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10. How the Will is Moved

1. The will is the intellective appetite for good, and its natural and necessary drive is towards what is intellectually grasped as good. The will tends towards good in universal, and, in its individual acts, it tends towards good in particular.

2. The good is always the object of the will. But, in particular choices, the particular good envisioned as object does not compel or force the will's act. To say that, in general, the will necessarily chooses good, is merely to say that the will is the will; that is its definition: the intellective power which appetizes good. But to say that the will must necessarily choose this good or that good is never true. Somewhat similarly, we say that a man, to sustain life, must eat food; but to say that a man must eat this or that item of food placed before him, is not true. The will is free and not necessitated in its particular choices, yet each choice is a choice of something as good, that is, as satisfying, as desirable. Now, the will is not a knowing power; the intellect must show it its object and make practical judgment that this object is to be gone after. The will necessarily follows the ultimate practical judgment of intellect in its particular choices, but it is the will which decides in each case whether the judgment shall be ultimate. Thus, though the will necessarily follows the intellect, it is not necessitated by the intellect. In following the ultimate practical judgment of intellect, the will is like the driver of a car who necessarily follows his headlights, but is not necessitated by his headlights. The driver decides upon which precise road the headlights are to shine, and yet he cannot take that freely chosen road except by following the headlights into it. The will must follow the ultimate practical judgment of intellect, but the will decides which judgment shall be ultimate.

3. We have seen that the lower or sensitive appetites may send their influence up into the intellective area, and, when this influence is admitted there, it may work upon the mind's practical judgment and so affect the act of the will. But as long as a man remains sane, this influence is never a compelling influence. For example, no matter how angry a man may be (short of a frenzy that robs him of responsibility and makes him momentarily insane), he can turn the intellect upon motives for restraint and self-control, and so may banish the anger, refusing to be led by it into violence of word or deed.

4. Nor does God move the will to act of necessity in particular choices. God moves all things that move; he moves them to act according to the nature that he gave them. God moves contingent things to act contingently; God moves man's free will to act freely. Under God's movement the will necessarily acts, but it does not act necessarily in the sense that it has no true choice of its object.

"There is nothing which gives greater security to our actions, or more effectually cuts the snares the devil lays for us, than to follow another person’s will, rather than our own, in doing good."
St Philip Neri

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"The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you."
Thomas á Kempis

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"A tree that is cultivated and guarded through the care of its owner produces its fruit at the expected time. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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