Habitus or Affectio: The Will and Its Orientation in Augustine, Anselm, and Duns Scotus

  • Kristell TregoEmail author
Part of the Historical-Analytical Studies on Nature, Mind and Action book series (HSNA, volume 7)


The concept of hexis, in Latin habitus, is of great importance in Aristotle’s ethics. In this paper, I ask the question whether habitus has its place, and which one it is, when the will is said to be free. I examine the doctrines of three thinkers in whose thought the idea of the freedom of the will occupies a crucial place. Firstly, Augustine knows the moral sense of habitus, but does not use it to explain freedom; reading the Categories, he understands that the term “habitus” refers to an accident, and uses this concept to explain modification. Secondly, describing the will, Anselm favours the word affectio, which designates (in the Aristotelian doctrine of the categories) a disposition which is not permanent; indeed, Anselm focuses on the dependence of the rational creature. Finally, Duns Scotus uses the Aristotelian concept of habitus, when he shows how the will, which is a rational power, determines itself freely. Thus, it can be said that Aristotle was a central and unavoidable source for the medieval developments of the concept of habitus and its use in relation with the doctrine of the will.


Habitus Affectio Categories Power Freedom 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de philosophieUniversité Clermont AuvergneClermont-FerrandFrance

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