is a collec-
tion of writings by monks and mystics that have been found on Mount Athos.
These writings date from the 4
th
century AD to the fifteenth century. The peo-
ple who wrote it renounced everything for Christ and prayed and fasted con-
tinuously, many in silence, to align their will with Gods will, to achieve
theosis. These mystics advise cleaning out the intellect of anger, desire, and
greed; they recommend fasting and prayer; silence; to embrace the notion of
death rather than to fear it. When people put effort into doing these works, God
rewards them: the mystics who practiced these works received gifts such as
visions, miracles, and the Holy Spirit gave them an understanding of Holy
Scripture. Orthodoxy points out, however, that theosis or union with God is
achieved by grace, not by works: for the writers of the Philokalia, the gift
of theosis comes by grace through faith, and not by works.
79
God gives grace,
but man has to make an effort and seek to unite his will with Gods will. One
can say that man does not have 100% power over himself 100% of the time
because mans power is tainted by sin and death. Therefore, the most that man
can do is to seek to align his will with Gods will, to be the instrument by
which Gods will is done. He can exercise his free will to do the things that are
pleasing to God.
Clendenin cites St. Makarios of Egypt, who points out that salvation oc-
curs when man exercises his free will to unite with Gods will: We receive
salvation by grace and as a divine gift of the Spirit. But to attain the full meas-
ure of virtue we need also to possess faith and love, and to struggle to exercise
our free will with integrity. In this manner we inherit eternal life as a conse-
quence of both grace and justice. We do not reach the final stage of spiritual
maturity through divine power and grace alone, without ourselves making any
effort; but neither on the other hand do we attain the final measure of freedom
and purity as a result of our own diligence and strength alone, apart from any
divine assistance. If the Lord does not built the house, it is said, and protect the
city, in vain does the watchman keep awake, and in vain do the labourer and
builder work [Ps 127:14].
80

Pascal 77

Clendenin concludes, Thus, faith without works and works without faith
are equally rejected (James). In Pauline language, we labor and strive, but only
through the empowering grace of God working in us (Phil 2:1213; 1 Cor
15:1011).
81
The techniques of achieving theosis include fasting, vigils, pros-
trations, tears, repentance, silence, dispassion, stillness, prayer, detachment,
discrimination, participating in the sacraments, and keeping the command-
ments of God.
The Philokalia metaphorizes the process of theosis as a ladder leading up
to God. The first step is faith, which is a gift, but there are many rungs on the
ladder and it requires hard work and diligent effort on the part of man to attain
theosis. One of the steps, after belief, is to try to purify ones heart as Jesus
proscribed: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Matt 5:8).
When the heart has been purified, man will, indeed, see or experience with his
spiritual eyes, God.
The early fathers stressed the importance of cleansing the intellect. They
metaphorized the intellect as a well. We go to the well to draw water, but we
cannot because it is full of garbage. The task, then, of the Christian is to rid his
intellect of this garbage so that he can draw closer to God. One of the pieces of
garbage that must be discarded is anger. Many of us walk around angry about
something. Anger is spiritual poison and as long as it is present, it is blocking
our spiritual eyes from seeing God. The first work in volume 3 of The Philo-
kalia is Forty Texts on Watchfulness, by St. Philotheos of Sinai. The first line
of this piece is striking: There is within us, on the noetic plane, a warfare
tougher than that on the plane of the senses. The spiritual worker has to press
on with his intellect towards the goal (cf. Phil 3:14), in order to enshrine per-
fectly the remembrance of God in his heart like some pearl or precious stone
(cf. Matt 13:4446). He has to give up everything, including the body, and to
disdain this present life, if he wishes to possess God alone in his heart. For the
noetic vision of God, the divine Chrysostom has said, can by itself destroy the
demonic spirits.
82
If one follows the recommendations in the Forty Texts on
Watchfulness, one will have a pure heart and see God, and also receive many
gifts from God. The monks on Mount Athos, even today, have a very close
relationship with Christ and have many visions, miracles, and other gifts. The
goal of the Forty Texts is to teach the Christian how to protect himself against
principalities and powers that are always seeking to make inroads to cause him
to fall. St. Philotheos has the following advice to the Christian who wants to
stay pure on a noetic plane: Keeping watch with the intellectdestroy hostile
thoughts at their first appearance, remember death and meditate on it, exercise
78 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

self-control in eating and drinking, try to purge the passions and attain a state
of dispassion, maintain silence, and heal anger.
83

That last one, the importance of healing anger, is especially important as
anger poisons the intellect. Christ advises that if anyone is going to present a
gift at the altar, but is angry with his brother, he should first go and be recon-
ciled with him (Matt 5:2324). Implicit in his command is honest dialogue,
discussion of feelings, examination of facts and intentions, and a swift resolu-
tion or clarification so that the anger does not fester, become worse, and grow
into a mountain. Also implicit is the fact that people who seek a relationship
with God are embarked on a journey, they are climbing a ladder towards theo-
sis, and this journey requires purification of the heart. Christ admonishes us to
be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. We are on a ladder rising towards
union with God and our hearts must be made pure. This leaves no room for
anger. Anger is a tool that principalities and powers use against us to hinder us
on our journey towards theosis.
To date, there exists a substantial body of research that addresses the Or-
thodox position on theosis. We recommend the following books and articles on
the subject: Panagiotes K. Chrestou, Partakers of God;
84
Daniel B. Clendenins
two books, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective
85
and East-
ern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader define and explain theosis;
86

Ben Drewery, Deification;
87
Eleuterio Fortino, Sanctification and Deifica-
tion;
88
Jules Gross, La divinisation du chrtien daprs les pres grecs; con-
tribution historique la doctrine de la grce;
89
Vigen Guroian, Incarnate
Love: Essays in Orthodox Ethics;
90
Stanley S. Harakas, Eastern Orthodox
Christianitys Ultimate Reality and Meaning: Triune God and Theosis; An
Ethicians View;
91
Verna Harrison, Some Aspects of Saint Gregory the
Theologians Soteriology;
92
Maurice Fred Himmerich, Deification in John of
Damascus;
93
Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright and Edward Yarnold, The
Study of Spirituality;
94
Stephen James Juli, The Doctrine of Theosis in the The-
ology of Saint Maximus the Confessor;
95
Vladimir Losskys two books, In the
Image and Likeness of God
96
and Orthodox Theology: An Introduction;
97
Myr-
rha Lot-Borodine, La dification de lhomme selon la doctrine des Pres
grecs;
98
Georgios I. Mantzaridis, The Deification of Man: St. Gregory Palamas
and the Orthodox Tradition;
99
John Meyendorffs two books, Byzantine Theol-
ogy: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes
100
and Christ in Eastern Chris-
tian Thought
101
and his two articles, New Life in Christ: Salvation in
Orthodox Theology
102
and Theosis in the Eastern Christian Tradition;
103

John Meyendorff and Robert Tobias, ed., Salvation in Christ: A Lutheran-
Pascal 79

Orthodox Dialogue;
104
Panayiotis Nellas, Deification in Christ: Orthodox Per-
spectives on the Nature of the Human Person;
105
Keith Edward Norman, Deifi-
cation: The Content of Athanasian Soteriology;
106
George Papademetriou,
The Human Body According to Saint Gregory Palamas;
107
The Philokalia:
The Complete Text; Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St.
Makarios of Corinth;
108
Symeon Rodger, The Soteriology of Anselm of Can-
terbury, An Orthodox Perspective;
109
Bernard Sartorius, La doctrine de la
dification de lhomme daprs les Pres grecs en gnral et Grgoire Pala-
mas en particulier;
110
Dumitru Stniloae, The Experience of God;
111
Christo-
foros Stavropoulos, Partakers of Divine Nature;
112
Gregory Telepneff and
James Thornton, Arian Transcendence and the Notion of Theosis in Saint
Athanasios;
113
Nicolaos P. Vassiliades, The Mystery of Death;
114
Bishop
Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way;
115
and Timothy Ware, The Orthodox
Church.
116

The Jansenists vs. the Jesuits
Pascals view that Gods will subordinates mans will was greatly influenced
by the heretical hermeneutics of Cornelius Jansenius, Bishop of Ypres (1585
1638) via the writings of Saint-Cyran. Jansenius, who based his theology on
Augustine, posited that all men inherit Adams sin and his instincts lead him to
do evil; man is depraved at his very core. He can be saved only by the grace of
God, which is given to a select few, the elect, that God has predestined and
chosen to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jansenius was a heretic whose subtle
reasoning led Pascal and many others, called Jansenists or Augustinians, to
accept the notion that God forces His will on men and causes them to either
accept or reject Him. Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, abb de Saint-Cyran, had
studied with Jansenius and had written prolifically on Jansenism. When he was
arrested, his writings comprised 32 thick folios.
Jansenius doctrine, which heavily influenced Pascals thought, leads di-
rectly to a heresy that is called predestinarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia
describes predestinarianism as a heresy not infrequently met with in the
course of the centuries which reduces the eternal salvation of the elect as well
as the eternal damnation of the reprobate to one cause alone, namely to the
sovereign will of God, and thereby excludes the free co-operation of man as a
secondary factor in bringing about a happy or unhappy future in the life to
come.
117
The Catholic Encyclopedia goes on to summarize the two main
heresies that predestinarianism sets forth thus:
80 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

The absolute will of God as the sole cause of the salvation or damna-
tion of the individual, without regard to his merits or demerits;
As to the elect, it denies the freedom of the will under the influence of
efficacious grace while it puts the reprobate under the necessity of
committing sin in consequence of the absence of grace.
118

The Catholic Encyclopedia specifies that in the heresy of predestinarianism, it
is mistakenly held that God saves the elect by 1) giving them efficacious grace
so that their free will cannot resist Him and 2) their will, under the influence of
grace, is forced to do what is right. The heresy also posits that God predestines
the non-elect by 1) withholding irresistibly efficacious grace, thereby 2) caus-
ing their will to choose sin: if those who are predestined for eternal life are
to attain this end with metaphysical necessityGod must give them during
their lifetime efficacious graces of such a nature that the possibility of free re-
sistance is systematically excluded, while, on the other hand, the will, under
the influence of grace, is borne along without reluctance to do what is right and
is forced to persevere in a course of righteousness to the hour of death. But
from all eternity God has also made a decree not less absolute whereby he has
positively predestined the non-elect to eternal torments. God can accomplish
this design only by denying to the reprobate irresistibly efficacious graces and
impelling their will to sin continually, thereby leading them slowly but surely
to eternal damnation.
119

The Catholic Encyclopedia attributes the inception and continuation of
this heresy down through the centuries to a misinterpretation of Saint Augus-
tines work on election. It is interesting that the Catholic Encyclopedia points
out, this heresy sprang up in the Church of the West, whilst that of the East
was preserved in a remarkable manner from these extravagances.
120
That is
because the Church of the East ignored the writings of Augustine, even though
he was an Orthodox bishop.
Conversely, the Jesuits held that human nature, even though it exists in a
fallen creation, still, at its core, desires to be with God. This view is set forth in
Ignatius Spiritual Exercises. Hence, the Jesuits emphasis on the goodness of
mans will put them in opposition to the Jansenists, who emphasized mans
depravity.
The Jesuit Luis de Molina (15351600) taught that God decides what
someone will do by foreseeing what he would do under a set of circumstances
and then creates the agent and the circumstances. Generally, the Jesuits held
Ockhams view that both God and man contribute to mens actions.
Pascal 81

James A. Connor, in Pascals Wager: The Man Who Played Dice with
God, summarizes how the Jesuits viewed the Jansenists notion of the election
of the damned:
The entire Society of Jesus looked askance at this. They taught that human beings have
the power to do good as well as evil, and that Christ had come to save all men and
women and not just the select few. For the Jesuits, otherwise known as Molinists, the
human will had the power to choose good over evil, and divine grace, which was
nearly ubiquitous, gave aid and comfort to those striving to achieve Gods will. They
recognized the impact of original sin on the lives of ordinary people, but held that
Adams sin did not utterly bestialize people but wounded them, stacking the deck to-
ward sin.
Because of the Reformers, however, Augustinian philosophy had become chic. It
was perfect for times of uncertainty. If you are one of the elect, your future is assured.
At that point, the spiritual life becomes less about conversion than about watching for
signs of your inclusion. Just what those signs were was up to the spiritual leaders,
which gave such men and women extraordinary power over their charges. Richelieu
had the power of life and death, certainly, but over his followers Saint-Cyran had the
power of salvation.
121

Connor summarizes the Jesuit position on free will thus:
While God knows what people are likely to choose, that knowledge does not deter-
mine what they do choose. Therefore, human beings share in, and in some small way
limit, the power of God, for by creating humanity in his own image and likeness, God
bestowed upon them the power to bring new things into the world through their free-
dom. Gods grace does not subvert human freedom, but acts with it. It is not effica-
cious, in the sense that it does not force the person who receives it to convert, but aids
them in their free choice. It is therefore sufficient in the sense that it is enough to af-
fect a change when working in concord with human free will.
122

Let us return to Christs warning in Mat 7:14, 21, that Ware uses to substanti-
ate free will, Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to lifeNot
everyone that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven,
but he that does the will of my Father. The point here is that men do have free
will and that God wants them to align their will with His, but He is not forcing
them to do so. Related to Mat 7:14, 21 are the following verses that indicate
the punishment that will be meted out when men exercise their free will to go
their own way: Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be
unto him to sin (Hos 8:11) (here Ephraim decided to make many altars to
sin); And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will
82 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and dig-
ged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the
stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was
founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that
without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream
did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was
great (Luke 6:469); When once the master of the house is risen up, and
hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door,
saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I
know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and
drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I
tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of in-
iquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when he shall see Abra-
ham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and
you yourselves thrust out. (Luke 13:2528); Who will render to every man
according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek
for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are con-
tentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and
wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil (Rom
2:69); But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your
own selves (Jas 1:22); he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work,
this man shall be blessed in his deed (Jas 1:25).
Hence, it is understandable why, on May 31, 1653, the Catholic Church
condemned as heretical five points that Cornelius Jansenius made in his book,
Augustinius. Basically, Jansenius five points denied mans free will and im-
plied that God saves or damns people according to the will that He forces upon
them or withholds from them. Connor summarizes why the Church found Jan-
senius to be heretical: The gist of the five points in contention is that Augus-
tinians denied human beings the power of full moral agency. People could
commit evil on their own but not good, for doing good requires a special effi-
cacious grace from God, and, once given, that grace could not be denied.
With it, one could not do evil; without it, one could not do good. The question
was whether people were puppets in the hand of an all-powerful God, thereby
making Gods power absolute, or whether they were moral agents capable of
free actions, thus in some small way limiting the power of God.
123

Pascal 83

Infinity, God, and Predestination
Pascals knowledge of mathematics permitted him to see similarities between
the notions of infinity/finite numbers and God/creation. Since God is infinite
and exists outside of time, Pascal could apply mathematical truths about infin-
ity to Him and use these truths to explain predestination. However, it should be
pointed out that those who argue free will can also use the concept of infinity
to substantiate their point of view, as well.
Pascal discusses the mathematical concept of infinity and contrasts it to its
opposite, nothing: Infinitenothing.Our soul is cast into a body, where it
finds number, time, dimension. Thereupon it reasons, and calls this nature,
necessity, and can believe nothing else. Unity joined to infinity adds nothing to
it, no more than one foot to an infinite measure. The finite is annihilated in the
presence of the infinite, and becomes a pure nothing. So our spirit before God,
so our justice before divine justice. There is not so great a disproportion be-
tween our justice and that of God, as between unity and infinity.
124
The soul,
that which does not have time or extension, is cast into the physical body,
where it finds number, time, and dimension. This is not only a mathematical
statement contrasting infinity to zero, it is also an amazingly prescient one re-
garding physics: Pascal is telling us that number, time, and dimension are
characteristics of not only this physical body, but of all the created universe.
The salient point here is that time is an attribute of the created universe and is
therefore finite. Hence, one must necessarily extrapolate that the moment when
Christ spoke and brought the universe into existence (John 1:13), He created
space and time. Therefore, God antecedes time and He exists outside of it.
Pascal also points out that Christ is infinite and eternal: In the same way I
am not eternal or infinite; but I see plainly that there exists in nature a neces-
sary Being, eternal and infinite.
125
Christ is the Creator who spoke and
brought the universe into existence from nothing. The Apostle John declares,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by
him; and without him was not any thing that was made (John 1:13). God has
the characteristics that are implied by the mathematical concept of infinity: He
is eternal, omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent
(everywhere), absolutely just, sovereign, unchanging, and absolutely faithful to
man. Absolute fidelity is intrinsic to the bride/groom metaphor that character-
izes the relationship that Christ has with His Church.
84 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

God created number, time, and dimension when he spoke and brought the
universe into existence. Therefore, number, time, and dimension are creations.
Christ antecedes time: He is eternal and everlasting, as He lived before He cre-
ated the universe and He created time and space at the moment when He cre-
ated the universe.
An infinite being cannot be compartmentalized into packets of time or
parcels of space. Conversely, man is a finite creature and he can be compart-
mentalized into a lifespan of a certain number of years and into a physical
space occupying certain dimensions.
Since God is eternal and exists outside of time, He does not have a begin-
ning, a lifespan, or an end. Therefore, the past, the present, and the future are
all the same to Him, they all exist as if they are all the past, or all the present,
or all the future. This is why God knows future events before man experiences
them: God can experience the future in the present. The Bible says in several
places that in Gods eyes, a thousand years are like a day and one day is like a
thousand years: For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it
is past, and as a watch in the night (Psalm 90:4); But, beloved, be not igno-
rant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a
thousand years as one day (2 Pet 3:8).
Pascal was a brilliant mathematician who was able to exploit the certainty
that mathematics can bring to a problem as a tool to further his own heretical
polemics. He applied infinity to theological issues and in this way, he found a
way to explain foreknowledge and predestination. He took the flawed position
that an eternal being, one who has no beginning or end, one who exists outside
the realm of time because time is his creation, has foreknowledge of men and
so one can say that He predestinates according to His foreknowledge.
However, the Orthodox Church points out that the opposite is actually
true. It teaches that it is mans future choices that lead to Gods foreknowl-
edge, not the other way around. The key is in Rom 8:29, For whom He did
foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.
Minatios advises, This is how the wise Justin, philosopher and martyr, speaks
about this: The cause of future events is not foreknowledge, but foreknowl-
edge is the result of future events. The future does not flow forth from fore-
knowledge, but foreknowledge from the future. It is not Christ who is the
cause of the betrayal of Judas. But the betrayal is the cause of the Lords fore-
knowledge.
126
Man has free will because 1) He was made in the image of
God and God has free will, 2) God wants sons and daughters conformed to the
image of Christ, that is, people who choose to be obedient to the Father, and 3)
Pascal 85

without free will, man cannot be held responsible for his actions and reward
and punishment would not be due; Christs redemptive mission would have
been unnecessary. Because God exists outside of time, he knows the future. It
is the future (comprised of the choices that men freely make) that forms Gods
foreknowledge. Man has free will, as in Rev 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door,
and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him,
and will sup with him, and he with me. Christ makes the first move: He
knocks on the door; now the ball is in mans side of the courthe can exercise
his free will and either open the door to his heart to Christ or not. The moment
that man reaches towards Christ, Christ reaches towards him. The moment one
believes, God infuses him with grace. If man does choose to open the door to
Christ, then the sequence of events will follow as enumerated in Rom 8:2930:
he will be given the grace to be conformed to the image of Christ (predesti-
nated), called, justified, and glorified, in that order.
Pascals Heresies
Pascal was seduced by the lie that Gods will subordinates and dominates
mans will so that in the end, man has no free will. The subtleties of the heresy
in Pascals hermeneutics are sometimes so fine and so contrived, it is fre-
quently difficult to navigate the waters and discern his orthodox statements
from his heretical ones. This is because Pascal owed his thought not only to the
heretics Jansenius, Saint-Cyran, and Arnaud, but also to the writings of Saint
Paul, whose statements were subverted and propagandized by the Jansenists.
Hence, it is not surprising that Pascal uses Pauls language regarding predesti-
nation. Pascal frequently uses the terms elect [lu], elect ones [les lus],
chosen [choisi], the chosen vine [la vigne lue], called [appel] predic-
tion [prediction], to predict [prdire], predicted [prdit], to portend [prsager].
For example, in B550/L931/S759 he declares that he is very relieved and
continually grateful that God, in His mercy, has given him the gift of saving
faith. This feeling is sincere and felt by all Christians who read and understand
the Scripture, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of your-
selves: it is the gift of God (Eph 2:8). Pascal, breathing a sigh of relief, says,
These are my sentiments, and every day of my life I bless my Redeemer, who
has implanted them in me, and who, of a man full of weaknesses, of miseries,
of lust, of pride, and of ambition, has made a man free from all these evils by
the power of His grace, to which all the glory of it is due, as of myself I have
only misery and error.
127
This seems innocuous enough. He is merely articu-
86 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

lating gratitude that his salvation has been sealed by Christs very generous gift
on the Cross; his statement is an orthodox one, not a heretical one.
However, in a subsequent fragment, he goes on to reiterate the heresy that
God has willed to blind some and enlighten others: We understand nothing
of the works of God, if we do not take as a principle that He has willed to blind
some, and enlighten others.
128
Here Pascal is taking Scriptures out of context
in order to sustain his own heretical polemics.
On the contrary, the reason that God announces all significant events in
advance is that He does want people to eagerly await these happenings and
recognize them when they do occur. God announces in hundreds of biblical
verses that the Messiah is coming. For example, the Gentiles will see the
Light. God announces this in advance precisely because He did give men free
will and it was His will that they be vigilant and recognize the Messiah when
he arrived. That is why God continually reiterates throughout the OT that the
Messiah is coming and that people should anticipate His arrival, be vigilant for
signs that he has come, and obey Him when He does arrive. These are all
warnings from a God who has given men free will and who ardently desires
that they choose to obey Him so that He can conform them to the image of
Christ. When they believe and are baptized, they take the first step on the road
towards theosis (union with God via conformity to Christs image). God reiter-
ates the word blind to warn people that that is what they should not be: And
he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see
ye indeed, but perceive not (Is 6:9); To open the blind eyes, to bring out the
prisoner from prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house (Is
42:7); And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them
in paths that they have not (Is 42:16); Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that
ye may see (Is 42:18); Who is blind, but my servant: or deaf, as my messen-
ger that I sent? Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORDs ser-
vant? (Is 42:19); Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the
ears, but he heareth not (Is 42:20); we wait for light, but behold obscurity;
for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind,
and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night (Is
59:910). These are the words of a God who went out of His way to continu-
ally caution that one should not be blind, but rather, seeing; not ignorant, but
rather, wise. As Orthodoxy points out, the future is not sealed; it can change
from moment to moment. Therefore, God warns people to be vigilant and
watch for the Messiah, precisely because they do have free will to accept or
reject Him. We see that even though God repeatedly gave many prophecies
Pascal 87

warning people to remain vigilant, and not be blind or deaf, nevertheless, the
future did happen exactly as prophecized. Again, man has free will and the
choices that he makes in the future determines Gods foreknowledge; it is not
the other way around.
God has kept His promise that He announces all things before they hap-
pen. Even this fact must be reiterated, lest one forget: Behold, the former
things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I
tell you of them (Is 42:9); who hath declared this from ancient time? Who
hath told it from that time? Have not I the LORD? (Is 45:21); Remember the
former things of oldDeclaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient
times the things that are not yet done (Is 46:910); I have declared the for-
mer things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I
shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to passI have even from
the beginning declared it to theeThou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye
declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things,
and thou didst not know them. They are created now, and not from the begin-
ning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest
say, Behold, I knew them (Is 48:3, 57). These are the words of a God who is
making a concerted effort to direct people; they are not the words of a God
who has predestined people to disbelief and then remained aloof. It was Gods
will that the world have the timetable of the Messiahs arrival so that when He
performed His miracles, it would know that He had arrived and it would obey
Him and submit to His authority. Remember, submission to Christs authority
is the first step on a ladder leading towards theosis or union with God. Gods
goal is to fill Heaven with many Christ-like individuals; Christ will be the first
among many brethren in His Fathers Kingdom. All of these people will have
already demonstrated their willingness to obey and to trust in God. God does
not want any repeats of angelic rebellions.
The multitudes gathered around the Lord and He both taught them and fed
them. Those who wanted to conform their will to Gods and submit to His au-
thority are metaphorized as sheep in the Bible. Jesus continually metaphorizes
his followers as sheep. They are sheep because they have exercized their free
will and have chosen to submit themselves to the will of the Master, to align
themselves with His will: I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and
am known of mine (John 10:14) (He knows who they will be in advance be-
cause He sees the future); But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep,
as I said unto you (John 10:26) (He knows in advance those who will reject
Him); My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (John
88 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

10:27). Who are the sheep of God? Those who seek Him and desire to be the
means by which His will is done on earth and in Heaven.
The problem is that Pascals statements do lead to predestinarianism. His
heresy is that God foists His will on men and that His foreknowledge deter-
mines mens future actions. In Pascals cosmology, all men are robots as far as
their destiny goes.
In the chapter on miracles we have seen how Pascal uses continual contra-
diction (thesis, antithesis) as a tool to demonstrate that the power of reason is
limited. He uses this same tool in his discussions on the problem of predestina-
tion vs. free will to state what on the surface appears to be a contradiction and
to then resolve the conflict with his own propaganda. For example, he cites
Mat 7:7, in which the Lord says, Ask and it shall be given you.
129
In this im-
perative statement, Christ commands us to pray and ask for what we need.
When we do, He will answer our prayers. Pascal reiterates this command by
concluding, Therefore, it is in our power to ask.
130
The issue appears to be
settled.
However, then there is a surprise: Pascal then undermines the argument
that he has just made, that it is in mans power to ask God for things, and be-
gins to introduce a heresy. He adds, On the other hand, there is God. So it is
not in our power, since the obtaining of (the grace) to pray to Him is not in our
power. For since salvation is not in us, and the obtaining of such grace is from
Him, prayer is not in our power.
131
Unfortunately, this is a heretical statement
and contrary to Christs command in Luke 11:58 to pray continuously and
unceasingly. Pascal articulates the lie that the elect pray because God has
foisted His will on their will by giving them efficacious grace. The elect may
pray, but they do so because Gods dominates theirs and they are forced to
pray because it is His will; their will is subservient to His. The reader is led to
conclude, having read this paragraph in B514/L969/S803, that prayer is not
within mans power. This position is diametrically antithetical to Christs
command that we diligently labor in all things to carry out Gods will.
But, wait, it gets worse! Pascal carries his heresy even further: he argues
long and hard that God has deliberately veiled the Messianic prophecies in the
OT so that those individuals that He predestined to disbelieve would never
recognize the Messiah when He came and that they would therefore reject
Him. This is not only heretical, it is also blasphemous: it articulates the lie that
God does evil. The truth is that it was Christs ardent will to minister unto all
people, to the reprobate and to the godly, regardless of ethnicity or gender, to
the freeman and to the slave. Gods Divine Uncreated Energies, His will and
Pascal 89

foreknowledge, are distinct, and even though He wills obedience, He does not
impose it; mens future choices based on their own free will determine His
foreknowledge.
Pascals statements are the exact opposite of the truth: God provides a
panoply of Messianic prophecies that can be readily recognized by all, saint
and reprobate alike, in the OT. In fact, Alfred Edersheim counts 456 Messianic
prophecies that Christ has fulfilled ie: that He would be born in Bethlehem, of
a virgin, of the house of David, that He would die in our place for our trans-
gressions, that they would look up at Him whom they have pierced, that His
legs would not be broken, that they would cast lots for His clothing, that His
soul would not suffer corruption, that he would rise on the third day, that He
would sit on the right hand of the Father, that He is ancient, from time everlast-
ing, that He would be a stumbling block that many would fall on, that He
would be the cornerstone that the builders rejected. Even before His Crucifix-
ion, Christ made it clear that He was God: He raised Lazarus from the dead, as
well as Jairus daughter and the widows son at Nain. Only God can raise the
dead. In addition, He fed more than 4,000 and 5,000 people from a few fish
and loaves of bread on two occasions; he healed the sick. Nicodemus, a mem-
ber of the Sanhedrin, admitted that the miracles that Jesus performed attested
to the fact that He was from God. Nothing was hidden from anyone. Pascals
hidden God cannot be justified. Christ knocked on everyones door in full
view, in broad daylight. Men had miracles, prophecy, and Christs teachings
by which to decide whether or not to follow Him. They had 100% free will
100% of the time.
Moreover, God continually and relentlessly reiterates in the OT that He
announces all things in advance, the end from the beginning, expressly for the
purpose that everyone will know what to expect, will be watchful, will be the
first to know when an anticipated event transpires. Hence, Pascals argumenta-
tion that God veils His language so that it is unintelligible is the exact opposite
of Scriptural teaching and a perversion of Gods goodness.
Pascal continually reiterates the heresy that God blinds people and that He
hides Himself from them so that He does not have to save them: From those
who are in despair at being without faith, we see that God does not enlighten
them; but as to the rest, we see there is a God who makes them blind;
132

He has willed to leave them in the loss of the good which they do not want.
It was not then right that He should appear in a manner manifestly divine, and
completely capable of convincing all men;
133
We understand nothing of
the works of God, if we do not take as a principle that He has willed to blind
90 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

some, and enlighten others;
134
Therefore it was well that the spiritual mean-
ing should be concealed;
135
God willing to blind and to enlighten;
136

There is sufficient obscurity to blind the reprobate, and sufficient clearness to
condemn them, and make them inexcusable;
137
That God willed to hide Him-
selfGod being thus hidden, every religion which does not affirm that God is
hidden, is not true; and every religion which does not give the reason of it, is
not instructive. Our religion does all this: Vere tu es Deus absconditus
[Truly you are the hidden God, Is 45:15];
138
He is to blind the learned and the
wise, Is 6, 8, 29.
139

In response to Pascals hidden God, a few general comments must be
made about Christs ministry. First, He had mercy on all people, regardless of
ethnic origin. This is evident in the story about the Canaanite woman whose
daughter He healed (Mat 15:2228). Secondly, He clearly demonstrated that
the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand: He raised the dead, healed the sick, con-
ducted exorcisms, and fed more than 4,000 and 5,000 people on two different
occasions in order to convince people to believe in Him. It was evident that
this was the awaited Messiah who had the power to abolish death forever and
set up an eternal kingdom on earth. Furthermore, there were no wars anywhere
while He was on earth. There were wars before His birth and after His Cruci-
fixion, but while the Prince of Peace was on earth, there were no wars. This is
a significant reprieve from war on earth.
Thirdly, in Rev 10:810 there is a significant lesson regarding mans free
will to receive the Word of God. In these verses, an angel (Christ) holding a
book. John says to the angel, Give me the little book, but rather than hand it
over, the angel replies, Take it. John is required to reach forward and actu-
ally lift the book out of the angels hand. This is significant: these verses are
teaching us that God does not force His will on anyone. Man is commanded to
take Gods gifts, but God does not force them into mens hands. Man has to
reach forward and grasp them: And the voice which I heard from heaven
spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the
hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went
unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto
me, Take it, and eat it upAnd I took the little book out of the angels hand,
and ate it up (Rev 10:810).
Christ does not thrust the book into Johns hands: rather, he stretches out
his hands and commands, Take it. This is very revealing. This scene is an
iconic representation of the fact that the Word exists, but God is not going to
force feed it to anyone. Rather, people have free will and the choice to either
Pascal 91

obey or disobey Christs command, Take it. Those who are obedient will
receive many more gifts, the greatest of which is eventual theosis or union
with God. Take it, therefore, is a command, but man has the option of obedi-
ence or disobedience. The Gospel is available to the whole world, but men
must reach forward of their own free will and accept it.
Hence, we can now discern just how erroneous Pascals continual reitera-
tion that God withholds efficacious grace from those he has already
damned really is. His doctrine is antithetical to Christs words. The longer
that Pascal thought about the statements that he made, the more they must have
troubled him. Let us examine the following statements that contradict Christs
declaration that He came to minister unto sinners: We understand nothing of
the works of God, if we do not take as a principle that He has willed to blind
some, and enlighten others;
140
Jesus Christ does not say that He is not of
Nazareth, in order to leave the wicked in their blindness; nor that He is not
Josephs son;
141
Jesus Christ came to blind those who saw clearly, and to
give sight to the blind; to heal the sick, and leave the healthy to die; to call to
repentance, and to justify sinners, and to leave the righteous in their sins; to fill
the needy, and leave the rich empty;
142
There is sufficient clearness to
enlighten the elect, and sufficient obscurity to humble them. There is sufficient
obscurity to blind the reprobate, and sufficient clearness to condemn them, and
make them inexcusable. The genealogy of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament is
intermingled with so many others that are useless, that it cannot be distin-
guished. If Moses had kept only the record of the ancestors of Christ, that
might have been too plain.
143

These are all false assertions: quite to the contrary, Christ came to minister
unto all people, regardless of ethnicity, as all have sinned and have fallen short
of the glory of God. God does not force Himself on anyone. Man can willfully
separate himself from God. When this happens, God does not force Himself on
man.
Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, visited Jesus one night and they
discussed spiritual matters. Jesus taught him that in order to enter Heaven a
man must be born of water and of the Spirit; those that are born of the Spirit
are like the wind, no one knows where they go (John 3:58). Nicodemus was
incredulous and asked, How can this be? Christ responded, We speak that
we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I
have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell
you of heavenly things? (John 3:1112). That answers Pascals point Jesus
Christ does not say that He is not of Nazareth, in order to leave the wicked in
92 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

their blindness; nor that he is not Josephs son.
144
On the contrary, Christs
response to Nicodemus in John 3:1112 indicates that there is no point in ex-
plaining spiritual matters (ie: that He was born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of
Micah 5:2; that His heavenly parentage is also in fulfillment of Micah 5:2 and
Prov 30:4), to a man who rejects His earthly teachings.
In addition the NT recounts an instance in which a group of people, whose
hearts were hardened against Christ, entered the Temple and asked Him who
had given Him the authority to do the things He did (Mark 11:28). Christ re-
plied that He would also ask them one question, and after they answer, He
would tell them by what authority He performed His miracles. Christ asked
them, The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? (Mark 11:30).
They reasoned among themselves that if they replied, From heaven, He
would ask them why they did not believe him. Conversely, if they replied, Of
men, the populace would revolt against them because it regarded John as a
prophet. Therefore, they answered, We cannot tell. Jesus responded, Nei-
ther do I tell you by what authority I do these things (Mark 11:33).
There is a parallel here: Christs question implies that His authority, like
that of Johns baptism, comes from God. When He asked them the question,
He already knew, even before they entered the Temple, that they had chosen
separation from Him and that they did not want to surrender to His authority.
When they would not admit that Johns baptism was from God, they were pro-
fessing their rejection of Him. They preferred to maintain authority over them-
selves, rather than surrender to His. Since Christ had the ability to look into
their hearts and discern their choice to remain separate from Him, He let them
exercise their free will and have what they wanted. He did not press His au-
thority on them. It was up to them to submit to His authority. Here we see free
will. Christ did not force His will on theirs. They chose to reject Him even be-
fore they entered the Temple to question Him. He knew that and so He did not
bother to reveal Himself any more than He had already done. Again, His
words to Nicodemus are relevant here: ye receive not our witness. If I have
told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you
of heavenly things? (John 3:1112). He already knocked on their door many,
many times, by performing miracles in front of them.
In his Writings on Grace, Pascal expounds further on the notion that God
foists his will upon man by giving irresistible efficacious grace to those He
has selected to save and withholding it from those He has chosen to damn. Let
us expose Pascals heresies by the light of the Orthodox faith. Pascal declares,
It is also true that those who are damned certainly wished to commit the sins
Pascal 93

which merited their damnation, and that God too wished to condemn them.
145

The first clause may or may not be true, but the second is clearly false: Pascal
does not know what is in mens hearts, only God does; he does not know that
those who sin want to; they may be compulsive and cannot control themselves;
they may have learned bad habits under the influence of bad friends; perhaps
they sin from ignorance. He cannot truthfully say that everyone who sins
wants to. His statement is based on Augustines view that man is driven by his
passions and that his power of reasoning is subordinate to his passions. This is
based on the Latin mistranslation of Rom 5:12 that all men have inherited
Adams sin. Again, the original Greek says that men inherit Adams punish-
ment, which is death and disease, not his sin. The second clause, God too
wished to condemn them, is a lie. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God
wishes to condemn anyone. Rather, the contrary is true. Christ suffered a hor-
rific death on the Cross in our place for our transgressions: For God so loved
the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Grace is freely of-
fered to everyone. However, Gods Will (that all men obey) and His fore-
knowledge are two separate Divine Uncreated Energies, and hence, he imposes
His will on no one. He wants to save the sinner, but He will not abrogate
mans free will.
When men move towards God, God moves towards them. When people
search for God, they find Him. God does not wish to damn anyone. It is man
who chooses separation from God. Pascals heretical statement, God too
wished to condemn them is very clever and very nuanced. Carried to its logi-
cal conclusion, one would determine that there is no point in trying to save
anyone, nullifying the Great Commission. The longer that Pascal thought
about the statements that he made, the more they must have troubled him. How
could a just and loving God elect people for damnation? The answer is that He
does not: having been made in the image of God, men have free will. It is the
choices that they make in the future that determine Gods foreknowledge, not
the other way around.
He goes on to introduce a Jansenist heresy: to achieve the salvation of man
after the fall, God sent Jesus Christ for the salvation of those only whom he
chose and predestined amongst that body. That it was only for their salvation
that Jesus Christ died, and the others, for whose salvation he did not die, have
not been spared universal and just damnation.
146
Here Pascal articulates the
heresy that God chooses men for salvation or damnation. He declares that
amid this mass population of people worthy of eternal death, he has selected
94 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

certain individuals that would stand apart from the rest: However, it pleased
God to choose, elect, and distinguish from within this equally corrupt mass, in
which he saw only wickedness, a number of peopleGod distinguished his
elect from the others for reasons unknown to men and angels through pure
mercifulness and without any merit.
147

Pascals thesis is based on the Latin mistranslation of Rom 5:12 from the
original Greek and the subsequent erroneous corollaries that have persisted for
two millennia in the West: that all men inherit Adams sin and that therefore,
even unborn and newly born babies are meritorious of eternal damnation.
Given his erroneous premise that all have sinned in Adam, all subsequent
suppositions must necessarily be flawed. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that
God expressly wants certain men to reject Him, disobey Him, turn away from
Him, to go their own way, seek material wealth, to go after idols. Nowhere in
the Bible does it say that God chooses people for damnation. Pascals heretical
stance becomes more pronounced in the material that follows.
He goes on to discuss the doctrine of Saint Augustine at length. The reader
is led to believe that this is a moderate, middle of the road philosophy that Pas-
cal is promulgating. At this point Pascal declares and then continually reiter-
ates the heresy that God arbitrarily chooses people for salvation or damnation
by either giving them irresistible efficacious grace or withholding it from
them. The heresy is this: With the result that men are saved or damned ac-
cording to whether it pleased God to choose them to be given His grace
amongst the corrupt mass of men in which he could justly abandon them
all.
148

In order to be saved, one needs to be given the gift of grace. Thus we have
a vicious cycle: man receives grace by reading Scripture, but in order to under-
stand Scripture, he needs grace. This vicious cycle does not exist in Orthodox
theology. On the contrary, the Orthodox Church teaches that grace if freely
offered to all and man has the free will to accept it or reject it. Hence, man and
God are coworkers (synergoi) together (1 Cor 3:9).
What the Critics Say
Pierre Force, in The Hermeneutical Problem in Pascals Writing (Le Problme
hermneutique chez Pascal), points out the vicious cycle intrinsic to Augustin-
ian grace. A person needs grace to understand the Bible, but he needs to under-
stand the Bible in order to believe. Force summarizes the hermeneutical
problem in Pascals writing thus: a person looks for enlightenment by reading
Pascal 95

the Bible, but he will understand what he reads only when he has been already
given the gift of grace by God. It is a cycle out of which there is no escape:
The hermeneutical problem lies at the heart of Pascalian apologetics. As an
apologist for the Christian religion, Pascal is looking for a cause to have faith.
He finds this cause in Scripture. It is in the sacred texts that God speaks to man
and gives him reasons to believe. However, the divine nature of the texts be-
comes visible only to those who already believe. Faith refers to Scripture and
Scripture refers to faith, in a circular motion that does not release the apologist
from being entangled. Such is, at any rate, the way that modern interpreters of
Pascal, from M.J. Lagrange up to Philippe Sellier, pose the problem of the ba-
sis of religion. Knowledge of God through scripture seems in fact not to be
able to escape from the vicious circle that characterizes, according to Heideg-
ger, the rational understanding of every text
149

Force explains that Pascals method of converting the skeptic is to place
him in the position of reading the Scriptures in order to interpret them.
150

Therefore, the first step is to expose the person to the Bible. The next step is to
get him to see that there is a hidden meaning beneath the surface meaning.
Once the reader understands that, he will see that the prophecies in the OT
were fulfilled in the NT and extrapolate that the fact that one man fulfilled
hundreds of prophecies falls outside the realm of chance, coincidence or statis-
tical probability. Pascal says: Proofs of the two Testaments at once.To
prove the two at one stroke, one need only see if the prophecies in one are ful-
filled in the other. To examine the prophecies, we must understand them. For if
we believe that they have only one meaning, it is certain that the Messiah has
not come; but if they have two meanings, it is certain that He has come in Je-
sus Christ. The whole problem then is to know if they have two meanings.
151

Pascal demonstrates that the most that the Christian apologist can do is to put
the skeptic in the position of reading the Bible and then pray that God will do
the rest.
Ben Rogers, in Pascal, agrees that Pascal used reason to pique the curios-
ity and appeal to the intellect of the skeptic until God could take the reins of
his heart. Pascal believed that the heart has reasons that reason does not know.
His goal then, was to appeal to the skeptics mind until God takes control of
the heart: Pascal is sometimes described as fideistsomeone who believes
that religion is a matter of blind faith rather than reasoned beliefBut it
should be clear that Pascal did not reject reason. On the contrary, his fragments
offer arguments for believing in the truth of the Bible and putting ones trust in
God; ultimately we come to religious faith through a movement of the heart,
96 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

but to those who do not have it, we can only give such faith through reasoning,
until God gives it by moving their heart (110).
152

Pierre Force, in Self-Interest before Adam Smith: A Genealogy of Eco-
nomic Science, points out that for both Augustine and Pascal, human beings
are motivated by pleasure. After the fall, Adams power of reason became sub-
servient to his passions. Therefore, man will always be ruled by this quest for
pleasure. Augustine extrapolated that human beings will always be motivated
by pleasure and that people follow God because His lessons are a pleasure to
learn.
153
Force cites Augustine: Lead us behind you; let us follow the sweet
smell of your perfumesbeing led on by ones will is not much, if one is not
also led on by pleasure. What is it to be led on by pleasure? It is finding ones
pleasure in GodIf the poet could say, Each is led on by his own pleasure Not
necessity, but pleasure, not obligation, but enjoyment; how much more
strongly shall humans be led on towards Christ, in whom one enjoys truth,
happiness, and justice?Show a green branch to a sheep, and it will follow
you; show walnuts to a child, and he will follow you. If it is true that everyone
is led on by his own pleasure, wont they follow Christ revealed by the Fa-
ther?This is how the Father attracts us: his lessons are a pleasure to learn.
154

Force advises that Pascal uses this quote to explain the mechanics of effi-
cacious grace. Force states, In his Writings on Grace, Pascal uses the Au-
gustine quote to explain why Gods grace never fails to move those who
receive it. The power of grace is comparable, on a spiritual level, to the power
a green branch exerts on a sheep, or a bunch of walnuts on a child. It is abso-
lute, because we never fail to choose what pleases us most.
155
Force cites Pas-
cal, who said, Is there anything more evident than the proposition that we
always do what delights us most? In other words, we always do what we like
best, or we always will what pleases us, or we always will what we will, and in
the current, fallen state of our soul, it is inconceivable that the soul could will
something other than what it likes to will, i.e. what delights it most.
156
Force
adds, Elsewhere, Pascal claims that pleasure is the coin for which we will
give others all they want.
157

In The Art of Persuasion, Pascal maintains that before the fall, Adam had
control over his power of reason. However, after the fall, Adam became irra-
tional and his power of reasoning became subservient to pleasure. Pascal
opines, we believe almost only in the things we like. Hence, our estrange-
ment from consenting to the truths of the Christian religion which are quite
contrary to our pleasures. Tell us the things we like and we will listen to you
(Adapted, Exod. 20:19), the Jews said to Moses, as if pleasure should regulate
Pascal 97

belief! So it is to punish this disorder by an order true to himself that God sows
his illumination in peoples minds only after quelling the rebellion of will by a
totally heavenly sweetness which delights and overwhelms it.
158

Force also discusses Pascals wager. Many believe that Pascal wrote the
wager in order to appeal to the intellect of the skeptic and bring him to Christ.
However, Force contends that the wager was not intended to convince anyone.
He points out that wishing that something is true is not the same as knowing
that it is.
159
The purpose of the wager is to show that it is rational to bet that
God exists. If the skeptic argues that he cannot believe, Pascal would retort, If
you are unable to believe, it is because of your passions
160
and Since reason
impels you to believe and yet you cannot do so, concentrate then not on con-
vincing yourself by multiplying proofs of Gods existence but by diminishing
your passions.
161

In other words, Pascal succeeds in proving that it is rational to bet that God
exists. However, people do not want to give up the world and its pleasures for
a bet. They are slaves to the flesh and worldly pursuits. These are the obstacles
in their way. Pascal teaches that if the skeptic can diminish his passions, that
is, bring himself to the point where the flesh and worldly pursuits will lose
their hold on him, then he can be rational and bet that God exists and live the
requisite lifestyle.
It is interesting that Pascal points out the importance of diminishing ones
passions in order to get closer to God. There is a parallel point of view in East-
ern Orthodox theology. The Philokalia advises that the way out of bondage to
the flesh is fasting, continual prayer, and by cleaning out the rubbish from
ones mind (ie: anger, doubting, greed, and jealousy). However, theosis comes
through grace, not through works. The monks perform the works, God sees the
works that they will do in the future, and gives grace based on foreknowledge
of the future. Again, mans will and Gods will are intimately intertwined.
Leszek Kolakowski deems that Pascal was a heretic in his doctrine, even
though the Church never declared him to be one; that Pascal concurs with Jan-
senius and Arnauld on the notion of efficient grace.
162
Kolakowski concludes,
thereforeeven though Pascal does not say so in so many wordsthat the
Jansenists differ from the Calvinists insofar as the status of Adam is con-
cerned, but agree on the subsequent condition of mankind and on efficient
grace.
163

Kolakowski agrees with Force that Pascal puts himself in the skeptics
shoes and articulates the doubters view of the world, his concerns: First, to
be effective, a defense of religion must examine and recognize the state of
98 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

mind of the people whom it is supposed to convince. The author has to step
into the shoes of his addressee, to take, at least provisionally, his standpoint,
his interest.
164

To convince the skeptic Pascal points to prophecies and miracles as the
greatest proofs of Christ. However, Pascal embellishes on the fact that the OT
contains hundreds of Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled in Christ. Pascal
points out that not only were they fulfilled in Christ, but the prophecies them-
selves were announced in a veiled way so that only the elect would understand
them. Again, Pascal is promulgating the heresy that God wills to hide Himself
from select individuals and that He elects the damned. Kolakowski advises:
the dominant theme of the Penses: the hidden God. God discloses himself in part
and conceals himself in part, and this is just. The prophecies, conforming to the same
order of things, both enlighten and blind: they are understood unhesitatingly by those
who are pure in heart and they portent doom to obdurate sinners. This is indeed both a
Jansenist and a Calvinist principle: there is enough clarity to enlighten the elect and
enough obscurity to humiliate them. There is enough obscurity to blind the reproved
and enough clarity to condemn and leave them without excuse (B578/L236/S268).
Calvin said the same: however little natural light can instruct us about God, it is just
sufficient for the damnation of the damned. That this is so Scripture itself proves to
Pascal: prophecies should be unintelligible to the impious [Dan. 12, Hosea Ult. 10]
but intelligible to those who are well instructed (B727/L487/S734).
No doubt there are many similar warnings in the Scriptures to the effect that
Gods children listen to, and understand, his words, but others do not.
This leads us back to the same perplexing question: natural light is sufficient to
believe in God, but in order to see this you have first to be elected, and to believe.
165

It is a great shame that Pascal concluded that miracles do not convince anyone,
but rather they serve to condemn unbelievers. Kolakowski observes this and he
points it out, advising that Pascal teaches that miracles are not for converting
people but for condemning them (B825/L379/S411). This clearly suggests
what was said about prophecies: miracles are good enough to deprive the un-
believers of an excuse but not good enough to convert them. Like prophecies,
miracles and other proofs are not absolutely convincing, but one cannot say
that to believe them is to be unreasonable. They have enough light to enlighten
some and enough obscurity to blind others. It is not reason that might induce
people not to follow what is obvious in them, therefore it must be concupis-
cence and viciousness of heart. They show that those who follow [these ob-
vious signs] do so by grace and not by reason, and those who run away [from
them] do so by concupiscence and not by reason (B564/L835/S423).
166

Hence, the elect recognize miracles and the fulfillment of prophecy because
Pascal 99

they have been given grace and the non-elect are repelled by them because of
their passions. This is unscriptural and pure heresy.
Pascal also discusses the importance that the heart plays in salvation: God
speaks to the elect in their hearts. Until God reveals Himself in the skeptics
heart, the Christian apologist must try to appeal to his reason. Kolakowski cites
Pascal: therefore those to whom God gave religion by the feeling in their
hearts are blessed and legitimately convinced, but to those who do not have it
we can give it only by reasoning and wait until God gives it to them by the
feeling in their hearts, without which faith in only human and useless for salva-
tion (B282/L110/S142).
167
Kolakowski advises, It appears that to know God
by feeling in ones heart is the same as having faith in the proper sense, that
is, receiving the supernatural gift of grace.
168
In addition, Pascal establishes
that the heart, which one might also call instinct, also grasps certain princi-
ples such as space, time, movement, and number. The heart grasps the notion
of the dimensions of length, width and height, number and all kinds of mathe-
matical abstractions. Since the heart and instinct are the same, if the Christian
apologist can show the skeptic that the fact that Christ fulfilled hundreds of
Messianic prophecies is beyond the realm of statistical probability, the instinct
or intuition would be able to grasp that. Similarly, miracles such as that of the
Holy Thorn, is physical proof that God exists and that He heals. Hence, when
Pascal uses prophecies and miracles to appeal to the intellect, he is really strik-
ing at intuition, common sense, or the heart.
Other critics have observed and commented on the fact that it is a tragedy
that the Jansenist belief system cost Pascal everything that he loved in lifehe
abandoned his natural talents in mathematics and science because he thought
that these subjects were sinful. The harsh Jansenist theology that he continu-
ously imbibed caused him to turn away from the greatest interests in his life,
from the things that kept him occupied and distracted him from his illness and
physical pain. Critics have noticed this and have commented on the tragic con-
sequences that Jansenism had on one of its most faithful defenders.
Connor elucidates on the great price that Pascals conversion to Jansenism
cost him. By reading Saint-Cyrans Reformation of the Interior Man (Rforma-
tion de lhomme intrieur), Pascal learned all about Cornelius Jansenius inter-
pretation of Scripture. What struck him was that Jansenius anathematized
science and mathematics, the two fields that Pascal loved the most and gave
him the most pleasure in an otherwise miserable existence. Unfortunately, Pas-
cal was led to believe that the sciences were evil and that he had to renounce
them for Christ.
100 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Connor says, There was much that troubled Blaise in Saint-Cyrans
bookas much as what excited him. In one passage, he read that Jansenius
believed that scientific curiosity was nothing more than another kind of sexual
indulgence, and this agonized him. Suddenly, the thing that had given Blaise
his identity, his greatest joy in life of pain, had become a wickedness. How
could he seek the salvation of the soul under these conditions? How much of
himself would he have to give up? Everything, it seemed. A shadow fell on his
spirit that would never lift.
169

Anthony Levi also notices the tragic consequences of Pascals conversion
to Jansenism. Levi brilliantly establishes a causality between the fact that Pas-
cal left his Penses unfinished, and the futility of trying to save anyone that is
intrinsic to Jansenism. Levi hypothesizes that continually focusing on and ar-
guing on behalf of the doctrine of election, which was an essential point in
Thoughts may have, ironically, caused Pascal to give up on trying to save the
skeptic: It now seems clear that the project to write an apologetic was not
abandoned for reasons of health, as is still often assumed, and even that, on
Pascals own premises, the intended apologetic could have served no purpose,
but we have no clear indication from his pen of why he gave upPascal be-
lieved that without Christian belief and practice the individuals fate was cer-
tainly eternal damnation, but, if salvation was Gods gratuitous gift to a
minority of chosen human souls, how could any moral act, and in particular
any freely chosen commitment of belief or behavior, affect the individuals
eternal destiny?
170

The futility of trying to save the non-elect may be one reason that Pascal
left Thoughts unfinished. There is another reason that Levi also considers: per-
haps Pascal, himself, questioned the rigid belief system that people are des-
tined for non-election through no fault of their own. Levi says, the apologetic
remained unwritten, and it is perfectly possible that in late 1661 Pascal was
uncertain about how far he was prepared to allow his theological commitment
to go in the fact of the religious realities he had to envisage, including the un-
ceasing pain of the damned on account of no personal choice of their own.
171

Hence, Pascals abandonment of Thoughts may have been the result of
where heresy leads: he embraced the lies that man does not have free will and
that God chooses people for destruction. Perhaps that is why he gave up on his
goal of using the talents that God had given him to carry out the Great Com-
mission. What a tragedy.
However, not all critics believe that Pascal deliberately abandoned his
apologetic work. Some feel that Pascal was able to reconcile Augustinian elec-
Pascal 101

tion with the Great Commission. One is led to ask why, if he believed in the
election of the damned, Pascal even bothered to posit a wager as a means to
entice skeptics to come to Christ. If he believed that people are predestined to
doubt, a wager would be pointless. One would also ask why he worked so hard
on a book of considerable length in a quest to win souls for Christ. Harold
Bloom, in Pascal, has the answer: Pascal acknowledged that the names in the
Book of Life are known only to God. Therefore, it is the duty of every Chris-
tian to try to save people as long as there is a breath of life in them, and to
leave the rest to God. Harold Bloom cites Pascal:
That all men in this world are compelled, under pain of eternal damnation
and of the sin against the Holy Ghost for which there is no forgiveness either
in this world or the next, to believe that they belong to the small number of
the elect for whose salvation Christ died; and that they should, moreover,
believe the same thing about each man and every man who is now on this
earth, however wicked and impious he may be; and that for as long as he
still has a moment of life; and that all men should leave the distinction be-
tween the Elect and the Reprobate as part of the impenetrable secret of God.
And in a highly significant variant, Pascal adds that:
All men are compelled to believe, but with a belief mingled with fear and
not accompanied by certainty, that they belong to the small number of the
Elect whom Jesus Christ wishes to save; and that they should never place
any man now alive, however wicked and impious he may be, for as long as
he has a moment of life, elsewhere than in the ranks of those He destined,
leaving the distinction between the Elect and the Reprobate as part of the
impenetrable secret of God. And that they should therefore do for their fel-
lows everything which can contribute to their salvation.
There is thus no contradiction at all between Pascals complete acceptance of the Au-
gustinian theories on Grace and Predestination and the fact that he acted as if every
man could be saved, doing everything possible to contribute to his salvation (in spite
of the fact that, in the final analysis, this depends solely upon the Will of God).
172

Hence, Bloom reconciles Pascals predeterminist theology with his effort to
save souls by pointing out Pascals belief that it is the duty of every Christian
to regard all men as saved as long as they are alive. One wonders, however,
how much time Pascal must have spent ruminating about the fact that Jansen-
ism is a affront to reason, Gods goodness, Gods justice, Gods love, and
Gods mercy.
In summation, we have seen that Pascals notion of double predestination
is based on many errors: on the Latin Vulgates mistranslation of Rom 5:12
102 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

from the original Greek text and on a misinterpretation of Rom 8:29. The Au-
gustinians mistakenly held that Gods foreknowledge determines the future,
that He chooses to whom He will impart saving grace and to whom He will
withhold it before man has had a chance to act.
Fortunately, the Orthodox Church, uninfluenced by Augustine, is present
in the world and teaches that mans purpose is to achieve theosis, or union with
God. Faith is the first step on a ladder that leads to conformity to the image of
Christ. Hence, it becomes evident that the notion of irresistible efficacious
grace is diametrically antithetical to the fact that God wants people to be
Christ-like, which means obedient to the Father of their own free will, as was
Christ when He walked among us and as He is today. It is Gods intention that
the Kingdom of Heaven be filled with many of His children, of whom Christ is
the first among many brethren. This means people who are willing to be in-
struments by which Gods will is realized. Orthodoxy points out that imparting
or withholding grace without the cooperation of man results in robots or slaves
that are not made in Gods image because they do not have free will
Minatios brings our attention critical biblical verses that show that the fu-
ture is not sealed, but rather, is fluid.
173
His first example recounts Pauls voy-
age to Italy when he was held captive. A turbulent storm arose at sea, but God
sent an angel to tell Paul, Fear not, PaulGod hath given thee all them that
sail with thee (Acts 27:24). This meant that for the crewmen to be saved, they
had to remain in the boat with Paul. However, they had the free will to stay or
jump ship. If any of the sailors decided to jump into the water, he did not have
the protection of God. Minatios says, Does Gods destination change? Yes, it
can be no other way. Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
174

In Minatios second example, King Hezekiah becomes sick. The prophet
Isaiah tells Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou
shalt die, and not live (2 King 20:1). When Hezekiah turns his face to the
wall, sighs, cries, and pleads, God takes pity on him and decides not only that
he will live, but He even grants him fifteen years of life: I have heard thy
prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal theeAnd I will add unto thy
days fifteen years (2 Ki 20:56). The future is fluid. Minatios extrapolates,
The future does not flow from foreknowledge, but foreknowledge from the
future.
In a third example, Jeremiah goes to a potters house and he sees the potter
drop a pot that he had been working on. The form of the pot becomes distorted
and the pot is ruined. However, the potter picks it up and starts to rework it and
make it like new. God tells Jeremiah, Behold, as the clay is in the potters
Pascal 103

hand, so are ye in mine hand (Jer 18:6). This is another example of the fact
that things can change at any moment, given the fact that man has 100% free
will 100% of the time.
Therefore, Orthodoxy teaches that the future determines Gods foreknowl-
edge; the future is fluid: it is based on mans free will and is subject to change
from moment to moment. As soon as man takes a step towards God, God
reaches out to Him.
This fits in perfectly with Gods plan for mans theosis. God wants beings
in Heaven who choose to be with Him, not separate from Him, who trust His
judgment and want to align their will with His, not rebel against Him. The Bi-
ble says, I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most
High (Ps 82:6, John 10:34). Peter implores us to become partakers of the
divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). The Philokalia advises that the way to do this is by
continual prayer and fasting, silence, embracing the notion of death rather than
fearing it, and cleaning out the heart of anger, desire, greed, jealousy, and un-
forgiveness. When men believe, God gives them the grace to achieve more, as
they strive harder to achieve theosis.
Orthodoxy also points out the difference among Gods Uncreated Divine
Energies. Each of His Energies are separate and distinct from one another.
Gods will is separate and distinct from His foreknowledge. God wills that all
obey, but He does not compel anyone to do so. He foreknows that evil will
exist, but He does not will that it exist. He does not impose His will on men.
His foreknowledge is based on the future: The future is fluid and subject to
change; it is based on mans free will.

Chapter Four
Diderot









Man is born for society; separate him, isolate him, his ideas will become disjoined, his
character will change, a thousand ridiculous affections will arise in his heart
1

Denis Diderot, The Nun (1760)
In the article Will [Volont] (1765) that Diderot penned for the great En-
cyclopedia, he makes an argument for hard determinism. As a proponent of
Lockean epistemology, he holds that all knowledge is derived from the five
senses; following in the footsteps of the materialists of his time (Maupertuis,
La Mettrie, dHolbach, and Helvtius), he takes the position that every choice
we make is based solely on cause and effect. In Will he employs phraseol-
ogy such as effect of the impressionto our senses, that we are familiar
with, conditioned, swept away by the impression, and chain of causes
and effects of which we are a part. Our cognitive processes and therefore, the
choices we make, must necessarily be determined by our physical organiza-
tion, five senses, and the effects of environment and heredity. He begins by
defining will:
It is the effect of the impression of an object present to our senses or our thought, so
that consequently we are completely drawn towards this object as we would be to-
wards something good that we are familiar with, and which stimulates our desire for it,
or we are repulsed by it as we would be by something bad that we are also familiar
with, and which stimulates our fear and dislike. There is also always an object in the
act of willing; for when we want, we want something: with regard to this object, a fear
or a stimulated desire. From there it follows that we take willing for freedom at every
moment. Let us suppose that there were 100,000 men all conditioned absolutely the
same way, and one were to present them all with the same object of desire or aversion,
they would all desire it, and all in the same way, or else they would all reject it, and all
in the same way. There is no difference between the will of madmen and men in their
right mind, of the man who lays awake at night and the dreamer, of the sick man who
Diderot 105

has a high fever and the man who enjoys the most perfect health, of the peaceful man
and the impassioned man, of the one who is dragged off to the rack and the one who
marches there fearlessly. They are all likewise completely swept away by the impres-
sion of an object that attracts or repels them. If they suddenly want the opposite of
what they had wanted, it is because an atom has fallen on the arm of the scales that
made it lean to the opposite side. We do not know what we want when the two arms
are almost equally loaded. If we carefully weigh these considerations, we will know
how difficult it is to arrive at any sort of notion of freedom, above all in a chain of
causes and effects such as that of which we are a part.
2

It is fitting that the paragraph begins with the demonstrative pronoun ce [it,
that], followed by tre [is] in the present tense. The first two words, it is
[cest] places volition squarely in the present moment. Also in the present
tense are the words or phrases we are drawn to [nous sommes ports],, we
are familiar with [nous avons la connoissance], stimulates [excite] (2x),
we are repulsed [nous sommes loigns], and we are also familiar [nous
connoissons aussi]. His argument will be that what we choose is continually
subject to change as sensory input changes. Therefore, he places the demon-
strative pronoun ce, which points to volition, at the very beginning of the text,
and succeeds it with tre, to hyperbolize that the phenomenon of free will is
something that exists in the present moment.
What immediately follows and constitutes the remainder of the first clause
of Diderots definition of human will (the effect of an impression of an
object present to our senses or our thought) is a purely Lockean statement,
replete with Lockean terms such as effect, impression, object, senses,
and thought. In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke
holds that all knowledge is acquired through the five senses. John W. Yolton
summarizes Lockes view that sensory perceptions are carried to the brain via
the nervous system and that the end result is consciousness and thought: The
corpuscular theory of matterthat matter consists of tiny insensible particles,
which cannot be perceived as discrete entitiesformulated by Robert Boyle
and others was accepted by Locke. That theory said that the motion and im-
pulse of tiny particles striking our sense organs cause motions in our nerves
and brain. The brain is the last stage of the physical process of perception. At
that point, the attentive mind finds ideas in its consciousnessAll ideas capa-
ble of being in consciousness were derived, Locke said, from experience, ei-
ther from external sensory experience of objects or from internal, introspective
experience.
3

106 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Richard I. Aaron elaborates by highlighting Lockes notion that ideas are


objects before the mind:
Knowledge of the world began in sense perception, and self-knowledge in introspec-
tion, or reflection in Lockes languageIn Book II of his Essay he begins by claim-
ing that the sources of all knowledge are sense experience and reflectionthey
provide the mind with the material of knowledge. Locke calls the material so provided
ideas. Ideas are object before the mind, in the sense not that they are physical ob-
jects but that they represent them. Locke distinguishes ideas that represent actual quali-
ties of objects (such as size, shape, or weight) from ideas that represent perceived
qualities, which do not exist in objects except as they affect observers (such as colour,
taste, or smell). Locke designates the former primary qualities and the latter secondary
qualities.
Locke proceeds to group and classify the ideas, with a view to showing that the
origin of all of them lies in sensation and reflection. Although ideas are immediately
before the mind, not all of them are simple. Many of them are compounded, and
their simple parts can be revealed on analysis.
4

Since the impressions of external objects on our senses directly impact cogni-
tion and knowledge, Diderot extrapolates that they must also impact what we
will. It is significant that he places this action in the nowan object present
to our senses: because what we will at any given moment depends on cur-
rently received stimuli, volition is subject to change from moment to moment.
He advises that we are attracted to things that we perceive as good [un
bien] and with which we are familiar. This evokes Aristotles definition of
good [kalon] as being that which is honorable, useful, or pleasurable. Thus we
can broadly translate bien as advantageous, since the nature of the object and
circumstances dictate whether it is honorable, useful or pleasurable. The de-
terministic factor of familiarity (with which we are familiar) is key because
this attraction can take place only because of memory. If we had a positive
experience in the past with a given object and associate it with the present
stimulus, we expect to have a positive experience again.
The converse of good [bien] is bad [mal] and Diderot recognizes that not
all past experiences have been positive. He employs to be familiar with
[connotre] twice (dont nous avons la connoissance and que nous connoissons
aussi) and it is key herewhat we will in the present is based on the memory
of past experience; memory permits us to place an object or event in perspec-
tive, make a comparison, choose among possibilities, and decide what we will.
Man is a complex animal-machine whose environment and conditioning
determine his reactions to stimuli, whether they be desire or aversion: if
100,000 men were conditioned in absolutely the same way, they would re-
Diderot 107

spond identically to the same stimulus. It is significant that he employs the


term condition [conditioner]. In the 18
th
century dictionary the primary defi-
nition of to condition was To make something with the requisite properties.
If you want to have a good market for your cloths, you need to condition them
better.
5

In the Encyclopedia Diderot authored the article Condition (Commerce),
defining the term thus: To give merchandise all the necessary workmanship
to make it saleable; there is also another meaning, it is taken to mean certain
arbitrary workmanship that is given to merchandise only when it is on the
point of being delivered, & the buyer requires this work. It is also synonymous
with matching things together on certain occasions. One says, To dry silk.
See Silk.
6

By employing to condition, Diderot reduces humans to material objects
that are subject to the vicissitudes of their environment and the interventions of
other humans, in particular. We leave indelible imprints on each others psyche
just as we dry silk or season wood.
What we will is based on measurable, quantifiable deterministic factors:
when the deciding factors are equal, we are torn and indecisive; if one atom
falls on the scale, the balance tips to one side and we change our minds. In the
last sentence of the article Diderot posits that in order to fully understand and
be able to predict the choices that a complex animal-machine such as man will
make, it is necessary to have access to the entire long chain of causes and ef-
fects that precede his decision. Thus free will does not exist, our choices are
not choices at all, but merely the results of what has transpired in the past.
Although Diderot was a determinist, he felt strongly that society could be
improved through free and universal public education and by abolishing prac-
tices that he viewed as being contrary to natural law, such as forced celibacy
among clerics and monastics. He used his diverse writingsnovels, political
treatises, and encyclopedic articlesas a platform to vociferously oppose the
injustices of his time. Through education and the advancement of the arts and
sciences, society would move forward and as it did, the individual would have
more favorable, more humane deterministic factors to influence his decisions
and he would be happier.
The Nun
Diderot illustrates the causality between deterministic factors and what we will
in his novels by painting portraits of characters who make choices that are
108 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

based solely on their heredity, tragic past, and pitiable circumstances. For ex-
ample, in The Nun (1760), Suzannes third mother superior, Madame*** of
Sainte-Eutrope dArpajon, is clearly a product of heredity and/or environment.
Diderot lets the reader decide the ratio of each that has contributed to Ma-
dames pathetic outcome. She does not look normal, she does not carry herself
as a normal adult, and she is extraordinarily manipulative, aggressive, and
hypersexual. We wonder how free her will actually is, given the fact that so
much is wrong with her and that she has been thrown into a closed environ-
ment of forced celibacy. By the end of the novel, the reader understands that
all of the characters are the unfortunate products of cause and effect.
Madame***, like Mme de Moni, searches for her identity in other women
and finds herself hurtling towards death as a result of it. Let us begin with her
name: she does not have oneshe is Madame***. This is curious, as most
people do have names. The reader will soon understand that this poor soul has
no name because she has no self and is completely dependent on others for
self-definition. She surrounds herself with beautiful young nuns; they are her
false mirrors; they represent the fragments of her broken personality; and she
deludes herself into thinking that she is whole only when she has the reflection
of the other in which to gaze.
Moreover, when Diderot describes Madame***, he does so with the acute,
cool and dispassionate eye of the Montpellier physicians with whom he asso-
ciated and from whom he learned. First he makes a notation about her face:
her face is more agreeable than not [sa figure est plutt bien que mal]. Then
he describes the way that she carries herself and it becomes evident that she
has no concept of femininity at all: there is a disconnect between her agreeable
looks and her comportment. She walks and behaves in an awkward, disjointed
manner. Again, here we have Diderot, the doctor-philosopher [mdecin-
philosophe], who spent hours pouring over medical literature, and who sought
to record the symptomology with utmost care: Madames right eye is higher
and larger than her left one.
7
This is anatomically correct, as eyes are never
exactly the same size or exactly aligned on the face. Then he quickly jots down
what he sees of the inner man: her eyes are full of fire and yet far away.
8

Diderot describes a few more physical features and then assesses that this
patient is definitely divorced from herself: she is a short woman and quite
round;
9
she has a double chin;
10
her head is never straight on her shoul-
ders;
11
there is always something wrong with her clothing;
12
when she
walks she swings her arms forwards and backwards.
13
This is the way that
small children walk: when toddlers take a stroll outdoors with their parents,
Diderot 109

they will frequently march, swinging their arms back and forth. At this early
stage, they are learning to walk and they are gaining command of their abili-
ties. It is something children do, not adults.
To make matters worse, her mouth is disconnected from her brain, as is
the rest of her anatomy: Does she want to speak? She opens her mouth, be-
fore having sorted out her ideas; she also stutters a little;
14
Is she sitting
down? She wiggles around in her armchair as if something were bothering
her;
15
She forgets every manner of decorum; she raises her wimple to scratch
her skin; she crosses her legs; she asks you a question; you answer her and she
does not listen to you; she speaks to you, she loses her train of thought, she
stops short, no longer knows where she is, becomes angry, and calls you a
great beast, stupid, imbecile, if you do not put her back on track.
16
The
lengthy description of her foibles hyperbolizes the fact that this woman is
alienated from herself. Therefore, the painstaking recordation of symptoms,
providing evidence of her pathology, concurs with the fact that she is given no
name: both symptomology and anonymity are iconic representations of the
death of self and the need to be filled with the self of the other.
Madame*** is the classic narcissist: she is unpredictable, capricious, in-
consistent, irrational. This unpredictability serves to destroy the world view of
those around her and so they become dependent on her, on the next unpredict-
able twist and turn she takes, her next shim, her next outburst.
In the paragraph in which we first meet Madame, we wonder whether her
behavior is a result of nervousness in a public setting or whether it is a means
of manipulating others. After we read the novel through the first time, we real-
ize that Diderot has provided all of the clues that we have a classic narcissist:
Madame forces people to watch her and hang on her every word. If she wants
to speak, she opens her mouth before sorting out her ideas, and thus forces
people to watch her and wait for her to finish the sentence; thus she commands
the undivided attention of the other. Madame does not have a speech impedi-
ment; she has lost the boundary between self and other; that is why she expects
others to finish off her sentences; she is the great beast, stupid, imbecile, when
others do not put her back on track.
There are also other ways that this narcissist gets attention: she squirms in
her chair, lifts her wimple to scratch, and asks questions to get attentionnot
informationas she does not listen when the other answers. She commands
attention by surprising the othershe loses the thread of what she was saying
and becomes insulting when the other does not set her straight. This is the ul-
timate in narcissism: she expects others to finish off her sentences for her.
110 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

It is significant that old married couples, after thirty years of marriage,


may finish off each others sentences. This is a sign of intimate knowledge of
the other. After multiple readings of the novel (and many are required, though
it seems that one is always picking up new details and never reaches a com-
plete understanding), it may be that this is a sign that her lovers finish off her
sentences for her. The closed quarters of the cloister and the intimate involve-
ment among the nuns would suggest that her lovers finish off her sentences for
her and she, being the narcissist and codependent that she is, expects it and
becomes indignant when they fail to do so.
She maintains control via enforced chaosthis keeps others off balance
and confused so that she dominates: also order and disorder succeeded one
another in the house; there were days when everything was in a state of confu-
sion, pensioners with novices, novices with nuns; when we ran in and out of
each others rooms; when tea, coffee, chocolate, and liqueurs were taken to-
gether; when the daily worship service was conducted with the most indecent
rapidity.
17
Then, in the same sentence, Diderot provides a surprise: this pure
bedlam, this enforced lunacy, is suddenly succeeded by a dramatic shift
staunch order, followed by abject silence: in the middle of this confusion
the superiors face suddenly changes, the bell rings; we shut ourselves in, we
retire, the most profound silence follows the noise, cries and tumult, and one
would think that everything suddenly died.
18
She enforces total control by
quickly switching activities, mood, rules: one moment there is freedom, the
next, institutionalized imprisonment. This is classic narcissism: unpredictabil-
ity is the arch tool of domination and control. We wonder which nun it is who
tolls the bellit must be someone very close to Mother, someone who caters
to her every whim: it must be one of her alter egos.
Just as the spider is aware of the slightest disturbance in its web, just as the
brain controls every organ in the body, so the head of the convent controls
every individual therein. However, the head of this convent is flawed and
therefore, the individuals she controls are in disarray, confusion, panic, hys-
teria, and frenzy.
The moment that the convent becomes rock silent, Mother proceeds to the
next narcissistic tool of manipulation: she uses punishment as an excuse to
humiliate, invade privacy, undress, fondle, and dominate: Is a nun remiss in
the smallest detail? She summons her to her cell, treats her with severity, or-
ders her to undress and give herself twenty disciplinary lashes of the whip.
19

Because the rules of the game are continually in flux, any nun might be found
to be remiss and ordered to strip naked in front of the voyeur. Then the S & M
Diderot 111

begins, but does not last long, because it is merely an entre to fondling and
kissing the penitent all over her body. Madame*** identifies with her victim:
she herself, is short, fat, and devoid of any sense of self, and so she undresses
nuns so that she can identify with them and experience life vicariously through
them. The reader assumes that she selects pretty people to undress, not ugly
ones. Suzanne tells the reader, You are very uncomfortable with women like
that; you never know what will please or displease them, what you must do or
avoid; nothing is regulated
20
And so, the narcissist is in complete command
by keeping others guessing and mystified.
Twice a year she goes from cell to cell, confiscates liquor and throws it out
of the window. Four days later she sends for more and distributes it. Diderot is
careful to specify that she would send some more to most of the nuns. Most,
but not allthis is significant. Because she is a control freak, she uses depriva-
tion to dominate and control. The reader understands that those who do not get
the liquor are not getting it because she is punishing them. In another instance
of deprivation, she invites everyone to her cell to do their embroidery except
Thrse in order to punish her. Thrse is codependent and needs Mother to
validate her existence; Mother is Thrses mirror; Thrse has no sense of self
and lives vicariously through Mother. Depriving her of the opportunity to visit
Mothers cell along with the other nuns is a way to control her feelings,
thoughts, actions, wants, needs and enforce a sense of lack of well-being.
Madame***, like all narcissists, is codependentshe needs her victims
and they need her. She controls events and people through helplessness, guilt,
coercion, threats, advice-giving, manipulation, and deprivation. She looks for
happiness outside of herself. She latches onto beautiful women because she
believes that they can provide happiness. It is the image of Narcissus reflected
back to her that she idolizes. She has no sense of self and seeks only to live
vicariously through the other.
It should be noted that all of Suzannes Mothers Superior are codependent,
which is the result of living apart from society at large. Mme de Moni stays up
all night and frets over Suzannes destiny. She thinks that she is totally respon-
sible for Suzannes actions, choices, well-being, and ultimately, her destiny.
Moni experiences anxiety, pity and guilt over Suzannes problem; she feels
compelled to help her resolve her problem; she abandons her routine to obses-
sively assist her.
Sister Sainte-Christine is proud, insecure, and reliant on her subordinates
to bolster her ego and sustain her authority. Her henchmen, being the syco-
phants that they are, flatter her to gain power and privileges. Hence, she is co-
112 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

dependent in that she needs them to sustain dominance and control. The rela-
tionship between Mother and her spiritual children is symbiotic and the syco-
phants profit from her approval and protection: she overlooks their foibles,
even their sexual intimacy with one another. Suzanne mentions that she al-
lowed some indiscreet remarks escape regarding the suspicious intimacy be-
tween some of the favorites: this indicates that the austerity and rigorous
practices ordered by Mother are for appearance sake only and that those who
bolster her ego are exempted.
Madame***s narcissism and codependence are expressed through sexual
domination. Her self-image is so poor, one might say that it is nonexistent and
that she has no self. Similarly, her self-worth is nil and she lives vicariously
through her mirrors. In fact, being the classic narcissistic that she is, she even
says that other people make her feel the way she does.
She manipulates others so that she can indulge in self-gratification. She
does not care about her lovers and discards them when someone prettier come
alongsomeone with looks, intellect, composure, some quality that she wants,
but feels she lacks, and hopes to own by gazing in her mirror. She controls
events and people through helplessness, guilt, coercion, threats, advice-giving,
manipulation, and domination. The goal is always to get the person to take her
clothes off so she can caress her body, fantasize, and serve own needs. She
latches on to pretty people, so her mirrors are always false mirrors. That is why
she is devastated and dies when she realizes that she cannot own Suzanne: she
has lost her false mirror and therefore, the self that she thought she had.
The irony is that Madame***, although short and rotund, does have an
agreeable face [sa figure est plutt bien que mal] and has lips as red as a rose,
teeth as white as milk, the prettiest cheeks, and a very attractive head [des
lvres vermeilles comme la rose, des dents blanches comme le lait, les plus
belles joues, une tte fort agrable]. We get the impression that she might have
had a very different life if she had not joined a convent; perhaps she might
have become some farmers wife, if her circumstances had been different. The
reader wonders whether she ended up in a convent because as in the case of
Suzanne, she could not procure a dowry from her parents. Or was she unable
to get married because of her brain dysfunction, evidenced by her disjointed
appearance and erratic behavior? Or did she become confused and erratic as a
result of having been thrown into a convent? Is her sickness nature or nurture?
Diderot answers the question: That is the effect of retreating from the
world. Man is born for society; separate him, isolate him, his ideas will be-
come disjoined, his character will change, a thousand ridiculous affections will
Diderot 113

arise in his heart; extravagant thoughts will grow in his mind, like thorns in the
wilderness. Put a man in a forest, he will become ferocious there; in a cloister,
where need is joined to slavery, it is worse yetpoverty degrades a man, re-
treat depraves him.
21
The answer then, is nurture. Madame***s disjointed
mannerisms, narcissism and obsession with self-gratification are the result of
enforced celibacy, which is contrary to natural law. Diderot specifies that pov-
erty only degrades a man, while retreat depraves him, thus indicating that of
the three vowspoverty, chastity and obediencethe worst is the second one.
Anne C. Vila develops the mind/body connection at length, pointing out
that Diderot describes the pathologies of his characters with the same critical
eye of a doctor recording his patients symptoms. Diderot believed that per-
ceiving and then analyzing symptomology with the same dispassion and acuity
of a physician could unlock the secrets of the patients consciousness [sensi-
bilit] and physical condition. Vila reminds us that Diderots list of must read
authors includes prominent medico-philosophical writers such as Haller, Bor-
deu, Barthez, Whytt, Cullen, Bonnet, Le Camus, Roussel, La Mettrie, Marat
and Helvtius.
22

Diderot borrowed from Hallers theory of fibers that the fiber is a living
element, the common element of all living matter. He posited that all matter is
conscious, regardless of the level of organization: the smallest element of mat-
ter, the atom, is conscious and that when it combines with other atoms, a new
level of consciousness emerges that governs the more complex entity. When
that happens, the atom forgets its original consciousness and adopts that of the
higher organized body. Similarly, fibers form bundles of fibers and take on the
consciousness of the bundle; they form the various organs of the body, lose the
consciousness of the bundle and take on the consciousness of the organ they
form. The organs are controlled by the brain, which knows everything that is
going on in the network, just as the spider controls the web.
Similarly, the head of a monastic community controls all of the individuals
therein. If this manager is sick, either mentally or physically, his condition will
have a deleterious effect on the group. Diderot was particularly interested in
showing how this single head could modify the consciousness of every indi-
vidual in the community, corrupt the innocent, inflict physical and/or emo-
tional pain on others, use the other for narcissistic purposes, and develop
codependency in the other in which that other believes that the superior is nec-
essary for his well-being.
Vila advises that because Diderot regarded human institutions such as
convents and even Parisian society itself as bodies, the best way to assess their
114 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

degree of health was to do what doctors do: analyze, through painstaking ob-
servation and decoding, the manner in which sensibility is made to resonate
within the individual bodies who compose it; only then can the observer make
a philosophically informed judgment.
23

Vila reminds us that disengagement from self and acute observation of the
other was also the method that Diderot recommended for the actor who hopes
to bring the character he portrays onstage to life. In the Paradox of the Come-
dian, Diderot advised that it is only through a process of cool detachment
from ones human naturethat is, of willful alienation from ones own sensi-
ble body, as in the actor who gives off all of the signs of sensibility on the
stage, without feeling anycan one qualify as a true sage, a great observer of
nature in any field.
24

Because Suzanne holds herself aloof (she is labeled the reserved one),
she is endowed with both the mdecin philosophes self-possessed diagnostic
prowess in dealing with sensibility, and with the dilemma that task raises.
25

Like the doctor-philosopher, she, too, is a hybrida clinical observer, and also
a human being who has her own emotions with which to deal. In spite of Ma-
dame***s salacious behavior, Suzanne, like a doctor-philosopher, remains the
detached observer so that she can describe the scene. Vila points out the simi-
larity between Suzannes narration and the diagnostics of a doctor: Thus the
exercise of diagnostics is established as an institutional practice;
26
like a doc-
tor she is implacably calm, collected and unreactive;
27
It is reserveor con-
scious resistance to provocative stimulithat allows Suzanne to record, in
painstakingly objective detail, her observations of the odd sensible events go-
ing on around her.
28

While Diderot is the doctor describing the events and Suzanne does the
same as narrator, there is a resonance in Madame***, who also takes an inter-
est in diagnostics, who assesses Suzannes character and finds it calm
(Frigid, even) [Froid, mme), asks her what arouses her and discovers noth-
ing and even takes Suzannes pulse: How calm her pulse is! How regular!
Nothing agitates her! [Que son pouls est tranquille! Quil est gal! Rien ne
lmeut!]
29
Thus there is a mirroring between Diderot/Suzanne/narrator and
Madame***/the disjointed patient so that they switch roles: now Madame/the
disjointed patient takes Suzannes pulse and makes the diagnosis that she is
calm. This interplay of consciousness is an iconic representation of the perva-
siveness of all consciousness: its boundaries are not sharply defined, it spills
over into other levels; the consciousness of Suzanne/healthy doctor affects
Madame***/ patient, that of Madame***/patient affects Suzanne/healthy doc-
Diderot 115

tor, that of Madame***/patient affects the convent, that of the convent affects
both Madame***/patient and Suzanne/healthy doctor. Eventually, as bounda-
ries blur and consciousness spills over across them, Suzanne will not be unaf-
fected, Madame*** will not be unaffected, the convent will not be unaffected.
Moreover, Madame***s pulse taking is ironic: her house is not a hospital,
she is not a healer, her motives are not altruistic; her house is pathological, she
is a deformed monster, both physically and mentally, according to natural law;
her motives are to dominate, control and serve self.
It is diagnostics that clearly points to Madames pathology: As diagnos-
tic indices, the elements of this celebrated composite sketch form a cluster of
symptoms which point to a certain type of potentially pathological sensibilit.
Mme***s agitated, disorderly bodyan awkward amalgam of mismatched
body parts and clothes, jerky appendages, disjointed speech and thoughts
represents a mode of sensible organization that is unhealthy not only for its
own internal economy, but also for the economy of the collective body she
oversees.
30
Vila advises that critics see this awkward figure as an intertextual
echo of the schizophrenically extreme personality of Rameaus nephew or
even Diderot himself.
31

Vila makes an excellent analogy: Madame***s split personality is not
unlike that of Diderots description of Jean-Franois Rameau, nephew of the
great composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. In the beginning of Rameaus Nephew,
Diderot, with a few swift brushstrokes, paints a portrait of a man who is either
a schizophrenic or suffering from bipolar disorder:
I was accosted by one of the weirdest characters in this landNothing is less like him
than himself. At times he is thin and gaunt like somebody in the last stages of con-
sumption; you could count his teeth through his cheeks and it is as though he had had
nothing to eat for days on end or had just come out of a Trappist monastery. A month
later he is sleek and plump as though he had never left some millionaires table or had
been shut up in a Cistercian house. Today, in dirty linen and ragged breeches, tattered
and almost barefoot, he slinks along with head down and you might be tempted to call
him over and give him money. Tomorrow, powdered, well shod, hair curled, beauti-
fully turned out, he walks with head high, showing himself off, and you would almost
take him for a gentleman.
32

Hence, Diderot begins the tale with an essay in diagnostics: the narrator care-
fully observes and records details of the patients physical appearance, much as
a doctor would. The patients deformity on the inside, evidenced by his erratic
behavior, concurs with his appearance on the outside. Is the patient a monster
of nature, nurture or a combination of both?
116 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Vila also addresses the significant role that consciousness [sensibilit]


plays in The Nun. She points out that over time, consciousness starts to reso-
nate across boundaries, boundaries blur and disappear, and even Suzanne, our
dispassionate narrator, shows signs of beginning to resonate with those around
her. Suzanne still remains reserved, but something is beginning to change in-
side of her: her own physical sensibility comes to resonate with Mme***s
more and more strongly;
33
she detects effects in her body that resonate ex-
actly with what seem to be happening to Mme***;
34
I dont know what was
happening in me, but I was seized with a fright, a trembling, a swoon that con-
firmed a suspicion that I had had that her malady was contagious
35

Therefore, Suzanne is on the verge of crossing the line and stepping across
the boundary that separates innocence from sexual experience, the boundary
between dispassionate narrator and character embroiled in the moment, obser-
vant clinician/doctor and sick patient. She approaches the border, but does not
cross it. It becomes evident that since she is starting to resonate with the mind
and body of the other, if she were to be confined to the convent the rest of her
life, eventually she would lose her sense of reality and become just like the
other.
Vila advises that Diderot was articulating that with time, consciousness
migrates from one subject to another; in the case of enforced chastity, which
runs against natural law and natural religion, pathology spreads from one per-
son to the next. She cites Suzannes lawyer, Mr. Manouri, who makes the case
that vows of chastity cannot be observed by normal people, but rather only by
a few ill-constituted creatures in whom the germs of passion are withered and
who are monsters on the inside.
36

If one individual in the convent is pathological, and especially if it is the
head of the community, the pathology will spread to every individual. Diderot
would revisit the theme that consciousness resonates throughout the body in
DAlemberts Dream (1769): here he borrows from Mandevilles Fable of the
Bees to demonstrate that if there is a swarm of bees sitting on a tree branch and
one disturbs just one bee, there will be a ripple effect across the swarm and
eventually, the entire line of bees with be disturbed.
Vila points out that when Suzanne arrives at Sainte-Eutrope, she has a
positive effect on Mme*** and all of the nuns in the convent notice the change
in their superior: both she and the rest of the nuns remark a greater regular-
ity in the character of Mme*** after her sensibility is fixed by fixing on Suz-
anneIn terms of the operations of sensibility in this portion of the narrative,
the therapeutic influence exerted by Suzannes presence at Sainte-Eutrope
Diderot 117

can be said to stem not just from the fact that Mme*** becomes enamored of
Suzanne, but more fundamentally, from the special resonating dynamic that is
established between their two counterbalancing sensibilities in the course of
their many tte--tte.
37
Thus, Vila shows that Diderot had hoped that by rely-
ing on the medical technique of cool-headed diagnostic detachment and the
observation and recordation of symptoms, one might unravel the mysteries of
consciousness. This was the fundamental aspiration of the mdecin-
philosopheto attain a transcendent knowledge of sensibility, and thereby
rechannel it into healthier paths.
38

Peter V. Conroy Jr. views The Nun as a two-pronged polemicfirst, as a
philosophical attack on enforced monasticism and secondly, on gender issues
and the sad plight of the eighteenth century woman imprisoned by the yoke of
Salic law. Lesbianism is not only used to attack the institution of the convent
and illustrate what happens when humans live in artificial isolation from the
opposite sex, it is also a declaration of a womans right to self-determination; it
is an affirmation of female solidarity and a protest against the male social or-
der: Diderot is doing more than providing a vivid depiction of one collectiv-
ity, one totalitarian society that refuses to recognize the right of any individual
to be different, to disagree, to not want to belong to the group. La Religieuse
also describes an intense and fundamental confrontation between male and
female, a struggle for power and domination in which men desperately seek to
crush any sign of independence among women.
39
Suzannes problem is not
just that she is illegitimate: it is that she is a woman. Conroy points out that if
Suzanne had been born male, her problems with illegitimacy would have been
far less extensive.
Although women do not have the legal status of men, they are competitive,
combative, and seek to dominate one another, just as men do. For example,
Suzannes two sisters impatiently await their mothers death so they can take
her possessions and run off with the furniture. Thus they show neither their
mother, nor Suzanne, any respect after their mothers death. Conroy observes:
Indeed, they are as cruel and rapacious as any man could be in despoiling
their sister of her meager inheritanceWomen can then be as cruel and as ty-
rannical as men in their treatment of other women. Part of the challenge facing
Suzanne lies in the domination of men; another, equally dangerous part, re-
sides in the hostility of her fellow women who have so internalized male val-
ues that they cannot respond positively to the helpful and healing initiatives
Suzanne undertakes.
40

118 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Thus Conroy sees Sister Sainte-Thrses reaction to Suzanne as typical of


the struggle for male dominance: Sainte-Thrse had displaced another as the
Mre Suprieures favorite and now fears that Suzanne will do the same to
her.
41
Suzanne suspects that Thrse is jealous of her and that she fears that
Suzanne will steal the special place that she occupied in Mothers good graces
and favor. Her suspicions are confirmed by Thrses little temper tantrums,
childish fears, determination to follow her, question her, come between the
Superior and her, interrupt their conversations, belittle her qualities, and point
out her defects. Conroy sees Thrses behavior as a masculine attitude based
on rivalry and competition.
42
He points out that many of the women in the
novel are so imbued with male values that they behave in a petty and cruel
manner towards other women. They are however but pale reflections of the
hard and heartless men who exercise a near despotic authority over them;
43

all the men who wield force and influence in this novel are cold, bitter, and
brutal
44
and an example is her father, who wields imperious authority.
There exists only one refuge from all this hostility, one means of escape
into solidarity with other women, one place of empowerment, and that is lesbi-
anism: Only in one area do men fear women as rivals; only in one area do
women communicate with each other in a manner that places them beyond the
reach of male power. That single expression of female solidarity is the lesbian
behavior that Suzanne discovers at Sainte-Eutropeit is also the single route
by which women can escape complete male dominationit is also, and more
importantly, a female denunciation of male authority.
45
Hence, Conroy sees
the novel as a statement on gender conflict and a polemic that holds that lesbi-
anism is a refuge from male dominance and oppression, a statement of female
solidarity. His treatment of Madame*** is compassionate and tragic, not con-
demning or damning.
Thus Diderot, being the genius that he was, has created a realistic envi-
ronment in which the reader experiences the claustrophobia and intensity of a
closed society in which one rarely sees or speaks to new people or receives any
input at all from society at large. We understand that given these deterministic
factors, what we will (or perhaps the monsters we may become) is dictated
solely by cause and effect. For we are merely mortals, flesh and blood, defined
by our experiences, what we see and hear, what life has taught us, and there-
fore, who are we to judge one another when any one of us, given the precise
circumstances of nature or nurture, could be another Narcissus, Mme de Moni,
Sister Sainte-Christine, Madame***, or Suzanne?
Chapter Five
Rousseau









I have seen those vast unfortunate regions that only seem to be destined to cover the
earth with herds of slaves. From their sordid sight I have averted my eyes with dis-
dain, horror and pity; and, seeing one fourth of my fellow humans changed into beasts
for the service of others, I have grieved to be a man.
1

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Julie, or the New Heloise (1761)
In the epigraph above, Rousseau combines his masterful skill as a fluid, seduc-
tive novelist with his political agenda. The landscape that he paints is truly an
iconic representation of his belief system that man is born free, but that eve-
rywhere he is in chains. In a few lines, the reader visualizes the landscape
covered with wretched slaves as if he were standing on a hill gazing at the
panorama below. He is provided with an iconic representation of men who
have left the simple virtues of living in the countryside to be exploited by
decadent civilization. Rousseaus literary style is flowing and seductive. His
long, sinuous, elegant sentences, like ocean waves, carry the readers emotions
where he dictates. The panorama he paints stirs a deep, involuntary emotional
response from the reader.
Rousseaus objectives are to attack the institutions of slavery and also of
private property. He believed that the notions of slavery and private property
did not exist in natural man: it was not until men left the woods to join civiliza-
tion that they developed the notions of mine and yours. The vast regions
are unfortunate now that man has become civilized; originally, when they
belonged to everyone, they were not unfortunate. Slavery is contrary to
natural law, which dictates the self-determination of the individual. Natural
man was free; civilized men buy and sell themselves by mutual consent to gain
advantages.
120 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Rousseau felt that humans do have free will and that this right is derived
from natural law. Therefore, the question arises as to how man came to lose his
free will and how it can be restored. Just as Prometheus gave fire to man in
Greek mythology, Rousseau sought to bestow a different gifthis lifetime
corpus indicates that he applied himself to restoring the natural liberty that man
once had, but that he lost.
The rich legacy that Rousseau has bequeathed to us is his anthropological
study of man: inspired by Montesquieus Troglodytes, he reached across time
and space to hypothesize what mans ancestors must have been liketheir
physical characteristics, environment, social relationships, and culture. Out of
this tapestry there emerges an anthropological statement as to the freedom that
primitive man once enjoyed when he roamed the earth, the loss of freedom that
ensued when he left the wilderness to join society, and a detailed explanation as
to how a different kind of freedom may be secured by totally restructuring soci-
ety from the bottom up. Hence, Rousseau was an anthropologist, political theo-
rist, instructor of teachers, confessionalist, novelist, essayist, and playwright all
rolled into one. The salient points of his lifetime corpus are as follows:
Man is born neither good, nor evil, but he is a blank slate on which so-
ciety writes.
When primitive man roamed the earth, he was free.
The only concern of primitive man was self-preservation.
Primitive man felt pity or compassion for the other.
When man joined civilization he became concerned with what the
other thought of him.
He learned that by pretending to be more powerful than he actually
was, he could acquire more possessions, power and wealth.
Society must be torn down and replaced with one in which the indi-
vidual will is subordinate to the general will, and private interest, to
the interest of the community.
The law gives man a kind of freedom that is different from that which
natural man enjoyed: it assures the protection of ones person, posses-
sions, and property.
Of all forms of government, the republic is the one that is best suited
to providing happiness, justice, and equality among its citizens.
The executive, legislative, and judicial branches should be kept sepa-
rate to prevent the tyrannical rule of a few.
Rousseau 121

Free Will
Rousseau provides a novel and brilliant twist to the free will vs. determinism
controversy. Having analyzed the problem from the perspective of the devel-
opment of natural man, he concludes that the solution is not to be found in an
either/or paradigm: rather, the answer is comprised of both, and more surpris-
ingly, free will and determinism are interdependent and feed off of each other.
Rousseau hypothesizes that natural man, roaming the forest in search of
food and shelter, possessed free will and perfectibilitytwo latent characteris-
tics that became actualized as need and circumstances arose. As conditions
changed from moment to moment and man found himself suddenly catapulted
into new situations, his ability to reason permitted his latent free will to come
to the fore. Then, exercising his free will, he created a change in his condition
and at that moment, his needs changed. Then he employed his free will again
to respond to these changes and in so doing so, he perfected himself over the
millennia. Therefore, free will is fluid or liquid and as it changes, the human
condition metamorphoses and humans ascend the ladder of perfectibility.
Since Rousseaus thought calls for an interplay of free will and environment,
we may say that he was a compatibilist. This interdependent causality between
free will and determinism is the engine that drives civilization forward.
Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
Let us begin our study with Rousseaus key anthropological treatise, the Dis-
course on the Origins and the Foundations of Inequality among Men [Dis-
cours sur lorigine sur les fondements et lingalit parmi les hommes], also
known as the Second Discourse (written in 1754, published in 1755). In this
essay he traces the symbiotic relationship between free will and determinism
back through the epochs of time when early man, traversing the forests and
plains, was driven instinctively by the need for survival. In the Discourse,
Rousseau employs the verb to choose [choisir] 15x; choice [choix] 7x; will
[volont] 17x; voluntary [volontaire] 2x; voluntarily [volontairement] 4x; the
verb to want [vouloir] 59x. An examination of the recurrence of vouloir
indicates that he says the general good wants [le bien gnral veut] 2x and
that God wants [Dieu veut] 1x.
While Rousseau liberally sprinkles terms relating to free will throughout
his text, he also acknowledges that mans will is not totally free, but reined in
by determinist factors such as natural strength, mental capability, social class,
gender, and customs. Rousseaus life corpus shows that he devoted himself to
122 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

finding ways that humans could maximize their freedom to choose and mini-
mize their vulnerability to the rich and powerful.
It is significant that he begins the preface by referring to the inscription in
the Temple of Delphi, Know thyself. With admiration, he declares that this
single imperative statement is more difficult and more important than what
is found in all the huge volumes that moralists have ever written.
2
Three
sentences later he poses a question that he will endeavor to answera question
in which free will is inextricably intertwinedhow can man distinguish what
is fundamental in his nature from the changes and additions which his circum-
stances and the advances he has made have introduced to modify his primitive
condition?
3
The phraseology shows Rousseaus amazing prescience: he is
asking whether natural man had free will and if so, whether deterministic fac-
tors such as environment, culture, or advancements in science have obviated
his free will at all. The choice of words also reveals Rousseaus compatibilism:
what is fundamental, changes, additions, circumstances, introduced,
modify. The key here is modify. Rousseau believed that heredity and
environment do indeed reduce free will somewhat, but he did not view man as
an automaton, hopelessly and absolutely controlled by deterministic forces.
In the preface he enumerates factors that impact on the human soul (he
utilizes the term me humaine twice) and that limit free will. He employs the
metaphor of the statue of Glaucus to make his point: just as time, seas and
tempests have eroded the statue of Glaucus, there are deterministic factors that
affect the soul. These factors are the acquisition of a multitude of truths and
errors, the constitution of the body, and the passions.
4
He emphasizes that
the passions have the ability to sway the mind by concluding Instead
ofacting constantly from fixed and invariable principles, man is led by the
frightful contrast of passion mistaking itself for reason.
5
The notion that fear
and the passions obviate reason and free will recurs in his writing. Thus, as an
acute observer of human nature, he is amazingly prescient in his view that the
human mind is often at war with itself, that man is often torn between reason
and emotion, and that he is unable to exercise his will because impulses and
fears rule him. 21
st
century neuroscientists readily concede that the human
brain is often at war with itself: impulses and fears arise in the older (uncon-
scious) part of the brain and it is up to the frontal cortex, the newer part of the
brain, to exercise judgment and impulse control. However, modern neuroscien-
tists have not settled the question of whether humans have free will and there-
fore, Rousseaus views remain as valid and relevant as ever.
Rousseau 123

Using all of the tools available in his eighteenth-century toolbox, Rousseau


sets out to explain the underlying causes to mans irrationality and incon-
stancy. He takes the position that natural man may have been given latent free
will by his Creator, but after he joined society, this free will is no longer abso-
lute: Instead of that celestial and majestic simplicity, impressed on it by its
divine Author, we find it only the frightful contrast of passion mistaking itself
for reason
6
Therefore, the goal of the Second Discourse will be to identify
the junctures in human history at which simplicity gave rise to complexity,
reason to irrationality, free will to a destructive impulse within man. As we
shall see, man is now invariably forced to choose that which gives him com-
parative advantagethat which causes others to respect his power. Pierre
Force advises, as citizens become more aware of their interests, they begin
to see the pursuit of interest as a zero-sum gain, where my gain is your loss.
7

This is Rousseaus variation to Augustines view that before the Fall, man
was governed by reason, but that afterwards, reason was no longer his master,
but rather, the passions, and the desire to grasp that which is pleasing. For
Rousseau, recognizing the reality that comparative advantage exists and taking
steps to get the upper hand makes it possible to grasp that which is pleasing.
The difference between Rousseau and Christian apologists such as Augustine
is this: Rousseau replaces the doctrine of original sin with joining civilization.
Passions flared and greed surfaced only after humans banded together for
survival. The notion that humans began to view each other as competitors to be
conquered in a world in which, as Force says, the pursuit of interest is a zero-
sum gain, indicates that we may rank Rousseau as a precursor to Darwin
(natural selection), along with Epicurus and Diderot. Rousseau recognized that
there are finite natural resources available and cunning and strength are neces-
sary to procure them.
Natural Law
In the preface to his essay Rousseau examines the question as to whether natu-
ral law does indeed exist. He does so for this reason: because his objective is to
replace religious doctrine with empiricism, he seeks to establish that free will
and compassion for other are two characteristics that humans have been given
by nature. Therefore, he begins by positing that if natural law does exist, there
must be evidence of certain rules that apply to it. For example, two conditions
would have to be met: first, humans, whose will it obliges, must be conscious
124 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

of their submission to it; secondly, it must come directly from nature. Thus he
describes natural manhis substitution of Adam before the Fall.
Rousseau hypothesizes that there are two principles underlying natural
law: the first is self-preservation or survival; the second is a natural repugnance
to see another human being suffer or die. Mans will is naturally driven by
these two principles and it has always been, even before he began to use rea-
son, before he joined society. Therefore, his natural impulses would prevent
him from killing another human unless it was for solely for the purpose of self-
preservation.
He concludes the preface by remarking on the power of caste: human rela-
tionships are more often the product of random chance, rather than wisdom
(ces relations extrieures que le hasard produit plus souvent que la sagesse)
it is random chance that dictates whether a person will be born into a family
that is rich or poor, whether he will belong to a social strata of power or weak-
ness; this initial factor will determine the outcome of a persons adult life. He
observes that human relationships often seem to be founded on piles of quick-
sand. The quicksand metaphor implies the absence of free will, the inability to
exercise control or self-determination, and the overarching power of other. It
requires a serious study of man, his natural faculties and their successive
development to distinguish between that which is the effect of the divine
will and that which arises from the innovations attempted by human art.
8

As we shall see, this quicksand in which humans find themselves mired and
which obviates their free will is self-interest, which is furthered by compara-
tive advantage.
In the exordium Rousseau observes that free will is twice limited by de-
terminism: first, by natural or physical inequality (differences in age, health,
physical strength and the ability of the mind); secondly, by political inequality
based on conventions to which man consents. Because of the latter, some
people are wealthier, have more privilege, and even force others to obey them.
Thus, in both the preface and exordium, Rousseau espouses biological (or
inherited) and environmental determinism. While he embraces both nature and
nurture to explain the limitations in the choices we make, he devotes most of
his essay to environmental determinism.
In Part One Rousseau paints a portrait of natural man in his simplicity,
freely exercising the free will he has been given by his Creator. Free will, like
perfectibility, is a latent characteristic in natural man that becomes actualized
as needs arise: he satiates his hunger beneath an oak; quenches his thirst at a
stream; decides to sleep beneath the tree that provides his meal; enjoys a vari-
Rousseau 125

ety of different foods; employs his wrists to crack branches; uses his hands and
arms to throw stones; climbs trees; runs. In his notes, Rousseau cites Kolben,
who describes the way that Hottentots swim: They swim with their body
upright and their hands stretched out of the water, so that they seem to be
walking on land. In the most turbulent sea and when the waves form so many
mountains, they dance as it were on the crest of the waves, rising and falling
like a piece of cork.
9
In this idyllic scene, a tribe of humans, uninfluenced by
the complexities of European civilization, have discovered a way to navigate
turbulent seas; the need to cross the water arises, latent free will and perfecti-
bility become manifest, and the humans employ their own unique way of
swimming.
Rousseau disagrees with Hobbes that man is naturally warlikehe argues,
using Cumberland and Pufendorf to support his thesis, that natural man was
timid, fearful of danger, and inclined to flee at the slightest noise or smallest
movement. As natural man developed his abilities, he used his free will and
intelligence to construct tools that gave him supremacy over wild beasts. Then
he was no longer afraid of ferocious beasts and roamed the woods with self
confidence. He cites Franois Corral who discussed the Caribes of Vene-
zuelathese natives used their bows and arrows to rule the jungle and Rous-
seau points out that no one ever heard of any of them being devoured by
beasts. It was not until natural man joined society that he became warlike. The
Caribes reference is one more example in which latent free will comes to the
fore as needs arise; the inventions that resultbows and arrowsadvance
mans way of life and this cultural improvement shapes free will in the future.
Thus, need, free will, and invention, form an endless cycle that propels society
forward.
The Passions
Joining society brought a plethora of passions and deterministic factors that
obviate free willthese were unknown to natural man. As examples, Rous-
seau cites the inequality in the lifestyles of the rich and poor: while the rich
gorge themselves with exotic dishes and suffer inflammatory disease and indi-
gestion, the poor are subject to eating bad food or overeating during those rare
opportunities when they do get the chance to gorge; we bring on ourselves
more diseases than medicine can furnish remedies;
10
these are too fatal
proofs that the greater part of our ills are of our own making, and that we
126 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

might have avoided them nearly all by adhering to that simple, uniform, and
solitary manner of life which nature prescribed.
11

We do not live in the state of nature and therefore, we have learned our
behaviors; this learned behavior may have started as a passion or fear. For
example, Celsus advises that diet, which is now so necessary, was first in-
vented by Hippocrates. Before Hippocrates diet was unnecessary because
natural man did not overeat. The mind can deprave the senses, so it is possible
for men to overeat to the point of death: the will continues to speak when
nature is silent.
12
Since modern man is caught in an endless cycle of overeat-
ing and dietingbehavior that is learnedone must ask how much free will
he really has. Do people who are ruled by gluttonous impulses have free will if
their behavior is locked in via ample positive reinforcement? Repeatedly giv-
ing into the passions and experiencing the rewards that ensue results in learned
behavioror the mire of quicksand, to use the metaphor that Rousseau previ-
ously employed.
However, we must recognize that although the passions and the desire to
grasp that which is pleasurable may obviate reason and free will, they do con-
stitute the engine that makes society run: Whatever moralists may hold, the
human understanding is greatly indebted to the passions, which, it is univer-
sally allowed, are also much indebted to the understanding. It is by the activity
of the passions that our reason is improved; for we desire knowledge only
because we wish to enjoy; and it is impossible to conceive any reason why a
person who has neither fears nor desires should give himself the trouble of
reasoning. The passions, again, originate in our wants, and their progress de-
pends on that of our knowledge; for we cannot desire or fear anything, except
from the idea we have of it, or from the simple impulse of nature. Now savage
man, being destitute of every species of enlightenment, can have no passions
save those of the latter kind: his desires never go beyond his physical wants.
13

Thus he reiterates Augustine, who said that we choose that which brings us
pleasure. Rousseau declares that the quest for pleasure is the driving force to
inquiry, reasoning and human progress.
Rousseau argues that despite harmful behavior that man learns in society,
he does have some free will. He contrasts man to animals by stating that ani-
mals are nothing more than ingenious machines that operate solely by instinct:
in the operations of the brute, nature is the sole agent, whereas man has
some share in his own operations, in his character as a free agent. The one
chooses and refuses by instinct, the other from an act of free will
14
For
example, various species of animals confine themselves to eating specific
Rousseau 127

foods by instinct; man chooses freely from among all kinds of foods. Pigeons
do not eat meat, cats do not eat fruit or grain. If a pigeon were restricted to
remaining next to a bowl of meat, it would starve to death; a cat offered only
fruit or grain would also die. Man, on the other handnot restricted by in-
stinct, but having free will which comes to the fore as needs arisesees vari-
ous species eating their particular foods, employs reason to deduce that all
food must be beneficial, and so enjoys a varied diet.
Another difference between men and animals is that man has perfectibil-
ity, both as an individual and as a species. After a few months of life, an ani-
mal has developed and becomes all it will ever be. Man continues to develop
throughout his lifetime and loses his mental and physical facilities in old age.
Moreover, after a thousand years, an animal species has not changed in terms
of brain power, but human technological advancement does and the differ-
ences in scientific achievements between one millennium and the next may be
substantial. Therefore, man can exercise his free will to perfect his way of life
with science.
Rousseau finds that there is an interdependence between free will and the
environment: To will, and not to will, to desire and to fear, must be the first,
and almost the only operations of his soul, till new circumstances occasion new
developments of his faculties.
15
Therefore, changes in the environment, discov-
eries, and learning that takes place, cause man to will something more in life,
and having found that something, it forever changes his outlook and desires.
Language Is a Major Step Forward
The development of signs and language enhanced mans ability to exercise his
free will. Now he had a way of communicating what he wanted and what he
chose.
Mans first language was the cry of nature, which was instinctualhe re-
sorted to this cry on urgent occasions to get help in danger or illness. As mens
minds developed and they established closer communication among them-
selves, they added inflections of the voice and gestures to express their ideas
gradually their free will began to emerge and they used language to facilitate
choice and expression of their desires. As language developed into nouns and
verbs and then adjectives were added, men could distinguish among objects
and thus they were able to exercise their free will more and more. Successive
progress in finding numbers, abstract words, verb tenses, particles, syntax, and
then propositions, arguments and logic ran parallel to the growth of free will
128 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

and self-determination. Thus, the cycle of need, free will and advancement,
spiraled upward.
Compassion
All sentient creatures, whether human or animal, identify with other and ex-
perience discomfort when they see other in pain or dying. Rousseau gives
many examples of animals as a prelude to his discussion of humans: it is
well known that horses show a reluctance to trample on living bodies. One
animal never passes by the dead body of another of its species without dis-
quiet: some even give their fellows a sort of burial; while the mournful lowings
of the cattle when they enter the slaughter-house show the impressions made
on them by the horrible spectacle which meets them.
16

Man, too, has the innate ability to experience pity or compassion for mem-
bers of his own species. That is why he cannot stand to see another human
suffer or die. Rousseau refers to a passage in Mandevilles The Fable of the
Bees in which a man, from a place of confinement, watches a wild animal tear
a child from his mothers arms, rip it to shreds with its teeth and then devour it.
Rousseau remarks that such a man, forced to witness such a horrendous spec-
tacle, would experience horrid agitation and would suffer anguish precisely
because humans cannot stand to see their own kind suffer: Such is the pure
emotion of nature, prior to all kinds of reflection!
17
It is compassion for other
that contributes to the preservation of the whole species. It is this compassion
that hurries us without reflection to the relief of those who are in distress: it is
this which in a state of nature supplies the place of laws, morals, and vir-
tues
18

Therefore, when we look at the gaping chasm that exists between natural
mans compassion for other and civilized mans cruelty, the question arises as
to how to get modern man to behave altruistically. This becomes the theme of
Emile and the Social Contract. Paraphrasing Christ, who instructed, Do unto
others as you would have them do unto you, Rousseau opts for that which is
useful and recommends instead, Do good to yourself with as little evil as
possible to others.
19

Emile
In Emile or On Education [Emile ou de LEducation] (1762) Rousseau shows
how a childs free will can be manipulated and defined by a tutor in order to
create a being who will, one day as an adult, maintain a sense of his own
Rousseau 129

unique identity, abide by his own inner moral compass, and yet function as a
useful member of society who subordinates his individual will to the general
will. While the union of a pupils free will with the determinism of education
may, at first glance, seem like a contradiction, actually, it is not: the objective
of the education is to teach Emile not to surrender his identity to others by
defining himself according to what they think of him; not to react robotically
to others who seek to impose their will on hum; rather, to respond rationally to
situations and things, not to the will of others.
In Emile we find a proliferation of terms that suggest free will: Rousseau
employs the verb to choose [choisir] 83x; choice [choix] 93x; will [volont]
118x; voluntary [volontaire] 7x; voluntarily [volontairement] 10x; involuntary
[involontaire] 7x; the verb to want [vouloir] 435x.
While Rousseau continually employs terms relating to free will throughout
his text, he also acknowledges that modern man is no longer free, but defines
himself according to what others think of him. The key question, therefore, is
how to raise a child who resists that pitfall, who defines his identity according
to his own strengths and talents, who lives an authentic life to the maximum
possible, and who resists identifying with the opinion that others have of him.
How does one raise a child who is independent and self-sufficient? Rousseau
proposes that Emile grow up in a state of nature: living in cities is detrimental
for children and indoctrinates them from childhood to the vices and preten-
sions of civilized society. Therefore, childhood, at least, should be a time of
life reserved for developing a sense of self outside of the corrupting influences
of society.
At this juncture we should define two key terms that recur throughout the
text. Amour de soi is the instinct for survival or self-preservation. Amour-
propre is the concern for the relation between self and others and addresses
comparative advantage. It is the concern for the regard that others have of me,
their respect for my power or disrespect for my lack of power.
The problem is how to reconcile the twoEmile attempts to bring to-
gether mans true nature with the treacherous demands of civilized society,
where when one wins, another must lose; it tries to unify the need for happi-
ness, finding a niche in society in which one can prosper, fulfilling the duty
towards ones country, and surrendering to the general will, when the reality is
that urban life brings cutthroat competition.
Allan Bloom observes, Emile is an experiment in restoring har-
monyby reordering the emergence of mans acquisitions in such a way as to
avoid the imbalances created by them while allowing the full actualization of
130 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

mans potentialEmile is the canvas on which Rousseau tried to paint all of


the souls acquired passions and learning in such a way as to cohere with
mans natural wholeness. It is a Phenomenology of the Mind posing as Dr.
Spock.
20

The way that Rousseau proposes to do this is to raise a child to be inner di-
rected rather than obsessed with the opinion of others. Bloom credits Rousseau
with being the source of the tradition which pairs opposites such as sin-
cere/insincere, authentic/inauthentic, inner-directed/other-directed, real
self/alienated self. All these have their source in Rousseaus analysis of amour
de soi and amour-propre, a division within mans soul resulting from mans
bodily and spiritual dependence on other men which ruptures his original unity
or wholenessIt initiates the great longing to be ones self and the hatred of
alienation which characterizes all modern thought.
21

The person defined and driven by amour-propre is the bourgeois and
Rousseau shows contempt for this social class. The bourgeois thinks only of
himselfhe is a role-playerThe bourgeois distinguishes his own good from
the common good. His good requires society, and hence he exploits others
while depending on them. He must define himself in relation to them.
22
Since
the eighteenth century saw a demographic shift towards urban areas, there is a
great probability that Emile will chose to become a tradesman. However, he
may reject urban society and become a soldier, priest or farmer. The tutors
goal is to teach Emile the self-confidence and fortitude to pursue his dreams; to
facilitate his entry into urban society (if he chooses a trade) in a way that he
holds on to morality.
Rousseau says he has no use for most books and so he would give Emile
only one book to read, Robinson Crusoe. Daniel Defoes protagonist lives in a
state of nature and is concerned only with self-preservation (amour de soi).
Emile can identify with Crusoe and in so doing, does not alienate himself from
himself because he is identical to Crusoe; he does not have to imagine that he
is someone radically different from whom he is. In this sense, we are all Cru-
soe in that we are simply human. Bloom says, At most he gives Emile Robin-
son Crusoe, who is not an other but only himself.
23

In the tutors method of education, free will and the determinism of nature
intersect: just as natural mans latent free will became manifest as new situa-
tions arose, Emile, too, will have the opportunity to exercise his free will in a
state of nature and address situations that his tutor cleverly puts in his path.
The objective is to help Emile develop confidence that he can handle new
situations, enable him to rejoice in the way that he handles them and therefore,
Rousseau 131

celebrate who he is, and not long to be someone other (i.e., the hero in a book)
he has read or in a sculpture he has seen, or to try to win the good opinion of
others.
Emile should learn that he can survive by searching for food in the coun-
tryside; that if he is lost in the woods, he can use astronomy to find his way
home. Thus, he discovers that astronomy is useful and serves to make him
independent; it is not a boring and useless subject. Therefore, the tutor presents
the sciences as tools that facilitate self-preservation. All of Emiles education
will be focused on amour de soihe seeks the pleasant and avoids pain; he
uses his senses to survive; the sciences are extensions of his senses.
The Destructive Human Impulse
In the very first sentence of Book 1, Rousseau portrays civilized man using his
free will to corrupt or destroy what nature has made: everything degenerates
in the hands of man.
24
In the next sentence he employs hyperbole to demon-
strate how man uses his free will to cause things to degenerate: He forces one
soil to nourish the products of another, one tree to bear the fruit of another. He
mixes and confuses the climates, the elements, the seasons. He mutilates his
dog, his horse, his slave. He turns everything upside down; he disfigures eve-
rything; he loves deformity, monsters.
25

The question arises as to why this is so; if it is, can anything be done to
change it? Can we find a way to get man to employ his free will to respect
nature and avoid behaving destructively? Rousseau traces the origin of domi-
nance and submission.
Babies cry to express discomfort and get help. However, soon they learn
that by crying, they can manipulate the will of the adults around them. That is
when they exercise their will not to procure objects or assistance from others,
but rather, to control the people who provide those things. Hence, amour de
soi, the concern for physical needs, is transformed in amour-propre, the pas-
sion to control the will of others. Having learned this as an infant, a person
continues to game of trying to manipulate others throughout his life.
Children reach their hands to grab objects because they believe that they
will be able to grasp them. Rousseau recommends carrying the child closer to
the object so that he can get it himself, rather than carrying the object to the
child, which would only serve to reinforce his desire to control the behavior of
others.
132 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

He also recommends ignoring children who cry and scream a lot. If adults
remain constant in ignoring them, they will eventually understand that they
cannot control the will of others and they will stop crying. He says, in
making the child keep quiet today one is encouraging him to cry more tomor-
row.
26

Rousseau recounts the humorous story of a spoiled bourgeois brat who al-
ways gets his way because, as his mother says, he is the sole heir to the family
fortune and he must not be aggravated. The brat awakens his tutor at midnight
solely for the purpose of getting attention; he gets revenge by pretending to be
sick and forcing others to be his waiters and cater to him; he threatens to leave
the house and walk through the streets alone. The tutor, enlisting the aid of
neighbors, succeeds in teaching him that it is futile to try to control others.
Hopefully, this lesson in respecting the will of others will remain with the
person throughout adulthood and will make him a better citizen.
Emile must be raised to consider situations and things, rather than react to
the will of others. The will of the tutor must disappear and everything that
Emile experiences must appear to be an effect of nature. Therefore, an uncor-
rupted Emile who wants a cookie will never rebel against the phrase There
are no more. However, if the tutor were to say, You cannot have one, then
he interjects his will and teaches Emile to be concerned about how to over-
come the will of others. Therefore, Emile must be allowed the freedom to do
as he pleases and not be given commandments which he would interpret as
restrictions on his will or the selfishness of the one giving the commandment.
Domestics should be kept away from children if they annoy and provoke them.
If children find resistance only in things and never in wills, they will not learn
to be rebellious.
Rousseau provides an example of how to teach Emile natural necessity
and how to manipulate his will without making him resentful. In the example,
Emile is given some seeds to plant which will become beans. He watches the
beans grow and understands that they belong to him because he put his labor
into planting and cultivating them. Therefore, his first lesson is one in the
legitimacy of ownershiplabor causes property to belong to the laborer.
One day Emile discovers that the gardener has plowed down his beans in
order to plant some melons that he, Emile, would eat. Moreover, Emile also
makes the discovery that when he planted his beans, he had plowed under
melon seeds that the gardener had previously planted. In addition, the property
belongs to the gardener because he was the first occupant. The tutor proposes a
social contract: Emile will stay away from the gardeners plants if he has a
Rousseau 133

small plot for his beans. Now he has learned that others have a will of their
own; that their will is justified; and that compromise can be reached for the
benefit of all parties.
It is possible to raise a child to exist both for himself and for others; who is
part natural man, part citizen; who will be content to be himself, who will not
be jealous of others or envy what they have, who will not be watchful of what
other think of him so that he may manipulate their perceptions and use them to
his benefit. Hence, education is a form of determinism. It can shape ones will
to create the perfect citizen. The brilliant tutor will painstakingly engineer
situations in which the child will learn to exercise his free will and rely on
reason and nature to solve problems and extricate himself from dilemmas as
they arise.
Therefore, the healthiest place to raise a child is in the countryside: Men
are made not to be crowded into anthills but to be dispersed over the earth
which they should cultivate. The more they come together, the more they are
corrupted. The infirmities of the body, as well as the vices of the soul, are the
unfailing effect of this overcrowding. Man is, of all the animals, the one who
can least live in herds.
27
Once education has been completed, the young adult
can live anywhere and choose any profession. The goal of the education of the
young is to keep them away from the vices of urban life until they have ac-
quired a sense of satisfaction with who they are and have learned to disdain the
opinion of others. Having learned that, they can join society and live in cities if
they so choose.
Another advantage of raising a child in the countryside is that he will not
learn affectations in speech patterns that may be fashionable in urban areas.
Villagers are interested only in communicating their needs, not in impressing
others or deceiving them for the purpose of gain. For example, villagers articu-
late harshly and coarsely and accentuate their speech in order to convey their
emotions: Accentuation lies less than the word does. This is perhaps why
well-brought-up people fear it so much. From the practice of saying everything
in the same tone came the practice of mocking people without their being
aware of it.
28

Rousseau begins Book 2 with reiterating the importance of not permitting
children to manipulate the will of adults by crying and screaming. He observes
that when children continue to cry it is the fault of the adults around them.
Emile will learn that when he injures himself, it suffices to say, It hurts.
Rousseau identifies the second stage of life as the one in which infancy has
passed and childhood begins: the child speaks and takes his first steps. The
134 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

period is defined by the birth of self-confidence and the knowledge that one
can provide for oneself. When children are able to do more for themselves,
they are prone to look less to adults for assistance. When they learn that they
can direct their strength and effort to give themselves what they want, the life
of the individual begins. It is then that he gains consciousness of himself.
Memory extends the sentiment of identity to all the moments of his exis-
tenceIt is important, therefore, to begin to consider him here as a moral
being.
29

Pain is associated with the desire to be freed from it; pleasure is connected
to the desire to attain it. Therefore, pain and unhappiness are related to a sense
of privation; unhappiness comes from the chasm between our desires and our
senses; happiness occurs when our desires and our senses are one. Raising
children in the state of nature maximizes their happiness because there, their
only desire is for that which ensures self-preservation and the senses are suffi-
cient to provide that. It is in the state of nature that power and desire are equal
and man is content: he does not yearn for what he does not have, he does not
feel envious of others; he desires only self-preservation and he has the power
to give himself that.
The imagination causes people to visualize what they do not have; it
causes them to reach for that which they lack. Unfortunately, they spend their
lives doing this, never being satisfied with what they have, counting it for
naught. However, the closer that man remains to the state of nature, the smaller
the chasm between his senses and desires, and the more certain he is that he
can give himself what he wants.
They key to creating a happy adult is to make one who desires that which
he can give himself: Your freedom and your power extend only as far as your
natural strength, and not beyond. All the rest is only slavery, illusion, and
deception. Even domination is servile when it is connected with opinion, for
you depend on the prejudices of those you govern by prejudices. To lead them
as you please, you must conduct yourself as they please.
30

Therefore, desire enslaves man: The truly free man wants only what he
can do and does what he pleases. That is my fundamental maxim. It need only
be applied to childhood for all the rules of education to flow from it.
31

Society deceives man into believing that he is weak by multiplying the
things he desires and making his strengths insufficient to procure them. There-
fore, man would be wise to choose his desires carefully and not permit them to
force him to labor ceaselessly without satisfaction because one more unful-
filled goal always looms on the horizon.
Rousseau 135

When Emile is confronted with a problem, he learns how to solve it him-


self. Looking to the thing or situation for the solution and not others teaches
self-reliance and the self-confidence that he can deal with every problem.
Interacting with other children is also important as it gives one the skills to
work with others in a team to get a job done. Lessons learned in a schoolyard
from others children may be more useful than anything gleaned in a classroom:
a 12-year-old peasant knows how to use a lever to lift a heavy load better than
any 18-year-old sitting in a university mechanics class; he has learned it from
other children and from experience.
Valuing Symbols of Superiority
Mothers and governors promise children to give them elegantly adorned cloth-
ing as a reward for good behavior and conversely, to dress them as peasants as
punishment for poor behavior. This teaches them at an early age to put a value
on how one looks and that their worth lies in their costume; they learn to value
only the exterior and all signs of wealth that go with it. Rousseau would make
the bourgeois childs attire uncomfortable and cumbersome so that he, of his
own accord, rejects it. He would ensure that simple attire is the most comfort-
able and suitable for play outdoors with others.
Social Contract
In the Social Contract [Du Contrat social] (1762) Rousseau sets out once more
to figure out how mans freedom and happiness can be restored. Having begun
to explore the role of the law in protecting freedom in previous writings, now
he turns his focus to the restoration of freedom and equality by the restructur-
ing of society from the ground up. Therefore, the Social Contract addresses the
outcome of Emiles ideal education: an adult who voluntarily surrenders some
of his free will to the general will so that in turn, his person and property may
be protected by the law. Rousseau shows us that the determinism of republican
government is the product of the wills of many men working together, always
in flux, always changing to meet the shifting needs of the public; or, to put it
differently, if compatibilism is the symbiotic relationship between free will and
determinism, then democracy is compatibilism squared!
Rousseau reiterates all of the key concepts that he articulated in 1754
(Discourse on Inequality) and 1755 (the article entitled, Political Economy,
which appeared in volume 5 of Diderot and dAlemberts Encyclopedia). Once
again, he observes the misery of man living in society and sets out to show
136 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

how the passions and private interest can be curtailed and freedom and equal-
ity, restored. He reiterates that the citizen, by mutual agreement, surrenders the
freedom of the jungle to acquire a different kind of freedom, one in which he is
protected by laws and no longer has to worry about survival; he subordinates
his will to that of the general will, to get, in exchange, the assurance of per-
sonal safety and the safety of his possessions and property. He gives up con-
formity with nature to accept an artificial form of community for the purpose
of increasing his chances of survival.
Rousseau thought that a contract between the citizen and government
would be the best if the territory were kept small. Large countries in Europe
were governed by kings and parliaments and it did not seem to him that the
individual had much power or say in how his government was run. Hence, he
felt that the individual has maximum power in a small country like Corsica, the
nation-states of ancient Greece or the Swiss free cities like Berne and Zrich.
Rousseau begins the Social Contract with the famous statement, Man
was born free; and everywhere he is in chains.
32
This thesis-antithesis is the
basis of his philosophy that natural man enjoys total freedom and that he vol-
untarily surrendered it when he joined society in order to increase his chances
of survival. Social order is not based on nature, but on conventionmen agree
to it of their own free will.
In this sentence he provides another paradox: although man thinks that he
is a master of others, he remains a greater slave than others. The reason is this:
after he joined society man agreed to be bound and shackled by what others
think of him, by public opinion, by the other. True freedom lies not in caring
about what others think, but it exists only in the wild, where the focus is on
ones own immediate needs, not on how one appears to others or on the ap-
proval of the other.
Rousseau observes that all social order is based on convention or mutual
agreement. Men concur that some will have more power, possessions and
money, and others, less; they agree to this in order to gain the safety and pro-
tection that society offers. Hence, they agree to surrender absolute individual
will to the general will in exchange for safety.
In Book 1, Chapter 2, he declares that the first law of man is to provide for
his own preservation. Hence, survival is the driving force in mans behavior,
both in primitive and modern man. This notion is derived from Lucretius On
the Nature of Things [De rerum natura] and Montesquieu. Humans band to-
gether for survival the oldest society is the family and families stay together
for the purpose of survival. Even today there is a division of labor between the
Rousseau 137

mother and father to enhance the chances of their own survival and that of
their offspring; children remain with their parents until they no longer need
them. If they remain longer, their continued relationship is based on mutual
agreement.
He examines Aristotles statement that some men are born for slavery and
others for dominion. Rousseau refutes this view: Aristotle took the effect for
the cause. Once men joined society and agreed to servitude, they and their
descendents perpetuated it; cowardice perpetuates slavery.
No man has a natural right over another, even if he is stronger. It is only
by convention that people agree to be subordinate to kings, vassals to lords
slaves to masters. Those who renounce liberty are out of their minds (Book 1,
Chapter 4, entitled Slavery). To renounce ones liberty is incompatible with
ones nature. Moreover, to remove liberty from free will is to remove all mo-
rality from mans acts. This is right out of Montesquieus Spirit of Laws, Book
15, Chapter 1: the slave is not permitted to behave from the virtue that all
human beings have; before man joined society, he was free to act from motives
of virtue. Rousseau concurs: slaves are not free to act morallythey simply
obey. However, man has a moral nature and moral possibilities. If he is not
free to behave morally, he cannot participate fully in his nature as God in-
tended him to be. Rousseau frequently brings God into the equation and he
speaks as a deist. In Book 1, Chapter 3 he asserts that all power comes from
God and hence, mans moral potential also comes from God. God gave man
free will: to take away free will is to deny the nature that God gave man. If a
man does not have the freedom to exercise his free will, he cannot be free to
behave morally.
In Book 1, Chapter 6 he defines the purpose of the social contract: to form
an association that will defend and protect the whole group, while each indi-
vidual can obey himself alone and remain as free as before. Here, each indi-
vidual, in giving himself to all, gives himself to no one; each person has the
same rights as everyone else; because he is part of a larger group, the latter
gives him the force to protect what he has; each individual has the same rights
as every other.
Before closing Chapter 6, he reiterates the terms of the social contract:
each individual agrees to place himself and his power under the general will
and each member is part of the whole. Here, the general will is sovereign, not
private interests this is very close to Montesquieus definition of a republic.
His association is called a republic and is comprised of voters there are as
138 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

many voters as there are citizens, so each person has the right to vote. Collec-
tively, individuals are called the people, and separately, citizens.
The passage from the wild to society requires the following: instinct is
substituted for justice; morality is now introduced into actions where there was
none before. Now duty replaces appetite and physical impulses; concern for
the good of others replaces concern only for self; reason replaces inclinations
or instinct. He is transformed from a stupid and unimaginative animal to an
intelligent being and a man; now that he has joined society, his faculties are
stimulated and developed, his feelings ennobled, his soul is elevated. He has
given up his original freedom and derived a greater freedom, and the opportu-
nity to move past the animal concern for survival to that of a moral and intelli-
gent man, free to exercise moral judgment and behavior.
He concludes Book 1, Chapter 8, by summarizing that what man loses
when he joins society and enters into a social contract is his natural liberty and
his unlimited right to have everything that he tried and succeeds in getting.
What he gains is civil liberty or increased chances of survival and ownership
of what he has, which is determined by the general will.
In Book 1, Chapter 9, Rousseau elaborates on the fair and equitable distri-
bution of property. First, a person has a right to occupy only land that has not
yet been inhabited by anyone.
33
This prevents the rich and powerful from steal-
ing property from the poor. Secondly, each individual is entitled to own only
as much property as he needs to live and no more: a man must occupy only
the amount he needs for his subsistence.
34
He goes on to ask, How can a man
or a people seize an immense territory and keep it from the rest of the world
except by a punishable usurpation, since all others are being robbed, by such
an act, of the place of habitation and the means of subsistence which nature
gave them in common?
35
Not only do citizens not have the right to hoard
property or possessions, it is a usurpation that deserves punishment by the law.
The government has the duty to permit individuals to have only as much as
they need to live. This notion was used by the Russians as propaganda in the
Communist overthrow of 1917. In fact, Rousseau appeared on postage stamps
in the former U.S.S.R.
He ends Book 1, Chapter 9 by declaring that while men may be physically
unequal in the state of nature, when they enter society and form a social con-
tract, each individual become equal to every other by convention. The social
contract substitutes the physical inequality that exists in nature with moral and
legitimate equality; while men may be unequal in strength or intelligence, the
social compact, by convention and mutual agreement, guarantees that every-
Rousseau 139

one is equal before the law. In a footnote he adds that the social state is ad-
vantageous to men only when all have something and none too much.
36
These
principles are reiterated in Book 2, Chapter 1: the particular will tends, by
its very nature, to partiality, while the general will tends to equality.
37

In Book 2, Chapter 2, Rousseau adds a footnote to emphasize the right of
citizens to vote: To be general, a will need not always be unanimous; but
every vote must be counted: any formal exclusion is a breach of generality.
38

However, the evils of society being what they are, legislators must enact
laws to protect citizens from those seeking to take their lives or property. In
Book 2, Chapter 5, Rousseau approves of the death penalty. Criminals, by
attacking the person or property of another citizen, have broken the social
contract, they have proven that they are outside of it and therefore, outside of
the general will, outside of society, they have proven that they are rebels and
traitors to the republic. By violating laws, they cease to be members of society;
they have declared war on society:
Again, every malefactor, by attacking social rights, becomes on forfeit a rebel and a
traitor to his country; by violating its laws he ceases to be a member of it; he even
makes war upon it. In such a case the preservation of the State is inconsistent with his
own, and one or the other must perish; in putting the guilty to death, we slay no so
much the citizen as an enemy. The trial and the judgment are the proofs that he has
broken the social treaty, and is in consequence no longer a member of the State. Since,
then, he has recognized himself to be such by living there, he must be removed by ex-
ile as a violator of the compact, or by death as a public enemy; for such an enemy is
not a moral person, but merely a man; and in such a case the right of war is to kill the
vanquished.
39

Rousseau also addresses economic issues and the financial health of the repub-
lic. He makes some amazingly prescient statements about a republics produc-
tion of goods and balance of trade. In Book 2, Chapter 10, he articulates two
criteria by which to judge the financial health of a nation: the extent of its
territory and size of its population. If there is too much land and too few in-
habitants, it will be inadequately cultivated, produce more than is needed, and
will be invaded from without. If there is not enough land and too many inhabi-
tants, the state will be dependent on its neighbors to produce an excess to give
it, and soon it will be involved in waging offensive war on others.
In Book 2, Chapter 11, he suggests that if soil is barren and unproductive
or the population too great to be supported by the land, citizens should turn to
industry and crafts and sell or exchange what they produce for what they need.
140 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

If a nation lies on a coastline, the inhabitants should profit from ship-building,


commerce, and navigation.
In Book 3, Chapter 4, Rousseau expounds on the need for a separation of
powers: the legislative and executive should not be the same person or body:
It is not good for him who makes the laws to execute them
40
Furthermore,
the people or the general will must be protected from legislators who are
swayed by private interests: Nothing is more dangerous than the influence of
private interests in public affairs, and the abuse of the laws by the government
is a less evil than the corruption of the legislator, which is the inevitable sequel
to private points of view.
41
How can a country protect itself against such
abuses? Rousseau answers the question in Book 3, Chapter 7, entitled, Mixed
Governments. He mentions the government of England which has a monarch
and a parliament. He observes that there needs to be balance between the ex-
ecutive and legislative bodies: But when the executive power is not suffi-
ciently dependent upon the legislative power, i.e., when the prince is more
closely related to the Sovereign than the people to the prince, this lack of pro-
portion must be cured by the division of the government; for all the parts have
then no less authority over the subjects, while their division makes them all
together less strong against the Sovereign.
42

Similar protection against abuse can be afforded by the appointment of
many magistrates or judges who function outside of those two branches, and
thus provide a balance. Here we see the introduction of the notion of three
independent branches of government executive, legislative, and judiciary.
What the Critics Say
Ernst Cassirer advises that Rousseau offers his solution to the problem of the
corruption of mans free will as an alternative to that of orthodox religion.
Cassirer begins his analysis by pointing out the similarities between Pascal and
Rousseau. Pascal reflected on the greatness and misery of man in Penses;
Rousseau does the same in his first two discourses: Amid the dazzling luster
with which civilization has adorned the life of man, Rousseau, like Pascal, sees
only illusion and tinsel. Rousseau, too, insists that all this wealth is calculated
only to blind man to his own inner poverty. Man takes refuge in society, in a
variety of activities and diversions only because he cannot bear his own
thoughts and the sight of himselfif he were to stop for only a single moment
to reflect upon his own condition, he would fall prey to the deepest and most
hopeless despair.
43

Rousseau 141

Rousseau, like Pascal, asserts that individuals choose to unite into com-
munities not for moral or altruistic reasons, but purely from self-interest: Rous-
seau stresses repeatedly that there is no original moral impulse, no desire for
communitynor any natural sympathy uniting one man to anotherEgotism
and vanity, the impulse to dominate and to impress others; such are the real
bonds that hold society together.
44

From this point Rousseau departs from Pascal. In fact, Christophe de
Beaumont, the Archbishop of Paris, condemned Emile because Rousseau
asserts that the first impulses of human nature are always innocent and
gooda premise that conflicts with the biblical teachings of the fall of man
and original sin.
45

Cassirer observes that because Rousseau rejects the biblical account of the
perversion of the human will, he finds himself in a situation in which he must
propose an alternative explanation to account for the existence of evil and
misery. This explanation is found in the dichotomy of natural man vs civilized
man. Hence, Rousseaus Emile begins with the words: All is well when it
leaves the hands of the Creator of things; all degenerates in the hands of
man.
46
The root cause for choosing evil over good is no longer the result of
spiritual warfare or principalities, but rather, it rests with man alone: But since
guilt belongs to this world, not to the world beyond; since it does not exist
before the empirical, historical evidence of mankind, but arises out of this
existence, we must seek therefore redemption solely in the worldWe must
bring it about ourselves and be answerable for it.
47

The natural instinct for self-preservation (amour de soi) has not yet de-
generated into selfish love (amour propre) whose only satisfaction lies in the
subjection of others to its will. Society alone is responsible for this kind of
selfish love. It is such egotism which causes man to turn tyrant against nature
and even against himself. It awakens in him wants and passions which natural
man knew nothing of, and it also provides him with the new means with which
he can gratify these desires and passions without restraint.
48
Therefore, this
form of society must fall and be replaced with one in which the individual is
protected from the arbitrary will of others and obeys only the general will
which he recognizes and acknowledges as his ownthen the hour of deliver-
ance has arrived.
49
The Social Contract proposes laws that protect the weak
against the strong, ensure the safety of persons and property, and protect the
individual will from that of others.
Pierre Force advises that Rousseau identifies self-interest as the greatest
motivation behind the choices that humans make. Unfortunately, self-interest
142 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

gives rise to jealousy: the pursuit of self-interest incessantly generates new


and dangerous passionsInequality triggers envy and jealousy. Furthermore,
as citizens become more aware of their interests, they begin to see the pursuit
of interest as a zero-sum game, where my gain is your loss. The passion of
envyis the greatest threat to civil societywhile we sympathize with the
sorrow of others, the right of happiness and prosperity hurts our self-love.
50

Therefore, self-interest is a two-edged sword: On the one hand, self-interest is
an agent of social cohesion because it prompts us to serve our common needs.
On the other hand, the pursuit of self-interest, being both a cause and a conse-
quence of the growth in inequality, is accompanied by a growth in envy, a
destructive passion.
51

Force observes that while Rousseau rejects the interest doctrine as a basic
premise of human nature, he does admit that it is the driving force behind
choices that are made in civilized society. Therefore, care must be taken to
raise Emile to give generously to others without the desire to get anything in
return.
52
Force points out that in Emile, Rousseau vociferously rejects Lockes
view that children should be taught to give liberally to others because life will
reward them with greater gifts for having done a good deed.
53
Rousseau calls
this usurious liberality.
54
Force advises, the expression usurious liberal-
ity is probably an allusion to La Rochefoucaulds description of kindness as a
form of disinterestedness that carries a usurious rate of interest.
55

Force advises that Rousseau makes a distinction between interested com-
merce and disinterested commerce: genuine disinterestedness must be a
matter of the heart. One could say that the giver now has the burden of proof.
Anyone who makes a gift is assumed to act out of self-interest. It is the givers
burden to prove that his intentions are pure, and that no reciprocity is expected.
It is only under those conditions that the recipient can legitimately be expected
to have a feeling of obligation to the giver. Otherwise, the only valid response
is ingratitude.
56

Force finds that Rousseau condemns interested commerce, but allows dis-
interested commerce. Rousseau, himself, gives examples of the latter. In Rev-
eries of the Solitary Walker, Rousseau describes disabled veterans that he sees
on the streets. Out of custom, they salute him. Rousseau finds it significant that
they do not have any ulterior motive in saluting him and that moreover, he is a
stranger. Force advises, Since the soldiers intentions are disinterested and
pure, the recipient has a feeling of obligation. Interestingly, this feeling never
translates into any action.
57
Rousseau feels a warmth and gratitude in his
heart. The courtesy of a stranger creates the involuntary feeling of bonding in
Rousseau 143

his heart. This is disinterested commercegiving without the expectation of


getting.
In another anecdote, a disabled veteran offers to help Rousseau cross the
Seine in his boat. Rousseau offers him a small payment and the veteran ac-
cepts. Suddenly he is overwhelmed by the desire to buy him tobacco, as well,
but he represses the urge. Such a generous gift would degrade his nobility and
corrupt his disinterestednesstherefore, it is out of the question and he never
follows through with the act. Force says, This would have established a quid
pro quo, and consequently changed the nature of their relationship. Their disin-
terested commerce would have turned into interested commerce.
58

Hence, the exercise of free will in civilized society is complex and takes
on various levels of meaning, depending on the movie that is playing inside the
head of each actor. What is certain is the Rousseau feels that disinterested
commerce is morally justified.
David Gauthier takes a closer look at the origins of free will. Having care-
fully analyzed how Rousseau uses words, he concludes that a distinction must
be made between free will and natural liberty. Mans earliest ancestors did not
exercise free will since they had not developed the capacity to reflect on their
condition.
59
What they had, on the other hand, was natural liberty, which
animals also havethat quality which caused them to instinctively meet their
needs and desires. Therefore, we must say that free will remained latent and
was not actualized until man joined society and took notice of others. Gauthier
advises that our earliest ancestors lived in what Rousseau describes as the
condition of natural liberty. Liberty here has nothing to do with the free will
that Rousseau ascribes to humans, but rather with the adequacy of each per-
sons powers to meet his or her needs and desires.
60
This natural liberty, as
Rousseau describes in Emile, extends only as far as your natural strength and
not beyond.
61
Therefore, natural liberty is closely associated with amour de
soi and instinct.
On the other hand, free will arose when humans took notice of what others
thought of them, and so it may be paired with amour-propre. It brings about,
as stated in Emile, three undesirable conditions: slavery, illusion and prestige:
Each of these is a way of being unfree, a way in which ones powers fail to be
adequate to meet ones needs.
62

Gauthier acknowledges the symbiotic relationship between free will and
environmental determinism: In seeking better ways of satisfying existing
needs and desires, we find also new desires and passions that demand satisfac-
tion. And so human beings find themselves on a treadmill; each step that they
144 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

take towards the balance between their powers and their desires leads them to
new desires and passions that dislocate the balance.
63
This is because they
have made a change in their environment and also in themselvesthey have
learned something new, they have found a new way to make a favorable
change in their environment and/or avoid an unfavorable consequence. Hence,
free will and perfectibility advance together, taking turns in stepping forward.
Man joined small groups in order to maximize his chances of survival and
these groups were based on family relationships. Because the groups were
small, the individuals benefited from interdependence and did not feel that
they had compromised their liberty. However, as larger communities devel-
oped, men realized that it would be advantageous to specialize in one line of
work (i.e., metallurgy or agriculture) and trade with others to procure what one
lacks. However, this proved to be a zero sum game: the more advantageous
the terms of trade for the farmer, the less advantageous they are for the metal-
workerfor every gain, there must be a corresponding loss.
64
This saw the
rise of amour-propre and material gain became all important.
Therefore, the following question arises: how can modern man enjoy all
the benefits of mutual cooperation without becoming vulnerable to the pitfalls
of slavery, illusion and prestige? The answer is to subordinate individual will
to the general will: The general will comes from all and applies to all;
65

he retains a private interest [that] can speak to him quite differently from
the common interest;
66
whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be
constrained to do so by the entire body;
67
chains are legitimate insofar
as they bind us to the general will.
68


Chapter Six
Voltaire









MEDROSO: But if Im satisfied in the galleys?
BOLDMIND: In that case you deserve to be there.
1

Franois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary (1764)
Voltaire uses the Philosophical Dictionary (1764) as a platform to promulgate
determinism and to ridicule the notion of free will. He also vociferously de-
fends freedom of thought, speech, press, assembly, religion, and denounces
monarchical absolutism, militarism, and slavery. While it may seem like a
contradiction that he holds that free will is a myth and at the same time up-
holds all of the freedoms that would one day be codified in various constitu-
tions around the world, actually it is not: he ardently believes that the only way
to realize political freedom, justice and equality for all is through the determin-
ism of a proper education for everyone: reason and the dissemination of
knowledge will eventually replace ignorance, superstition, and irrationality.
This will not happen randomly: it must be inculcated in youth from the earliest
age.
Chain of Events
Let us begin by examining Voltaires belief in determinism in the article enti-
tled, Chain of Events [Chane des vnements]. Some may find it surprising
that Voltaire staunchly defended all of the freedoms enumerated in the para-
graph above, but he did not believe in free will. On the contrary, he embraced
determinism or the notion that all effects have their causes. The reason for this
is that Voltaire was product of his time: he held the Newtonian view that the
universe is like a finely tuned clock whose cogs, wheels, pulleys, springs, and
weights are interdependent upon one another; by analogy, events are also
146 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

interdependent; all occurrences have their causes and these causes, in turn,
have theirs.
In Chain of Events he amuses his readers in his usual jocular style, as he
teaches us that causality underlies all human occurrences: Sarpedon, the son of
Jupiter, was born at the precise moment that he had to be born and could not be
born at another moment; he could not die anywhere else than before Troy; he
could not be buried elsewhere than in Lycia; at the appointed time his body
had to produce vegetables which had to be changed into the substance of some
Lycians;
2
the destiny of the world was dependent on Sarpedons death;
Sarpedons death depended on Helen being carried off; her abduction was
necessarily connected to Hecubas marriage. Voltaire concludes, If a single
one of these facts had been arranged differently a different universe would
have resulted
3

The master of wit goes on to entertain the reader with more causalities that
ultimately determined the political boundaries and geography of the face of
Europe: the little quarrels of the Duchess of Marlborough and Lady Masham
gave Lord Bolingbroke the opportunity to negotiate a treaty between Queen
Anne and Louis XIV; this treaty led to the Peace of Utrecht; the Peace of
Utrecht put Philip V on the Spanish throne; Philip V won Naples and Sicily
from Austria. Therefore, Voltaire concludes, one must logically extrapolate
that the current King of Naples owes his kingdom to Lady Masham and that he
would not have it, perhaps he would not even have been born, if the Duchess
of Marlborough had been more complaisant towards the Queen of England or
if there had been one more or one less foolishness at the court of London.
Voltaires conclusion is both a definition of determinism and also an
iconic representation of the notion of interconnectedness: All is wheels, pul-
leys, ropes, springs in this immense machine
4
that is the universe. Finally,
Voltaire recognizes that a wind that blows from deepest Africa influences
rainfall in the Alps, which in turn, fertilizes French soil. Hence, in 1764 he was
amazingly prescient as to the Butterfly Effect, a basic premise in modern
chaology (the study of chaos). The Butterfly Effect dictates that the flapping of
a butterflys wings in South America can cause perturbations of changes in
weather conditions that may affect a snowfall in Alaska.
However, although Voltaire maintains that every effect has a cause, which
in turn, has a cause, and that this line can be traced back to the origin of time,
he is quick to point out that not every action has a specific result going forward
to the end of time: all children have parents, but not all beings have children;
every family can be traced back to Adam, but there are many childless cou-
Voltaire 147

ples. Therefore, Voltaire recognizes that the world is governed by statistical


probability: present events are not the results of all past events, only some of
them. While present events do have direct line of descent from their causes,
there are also innumerable smaller, tiny, collateral lines that do not influence
them. Voltaire ends his article by reiterating that every being has its father,
but not every being has children.
5

Voltaire takes this path of reasoning is because he is trying to combine two
seemingly antithetical notions: the determinism of the Newtonian universe that
posit that all events have their causes vs. his lifelong commitment to inspiring
people to exercise their free will to ameliorate their condition. Because deter-
minism obviates free will, he is forced to search for a rational and scientific
way out of the conundrum.
Equality
In the article entitled, Equality [Egalit], Voltaire refutes the hypotheses that
Rousseau had set forth in the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and Social
Contract. Rousseau had argued that natural man did not know inequality or
slavery: in the wild he was concerned only with self-preservation; he learned
vanity only when he joined society. Voltaire ridicules this theory and declares
that on the contrary, luxury and vanity are basic human instincts: Every man
is born with a powerful enough desire for domination, wealth and pleasure,
and with much taste for idleness
6
Voltaire mirthfully concludes that since
man is born with these passions, he naturally wants to steal other peoples
money, wives, possessions, and to subjugate them. While this results in eternal
struggle and inequality, it is also the engine that makes capitalism run. The
passions are useful as they cause people to want to achieve, expand, engage in
trade, and explore and conquer the world.
Hence, this is the paradox: reason is mans greatest gift (Voltaire calls rea-
son the divine ray from God), but men use reason to enslave each other; ani-
mals do not enslave each other because they do not have reason. Voltaire
opens the article by asking, What does a dog owe to a dog, and a horse to a
horse? Nothing, no animal depends on his like
7
The reason that animals do
not depend on each other is because they do not have reason. Because man has
received reason, he has conceived of slavery.
However, just as reason can cause subjugation, it can also liberate: Vol-
taire strongly recommends that man employ reason to free himself from his
oppressors. He declares that every man has the right to believe that he is equal
148 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

to all others. The lowly cook of a highly esteemed cardinal should recognize
that like his employer, he, too, is a man; that they are both born of pain; that
they will both die; that they both perform the same animal functions; and that
if the Turks were to capture Rome, he would become the new boss and the
cardinal, the cook. However, Voltaire advises that until that happens and role
reversals and equality do come, he should get out.
The ending to the article, in which Voltaire recommends that the cook
should make the decision to leave, is a powerful statement, and it does not
come lightly: Voltaire, himself, lived in exile most of his life, as he was ban-
ished from France because of his speech and writing. We can therefore appre-
ciate the ardor with which he defended freedom of speech and press. After
Louis XIV died, the Regent sold half the horses in the royal stables to raise
revenue; Voltaire remarked that it would have made more sense to dismiss half
the asses that filled the royal court. That remark landed him in the Bastille.
Then from 1726 to 1729, after another arrest, he went into exile in England.
There he was astounded and delighted to discover that scholars and politicians
spoke or published as they pleased. He also lived in Prussia, where, much to
his horror, King Frederick the Great prevented him from leaving the country.
Hence, we find statements in the article Equality such as In some countries
it has been claimed that a citizen is not entitled to leaveThe meaning of this
law is obviously: This country is so bad and so badly governed that we forbid
every individual to leave it, for fear that everybody leave it. Do better: make all
you subjects wish to remain at home and strangers come to you
8
and the
ending, what should he do? He should leave.
9

States, Governments: Which Is the Best?
In the article entitled, States, Governments: Which Is the Best? [Etats, gou-
vernements: quel est le meilleur?] Voltaire undertakes that ask of identifying
the system of government in which citizens enjoy equality, justice, security,
peace, and are the happiest. In order to answer the question, he begins by fo-
cusing on the importance of the philosophe or free thinker in moving society
forward. In his first paragraph he holds that scholars and thinkers who write
books that educate the public hold the power to reform government, armies,
laws, the economy, and the Church. They do it not by influencing those who
are currently in power: ministers who govern presently are too heavily invested
in the system that exists, as are their egos; rather, it is the books of brilliant
thinkers that mold the minds of the next generation, the youths who one day
Voltaire 149

will hold office, the young princes who will become kings. Hence, Voltaire is
eternally hopeful that a better form of government will emerge as knowledge,
reason, and education increases and spreads throughout the world; that is the
only way to ensure that the next generation will be less fanatical and more
open minded to new ideas.
Voltaire directly addresses the reader and asks him under what form of
government he would like to live; what kind of regime would be chosen by a
wise man, free, of modest wealth, and without prejudices?
10
In order to ex-
plore the problem further, he provides a lively dialogue between two intelli-
gent men who try hard to answer the question. One is a European, a learned
member of the Court of Pondicherry; the other, an Indian Brahman. The two
travel around the world together, all the while engaging in conversation and
finding fault with the government of every country they visit. No government
is to their liking that of the Grand Mogul, ruled by Tartars, regards its mil-
lions of citizens to be nothing; republics are rare and do not last for long (Tyre)
either they are conquered by their neighbors (Israel) or they decline, fall, and
become monarchies (Roman Empire).
The European asks the Indian whether more honor is required in a despotic
state and more virtue, in a republic. Here despotic state is used inter-
changeably with monarchical state in order to signify unrestrained monar-
chical absolutism. Voltaire echoes Rousseau when the Brahman replies that
virtue is most frequently seen in the republic. The Brahman (Voltaire) posits,
with some mirth, that perhaps this is so because in a republic, the virtuous man
has no one to flatter. This observation, strategically placed at the end of a para-
graph for emphasis, reminds us of his own visit to the Bastille because he did
not flatter the royal court.
After observing and criticizing the various forms of government that exist
in the world, the Brahman concludes by agreeing with Montesquieu that gov-
ernment, manners and mores are intimately intertwined with climate: all the
physical laws are calculated for the meridian one inhabits: a German needs
only one wife, a Persian needs three or four.
11

Finally, the European councilman presses the Brahman to reveal what
form of government he would choose. The Brahman wisely replies, That in
which only the laws are obeyed.
12
This implies the regime in which the ca-
prices of men are not obeyed, but rather, the rule of law prevails. Initially, the
reader is led to imagine that perhaps the parliamentary monarchy of England
or the loosely confederated cantons of Switzerland may hold the answer to the
riddle. However, Voltaire prolongs the suspense: when the councilman asks
150 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

where such a country might be found, the Brahman answers, We must look
for it.
13
Voltaire cleverly indicates a footnote at the end of the sentence: thus,
the footnote alerts the reader that he, too, must look for it by glancing at the
bottom of the page. And there we have a surprise: Voltaires footnote says,
See the article Geneva in the Encyclopedia. The article, written by
dAlembert, provides the Brahmans answer to the Englishmans question: the
republic of Geneva, where men are virtuous and governed only by lawslaws
that ensure equality, justice, security, and happiness.
On Free Will
In the article entitled, On Free Will [De la libert], Voltaire defends his
belief that free will does not exist; rather, he holds that all beings, things and
events are governed by determinism. Determinism is the theory that acts of the
will, occurrences in nature, and social and psychological phenomena are caus-
ally determined by preceding events or natural laws. Hence, every effect has a
cause and while men may be free to act, the choice that they make is deter-
mined by factors that shape their choice. The article applies the principles of
causality of the Newtonian universe to human behavior and psychology, much
as the article Chain of Events does.
On Free Will takes the form of a dialogue between A and B. It begins by
A demonstrating to B that if B were to hear gunshots, he would run away from
them because of the instinct of self-preservation. Hence, B has the power to act
and he exercises this power because he has determined that it is not safe to
remain near gunshots. Therefore, he has no free will, and what might appear to
be a choice to run away is really an effect determined by a cause, namely, the
fear of death. One could extend this principle to every decision that humans
make we are free to act, but our actions are based on causes. He concludes
the article by having A declare, Your will is not free, but your actions
are.
14

We can see how Voltaire viewed education, commerce, and travel as inte-
gral factors in furthering freedom. It is only when people are exposed to new
ideas and other societies that their ideas are influenced, shaped, and changed.
Knowledge is the cause; moving towards freedom, the effect. Without knowl-
edge, there is no cause for revolution or progress. Similarly, the passions the
desires for luxury, wealth, and ease are causes that stimulate capitalism and
increase commerce, which in turn, lead to a healthier economy.
Voltaire 151

Freedom of Thought
In the article entitled, Freedom of Thought [Libert de pense], Voltaire
defends freedom of speech, press, and religion. Once again, he demonstrates
that only knowledge and education can propel humanity forward into new
societies where citizens are increasingly happy. The article is a dialogue be-
tween Lord Boldmind and Count Medroso. Lord Boldmind, as his name im-
plies, personifies the English scholar that Voltaire so much admired. He
engages in a philosophical debate with his opposite, Count Medroso, whose
name means fearful, timid, or cowardly in Spanish. While Boldmind is a free
thinker and questions everything, Medroso, readily accepts what others instruct
him to believe and questions nothing.
As the article begins, the English are fighting at the Battle of Saragossa
and our two protagonists are recuperating at the mineral spring in Barges.
Barges, situated in the French Pyrnes, has warm mineral waters that were
first generally known in 1675 when they were visited by Madame de Mainte-
non and the Duke of Maine, son of Louis XIV. A military hospital was
founded there. It is significant that Boldmind, a field officer, is wounded in
battle and is recovering at Barges: he is bold and daring, a risk taker, as his
name implies; therefore, he ventures to the center of the military theater where
the fighting is most severe and there he is wounded, as might be expected;
however, as a risk taker, he knows how to deal with adversity when it comes
he goes to the mineral spring at Barges to speed his recovery time. There he
meets Count Medroso, who is also taking in the waters. However, by contrast,
Medroso was not wounded in battle, but rather, fell off his horse while hiding
in the rear of the baggage, a league and a half from the action of the battlefield.
Hence, the reader understands from the first paragraph that Boldmind is afraid
of nothing and aggressively plunges into everything that life has to offer; and
that Medroso is terrified of reality and tries to hide from it, although to no
avail, as he still manages to fall of his horse and get hurt at the rear of the bag-
gage. Thus Voltaire demonstrates that we are better off living as heroes rather
than cowards, since both the hero and the coward can be wounded and end up
at the same place, taking in the waters at Barges. Our hero does not die be-
cause of his boldness; our coward does not avoid getting hurt because of his
prudence.
As the conversation begins, Boldmind advises that Medroso was better off
under the yoke of the Moors, who did not keep the mind in chains. Medroso
remarks that the Dominicans do not allow the Spanish to write, talk, or think;
152 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

in order to control their thoughts, they threaten them with hell if they do not
think like the Dominicans. It is no surprise to the reader that Medroso is un-
educated, and that he has never heard of Cicero, Julius Caesar, Marcus Aure-
lius, Lucretius, Plinius, or Seneca.
Boldmind urges Medroso to think and use his mind, since he was born
with intelligence and reason. He uses the metaphor Youre a bird in the cage
of the inquisition.
15
The way out of the cage is with an education: He who
knows no geometry can learn it. Every man can educate himself.
16
Hence, it is
a matter of values: societies that place a high value on education move for-
ward; those that do not remains slaves to tyrants and despots.
Boldmind declares that everyone is happy in England precisely because
there everyone enjoys freedom of speech. When Medroso declares, argumenta-
tively and obstinately, that he is satisfied to be a galley slave, Boldmind,
speaking for Voltaire, replies, In that case you deserve to be there.
17
Voltaire
has no patience with those who voluntarily choose ignorance over knowledge.
Luxury
The article entitled, Luxury [Luxe], is an apology for the passions: in it Vol-
taire defends the love of wealth, greed and vanity as basic human instincts that
are highly useful to society as they are the engine that makes capitalism run.
He begins by observing that although men may denounce luxury in verse
and in prose, deep inside they love it: that is because the love of luxury and
wealth is a basic human instinct; this is the way that we were created. He urges
the reader to condemn pirates when they pillage, but do not call them lunatics
when they enjoy what they have taken.
18
Theft may be wrong, but material-
ism is not. He asks, Do the windbags want the wealth amassed by the fortunes
of war, agriculture, trade and industry to be buried?;
19
The luxury of Athens
produced great men of every kind.
20
The passions are the locomotives that
power capitalism and make for a healthy economy. As the economy grows, all
strata of society benefit. Hence, he cites two lines from Defense of the Man of
the World, or An Apology for Luxury [Dfense du mondain, ou Lapologie du
luxe], Know above all that luxury enriches a great state, though it ruins a
small one.
21

As the passions fuel capitalism and society ameliorates, luxury becomes
more and more commonplace in all social strata. For example, when scissors
were first invented and used to cut hair and nails, they were regarded by some
as instruments of vanity; however, they have become ubiquitous and now
Voltaire 153

every family has at least one pair; the same can be said for shoes and socks,
which were denounced by old codgers, but readily adopted by the younger
generation.
The article can be understood to be a refutation and ridiculing of Rous-
seau, who held that the passions are not natural to man, that they are something
that man acquired when he joined society and became obsessed with what
others thought of him, that they enslave man, and cause inequality, injustice
and misery. Voltaire, on the contrary, argues that the love of luxury is a basic
instinct as are all the passions, and that without them, people would have no
incentive to innovate, find ways to grow rich or improve society they would
be content to wallow in poverty and continue under the most primitive condi-
tions.
Hence, we have seen Voltaire breaks with the past and with the Augustin-
ian belief system that the passions, including selfishness and self-interest, are
inherently evil. On the contrary, he thought that self-love is a virtue that pro-
pels humanity to advance forward, to bother to explore and invent, that stimu-
lates the economy and trade, that takes us out of the dark ages. Pierre Force, in
Self-Interest before Adam Smith, discusses Voltaires break with Augustinian
traditionPascal, Nicole and La Rochefoucauld were Augustiniansand
Voltaire challenged their system.
22


Chapter Seven
Sartre









INEZ: You know the way they catch larkswith a mirror? Im your lark-mirror, my
dear, and you cant escape me
1
Jean-Paul Sartre, No-Exit (1944)
Sartre staunchly believed that we do have free will and hence, we can call him
an indeterminist (a position also taken by Immanuel Kant, C.A. Campbell,
Richard Taylor, and the existentialists). His position is based on the fact that
because humans have the capacity to be self-reflective, they can exercise crea-
tivity with regard to who and how they choose to be from moment to moment.
Life is open-ended, not a closed system restricted by what transpired before.
We have the freedom to break with the past and recreate ourselves. This is
because we are conscious beings, unlike inanimate objects, whose natures are
rigidly defined by their essence, that have no consciousness, and thus have no
freedom to choose. Sartre articulates his core philosophy in his magnum opus,
Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology [Ltre et le
nant: Essai dontologie phnomnologique] (1943). Let us begin by defining
a few key terms in this work and then we will integrate these definitions into
an examination of why he believed that we have free will.
Sartres Philosophy
The term phenomenology is a philosophic method based on the conscious
experience of phenomena. Experienced phenomena include acts (perceiving,
thinking, believing) and the things to which they are related (material objects,
ideas, wishes). Phenomenology holds that real and ultimate significance of
phenomena can only be apprehended subjectively: conclusions must derive
from the subjective consciousness, which is always of somethingthat is, of
Sartre 155

phenomena. Therefore, the self is a construct of the relationship between the


subject and objects, between I and every phenomenon that I perceives. In
other words, the self is a composite of the information that our consciousness
gets from a variety of objects, all of which are not consciousness.
Phenomenology was developed by the German philosopher Edmund Hus-
serl in the early 20
th
century. Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice
Merleau-Ponty, Max Scheler, and Karl Jaspers numbered among the many
who modified Husserls views and applied them to disciplines as diverse as
psychology, sociology, aesthetics, law, ethics, and existentialism.
In Being and Nothingness, Sartre considerably develops phenomenology,
but he departs from Husserls concept of the transcendental ego. He begins by
establishing that there are three types of being:
Being-for-itself [tre-pour-soi]. This is pure consciousness; it is trans-
lucent; it is aware of things that are other than consciousness, but it
can never be aware of itself or the consciousness of others. Since con-
sciousness is awareness of something other than itself, it must be de-
fined in relation to something else, and it is not possible for one to
grasp it. Moreover, consciousness is pre-reflective: it exists before
thinking. Hence, Sartre disagrees with Descartes I think, therefore I
am. Sartre prefers to say, I am conscious before I think. He points
out that we are not what we were a second ago and we are not yet
what we will be a second from now. Therefore, we can say that con-
sciousness (being-for-itself) is not identical with its past or future: it
is already no longer what it was and is not yet what it will be.
Being-in-itself [tre-en-soi]. This is the object that consciousness per-
ceives; it is everything that is not consciousness. Objects that are be-
ing-in-itself are defined in space and time; they do not change. The
objects we perceive are interpretations, prejudices, beliefs, ideas, the
way that others view us (the nefarious look of the other, that carries
with it preconceived notions based on social class, appearance, race).
Being-for-others [tre-pour-autrui]. This is acting with authenticity;
realizing that one is free to act even within the confines of environ-
ment, heredity, and government, and making the choice to act freely.
Sartre combined philosophy with active political commitment: he be-
lieved that the kind of person one should be ought to be based on mor-
al choices. By incorporating individual responsibility into class
relationships and combining moral responsibility and collective cau-
156 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

sality, he arrives at the third type of beingbeing-for-othersand ad-
vises that we can undertake projects for others in order to make the
world a better place in which to live. These projects for others give
meaning to our lives.
Human conflict arises because people behave in ways that contradict what they
really are, i.e., consciousness that is continually moving forward in time, per-
ceiving new things, and changing. For example, a caf waiter behaves in the
rigid, mechanical way that waiters are expected to act when they are at work.
Behaving this way, the waiter identifies with his role as waiter and is locked
into being-in-itselfhe is discarding his real nature (being-for-itself) to
identify with being-in-itself, in this case, his role. Thus, Sartre says that by
denying his transcendent self, the waiter is engaging in self-deception, which
he calls a project of bad faith [la mauvaise foi]. This project of self-deception
is based on an inadequate representation to himself and to the world of what he
really is. Bad faith is the denial of ones total freedom and making the choice
to behave inauthentically.
Sartre also points out that we can never be conscious of the mind of the
otherno access to the others mind is possible. Therefore, the existence of
the other is a mere hypothesis. Sartre provides the example of someone watch-
ing another through a peephole. The observers ego is not involved because he
is not being watched by anyone. However, the moment that the observer per-
ceives that someone else has entered the room, he suddenly experiences shame
because he has become aware of the fact that now he has become the object of
anothers looknow the ego in him arises. Other minds are required to make
us feel shame and this establishes their existence. In No Exit we will see that
there is no conflict during the brief moments that Garcin is alone in the room.
However, in the presence of the valet, Ins and/or Estelle, he becomes the
object of their gaze, feels threatened by their presence, and goes on the de-
fense.
The evaluation of self is filtered through the look of the other and we see
and judge ourselves as we appear to the other. The look of the other can be
devastating: it can make one feel objectified, judged, embarrassed, or ashamed
of whom one is. Sartre held that by the mere appearance of the other, we put
ourselves in the position of passing judgment on ourselves as we do on an
object, for it is as an object that we appear to the other. We see ourselves not
from the inside as we did before, but from the outside as the other person sees
Sartre 157

us. It seems that the glance is experienced more powerfully by the observed
than by the observer.
Objectification is the representation of a human being as a physical thing
deprived of personal qualities or individuality; a human being is treated as a
thing, disregarding his/her personality. Objectification denies autonomy: the
person is treated as if lacking in agency or self-determination. It also denies
subjectivity: the person is treated as if there is no need to show concern for his
feelings and experiences. According to Sartre, objectification occurs only
when being-in-itself is considered; at that time being-for-itselfthat part
of the person that is in continual fluxis not taken into consideration.
By reacting to the look of the other, one can turn the other into the object
of ones look. This movement from object to subject and vice versa, causes the
self to distinguish itself from the other. It can also start a conflict between
people who engage in competitive subjectivity, that is, taking turns viewing
each other in a demeaning way.
Sartre advises that we do not have to stay locked into a lifelong pattern of
objectifying self and others: we are free to choose because we are not being-
in-itself, but a presence to self (being-for-itself). Thus our consciousness
transcends, negates, or annihilates the limitations imposed by being-in-itself.
We realize that whatever others ascribe to us, we are not it. Thus, there is a
distance between being-in-itself and consciousness and this distance pro-
vides our freedom.
Authenticity is living the truth of ones situation, namely, that we are not
our situation (the limitations of being-in-itself), and that we are responsible
for perpetuating it. Hence, saying, That is just the way I am or I cant do
anything about it are statements of bad faith and inauthenticity because they
involve lying to oneself about being limited by being-in-itself; they deny
being-for-itself and renounce responsibility for choosing to stay that way.
Sartre believed that absolute determinism is a lie. Even within the factual-
ity (facticity) of environment, heredity, health, and government regime,
choices can be made. For example, in a repressive regime, one can choose to
remain silent or become an activist and risk the consequences. Sartre applied
his own philosophy to giving meaning to life via contribution to the collective
good when he helped form a clandestine group, Socialism and Freedom, in
occupied France during World War II and later, in his involvement in politics.
The foundations of authenticity are the recognition and respect for free-
dom of self and freedom of the other. Excluded from authenticity are choices
that involve the oppression or the exploitation of the other. Therefore, Sartre
158 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

condemned the term authentic Nazi as oxymoronic because it denies the
freedom of the other.
Recognition of our freedom leaves an indelible imprint on us. We experi-
ence vertigo or anguish when realize that in truth, neither our past, nor our
present, nor our psychology, prevent us from embarking on a wholly new
course of action and departing from our usual trodden path. When we recog-
nize that we are free to choose, we are overwhelmed by anxiety. Conscious-
ness feels threatened by this limitless freedom and uses the ego to protect itself
from it. Therefore, it lies to itself, engages in self-deception. The ego is a false
image that consciousness constructs.
Hazel E. Barnes, in her introduction to Being and Nothingness, explains
that consciousness is afraid of unlimited freedom and therefore, it adheres to
artificial constructs of the ego in order to assuage its fear: we feel vertigo or
anguish before our recognition that nothing in our own pasts or discernible
personality insures our following any of our usual patterns of conduct. There is
nothing to prevent consciousness from making a wholly new choice of its way
of being. By means of the Ego, consciousness can partially protect itself from
this freedom so limitless that it threatens the very bounds of personality. Eve-
rything happens as if consciousness constituted the Ego as a false image of
itself, as if consciousness were hypnotized by this Ego which it has established
and were absorbed in it. Here undeveloped is the origin of bad faith, the pos-
sibility which consciousness possesses of wavering back and forth, demanding
the privileges of a free consciousness, yet seeking refuge from the responsibili-
ties of freedom by pretending to be concealed and confined in an already es-
tablished Ego.
2

Barnes also notes that when we find ourselves in an impossible situation,
we may seek a way out via emotions. She cites Sartres example of someone
playing pinball and watching the marble reach the wrong destination. The
player may become emotional in an effort to change the character of the world:
if my plans meet with utter frustration, I may seek to transform the whole
character of the world which blocks me. Since I can not do so in actuality, I
accomplish a parallel result by a sort of magical transformation. Emotion is a
transformation of the worldemotioncan be temporarily satisfying, but it
is fundamentally ineffective and transient with no direct power to affect the
environment.
3

Sartre 159

Free Will
Regarding inanimate objects, Sartre holds that essence precedes existence
because they are not conscious. For example, an artisan uses his skills to fash-
ion an object, lets say an article of pottery. This is an inanimate object with a
built-in essence. Inanimate objects are determined by their essence or nature
and as such, cannot be otherwise.
However, regarding humans, Sartre declares that existence precedes es-
sence. Because they have consciousness, they do not have a predetermined
nature and they are free at every moment to become something other than what
they were before; they are not limited by past choices; they can choose to forge
an entirely brand new path and engage in behavior or undertake goals that are
not based on previous decisions or events. While there are things that we can-
not change, such as our heredity and upbringing (facticity), we can change our
attitude towards them and see them in new ways. Hence there is a contrast
between two concepts that we have previously defined: being-in-itself, i.e.,
inanimate objects, past events, the prejudices of others, which are not free, not
responsible, have a predetermined essence, are fixed, complete, static and
close-ended, vs. being-for-itself, i.e., the conscious subject who observes eve-
rything that is external to himself, who is free, responsible for himself, has no
predetermined essence, is not fixed, and can never be complete.
Being-for-itself, a characteristic of humanity, is totally free all of the time;
it is impossible for it to be otherwise. Therefore, Sartre says that we are con-
demned to be free because, being free at every moment to choose how we will
be the next moment, we are responsible for everything that we do. From the
moment we are born, we are responsible for our actions and since we have no
choice but to be free, we are condemned to be free. We cannot blame any-
oneour parents, teachers or governmentfor our situation but ourselves.
The realization of total freedom and total responsibility brings anguish, de-
spair and a sense of abandonment. It is a shock to realize that we cannot blame
others for our situation. It is a heavy burden to bear to have to acknowledge
that we have only ourselves to blame for what is undesirable in our lives. We
are thus freed to construct a moral code by which to live and also to seize the
reins of our lives and make conscious, planned, responsible decisions for the
shape that our lives will take in the present and future.
Some people are so threatened by this freedom and the responsibility that
accompanies it, that they choose to pretend to be someone other than who they
are, i.e., identify with roles required by their jobs, or by accepting the view that
160 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

others have of them. They end up deceiving themselves into thinking that they
are indeed the role that they are playing at work, at home, or during a recrea-
tional activity, or accepting the notion that they are inferior because others
look down on them, and he calls this self-deception bad faith. Acting in bad
faith is actually self-betrayal; we lie to ourselves about who we are. To act in
bad faith, to deceive ourselves into thinking that we are other than who we are,
reduces us to an inanimate object or thing; we embrace the lie that we have a
fixed nature or essence, when in fact, we do not, and so we avoid taking re-
sponsibility for our lives. We act inauthentically.
One form of self-deception and behaving inauthentically is when one
commits a violent act against another or seeks to dominate or control him. By
not respecting the fact that the other is also pure consciousness and has free-
dom, one is not acting authentically. To act authentically is to recognize that
we are all pure consciousness, that we are all free, and to respect the freedom
of others. Because most people are not aware of their freedom, they do seek to
dominate and control those around them; thus they reduce the other to an in-
animate object. The proliferation of this in society makes it evident that most
people are too threatened and too afraid to embrace the freedom to which they
are condemned. Thus, most relationships are conducted in bad faith, most
people do treat each other as objects and spend their lives trying to maintain
the upper hand over the other.
No-Exit
Sartre wrote the first draft of No-Exit in two weeks at the Caf Flore in Paris.
Because Germany occupied France at the time, he specifically wrote the play
in one act so that theatergoers could get home before the German-imposed
curfew. The play was first produced in May 1944 at the Thtre du Vieux-
Colombier in Paris.
In this work, three people find themselves in a room together in the after-
life. The afterlife is a metaphor for life, and the dead, for the living. The con-
fines of the room in which the subject-object relationships are formed provide
a microcosm of everyday life.
At first it appears that the three protagonists have nothing in common and
that they do not belong cooped up together in the same room for all eternity.
However, as the play unfolds, it becomes evident that what they all have in
common is that they have relinquished their freedom to recognize what they
truly are (being-for-itself) and have chosen instead to engage in self-deception.
Sartre 161

This self-deception is based on the objectification of self and other. Prolonged


interaction among the three gradually helps them identify the lies that they
embrace.
The play has four characters:
Garcin is a heterosexual male, a draft dodger who is obsessed with
proving to himself that he is not a coward. Rather than confront his
fear of war, he lies to himself that he is a pacifist who has fled the war
on principle.
Estelle is a heterosexual female. She grew up poor and married a
wealthy old bourgeois for his money; having acquired some money
and social status, she pretends to be upper class and puts on airs to
make others see her as a socialite. She is promiscuous, had a baby out
of wedlock and threw the baby over a bridge into the water below as
her lover watched; subsequently, her grieving lover committed suicide
and she died of pneumonia.
Ins is a lesbian, a postal worker. She has a dual role in the play. First,
she is a sadist who knows exactly what to say and do to shatter the
other two characters. She needs to inflict suffering on others so that
she may suffer vicariously through her victims. Secondly, she is a ve-
hicle through which Sartre articulates his existentialist philosophy.
Therefore, despite the fact that she is firmly entrenched in being-in-
itself, she is amazingly lucid at times.
The valet. He is defensive about the fact that others view him in his
lowly role as servant. Accordingly, he protects himself by looking at
others as despicable objects, employing sarcastic humor, and engaging
in competitive subjectivity.
The names of the characters have significance. Garcin evokes garon and he
is obsessed with being seen as a real (macho) man; he sees himself as a coward
because during his earthly life, his fellows did and thus he doubts that he is a
man; he entertained a prostitute in bed as his subservient wife brought them
breakfast in order to behave as a callous tough guy.
Estelle is comprised of est and elle and indeed, she is preoccupied with
confirming that she exists; she had surrounded herself with mirrors to assure
herself that elle est. Est elle is the reverse of elle est, implies the interrogative,
and hyperbolizes her terror of annihilation.
162 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Ins is comprised of the last two letters of Garcin and the first two of
Estelle. She is a composite of both. Like Garcin, she knows what it is to be a
coward, to behave with malice, and experience shame and fear; like Estelle,
she is also obsessed with existenceshe admits, Im always conscious of
myselfpainfully conscious; like Estelle, she has some issues to confront
about being a womanEstelle behaves like a prostitute; Ins lives vicariously
through other women. Rather than identify as herself, she lives through the
reflection of the other in the homosexual mirror.
The environmentno windows, no mirrors, no beds, no darkness, no pri-
vacy, a door locked from the outsideprovides the situation in which the three
characters torture themselves and each other. During the course of the play, the
characters learn about themselves; their pretensions are stripped away and
some of the beliefs that they had about themselves are destroyed.
The absence of mirrors is frequently mentioned in the play. The mirror is a
metaphor for the other person: each person constitutes the hell of the other first
by objectifying him/her, but then, as the play continues, by attacking the oth-
ers self-deception. Self-deception is the false constructs that the ego creates
and desperately tries to hold on to in order to avoid confronting the anguish
inherent in recognizing that life is absurd, man will die and that he must take
action to give meaning to his life. Although the characters try to hide their self-
deception from each other, each character can see the other for who he is.
Identification with Externals:
The Abdication of Self-Determination
From the first few lines of the play, the emphasis is on the act of looking and
the prejudice that arises from it. This stress on looking is evidenced in 1) dis-
tinctive period furniture that arouses surprise and displeasure in the characters,
2) Sartres stage directions, and 3) Garcin and the valets language.
Let us begin with the furniture. As the play begins, the setting is A draw-
ing-room in Second Empire style. A massive bronze ornament stands on the
mantelpiece.
4
The furniture is highly distinctive because it reflects a time and
period that no longer exist: the Second French Empire was the Imperialist
Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III that lasted from 1852 until 1870 between
the Second and Third Republics in France. Second Empire sofas typically had
splay legs, malachite green or wine-red cut velvet upholstery, and bronze or-
molu ornamental mountings. Second Empire armchairs were of mahogany
embellished with dor bronze mounts, had low round backs embellished with
Sartre 163

bronze, and featured olive green or wine-red velvet seats stuffed with horse-
hair. Moreover, the bronze sculpture over the mantel is a monstrosity. There-
fore, the stylized furniture and hideous sculpture elicit prejudices from Garcin
and the audience at the same time; both have the opportunity to concurrently
look at the pieces and formulate an opinion about them.
On the next line we have this stage direction: GARCIN [entersand
glances around him]
5
il entre et regarde establishes subjectivity and this
is hyperbolized by autour de lui. As Garcin looks around and colors the
experience with his own past and prejudices, members of the audience are
doing the same. Although Garcin is the chief persona and theatergoers identify
with him (they, too, are placed in a new environment), they cannot see through
his eyes; their assessments of the room must necessarily be uniquely their own.
It is significant that the opening dialogue is comprised of terse sentences.
Because Sartre posited that it is impossible to know for certain what is going
on in the mind of the other, at first we cannot be sure of Garcins motivation
for what he says. For example, he says, Alors voil (Well, this is it). He
could be articulating a simple statement of fact; he could be thinking aloud,
with no emotion or color in the sentence. A second possibility is that it is a
statement of resignation and acquiescence. A third possibility is that in his
earthly life he had been accustomed to assuming a haughty faade in the pres-
ence of another person in order to protect his ego; therefore, he is speaking in a
condescending manner to the valet because he views him as a mere lowly
servant. Here, the connotation would be, Hm! So this is it! and the actors
tone would be elevated. Supporting this hypothesis is the fact that Garcin has a
real name, but the valet is identified as le garon and has no specific name
this lack of a name demeans his status; the similarity between garon and
Garcin hyperbolizes the difference in their social status.
A fourth possibility is that Garcin is experiencing anxiety about his new
surroundings because he knows that he has been sent to hell; he is trying to
take the edge off his terror by engaging in some small talk. If this is true, we
do not know whether the valet perceives his anxiety. If he does, he must be
inured to the fear of the other because he answers tersely at first and then en-
gages in full-blown sarcasm. When we examine the valets statements, we
discover that they show contempt for Garcin that is thinly veiled by humor.
The valets response is terse: Voil (There it is). Like Echo in the
myth of Narcissus, he repeats the last part of the sentence that the other has just
articulated. Again, we cannot get inside his mind to identify his feelings about
Garcin and therefore, the tone that the two actors employ will determine
164 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

whether we perceive sarcasm and hostility. Our perception of whether the
words are haughty or nervous will also depend on what we bring to the table.
We do know that the valet identifies with his subservient role (being-in-itself).
He is stripped of the freedom to articulate anything more than the last word he
has heard from the other. Could it be that his echo, Voil, implies the oppo-
siteNo, we are not herewhere do you think here is, you imbecile? Time
will tell as the dialogue continues.
Then Garcin says, Cest comme a (It looks like this). The thought is
the same but the language is different. Is a war brewing between the two? Has
Garcin interpreted the valets laconic Voil as passive resistance and is he
rephrasing his thought as a means of fighting back or making sure of the oth-
ers antagonism? Or, preoccupied with his plight, is he oblivious to the others
words?
The valet responds as he did beforehe echoes what Garcin has said, this
time repeating the full sentence. The valet says, Cest comme a. We won-
der whether in his subservient role, within the narrow parameters that he is
allowed to speak, his terse repetition implies, No, this is not what it looks like,
you must be hallucinating.
Then Garcin states, II think that in the long run one must get used to
the furniture. We do not know whether he is being sarcastic: it would depend
on the actors tone of voice. The valet answers, That depends on the people,
implying, You have a 5050 chance of becoming insane and I couldnt care
less. Now it becomes apparent that a war, at first subtle, is escalating. We get
the impression that the valets ego is threatened by Garcins look and that he
also feels demeaned by the self-deception that he is a lowly servant and noth-
ing more.
Garcin asks whether all the rooms are like this one. The valet boldly an-
swers, Do you think. Chinese, Hindus come to us. What do you want them to
do with a Second Empire chair? This is a joke, based on the fact that histori-
cally, Chinese and Indians have dined and entertained their guests while sitting
on the floor, but beneath the humor, we are confronted from the first few lines
of the play with 1) how strongly one identifies with ones own time period,
geographical locale, culture, and their attendant objects, 2) the human ego
Garcin, expecting the other to cater to his needs (provide modern furniture,
show empathy), feels hurt and then anger when the other fails to do so, 3) the
prejudices people have about other ethnicitiesthe valet assumes that all
Chinamen and Indians sit on the floor, 4) the objectification of the other
Sartre 165

beneath the humor there lies the valets assumption that he is able to predict
what the others taste is.
At this point the valets contempt for Garcin has become overt and the lat-
ter realizes that he is being undermined by someone who he perceives as being
no more than a lowly servant. His ego thus piqued, Garcin explodes defen-
sively, And me, what do you want me to do with it?
Now Garcin is ready for battle: he answers egotistically, arrogantly, and
sarcastically, Do you know who I was?
6
Here we see Garcin and the valet
alternating between being the subject and object; they are engaging in a subtle
war, competitive subjectivity. At first Garcin is the subject and is attacking the
valet for not catering to his needs properly; then Garcin becomes the object of
the valets look and the prejudice inherent therein that everyone from the Oc-
cident would accept any western furniture, even if it is from the wrong century
and continent. The valet is the subject and is observing Garcin and drawing
conclusions about him based on his prejudices about westerners; the valet also
becomes the object of Garcins look, identifies as a servant, and tries to ver-
bally defend himself.
Hence, from the first few lines we already have a war and this fight begins
with the look of the other; the look brings to the fore shame and the prejudices
that people harbor about self and others. As the play unfolds and the characters
are exposed to the verbal scalpels of the other, their pretenses and prejudices
about self and others will gradually fall away, but not completely. At the end,
Garcin will not leave the room because there is work that remains to be done:
he still needs to cut through his self-deception and eradicate it; he needs to
realize the ultimate truththat he is a conscious being moving through time
and that he is not what he has been in the past. He was a draft dodging coward
in the past, but the past is gone, there is no more war, and the issue of coward-
ice is no longer relevant. Moreover, the association between bravery and mas-
culinity is a false construct of the ego. He needs to confront that imagined
bond, as well.
When Ins enters the room she automatically assumes that Garcin is the
torturer. There are several reasons for this. First, she knows that she went to
hell for having driven Florence to commit a murder-suicide. Secondly, there is
the prejudice that the role of torturer would be assigned to a male, as histori-
cally, males are the one who engage in warfare, hurting and maiming others.
Therefore, she is afraid of him. She is also afraid of him because he is a male
and she has avoided intimate interaction with males in her earthly life. There-
fore, her response is visceralher identity as a lesbian is intertwined with the
166 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

sociological benefits inherent thereinup to now she has avoided being sub-
jugated by a male and submitting to male oppression.
Garcins response to her is also sexual: one minute he is desperately trying
to contact the valet, pressing the bell repeatedly, beating the door with his fists,
and calling out; however, when the valet arrives and asks him Did you call,
sir?, Garcin, ready to answer, Yes, sees Ins and quickly changes his an-
swer to No.
7
He sees a woman and he wants to be alone with her. This is a
biological response. Sartre assumed that nature dictates that all humans are
heterosexual and if they deny that fact, they are engaging in rebellion against
nature, which is an act of self-deception.
We note that the valet feels compelled to protect his ego when he is inter-
acting with Ins, as well. She sees him in the lowly role of a mere servant and
he identifies with the way she views him. Therefore, when she does not deign
to respond to his question, he is du, the past participle of dcevoir, to de-
ceive, to mislead, to dupe; to disappoint. He is mistaken to have assumed that
Ins would have questions about her new surroundings. We assume that be-
neath the surface, he must feel demeaned and hurt that she remains silent when
he asks her a question. Hence, on the exterior, he maintains his composure,
professionalism and courtesy; inwardly, he must think less of himself because
she looks at him as a servant. In fact, all of the characters think less of them-
selves because of the look of the other.
Ins explains to Garcin that torturers look frightened themselves and that
she has often watched her own fearful face in the glass. Ins is a sadist: like the
protagonists in Sades novels of torture, she identifies with her victims and
suffers vicariously through them. Hence, she is living inauthenticallyshe
identifies with a false construct of self and is engaging in self-deception.
When Estelle enters the room, Ins is attracted to her and gallantly offers
her her sofa. On the surface, she wants to be friends with Estelle. Beneath the
surface, she wants to set up a mirror situation and gaze at Estelle as she is
sitting in her place; she wants to live vicariously through the other. Estelles
response to her offer is purely sexual: she is unwilling to accept a sofa from
Ins, but willing to take Garcins. This is a biological response and we see here
that a sexual war is brewing. Then Ins says, Youre very pretty. I wish we
had some flowers to welcome you with.
8
As she is saying that, she wishes
that she were very pretty herself and that she had a welcoming committee.
Sartre is pointing out the reflection of Narcissus and is advising that the gay
person identifies with the same-sex other.
Sartre 167

Literary critics have observed that Sartres gay characters tend to be ste-
reotypical and mono-dimensional. Jacques Hardr says, It never seems to
occur to them, or rather to Sartre, their creator, that they are anything but ho-
mosexuals and that they could develop the qualities that they, just like other
men may have.
9
Hence, Ins relentlessly pursues Estelle throughout the play
and when she cannot get her, tries to win by demeaning the manner in which
Estelle and Garcin see each other.
That Depends on the Persons
Sartre believed that we do have free will and the ability to assess every situa-
tion and make changes from moment to moment. Therefore, he employed
terminology to convey this point. Let us return to the verbal fist fight that oc-
curs on the first page of the play. Garcin uses the word devoir (to be obliged to,
to be bound to, to have to, must): II think that in time one must get used to
the furniture.
10
One must implies the absence of volition; Garcin has spent
his life on earth identifying with being-in-itself and letting it define who he is,
i.e., his surroundings, the perceptions of others. Therefore, he thinks in terms
of on doit. However, the valet, acting as a mouthpiece for Sartre, says, That
depends on the persons.
11

The valets phraseology is significant. When to depend on [dpendre de]
is used in reference to being-in-itself (inanimate objects, past events), it con-
notes contingencyA is contingent on B; dpendre, like devoir, implies
causality and negates volition. However, in the valets response to Garcin,
depends on [depend de] is not followed by a noun identifying an inanimate
object (being-in-itself), but by persons [personnes]. Because people are
conscious creatures and are comprised of being-for-itself, they remove abso-
lute contingency from the meaning of depend; causality is no longer abso-
lute but relegated to possibility. Thus the meaning of depend itself depends
on something; and because that something is conscious beings, it negates
itself and connotes open-endedness, possibility, freedom, volition. Here we
have in a nutshell, on the first page, the key to the play: to make people aware
of the fact that they are aware; to coax them into letting go of the significance
that they give their surroundings, the perceptions of others, past events, and
everything else that is not conscious. When they do, they will reclaim the
absolute vastness of their freedom. The furniture is a metaphor for all fixed,
external trappings. Those who drop their fear of facing their freedom accept
that while they cannot change being-in-itself, they can change their attitude
168 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

towards it. However, because Garcin is so heavily invested in his little war
with the valet (which stems from what he thinks he sees), he is oblivious to the
fact that the valet has, in fact, told him the truth. That depends on the persons
is a statement of fact coming from Sartre himself. Its interpretation depends on
what we bring to the table.
During the course of the play the three characters make progress in con-
fronting their fear of letting go of their masks. They do not choose to do it all
at once, it happens gradually, as they learn to trust each other. When they first
enter the room, they lie outright about who they are. Garcin tells Ins that he is
a publicist and a man of letters. The fact is that he spent his time in the news-
room chatting with his friends. Ins makes it a point to make sure that Garcin
understands that she is Mademoiselle and not Madame. As a lesbian, she
is a woman-identified woman and rejects defining herself in relation to a hus-
band. Estelle is obsessed with external appearances as they were the only
things that she valued on earth. Hence, when she sees Garcin holding his face
in his hands, she assumes that his torturers tore is face off, as that is the worse
punishment that she can think of; she remarks that the furniture is hideous and
clashes with her dress; she feigns airs and pretends to be a member of high
society.
All three characters have accepted and internalized the prejudices of oth-
ers; they hold on to their lies. By the end of the play, they have dropped a few,
but work remains to be done before they renounce them all.
When one analyzes the numerous instances in which the terms choose
[choisir], prefer [prfrer] and want [vouloir] appear in No Exit, it be-
comes evident that in all instances it is used in bad faith: the characters lie to
themselves and to each other when they express a choice. Actually, what they
prefer to do is hold on to the lies they embrace about themselves and each
other. Only Inez is honest and tells Garcin outright that the motives behind his
choices are fear and hatred. Let us take a look at an example of Sartres use of
want.
At one point Garcin is trying to determine the real reason that he bolted in
the direction of Mexico during wartimewas it because he is innately a cow-
ard or did the really want to found a pacifist newspaper in order to take a stand
against the war? As time elapses, he begins to question the mask he wears.
Sartre speaks through Estelle and Ins to respond directly to his introspective
musings. Garcin asks Estelle, Am I a coward?
12
She replies, It is up to you
to decide.
13
That is Sartres answer to Garcin and his advice to the world,
Sartre 169

which is the same as saying, It is up to you to choose how you will define
yourself.
It is significant that Garcin employs the term want: Id thought it all
out, and I wanted to make a stand. But was that my real motive?
14
For the first
time he questions what it is he has been choosing.
Sartre responds to this question himself by speaking through Ins: But
fear and hatred and all the dirty little instincts one keeps darktheyre motives
too.
15
Fear and hatred are the imprints of the judgments of others that are
passed on to us from the moment of birth. They are indications of functioning
in bad faith. Inez has just gotten to the bottom of the things that we will. That
fear and hate constitute the foundation of human actions is a universal state-
ment.
Choosing to Play Pretend
Estelle is barely in the room for two seconds when she begins to put on airs to
convince the others that she is a socialite. She informs Garcin that the word
dead is in bad taste; she is also put off by the fact that Ins is a postal clerk
and recoils when she identifies herself as such. Estelle is engaging in self-
deception: the truth is that she grew up poor and married an old bourgeois for
his money. She is no more upper crust than the other two. Moreover, she pre-
tends to be offended when Garcin gets ready to remove his coat: she declares,
How dare you! [More gently] No, please dont. I loathe men in their shirt-
sleeves.
16
At the time that the play was written, it was considered rude for
men to wear short sleeves in the company of women. Estelle is lying to herself
and to the other two people in the room. She has seen the sight of mens naked
arms many times before: she has behaved like a prostitute in her earthly life,
and shortly we will learn that not only did she have a child out of wedlock with
a lover, but there was a relationship with at least one other man, as well.
As time elapses and with continual exposure to the look of the other, each
person makes a discovery: the best way to destroy the others prejudices is to
be authentic and to tell the truth. In short time Estelle is admitting, We were
terribly poor and when an old friend of my people asked me to marry him I
said yes.
17
This is a big weight off of her shoulders: now she does not have to
pretend or remember to lie consistently to keep her story straight. No one at-
tacks her for having been poor; no one attacks her for the sins she committed,
either.
170 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Garcin also comes off his high horse: although he begins by introducing
himself as a journalist and a man of letters, eventually he reveals that he has
spent his career in a reporters room chatting with his coworkers. Moreover, he
begins by telling himself and others that he is a pacifist who fled to Mexico on
principle, but by the end of the play, he begins to come to terms with the per-
sistent and haunting notion that he is a coward. He wants to identify as a real
man, but first he needs someone to convince him that he is not a coward. That
is why when the door opens and he is free to leave, he will voluntarily remain:
he needs Ins to see him as someone who is not a coward, to provide confirma-
tion that the macho man is a false construct that his colleagues held, and that
he has embraced their lies about what it is to be a man. He has not yet pulled
free from identifying with the false constructs of the other.
Mirrors: The Ultimate Abdication
of Free Will
Jacques Lacan noted that looking in the mirror marks the death of self. When
one looks in the mirror, one defines self according to the exterior image; and,
in fact, we spend our lives defining ourselves according to the phenomena we
observe.
18
Sartre would say that that is because the person momentarily identi-
fies with the being-in-itself that appears in the mirror and at that moment, he is
dead to his real self. No Exit teaches us that when we accept the definition of
ourselves that others hold up to us, we relinquish our free will and place our-
selves at the mercy of others.
From the beginning of the play the absence of mirrors is emphasized:
GARCIN: No mirrors, I notice. No windows
19
and then And why should
one want to see oneself in a looking-glass?
20
Vanity is a false construct of the
ego, a means of self-deception to avoid the truth that we are hurtling towards
death, that we are free, and therefore, responsible for choosing what we will do
with our lives.
The next time mirror occurs is when Estelle asks Garcin for one: ES-
TELLE: Excuse me, have you a glass? [GARCIN does not answer]. Any sort
of glass, a pocket-mirror will do. [GARCIN remains silent.] Even if you wont
speak to me, you might lend me a glass.
21
Here glass occurs 3x; pocket-
mirror, 1x. Estelle is trapped in being-in-itself: all she cares about is the way
she looks to others. Garcin is burying his head in his hands, looking and listen-
ing carefully to what Gomez and the others are saying about him. Therefore,
the mirror image is intertwined with sexual roles: Estelle, because she is a
Sartre 171

heterosexual woman, is concerned about the image of her body and how at-
tractive she appears to men; Garcin, because he is a heterosexual man, is pre-
occupied with the opinion that his male friends on earth have as to his
character. Both Estelle and Garcin are engaging in self-deception: they are not
being-in-itself; being-for-itself can never be apprehended via mirrors. More-
over, it is impossible for the subject to grasp himself as the object in the others
eyes; he can never get inside the mind of the other and see himself as the other
sees him because the other brings his own experiences and prejudices to the
look.
It is significant that Estelle asks for a pocket-mirror from Garcin rather
than Ins. This is ridiculous: men do not carry them, women do. Men are not
concerned about their faces and they do not wear makeup. Yet Estelle asks him
for a mirrorthat is because 1) she wants the attention of a male (this is a
biological response), 2) she is a male-identified woman, that is she identifies
with how males respond to her (this is a psychological response), and 3) she
sees him as a bourgeois and being in the company of other bourgeois bolsters
her ego (he presents himself as a journalist and a man of letters). Hence, the
inevitable has arisen: the characters must confront the way that they relate to
others in the sexual roles that biology has imposed on them, as well as accord-
ing to the false constructs of the ego. This is the second time that Estelle makes
a bold overture to Garcin: first she asks for his sofa (The only one which
might do at a pinch, is that gentlemans.)
22
Then she asks for a mirror when it
would be more logical to ask the only other woman in the room for one.
Garcin ignores her, his head buried in his hands. He is viewing his cohorts
on earth: he needs comrades conversations on earth to confirm or deny his
cowardice, thereby confirming or denying whether he is a real man (a fearless
tough guy). First he must come to grips with his masculinity before he can
relate to Estelle as a sexual being.
Ins seizes an opportunity to extend a bridge to the woman that she is at-
tracted to. When she opens her bag and discovers that the mirror is gone, she
becomes angry. Once again, Sartre indicates that emotions are a futile attempt
to change the nature of reality.
Estelle closes her eyes, opens them and then pats herself to assure that she
does indeed exist: [She pats herself.] Dont you ever get taken that way?
When I cant see myself I begin to wonder if I really and truly exist. I pat my-
self just to make sure, but it doesnt help much;
23
Ive six big mirrors in my
bedroomI can see them. But they dont see me. Theyre reflecting the car-
pet, the settee, the windowbut how empty it is, a glass in which Im absent!
172 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

When I talked to people I always made sure there was one near by in which I
could see myself. I watched myself talking.
24
Here the existential issue of
consciousness arises: Estelle, terrified of annihilation, had once surrounded
herself with mirrors to assure herself that she exists. At the present moment
she has the ability to see her former surroundings and she is struck by the fact
that the mirrors, still set up in her bedroom, no longer reflect her image. This
fills her with terror; perhaps she has the sensation of her heart sinking down to
her stomach as when an elevator descends rapidly. Sartre is introducing us to
the inescapable paradox that every human being must face sooner or later:
consciousness vs. nothingness, life vs. death. We are forced to confront the
certainty of annihilation as Estelle describes the empty mirrors.
However, the fact remains that surrounding oneself with mirrors in order
to convince oneself that one exists is self-deception (bad faith)mirrors do not
substantiate that one exists. Regarding being, Sartre declares the following:
I can not produce it directly. But neither is it the indirect, strict effect of my
acts as when my shadow on the ground or my reflection in the mirror is moved
in correlation with the gestures which I make. This being which I am preserves
a certain indetermination, a certain unpredictability.
25
Therefore, being cannot
be captured in a shadow or mirror: Yet we still have to do with my being and
not with an image of my being.
26
Therefore, Estelles ego is deceiving her.
Ins tells Estelle that she can use her as a mirror: Ins will look at Estelle
and tell her what she sees: Suppose I try to be your glass? Come and pay me a
visit, dear;
27
Now ask me questions. Ill be as candid as any looking-glass.
28

However, according to Sartre, it is impossible for the mind to accomplish this
feat. No one can ever grasp himself as an object in the eyes of the other: Ac-
cording to Hegel the Other is an object, and I apprehend myself as an object in
the Other. But one of these affirmations destroys the other. In order for me to
be able to appear to myself as an object in the Other, I would have to appre-
hend the Other as subject; that is, to apprehend him in his interiority. But in so
far as the Other appears to me as object, my objectivity for him can not appear
to methe Other-as-a-mirror is clouded and no longer reflects anything.
29

Hence, it is impossible to apprehend the other in his interiority, to grasp him as
subject; therefore, it is impossible for the subject to grasp himself as object.
Sartre concludes, Thus Hegels optimism results in failure: between the Oth-
er-as-object and Me-as-subject there is no common measure, no more than
between self-consciousness and consciousness of the Other. I can not know
myself in the Other if the Other is first an object for me; neither can I appre-
hend the Other in his true beingthat is, in his subjectivity. No universal
Sartre 173

knowledge can be derived from the relation of consciousness. This is what we


shall call their ontological separation.
30

In the dialogue that begins, Meanwhile ESTELLE has been plying her
powder-puff and continues until Ins concedes to Garcin (Youve won),
Sartre abundantly uses terminology that connotes the visual: conscious 2x;
crooked 1x; eyes 4x; fascination 1x; gaze 1x; glance 1x; glass 8x; lark-mirror
1x; lips 2x; lipstick 2x; look 4x; looks 2x; looking 1x; looking-glass 2x; loveli-
ness 1x; lovely 1x; mirror 3x; mirrors 1x; mouth 1x; pocket-mirror 1x; points
1x; pretty 1x; powder-puff 1x; reflecting 1x; reflection 1x; saw 1x; see 7x;
seeing 1x; seems 1x; seen 1x; show 1x; smile 3x; smiles 1x; smudgy 1x; taste
3x; tiny 1x; ugly 1x; watched 1x. He also employs words that connote maso-
chism, pain, mutual destruction (to self and the other), and fear: crueler 1x;
crazy 1x; fearful 1x; foul 1x; hurt 3x; nasty 1x; scare 1x; sickening 1x; suffer
1x. Everyone is engaging in self-deception. Estelle, terrified of annihilation,
thinks she can avoid it by gazing at a reflection that is other than herself. Ins
lunges at the opportunity to get more intimate with the object of her affection:
however, falling in love with a heterosexual is the most masochistic thing that
a gay person can do; she is setting herself up for rejection; she is engaging in
self-deception because she cannot live through the other as subject; she cannot
get inside the other and see the world through her consciousness.
Ins invites Estelle to sit on her couch. Estelles response, But[Points
to GARCIN.] indicates that she is fully aware that the invitation is sexual and
must be understood to be so.
31

When Ins asks, Do I look as if I wanted to hurt you?, Estelle replies
One can never tell.
32
Several points must be made here. First, Estelle is wary
of the other because no one can ever know for certain what is going on in her
mind. Secondly, Ins is disingenuous and a false mirror: she hurt Florence and
took pleasure in it; she wants to do it again. Therefore, her words cannot be
trusted. Also, Ins has no idea how she looks to others and there is no way to
find out. She can ask Estelle how she looks to her, but Estelles response will
be colored by her own prejudices, history and needs and therefore, will not be
accurate. Moreover, Estelle has no way of knowing whether Ins wants to hurt
her; the only way to find out is to continue the communication and see what
happens. Therefore, the question that Ins poses, Do I look as if I wanted to
hurt you? cannot be answered by the other. Estelle tells the truth when she
says, One can never tell.
Ins hopes that the intimacy that ensues will provide what she wants: she
needs to suffer vicariously at the hands of another. Thus, she tells Estelle, If
174 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Ive got to suffer, it may as well be at your hands, your pretty hands.
33
This
phrase alone should be a danger signal to Estelle: Ins has just disclosed her
masochistic needs.
Sartre advises that the way that a victim can pull free from his torturer is to
look at him. Keith Gore notes, Because torturers, as sadists, attempt, accord-
ing to Sartre, to deprive their victims of their freedom while knowing not only
that their attempts are bound to fail, but also that their own freedom is at the
mercy of the victims: a victim has only to look at his torturer, both to reassert
his own freedom, and to provoke a feeling of shame in the torturer.
34

In Being and Nothingness Sartre explains that the sadist wishes to appro-
priate to himself the transcendent freedom of his victim.
35
However, the free-
dom of the other cannot be grasped and the more that the sadist tries to use the
other as an instrument to take his freedom, the more that this freedom escapes
him.
36
It is when the victim looks at his torturer that the latter experiences
alienation from the others freedom. Then he realizes that it is impossible to
acquire being-outside.
37
The look of the other causes the meaning and goal of
sadism to collapse.
38

The dialogue that follows centers around mirroring. Ins serves as a hu-
man mirror for Estelle in two ways: by reflecting her image in the whites of
her eyes and also by describing her appearances verbally. However, unlike
Narcissus mirror, Ins is a false mirror. What she says is colored by her own
self-deception, her need to posses Estelle, and her masochism. Therefore, she
must necessarily deceive others because she is deceived herself. It is only in
her other roleSartres voicethat she is the most lucid of the three charac-
ters and that she helps the others identify lies that they entertain about them-
selves.
Notice the importance that identification with the other has in same-sex re-
lationships and how it differs from heterosexual relationships. The heterosex-
ual woman wants a mirror so that she can look attractive for the male in the
room. Sartre believes that this is a biological reaction to being in close confines
with a member of the opposite sex. The lesbian wants to experience life vicari-
ously through another woman. The intimacy that results is an iconic represen-
tation of all same-sex friendships, regardless of the sexual orientation of either
person.
Sartre brilliantly identifies the salient principle underlying homosexuality:
the search to find ones identity in the other. Note the number of times Sartre
employs the terms mirror and glass in the conversation between the two
women. Sartre is telling us that homosexuals see themselves in the other.
Sartre 175

Estelle tells Ins that she has difficulty using the familiar tu with wom-
en. Ins interprets the statement as meaning people of low social class like
postal clerks. Ins makes this assumption because Estelle is putting on airs
about being upper class. Hence, her interpretation is based on what she herself
brings to the table. Therefore, she feels demeaned by Estelles look. Thus,
when viewing herself through Estelle, she is getting the message that Estelle
values Garcin more than her because he is a male and a journalist and man of
letters.
Gazing into the mirror of the other is a dangerous thing to do because it is
a false mirror. Ins asks, Suppose the mirror started telling lies?
39
Ins is a
sadist who inflicts torture on her victims so that she can suffer vicariously
through them. Therefore, Estelle, like Florence, is putting herself in a danger-
ous situation: if she uses Ins as a mirror long enough, she will begin to believe
lies about herself, beliefs that are based not on who she is, but on who Ins
needs her to be. She will conform to the needs of the other and thereby alter
her essence. For example, when parents are sadistic, the children automatically
become masochistic because they need their parents to survive. Perhaps if the
three characters spend enough time together locked in the room, Ins will
eventually destroy Estelle as she did Florence (For six months I flamed away
in her heart, till there was nothing but a cinder).
40
However, if this happens,
Estelle cannot die; given enough time, they will eventually exhaust every false
construct of the ego, and there will remain their true selves.
Estelle is afraid of getting too close to Ins: she objects, But we are going
tohurt each other.
41
She is terrified of surrendering her identity and experi-
encing life through Ins; she does not want to give her that power.
Ins replies, Much more likely youll hurt me.
42
This is because 1) she
falls in love with women and therefore, is the more vulnerable of the two and
2) she will set up the situation so that she gets what she wantsto suffer vi-
cariously through the other. Sartre points out how vulnerable people are when
they fall in love with a member of the same sex. In any relationship, one al-
ways loves more than the other. However, in a same-sex situation, the person
who loves more is particularly vulnerable because of the close identification
with the other. When it becomes evident that the other does not love as much
or when the time comes for the other to end the relationship, the person who
loves more feels that she has been separated from herself and is devastated by
the void that arises. This is what must have happened to Florence. Ins says, I
flamed away in her heart, till there was nothing left but a cinder.
43
Moreover,
it is evident that Ins did not love Florence very much because she calls her a
176 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

tiresome little fool.
44
Hence, she reveals that Florence was the one who loved
more and that the two were unequally matched.
Estelle and Ins share a couch and Estelle applies lipstick. At the end of
the conversation, Estelle expresses that she is more interested in Garcin and
Ins concedes to him, Youve won.
45
At first Garcin rejects her because first
he must get confirmation from his earthly colleagues that he is not a coward. If
he thus can convince himself, then he will give himself permission to assume a
sexual role. However, he realizes that there is another way that he can prove
that he can engage in warfare and win: when Ins declares, I prefer to look
you in the eyes and fight it out face to face, Garcin realizes that he can defeat
Ins by seducing Estelle as she watches.
46
Moreover, this would not be a new
experience for him: he had entertained a prostitute in his bed as his submissive
wife brought them both breakfast.
The characters engage in competitive subjectivity, alternating between
subject and object amongst themselves. Sartre uses not only language, but
color as well to express the mirroring that transpires. Ins says that it is no
accident that the sofa on the right is livid green and the one on the left is wine-
red. Critic Michael Issacharoff advises that the color combinations used on-
stage are analogous to the conversations that the characters have:
The colors form a tripartite schemeblue, red, and greenthat corresponds to the
colors of the three sofas and that represents the three characters: blue for Estelle (the
color of her dress), green for Garcin, and red for Ins. Estelle uses all three colors (part
of her stage presence); her dress is blue, her eyes are green, and her lips are red. Her
movements on stage are explicitly linked to the colors. She puts on the lipstick when
she is sitting on Inss red sofa; when she is on Garcins green sofa, he remarks upon
her green eyes; and finally, when she comes onstage in her blue dress, she requests the
blue sofa. Sartres ultimate ironical touch is Estelles reference, toward the end of the
lay, to Saint Louis blues, a jazz piece by U.S. composer W.C. Handy.
In this example, the mode of operation is visual (since we are dealing with colors
seen by the audience and by characters on stage). The domain of validity is twofold,
since it is both a stage and a costume code. As for the type of system, it is always bi-
nary and is set in motion on Estelles initiative, since she is the mobile chromatic ele-
ment that creates three possible combinations: blue-blue, blue-red, and blue-green.
These color combination are akin to the transitory ententes between the characters (Es-
telle-Ins, Estelle-Garcin) as well as to Estelles narcissism: her dress matches the sofa,
her lipstick is reflected in the eyes of Ins, and her eyes are mirrored in the gaze of
Garcin.
Huis clos thus has a range of semiotic systems, including a conflict between mi-
metic and iegetic, between the realm of the visible (the Second Empire drawing room)
and the realm of the invisible (Garcin, Ins, and Estelles places on earth), between
present and past, between showing and telling.
47

Sartre 177

At the end of the play the door opens, but Garcin refuses to step outside the
roomhe will not leave until he has convinced Ins that he is not a coward.
Hence, the fate of all three is contingent upon his self-realization. Garcin wants
to define himself according to the look of Ins.
Ins, acting as a mouthpiece for Sartre, informs Garcin that actions proves
what one is: Its what one does, and nothing else, that shows the stuff ones
made of.
48
The problem is, how will Garcin take action in the confines of the
room to prove he is not a coward? One way, perhaps, is to jump into hot vac-
uum that exists outside the door. Would he have the courage to do that the next
time the door opens?
Critic Jacques Hardr offers an alternative solution to Garcins conun-
drum, one that arises from Sartres philosophy: to accept the past and make the
decision to exist for others: Yesterday I committed a cowardly act. That act
belongs to my past, it is a part of my Being-in-itself. I cannot change the fact
that in the eyes of the Others I am a coward. But I may have the project of
becoming a hero and changing the picture that the others have of me. I have
the liberty of choosing to accomplish an heroic act.
49
Thus Garcin could
prove to himself, Estelle and Ins that he is a true hero if he were to resolve to
be-for-them.
The end of the play is characterized by impossible tasks: Estelle cannot
kill Ins; Garcin cannot seduce Estelle while Ins is watching. However, Gar-
cin, still locked into defining himself via the other, suggests this as a viable
possibility: perhaps he can convince Ins to have faith in him. Ins herself
allows for the possibility: she declares, It wont be easy. Have a look at me.
Im a hard-headed woman.
50
However, before he can persuade Ins to see
him as who he is, he will have to get her to drop her self-deception and see
herself as who she is. Could he ever be lucid enough to convince her that she is
not being-in-itselfthe wickedness, shame, and fear with which she identi-
fies? Can either or both of them stop identifying with the past, turn over a new
leaf, and just be-for-others? The curtain falls and the audience is left to decide.
Hence, Sartre develops the mirror of Narcissus thus: the mirror, because it
reflects the prejudices (being-in-itself) of the other, must necessarily always
lie, and the way to self-realization is to recognize it for what it is, acknowledge
that the reflections are distortions, and resolve to be-for-others.
It is important that readers do not misunderstand the phrase hell is other
people. It does not mean that other people are hellwhat is hell is accepting
the objectification of the others look. When we become cognizant of the fact
that our essence is not the premises and prejudices that other people have when
178 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

they see us, then we extricate ourselves from the quagmire of self-deception
and we are truly free to be for others.
What the Critics Say
Keith Gore, in his introduction to Huis clos, provides an insightful analysis of
the play as well as a collation of newspaper reviews that constitute a represen-
tative sampling of criticism from Sartres contemporaries. Gore points out that
when the play debuted, journalists felt compelled to articulate what they
thought the play was about, whether or not they fully understood it and that
their criticism was based on their own prejudices. Hence, an uproar was caused
by Garcins remark, Hell is other people [lenfer, cest les Autres]. Gore
avers that this particular remark was usually cited out of context and that it is
not Sartres way of seeing human relationships in general: the hellish situation
created by the characters relationships arises from their pretensions about self
and their readiness to accept the prejudices of the other.
One of Sartres detractors was Gabriel Marcel, a Christian existentialist,
who is believed to have coined the term existentialism. In a 1945 article
Marcel condemned the play because he thought that it would morally corrupt
the youth.
51
As a Christian he was critical of the emphasis that No Exit places
on selfishness and that the third reality, being-for-others, is visibly absent from
the play. He thought that the image of life that Sartre held before us does not
accurately represent life in its fullness. He also held that the premise expressed
in Being and Nothingnessthat our relations with others are based on con-
flictwould lead people morally astray and destroy the very fabric of society.
Marcel misinterprets Sartres philosophy as holding that it is impossible for
two consciousnesses to respect each others freedom. He also condemns those
supportive of Sartre: he is critical of Simone de Beauvoirs Hegelian epigraph
at the beginning of LInvite [She Came to Stay: A Novel], Each conscious-
ness pursues the death of the other.
Claude Sarraute, in her review published in Le Monde on March 31, 1956,
was enthusiastic about the theater-in-the-round setting used in the production.
52

She found that theater-in-the-round was especially suitable for the no win-
dows premise of the play: the damned are not only the objects of the look of
each other, but of the multiple look of audience members, as well. Hence, the
audience is included in the no windows premise, has an opportunity to view
and judge the damned in an open environment, and is also put in the position
of the valet, observing the arrival of the three characters.
Sartre 179

In his analysis Gore advises that the lesson taught is that the look of the
other causes each person to imagine that he is being attacked. Therefore, the
play teaches us to examine the validity of the premises on which the look is
based. This is how the characters gradually learn and become more responsible
for their actions.
Gore observes that Garcin begins by being pretentious: he introduces him-
self to Ins as a publicist and man of letters because he is more concerned
about appearances than reality. However, as the play unfolds, he grows, learns
more about himself as he relates to the others in the room, and he begins to
drop some of the masks behind which he is hiding. As he does, it becomes
evident that he has been judging himself unduly harshly: The seedy side of
Garcin, however, exists only in his past; during the play, we see him at pains to
come to terms with, and to explain, a new and unknown experiencein that
respect, he is similar to the highly intellectual Roquentin, in La Nause, seek-
ing to grapple with the sudden revelation of his own contingency. Garcin may
be prepared to appear in his shirt-sleeves in the presence of womenin prac-
tice, he behaves courteously towards his companions, and devotes his energy
mainly to his analysis of death and its consequences, as well as to the mecha-
nisms of the particular hell to which he has been condemned.
53
Therefore,
Garcin views himself in a more negative light than he should; he does not
recognize that he is courteous and analytical. Like Ins, he needs to torture
himself and voluntarily does so. Perhaps as eternity unfolds, his companions
will help him identify his self-deception.
Likewise, Ins is not what she claims to be. When she identifies herself as
a postal clerk, we are to understand that she is socially (and, one suppose,
educationally) in a very modest situation
54
It is ridiculous that Estelle sup-
poses that she knows the Dubois-Seymours and has attended their parties.
Similarly, Estelle begins by putting on airs and only later reveals her humble
origins. Therefore, each character is a mirror for the other: by gazing at the
phony faade of the other, he is forced to confront his own pretenses. In this
way, the mirror of pretension serves to strip away a cosmetic that has grown
stale and that no longer works.
Critic Jacques Hardr denounces existentialism as having little to offer
humanity but despair and points out that an insurmountable chasm exists be-
tween existentialism and humanism, which is more optimistic. He advises that
historically, when French writers were commenting on mans brutality, they
emphasized that man must respect certain core values such as liberty and jus-
tice; however, since World War II, writers deny that these values exist. Rather,
180 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

the world is governed not by laws of progressbut through pure chance.
55

Hence there is no longer a vector pointing towards amelioration, but multiple
chaotic vectors that could, through random chance, lead to the annihilation of
the human race.
Advances in science are responsible for this: they have given man weap-
ons capable of inflicting staggering destruction; psychologists, delving into
mans conscious and subconscious, place doubt on accepted notions on the
normal and the abnormal, probing ever deeper into his pathological states and
gradually weakening his faith in himself.
56
Therefore, modern science and
philosophy have brought men despair: they do not turn them to an optimistic
faith in themselves (humanism); rather, they destroy the former scale of values
and advise man to pursue another alternativeto follow his instincts. Hardr
defines existentialism as such.
Hardr points out that in contrast to existentialism, humanism holds that
there is a universal and permanent human nature: man in the Middle Ages had
the same aspirations and emotions as he currently does. In addition, the hu-
manist sees man as a being characterized by reason. To state that existence
precedes essence is to posit that there is no universal essence of man and that
each person is free to create his own. Hardr finds this notion repugnant.
Hardr also explains in simple terms the basics of existentialism before re-
futing its tenets. He begins by discussing the assertion that existence precedes
essence: There is no universal essence of man, but each man creates his own
during his lifetime. In other words, when Man is thrown into the world, he is at
first nothing; it is only later that he will become something and he will then be
what he has made himself be. To quote Sartre: Man is nothing more than what
he makes of himself. This is the first principal of existentialism. To illustrate
this, Sartre says that when you sow the seeds of some vegetable, you know that
you are going to get that vegetable and none other. The essence of the vegeta-
ble therefore precedes its existence. But when a man is born you cannot say,
since he is a being gifted with reason and a conscience, what that man is going
to be. Therefore, in human beings existence precedes essence.
57

Thus man can exult in the fact that he is free to make of himself what he
wants. He is also responsible to others: when he acts a certain way he is setting
an example and showing others that this is the proper way to behave. For ex-
ample, if he joins a political party, he is demonstrating to others that this is the
right thing to do, the right choice to make.
Hardr explores a parallel between Sartres view of consciousness as
something that is continually hurtling towards the future, and that of 17
th
cen-
Sartre 181

tury philosopher and bishop, Fnelon. In the second part of the Treatise on the
Existence of God, Fnelon declares, I see myself as an incomprehensible
place between nothingness and being: I am that which has been; I am that
which will be; I am that which is no longer what it was; I am that which is not
yet what it will be Fnelon likens consciousness to water that flows rapidly,
cannot be stopped, has no consistency, something that cannot be seized with
ones hands.
58
However, Hardr points out that Fnelon, as a Christian, had
hope that life is leading to somethingunion with God, whereas atheist exis-
tentialist Sartre offers man not hope, but despairfor him, life leads to noth-
ingness.
Hardr is critical of Sartres position that the look determines the rela-
tionship between self and others, generates conflict, and dictates that hell is in
others. He is particularly indignant at the three solutions that Sartre offers to
put an end to the tension. When a person is objectified by the other, 1) he can
turn against him and consider him an object, 2) he can conquer his liberty and
force him to respect his own, or 3) he may choose to love the other. Love is a
means of conquering the liberty of the other. Therefore, the essence of human
relationships is conflict.
59

Moreover, relationships with others are based on selfishness, never on giv-
ing. Hardr points out that in No-Exit, the torture that the three sinners get in
the afterlife is to be condemned to each others presence. Since hell is a meta-
phor for life, the play makes a statement on what humans can expect from each
other in this lifedominance and control, manipulation, the attempt to take
away the others liberty. Hardr advises, Love, according to Sartre, is the
conquering of the Others liberty.
60
Therefore, there is no such thing as ma-
ternal lovemothers want to take away the freedom of their children. There is
no such thing as friendshipsfriends want to demean and use each other.
There is no such thing as love, only sexual gratification in which the other is
used as an object that facilitates it.
Hardr concludes that existentialism is not humanism and that the two phi-
losophies are at odds with each other: humanism is concerned with the com-
plete man; existentialism addresses the worst in man;
61
humanism tends
towards idealism, existentialism, materialism;
62
humanism addresses mans
pursuit of happiness; existentialism offers only anguish and despair.
63

Richard N. Merritt also addresses the pessimism, anxiety, and exhilaration
inherent in standing at the abyss and contemplating ones mortality: one is free
at every moment to choose to start anew, relegate the past and the look to
their respective mortuaries, and make the decision to live for others. Merritt
182 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

says, In other words, there is no determinismman is condemned to be
free;
64
What man suffers as man is self-estrangement, alienation from his
essential being, and the curse of a finiteness which engenders anxiety;
65
Sar-
tres autonomous man stands at the Abyss;
66
Death becomes the meaning of
life as the resolved chord is the meaning of the melody.
67
Finally, Sartre
assumes absolute personal responsibility as the logical requirement of the
consequences of our freedom.
68

Serge Doubrovsky explains that Sartre was a product of the nihilism of
World War II: having experienced meaningless destruction, he saw that the
whole fabric of ethics, rationality, and even sanity had come tumbling down
and since nothing was left standing, the solution was either nihilism or recon-
struction from scratch.
69
Sartre opted for the latter. Hence, his fictional setting
of prison serves as an iconic representation of mans imprisonment in life as he
is awaiting death. Beyond the condemned convicts prison there lies the in-
surmountable wall of death.
70

Sartre posited that the way to give meaning to our lives is to make pro-
jects. In Being and Nothingness he advises that the past receives its meaning
from the present and the present from the future, the disappearance of a future
renders both the present and the past meaningless, in the strictest sense of the
word, and the whole of life sinks into absurdity.
71
Hence, Sartres intention is
to build a future. However, people rebel against their nature, which is pour-soi.
They choose, rather, en-soi and debase themselves by reacting against their
nature. The body unites consciousness to an object and therefore, reality is
repulsiveit is fishy, flabby, sticky or lukewarm. Therefore, in order to par-
ticipate in nature, we must negate it. Doubrovsky advises, The sole objects
which Sartre can consider without nausea and which are fully significant to
him are those made or transformed by man, what he calls utensils. The only
time Roquentin (Nause) finds some relief is when walking along the Boule-
vard Noir, which looks like a cutting between two stone wallsHencethe
erotic experience, through the therapeutic use of obscenity; or the constant
fascination with homosexualityis the acutest form of mans rebellion against
nature within himself. Yet the nauseated or homosexual characters are in bad
faith, in so far as their revolt remains purely symbolic and leaves nature un-
changed. Theirs is a passive, powerless negation, a female attitude. Salvation
can only come from real action.
72
The only way to engage in real action, is to
be for others. Being-for-others is the only way by which we can escape the
absurdity of death. Sartres action was oriented towards the future and justified
Sartre 183

by it. Sartre looked to history to be a substitute for immortality and sought to


replace a closed future via action.
Julien S. Murphy applies the look to explaining the means by which
women experience devaluation in a world in which men are dominant. By
unveiling the mechanics underlying oppression, Sartre teaches us how to end
it. Both the oppressor and the oppressed must change the structure of his
eyes, which means that one must choose those actions which radically dis-
rupt the present system of judging and call into question how one is to be in
the future.
73

Feminist Adrienne Rich suggests that in order to claim their freedom,
women must look back and examine how they got to where they are. There-
fore, the question arises as to how looking back can be done when even that
process is shaped by the look of the oppressor. Sartre provides help here: The
movement of oppression begins with the look of the oppressor, a look whose
distance, desire, and destruction frame the context for our lives;
74
the look of
the other can rob us of our possibilities, alienate us from ourselves and our
options for choice, and make us feel in the service of the other. The impact of
the look can be so devastating that it reduces us, at a glance, to powerlessness,
to the status of a thing.
75

The way that the degradation works is that the looker negates the freedom
of the individual looked at.
76
During the instant that one is looked at by an-
other, that individual exists for the other only as a concrete body; he is objecti-
fied by the other. The person being looked at, in turn, looks at the observer and
objectifies him. Therefore, existence is a power play of being objectified and
objectifying the other; this is a form of war.
One of the examples that Sartre provides in Being and Nothingness is that
of someone peeping through a keyhole. As long as he is alone doing this, he is
not objectified or demeaned. However, the moment he hears the floor creak
and another person approaches, he realizes that he is now being looked at. This
is an iconic representation of everyday life in which people are looked at and
look at others, are objectified and objectify others.
Murphy points out The destructive nature of the look lies in its capacity
to annihilate the freedom of the individual who is looked at. The desire of the
look is inevitably linked to an act of destruction. Sartre claims that the desiring
look always seeks the destruction of its object. In the suddenness of the look, I
experience a subtle alienation of all of my possibilities.
77
Murphy compares
the similarity between Sartres view and that of Adrienne Rich, who holds that
184 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

the look of the male oppressor removes women from political power, makes
them sex objects, and seeks the destruction of women as free subjects.
78

Sartre advises that the look that destroys can be carried to another level to
describe the relationship between classes of people of unequal social standing.
He employs the terms the Third and Us-object to explain it: a group of
people (the Third) can agree to look upon another group (the Us-object) in
a demeaning and objectifying way. For example, capitalists or the patriarchal
establishment can view the masses as disdainful objects by allocating certain
characteristics to them. Murphy advises that the Us-object can choose to pull
free from the constructs of the Third or acquiesce to view itself in those
terms. Since we cannot be the constructs of the other, those constructs are
unrealizables.
79
If we do claim them, buying into the look of the Third, we
engage in what Sartre calls a project of bad faith (self-deception). In order to
avoid bad faith and pull free from the look, we must become aware that we are
the object of the look of the Third. We must acknowledge that we are in the
situation of being seen a certain way. Once we acknowledge that we are seen a
certain way and that we are thus oppressed, we are free to exercise choices that
extricate us from this situation. We must politically identify with the oppressed
construct in order to move forward and make that construct meaningless. For
example, we can unite with others to demand our rights.
Murphy advises that we can claim our freedom when we see ourselves as
being in a certain situation that is forced on us. In other words, we must see
with new eyes: That our eyes need not be shaped by the oppressor becomes
increasingly evident as we claim our freedom in the midst of our historical
situation. In the refusal to exist for others and in the development of our con-
sciousness as oppressed beings there emerges a new mode of seeing by which
we move out of oppression.
80

Paul Johnson defines existentialism as a philosophy of action and says that
Sartre was arguing that mans character and significance are determined by his
actions, not his views, by his deeds, not words.
81
Therefore, No Exit is a call
for action and concealed defiance during the Nazi occupation. He wrote it in
1944; it was first performed on May 27, 1944, just days before D-Day in Nor-
mandy. Clearly he was able to get his call for defiance across without arousing
German suspicions, as the Germans regarded him as a philosopher along the
lines of their own Heidegger: The Nazi occupation aroused all Sartres antiau-
thoritarian instincts. He wanted to fight itHe wrote. He was Resistance-
minded in theory, mind and spirit, but not in fact. He helped to form a clandes-
tine group, Socialism and Freedom, which held meetings and debated. One
Sartre 185

member, Jean Pouillon, put it thus: We were not an organized Resistance


group, just a bunch of friends who had decided to be anti-Nazis together and to
communicate our convictions to others Huis closoperated at two levels.
At one level it was a comment on character, with the message Hell is other
people. At another it was a popular presentation of LEtre et le Nant, given a
flashy Gallic gloss and a contemporary relevance and presenting a message of
activism and concealed defiance. It was the kind of thing at which the French
have always been outstandingly giftedtaking a German idea and making it
fashionable with superb timing.
82

Therefore, Sartre injects himself into the play through Ins when she ad-
vises Garcin, Its what one does, and nothing else, that shows the stuff ones
made of.
83
He also speaks through Garcin when he declares, A man is what
he wills himself to be.
84


Chapter Eight
Freud









the ego is not the master in its own house.
1

Sigmund Freud, A Difficulty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis (1917)
As we move forward in time through the 20
th
and into the 21
st
century, we find
that scientific fields that address the workings of the mind and brain, i.e., psy-
chology, psychiatry, and neuroscience, tend to take a determinist point of view,
that is, that free will is purely an illusion. They recognize that the choices we
make are contingent on past events and also on neuroscience (the way that the
human brain physically works and transmits information). They acknowledge
that these interactions influence our behavior and therefore, the goal of psy-
chology has evolved so that today it seeks to investigate the numerous vari-
ablesbiological (inheritance, gender, neuroscience of the brain), personal
(ones upbringing), and social beliefs (imparted by ones culture and social
status)that interact in determining behavior and thought processes. If a psy-
chologist suspects that a mental condition may be causally related to a mal-
function of the brain, he will recommend that the patient be evaluated by
medical doctors and by neuroscientists, in particular.
Sigmund Freud, the single most influential psychologist of the 20
th
cen-
tury, thought that the unanalyzed mind does not have free will. He viewed us
as marionettes who strings are commandeered by various realms, each compet-
ing for dominance. These spheres of influence that rule usand often even
ruin our livesare many: the conscious mind; the subconscious mind (com-
prised of the preconscious and unconscious minds); the id; ego; and superego.
The degree to which Freud himself believed that we can exercise free will
is arguable. Many scholars hold that he was a hard determinist who viewed
man as an animal-machine subject to heredity, environment and the workings
Freud 187

of the psyche. On the other hand, it must also be acknowledged that he did
hold some hope that man might be able to enjoy at least a little bit of free will:
by recognizing the character of the unconscious and bringing aspects of it to
the surface so that it can be examined more closely, we can hope to be under
less of its control and thus, enhance our freedom to choose. Less encumbered
by controlling forces lurking in the unconscious, we are freer to opt for Eros,
the direction of the pleasure principle that propels us forward into life, love,
the future, and hope.
Freud posited that the pleasure principle has two directions: Eros propels
us forward, while the death wish leads us towards the point where there is the
least psychic tensiondeath. Despite the fact that he viewed humanity as
trapped between these two opposing forces, he did experience success in his
practice and he did see his patients improve. Therefore, it can be said that we
see in Freud, who wrote prolifically, that which we ourselves bring to the
table. However, it must be admitted that if Freud did hold that humans have
free will, it was minimal at most.
Let us begin our study by defining the regions of the human psyche that
are called the conscious and subconscious. The conscious mind is the realm
that contains thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and other aspects of mental life
currently present in awareness. The content of the conscious is thus inherently
transitory and continually changing.
The subconscious mind resides beneath the level of consciousness and it
can be subdivided into the preconscious and the unconscious. The first of
these, the preconscious mind, is the level of the psyche that contains thoughts,
feelings, and impulses not presently in awareness, but which can be readily
called into consciousness, i.e., the face of a friend, a verbal clich, or the mem-
ory of a recent event. The preconscious is also called the foreconscious.
The unconscious mind is the region of the psyche that contains thoughts,
ideas, memories, emotional conflicts, wishes, and repressed impulses that are
not directly accessible to awareness or the conscious mind, but that have sig-
nificant effects in thoughts and behavior. Freud used the term dynamic un-
conscious to distinguish this from that which is also part of the unconscious
but which has little or no psychological significance. The notion that the un-
conscious dominates and controls us was the cornerstone of Freuds psycho-
analytic theory.
Now let us define the three basic systems comprising human personality
that psychoanalytic theory identifies. These are often at war with each other
and this conflict results in all kinds of disorders. Paul Mussen advises: The id,
188 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

the most primitive and least accessible part, is entirely unconscious and in-
cludes instinctive sexual urges and repressed motives that seek immediate
satisfaction (tension reduction) without regard to the circumstances. Dreams,
impulses, and feelings that may seem strange to an individual can arise from
the id. The superego, representing conscience and what is sometimes called
the higher side of human life, is composed of ethical and moral principles
that the individual acquires early in life. The id and superego are frequently in
direct conflict, and the ego, the third major system, representing reason, at-
tempts to reconcile these conflicting forces.
2

The ego is the realm of conflict. It mediates between the id (which is moti-
vated by survival, pleasure or immediate tension reduction) and the superego
(the consciencethat which articulates societys admonitions to do what is
proper). The ego, treading the path midway between the two, employs reason
as a way of relating to the world; it rationally balances rewards and punish-
ments and decides the best way to proceedone that will both benefit the
person and promote survival. For example, you enter a room and see a dish full
of jelly donuts. If your id is in control, you will walk straight to the table and
take one. If your ego is in command, you will first ask permission from those
who are in charge of the house or office.
Freud held that most human behavior is caused by ideas residing in the
unconscious part of the mind. This is the means that the conscious mind uses
to protect itself from horrible or traumatic thoughts and events. The process of
pushing things out of the realm of awareness is called repression; things
pushed into the unconscious exert influence over personality and behavior.
Most repressed things come from childhood experiences when the mind is
immature and irrational. Freud believed that by revealing the contents of the
unconscious, a person could learn to deal with them more rationally and would
become psychologically healthier. He developed therapeutic techniques to do
this; the therapeutic method is called psychoanalysis.
For example, Freud posited that hysteria could be cured by enabling pa-
tients to become aware of their unconscious. In The Interpretation of Dreams
(1901) he argues that the best way to decode what is in a persons unconscious
is to interpret dreams. He said that dreams were the royal road to the uncon-
scious. His writings are filled with success storiescase studies that proved
that the unconscious part of the mind is more significant than the conscious in
determining the choices we make, and that psychoanalytic theories and thera-
peutic techniques that target the unconscious do help people regain control
over their lives and thus, they do enhance free will.
Freud 189

Freud found that most repressed material is related to the id. He posited
that we have violent and sexual drives that are remnants of our evolutionary
origins (inherent in the id); these instincts, which we have in common with
animals, are concerned with survival, protection of ones territory, and repro-
duction. Because our upbringing and society frown on unbridled aggressive
and sexual behavior, we repress our animal instincts.
Paul Mussen describes how Freud viewed this: Freud believed that much
of human behavior is irrational, rooted in basic biological drives such as sex
and aggression, and governed by unconscious motives. According to psycho-
analytic theory, many forbidden or punished impulses of childhood are re-
pressed (driven out of awareness) but remain in the unconscious and are
expressed in dreams, neurotic symptoms, slips of the tongue, and nervous
mannerisms, as well as in some artistic and literary products. In psychoanalytic
therapy, the methods of free association and dream analysis are used to un-
cover the patients unconscious, repressed motives and impulses. Once aware
of these repressed motives and impulses, according to psychoanalytic theory,
the patient can understand, accept, and control them.
3

The battle that is going on between instinctual aggression/sexual desires
and the moral part of us remains beneath the surface of our consciousness.
Without psychoanalysis, we are not aware that we are in conflict and therefore,
our free will and control are obviated. Anna Freud, in her introduction to Sig-
mund Freud, The Essentials of Psycho-Analysis, explains, Today it is no
longer unknown that a large part of our mental life proceeds without our
awareness, i.e., that our egoto quote Freud again (1917a, p. 143)is not
master in its own house. Gradually it has also become part of everyday
knowledge that this unconscious includes the instinctual life whose derivatives
in the form of wishes strive for satisfaction.
4

Anna Freud advises that the unconscious is very different from our waking
thought processes. While the conscious is subject to reason and logic and takes
the external world into consideration, the unconscious follows its own paths
that are directed solely to the gain of pleasure. It uses a picture language that
has no words at its disposal; it does not distinguish between past, present, and
future; it treats opposites as though they were one and the same; it does not
hesitate to displace affects such as anger and rage from one target to another; it
creates mixed figures from a number of single individuals; and so forth.
5

The modes of expression of the unconscious is often the dream: At the
beginning of his psycho-analytic work, the dream represented for Freud the
most important road to the subterranean forces which determine the parapraxes
190 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

in everyday life, the choice of ones partner in love, and symptom-formation in


neurosis and psychosis in mental illnesses.
6

Sigmund Freud defined conscious and unconscious and contrasted the
two. He wrote, Now let us call conscious the conception which is present to
our consciousness and of which we are aware, and let this be the only meaning
of the term conscious. As for latent conceptions, if we have any reason to
suppose that they exist in the mindas we had in the case of memorylet
them be denoted by the term unconscious;
7
Thus an unconscious conception
is one of which we are not aware, but the existence of which we are neverthe-
less ready to admit on account of other proofs or signs.
8

An example of the difference between unconscious and conscious is seen
in post-hypnotic suggestion. As an example Freud mentions Hippolyte Bern-
heims hypnosis of a subject who, upon awakening from the hypnotic state,
performed certain actions at a specific time after awakening. This proves that a
distinction is to be made between the conscious and the unconscious minds.
Manifestations of the unconscious mind include slips of the tongue,
dreams, and various kinds of transference. According to Freud, slips of the
tongue are speech errors that reveal a forbidden wish or a concealed motive,
thought, feeling or intention. For example, a wife may tell her husband, Ho-
ney, I want to kill you instead of Honey, I want to kiss you. In this case, at
the level of the id, there is substantial hostility towards the husband.
There are many ways in which people unwittingly behave irrationally.
These occurrences are not intentional and are emblematic of the fact that peo-
ple are at the mercy of the unconscious mind and that they behave in patterns
that they would never choose at the conscious level.
Defense mechanisms are examples of this and there are many different
kinds. First, let us define the term defense mechanism and then examine a
few of them. The key operating principle in all of the material listed below is
unconscious. This supports the view that humans rarely, if ever, freely
choose their behavior. The definitions below are taken from the APA Diction-
ary of Psychology.
A defense mechanism is an unconscious reaction pattern employed by the
EGO to protect itself from the anxiety that arises from psychic EGO conflict.
Such mechanisms range from mature to immature, depending on how much
they distort reality: DENIAL is very immature because it negates reality,
whereas SUBLIMATION is one of the most mature forms of defense because
it allows indirect satisfaction of a true wish.
9

Freud 191

For example, denial is a defense mechanism in which unpleasant


thoughts, feelings, wishes or events are ignored or excluded from conscious
awareness. It may take such forms as refusal to acknowledge the reality of a
terminal illness, financial problem, an addiction, or a partners infidelity. De-
nial is an unconscious process that functions to resolve emotional conflict or
reduce anxiety.
10

A second defense mechanism is displacement. Displacement is the trans-
fer of feelings or behavior from their original object to another person or
thingthe individual discharges tensions associated with, for example, hostil-
ity and fear by taking them out on a neutral, nonthreatening or less threatening
target. Thus, an angry child might hurt a sibling instead of attacking the father;
a frustrated employee might criticize his or her spouse instead of the boss
11

A third defense mechanism is repression. Repression consists of exclud-
ing painful experiences and unacceptable impulses from consciousness. Re-
pression operates on an unconscious level as a protection against anxiety
produced by objectionable sexual wishes, feelings of hostility, and ego-
threatening experiences of all kinds.
12
The purpose of repression is to keep
embarrassing, traumatic or painful memories and experiences out of the con-
scious mind, at a distance from awareness. When this occurs, there a three
possibilities: 1) the repressed experience may be thoroughly suppressed so that
we are not aware of any evidence of it, 2) it may reappear disguised as a dif-
ferent emotion, or 3) it is expressed as anxiety.
A fourth defense mechanism is sublimation. In sublimation, unacceptable
sexual or aggressive drives are unconsciously channeled into socially accept-
able modes of expression. Thus, the unacceptable drives and energies are redi-
rected into new, learned behaviors, which indirectly provide some satisfaction
for the original instincts. For examplea dangerously aggressive drive may be
expressed with impunity on the football field.
13

These four defense mechanisms, which are common and which we see
every day, remind us that something in our heads is pulling our marionette
strings and that something is the unconscious mind. At other times, people
may have a serious, gnawing problem that is curtailing their activities and they
may be forced to seek a therapist to help them overcome it. For example, they
may have a phobia. A phobia is a persistent and irrational fear of a specific
situation, object, or activity (e.g., heights, dogs, water, blood, driving, flying),
which is consequently either strenuously avoided or endured with marked
distress.
14
The phobia may come to the fore when a person lands a high pay-
ing job and discovers that it requires frequent travel and overnight stays in
192 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

distant cities. If he has led a sheltered life and never traveled before, sudden
anxiety may lead him to either turn down the job offer or seek help.
Psychologists have several methods of addressing these manifestations,
uncovering what is lurking in the unconscious, and freeing their patients from
their control. One such digging tool is free association: the subject says any-
thing that comes to mind while reclining on a couch, relaxed. The goal is to
dredge up from the unconscious information that can be discussed, analyzed,
and understood at the conscious level. During free association the patient is
encouraged to verbalize freely whatever thoughts come to mindThe object is
to allow unconscious material, such as traumatic experiences or threatening
impulses, and otherwise inhibited thoughts and emotions to come to the sur-
face where they can be interpreted. Free association is also posited to help the
patient discharge some of the feelings that have given this material excessive
control over him or her.
15
The patient participates in modifying the psycho-
analysts interpretation. If the patient accepts the interpretation, he may experi-
ence an insight, a sudden understanding that has therapeutic value.
Another therapeutic technique is dream analysis. Psychologists view the
mind as a filing cabinet that processes the meaning of the events of the day and
then files them away for future reference. Therefore, one function of the dream
is to enable the mind to make sense of what happened during the day. How-
ever, there are also other purposes underlying dreaming. Freud held that
dreams allow us to act out experiences, impulses, or traumas that are in the
subconscious and that the conscious mind does not acknowledge when we are
awake. Dreams can also be a way of working through unconscious turmoil and
uncertainty. They may provide wish fulfillment. Dream analysis is a basic tool
in the therapists arsenal for freeing the patient from the control that the uncon-
scious has over him.
There is a particular defense mechanism that psychologists find helpful
when analyzing their patients. This defense mechanism is called transference.
Transference is the DISPLACEMENT or PROJECTION onto the analyst of
unconscious feelings and wishes originally directed toward important indi-
viduals, such as parents, in the patients childhood. This process, which is at
the core of the psychoanalytic method, brings repressed material to the surface
where it can be reexperienced, studied, and worked through. In the course of
this process, it is posited that the sources of neurotic difficulties are frequently
discovered and their harmful effects alleviatedtransferenceas unconscious
repetition of earlier behaviors and projection onto new subjectsis acknowl-
edged as ubiquitous in human interactions.
16

Freud 193

Freud was not the only leading figure in psychology whose lifes work
was based on determinism. Other pioneers, such as B.F. Skinner, Konrad Lo-
renz, and Ivan Pavlov, are also regarded as hard determinists.
A Neuroscientists View of Freud
Neuroscientist David Eagleman does not find any indication that Freud be-
lieved that humans have free will. Eagleman writes that in The Interpretation
of Dreams, Freud analyzed his own emotional crises anddreamsThis
sense of the vast presence below the surface led him to chew on the question of
free will. He reasoned that if choices and decisions derive from hidden mental
processes, then free choice is either an illusion or, at minimum, more tightly
constrained than previous considered.
17

Eagleman advises that with an increased understanding of how determinis-
tic factors influence our behavior there must come a reassessment of our legal
system. He finds it problematic that the judicial system tries defendants and
then arrives at the conclusion that they have guilty minds. The court system
operates on the premise that humans are practical reasoners. Eagleman,
however, understands that humans are anything but practical reasoners:
There is a tension between biology and law on this intuition. After all, we are
driven to be who we are by vast and complex biological networks. We do not
come to the table as blank slates, free to take in the world and come to open-
ended decisions. In fact, it is not clear how much the conscious youas op-
posed to the genetic and neural yougets to do any deciding at all.
18

He discusses various disorders in which people are essentially held hos-
tage by a malfunction in the brain. For example, it is well known that in Tou-
rettes syndrome, a person suffers from involuntary movements and
vocabulary.
19
In another example (taken from actual news headlines), a man
sleepwalks over to his in-laws home and commits multiple murders.
20
This is
called homicidal somnambulism. Eagleman points out that these people are
incapable of vetoing their actions. In the case of the somnambulist, doctors
have argued in court that the defendant in the case had no free will.
As a neuroscientist, Eagleman finds it significant that all brain activity is
interdependent; this undermines the notion that free will exists: As far as we
can tell, all activity in the brain is driven by other activity in the brain, in a
vastly complex, interconnected network. For better or worse, this seems to
leave no room for anything other than neural activitythat is, no room for a
ghost in the machine. To consider this from the other direction, if free will is to
194 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

have any effect on the actions of the body, it needs to influence the ongoing
brain activity. And to do that, it needs to be physically connected to at least
some of the neurons. But we dont find any spot in the brain that is not itself
driven by other parts of the network. Instead, every part of the brain is densely
interconnected withand driven byother brain parts. And that suggests that
no part is independent and therefore free.
21

Eagleman concludes that we do not have free will: So in our current un-
derstanding of science, we cant find the physical gap in which to slip free
willthe uncaused causerbecause there seems to be no part of the machin-
ery that does not follow in a causal relationship from the other parts. Every-
thing stated here is predicated on what we know at this moment in history,
which will certainly look crude a millennium from now; however, at this point,
no one can see a clear way around the problem of a nonphysical entity (free
will) interacting with a physical entity (the stuff of the brain).
22

In the next chapter we will see how the unconscious mind has been ex-
ploited for financial gain on a massive scale. If people are animal-machines
that can be fed the proper stimulus, then the unconscious mind can be manipu-
lated to entice them to purchase items that they do not need or even worse, be
better off without. We will take a look at how Freuds nephew, Edward Ber-
nays, exploited the notion that people want to be happy, that happiness is un-
consciously associated with sex and power, and that if large corporations can
get people to unconsciously relate merchandise to sex and power, the masses
will buy out of compulsion.
Corporate exploitation of Freudian associations has been snowballing,
even long after Bernays death. Americans spent a record $11.4 billion in a
single dayon Black Friday, November 26, 2011. This constitutes an increase
of 6.6% over the previous year, despite 9.9% unemployment. Total spending
over the 4-day weekend, commencing on Thanksgiving Day and ending Sun-
day, reached a record $52.4 billion, up 16% from $45 billion in 2010. 226
million shoppers visited stores and shopped online between Thursday and
Sunday, up from 212 million in 2010. Moreover, on Cyber Monday, Novem-
ber 28, 2011, online sales rose to a record $1.25 billion, an increase of 22%!
Therefore, let us take one last look at a dictionary definitionthe pleasure
principle. The pleasure principle is the view that human beings are governed
by the desire for instinctual gratification, or pleasure, and for the discharge of
tension that builds up as pain or unpleasure when gratification is lack-
ingthe pleasure principle is the psychic force that motivates people to seek
immediate gratification of instinctual, or libidinal, impulses
23
Let us retain
Freud 195

the notion that the id hides in the unconscious and seeks sex and power as we
call to mind advertisements that show people smiling as they hold cigarettes or
stroke shiny cars. Freuds nephew can be credited with exploiting the ids
quest for gratification to the hilt and thereby making buying a compulsion.

Chapter Nine
Edward Bernays









The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the
masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this un-
seen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling
power of our country.
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested,
largely by men we have never heard ofin almost every act of our daily lives, whether
in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we
are dominated by the relatively small number of personswho understand the mental
processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control
the public mind
1
Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda (1928)
Edward L. Bernays (18911995) was a hard determinist who understood that
the human mind could be trained with stimuli that, over a period of time,
would elicit a desired response. However, one could look beneath the surface
of this philosophy and argue that perhaps his lifetime corpus suggests that we
do indeed have free will, both individually and collectively, and that humans,
driven by private interest, are eager to employ whatever tactics they can to
coax each other into making choices from which they would benefit. If the rich
and powerful did not deem that we have free will, they would not invest bil-
lions of dollars in techniques to influence our choices. If they have the ability
to employ their resources to influence the will of others, then they, themselves,
must have free will.
Bernays was known as the father of modern public relations. He coined
the term public relations because he recognized that propaganda has nega-
tive connotationstherefore, the language he used to identify his art is itself
an iconic representation of the psychology that he employed to manipulate and
control the masses.
Bernays 197

Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. He met with and corre-
sponded with his uncle; he had 52 letters from him. He was instrumental in
popularizing Freuds theories in the United States. He arranged to have an
English translation of Freuds A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis pub-
lished in the United States in 1920, and publicized it.
2
Concurrently, Bernays
also benefited from his relationship to Freud and used it to establish and fur-
ther his own reputation as a theorist and counselor in public relations.
One of the benefits that Bernays derived from his association with Freud
was access to and an intimate knowledge of the basic precepts of modern psy-
choanalysis. Having carefully scrutinized his uncles works down to the ut-
most minutiae, Bernays advised his clients as to how to mine the realm of the
subconscious mind in order to coax the public into making a specific choice
when confronted with a wide range of possibilities. His uncle had taught him
that unconscious instinctual drives work beneath the surface of the individuals
mind and the collective mind of mass populations. A knowledge of how the
subconscious mind of the individual works can be used as a springboard to
understanding the mechanisms by which the mind of the masses works. The
goal of the public relations advisor is to determine how to understand and
choose specific strategies that will be successful in manipulating and control-
ling public opinion.
The techniques that Bernays employed to persuade the masses and shape
government policy included conducting and publishing favorable results from
experiments, surveys, and polls; procuring endorsements from doctors, ex-
perts, and celebrities; and exploiting the realm of the subconscious mind to the
hilt. His successful campaigns included enabling the American Tobacco Com-
pany to double its audience by selling cigarettes to women: he made it fashion-
able for women to smoke in public in an age when it was taboo. He
accomplished this by sponsoring demonstrations in which women stood on
street corners and lit up torches of freedom. To promote Proctor and Gam-
bles Ivory Soap and make bathing more popular with children, he set up a
national small-sculpture panel that for years oversaw soap-carving competi-
tions. He promoted the sale of bacon by surveying doctors and reporting that
they advocated that Americans eat hearty breakfasts that included bacon and
eggs.
One of his early victories was won after World War I on behalf of Veni-
da hairnets. Venida was the industry leader, but its sales began to suffer
after dancer Irene Castle cut her hair short and the coiffure became the new
fashion. The fad also threatened the hairpin and hair comb industries. William
198 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Geist advises that Bernays used the following approach to reverse the trend: he
arranged for safety experts to issue warnings ofpreciselywhat could
happen if a woman went to work without a hairnet and got her hair caught in
the machinery. Health experts came forward to speak of the horrors of food
contaminationLaws were hastily passed in many states making hairnets
mandatory.
3

In addition, Bernays launched a public relations campaign in which he re-
cruited artists to praise the Greek coiffure look that hairnets gave their wear-
ers.
Bernays technique was to avoid identifying Venida by name. Instead he
chose to emphasize the itemthe hairnetsat a time when Venida domi-
nated the industry and stood to profit the most from the campaign. Hence, we
see the role of secrecy and the influence of the invisible wire-pullers operat-
ing from the shadows.
In 1919 Bernays and his future wife, Doris E. Fleischman, founded the
first public relations consulting firm. Their business lasted six decades and had
a long list of clients that included the ACLU, American Tobacco Company,
Ballet Russe, Enrico Caruso, CBS, Celanese Corporation, Columbia Univer-
sity, Cond Nast Publications, Continental Baking Company, President Calvin
Coolidge, Thomas Edison, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Henry Ford,
Sigmund Freud, General Electric, General Mills, General Motors, Samuel
Goldwyn, President Herbert Hoover, Hotel Association of New York City,
Clare Booth Luce, Mack Trucks, Metropolitan Opera, NAACP, NBC, Vaslav
Nijinsky, William Paley, Philco, Proctor and Gamble, David Sarnoff, Time,
United Brewers Association, United Fruit, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Westing-
house Electric, and President Woodrow Wilson.
As he was advising clients and conducting public relations campaigns, he
was also writing prolifically. His works include Biography of an Idea: Mem-
oirs of Public Relations Counsel Edward L. Bernays; Crystallizing Public
Opinion; the article entitled, The Engineering of Consent, in the Annals of
the American Academy of Political and Social Science; Fighting the Fifth
Column in the Americas: An Analysis and a Program; Human Relations, the
Way To Labor-Management Adjustments: A Paper Presented at the Twenty-
Third Annual Industrial Conference of the Pennsylvania State College, State
College, Pennsylvania; The Later Years: Public Relations Insights 19561986;
Outline of Careers: A Practical Guide To Achievement by Thirty-Eight Emi-
nent Americans; Propaganda; Public Relations; Speak Up for Democracy:
What You Can DoA Practical Plan of Action for Every American Citizen;
Bernays 199

Take Your Place at the Peace Table; Verdict of Public Opinion on Propa-
ganda; Your Future in Public Relations. Two books mentioned above are
autobiographical texts: Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations
Counsel Edward L. Bernays; The Later Years: Public Relations Insights 1956
1986.
In addition, he edited Careers for Men: A Practical Guide To Opportunity
in Business; he edited The Engineering of Consent, which featured pieces by
Howard W. Cutler, Sherwood Dodge, et al. Working with coauthors, he also
penned Broadway Anthology; UniversitiesPathfinders in Public Opinion, a
Survey; Case for Reappraisal of U.S. Overseas Information Policies and Pro-
grams; Incorporating Congressman Fascells Report.
Many of his books elevate the dissemination of information for the pur-
pose of controlling others to the level of a social science. In Propaganda
(1928), he sets forth techniques for snaring the attention and belief of mass
populations. For example, his basic premise for mass mind control is seen in
Chapter One, which is entitled, Organizing Chaos. Here Bernays declares
that the public opinion of a vast country or even the world is molded by very
few people. This tiny elite knows its targeted audience, the subject matter that
it is promoting, and how to employ psychology to manipulate others:
we are dominated by the relatively small number of personswho understand the
mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which
control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind
and guide the worldInvisible governmentarose almost overnightWe have vol-
untarily agreed to let an invisible government sift the data and high-spot the out-
standing issue so that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical proportions.
4

Bernays argues that it is impossible for a single individual to research the
minutiae of every issue. One person has neither the time, nor the mental capac-
ity to absorb huge amounts of data. Therefore, he allows others to do the re-
search for him, arrive at their own conclusions, and present their findings to
him. This is the job of the public relations expert.
5

In hindsight, Bernays argument parallels the way the brain works. The
brain is concurrently processing trillions of pieces of information and we
would not be able to function if we were conscious of everything that it is
doing.
6
We evolved so that our conscious mind is aware of only what it needs
to knowthe end result of the processing. Similarly, politicians, corporate
CEOs, teachers, clergy, people who are the heads of labor unions, religious
institutions, and other large groups, sort through data, arrive at a conclusion,
200 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

and advise the people they govern of their decisions. One might say that the
public relations expert, working in tandem with leaders, will make the deter-
mination, like the human brain, as to what is going to reach our conscious
mind and what will not. They are our brain; they do our thinking for us; the job
of the public relations executive is to teach these leaders how to be convincing
and effective. Their strength lies in appealing to the subconscious mind, which,
lurking beneath the surface of the conscious mind, dominates and controls
from the shadows like the Wizard of Oz.
Bernays first recommendation was to exploit the printing press, railroad,
telephone, telegraph, radio, and airlines, to spread ideas across the country
with rapid-fire speed.
7
Next he saw the value in targeting large social, political,
economic, racial, religious and ethnic groups, each of which has numerous
subdivisions.
8
He recommended using the World Almanac because it lists
these groups alphabetically.
9
In addition, the American Newspaper Annual and
Directory lists thousands of periodicals. Each of these periodicals reaches tens
or hundreds of thousands of people.
10
Moreover, one can make use of conven-
tions in which large groups of people congregate. People who attend conven-
tions can be recruited to absorb and in turn, disseminate, propaganda.
11
As we
shall see, big business has harvested Bernays ideas to entice the masses into
purchasing items that they previously thought that they could live without.
Bernays reminds us that it was once believed that universal public educa-
tion would enhance mans ability to control his environment, raise his standard
of living, and make him happier. However, we must also examine the reverse
side of the coin: the ability to read also leads people to adhere to a prescribed
way of thinking and purchase certain products: universal literacy has given
himrubber stamps inked with advertising slogans, with editorials, with pub-
lished scientific data, with the trivialities of the tabloidsEach mans rubber
stamps are the duplicates of millions of others, so that when those millions are
exposed to the same stimuli, all receive identical imprintsThe mechanism by
which ideas are disseminated on a large scale isan organized effort to spread
a particular belief or doctrine.
12

Who are the propagandists who control the minds of so many people?
Bernays advises that a list of their names would read like an extended list of
persons mentioned in Whos Who.
13
They include public officials (both
elected and appointed by those elected), CEOs of corporations, labor leaders,
editors of magazines and newspapers, movie producers, authors, college pro-
fessors, financiers, and sports figures.
14
These people, in turn, must cater to,
and reiterate the ideas, and protect the interests of those who control them
Bernays 201

persons whose names are known to few;


15
In some instances the power of
the invisible wire-pullers is flagrant;
16
There are invisible rulers who control
the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words
and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons
operating behind the scenes.
17

At other times, those who give us our hopes and dreams are in the public
eye. As an example, Bernays mentions how a sports figure had recently
changed the style of womens coiffures: An Irene Castle can establish the
fashion of short hair which dominates nine-tenths of the women who make any
pretense of being fashionable. Paris fashion leaders set the mode of the short
skirt, for wearing which, twenty years ago, any women would simply have
been arrested and thrown into jail by the New York police, and the entire
womens clothing industry, capitalized at hundreds of millions of dollars, must
be reorganized to conform to their dictum.
18

The vehicle that propagandists use to reach millions of people is the mass
media. In 1928 when Propaganda was written, the most influential media
were the movies and radio. Regarding radio, Bernays says, Large groups,
political, racial, sectarian, economic or professional, are tending to control
stations to propagandize their points of view.
19
The movies were the ultimate
in shaping public opinion, due to the power of the visual image: The Ameri-
can motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the
world todayThe motion picture can standardize the ideas and habits of a
nation. Because pictures are made to meet market demands, they reflect, em-
phasize and ever exaggerate broad popular tendencies, rather than stimulate
new ideas and opinions. The motion picture avails itself only of ideas and facts
which are in vogue.
20

The last two sentences are arguable: perhaps Bernays should have said in-
stead, theyexaggerate tendencies seen in certain areasThe motion
picture avails itself of ideas which are in vogue in certain locations and dis-
seminates it broadly so that people on the other side of the country are duped
into thinking that everyone is doing or behaving as portrayed onscreen. Let us
see why Bernays was disingenuous: originally it was taboo for women to
smoke in public; it was not the style to wear bobbed hair; the color green was
repulsive to most; people were not eating bacon and eggs on a mass scale;
women were not smoking to stay thin. All of these notions became widespread
only after strategically chosen, planned, and executed media blitzes. The real-
ity was diametrically antithetical to Bernays statement exaggerate broad
popular tendencies, rather than stimulate new ideas and opinions. It is pre-
202 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

cisely the stimulation of new ideas and opinions that is the raison dtre of
the propagandist.
Back in 1758 Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote a letter to dAlembert on the
theater to refute what the latter had written in the Encyclopedia. Rousseau
argued that Genevans did not want a theater in their city because it would
teach people manners and mores that they would never imagine on their own.
He was right: the dangers against which Rousseau warned us have come to
pass. For example, Hollywood borrowed the affected speech patterns of a
handful of preteen girls living in the San Fernando Valley and regurgitated
them repeatedly in the media until subsequent generations adopted them as
their own. As a result, today people with Ph.Ds who are interviewed on the TV
and radio use the intonation of Valley Girls, i.e., raising their voice at the end
of a sentence in order to get a sign of approval from the listener. Years ago,
people raised their intonation to signify that a question had been asked. There-
fore, one could argue that Propaganda itself was propaganda designed to
obscure the fact that it is fiction that is being conceived and disseminated
fiction that is not the least reflective of the reality of most people. It is only
though the passage of time that manners and mores deteriorate or ameliorate to
meet the level of the fictional world that the media portrays.
The year that Propaganda was published, big business sought to benefit
from Bernays expertise. In 1928 when it was thought that only women of
questionable morals smoked in public, the American Tobacco Company re-
cruited him to find a way to entice women to purchase cigarettes. Bernays
suggested that cigarette smoking be associated with the suffragette movement,
womens equality, the upper class, and elegance. Suffragettes had garnered a
great victory that decade, as womens suffrage was ratified by the 19
th

Amendment to the United States Constitution on August 18, 1920.
The quest for womens equality would appeal to the conscious mind.
However, lurking somewhere beneath the surface, the subtext was that ciga-
rettes are phallic symbols; women have an unconscious desire to be androgy-
nous; and cigarettes will enable them to fulfill that wish.
On Easter Sunday of 1929, ten young women marched down Fifth Avenue
in New York City as they conspicuously held lighted torches of freedom.
The women casually, but prominently and strategically, held their cigarettes at
the side of the body, just below the waistline. This would ensure that the sub-
conscious mind would kick in and associate the cigarette with the Freudian
symbol of maleness, power, and dominance. This mining of Freuds seminal
theory of the subconscious provided tremendous success for the American
Bernays 203

Tobacco Company and proved once again that psychoanalytic theory can be
relied upon to succeed in effecting consumer manipulation and social control.
The media exploited the image in headline stories replete with two-column
pictures. On April 1, 1929 the New York Times featured a front-page headline
that announced, Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of Freedom.
The cigarettes became known as torches of freedom and within a year it was
socially acceptable for women to smoke outside their homes.
Hollywood movies included segments in which actresses clad in cloche
hats and boas smoked in front of men as they held long cigarette holders and
smiled as they blew out the smoke up in the air. Actresses produced a pack of
cigarettes or lighter from their bodice as the ultimate image of androgyny.
Once womens purchasing power was garnered, the next objective was to
step up sales. This was accomplished by convincing them that smoking would
keep them slim. Lucky Strikes ran ads that advised, Reach for a Lucky in-
stead of a sweet. Advertisements featured shadows of fat women behind slim
ones to indicate that the difference in body proportions was due to smoking.
All of the aforementioned associationsmaleness, power, political free-
dom, feminism, elegance, high class, and a svelte figurelasted throughout
the 20
th
century and into the 21
st
. These connections reemerged in 1968 when
Virginia Slims launched a campaign promoting long, slim cigarettes specifi-
cally designed for a womans hand using the slogan Youve come a long
way, baby.
In 2007 R.J. Reynolds introduced Camel No. 9 cigarettes, exploiting ter-
minology with overtly sexual overtones such as light and luscious and using
fuchsia and teal packaging.
In the 1930s the American Tobacco recruited Bernays to help solve an-
other problem: surveys showed that women were not buying Lucky Strike
cigarettes because its forest green packaging and red bulls-eye clashed with
their wardrobes. Bernays recommended that the color of the packs be
changed. However, the president of American Tobacco, George Washington
Hill, would not do that because he had already invested millions of dollars to
advertise the current pack. Thereafter, Bernays arrived at an alternative solu-
tion: convince women that green was the chic, hot new color and that all fash-
ionable women wore it.
Neal Gabler states:
204 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

He induced department stores to feature green dresses and suits in their window dis-
plays, and he persuaded the Reinhardt Galleries to hold a Green Exhibition of paint-
ings. The result of this six-month flurry: green became the hot new color of fashion.
21

In addition to recommending window displays of green suits and dresses,
Bernays held a green fashion luncheon, green balls for famous socialites at
which green gowns were worn, had green apparel featured in Vogue and Har-
pers Bazaar, and convinced wearing apparel manufacturers to switch to bolts
of green cloth. In 1985 Bernays reiterated the central role that mass communi-
cation played in this project, noting New Yorks dominance in communica-
tions.
22

However, when evidence surfaced that smoking causes cancer, Bernays
reversed his position and ran campaigns against smoking. Beginning in the
early 1960s, he was a public opponent of smoking and took part in anti-
smoking campaigns.
Bernays was also recruited by Proctor and Gamble to convince children to
bathe with Ivory Soap. His solution was to organize soap-carving contests on
a national scaleat a time when Ivory Soap was the only soap on the market
that was pliable enough to be carved. The Ivory Soap sculpture contest that
he established soon had 22 million children carving.
To promote bacon, he conducted surveys of doctors and enlisted their opi-
nions as to whether bacon and eggs constituted a breakfast that was hearty
enough to adequately prepare people to face the day ahead. The positive results
of the survey permitted the bacon industry to advertise that doctors recom-
mended that people have a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs each morning.
After World War II General Mills hired Bernays to employ psychology to
help solve a problem that had been plaguing the company: it had formulated a
new convenience food, Betty Crocker Cake Mix, but, for some mysterious
reason, the public was refusing to purchase the product. Bernays task was to
find out why and change the situation. He told them to add an egg to the rec-
ipe. Dana Stevens advises, The marketers quaintly Freudian logicthat
women would be comforted by the subconscious notion that they were offer-
ing up their own eggs to their husbandsmay seem funny in retrospect, but
the trick worked, and Betty Crocker became a household name.
23

As his public relations firm prospered and clientele increased, Bernays
continued to write books and articles. In a brief, 8page paper entitled, The
Engineering of Consent (1947), Bernays advises politicians, lobbyists, corpo-
rations and nonprofit groups, as to how to coax the masses into choosing a
Bernays 205

specific product or idea. The paper reiterates and builds upon theses set forth in
Propaganda and his other books. He recommends recruiting the media and
taking advantage of the vast communications industry. He provides figures as
to how many newspapers, magazines, TV sets, and movie theaters exist and
how many millions of people each medium reaches. The effective means of
persuasion is to exploit each of these venues to the max.
24

The engineering of the consent of the public must be methodically
planned, down to the utmost minutiae, as is the engineering of a bridge.
25

There are four key prerequisites that must be met: 1) calculation of resources
2) a knowledge of the subject matter, 3) statement of objectives, and 4) re-
search into how and why the public acts as it does.
26
Next one must procure
reference tools (i.e., the World Almanac, which lists thousands of associa-
tions).
27

The goals should be specific. For example, more money can be raised for
the Red Cross if the needy country is identified as the beneficiary rather than a
continent.
28

Researchers should conduct a study of the targeted publicidentify its
prejudices; what ideas it might accept; where it derives its ideas.
29

After this research has been completed, marketers will promote specific
ideas or as Bernays calls them, themes of strategy or the story line.
30
These
themes or ideas will exploit basic premises in psychology that relate to the
unconscious or subconscious mind.
31
Next, the tactics must be addressed. Grabbing the publics attention with
fascinating news headlines provides free publicity and such publicity does not
happen by accident: it must be methodically planned. This is why public rela-
tions is the engineering of consent: newsworthy events are deliberately created
to influence the public to think a certain way.
32

In summation, the engineering of consent is a rational process and can be
studied like any other science. Optimum results will be obtained by planning
(calculation of resources, accumulation of knowledge of the subject matter,
determining objectives, and conducting painstaking research into the attitudes
and impulses of the public); then, by establishing themes, strategy, organiza-
tion, and tactics.
Now let us examine the language that Bernays employs in this brief 8
page paper. An analysis of the words that he uses provides stunning results: he
liberally utilizes terminology related to warfare that is sprinkled with words
related to psychology. The implications are clear: a war campaign is being
206 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

conducted against the American people. The public relations expert provides
strategy, propaganda and pathways that carry the ammunition!
First, let us review some of the words related to warfare: action(s) (18x);
activation; activities will be geared; aim(ed) (2x); amplifying system; antago-
nistic points of view; attempts to win over; authoritarianism; authority; bat-
tle(s) (2x); blanketed; blind spots; blitzkrieg; blueprint of action; bring about;
build the morale; calculation of resources; campaign(s) (5x); chain reaction;
change action and methods; changed conditions; compete (3x), including
compete among themselves, compete with one another in battles; competition;
continuing battle; controlling position; damage; deluge; demagogues; determi-
nation of objectives; direct (3x); direction; disrupt (2x), including disrupt cer-
tain antagonistic points of view, disrupt the enemy; divisions within the larger
units; do a lot of damage; double-barreled effect; ends; enemy; engineer (38x);
enormously rapid diffusion; enormous scope of word warfare; exposed; force
(2x); geographical distance; goal(s) (4x); group (20x), including group forma-
tions; hammer continually; harnessing the energies; human assets (2x); impact;
implemented (2x); interlocking all phases of the proposed strategy; leader
(22x); leaders are just as potent; leadership (2x); lines of approach; magnified
thousands of times; manpower (4x); mass movements and campaigns; means
(3x); measures; mechanical web; method(s) (3x); modify original objectives;
necessary (5x), including necessary corrections, necessary manpower, neces-
sary to develop a plan of action, necessary to effective planning, necessary to
engage in; need not be visible; objective(s)(ly) (10x); Office of War Informa-
tion; operational know-how; organization(s) (8x), including organization of
resources; organize 10x); out-maneuvering his opponents; over-all strategy;
overt act; penetrating and effective; physical frontiers; plan(ned)(ning)(s)
(16x), including plan of action, planned deliberately, planned goal; points of
weakness; position (2x); postwar; potent (2x); potent force; powerfully
equipped; powers; precision; preliminary groundwork; preliminary work (2x);
pressure(s) (2x); program (4x); progress; push; regimentation; remote physi-
cally; resources (3x); scope; short-wave facilities; skilled specialists; strategy
(6x); subversion; subverted; support; tactics (5x), including day-to-day tactics,
plan the tactics of the program, tactics in terms of segmental approaches, tac-
tics that are timed to the moment of maximum effectiveness; take action; tech-
nicians in the field; thorough knowledge of the situation; tools (2x); training
(2x); transmission; transmitted; war (9x); warfare; win (4x); winning; win over
(2x); win that war; win the public; World War I (2x); World War II.
Bernays 207

Now let us review some of the terms related to psychology. There is some
overlap with words related to warfare, as words can have several connotations,
and in Bernays paper, psychology is itself a tool of warfare: absorb; ac-
cept(ance); analyze (2x); appeal(s) (5x); assumptions; attitudes (8x);
aware(ness) (2x); compelling appeals; conscious and subconscious motiva-
tions; conscious and subconscious pressures created by the force of desires;
consciousness; desires; effectively influence the thought process; effective
stimulant; emotion; expressed; flow of ideas; force of desires; idea(s) (21x);
imaginative(ly) (2x); impulses; influenc(es)(ing) (6x), including effectively
influence the thought process, influence the attitudes and actions, influencing
public thought; learn (2x), including learn how and why it acts; interest(ed)(s)
(4x); legends; mind (5x); motivations (2x); motives (2x); open doors to the
public mind; overt; persuade (2x); persuasion (3x); points of view (2x); preju-
dices (2x); psychologists; public approval, public awareness; public mind (3x);
public opinion (3x); public thought (2x); receptivity; remain in a controlling
position; subversion; subverted; suggest(ed) (3x); theme (9x); think; thinking;
thought (4x); thought process; transmission of ideas; wishes (2x).
To use terminology that Freud himself might have used, the underlying
tendencies towards aggression, domination and control are revealed in the
language that Bernays uses. Moreover, there is the subtext of jungle warfare:
subdue and conquer the enemy from a hidden position; you can see the enemy
but the enemy cannot see you. The method of attack is subliminal warfare;
infiltrate and take control of the subconscious mind.
History has taught us that the use of propaganda to dominate and control
large populations is an immense power that should be wielded with care, if at
all. Moreover, Bernays lived to see the day when he would learn that Joseph
Goebbels had his books in his library and that he had studied them copiously!
Larry Tye, in his biography of Bernays discusses how the father of public
relations was stunned to learn that the Nazis mined his techniques to perpetrate
their atrocities:
How he must have felt, then, when he learned in 1933 that Nazi propaganda chief Jo-
seph Goebbels was using Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive
campaign against the Jews of Germany? Bernays heard about it from Karl von Wie-
gand, foreign correspondent for the Hearst papers, who had visited with Goebbels in
Germany and been given a tour of his library. While scholars still debate the extent to
which the Nazis used Bernayss works, Goebbels did employ techniques nearly identi-
cal to those used by Bernaysskillfully exploiting symbols by making Jews into
scapegoats and Hitler into the embodiment of righteousness; manipulating the media
by trumpeting Nazi triumphs on the battlefield and hiding their extermination cam-
208 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

paigns; and vesting unheard-of power in state propagandists just as Bernays had ad-
vised in Crystallizing.
Bernays was savvy enough not to retell the Goebbels tale in the 1930s and 1940s,
when it could have tarnished his image, and to dwell instead on how his propaganda
techniques had aided America in the two world wars. But he couldnt resist recounting
von Wiegands story in his autobiography, published in 1965. News that his book was
on Goebbelss shelf shocked me, Bernays wrote. But I knew any human activity
can be used for social purposes or misused for antisocial ones. Obviously the attack on
the Jews in Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned
campaign.
33
Eddie Bernays may unwittingly have had a hand.
34

This reminds us that all knowledge has the potential of being unleashed against
humanity, just as E=mc
2
was used in the manufacture of the bombs that de-
stroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Chapter Ten
Neuroscience








the outcome of a decision can be encoded in brain activity of prefrontal and parietal
cortex up to 10 s before it enters awareness. This delay presumably reflects the opera-
tion of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming deci-
sion long before it enters awareness.
1

John-Dylan Haynes and Chun Siong Soon (2008)
Todays top neuroscientists agree that colossal amounts of activity occur in the
braintrillions and trillions of electrical pulseseven before we have a
thought. David M. Eagleman likens the brain to a bustling nation in which
Factories churn, telecommunication lines buzz with activity, businesses ship
products. People eat constantly. Sewer lines direct waste. All across the great
stretches of land, police chase criminals. Handshakes secure deals
2
Eagle-
man compares our conscious mind to a short column in USA Today that mere-
ly summarizes what we really need to know.
3
Millions of years of evolution
have hardwired us to be unaware of all of the brain activity that transpires
before we make a conscious decision.
For the last 50 years scientists have been gathering data on the living brain
as test subjects engage in decision-making. First with electroencephalography
(EEG) and then more recently with functional magnetic resonance imaging
(fMRI), researchers have been monitoring brain activity as people exercise
their free will and make choices as simple as when to flex their fingers and/or
wrists. The purpose of these sessions is to determine the relationship between
the time when people are aware of their intention to act and the time that activ-
ity begins in the brain. The results of this research is stunning: many research
teams working independently from each other have corroborated that people
become aware that they intend to perform an action only after unconscious
activity has already begun in the brain. Eagleman says, You see evidence of
210 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

this when your foot gets halfway to the brake before you consciously realize
that a red Toyota is backing out of a driveway on the road ahead of you.
4

This suggests that unconscious processes play a greater role in the execu-
tion of freely chosen, spontaneous acts than previously thought. In fact, it
forces us to reexamine just how spontaneous any of our actions are.
The most recent findings indicate that brain activity begins 710 seconds
before a conscious decision is made. What does this say about free will? Does
it negate its existence? In this chapter we will examine several scientific inves-
tigations and show how advances in imaging techniques have lifted the veil of
mystery that has shrouded the workings of the brain. We will address how the
research has caused us to rethink the notion of free will and the new issues
for ethicists and the criminal justice system that this cutting edge research has
brought.
Decisions Are Initiated Unconsciously
Let us begin by examining the pioneering work of Benjamin Libet. In two
landmark papers published in 1983 and 1985, Libet showed that the human
brain commits to decisions even before the person is aware of having made
them.
5
In these early studies, electrical activity in the brain was detected on an
average of a half second before the motor act was performed.
In the 1983 experiment six right-handed college students were ask to sit in
a partially reclining position; they watched a 5-inch circular screen situated
about 1.95 m in front of them as a spot of light revolved in a clockwise circle
on the screen starting at the 12:00 position. This revolving spot of light resem-
bled the sweep second hand on a clock, but each revolution was completed in
2.56 seconds rather than 60. Test subjects engaged in self-initiated voluntary
actsthey flexed their fingers and/or wrist of the right hand and reported the
position of the spot on the screen at the moment of wanting or intending to act
(W). Brain activity was recorded by an electroencephalograph (EEG). Analy-
sis of unconscious brain activity was made for that recorded at the vertex of
the brain, where it was maximal.
6

Libet discovered that electrically observable unconscious brain activity
(readiness-potential or RP) preceded conscious intention (W) by an average of
0.35 second and that W preceded the final motor act by 0.2 second. These
results are significant: if unconscious brain activity initiates our acts, we must
necessarily rethink our notion of free will and perhaps, redefine what the
term means.
Neuroscience 211

The term readiness-potential (RP) is synonymous with bereitschaftspo-


tential (BP) and pre-motor potential. It is a measure of activity in the motor
cortex leading up to voluntary muscle movement. The term bereitschaftspo-
tential is derived from the German, meaning readiness-potential. It was
recorded and reported in 1965 by H.H. Kornhuber and L. Deecke in Germany.
7

In the abstract Libet reports, that cerebral initiation of a spontaneous,
freely voluntary act can begin unconsciously, that is, before there is any (at
least recallable) subjective awareness that a decision to act has already been
initiated cerebrally. This introduces certain constraints on the potentiality for
conscious initiation and control of voluntary acts.
8

In 1985 Libet repeated the experiment, but this time he examined the abil-
ity of a person to change his mind and stop an action. Test subjects were asked
to randomly flick their fingers and/or a wrist. Concurrently, they watched a
revolving spot circling a large clock and recalled the position of the spot at the
time of the initial awareness of intending to move (W). Libets results
showed that there are two significant events that occur before a spontaneous
action and that these events occur at specific times: the build-up of uncon-
scious electrical activity in the brain (readiness potential or RP) begins about
0.55 second before the motor act; the person becomes aware of his intention to
act (W) about 0.2 second before he acts.
Libet also discovered that the subject had the ability to change his mind or
veto an action during the narrow 0.2 second time frame between W and the
motor act:
cerebral initiation of a spontaneous voluntary act begins unconsciously. However, it
was found that the final decision to act could still be consciously controlled during the
150 ms or so remaining after the specific conscious intention appears. Subjects can in
fact veto motor performance during a 100200-ms period before a prearranged time
to act.
9

If voluntary actions conceived unconsciously can be consciously vetoed, one
could hypothesize that we do indeed have free will and that it resides in the
power of self-control or of saying No to thoughts.
This paper led to a firestorm of controversy. The scientific community
asked where, then, does the veto originateis its genesis conscious or is it,
too, conceived unconsciously? Max Velmans explored the possibility that the
veto is not consciously initiated, but rather, is the result of preconscious neural
preparation.
10

212 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

In a 2002 paper Velmans examined how conscious experience causes ef-


fects in the body that can be observed and recorded. He refused to use Libets
term unconscious when referring to readiness-potential and preferred instead
to call it preconscious activity. The reason he did this was because he took
the position that conscious mental control needs to be partly understood in
terms of the voluntary operations of the preconscious mind, and that this al-
lows an account of biological determinism that is compatible with experienced
free will.
11
In other words, he did not think that the moment of volition could
be isolated and regarded apart from the RP that precedes it; W and RP must be
taken as a composite.
Velmans challenged Libets position that the veto does not require uncon-
scious brain activity. Velmans cites Karrer et al. (1978) and Konttinen and
Lyytinen (1993) who found that refraining from irrelevant movements is asso-
ciated with a slow positive-going readiness potential.
12

Since Velmans discounted the conscious veto, he had to find an alternate
means to explain the fact that people have only a narrow time frame of 0.2
second to veto a decision. He chose, therefore, to set forth a theory that com-
bines ontological monism with epistemological dualism.
13
He gives the exam-
ple of someone who is lying down in a green field on a summers day. When
he describes what he is experiencing, he is providing a first-person account.
On the other hand, a scientist who is monitoring his heart rate, breathing and
neurological activity, would describe what is happening from a third-person
perspective. Both must be considered, but Velmans takes the position that
volition is intimately intertwined with the preconscious and the two cannot be
teased apart. Therefore, we are in control, no matter what the EEG shows.
14

At the end of his article Velmans makes an argument for a notion pro-
posed by the genius Diderot in the eighteenth century: emergent conscious-
ness. In emergence, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and has
functions and abilities that arise from its totality or the simultaneous workings
of its parts. In emergent consciousness, awareness is a property that arises
from physicality and is greater than the functioning of any individual part of
the body.
Velmans provides examples of emergence: television receiver oscillators
controlling the vertical and horizontal lines lock into transmitting frequencies
to produce a given picture on the screen;
15
the bodys circadian rhythm locks
into a 24-hour cycle; generators on a national grid, no matter how distant apart,
become synchronous.
16
Velmans advises that Norbert Wiener had labeled this
the virtual governor.
17

Neuroscience 213

In a paper published in 2003 Libet responded directly to Velmans paper


of 2002; he defended his findings of 1983 and 1985 and took the position that
humans do, in fact, have free will, as evidenced in the power of the veto.
18

Libet begins by addressing the fact that Velmans has refused to use the
term unconscious and chose other phraseologypreconsciousinstead.
Libet points out that the choice of terms is irrelevant because despite the words
used, the fact remains that the test subjects were not aware that brain activity
had begun prior to their conscious decision to act.
19

Libet also states that even though the tendency to flick ones fingers or
wrist may be building up for 0.35 second prior to the conscious decision to do
so, one still has 0.2 second to veto the action.
20

Velmans had asked why the decision to veto, like W, might not also be
preceded by unconscious brain activity. If that were to be the case, then one
might be led to argue that humans do not have free will because even the deci-
sion to veto arises in the unconscious. Libet denies this possibility by pointing
out that there is no scientific evidence that the veto arises in the unconscious.
21

Libet also directly responds to Velmans citation of work performed by
Karrer et al. (1978) and Konttinen and Lyytinen (1993) who found that re-
fraining from irrelevant movements is associated with a slow positive-going
readiness potential. Velmans had used these studies to buttress his argument
that the decision to veto may itself originate in the preconscious rather than
the conscious part of the brain. Libets response is that the aforementioned
studies are not relevant to the veto issue. The Konttinen and Lyttinen ad-
dressed the stabilization of a rifle when aiming it; EEG readings could have
been caused by feedback from the muscles and tendons.
22

Since Libet denied the unconscious veto, he was left to explain how the
veto might work. At the conclusion to his paper, he, too, posited the notion of
emergent consciousness.
23
The conscious veto resides in a nonphysical field,
in the sense that it could not be directly observed or measured by any external
physical means;
24
it is part of the conscious subjective experience, which is
only accessible to the individual having that experience.
25

In 2008 Masao Matsuhashi and Mark Hallet confirmed Libets findings
that the onset of unconscious brain activity precedes awareness of the intention
to act, which in turn precedes our actions.
26
However, they conducted their
experiment differently. They did not require their test subjects to read and
memorize a clock position at the moment of their intention to act (Libets
W).
214 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

In this experiment 16 right-handed volunteers sat in front of two loud


speakers that generated tone bursts. Nineteen tin EEG electrodes were placed
over the scalp with a cap and two electrodes were placed on the right and left
earlobes. The subjects extended their index fingers at will at intervals of 510
seconds. They were instructed to extend their index fingers as soon as the
thought of movement came to their mind. Tones were randomly generated at
intervals of 320 seconds and the subjects decided whether there was an inten-
tion to move when the tone occurred. If there was an intention to move at the
time of the tone, the subject vetoed the action and no movement followed (T).
If test subjects were not conscious of any intention to move, they simply ig-
nored the tone. Whenever there was an action, the researchers documented any
tones that occurred before that action. This set-up permitted the scientists to
see when, once the subject moved his finger, any tones occurred.
The researchers disputed Libets findings that conscious intention precedes
the motor act by 0.2 second: they pegged it at 1.42 second. The abstract says:
Our result solves some problems of the conventional method, thus giving a clearer an-
swer to the controversies. The difference between the conventional result and our re-
sult suggests that the perception of intention rises through multiple levels of
awareness, starting just after the brain initiates movement.
27

It appeared that Matsuhashi and Halletts experiment had further exacerbated
the problem of free will: now humans have 1.42 second to veto a decision
(more time than previously thought), and therefore scientists have a greater
space of time about which to argue. Moreover, that same year another scien-
tific study caused us to rethink the notion of free will entirely and perhaps,
redefine it.
In 2008 with advances in imaging techniques, neuroscientists made pro-
gress in leaps and bounds: a research team led by John-Dylan Haynes discov-
ered that unconscious activity begins in the brain up to 10 seconds before it
enter awareness.
28
In this experiment subjects were asked to view the center of
a screen where a stream of letters appeared in sequence. The letter stream was
updated every half-second; they could decide which of two buttons to press
and concurrently remember the letter on the screen that they saw when they
were aware of their conscious decision to act.
29
As they performed their tasks,
their brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging
(fMRI).
The researchers discovered that electrical activity does not begin in the
supplementary motor area (SMA) of the brain as previous experiments (such
Neuroscience 215

as Libets 1985 trial) had suggested. Using fMRI Haynes separately investi-
gated each brain region and assessed how much information that region had
before and after the decision reached awareness. He discovered that two brain
regions had information as to whether the subject was about to press the left or
right button before the conscious decision. FMRI signals indicated that the
frontopolar cortex had information 7 seconds before the subjects decision. A
second predictive region was in the parietal cortex. Haynes was able to predict
as early as 5 seconds ahead of time whether a subject would press the left or
right button by looking at the data.
30

Moreover, unconscious activity begins up to 10 seconds before the con-
scious intention to act.
31

These findings lead one to ask once again, Do we
have free will or not? Is it just an illusion?
A press release from Max-Plancke-Gesellschaft cites Haynes investiga-
tive team as cautiously advising that more exploration is required, particularly
on the veto, to settle the issue: ...but the final decision might still be reversi-
blethey also warn that the study does not finally rule out free will: But we
do not know yet where the final decision is made. We need to investigate
whether a decision prepared by these brain areas can still be reversed.
32

While Haynes press release is cautious and noncommittal, other scientists
recognize that the time has come to reconsider our notion of free will. Neuro-
ethicist Martha Farah, Director of the University of Pennsylvanias Center for
Cognitive Neuroscience, answers the question thus:
neuroscientistshave replaced the concept of free will withrationalityOne ad-
vantage of focusing on rationality rather than free will is that it enables us to retain the
concept of moral and legal responsibility.
If someone is rational and is not under coercionthen it is reasonable to hold
him or her responsible.
33

Farah addresses the fact that future advances in imaging techniques and meth-
ods of experimentation will not only corroborate Haynes findings, but make it
undeniable that human behavior is the effect of parallel processing in the brain.
When faced with a choice, the brain weighs the alternatives and arrives at the
most rational choice, just as a computer assimilates data and produces a calcu-
lation. Therefore, it is logical to replace the notion of free will with reason.
Adam Leonard advises that the brain is calculating options during the pe-
riod of unconscious activity preceding an action. These options include choos-
ing between instincts and social restrictions on unbridled behavior; acquired
beliefs may supersede base instincts. Leonard says:
216 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

Besides the hardwired instincts affecting our behavior, we also have personal and tri-
bal beliefs that affect our behavior as greatlyit is my personal belief that free will ex-
ists to the extent that we consider and choose from the vast marketplace of ideas those
that we promote to beliefs and allow to subsequently control our behavior.
34

These multiple choices require a complex chain of events to occur in the brain,
often parallel processed.
Patrick Haggard advises that myriad processes occur simultaneously every
time a person makes a choice. Multiple areasthe pre-supplementary motor
area (preSMA), anterior prefrontal cortex and parietal cortexinteract during
a voluntary action.
35
Haggard asserts that the simplest motor action requires
the decision as to whether to perform an action; this is followed by choosing a
goal or task from among many; then the means by which to perform it; when
to do it; and finally, the action.
36
The action causes a change in the environ-
ment, which motivates the person to decide how to react to the new environ-
ment. Then the process begins over again.
Each of these stages requires a subset of decisions and chain of neural
processes. Regarding whether decisions, Haggard maintains that the individ-
ual must first decide whether to take action; if his needs are satisfied, he may
not make a change in his environment.
37

Then there are the what decisions comprised of task selection and action
selection. Choosing from among several motor tasks involves the frontal lobes
and preSMA.
38
These decisions are succeeded by movement selectionhere
the subject must decide from among various means to accomplish his goal:
Recent computational models have considered how what task and what
movement circuits might be linked.
39

Finally, there is the late whether decision in which there is an opportu-
nity to correct actions or to veto them.
40

Studies indicate that the pre-supplementary motor area serves to inhibit
actions rather than cause them. Lesions in this area can produce automatic
execution of actions in response to environmental triggers. For example, when
the patient sees a cup, he will reach for it and attempt to drink even if he does
not wish to.
41

This has implications in criminal law and opens the door to a new field,
neuroethics. If the preSMA has the function (or at the very least, plays a key
role) in the veto, and lesions in this area bring about the loss of the ability to
veto, then the causality between physiology and behavior is undeniable, and
we need to rethink how society handles behavior that threatens the general
welfare. Moreover, just as science can uncover the physiological reasons un-
Neuroscience 217

derpinning antisocial behavior, it is likely that eventually, it can also provide


the remedy.
On an interview with NPRs Terry Gross, neuroscientist David M. Eagle-
man discussed the case of a criminal who underwent a brain scan which re-
vealed a massive tumor in his orbitofrontal cortex.
42
Surgeons excised the
tumor and subsequently, his criminal behavior stopped. Six months later, his
criminal behavior began again. As he sat in a jail cell, his lawyer argued that
doctors should take another look at his brain. It was discovered that the sur-
geons had not removed all of the tumor the first time and that it had grown
back. Surgeons entered his skull a second time and removed the new growth.
He was released back into society. Eagleman reported that since then, there has
not been any recurrence of criminal behavior. This case indicates that some
forms of crime require a doctor, not a judge.
Advances in neuroscience also indicate that society needs to change the
way that it treats nonviolent substance abusers. The brain tends towards main-
taining homeostasis or balance in the body. When a chemical substance is
introduced into the system, it upsets the balance that previously existed and
causes the brain to make adjustments to allow for the new body chemistry.
With continued substance abuse, the brain comes to expect the presence of the
drug in the system.
Therefore, it is not surprising that when the drug user suddenly stops tak-
ing his medication, it throws the bodys homeostasis off balance and the brain
needs to suddenly readjust again. This is why substance abusers experience
cold turkey when they suddenly stop taking their drug. Now that we know
this, it becomes evident that substance abusers require medical intervention,
not punishment.
Eagleman reminds us, As of 2008, the U.S. had 2.3 million people behind
bars, leading the world in the percentage of its citizens in jail. While society
benefits from incarcerating violent repeat offenders, many of those behind
barssuch as drug addictscould be dealt with in a more fruitful manner than
imprisonment.
43

Decisions Can Be Coaxed by
Electromagnetic Stimulus
In 1990 Ammon and Gandevia decided to investigate the question of free will
from a different perspective: they wanted to know whether a persons free will
can be compromised by the application of electromagnetic stimulation to the
218 Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

brain. The results of their investigation were surprising and open the door wide
to behavior modification: they discovered that electromagnetic stimulus causes
people to tend to choose to move one hand rather than another.
44
In their ex-
periment they discovered that the direction of magnetic stimulation of the brain
(clockwise or counterclockwise when viewed from above the head) can deter-
mine whether test subjects will choose to move their right or left hand, even
though they claim that they are acting from free will.
The researchers stimulated the frontal regions of the left and right hemi-
spheres of the brain that are related to movement planning. Nine test subjects
were used and they were all right-handed. Subjects were asked to move an
index fingereither the right or left, the choice was theirswithin 25 sec-
onds after electrical stimulus. In 1,800 trials the current was directed in a
clockwise direction; in another 1,800, in a counterclockwise direction.
These were the results: when the current was applied clockwise, the right
hand was selected for movement 1,155 times (64%) and the left hand, 645
times (36%). When the current was applied counterclockwise, the left hand
was chosen 1,029 times (57 %), and the right, 771 times (43%). Test subjects
said that they believed that their choice as to which hand to move was made
freely.
In their abstract Ammon and Gandevia summarize their findings thus: In
the study single magnetic stimuliproduced significant preference for selec-
tion of one hand in a forced-choice task. The hand preference depended upon
the direction of the induced current. It occurred when the coil was positioned
over frontal but not occipital cortexSingle magnetic stimuli which do not
evoke movement can alter high-level motor planning.
45

In 1992 a subsequent experiment conducted by Mark Hallets research
team confirmed the results of Ammon and Gandevia.
46
The test subjects were
asked to decide whether to extend the right or left index finger when they were
given a go-signal. The abstract in Halletts study summarizes the results thus:
Single magnetic stimuli were delivered to the prefrontal or motor area, and in
the control situation, away from the headWith stimulation of this area, sub-
jects more often chose the hand contralateral to the site stimulatedIt is pos-
sible to influence endogenous processes of movement preparation externally
without disrupting the conscious perception of volition.
47

Electrical stimulation of the right motor area causes people to tend to
choose to move the left hand (a contralateral response) and not the right hand
(which would be an ipsilateral response). Graphs in the research paper state
Neuroscience 219

that contralateral response times predominated. This is because the right side
of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa.
Is Mind Reading Awaiting on the Horizon?
Where is neuroscience headed? As of this writing, Nature reports that scien-
tists have developed a computer program that predicts the mental patterns that
a picture will elicit.
48
Now scientists can tell what the test subject saw by using
fMRI to look at his brain activity.
The research teams leader, Jack L. Gallant, advises in his articles ab-
stract, models describe the tuning of individual voxels for space, orienta-
tion and spatial frequency, and are estimated directly from responses evoked
by natural imagesmodels make it possible to identifywhich specific image
was seen by an observerit may soon be possible to reconstruct a picture of a
persons visual experience from measurements of brain activity alone.
49

This, too, raises ethical, legal and constitutional issues. There is the issue
of invasion of privacy. The technology may help free an innocent person held
in prison; however, one cannot demonstrate his innocence if one protects the
right to privacy. As science progresses at an exponential acceleration rate, we
must get used to the idea that the time has come to let go of the notions of
being in control, free will and mental privacy. The time has come to
debate neuroethics and how much power we want others to have over us.
Conclusion









The people always have some champion whom they set over them and nurse into
greatnessThis and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first
appears above ground he is a protector.
1

Plato, The Republic (360 BC)
Now that we have traversed the millennia and examined biblical passages,
philosophy, and scientific experiments tangent upon free will, let us fast for-
ward to the present day to address the ultimate experiment in neuroscience: the
downloading of memories into the brains of rats. See the following scientific
article: Theodore W. Berger et al., A Cortical Neural Prosthesis for Restoring
and Enhancing Memory.
2
A summary appears in Benedict Carey, Memory
Implant Gives Rats Sharper Recollection.
3
National Public Radios On Point
with Tom Ashbrook featured the story in a program aired on June 21, 2011.
In preparation for this experiment, scientists embedded electrical probes
into the brains of rats. Then the scientists taught the rats a new activity, i.e.,
which of two identical levers to press to receive water. They recorded the
neural firings of the brain when the subject learns a new activity and stored the
information in a computer.
After the rats learned the new activity, the scientists impaired their mem-
ory pharmacologically and tested them to confirm that they could no longer
remember what to do. Then they downloaded the information from the com-
puter back into their brains and the rats recovered their memory and knew
what to do.
The next step will be to replicate this experiment using primates (mon-
keys). The goal is to one day be able to help the aging, Alzheimers patients
and those who have suffered loss of memory due to illness or traumatic brain
injury. Thus neuroscientists recognize that humans do have the ability to make
reasoned choices and with life extension, they hope to allow us to retain that
ability as long as we are alive.
Conclusion 221

Of course, modernity brings new ways to manipulate free will. GPS de-
vices in cellphones can alert us that we are nearing a store where tasty food
and drink is sold. If we have a history of purchasing designer sportswear, they
can remind us that a posh boutique is just around the corner. Electromagnetic
stimulation of the brain that removes fatigue and enhances endurance and/or
mood can give athletes an advantage over competitors. Undoubtedly the ath-
lete of the future will be tested for various devices or implants that provide
such advantage.
We hope that science will allow us to live longer and perhaps even confer
immortality by tinkering with our genes; we want to retain our free will
throughout the additional years that science will give us. However, we should
remember that free will can be manipulated and history has shown that humans
cannot be trusted to use technology responsibly all of the time. We are safe
only as long as men love virtue above all else.
Notes









Introduction
1. Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922),
2526. The citation comes from Chapter One, which is entitled, The World Outside
and the Pictures in Our Heads.
2. Free will, Oxford English Dictionary, 13 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933),
4:528. Holy Bible; Quatercentenary Edition; King James Version; 1611 Text (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2010). Thomas Hobbes, The Questions Concerning Liberty,
Necessity, and Chance, Clearly Stated and Debated between Dr. Bramhall, Bishop of
Derry, and Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes
of Malmesbury, ed. Sir William Molesworth (London, John Bohn, 1841), 5:1.
3. Tomis Kapitan, Free Will Problem in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, ed.
Robert Audi, 2
nd
ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 326.
4. Determinism, Oxford English Dictionary, 13 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933),
3:271. W. Thomson, Crime and Its Excuses, in Oxford Essays (London: John W.
Parker and Son, 1855), 18182.
5. Tomis Kapitan, Free Will Problem in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, ed.
Robert Audi, 2
nd
ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 327.
6. Julien Offray de La Mettrie, Treatise on the Soul, Chapter 7 (On Substantial Forms),
Chapter 8 (On the Vegetative Soul), Chapter 9 (On the Sensitive Soul of Animals),
and Chapter 10 (On the Faculties of the Body which Can Be Attributed to the Sensitive
Soul) in Julien Offray de La Mettrie, Man Machine and Other Writings, translated and
edited by Ann Thomson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 5173.
Treatise on the Soul, published in 1750, is an amended version of Natural History of the
Soul, first published in 1745. See the discussion of La Mettries materialism in Mary
Efrosini Gregory, Evolutionism in Eighteenth-Century French Thought (New York:
Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2008), 4567.
7. See Anne C. Vila, Sensible Diagnostics in Diderots La Religieuse, Modern
Languages Notes 105, no. 4 (September 1990): 77499; Mary Efrosini Gregory, Search
for Self in Other in Cicero, Ovid, Rousseau, Diderot and Sartre (New York: Peter Lang
Publishing, Inc., 2011), 11822.
8. Denis Diderot, Observations on the Nakaz in Denis Diderot, Political Writings,
translated and edited by John Hope Mason and Robert Wokler (Cambridge University
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

224
Press, 1992), 81. Il ny a point de vrai souverain que la nation; il ne peut y avoir de vrai
lgislateur que le peuple Denis Diderot, Observations sur le Nakaz in Denis Diderot,
uvres: Politique, vol. 3, ed. Laurent Versini (Paris: Robert Laffont, 1995), 507. See
the discussion of Diderots republicanism and how he inspired the American Revolution
and Constitution in Mary Efrosini Gregory, Freedom in French Enlightenment Thought
(New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2010), 81109.
9. Denis Diderot, Autorit politique in Denis Diderot, Political Writings, translated and
edited by John Hope Mason and Robert Wokler (Cambridge University Press, 1992), 6.
La puissance qui vient du consentement des peuples, suppose ncessairement des
conditions qui en rendent lusage lgitime, utile la socit, avantageux la rpublique,
& qui la fixent & la restreignent entre des limites: car lhomme ne doit ni ne peut se
donner entirement & sans rserve un autre homme Denis Diderot, Autorit
politique, Encyclopdie, ou Dictionnaire raisonn des sciences, des arts et des mtiers,
edited by Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond dAlembert (Paris: Briasson, David, Le
Breton, Durant; Neuchtel: S. Faulche, 17511765), 1:898.
10. Denis Diderot, Observations on the Nakaz in Denis Diderot, Political Writings,
translated and edited by John Hope Mason and Robert Wokler (Cambridge University
Press, 1992), 81. La premire ligne dun code bien fait doit lier le souverain; il doit
commencer ainsi: Nous peuple, et nous souverain de ce peuple, jurons conjointement
ces lois par lesquelles nous serons galement jugs Denis Diderot, Observations sur
le Nakaz in Denis Diderot, uvres: Politique, vol. 3, ed. Laurent Versini (Paris: Robert
Laffont, 1995), 507.
11. Douglas O. Linder, The Leopold and Loeb Trial: A Brief Account,
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/leoploeb/accountoftrial.html (February 9,
2012).
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid.
14. Sam Roberts, Killers, Klansman, a King. New York Times, July 4, 2010, WK5.
15. Tomis Kapitan, Free Will Problem in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, ed.
Robert Audi, 2
nd
ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 327.
16. Ibid.
17. Nigel Warburton, A Little History of Philosophy (New Haven; London: Yale University
Press, 2011), 79.
18. Ibid., 7980.
19. Allan Bloom, Jean-Jacques Rousseau in History of Political Philosophy, eds. Leo
Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, 3
rd
ed. (Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press,
1987), 564.
20. Ibid., 565.
21. Ibid., 567.
22. Ibid., 568.
23. Richard H. Popkin, Voltaire in Great Thinkers of the Western World, ed. Ian P.
McGreal (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), 25960.
24. Tomis Kapitan, Free Will Problem in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, ed.
Robert Audi, 2
nd
ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 327.
25. Harry G. Frankfurt, Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility, The Journal of
Philosophy 66, no. 23 (December 4, 1969): 830.
Notes

225
26. Ibid.
27. Ibid.
28. Ibid., 83132.
29. Ibid., 832.
30. Ibid., 834.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid., 837.
33. Ibid., 838.
34. Ibid., 839.
35. Sandra Lafave, Free Will and Determinism, http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/
FREE.HTM (December 15, 2011).
36. Ibid.
37. Brandon Keim, Is Free Will an Illusion? April 14, 2008, http://www.wired.com/
wiredscience/ 2008/04/is-free-will-an/ (November 7, 2011).
38. Charles-Louis de Secondat de Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws, translated by Thomas
Nugent, introduced by Frederic R. Coudert, 2 vols., rev. ed. (New York: The Colonial
Press, 1900), 1:21. Lorsque cette Vertu cesse, lambition entre dans les curs qui
peuvent la recevoir, & lavarice entre dans tous. Les dsirs changent dobjets; ce quon
aimoit on ne laime plus; on toit libre avec les Loix, on veut tre libre contrelles
Montesquieu, De lesprit des loix (Amsterdam: Chatelain, 1749, 1:42.
1. The Bible
1. James Strong, Free Will in Main Concordance in The New Strongs Expanded
Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), p. 290.
Biblical references will be according to the King James Version unless otherwise
indicated.
2. Ibid., Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary, p. 180, Strongs Hebrew Number 5071.
Strong assigns numbers to Hebrew and Greek words in order to identify their
appearance in specific biblical verses.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid., Strongs Hebrew Number 5068.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid., Strongs Hebrew Number 5069.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid., Freewill in Main Concordance, p. 290. Strongs Hebrew Number 5071.
10. Ibid. Strongs Hebrew Number 5069.
11. Ibid., Freely. Strongs Hebrew Number 5071.
12. Ibid., Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary, p. 36, Strongs Hebrew Number 977.
13. Ibid. See Choice, Choicest, Choose, Choosest, Chooseth, Choosing,
Chose, and Chosen, in Main Concordance, pp. 11314, and Strongs Hebrew
Numbers 970, 972, 977, 1254, 1262, 1305, 4005, and 6901, in Hebrew and Aramaic
Dictionary, pp. 35242.
14. Ibid. Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary, p. 36, Strongs Hebrew Number 977.
15. Ibid.
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

226
16. Ibid.
17. King James Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988), 256n15:30, 31.
18. James Strong, Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary in The New Strongs Expanded
Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), p. 106,
Strongs Hebrew Number 3027.
19. King James Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988), 87071nPsalm19.
20. James Strong, Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary in The New Strongs Expanded
Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), p. 73, Strongs
Hebrew Number 2086.
21. Ibid., 74, Strongs Hebrew Number 2102.
22. Shlomo Pines, Free Will, Encyclopaedia Judaica, edited by Fred Skolnick and
Michael Berenbaum, 2
nd
ed. (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007), 7:23133.
23. Benjamin Libet, Do We Have Free Will? Journal of Consciousness Studies 6, no. 89
(1999): 54.
24. Ibid.
25. James Strong, Wilfully in Main Concordance in The New Strongs Expanded
Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), p. 959. Note
that Strong spells wilfully with only one l in his Main Concordance, while the
King James Study Bible spells it willfully in Heb 10:26.
26. Ibid., Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, pp. 8182, Strongs Greek Number
1596.
27. King James Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988), 1929n10:2629.
28. Ibid., 256n15:30, 31.
29. James Strong, Greek Dictionary of the New Testament in The New Strongs
Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), p.
251, Strongs Greek Number 5113.
30. King James Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988), 1741n6:12.
31. Ibid., 1741n6:13.
32. James Strong, Freely in Main Concordance in The New Strongs Expanded
Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), p. 290.
33. Michael Maher, Free Will, Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of
Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church,
eds. Charles G. Herbermann, Edward A. Pace, et al., 15 vols. (New York: Robert
Appleton Company, 19071912), 6:261.
2. Montaigne
1. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essays in The Works of Michel de Montaigne with
Notes, Life and Letters, translated by Charles Cotton, revised by William Carew Hazlett,
10 vols. (New York: Edwin C. Hill, 1910), 10:46, hereafter cited as Cotton. Je ne
crois rien plus certainement que cecy: que je ne sauroy estre offenc par lusage des
choses que jay si long temps accoustumes. Cest la coustume de donner forme
nostre vie, telle quil lui plaist, elle peult tout en cela. Cest le breuvage de Circ, qui
diversifie nostre nature, comme bon luy semble. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essais
de Michel Seigneur de Montaigne, donnez sur les ditions les plus anciennes & les plus
correctes: Augmentez de plusieurs Lettres de lAuteur; & o les Passages Grecs, Latins,
Notes

227
& Italiens sont traduits plus fidellement, & citez plus exactement que dans aucune des
prcedentes; Avec des Notes; & une Table generale des Matieres plus utiles que celles
qui avoient paru jusquici, ed. Pierre Coste, 5 vols. (The Hague: P. Gosse & J. Naulme,
1727), 3.13, 4:501, hereafter cited as Coste.
2. Frank Paul Bowman, Montaigne, Encyclopedia Americana, international edition, 30
vols. (Danbury: Scholastic Library Publishing, Inc., 2004), 19: 389.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Cotton, 1:240 (chapters are unnumbered in Cotton; 1.23 in various other translations).
Celuy me semble avoir tres-bien conceu la force de la coustume, qui premier forgea ce
Conte, quune femme de village ayant appris de caresser & porter entre ses bras un veau
ds lheure de sa naissance, & continuant tousjours ce faire, gagna cela par
laccoustumance, que tout grand beuf quil estoit, elle le portoit encore. Car cest la
verit une violente & traistresse maistresse descole, que la coustume. Coste, 1.22,
1:162 (1.23 in various other editions).
7. Ibid., 1:24041. Elle establit en nous, peu peu, la desrobe, le pied de son authorit:
mais par ce doux & humble commencement, layant rassis & plant avec layde du
temps, elle nous descouvre tantost un furieux & tyrannique visage, contre lequel nous
navons plus la libert de hausser seulement les yeux. Ibid., 1:16263.
8. Ibid., 1:242. Ces exemples estrangers ne sont pas estranges, si nous considerons, ce que
nous essayons ordinairement; combien laccoustumance hebete nos sens. Ibid., 1:163
64.
9. Ibid., 1:244. Ce sont pourtant les vrayes semences & racines de la cruaut, de la
tyrannie, de la trahison. Elles se germent l, & seslevent apres gaillardement, &
profittent force entre les mains de la coustume. Ibid., 1:16566.
10. Ibid., 1:257. Et somme, ma fantaisie, il nest rien quelle ne face, ou quelle ne puisse:
& avec raison lappelle Pindarus, ce quon ma dict, la Royne & Emperiere du
monde. Ibid., 1:177.
11. Ibid., 1:25758. Celuy quon rencontra battant son pere, respondit, que cestoit la
coustume de sa maison: que son pere avoit ainsi batu son ayeul; son ayeul son bisayeul;
& montrant son fils: Cettuy-cy me battra quand il sera venu au terme de laage o je
suis. Et le pere que le fils tirassoit & sabouloit emmy la ru, luy commanda de sarrester
certain huis; car luy, navoit train son pere que jusques-l: que cestoit la borne des
injurieux traittements hereditaires, que les enfants avoient en usage faire aux peres en
leur famille. Ibid.
12. Ibid., 1:258. Les loix de la conscience, que nous disons naistre de nature, naissent de la
coustume: chacun ayant en veneration interne les opinions & murs approuves &
receus autour de luy, ne sen peut desprendre sans remors, ny sy appliquer sans
applaudissement. Ibid., 1:178.
13. Ibid. Mais le principal effect de sa puissance, cest de nous saisir & empieter de telle
sorte, qu peine soit-il en nous, de nous ravoir de sa prise, & de rentrer en nous, pour
discourir & raisonner de ses ordonnances. Ibid.
14. Ibid., 1:261. Cest cette recepte, par laquelle Platon entreprend de chasser les des-
natures & preposteres amours de son temps: quil estime souveraine & principale:
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

228
Assavoir, que lopinion publique les condamne: que les Potes, que chacun en fasse de
mauvais contes Ibid., 1:181.
15. Ibid., 2:76 (1.26 in various other translations). Quil luy face tout passer par lestamine,
& ne loge rien en sa teste par simple authorit, & credit. Les principes dAristote ne
luy soyent principes, non plus que ceux des Stociens ou Epicuriens: Quon luy propose
cette diversit de jugemens, il choisira sil peut: sinon, il en demeurera en doubte
Ibid., 1.25, 1:255 (1.26 in various other editions).
16. Ibid. (Ibid.). Che non men che saver dubbiar maggrada. Ibid.
17. Ibid., 2:86. Si son gouverneur tient de mon humeur, il luy formera la volont estre
tres-loyal serviteur de son Prince, & tres-affectionn, & tres-courageux: mais il luy
refroidira lenvie de sy attacher autrement que par un devoir publique. Ibid., 1:26364.
18. Ibid., 2:8687. Outre plusieurs autres inconvenients, qui blessent nostre libert, par ces
obligations particulieres, le jugement dun homme gag & achett, ou il est moins entier
& moins libre, ou il est tach & dimprudence & dingratitude. Ibid., 1:264.
19. Ibid., 2:87. Un pur Courtisan ne peut avoir ny loy ny volont, de dire & penser que
favorablement dun Maistre, qui parmi tant de milliers dautres subjects, la choisi pour
le nourrir & elever de sa main. Ibid.
20. Ibid. Cette faveur & utilit corrompent non sans quelque raison, sa franchise, &
lesblouissent. Ibid.
21. Ibid. Quon luy face entendre, que de confesser la faute quil descouvrira en son propre
discours, encore quelle ne soit aperceu que par luy, cest un effet de jugement & de
sincerit, qui sont les principales parties quil cherche. Ibid.
22. Ibid., 2:111. Les jeux mesmes & les exercices seront une bonne partie de lestude: la
course, la luite, la musique, la danse, la chasse, le maniement des chevaux & des armes.
Ibid., 1:286.
23. Ibid., 2:116. Quil puisse faire toutes choses, & nayme faire que les bonnes. Ibid.,
1:290.
24. Ibid. Je veux quen la desbauche mesme, il surpasse en vigueur & en fermet ses
compagnons, & quil ne laisse faire le mal, ny faute de force ny de science, mais
faute de volont. Ibid.
25. Ibid. Multum interest, utrum peccare aliquis nolit, aut nesciat. Ibid., 1:29091.
26. Ibid., 3:232. Ceux qui sexercent contreroller les actions humaines, ne se trouvent en
aucune partie si empeschez, qu les rapiesser & mettre mesme lustre: car elles se
contredisent communement de si estrange faon, quil semble impossible quelles soient
parties de mesme boutique. Ibid., 2.1, 2:1.
27. Ibid. Le jeune Marius se trouve tantost fils de Mars, tantost fils de Venus. Ibid.
28. Ibid., 3:233. Malum consilium est, quod mutari non potest. Ibid., 2:2.
29. Ibid., 3:23334. Je croy des hommes plus mal-aisment la constance que toute autre
chose, & rien plus aisment que linconstance. Ibid., 2:3.
30. Ibid., 3:234. Cest un mot de Desmosthenes, dit-on, que le commencement de toute
vertu, cest consultation & deliberation; & la fin & perfection , constance. Ibid., 2:4.
31. Ibid., 3:235. Nostre faon ordinaire cest daller apres les inclinations de nostre appetit,
gauche, dextre, contre-mont, contre-bas, selon que le vent des occasions nous
emporte. Nous ne pensons ce que nous voulons, qu linstant que nous le voulons: &
changeons comme cest animal, qui prend la couleur du lieu, o on le couche. Ibid.
32. Ibid. Ducimur ut nervis alienis mobile lignum. Ibid.
Notes

229
33. Ibid. Nous nallons pas, on nous emporte: comme les choses qui flottent, ores
doucement, ores avecques violence, selon que leau est ireuse, ou bonasse. Ibid., 2:5.
34. Ibid., 3:236. Chaque jour nouvelle fantaisie, & se meuvent nos humeurs avecques les
mouvemens du temps. Ibid.
35. Ibid., 3:23738. Comme dit le conte, tout beau & honneste que vous estes, quand vous
aurez failly vostre pointe, nen concluez pas incontinent une chastet inviolable en
vostre maistresse: ce nest pas dire que le muletier ny trouve son heure. Ibid., 2:7.
36. Ibid., 3:239. Celuy que vous vistes hier si avantureux, ne trouvez pas estrange de le
voir aussi poltron le lendemain: ou la cholere ou la necessit, ou la compagnie, ou le vin,
ou le son dune trompette, luy avoit mis le cur au ventre, ce nest un cur ainsi form
par discours: ces circonstances le luy ont fermy: ce nest pas merveille, si le voyl
devenu autre par autres circonstances contraires. Ibid., 2:8.
37. Ibid., 3:240. Non seulement le vent des accidens me remue selon son inclination: mais
en outre, je me remue & trouble moy-mesme par linstabilit de ma posture; & qui y
regarde primement, ne se trouve guere deux fois en mesme estat. Ibid., 2:9.
38. Ibid. Je donne mon ame tantost un visage, tantost un autre, selon le cost o je la
couche. Ibid.
39. Ibid. Honteux, insolent, chaste, luxurieux, bavard, taciturne, laborieux, delicat,
ingenieux, hebet, chagrin, debonair, menteur, veritable, savant, ignorant, & liberal &
avare & prodigue: tout cela je le vois en moy aucunement, selon que je me vire Ibid.
40. Ibid., 3:244. Ce nest pas merveille, ce dict un Ancien, que le hazard puisse tant sur
nous, puis que nous vivons par hazard. A qui na dress en gros sa vie une certaine fin,
il est impossible de disposer les actions particulieres. Il est impossible de ranger les
pieces, qui na une forme du total en sa teste. Ibid., 2:12.
41. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, translated by H. Rackham (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 1926), 2.3.7.
42. Cotton, 7:136 (3.1 in various other translations). Il fit response, que le Peuple Romain
avoit accoustum de se venger de ses ennemis par voye ouverte, les armes en main, non
par fraude & en cachette: il quitta lutile pour lhonneste. Coste, 3.1, 3:373.
43. Ibid. mais il ny a rien dinutile en Nature, non pas linutilit mesmes. Rien ne sest
inger en cet Univers, qui ny tienne place opportune. Ibid., 3:374.
44. Ibid. Nostre estre est ciment de qualitez maladives: lambition, la jalousie, lenvie, la
vengeance, la superstition, le desespoir, logent en nous, dune si naturelle possession,
que limage sen recognoist aussi aux bestes Ibid.
45. Cotton, 7:137. De mesme, en toute police, il y a des offices necessaires, non seulement
abjects, mais encore vicieux: Les vices y trouvent leur rang, & semployent la cousture
de nostre liaison: comme les venins la conservation de nostre sant. Coste, 3.1, 3:374.
46. Ibid. Le bien public requiert quon trahisse, & quon mente, & quon massacre:
resignons cette commission gens plus obessans & plus souples. Ibid., 3:375.
47. Ibid., 7:138. Les gens du mestier se tiennent les plus couverts, & se presentent &
contrefont les plus moyens, & les plus voysins quils peuvent Ibid., 3:376.
48. Ibid., 7:139. Et puis de ceux-l est la libert peu suspecte, & peu odieuse, qui
besoignent sans aucun leur interest: Et qui peuvent veritablement employer la response
de Hiperides aux Atheniens, se plaignans de laspret de son parler: Messieurs, ne
considerez pas si je suis libre, mais si je le suis, sans rien prendre, & sans amender par
l mes affaires. Ibid.
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

230
49. Ibid., 7:141. Que Montaigne sengouffrre quant & la ruyne publique, si besoing est:
mais, sil nest pas besoing, je sauray bon gr la fortune quil se sauve: & autant que
mon devoir me donne de corde, je lemploye sa conservation. Ibid., 3:378.
50. Ibid., 7:158. Le Prince, quand une urgente circonstance, & quelque impetueux &
inopin accident, du besoing de son Estat, lui fait gauchir sa parole & sa foy, ou
autrement le jette hors de son devoir ordinaire, doit attribuer cette necessit un coup de
la verge divine: Vice nest-ce pas, car il a quitt sa Raison une plus universelle &
puissante Raison: mais certes cest malheur. Ibid., 3:393.
51. Pierre Force, Self-Interest before Adam Smith: A Genealogy of Economic Science
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 140.
52. Ibid., 141. Cotton, 7:13637. Nostre bastiment & public & priv, est plein
dimperfection: mais il ny a rien dinutile en Nature, non pas linutilit mesmes. Rien
ne sest inger en cet Univers, qui ny tienne place opportune. Nostre estre est ciment
de qualitez maladives: lambition, la jalousie, lenvie, la vengeance, la superstition, le
desespoir, logent en nous, dune si naturelle possession, que limage sen recognoist
aussi aux bestes: Voire & la cruaut, vice si desnaturDesquelles qualitez, qui osteroit
les semences en lhomme, destruiront les fondamentales conditions de nostre vie
Coste, 3.13, 37374.
53. Ibid. Ibid., 7:14344. Mais il ne faut pas appeller devoir, comme nous faisons tous les
jours, une aigreur & une intestine aspret, qui naist de linterest & passion prive; ny
courage, une conduitte traistresse & malitieuse. Ils nomment zele, leur propension vers
la malignit, & violence. Ce nest pas la cause qui les eschauffe, cest leur interest. Ils
attisent la guerre, non par ce quelle est juste, mais par ce que cest guerre. Ibid., 3:380.
54. Ibid., 9:137. Au prix du commun des hommes, peu de choses me touchent: ou pour
mieux dire, me tiennent. Car cest raison quelles touchent, pourveu quelles ne nous
possedent. Jay grand soin daugmenter par estude, & par discours, ce privilege
dinsensibilit, qui est naturellement bien avanc en moy. Jespouse, & me passionne
par consequent, de peu de choses. Ibid., 3.10, 4:340.
55. Ibid., 9:138. On se doit moderer, entre la hayne de la douleur, & lamour de la volupt.
Et ordonne Platon une moyenne route de vie entre les deux. Ibid., 4:341.
56. Ibid., 10:46. Je ne crois rien plus certainement que cecy: que je ne sauroy estre offenc
par lusage des choses que jay si long temps accoustumes. Cest la coustume de
donner forme nostre vie, telle quil lui plaist, elle peult tout en cela. Cest le breuvage
de Circ, qui diversifie nostre nature, comme bon luy semble. Ibid., 3.13, 4:501.
57. Ibid., 10:53. Ce sont effects de laccoustumance. Elle nous peut duire, non seulement
telle forme quil luy plaist (pourtant, disent les sages, nous faut-il planter la meilleure,
quelle nous facilitera incontinent) mais aussi au changement & la variation: qui est le
plus noble, & le plus utile de ses apprentissages. Ibid., 4:507508.
3. Pascal
Portions of Chapter 3 on Pascal copyright 2008 from An Eastern Orthodox View of
Pascal by Mary Efrosini Gregory. Reprinted by permission of Light & Life Publishing
Company.
1. Pierre Force, Le Problme hermneutique chez Pascal (Paris: Librairie philosophique J.
Vrin, 1989), 15.
Notes

231
2. The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, translated by Robert K. Brown and
Philip W. Comfort and edited by J. D. Douglas (Carol Stream: Tyndale House
Publishers, Inc., 1993), 544.
3. Pierre Force, Le Problme hermneutique chez Pascal (Paris: Librairie philosophique J.
Vrin, 1989), 15.
4. Bishop Elias Minatios, On Predestination, Orthodox Life, translated by Father
Gregory Naumenko 40, no. 6 (NovDec 1990), 3435.
5. Ibid., 35.
6. Antoine Adam, Du mysticisme la rvolte: Les jansnistes du XVIIe sicle (Paris:
Fayard, 1968).
7. Henri Bremond, Histoire littraire du sentiment religieux en France depuis la fin des
guerres de religion jusqu nos jours (Paris: Bloud et Gay, 19161933).
8. Augustin Gazier, Histoire gnrale du mouvement jansniste depuis ses origines jusqu
nos jours (Paris: E. Champion, 1922).
9. Jean Marie Frdric Laporte, La doctrine de la grce chez Arnauld (Paris: Presses
Universitaires de France, 1922).
10. Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Port-Royal, 3
rd
ed., 7 vols (Paris: Hachette, 1867).
11. Leszek Kolakowski, God Owes Us Nothing: A Brief Remark on Pascals Religion and
on the Spirit of Jansenism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).
12. Philippe Sellier, Pascal et saint Augustin, second edition (Paris: Albin Michel, 1995).
13. Michael Moriarty, Grace and Religious Belief in Pascal, in The Cambridge
Companion to Pascal, edited by Nicholas Hammond (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2003), 14461.
14. Harold Bloom, Blaise Pascal (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989), 6162.
15. Pierre Force, Le Problme hermneutique chez Pascal (Paris: Librairie philosophique J.
Vrin, 1989), 15.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid., 16.
18. Ibid., 17.
19. Leszek Kolakowski, God Owes Us Nothing: A Brief Remark on Pascals Religion and
on the Spirit of Jansenism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 113.
20. Ibid., 142.
21. Pierre Force, Self-Interest before Adam Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2003), 116.
22. Ibid.
23. Ibid., 117. Force refers the reader to Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, B233/L418/S680.
24. Marvin R. OConnell, Blaise Pascal: Reasons of the Heart (Grand Rapids: William B.
Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), x. OConnell cites Pascal, Penses, fragment
B269/L167. Soumission et usage de la raison, en quoi consiste le vrai christianisme.
25. Ibid. OConnell cites Pascal, Penses, fragment B273/L173/S204. Si on soumet tout
la raison, notre religion naura rien de mystrieux et de surnaturel.
26. Ibid., xi. OConnell cites Pascal, Penses, fragments B277/L423/S680 and
B278/L424/S680. Le cur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connat point; Cest le
cur qui sent Dieu et non la raison. Voil ce que cest que la foi: Dieu sensible au cur,
non la raison.
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

232
27. Ibid. OConnell cites Pascal, Penses, fragment B556/L449/S690. Le Dieu des
chrtiens ne consiste pas en un Dieu simplement auteur des vrits gomtriques et de
lordre des lmentsMaisest un Dieu damour et de consolation; cest un Dieu qui
remplit lme et le cur de ceux quil possde; cest un Dieuqui sunit au fond de leur
me; qui la remplit dhumilit, de joie, de confiance, damour; qui les rend incapables
dautre fin que de lui-mme.
28. Ibid., 188. OConnell cites Blaise Pascal, Penses, fragment B233/L418/S680. Mais
apprenez au moins votre impuissance croire, puisque la raison vous y porte, et que
nanmoins vous ne le pouvez. Travaillez donc, non pas vous convaincre par
laugmentation des preuvres de Dieu, mais par la diminution de vos passions.
29. Anthony Levi, Introduction, in Penses and Other Writings, translated by Honor Levi
and edited, introduced, and annotated by Anthony Levi (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1999), ix.
30. Ibid., xix.
31. Anthony Levi, Introduction, in Penses and Other Writings, translated by Honor Levi
and edited, introduced, and annotated by Anthony Levi (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1999), ix, xix.
32. James A. Connor, Pascals Wager: The Man Who Played Dice with God (New York:
HarperCollins Publishers, 2006), 73.
33. Predestination, Oxford English Dictionary, 13 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933),
8:1258.
34. Free will, Oxford English Dictionary, 13 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933),
4:528.
35. Archimandrite Lev Gillet, Orthodox Spirituality: An Outline of the Orthodox Ascetical
and Mystical Tradition by a Monk of the Eastern Church 2.2, 2
nd
ed. (London: SPCK,
1978), 23.
36. St. John Chrysostom, Sermon on the Words Saul, Saul 6, in Jacques-Paul Migne,
ed., Patrologi cursos completusSeries grca, 161 vols. (Paris: Migne, 18571866),
51:144.
37. Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, revised edition (London: Penguin Books, 1997),
22122.
38. Ibid., 222.
39. Ibid., 221.
40. Ibid.
41. Ibid., 222.
42. Bishop Kallistos Ware is Timothy Ware, author of The Orthodox Church. He received
the name Kallistos in 1966 when he was ordained an Orthodox priest and became a
monk.
43. Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimirs Seminary
Press, 1995), 48.
44. Macarius advises, The will of man, therefore, is like a support inserted into his nature.
When the will is lacking, God himself does nothing, because of mans free will, even
though he could. The successful working of the Spirit depends on mans will. St.
Macarius, The Homilies of St. Macarius 37.10, in Pseudo Macarius: The Fifty Spiritual
Homilies and the Great Letter, edited, translated, and introduced by George A.
Maloney, preface by Bishop Kallistos Ware (New York: Paulist Press, 1992), 210.
Notes

233
45. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, anonymous collection, 122, ed. F. Nau, Revue de
lorient chrtien 12 (1907): 403. Page 403 is in Greek. The book translates the saying
into French: 122.Un vieillard dit: Dieu demande lhomme lesprit, la parole et
laction. Histoires des solitaires gyptiens, 122, ed. F. Nau, Revue de lorient chrtien
12 (1907): 413.
46. Abbot Nazarius of Valaam, Abbot Nazarius of Valaam. Vol. 2 of Little Russian
Philokalia, translated by Father Seraphim Rose (Platina: Saint Herman of Alaska
Brotherhood, 1983), 28.
47. St. Theophan the Recluse, The Fruits of Prayer 2.2, in Igumen Chariton of Valamo,
compiler, The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology, translated by E. Kadloubovsky
and E.M. Palmer, edited and introduced by Timothy Ware (London: Faber and Faber
Limited, 1966), 133.
48. Irina Gorainoff, Sraphim de Sarov (Bgrolles-en-Mauges: Abbaye de Bellefontaine,
1973), 234.
49. Tito Colliander, The Way of the Ascetics, translated by Katharine Ferr, edited and
introduced by R.M. French (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1960), 55.
50. Gregory the Theologian, Sayings 2, in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The
Alphabetical Collection, translated with a forward by Sister Benedicta Ward, preface by
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, rev. ed. (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, Inc.,
1984), 45.
51. Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimirs Seminary
Press, 1995), 11213.
52. Selection from Archimandrite Christoforos Stavropoulos, Partakers of Divine Nature
(Minneapolis: Light and Life Publishing Co., 1976), in Daniel B. Clendenin, Eastern
Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader, 2
nd
edition (Grand Rapids: Baker
Academic, 2003), 19091. Stavropoulos cites Gregory of Nyssa, Peri tou kata Theon
skopou, in Jacques Paul Migne, ed., Patrologi cursos completusSeries grca, 161
vols. (Paris: Migne, 18571866), 46:289C.
53. Ibid., 191.
54. St. Makarios of Egypt, St. Symeon Metaphrastis Paraphrase of the Homilies of St.
Makarios of Egypt 1.1, in The Philokalia, edited by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and
Kallistos Ware, 4 vols. (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 19791995), 3:285.
55. Blaise Pascal, The Art of Persuasion, in Penses and Other Writings, translated by
Honor Levi and edited, introduced, and annotated by Anthony Levi (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1999), 193, fragment 3. The Art of Persuasion is the second section of
Mathematical Mind (De lesprit gomtrique). Je say quil a voulu quelles entrent du
cur dans lesprit, et non pas de lesprit dans le cur, pour humilier cette superbe
puissance du raisonnement, qui pretend devoir estre juge des choses que la volont
choisit, et pour guerir cette volont infirme, qui sest toute corrompue par ses sales
attachemens. Blaise Pascal, De lart de persuader, section 2 of De lesprit
gomtrique, in uvres de Blaise Pascal, edited by Lon Brunschvicg, Pierre Boutroux,
and Flix Gazier (Paris: Librairie Hachette & Cie, 19041914), 9:272.
56. Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, translated by W. F. Trotter, Brunschvicg numbering system
(New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1910), fragment 273. Si on soumet tout la raison,
notre religion naura rien de mystrieux et de surnaturel. Blaise Pascal, Penses, in
uvres de Blaise Pascal, edited by Lon Brunschvicg, Pierre Boutroux, and Flix
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

234
Gazier (Paris: Librairie Hachette & Cie, 19041914), fragment 273 (Lafuma 173; Sellier
204).
57. Ibid., fragment 269. Soumission et usage de la raison, en quoi consiste le vrai
christianisme. Ibid., fragment 269 (Lafuma 167).
58. Marvin R. OConnell, Blaise Pascal: Reasons of the Heart (Grand Rapids: William B.
Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), xi. OConnell cites fragments B277/L423/S680
and B277/L424/S680. Le cur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connat point. Ibid.,
fragment 277 (Lafuma 423; Sellier 680); Cest le cur qui sent Dieu et non la raison.
Voil ce que cest que la foi: Dieu sensible au cur, non la raison. Ibid., fragment
278 (Lafuma 424; Sellier 680).
59. Ibid. OConnell cites fragment B556/L449/S690. Le Dieu des chrtiens ne consiste pas
en un Dieu simplement auteur des vrits gomtriques et de lordre des
lmentsMaisest un Dieu damour et de consolation; cest un Dieu qui remplit
lme et le cur de ceux quil possde; cest un Dieuqui sunit au fond de leur me;
qui la remplit dhumilit, de joie, de confiance, damour; qui les rend incapables dautre
fin que de lui-mme. Ibid., fragment 556 (Lafuma 449; Sellier 690).
60. Selection from Archimandrite Christoforos Stavropoulos, Partakers of Divine Nature
(Minneapolis: Light and Life Publishing Co., 1976), in Daniel B. Clendenin, Eastern
Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader, 2
nd
edition (Grand Rapids: Baker
Academic, 2003), 192.
61. Ibid.
62. The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, translated by Robert K. Brown and
Philip W. Comfort and edited by J. D. Douglas (Carol Stream: Tyndale House
Publishers, Inc., 1993), 544.
63. Leszek Kolakowski, God Owes Us Nothing: A Brief Remark on Pascals Religion and
on the Spirit of Jansenism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998), 32.
64. Bishop Elias Minatios, On Predestination, Orthodox Life, translated by Father
Gregory Naumenko 40, no. 6 (NovDec 1990), 2736.
65. Father Michael Azkoul, What is Predestination? in Book Reviews by Hieromonk
Moses and Reader Nicholas Franck. http://www.orthodoxcanada.org/reviews/ (May 2,
2007).
66. Bishop Elias Minatios, On Predestination, Orthodox Life, translated by Father
Gregory Naumenko 40, no. 6 (NovDec 1990), 29.
67. Ibid., 30.
68. Ibid., 34.
69. Ibid., 35.
70. Ibid., 34.
71. Ibid., 35.
72. Ibid., 36.
73. Father Michael Azkoul, What is Predestination? in Book Reviews by Hieromonk
Moses and Reader Nicholas Franck. http://www.orthodoxcanada.org/reviews/ (May 2,
2007).
74. Ibid.
75. Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, revised edition (London: Penguin Books, 1997),
69.
76. Ibid.
Notes

235
77. Ibid.
78. Daniel B. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective, 2 ed.
(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 120. Clendenin cites Christoforos
Stavropoulos, Partakers of Divine Nature (Minneapolis: Light and Life, 1976), 1718.
79. 135.
80. Ibid., 13536. St. Makarios of Egypt, St. Symeon Metaphrastis Paraphrase of the
Homilies of St. Makarios of Egypt 1.1, in The Philokalia, edited by G.E.H. Palmer,
Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware, 4 vols. (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1979
1995), 3:285. See also Theodoros the Great Ascetics invocation of Chrysostom to the
same effect: God does not want us to be lying idly on our backs; therefore he does not
effect everything Himself. Nor does he want us to be boastful; therefore He did not give
us everything. But having taken away from each of the two alternatives what is harmful,
he has left us what is for our good. Theodoros the Great Ascetic, A Century of Spiritual
Texts 69, in The Philokalia, 2:28.
81. Ibid., 136.
82. St. Philotheos of Sinai, Forty Texts on Watchfulness 1, in The Philokalia, edited by
G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware, 4 vols. (London: Faber and Faber
Limited, 19791995), 3:16.
83. Ibid., 1622.
84. Panagiotes K. Chrestou, Partakers of God (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press,
1984).
85. Daniel B. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective, 2
nd
edition
(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 6465, 6869, 11737, 150, 15759.
86. Daniel B. Clendenin, ed., Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader, 2
nd

edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 27, 3940, 54, 57, 60, 69, 18392.
87. Ben Drewery, Deification in Christian Spirituality: Essays in Honour of Gordon
Rupp, edited by Peter Brooks (London: SCM Press, 1975), 3362.
88. Eleuterio Fortino, Sanctification and Deification, Diakonia 17, no. 3 (1982): 192200.
89. Jules Gross, La divinisation du chrtien daprs les pres grecs; contribution historique
la doctrine de la grce (Paris: J. Gabalda et Cie, 1938).
90. Vigen Guroian, Incarnate Love: Essays in Orthodox Ethics (Notre Dame: University of
Notre Dame Press, 1987), 1417, 22, 27.
91. Harakas, Stanley S. Eastern Orthodox Christianitys Ultimate Reality and Meaning:
Triune God and Theosis; An Ethicians View, Ultimate Reality and Meaning 8, no. 3
(1985): 20923.
92. Verna Harrison, Some Aspects of Saint Gregory the Theologians Soteriology, Greek
Orthodox Theological Review 34, no. 1 (Spring 1989): 1118.
93. Maurice Fred Himmerich, Deification in John of Damascus, Ph.D diss., Marquette
University, 1985.
94. Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright and Edward Yarnold, The Study of Spirituality
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 11, 10001, 158, 16162, 189, 19495,
23536, 25152.
95. Stephen James Juli, The Doctrine of Theosis in the Theology of Saint Maximus the
Confessor, S.T.L. thesis, Catholic University of America, 1990.
96. Vladimir Lossky, In the Image and Likeness of God, introduced by A.M. Allchin
(London: Mowbrays, 1974).
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

236
97. Vladimir Lossky, Orthodox Theology: An Introduction, translated by Ian and Ihita
Kesarcodi-Watson (Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1978).
98. Myrrha Lot-Borodine, La dification de lhomme selon la doctrine des Pres grecs
(Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1970).
99. Georgios I. Mantzaridis, The Deification of Man: St. Gregory Palamas and the
Orthodox Tradition, translated by Liadain Sherrard, forward by Bishop Kallistos Ware
(Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1984).
100. John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (New
York: Fordham University Press, 1974), 24, 3233, 35, 39, 49, 6768, 72, 77, 103,
133, 13841, 146, 153, 16364, 169, 17175, 18688, 205, 215, 219, 221, 22526.
101. John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought (Washington DC: Corpus Books,
1969), ix, 10, 13, 97, 109, 11415, 12931, 14546, 151, 156, 159, 164.
102. John Meyendorff, New Life in Christ: Salvation in Orthodox Theology, Theological
Studies 50, no. 3 (September 1989): 48199.
103. John Meyendorff, Theosis in the Eastern Christian Tradition, Christian Spirituality:
Post-Reformation and Modern, edited by Louis Dupr and Don E. Saliers in
collaboration with John Meyendorff (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company,
1989), 47076.
104. John Meyendorff and Robert Tobias, ed., Salvation in Christ: A Lutheran-Orthodox
Dialogue (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishing House, 1992).
105. Panayiotis Nellas, Deification in Christ: Orthodox Perspectives on the Nature of the
Human Person (Crestwood: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1987).
106. Keith Edward Norman, Deification: The Content of Athanasian Soteriology, Ph.D diss.,
Duke University, 1980.
107. George Papademetriou, The Human Body according to Saint Gregory Palamas, Greek
Orthodox Theological Review 34, no. 1 (Spring 1989): 19.
108. The Philokalia: The Complete Text; Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain
and St. Makarios of Corinth, translated and edited by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard,
Kallistos Ware, 4 vols. (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 19791995), 1:155, 288,
349, 355; 2:38, 43, 48, 8687, 125, 135, 143, 171, 173, 17778, 18182, 190, 193, 216,
21819, 240, 243, 246, 248, 263, 267, 271, 276, 278, 28284, 28687, 297, 304, 312,
364, 375; 3:34, 38, 48, 76, 79, 93, 98, 124, 130, 139, 142; 4:56, 82, 13435, 148, 153,
189, 213, 22022, 258, 265, 29192, 378, 381, 38990, 392, 39697, 41921.
109. Symeon Rodger, The Soteriology of Anselm of Canterbury, an Orthodox Perspective,
Greek Orthodox Theological Review 34, no. 1 (Spring 1989): 1943.
110. Bernard Sartorius, La doctrine de la dification de lhomme daprs les Pres grecs en
gnral et Grgoire Palamas en particulier (Geneva: Cercle du Bibliophile, 1965).
111. Dumitru Stniloae, The Experience of God, translated and edited by Ioan Ionit and
Robert Barringer, foreward by Bishop Kallistos Ware (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox
Press, 1994).
112. Christoforos Stavropoulos, Partakers of Divine Nature (Minneapolis: Light and Life
Publishing Company, 1976), 1738.
113. Gregory Telepneff and James Thornton, Arian Transcendence and the Notion of
Theosis in Saint Athanasios, Greek Orthodox Theological Review 32, no. 3 (Fall 1987):
27177.
Notes

237
114. Nicolaos P. Vassiliades, The Mystery of Death, Greek Orthodox Theological Review
29 (Autumn 1984): 26982.
115. Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, revised edition (Crestwood: St. Vladimirs
Seminary Press, 1995), 22, 74, 109, 12526.
116. Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (London: Penguin Books, 1997), 21, 219, 231
38.
117. J. Pohle, Predestinarianism, Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of
Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church,
eds. Charles G. Herbermann, Edward A. Pace, et al., 15 vols. (New York: Robert
Appleton Company, 19071912), 12:376.
118. Ibid.
119. Ibid.
120. Ibid.
121. James A. Connor, Pascals Wager: The Man Who Played Dice with God (New York:
HarperCollins Publishers, 2006), 6263.
122. Ibid., 160.
123. Ibid., 163.
124. Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, translated by W. F. Trotter, Brunschvicg numbering system
(New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1910), fragment 233. Infini. Rien.Notre me est
jete dans le corps, o elle trouve nombre, temps, dimensions. Elle raisonne l-dessus, et
appelle cela nature, ncessit, et ne peut croire autre chose.
Lunit jointe linfini ne laugmente de rien, non plus quun pied une mesure
infinie. Le fini sanantit en presence de linfini, et devient un pur nant. Ainsi notre
esprit devant Dieu; ainsi notre justice devant la justice divine. Il ny a pas si grande
disproportion entre notre justice et celle de Dieu, quentre lunit et linfini. Blaise
Pascal, Penses, in uvres de Blaise Pascal, edited by Lon Brunschvicg, Pierre
Boutroux, and Flix Gazier (Paris: Librairie Hachette & Cie, 19041914), fragment 233
(Lafuma 418; Sellier 680).
125. Ibid., fragment 469. Je ne suis pas aussi eternal, ni infini; mais je vois bien quil y a
dans la nature un tre ncessaire, ternel et infini Ibid., fragment 469 (Lafuma 135;
Sellier 167).
126. Bishop Elias Minatios, On Predestination. http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/
predestination.aspx (May 2, 2007).
127. Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, translated by W. F. Trotter, Brunschvicg numbering system
(New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1910), fragment 550. Voil quels sont mes
sentiments, et je bnis tous les jours de ma vie mon Rdempteur qui les a mis en moi, et
qui, dun homme plein de faiblesse, de misre, de concupiscence, dorgueil et
dambition, a fait un homme exempt de tous ces maux par la force de sa grce,
laquelle toute la gloire en est due, nayant de moi que la misre et lerreur. Blaise
Pascal, Penses, in uvres de Blaise Pascal, edited by Lon Brunschvicg, Pierre
Boutroux, and Flix Gazier (Paris: Librairie Hachette & Cie, 19041914), fragment 550
(Lafuma 931; Sellier 759).
128. Ibid., fragment 566. On nentend rien aux ouvrages de Dieu, si on ne prend pour
principe quil a voulu aveugler les uns, et clairer les autres. Ibid., fragment 566
(Lafuma 232; Sellier 264).
129. Ibid., fragment 514. Petenti dabitur. Ibid., fragment 514 (Lafuma 969; Sellier 803).
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

238
130. Ibid. Donc, il est en notre pouvoir de demander. Ibid.
131. Ibid. Au contraire duIl ny est pas, puisque lobtention qui le prierait ny est pas. Car
puisque le salut ny est pas, et que lobtention y est, la prire ny est pas. Ibid.
132. Ibid., fragment 202. Par ceux qui sont dans le dplaisir de se voir sans foi, on voit que
Dieu ne les claire pas; mais les autres, on voit quil y a un Dieu qui les aveugle. Ibid.,
fragment 202 (Lafuma 596; Sellier 493).
133. Ibid., fragment 430. il a voulu les laisser dans la privation du bien quils ne veulent
pas. Il ntait donc pas juste quil part dune manire manifestement divine, et
absolument capable de convaincre tous les homes Ibid., fragment 430 (Lafuma 149;
Sellier 182).
134. Ibid., fragment 566. On nentend rien aux ouvrages de Dieu, si on ne prend pour
principe quil a voulu aveugler les uns, et clairer les autres. Ibid., fragment 566
(Lafuma 232; Sellier 264).
135. Ibid., fragment 571. Si le sens spiritual et t dcouvert, ils ntaient pas capables de
laimer; et, ne pouvant le porter, ils neussent point eu le zle pour la conservation de
leurs livres et de leurs ceremonies
Voil pourquoi il tait bon que le sens spiritual ft couvert Ibid., fragment 571
(Lafuma 502; Sellier 738).
136. Ibid., fragment 576. Dieu voulant aveugler et clairer. Ibid., fragment 576 (Lafuma
594; Sellier 491).
137. Ibid., fragment 578. Il y a assez dobscurit pour aveugler les rprouvs et assez de
clart pour les condemner et les rendre inexcusables. Ibid., fragment 578 (Lafuma 236;
Sellier 268).
138. Ibid., fragment 585. Que Dieu sest voulu cacher
Dieu tant ainsi cach, toute religion qui ne dit pas que Dieu est cach nest pas
veritable; et toute religion qui nen rend pas la raison nest pas instruisante. La ntre fait
tout cela: Vere tu es Deus absconditus. Ibid., fragment 585 (Lafuma 242; Sellier 275).
139. Ibid., fragment 727. Il doit aveugler les sages et les savants. Is., VI, VIII, XXIX
Ibid., fragment 727 (Lafuma 487; Sellier 734).
140. Ibid., fragment 566. On nentend rien aux ouvrages de Dieu, si on ne prend pour
principe quil a voulu aveugler les uns, et clairer les autres. Ibid., fragment 566
(Lafuma 232; Sellier 264).
141. Ibid., fragment 796. Jsus-Christ ne dit pas quil nest pas de Nazareth, pour laisser les
mchants dans laveuglement, ni quil nest pas fils de Joseph. Ibid., fragment 796
(Lafuma 233; Sellier 265).
142. Ibid., fragment 771. Jsus-Christ est venu aveugler ceux qui voyaient clair, et damner
la vue aux aveugles; gurir les malades, et laisser mourir les sains; appeler penitence et
justifier les pcheurs, et laisser les justes dans leurs pchs; remplir les indigents, et
laisser les riches vides. Ibid., fragment 771 (Lafuma 235; Sellier 267).
143. Ibid., fragment 578. Il y a assez de clart pour clairer les lus et assez dobscurit pour
les humilier. Il y a assez dobscurit pour aveugler les rprouvs et assez de clart pour
les condamner et les rendre inexcusables
La gnalogie de Jsus-Christ dans lAncien Testament est mle parmi tant dautres
inutiles, quelle ne peut tre discerne. Si Mose net tenu registre que des anctres de
Jsus-Christ, cela et t trop visible. Ibid., fragment 578 (Lafuma 236; Sellier 268).
Notes

239
144. Ibid., fragment 796. Jsus-Christ ne dit pas quil nest pas de Nazareth, pour laisser les
mchants dans laveuglement, ni quil nest pas fils de Joseph. Ibid., fragment 796
(Lafuma 233; Sellier 265).
145. Blaise Pascal, Writings on Grace, in Penses and Other Writings, translated by Honor
Levi and edited, introduced, and annotated by Anthony Levi (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1999), 213. Il est constant quil y a plusieurs des hommes damnez et plusieurs
sauvez. Blaise Pascal, Ecrits sur la Grce, in uvres de Blaise Pascal, edited by Lon
Brunschvicg, Pierre Boutroux, and Flix Gazier (Paris: Librairie Hachette & Cie, 1904
1914), 11:128.
146. Ibid., 218. Que pour cet effet Dieu a envoy J.-C. pour sauver absolument et par des
moyens tres efficaces ceux quil a choisis et predestinez de cette masse, quil ny a que
ceux l qui il ait voulu absolument meriter le salut par sa mort, et quil na point eu
cette mesme volont pour le salut des autres qui nont pas est delivrez de cette perdition
universelle et juste. Ibid., 11:136.
147. Ibid., 222. Et nanmoins il plaist Dieu de choisir, elire et discerner de cette masse
egalement corrompu, et o il ne voyoit que de mauvaises merites, un nombre
dhommes de tout sexe, ages, conditions, complexions, de tous les pas, de tous les tems,
et enfin de toutes sortes.
Que Dieu a discern ses Els davec les autres, par des raisons inconnes aux hommes
et aux anges et par une pure misericorde sans aucun merite. Ibid., 11:148.
148. Ibid., 223. De sorte que les hommes sont sauvs ou damns, suivant quil a plu Dieu
de les choisir pour leur donner cette grace dans la masse corrompu des hommes, dans
laquelle il pouvait avec justice les abandonner tous. Ibid., 11:150.
149. Le problme hermneutique est au cur de lapologtique pascalienne. En tant
quapologiste de la religion chrtienne, Pascal cherche un fondement la foi. Il trouve
ce fondement dans lEcriture. Cest dans les texts sacrs que Dieu parle lhomme et lui
donne des raisons de croire. Cependant, le caractre divin de ces texts napparat qu
ceux qui ont dj la foi. La foi renvoie lEcriture et lEcriture la foi, dans un
mouvement circulaire qui ne laisse pas dembarrasser lapologiste. Telle est du moins la
faon dont les interprtes modernes de Pascal, de M. J. Lagrange jusqu Philippe
Sellier, posent le problme des fondements de la religion. La connaissance de Dieu par
lEcriture semble en effet ne pas pouvoir chapper au cercle vicieux qui caractrise,
selon Heidegger, la comprehension rationnelle de tout texte Pierre Force, Le
Problme hermneutique chez Pascal (Paris: Librairie philosophique J. Vrin, 1989), 15.
150. Ibid, 16.
151. Ibid., 17. Preuve des deux testaments la fois. Pour prouver tout dun coup tous les
deux, il ne faut voir que si les prophties de lun sont accomplies en lautre. Pour
examiner les prophties il faut les entendre. Car si on croit quelles nont quun sens, il
est sr que le Messie ne sera point venu, mais si elles ont deux sens, il est sr quil sera
venu en J.-C. Toute la question est donc de savoir si elles ont deux sens. Force cites
Blaise Pascal, Penses, fragment B642/L274/S305.
152. Ben Rogers, Pascal (New York: Routledge, 1999), 1213.
153. Pierre Force, Self-Interest before Adam Smith: A Genealogy of Economic Science
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 51.
154. Ibid., 5051. Trahe nos post te; curremus in odorem unguentorum tuorumParum est,
inquit, voluntate trahi, etiam voluptate traheris. Quid est trahi voluptate? Delectari in
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240
Dominosi Poeta licuit dicere: Trahit sua quemque voluptas non necessitas, sed
voluptas, non obligatio, sed delectatio, quanto fortius dicere debemus trahi hominem ad
Christum, qui delectatur veritate, beatitudine, justitia? Et postea: Ramum viridem
ostendis ovi, et trahis illam; nuces puero, et trahitur. Si ergo trahit sua quemque
voluptas, non trahit revelatus Christus a Patre?Ecce quomodo trahit pater: docendo
delectate, etc. Augustine, Tractatus in Joannem, 26.30.
155. Ibid., 51.
156. Ibid. Car quy a-t-il de plus clair que cette proposition quon fait toujours ce qui dlecte
le plus? Puisque ce nest autre chose que de dire que lon fait toujours ce qui plat le
mieux, cest--dire que lon veut toujours ce qui plait, cest--dire quon veut toujours ce
que lon veut, et que dans ltat o est aujourdhui notre me rduite, il est inconcevable
quelle veuille autre chose que ce quil lui plat de vouloir, cest--dire ce qui la dlecte
le plus. Force cites Blaise Pascal, Ecrits sur la grace, in uvres compltes, edited by
Jean Mesnard (Paris: Descle de Brouwer, 1991), 3:704.
157. Ibid. La monnaie pour laquelle nous donnons tout ce quon veut. This is Forces
translation of Blaise Pascal, Penses, edited by Louis Lafuma (Paris: Seuil, 1963),
fragment 710 (Brunschvicg 24; Sellier 588).
158. Blaise Pascal, The Art of Persuasion, in Penses and Other Writings, translated by
Honor Levi and edited, introduced, and annotated by Anthony Levi (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1999), 19394, fragment 4. en effet nous ne croyons presque que
ce qui nous plaist. Et de l vient lesloignement o nous sommes de consentir aux
vritez de la religion chrestienne, tout oppose nos plaisirs. Dites nous des choses
agreables et nous vous ecouterons, disoient les Juifs Mose; comme si lagrement
devoit regler la creance! Et cest pour punir ce desordre par un ordre qui luy est
conforme, que Dieu ne verse ses lumieres dans les esprits quapres avoir dompt la
rebellion de la volont par une douceur toute celeste qui la charme et qui lentraisne.
Blaise Pascal, De lart de persuader, section 2 of De lesprit gomtrique, in uvres de
Blaise Pascal, edited by Lon Brunschvicg, Pierre Boutroux, and Flix Gazier (Paris:
Librairie Hachette & Cie, 19041914), 9:27273.
159. Pierre Force, Self-Interest before Adam Smith: A Genealogy of Economic Science
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 116.
160. Ibid., 117. Votre impuissance croire vient de vos passions. Pascal, Penses,
B233/L418/S680.
161. Ibid. Puisque la raison vous y porte et que nanmoins vous ne le pouvez, travaillez
donc non pas vous convaincre par laugmentation des preuves de Dieu, mais par la
diminution de vos passions. Ibid.
162. Leszek Kolakowski, God Owes Us Nothing: A Brief Remark on Pascals Religion and
on the Spirit of Jansenism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 113.
163. Ibid., 115.
164. Ibid., 121.
165. Ibid., 14243.
166. Ibid., 144.
167. Ibid., 146.
168. Ibid.
169. James A. Connor, Pascals Wager: The Man Who Played Dice with God (New York:
HarperCollins Publishers, 2006), 73.
Notes

241
170. Anthony Levi, Introduction, in Penses and Other Writings, translated by Honor Levi
and edited, introduced, and annotated by Anthony Levi (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1999), ix.
171. Ibid., xix.
172. Harold Bloom, Blaise Pascal (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989), 6162.
173. Bishop Elias Minatios, On Predestination, Orthodox Life, translated by Father
Gregory Naumenko 40, no. 6 (NovDec 1990), 3435.
174. Ibid., 34. Minatios cites Acts 27:31.
4. Diderot
Portions of Chapter 4 on Diderot copyright 2011 from Search for Self in Other in
Cicero, Ovid, Rousseau, Diderot and Sartre by Mary Efrosini Gregory. Reprinted by
permission of Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
1. Lhomme est n pour la socit; sparez-le, isolez-le, ses ides se dsuniront, son
caractre se tournera, mille affections ridicules slveront dans son cur Denis
Diderot, La Religieuse in uvres compltes, edited by Jules Asszat and Maurice
Tourneux (Paris: Garnier, 18751877), 5:119.
2. This is my translation. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.
VOLONTE, s.f. (Gram. & Philosophie morale) cest leffet de limpression dun objet
prsent nos sens ou notre rflexion, en consquence de laquelle nous sommes ports
tout entiers vers cet objet comme vers un bien dont nous avons la connoissance, & qui
excite notre apptit, ou nous en sommes loigns comme dun mal que nous
connoissons aussi, & qui excite notre crainte & notre aversion. Aussi il y a toujours un
objet dans laction de la volont; car quand on veut, on veut quelque chose; de
lattention cet objet, une crainte ou un desir excit. Del vient que nous prenons tout
moment la volont pour la libert. Si lon pouvoit supposer cent mille hommes tous
absolument condionns de mme, & quon leur prsentt un mme objet de desir ou
daversion, ils le desireroient tous & tous de la mme maniere, ou le rejetteroient tous, &
tous de la mme maniere. Il ny a nulle diffrence entre la volont des fous & des
hommes dans leur bon sens, de lhomme qui veille & de lhomme qui rve, du malade
qui a la fievre chaude & de lhomme qui jouit de la plus parfaite sant, de lhomme
tranquille & de lhomme passionn, de celui quon traine au supplice ou de celui qui y
marche intrpidement. Ils sont tous galement emports tout entiers par limpression
dun objet qui les attire ou qui les repousse. Sils veulent subitement le contraire de ce
quils vouloient, cest quil est tomb un atome sur le bras de la balance, qui la fait
pencher du ct oppos. On ne sait ce quon veut lorsque les deux bras sont -peu-prs
galement chargs. Si lon pese bien ces considrations, on sentira combien il est
difficile de se faire une notion quelconque de la libert, surtout dans un enchanement de
causes & des effets, tels que celui dont nous faisons partie. Denis Diderot, Volont
(Gram. & Philosophie morale.), Encyclopdie, ou Dictionnaire raisonn des sciences,
des arts et des mtiers, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond dAlembert (Paris:
Briasson, David, Le Breton, Durant; Neuchtel: S. Faulche, 17511765), 17:454.
3. John W. Yolton, John Locke, Encyclopedia Americana, international edition, 30 vols.
(Danbury: Scholastic Library Publishing, Inc., 2004), 17:64950.
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

242
4. Richard I. Aaron, John Locke, The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15
th
ed. (Chicago:
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 2005), 23:223.
5. Faire quelque chose avec les qualitez requises. Si vous voulez avoir bon debit de vos
draps, il les faux mieux conditionner. Dictionnaire de LAcadmie franaise (Paris:
Baptiste Coignard, 1694).
6. CONDITIONNER, v. act. (Comm.) cest donner une marchandise toutes les faons
ncessaires pour la rendre vnale: il a encore une autre acception, il se prend pour
certaines faons arbitraires, quon ne donne la marchandise que quand elle est sur le
point dtre livre, & que lacheteur exige cette faon: il est encore synonyme assortir
dans quelques occasions: On dit conditionner la soie. Voyez SOIE. Denis Diderot,
Conditionner (Comm.), Encyclopdie, ou Dictionnaire raisonn des sciences, des arts
et des mtiers, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond dAlembert (Paris: Briasson,
David, Le Breton, Durant; Neuchtel: S. Faulche, 17511765), 3:840.
7. ses yeux, dont lun, cest le droit, est plus haut et plus grand que lautre Denis
Diderot, La Religieuse in uvres compltes, edited by Jules Asszat and Maurice
Tourneux (Paris: Garnier, 18751877), 5:106.
8. ses yeuxsont pleins de feu et distraits Ibid.
9. Cest une petite femme toute ronde Ibid., 5:105.
10. avec deux mentons quelle portrait dassez bonne grce Ibid., 5:137. The double
chin is mentioned a bit later in the text in what has come to be known as the famous
salon scene.
11. sa tte nest jamais assise sur ses paules Ibid., 5:105.
12. il y a toujours quelque chose qui cloche dans son vtement Ibid., 5:105106.
13. quand elle marche, elle jette ses bras en avant et en arrire. Ibid., 5:106.
14. Veut-elle parler? elle ouvre la bouche, avant que davoir arrang ses ides; aussi
bgaye-t-elle un peu. Ibid.
15. Est-elle assise? elle sagite sur son fauteuil, comme si quelque chose lincommodait
Ibid.
16. elle oublie toute biensance; elle lve sa guimpe pour se frotter la peau; elle croise
les jambes; elle vous interroge; vous lui rpondez, et elle ne vous coute pas; elle vous
parle, et elle se perd, sarrte tout court, ne sait plus o elle en est, se fche, et vous
appelle grosse bte, stupide, imbcile, si vous ne la remettez sur la voie Ibid.
17. aussi lordre et le dsordre se succdaient-ils dans la maison; il y avait des jours o
tout tait confondu, les pensionnaires avec les novices, les novices avec les religieuses;
o lon courait dans les chambres les unes des autres; o lon prenait ensemble du th,
du caf, du chocolat, des liqueurs; o loffice se faisait avec la clrit la plus
indcente Ibid.
18. au milieu de ce tumulte le visage de la suprieure change subitement, la cloche
sonne; on se renferme, on se retire, le silence le plus profound suit le bruit, les cris et le
tumulte, et lon croirait que tout est mort subitement. Ibid.
19. Une religieuse alors manque-t-elle la moindre chose? elle la fait venir dans sa cellule,
la traite avec duret, lui ordonne de se dshabiller et de se donner vingt coups de
discipline Ibid.
20. On est trs-mal avec ces femmes-l; on ne sait jamais ce qui leur plaira ou dplaira, ce
quil faut viter ou faire; il ny a rien de rgl Ibid., 5:107.
Notes

243
21. Voil leffet de la retraite. Lhomme est n pour la socit; sparez-le, isolez-le, ses
ides se dsuniront, son caractre se tournera, mille affections ridicules slveront dans
son cur, des penses extravagantes germeront dans son esprit, comme les ronces dans
une terre sauvage. Placez un homme dans une fort, il y deviendra froce; dans un
clotre, o lide de ncessit se joint celle de servitude, cest pis encorela misre
avilit, la retraite dprave. Ibid., 5:11920.
22. Anne C. Vila, Sensible Diagnostics in Diderots La Religieuse, Modern Language
Notes 105, no. 4 (September 1990): 774. Vila cites the list of physicians in Appendix II
of the Elments de physiologie, ed. Jean Mayer (Paris: Librairie Marcel Didier, 1964),
34243.
23. Ibid., 780.
24. Ibid., 781. Vila references Denis Diderot, Paradoxe sur le comdien in uvres
esthtiques, ed. Paul Vernire (Paris: Garnier, 1965), 358. She recommends Philippe
Lacoue-Labarthe, Diderot, le paradox et la mimsis, Potique 43 (1980): 26781 as
the best analysis of this process of alienation.
25. Ibid.
26. Ibid., 786.
27. Ibid.
28. Ibid.
29. Ibid. Denis Diderot, La Religieuse in uvres compltes, edited by Jules Asszat and
Maurice Tourneux (Paris: Garnier, 18751877), 5:128; 5:132.
30. Ibid., 787.
31. Ibid., 787n14. Vila cites Leo Spitzer, The Style of Diderot in Linguistics and Literary
History (New York: Russell and Russell, 1962), 17980 [a reprint of Princeton
University Press, 1948] and Georges May, Diderot, artiste et philosophe du dcousu
in Hugo Friedrich and Fritz Schalk, eds., Europische Auflkrung Herbert Dieckmann
zum 60. Geburtstag (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1967), 16588.
32. Denis Diderot, Rameaus Nephew in Rameaus Nephew and DAlemberts Dream,
translated and introduced by Leonard Tancock (London: Penguin Books Ltd, 1966), 33
34.
33. Anne C. Vila, Sensible Diagnostics in Diderots La Religieuse, Modern Language
Notes 105, no. 4 (September 1990): 788.
34. Ibid., 789.
35. Ibid., 790.
36. Ibid., 79394.
37. Ibid., 788.
38. Ibid., 799.
39. Peter V. Conroy Jr., Gender Issues in Diderots La Religieuse, Diderot Studies 24
(1991): 4748. Conroy cites as a source Ruth P. Thomas, Montesquieus Harem and
Diderots Convent: The Woman as Prisoner, The French Review 52 (October 1978):
3645.
40. Ibid., 50.
41. Ibid.
42. Ibid., 51.
43. Ibid.
44. Ibid.
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

244
45. Ibid., 52.
5. Rousseau
Portions of Chapter 5 on Rousseau copyright 2008 from Evolutionism in Eighteenth-
Century French Thought by Mary Efrosini Gregory. Reprinted by permission of Peter
Lang Publishing, Inc.
Portions of Chapter 5 on Rousseau copyright 2010 from Freedom in French
Enlightenment Thought by Mary Efrosini Gregory. Reprinted by permission of Peter
Lang Publishing, Inc.
1. Jai vu ces vastes et malheureuses contres qui ne semblent destines qu couvrir la
terre de troupeaux desclaves. A leur vil aspect jai dtourn les yeux de ddain,
dhorreur et de piti; et, voyant la quatrime partie de mes semblables change en btes
pour le service des autres, jai gmi dtre homme. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Julie, ou La
Nouvelle Hlose, Lettre 3, A Madame Orbe, in uvres compltes de Jean-Jacques
Rousseau avec les notes de tous les commentateurs (Paris: Dalibon, 1826), 9:18081.
2. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality in Rousseaus Social
Contract, Etc., translated and introduced by G.D.H. Cole (London: J.M. Dent & Sons
Ltd., 1913), 168. La plus utile & la moins avance de toutes les connoissances
humaines me parot tre celle de lhomme, & jose dire que la seule inscription du
Temple de Delphes contenoit un Prcepte plus important & plus difficile que tous les
gros Livres des Moralistes. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur lorigine et les
fondemens de lingalit parmi les hommes (Dresden, 1755), xxxi.
3. Ibid. & comment lhomme viendra-t-il bout de se voit tel que la form la Nature,
travers tous les changemens que la succession des tems & des choses a d produire dans
sa constitution originelle, & de dmler ce quil tient de son propre fonds davec ce que
les circonstances & ses progrs ont ajout ou chang son Etat primitif? Ibid., xxxi
xxxii.
4. Ibid. Semblable la statue de Glaucus que le tems, la mer & les orages avoient
tellement dfigure, quelle ressembloit moins un Dieu qu une Bte froce, lme
humaine altre au sein de la socit par mille causes sans cesse renaissantes, par
lacquisition dune multitude de connoissances & derreurs, par les changemens arrivs
la constitution des Corps, & par le choc continuel des passions, a, pour ainsi dire,
chang dapparence au point dtre presque mconnoissable Ibid., xxxii.
5. Ibid. & lon ny retrouve plus, au lieu dun Etre agissant toujours par des Principes
certains & invariables, au lieu de cette Cleste & majestueuse simplicit dont son Auteur
lavoit empreinte, que le difforme contraste de la passion qui croit raisonner & de
lentendement en dlire. Ibid., xxxiixxxiii.
6. Ibid. Ibid.
7. Pierre Force, Self-Interest before Adam Smith: A Genealogy of Economic Science
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 164.
8. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality in Rousseaus Social
Contract, Etc., translated and introduced by G.D.H. Cole (London: J.M. Dent & Sons
Ltd., 1913), 173. Or sans ltude srieuse de lhomme, de ses facults naturelles, de
leurs dveloppemens successifs, on ne viendra jamais bout de faire ces distinctions, &
de sparer dans lactuelle constitution des choses, ce qua fait la volont divine davec
Notes

245
ce que lart humain a prtendu faire. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur lorigine et
les fondemens de lingalit parmi les hommes (Dresden, 1755), xlv.
9. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Discourses and Other Early Political Writings, edited and
translated by Victor Gourevitch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 194.
Ils nagent le corps droit & les mains tendues hors de leau, de sorte quils paroissent
marcher sur la terre. Dans la plus grande agitation de la mer & lorsque les flots forment
autant de montagnes, ils dansent en quelque sorte sur le dos des vagues, montant &
descendant comme un morceau de lige. Ibid., 147.
10. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality in Rousseaus Social
Contract, Etc., translated and introduced by G.D.H. Cole (London: J.M. Dent & Sons
Ltd., 1913), 181. Et comment cela pourroit-il tre, si nous nous donnons plus de maux
que la Mdecine ne peut nous fournir de Remdes! Ibid., 15.
11. Ibid. Voil les funestes garants que la plupart de nos maux sont notre propre ouvrage,
& que nous les aurions presque tous vits, en conservant la manire de vivre simple,
uniforme, & solitaire qui nous toit prescrite par la Nature. Ibid., 16.
12. Ibid., 184. parce que lEsprit dprave les sens, & que la volont parle encore, quand
la Nature se tait. Ibid., 22.
13. Ibid., 18586. Quoiquen disent les Moralistes, lentendement humain doit beaucoup
au Passions, qui, dun commun aveu, lui doivent beaucoup aussi: Cest par leur activit,
que notre raison se perfectionne; Nous ne cherchons connotre, que parce que nous
dsirons de jouir; & il nest pas possible de concevoir pourquoi celui qui nauroit ni
dsirs ni craintes se donneroit la peine de raisonner. Les Passions leur tour, tirent leur
origine de nos besoins, & leur progrs de nos connoissances; car on ne peut dsirer ou
craindre les choses, que sur les ides quon en peut avoir, ou par la simple impulsion de
la Nature; & lhomme Sauvage, priv de toute sorte de lumires, neprouve que les
Passions de cette dernire espce; Ses dsirs ne passent pas ses besoins physiques
Ibid., 2526.
14. Ibid., 184. Je ne vois dans tout animal quune machine ingnieuse, qui la nature a
donn des sens pour se remonter elle-mme, & pour se garantir jusqu un certain point,
de tout ce qui tend la dtruire ou la dranger. Japerois prcisment les mmes
choses dans la machine humaine, avec cette diffrence que la Nature seule fait tout dans
les oprations de la Bte, au lieu que lhomme concourt aux siennes, en qualit dagent
libre. Lun choisit ou rejette par instinct, & lautre par un acte de libert; ce qui fait que
la Bte ne peut scarter de la Rgle qui lui est prescrite, mme quand il lui seroit
avantageux de le faire, & que lhomme sen carte souvent son prjudice. Ibid., 21
22.
15. Ibid., 185. Vouloir & ne pas vouloir, dsirer & craindre, seront les premires, &
presque les seules oprations de son me, jusqu ce que de nouvelles circonstances y
causent de nouveaux dveloppemens. Ibid., 25.
16. Ibid., 19798. Sans parler de la tendresse des Mres pour leurs petits, & des prils
quelles bravent, pour les en garantir, on observe tous les jours la rpugnance quont les
Chevaux fouler aux pieds un Corps vivant; Un animal ne passe point sans inquitude
auprs dun animal mort de son Espce: Il y en a mme qui leur donnent une sorte de
spulture; Et les tristes mugissemens du Btail entrant dans une Boucherie annoncent
limpression quil reoit lhorrible spectacle qui le frappe. Ibid., 50.
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

246
17. Ibid., 198. Tel est le pur mouvement de la Nature, antrieur toute rflexion: telle est la
force de la piti naturelle, que les murs les plus dpraves ont encore peine dtruire,
puisquon voit tous les jours dans nos spectacles sattendrir & pleurer aux malheurs dun
infortun, tel, qui, sil toit la place du Tyran, aggraveroit encore les tourmens de son
ennemi. Ibid., 51.
18. Ibid., 199200. Il est donc bien certain que la piti est un sentiment naturel, qui
modrant dans chaque individu lactivit de lamour de soi-mme, concourt la
conservation mutuelle de toute lespce. Cest elle, qui nous porte sans rflexion au
secours de ceux que nous voyons souffir: cest elle qui, dans ltat de Nature, tient lieu
de Loix, de murs & de vertu, avec cet avantage que nul nest tent de dsobir sa
douce voix Ibid., 54.
19. Ibid., 200. Cest elle qui, au lieu de cette maxime sublime de justice raisonne: Fais
autrui comme tu veux quon te fasse, inspire tous les Hommes cette autre maxime de
bont naturelle bien moins parfaite, mais plus utile peut-tre que la prcdente: Fais ton
bien avec la moindre mal dautrui quil est possible. Ibid.
20. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile or On Education, introduced, translated and annotated by
Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 3.
21. Ibid., 4.
22. Ibid., 5.
23. Ibid., 9.
24. Ibid., 37. Tout est bien, sortant des mains de lAuteur des choses: tout dgnere entre
les mains de lhomme. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, ou de lEducation (The Hague:
Jean Naulme, 1762), 1:1.
25. Ibid. Il force une terre nourrir les productions dune autre, un arbre porter les fruits
dun autre: il mle & confond les climats, les lmens, les saisons: il mutile son chien,
son cheval, son esclave: il bouleverse tout, il dfigure tout: il aime la difformit, les
monsters: il ne veut rien, tel que la fait la nature, pas mme lhomme: il le faut dresser
pour lui, comme un cheval de mange; il le faut contourner sa mode, comme un arbre
de son jardin. Ibid., 1:12.
26. Ibid., 69. Les longs pleurs dun enfant qui nest ni li ni malade & quon ne laisse
manquer de rien ne sont que des pleurs dhabitude & dobstination. Elles ne sont point
louvrage de la nature, mais de la Nourrice, qui, pour nen savoir endurer limportunit
la multiplie, sans songer quen faisant taire lenfant aujourdhui on lexcite pleurer
demain davantage. Ibid., 1:11920.
27. Ibid., 59. Les hommes ne sont point faits pour tre entasss en fourmilires, mais pars
sur la terre quils doivent cultiver. Plus ils se rassemblent, plus ils se corrompent. Les
infirmits du corps, ainsi que les vices de lme, sont linfaillible effort de ce concours
trop nombreux. Lhomme est de tous les animaux celui qui peut le moins vivre en
troupeaux. Ibid., 1:82.
28. Ibid., 72. Laccent est lme du discours; il lui donne le sentiment & la vrit. Laccent
ment moins que la parole; cest peut-tre pour cela que les gens bien levs le craignent
tant. Cest de lusage de tout dire sur le mme ton quest venu celui de persifler les gens
sans quils le sentent. Ibid., 1:133.
29. Ibid., 78. Cest ce second degr que commence proprement la vie de lindividu: cest
alors quil prend la conscience de lui-mme. La mmoire tend le sentiment de lidentit
sur tous les moments de son existence; il devient vritablement un, le mme, & par
Notes

247
consquent dj capable de bonheur ou de misre. Il importe donc de commencer le
considrer ici comme un tre moral. Ibid., 1:147.
30. Ibid., 83. Ta libert, ton pouvoir, ne stendent quaussi loin que tes forces naturelles,
& pas au-del; tout le reste nest quesclavage, illusion, prestige. La domination mme
est servile, quand elle tient lopinion; car tu dpends des prjugs de ceux que tu
gouvernes par les prjugs. Pour les conduire comme il te plat, il faut te conduire
comme il leur plat. Ibid., 1:16566.
31. Ibid., 84. Lhomme vraiment libre ne veut que ce quil peut, & fait ce quil lui plat.
Voil ma maxime fondamentale. Il ne sagit que de lappliquer lenfance, & toutes des
rgles de lducation vont en dcouler. Ibid., 1:168.
32. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract in Rousseaus Social Contract, Etc.,
translated and introduced by G.D.H. Cole (London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1913), 5.
Lhomme est n libre, & partout il est dans les fers. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Du
contrat social; ou Principes du droit politique (Amsterdam: Marc-Michel Rey, 1762), 3.
33. Ibid., 20. En gnral, pour autoriser sur un terrain quelconque le droit de premier
occupant, il faut les conditions suivantes. Premirement que ce terrein ne soit encore
habit par personne Ibid., 46.
34. Ibid. secondement, quon nen occupe que la quantit dont on a besoin pour
subister Ibid.
35. Ibid. Comment un homme ou un peuple peut-il semparer dun territoire immense & en
priver tout le genre humain, autrement que par une usurpation punissable, puisquelle
te au reste des hommes le sjour & les aliments que la nature leur donne en commun?
Ibid., 47.
36. Ibid., 22n1. Dans le fait les loix sont toujours utiles ceux qui possdent, & nuisibles
ceux qui nont rien: Do il suit que ltat social nest avantageux aux hommes
quautant quils ont tous quelque chose & quaucun deux na rien de trop. Ibid., 51n
52n.
37. Ibid., 23. la volont particulire tend par sa nature aux prfrences, & la volont
gnrale lgalit. Ibid., 55.
38. Ibid., 23n1. Pour quune volont soit gnrale, il nest pas toujours ncessaire quelle
soit unanime; mais il est ncessaire que toutes les voix soient comptes; toute exclusion
formelle rompt la gnralit. Ibid., 57n.
39. Ibid., 31. Dailleurs tout malfaiteur, attaquant le droit social, devient par ses forfaits
rebelle & tratre la patrie; il cesse den tre membre en violant ses loix, & mme il lui
fait la guerre. Alors la conservation de lEtat est incompatible avec la sienne, il faut
quun des deux prisse, & quand on fait mourir le coupable, cest moins comme Citoyen
que comme ennemi. Les procdures, le jugement, sont les preuves & la dclaration quil
a rompu le trait social, & par consquent quil nest plus membre de lEtat. Or, comme
il sest reconnu tel, tout au moins par son sjour, il en doit tre retranch par lexil,
comme infracteur du pacte, ou par la mort comme ennemi public; car un tel ennemi
nest pas une personne morale, cest un homme, & cest alors que le droit de la guerre
est de tuer le vaincu. Ibid., 7980.
40. Ibid., 58. Il nest pas bon que celui qui fait les loix les excute, ni que le corps du
peuple dtourne son attention des vues gnrales, pour les donner aux objets
particuliers. Ibid., 164.
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248
41. Ibid. Rien nest plus dangereux que linfluence des intrts privs dans les affaires
publiques, & labus des loix par le Gouvernement est un mal moindre que la corruption
du Lgislateur, suite infaillible des vues particulires. Ibid.
42. Ibid., 67. Mais quand la Puissance excutive ne dpend pas assez de la lgislative,
cest--dire, quand il y a plus de rapport du Prince au Souverain que du peuple au
Prince, il faut remdier ce dfaut de proportion en divisant le Gouvernement; car alors
toutes ses parties nont pas moins dautorit sur les sujets, & leur division les rend toutes
ensemble moins fortes contre le Souverain. Ibid., 19293.
43. Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, translated by Fritz C.A. Koelln and
James P. Pettegrove (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), 155.
44. Ibid.
45. Ibid., 156.
46. Ibid., 15657.
47. Ibid., 157.
48. Ibid.
49. Ibid., 158.
50. Pierre Force, Self-Interest before Adam Smith: A Genealogy of Economic Science
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 16465.
51. Ibid., 165.
52. Ibid., 216.
53. Ibid.
54. Ibid. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile or On Education, introduced, translated and
annotated by Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 103.
55. Ibid. Cest un dsintressement quil [lamour propre] met furieuse usure. Franois
de la Rochefoucauld, Maximes, first ed. (Paris: Barbin, 1665), maxim 250.
56. Ibid., 217.
57. Ibid., 219.
58. Ibid.
59. David Gauthier, Rousseau: The Sentiment of Existence (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2006), 67.
60. Ibid., 6.
61. Ibid.
62. Ibid., 7.
63. Ibid., 8.
64. Ibid., 13.
65. Ibid., 56.
66. Ibid.
67. Ibid., 57.
68. Ibid.
6. Voltaire
Portions of Chapter 6 on Voltaire copyright 2010 from Freedom in French
Enlightenment Thought by Mary Efrosini Gregory. Reprinted by permission of Peter
Lang Publishing, Inc.
Notes

249
1. Franois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire, Libert de pense: Freedom of Thought,
Philosophical Dictionary, edited and translated by Theodore Besterman (London:
Penguin Books Ltd, 2004), 281.
MEDROSO: Mais si je me trouve bien aux Galres?
BOLDMIND: En ce cas vous mritez dy tre.
Franois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire, Dictionnaire philosophique, portatif, rev. ed.
(London, 1765), 228.
2. Ibid., 109 10. son corps devait, dans le temps marqu, produire des lgumes qui
devaient se changer dans la substance de quelques Lyciens Ibid., 61.
3. Ibid., 110. Si un seul de ces faits avait t arrang diffremment, il en aurait rsult un
autre Univers Ibid.
4. Ibid. Tout est rouage, poulie, corde, resort dans cette immense machine. Ibid., 62.
5. Ibid., 112. tout tre a son pre, mais tout tre na pas des enfants Ibid., 63.
6. Ibid., 183. Tout homme nat avec un penchant assez violent pour la domination, la
richesse & les plaisirs, & avec beaucoup de got pour la paresse Ibid., 158.
7. Ibid., 181. Que doit un chien un chien, & un cheval un cheval? Rien; aucun animal
ne dpend de son semblable Ibid., 157.
8. Ibid., 183. on a prtendu dans plusieurs Pays quil ntait pas permis un citoyen de
sortir de la contre o le hasard la fait natre; le sens de cette loi est visiblement: Ce
pays est si mauvais & si mal gouvern, que nous dfendons chaque individu den
sortir, de peur que tout le monde nen sorte. Faites mieux; donnez tous vos sujets
envie de demeurer chez vous, & aux Etrangers dy venir. Ibid., 159.
9. Ibid., 184. quel parti doit-il prendre? celui de sen aller. Ibid., 160.
10. Ibid., 192. Mais quelle partie choisirait un homme sage, libre, un homme dune fortune
mdiocre, & sans prjugs? Ibid., 168.
11. Ibid., 194. toutes les Loix qui concernent la Physique, sont calcules pour le
Mridien quon habite; il ne faut quune femme un Allemand, & il en faut trois ou
quatre un Persan. Ibid., 169.
12. Ibid. Le Brame rpondit: Celui o lon nobit quaux Loix. Ibid., 170.
13. Ibid. Le Brame dit: Il faut en chercher. Ibid.
14. Ibid., 278. Votre volont nest pas libre, mais vos actions le sont Ibid., 231.
15. Ibid., 280. vous tes un oiseau dans la cage de lInquisition Ibid., 227.
16. Ibid. Celui qui ne sait pas la Gomtrie peut lapprendre; tout homme peut
sinstruire Ibid.
17. Ibid., 281. En ce cas vous mritez dy tre. Ibid., 228.
18. Ibid., 290. Condamnez les brigands quand ils pillent; mais ne les traitez pas dinsenss
quand ils jouissent. Ibid., 240.
19. Ibid., 291. Les dclamateurs voudraient-ils quon enfout les richesses quon aurait
amasses par le sort des armes, par lAgriculture, par le Commerce & lindustrie? Ibid.,
241.
20. Ibid. Le luxe dAthnes a fait de grands hommes en tout genre. Ibid.
21. Ibid., 291n1.
Sachez surtout que le luxe enrichit
Un grand Etat, sil en perd un petit.
Ibid.
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

250
22. Pierre Force, Self-Interest before Adam Smith: A Genealogy of Economic Science
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 87 89.
7. Sartre
Portions of Chapter 7 on Sartre copyright 2011 from Search for Self in Other in
Cicero, Ovid, Rousseau, Diderot and Sartre by Mary Efrosini Gregory. Reprinted by
permission of Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
1. Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit in No Exit and Three Other Plays (New York: Vintage
International, 1989), 21. Je suis le miroir aux alouettes; ma petite alouette, je te tiens!
Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis clos in Huis clos suivi de Les mouches (Paris: Gallimard, 1947),
48.
2. Hazel E. Barnes, Translators Introduction in Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and
Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology (New York: Washington Square
Press, 1992), xiv-xv. Jean-Paul Sartre, La Transcendance de lEgo; Esquisse dune
description phnomnologique in Recherches philosophiques 6 (19361937): 120.
3. Ibid., xviii-xix. Jean-Paul Sartre, The Emotions: Outline of a Theory, translated by
Bernard Frechtman (New York: Philosophical Library, 1948), 58.
4. Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit in No Exit and Three Other Plays (New York: Vintage
International, 1989), 3. Un salon style Second Empire. Un bronze sur la chemine.
Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis clos in Huis clos suivi de Les mouches (Paris: Gallimard, 1947),
13.
5. Ibid. GARCIN, il entre et regarde autour de lui. Ibid.
6. Ibid. Savez-vous qui jtais? Ibid., 14.
7. Ibid., 8. Garcin va pour rpondre, mais il jette un coup dil InsNon. Ibid., 22.
8. Ibid., 11 Vous tes trs belle. Je voudrais avoir des fleurs pour vous souhaiter la
bienvenue. Ibid., 30.
9. Jacques Hardr, Sartres Existentialism and Humanism, Studies in Philology 49, no. 3
(July 1952): 545.
10. JeJe pense qu la longue on doit shabituer aux meubles. Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis
clos in Huis clos suivi de Les mouches (Paris: Gallimard, 1947), 13.
11. a dpend des personnes, Ibid.
12. Estelle, est-ce que je suis un lche? Ibid., 78.
13. Cest toi de dcider. Ibid.
14. Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit in No Exit and Three Other Plays (New York: Vintage
International, 1989), 37. Je voulais tmoigner, jejavais longuement rflchiEst-ce
que ce sont les vraies raisons? Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis clos in Huis clos suivi de Les
mouches (Paris: Gallimard, 1947), 79.
15. Ibid., 3738. Mais la peur, la haine et toutes les salets quon cache, ce sont aussi des
raisons. Ibid.
16. Ibid., 13. Ah non! (Plus doucement.) Non. Jai horreur des hommes en bras de
chemise. Ibid., 33.
17. Ibid., 16. Jtais orpheline et pauvre, jlevais mon frre cadet. Un vieil ami de mon
pre ma demand ma main. Il tait riche et bon, jai accept. Ibid., 39.
18. See Jacques Lacan, Fonction et champ de la parole et du langage en psychanalyse,
translated with notes and commentary by Anthony Wilden (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
Notes

251
Press, 1968); Jacques Lacan, The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function as
Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience, Ecrits: A Selection, translated by Bruce Fink
(New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004), 49; Jacques Lacan, Le Stade du miroir
comme formateur de la function du je, telle quelle nous est rvle, dans lexprience
psychanalytique, Ecrits (Paris: Seuil, 1966), 93100; George Manas, Mirrors and the
Stage of Life, http://www.columbia.edu/~s2220/Thing/web-content/Pages/manas2.
html (August 23, 2010).
19. Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit in No Exit and Three Other Plays (New York: Vintage
International, 1989), 4. GarcinPas de glaces, pas de fentres Jean-Paul Sartre,
Huis clos in Huis clos suivi de Les mouches (Paris: Gallimard, 1947), 15.
20. Ibid. Et pourquoi se regarderait-on dans les glaces? Ibid., 16.
21. Ibid., 18. Monsieur, avez-vous un miroir? (Garcin ne rpond pas.) Un miroir, une
glace de poche, nimporte quoi? (Garcin ne rpond pas.) Si vous me laissez toute seule,
procurez-moi au moins une glace. Ibid., 44.
22. Ibid., 10. Le seul qui conviendrait la rigueur, cest celui de monsieur. Ibid., 28.
23. Ibid., 19. Je me sens drle. (Elle se tte.) a ne vous fait pas cet effet-l, vous: quand
je ne me vois pas, jai beau me tter, je me demande si jexiste pour de vrai. Ibid., 44.
24. Ibid. Il y a six grandes glaces dans ma chambre coucher. Je les vois. Je les vois. Mais
elles ne me voient pas. Elles refltent la causeuse, le tapis, la fentrecomme cest vide,
une glace o je ne suis pas. Quand je parlais, je marrangeais pour quil y en ait une o
je puisse me regarder. Ibid., 45.
25. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, translated and introduced by Hazel E. Barnes
(New York: Washington Square Press, 1992), 351.
26. Ibid.
27. Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit in No Exit and Three Other Plays (New York: Vintage
International, 1989), 19. Voulez-vous que je vous serve de miroir? Venez, je vous
invite chez moi. Asseyez-vous sur mon canap. Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis clos in Huis clos
suivi de Les mouches (Paris: Gallimard, 1947), 45.
28. Ibid., 20. Pose-moi des questions. Aucun miroir ne sera plus fidle. Ibid., 46.
29. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, translated and introduced by Hazel E. Barnes
(New York: Washington Square Press, 1992), 327.
30. Ibid., 328.
31. Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit in No Exit and Three Other Plays (New York: Vintage
International, 1989), 19. ESTELLE, indique Garcin. Mais Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis
clos in Huis clos suivi de Les mouches (Paris: Gallimard, 1947), 45.
32. Ibid. INES: Est-ce que jai lair de vouloir vous nuire? ESTELLE: On ne sait
jamais Ibid.
33. Ibid., 20. Puisquil faut souffrir, autant que ce soit par toi. Ibid., 4546.
34. Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis clos, introduced and annotated by Keith Gore (New York and
London: Routledge, 1990), 98n56.
35. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, translated and introduced by Hazel E. Barnes
(New York: Washington Square Press, 1992), 525.
36. Ibid.
37. Ibid., 52526.
38. Ibid., 526.
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

252
39. Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit in No Exit and Three Other Plays (New York: Vintage
International, 1989), 21. Si le miroir se mettait mentir? Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis clos in
Huis clos suivi de Les mouches (Paris: Gallimard, 1947), 48.
40. Ibid. Six mois durant, jai flamb dans son cur; jai tout brl. Ibid., 57.
41. Ibid., 19. Nous allons nous faire du mal: cest vous qui lavez dit. Ibid., 45.
42. Ibid. Cest toi qui me fera du mal. Ibid.
43. Ibid., 26. Six mois durant, jai flamb dans son cur; jai tout brl. Ibid., 57.
44. Ibid., 8. Florence tait une petite sotte et je ne la regrette pas. Ibid., 23.
45. Ibid., 21. Vous avez gagn. Ibid., 49.
46. Ibid., 23. je veux vous regarder de tous mes yeux et lutter visage dcouvert. Ibid.,
51.
47. Michael Issacharoff, Discourse and Performance (Stanford: Stanford University Press,
1989), 63.
48. Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit in No Exit and Three Other Plays (New York: Vintage
International, 1989), 43. Seuls les actes dcident de ce quon a voulu. Jean-Paul
Sartre, Huis clos in Huis clos suivi de Les mouches (Paris: Gallimard, 1947), 90.
49. Jacques Hardr, Sartres Existentialism and Humanism, Studies in Philology 49, no. 3
(July 1952): 540.
50. Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit in No Exit and Three Other Plays (New York: Vintage
International, 1989), 43. Ce ne sera pas facile. Regarde-moi: jai la tte dure. Jean-
Paul Sartre, Huis clos in Huis clos suivi de Les mouches (Paris: Gallimard, 1947), 89.
51. Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis clos, introduced and annotated by Keith Gore (New York and
London: Routledge, 1990), 3032. Portions of Marcels text are reprinted in Les
Critiques de notre temps et Sartre, ed. Jacques Lecarme (Paris: Garnier, 1973), 7780.
52. Ibid., 3233.
53. Ibid., 34.
54. Ibid.
55. Jacques Hardr, Sartres Existentialism and Humanism, Studies in Philology 49, no. 3
(July 1952): 534.
56. Ibid., 535.
57. Ibid., 53738. Lhomme nest rien dautre que ce quil se fait. Tel est le premier
principe de lexistentialisme. Jean-Paul Sartre, LExistentialisme est un humanisme
(Paris: Editions Nagel, 1946), 22.
58. Ibid., 53839. Je ne suis pas, mon Dieu, ce qui est: hlas! je suis presque ce qui nest
pas. Je me vois comme un milieu incomprhensible entre le nant et ltre: je suis celui
qui a t; je suis celui qui sera; je suis celui qui nest plus ce quil a t; je suis celui qui
nest pas encore ce quil sera: et dans cet entre-deux que suis-je? un je ne sais quoi qui
ne peut sarrter en soi, qui na aucune consistance, qui scoule rapidement comme
leau; un je ne sais quoi que je ne puis saisir, qui senfuit de mes propres mains, qui nest
plus ds que je veux le saisir ou lapercevoir Franois de Salignac de la Mothe
Fnelon, uvres 35 vols. (Versailles: Lebel, 1820), 1:25354.
59. Ibid., 541.
60. Ibid., 544.
61. Ibid., 547.
62. Ibid.
63. Ibid.
Notes

253
64. Richard N. Merritt, God, Sartre, and the New Theologian, The Journal of General
Education 17, no. 2 (July 1965): 127. Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism (New York:
Philosophical Library, 1957), 27.
65. Ibid., 129.
66. Ibid., 131.
67. Ibid., 133. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, translated and introduced by Hazel
E. Barnes (New York: Washington Square Press, 1992, 681.
68. Ibid. Ibid., 708.
69. Serge Doubrovsky, Sartre and Camus: A Study in Incarceration, Yale French Studies
25 (1960): 85.
70. Ibid., 87.
71. Ibid., 88.
72. Ibid., 8990.
73. Julien S. Murphy, The Look in Sartre and Rich, Hypatia 2, no. 2 (Summer 1987): 114.
74. Ibid.
75. Ibid., 11415.
76. Ibid., 115.
77. Ibid., 116. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, translated and introduced by Hazel
E. Barnes (New York: Washington Square Press, 1992), 354.
78. Ibid.
79. Ibid., 11718. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, translated and introduced by
Hazel E. Barnes (New York: Washington Square Press, 1992), 53747.
80. Ibid., 119.
81. Paul Johnson, Jean-Paul Sartre: A Little Ball of Fur and Ink, The Wilson Quarterly
13, no. 2 (Spring 1989): 64.
82. Ibid., 6465.
83. Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit in No Exit and Three Other Plays (New York: Vintage
International, 1989), 43. Seuls les actes dcident de ce quon a voulu. Jean-Paul
Sartre, Huis clos in Huis clos suivi de Les mouches (Paris: Gallimard, 1947), 90.
84. Ibid. On est ce quon veut. Ibid.
8. Freud
1. Sigmund Freud, A Difficulty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis in Standard Edition of
the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, edited by James Strachey
(London: Hogarth Press, 19531974): 17:143.
2. Ibid., 22:72930.
3. Paul Mussen, Psychology, Encyclopedia Americana, international edition (Danbury:
Scholastic Library Publishing, Inc., 2004), 22:729.
4. Anna Freud, Introduction in Sigmund Freud, The Essentials of Psycho-Analysis,
introduction and commentaries by Anna Freud, translated by Danes Strachey (London:
Vintage Books, 2005), 77. Her citation that the ego is not master in its own house is
taken from Sigmund Freud, A Difficulty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis in Standard
Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, edited by James
Strachey (London: Hogarth Press, 19531974): 17:143.
5. Ibid.
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

254
6. Ibid., 78.
7. Sigmund Freud, A Note on the Unconscious in Psycho-Analysis in The Essentials of
Psycho-Analysis, introduction and commentaries by Anna Freud, translated by Danes
Strachey (London: Vintage Books, 2005), 135.
8. Ibid., 13536.
9. Gary R. VandenBos, ed., APA Dictionary of Psychology (Washington, DC: American
Psychological Association, 2007), 262.
10. Ibid., 268.
11. Ibid., 28990.
12. Ibid., 790.
13. Ibid., 904.
14. Ibid., 697.
15. Ibid., 388.
16. Ibid., 952.
17. David M. Eagleman, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (New York: Pantheon
Books, 2011), 18.
18. Ibid., 162.
19. Ibid., 163.
20. Ibid., 16465.
21. Ibid., 166.
22. Ibid., 16667.
23. Gary R. VandenBos, ed., APA Dictionary of Psychology (Washington, DC: American
Psychological Association, 2007), 707.
9. Edward Bernays
1. Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda (New York: Horace Liveright, 1928), 910.
2. Sigmund Freud, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis; Authorized Translation,
with a Preface by G. Stanley Hall (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920).
3. William Geist, Selling Soap to Children and Hairnets to Women, New York Times,
March 27, 1985, B1. Reporter Geist covers a ceremony in which Bernays received a
plaque for his achievements from Dr. John Brademas, President of New York
University; his article includes anecdotes related by Bernays at the podium.
4. Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda (New York: Horace Liveright, 1928), 911.
5. Ibid., 11.
6. David Eagleman, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (New York: Pantheon Books,
2011), 6.
7. Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda (New York: Horace Liveright, 1928), 12.
8. Ibid., 1314.
9. Ibid., 14.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid., 1516.
12. Ibid.., 20.
13. Ibid., 32.
14. Ibid., 3233.
15. Ibid., 33.
Notes

255
16. Ibid., 34.
17. Ibid., 35.
18. Ibid., 34.
19. Ibid., 155.
20. Ibid., 156.
21. Neal Gabler, The Lives They Lived: Edward L. Bernays and Henry C. Rogers; The
Fathers of P.R., New York Times, December 31, 1995, 28.
22. William Geist, Selling Soap to Children and Hairnets to Women, New York Times,
March 27, 1985, B1. Geist cites a portion of the address that Bernays gave when he
received a plaque from the President of New York University. Bernays had emphasized
New Yorks role in mass communication.
23. Dana Stevens, On Every Box of Cake Mix, Evidence of Freuds Theories, New York
Times, August 12, 2005, E5.
24. Edward L. Bernays, The Engineering of Consent, Annals of the American Academy of
Political and Social Science 250 (March 1947): 113.
25. Ibid., 116.
26. Ibid.
27. Ibid., 11617.
28. Ibid., 117.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid., 118.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid., 119.
33. Edward L. Bernays, Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel
Edward L. Bernays (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965), 652.
34. Larry Tye, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations
(New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 1998), 111.
10. Neuroscience
1. Chun Siong Soon, et al., Unconscious Determinants of Free Decisions in the Human
Brian, Nature Neuroscience 11, no. 5 (May 2008): 543.
2. David M. Eagleman, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (New York: Pantheon
Books, 2011), 6.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid., 5.
5. Benjamin Libet, et al., Time of Conscious Intention to Act in Relation to Onset of
Cerebral Activity (Readiness-Potential): The Unconscious Initiation of a Freely
Voluntary Act, Brain 106, no. 3 (1983): 62342; Benjamin Libet, Unconscious
Cerebral Initiative and the Role of Conscious Will in Voluntary Action, Behavioral
and Brain Sciences 8, no. 4 (1985): 52939.
6. Benjamin Libet, et al., Time of Conscious Intention to Act in Relation to Onset of
Cerebral Activity (Readiness-Potential): The Unconscious Initiation of a Freely
Voluntary Act, Brain 106, no. 3 (1983): 624.
7. In 1965 in a landmark study, Kornhuber and Deecke established that readiness
potential or bereitschaftspotential begins up to a second or more before a self-paced
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

256
act. See H.H. Kornhuber and L. Deecke, Hirnpotentialnderungen bei
Willkrbewegungen und passiven Bewegungen des Menschen: Bereitschaftspotential
und reafferente Potentiale, Pflgers Arch 284 (1965): 117.
8. Benjamin Libet, et al., Time of Conscious Intention to Act in Relation to Onset of
Cerebral Activity (Readiness-Potential): The Unconscious Initiation of a Freely
Voluntary Act, Brain 106, no. 3 (1983): 623.
9. Benjamin Libet, Unconscious Cerebral Initiative and the Role of Conscious Will in
Voluntary Action, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8, no. 4 (1985): 529.
10. Max Velmans, How Could Conscious Experience Affect Brains? Journal of
Consciousness Studies 9, no. 11 (2002): 329. See also Max Velmans, Preconscious
Free Will, Journal of Consciousness Studies 10, no. 12 (2003): 4261.
11. Max Velmans, How Could Conscious Experience Affect Brains? Journal of
Consciousness Studies 9, no. 11 (2002): 3.
12. Ibid., 10n4. Velmans refers to two studies: R. Karrer et al., Slow Potentials of the Brain
Preceding Cued and Non-Cued Movement: Effects of Development and Retardation in
Multidisciplinary Perspectives in Event-Related Potential Research, ed. D.A. Otto
(Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1978); N. Konttinen and H.
Lyytinen, Brain Slow Waves Preceding Time-Locked Visuo-Motor Performance,
Journal of Sports Sciences 11, no. 3 (June 1993): 25766.
13. Ibid., 11.
14. Ibid., 20.
15. Ibid., 27n20.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. Benjamin Libet, Can Conscious Experience Affect Brain Activity? Journal of
Consciousness Studies 10 (2003): 2428.
19. Ibid., 24.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid., 25.
22. Ibid.
23. Ibid., 2728. In this citation Libet refers to four papers: Roger W. Sperry, Mind-Brain
Interaction: Mentalism Yes; Dualism No, Neuroscience 5 (1980): 195206; R. W.
Doty, The Five Mysteries of the Mind, and Their Consequences, Neuropsychologia
10 (1998): 106976; Benjamin Libet, A Testable Field Theory of Mind-Brain
Interaction, Journal of consciousness Studies 1, no. 1 (1994): 11926; Benjamin Libet,
Do We Have Free Will? Journal of Consciousness Studies 6, no. 89 (1999): 4757.
24. Ibid., 27.
25. Ibid.
26. Masao Matsuhashi and Mark Hallett, The Timing of the Conscious Intention to Move,
European Journal of Neuroscience 28, no. 11 (December 2008): 234451.
27. Ibid., 2344.
28. Chun Siong Soon, et al., Unconscious Determinants of Free Decisions in the Human
Brian, Nature Neuroscience 11, no. 5 (May 2008): 54345.
29. Ibid., 543.
30. Ibid., 544.
31. Ibid., 545.
Notes

257
32. John-Dylan Haynes, Unconscious Decisions in the Brain: A Team of Scientists Has
Unravelled How the Brain Unconsciously Prepares Our Decisions, April 14, 2008,
http://www.mpg.de/567905/pressRelease20080414 (November 5, 2011).
33. Brandon Keim, Is Free Will an Illusion? April 14, 2008, http://www.wired.com/
wiredscience/2008/04/is-free-will-an/ (November 7, 2011).
34. Adam Leonard, blog comment on Brains; On Philosophy of Mind and Related Matters;
Unconscious Determinants of Free Decisions in the Human Brain,
http://philosophyofbrains.com/2008/04/26/unconscious-determinants-of-free-decisions-
in-the-human-brain.aspx, posted April 27, 2008 5:56 PM (November 7, 2011).
35. Patrick Haggard, Human Volition: Towards a Neuroscience of Will, Nature Reviews
Neuroscience 9 (December 2008): 934.
36. Ibid., 938figure2.
37. Ibid., 938.
38. Ibid., 93839.
39. Ibid., 939.
40. Ibid.
41. Ibid., 943box2.
42. NPRs Fresh Air with Terry Gross, aired May 31, 2011. See Incognito: Whats
Hiding in the Unconscious Mind, http://www.npr.org/2011/05/31/136495499/
incognito-whats-hiding-in-the-unconscious-mind (November 7, 2011). During the
interview Eagleman discussed his new book, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
(New York: Pantheon, 2011), which has a chapter on the application of neuroscience to
criminal law (pp. 15192). The story about the man with the massive brain tumor is
related in Eagleman, Incognito, pp. 15455.
43. David M. Eagleman, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (New York: Pantheon
Books, 2011), 252n18.
44. K. Ammon and S.C. Gandevia, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Can Influence the
Selection of Motor Programmes, Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
53 (1990): 705707.
45. Ibid., 705.
46. Joaquim P. Brasil-Neto, et al., Focal Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Response
Bias in a Forced-Choice Task, Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 55
(1992): 96466.
47. Ibid., 964.
48. Kendrick N. Kay, et al., Identifying Natural Images from Human Brain Activity,
Nature 452 (March 20, 2008): 35255.
49. Ibid., 352.
Conclusion
1. Plato, The Republic in The Portable Plato: Protagoras, Symposium, Phaedo, and The
Republic, translated by Benjamin Jowett, edited and introduced by Scott Buchanan
(New York: Penguin Books, 1977), 8.565cd, p. 618.
2. Theodore W. Berger, et al., A Cortical Neural Prosthesis for Restoring and Enhancing
Memory, Journal of Neural Engineering 8, no. 4 (August 2011): 46017.
Free Will in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Sartre

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3. Benedict Carey, Memory Implant Gives Rats Sharper Recollection New York Times,
June 17, 2011, A23.

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