The Lutheran Reformation

Risto Saarinen

in Weakness of Will in Renaissance and Reformation Thought

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606818
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729614 | DOI:
The Lutheran Reformation

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To understand the philosophical background of Luther’s insights, one needs to outline the positions of his teachers Usingen, Trutfetter, and Staupitz. Usingen in particular follows the Buridanian account of desire and consent, arguing that it is the Catholic view of human action. Luther vehemently argues against this view, coming to the conclusion that human beings naturally follow evil. With the help of the Spirit, however, they can rise to the level of continuous and relatively successful struggle between spirit and the flesh. Luther’s account does not leave room for a philosophical theory of weak-willed character. His colleague Melanchthon moderates Luther’s view to an extent, but it is Joachim Camerarius who reintroduces the philosophical discussion of weakness of will in Lutheranism. His original variant of voluntarism influenced later authors, but the chapter also shows that some other Lutherans like Golius and Heider defend Aristotelian intellectualism. The example of Medea (her love and her rage) and the idea of inner struggle are used prominently by the Lutheran authors.

Keywords: Lutheranism; Humanism; theology; inner struggle; voluntarism; Luther

Chapter.  32231 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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