The Primacy of the Will and the Love It Produces

  • David Strong
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Following his visit with Imagynatyf, Will encounters a series of characters who respond to his questions in a profoundly distinct way, for example, Anima, Kynde, or Conscience. Their counsel urges Will to consider the affective facets of being and integrate love into his search. Supplanting certain knowledge with this sapiential kind of learning redefines his epistemological expectations. Although love may not possess the same evidentiary type of proof that scientia offers, it holds an epistemic value motivating the individual to take direct action. This value springs from the will and, when properly aligned, should lead one to the divine font of charity. Still, it preserves the individual’s freedom to pursue what he deems most desirable. As a result, Will’s interactions emphasize not only the importance of choice, but also how his eponymous faculty makes the right kind of choices. To explain the will’s ability to draw the necessary distinctions, Scotus posits a theory of dual affections—the affectio commodi (the affection for the advantageous) and the affectio iustitiae (the affection for justice). Because the affectio commodi does not consider possibilities other than its own wants, such as self-preservation and happiness, it cannot govern the other affection. The moderating force exerted by the affection for justice empowers the will with an ethical dimension since it seeks to perform another-centered act, whose goal is not possession or use, but benevolence and charity. These will-acts are not constrained by reason’s dictates and, when channeled properly, produce an inclination to love selflessly. This chapter, therefore, examines how the personified figures in the fifth and succeeding visions refine Will’s intellectual endeavors through charity. The interconnection between these two modes of knowing highlights both the dénouement of his journey and the will’s primacy.


Free Choice High Good Rational Potency Free Decision Esthetic Response 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Strong
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Literature & LanguagesThe University of Texas at TylerTylerUSA

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