Metaphysical or psychological system that assigns a more predominant role to the will (Latin, voluntas) than to the intellect. Christian philosophers who have been described as voluntarist include St. Augustine, John Duns Scotus, and Blaise Pascal. A metaphysical voluntarism was propounded in the 19th century by Arthur Schopenhauer, who took will to be the single, unconscious force behind all of reality and all ideas of reality. An existentialist voluntarism was present in Friedrich Nietzsche's doctrine of the overriding “will to power” whereby man would eventually recreate himself as “superman.” And a pragmatic voluntarism is evident in William James's conception of knowledge and truth in terms of purpose and practical ends.

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Voluntarism can refer to:

  • Voluntarism (action), the use of or reliance on voluntary action to maintain an institution, carry out a policy, or achieve an end.
  • Voluntarism (metaphysics), a philosophical term emphasising the primacy of the will.
  • Voluntaryism, the philosophical position that the only legitimate interactions between and among people are those freely assented to by all parties concerned.

See also

  • Volunteerism, the willingness of people to work on behalf of others without the expectation of pay or other tangible gain.
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