Augustine on the Will
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This book provides a framework for Augustine’s understanding of will, an aspect of his thought that has proven to be both essential and inscrutable. On the one hand, the Augustinian will is everywhere. It comes up constantly both in Augustine’s thought and in the massive literature engaging it. The will is impossible to avoid in almost any treatment of any aspect of his thinking, whether theological, philosophical, psychological, or political, because it is at the heart of his understanding of the human person and therefore vital to his understanding of such diverse topics as grace, freedom, the image of God, and moral responsibility. On the other hand, Augustine’s understanding of the will resists direct examination. With the exception of an early treatise on free choice, Augustine never devoted a work to exploring the will in a programmatic way. Likewise, while the Augustinian will is constantly invoked in secondary literature, it rarely receives analysis in its own right.
Han-luen Kantzer Komline demonstrates that Augustine’s view is “theologically differentiated,” comprising four distinct types of human will, which correspond to four different theological scenarios. Augustine’s innovation consists in distinguishing these types with a detail and clarity unprecedented by any thinker before him. This account of the Augustinian will gives a comprehensive picture of the development and mature shape of Augustine’s thinking on this vital yet perennially puzzling topic.