Origen on the Will

Conference: The Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy (ACERP2022)
Title: Origen on the Will
Stream: Philosophy - Philosophy and Religion
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Yip Mei Loh, Chung Yuan Christian University, Taiwan


No other philosophers quoted Plato so often as Origen, the founder of philosophical theology through his synthesis of philosophy with Biblical exegesis. Contra Celsum II, 16, informs us about Plato’s myth in Republic X, where Plato narrates the fate of man and his choice. It is generally known that volition and mind (nous) are inseparable. Socrates holds that virtue is knowledge (episteme); that is, if one knows what good is, he does good. In brief, knowledge of goodness is necessarily the action of goodness. Likewise, for Origen the choice of the will, being an act of pistis, is related to the act of knowledge. Hence will, knowledge and faith form a triadic relationship. In First Principle Book III, 1, Origen inquires into the main principles of Christian faith for salvation: ‘eph’ hêmin’ (within our own power), ‘to thelein’ (the will) and ‘autexousion’ (self-determination). In this article I discuss Origen’s concept of the will in terms of Plato’s Republic X and Laws X to try to uphold the premise that Origen, in his Peri Archon, does not assert that the devil’s fall is caused by his substance, but by his free choice of will. Hence the first section will discuss the difference between freedom and volition, the second, Origen’s concepts of ‘eph’ hêmin’, ‘to thelein’ and ‘autexousion’ and the third will investigate Origen’s views on previous causes in terms of Plato’s Republic X and Laws X.

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