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Augustine on second-order desires and persons

Tomas Ekenberg

pp. 9-24

While commentators have noted interesting parallels between Frankfurt's and Augustine's accounts of the freedom of the will, there has been, in this context, little discussion about their respective accounts of personhood. According to Frankfurt, a person is a being capable of forming a certain kind of second-order desires, namely, second-order volitions. In this paper I use Frankfurt's account of desire and the will to elucidate Augustine's concept of person. I argue that for Augustine, freedom of the will construed as control over desires or over the causes of action is not a necessary condition for being a person. Rather, he agrees with Frankfurt, who argues that personhood should instead be spelled out in terms of a certain kind of reflexivity or a conative hierarchy.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-26914-6_2

Full citation:

Ekenberg, T. (2016)., Augustine on second-order desires and persons, in J. Kaukua & T. Ekenberg (eds.), Subjectivity and selfhood in medieval and early modern philosophy, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 9-24.

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