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Voluntarism (lat.: voluntas: wantin, the will, the desire; also: arbitrariness) is the school of thought, which regards the will to the difference of the intellectualism (as contrast) and emotionalism as basic facts of the realization (i.e. as epistemological voluntarism) or as a nature, cause of the world-whole (metaphysical voluntarism of Arthur Schopenhauer) and attributes a thinking and feeling to the will (psychological voluntarism is desire against ones will, example: I would do anything for that apple)

The term voluntarism was introduced by Ferdinand Tönnies into the philosophical literature and particularly used by Wilhelm Wundt and Friedrich Paulsen.

Medieval Voluntarism[edit]

Associated with John Duns Scotus, one of the foremost medieval scholastic philosophers. It is generally taken to be the philosophical emphasis on the divine will and human freedom.

Metaphysical Voluntarism[edit]

General agent of the metaphysical voluntarism is Arthur Schopenhauer. The will is not reasonable in its core for him, but more irrationally, useless dark, driveful urge, in relation to which the intellect represents a secondary phenomenon. The will is actually the thing, core and nature of all reality.

This putting out of the drive-detention-vital dynamics has influenced Friedrich Nietzsche (as will to power), Eduard von Hartmann, Sigmund Freud and the philosophy of life.

Realization and Science Theory[edit]

In another context the realization and science theory of Hugo Dingler, which starts with the unavoidable will act (as "I-Here-Now"). The methodical constructionalism of the school of Erlangen and the methodical culturalism of Marburg is to be seen subsequently.


In politics and economics, voluntarism (or voluntaryism) is the idea that human relations should be based on voluntary cooperation and natural law, to the exclusion of any political compulsion.

A journal is published based on this idea: The Voluntaryist. See also

Anarchists often see voluntarism as one core principle for social revolution. Alternate views of a similar idea are in panarchism and in some forms of anarchism, especially individualist anarchism.

See also: An Anarchist FAQ - Why is voluntarism not enough? | anarcho-capitalism | free market | Wendy McElroy.

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