Velle malum ex pura libertate: Duns Scoto e la banalità del male
Hannah Arendt e Hans Jonas highlight one specific aspect of Duns Scotus's thought: the wide autonomy that the Franciscan theologian allows to human will. In particular, Scotus admits that the very aim of human behaviour can be freely chosen by man, rather than being (as it was commonly believed at that age) a natural and cogent propensity towards good. In Arendt's opinion Scotus opens the way to modernity, an age in which man is both the producer and the defender of all values, creator of history and responsible for it. Arendt's interpretation is acceptable, however it is necessary to highlight with great care the limits of human freedom, in particular if an evil goal can be found among the freely chosen aims. Scotus strongly denies that evil can be desired for itself: creation is intrinsically positive because being and good can be converted into each other; thus Scotus holds a conception of evil actions that appears surprisingly modern. When Scotus maintains that for man the worse fault is to choose evil for his own freedom, the Franciscan theologian takes leave from the ethical conceptions of his age which blamed sins on the weakness of human will, prone to the external temptations of an errant reason or to the urge of physical passions: in Scotus’s conception, human will has in itself the reasons of sin, traceable in a sort of indetermination due to the constitutive finity of man, which has the power of leading man astray in spite of his autonomy naturally directed towards good. However, with this operation Scotus denies any grandiosity of the evil behaviour. Evil does not prove itself at the highest degree in rationally evil projects; instead, as our experience nowadays shows, evil reflects the senseless emptiness of a human being ready to commit evil actions for the vain achievement of himself as free.
Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
IV (2002) 2
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Guido Alliney, "Velle malum ex pura libertate: Duns Scoto e la banalità del male", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, IV (2002) 2