Graduiertenschule für die Geisteswissenschaften

    Paterson, Gareth

    " Crusius on freedom, emergence and external reasons."

    Kontaktadresse an der Universität Würzburg:
    Institut für Philosophie
    Ehrenhof, Südflügel
    97070 Würzburg

    E-Mail an Herrn Paterson

    Erstbetreuerin: Dr. Sonja Schierbaum


    Prof. Dr. Jörn Müller

    Prof. Dr. Jens Timmermann (Univ. of St. Andrews)

    Klasse in der Graduiertenschule:  "Philosophie, Sprachen, Künste"

    Promotion in der Graduiertenschule ab WS 2021/2022.

    Mitglied in der Emmy-Noether-Forschungsgruppe "Praktische Vernunft vor Kant (1720-1780)"

    Christian August Crusius (1715-1775) is under- and sometimes mis-represented in the secondary literature. Furthermore, there has been scarce available work on his relevance to contemporary philosophy.

    More recent work, however, acknowledges his individual value as a philosopher and ventures to correct misinterpretations (e.g., Grunert and Hahmann's edited collection Christian August Crusius (1715-1775): Philosophy Between Reason and Revelation, or recent work by Schierbaum, Walschots, and others).

    I will construct an interpretation of Crusius' theory of free will, novel in the sense that I investigate the understanding of emergence that his system suggests. Crusius' practical philosophy, in my view, requires that the form according to which a group of particular "drives" (e.g., desires) are organised, grounds an emergent power that transcends the sum of them considered linearly. The delimiting of drives is possible according to foundational desires; themselves oriented toward divine law.

    On my view of Crusius, the genuinely free activity found in humans is in the act of selecting and organising drives into this "subjective motivational set" (to borrow a term from Bernard Williams). Their augmented causality makes possible the consequent choice which releases the will's power in an act of doing, not doing, or doing otherwise. This interpretation may additionally supply fresh, attractive foundations that can inform or supplement modern-day approaches to free will and, indeed, philosophy of mind or moral philosophy more generally.

    Building upon this understanding, I will then offer an illuminating perspective on the distinction between internal and external reasons, arguing that we can understand this as tracking the distinction between individual desires and the divine laws toward which fundamental, or basic, desires are oriented.