4. It will be asked how act rising from desire can be voluntary, since desire pulls outward and implies need; to desire is still to be drawn, even though towards the good.
Intellectual-Principle itself comes under the doubt; having a certain nature and acting by that nature can it be said to have freedom and self-disposal- in an act which it cannot leave unenacted? It may be asked, also, whether freedom may strictly be affirmed of such beings as are not engaged in action.
However that may be, where there is such act there is compulsion from without, since, failing motive, act will not be performed. These higher beings, too, obey their own nature; where then is their freedom?
But, on the other hand, can there be talk of constraint where there is no compulsion to obey an extern; and how can any movement towards a good be counted compulsion? Effort is free once it is towards a fully recognised good; the involuntary is, precisely, motion away from a good and towards the enforced, towards something not recognised as a good; servitude lies in being powerless to move towards one's good, being debarred from the preferred path in a menial obedience. Hence the shame of slavedom is incurred not when one is held from the hurtful but when the personal good must be yielded in favour of another's.
Further, this objected obedience to the characteristic nature would imply a duality, master and mastered; but an undivided Principle, a simplex Activity, where there can be no difference of potentiality and act, must be free; there can be no thought of "action according to the nature," in the sense of any distinction between the being and its efficiency, there where being and act are identical. Where act is performed neither because of another nor at another's will, there surely is freedom. Freedom may of course be an inappropriate term: there is something greater here: it is self-disposal in the sense, only, that there is no disposal by the extern, no outside master over the act.
In a principle, act and essence must be free. No doubt Intellectual-Principle itself is to be referred to a yet higher; but this higher is not extern to it; Intellectual-Principle is within the Good; possessing its own good in virtue of that indwelling, much more will it possess freedom and self-disposal which are sought only for the sake of the good. Acting towards the good, it must all the more possess self-disposal for by that Act it is directed towards the Principle from which it proceeds, and this its act is self-centred and must entail its very greatest good.