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.
Learn more about voluntarism with a free trial on Britannica.com.