• Anglo-Saxon: willan, will


  • a rational appetite
  • an elicited appetite, which follows upon intellectual cognition
  • its object is the good apprehended by the intellect

Appetites, whether natural or elicited (elicited, following upon knowledge) tend to the good. Sense-appetite follows upon sense-apprehension of a desirable object; rational appetite follows on intellectual cognition. The object of the will, as of every appetitive power, is the good. The will desires with an absolute natural necessity the good in general, just as the intellect of necessity must conform to the first principles of knowledge. Particular goods the will chooses freely. Man would necessarily adhere to God and whatever is of God, if he had a clear view of the Divine Essence and of the necessary connection of particular goods with Him. This is the case with the Blessed, because they see God clearly. In this life the vision of the Divine Essence is denied us; our will consequently, necessarily wills beatitude and nothing more. We fail to see with compelling evidence that God is the Supreme Good, hence the will in this life does not will necessarily even the Supreme Good. The existence of the will is evident from such well-known factors of our conscious life as voluntary attention, fidelity to good resolutions over a long period, resistance to desires and impulses. The will is a spiritual power, as its ability to desire spiritual objects, e.g., virtue, knowledge, attests. The freedom of the will, which means that its choice cannot be constrained from without, nor necessitated from within (libertus arbitrii) , is a dogma of faith, and a truth evident from reason. Determinists deny the freedom of the will. Their view is tantamount to suppressing in human actions everything that confers on them a meritorious or blameworthy character. We cannot deserve praise or blame for actions which it is not in our power to avoid. If we are necessarily determined to will, then reflection and exhortations, precepts and punishments, praise and blame lose all meaning, and the evident testimony of conscious life is ignored. Will-training is the most important element in education. Education should aim, not at mere knowledge, but at the harmonious development of all the faculties, with a view to the attainment of man’s final end. The will achieves this end by restraining and directing thoughts, feelings, and movements, and by voluntary choice of what is morally good.

MLA Citation

  • “will”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 November 2019. Web. 6 March 2021. <>