Author Topic: How to say "Free will" in Greek?  (Read 4847 times)

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Offline Heorhij

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How to say "Free will" in Greek?
« on: September 22, 2008, 12:03:56 PM »
One reason I'm asking is that in Slavic languages, we use a direct translation from the Latin "libera voluntas," and it just does not quite sound very well... for example, in Russian is is "свободная воля," and "svoboda" and "volya" are actually synonyms in Russian, so it can cause a lot of confusion. In Ukrainian, people can't even agree whether it is "свобідна воля," "самохітна воля," or something else. Maybe the Greek terms could help?

Thanks!
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: How to say "Free will" in Greek?
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2008, 09:34:50 PM »
You know, that's an excellent question! And my answer is: I don't know!
The concept of "free will" is kind of foreign to ancient Greek philosophy, and I'm wondering if this carried on with the Greek Fathers of the Church to some degree.
For example, "free will" is absent from ancient Greek liturature such as The Odyssey and Oedepus Tyrannus in which destiny and fate seem to intermingle with people's choices (for example, King Oedipus makes deliberate choices in order to avoid the fate which the Oracle foretells as his destiny, only to inadvertantly fall straight into his destiny. A similar thing happens in Macbeth where Macbeth makes choices based on what he believes to be the prophecies of the  the "weird sisters", only to find that he fulfills their prophesies in a way he didn't anticipate.
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Offline Apostolos

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Re: How to say "Free will" in Greek?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2008, 04:01:35 AM »
Ozgeorge is absolutely right...as always. However, if by free will you mean man's freedom to either turn towards good, or bad, then there's one Patristic word describing that:
Αὐτεξούσιον (Aftexoosion, a compound word-->αὐτο-, a prefix relating to one's self, and ἐξουσία, to govern or to rule) which, according to st Cyril of Jerusalem, is man's freedom of the will.
According to st John of Damascus, the main and cardinal attribute of our nature is the αὐτεξούσιον:
"Πάσῃ γὰρ λογικῇ φύσει ἐμπέφυκε [ὁ Θεός] τὸ αὐτεξούσιον θέλημα-aftexoosion thelima"
"[God] in every rational natural has implanted free will".
If you want a more "modern" philosophical approach, then ἐλευθέρα βούλησις (elefthera voolisis) in Katharevousa is correct or ελεύθερη βούληση (eleftheri voolisi) in modern, colloquial greek. Both of course, are a direct translation of the latin libera voluntas.
Note: The bold letters suggest the stress

[sorry I had to edit my post]
« Last Edit: September 23, 2008, 04:47:24 AM by Apostolos »
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: How to say "Free will" in Greek?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2008, 09:20:57 AM »
Thank you so much, George and Apostolos!

Can αὐτεξούσιον θέλημα be also rendered as "a will that originates in "self" ("afte")?"
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Offline Apostolos

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Re: How to say "Free will" in Greek?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2008, 10:53:26 AM »
Thank you so much, George and Apostolos!
Can αὐτεξούσιον θέλημα be also rendered as "a will that originates in "self" ("afte")?"
Yes, you're quite right. Αὐτεξούσιον θέλημα is the libertarian free will, subject to my own authority   
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Ὁπλιτικῆς φάλαγγος οἰκεῖον μέλος
ὁ τοῦ βάρους σὺ κλῆσιν εἰληφῶς φέρεις.
Ἧχον τὸν ἁπλοῦν τὸν βάρους ἐπώνυμον
ὁ τοὺς λογισμοὺς ἐν βοαῖς μισῶν φιλεῖ.
Ἀνδρῶν δὲ ἄσμα δευτερότριτε βρέμεις.
Ὧν ποικίλος δὲ τοὺς ἁπλούς ἔχεις φίλους.

Offline Tzimis

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Re: How to say "Free will" in Greek?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2008, 11:13:10 AM »
I think both of you are correct and there is no such thing as free will.  Orthodox theologians "ST. MAXIMOS" stresses a natural will and The Gnome will.  Within Orthodox theology, gnomic willing is contrasted with natural willing. Natural willing designates the free movement of a creature in accordance with the principle (logos) of its nature towards the fulfillment (telos, stasis) of its being. Gnomic willing, on the other hand, designates that form of willing in which a person engages in a process of deliberation culminating in a free choice and derailment of it's natural will.



Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.