Will, generally, is the faculty of the mind that selects, at the moment of decision, a desire among the various desires present; it itself does not refer to any particular desire, but rather to the mechanism responsible for choosing from among one's desires. Within philosophy, will is important as one of the parts of the mind, along with reason and understanding. It is considered central to the field of ethics because of its role in enabling deliberate action.
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?
The mind is the set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory, which is housed in the brain. It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity's thoughts and consciousness. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions.
Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, establishing and verifying facts, applying logic, and adapting or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, mathematics, and art, and is normally considered to be a distinguishing ability possessed by humans. Reason, or an aspect of it, is sometimes referred to as rationality.
One of the recurring questions discussed in the Western philosophical tradition is that of free will - and the related, but more general notion of fate - which asks how the will can be truly free if a person's actions have either natural or divine causes which determine them. In turn, this is directly connected to discussions on the nature of freedom itself and to the problem of evil.
Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded.
Determinism is the philosophical belief that all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. Deterministic theories throughout the history of philosophy have sprung from diverse and sometimes overlapping motives and considerations. The opposite of determinism is some kind of indeterminism or randomness. Determinism is often contrasted with free will.
The problem of evil is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil with an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God. An argument from evil claims that because evil exists, either God does not exist or does not have all three of those properties. Attempts to show the contrary have traditionally been discussed under the heading of theodicy. Besides philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is also important to the field of theology and ethics.
The classical treatment of the ethical importance of will is to be found in the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle, in Books III (chapters 1-5), and Book VII (chapters 1-10). These discussions have been a major influence in the development of ethical and legal thinking in western civilization.
The Nicomachean Ethics is the name normally given to Aristotle's best-known work on ethics. The work, which plays a pre-eminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics, consists of ten books, originally separate scrolls, and is understood to be based on notes from his lectures at the Lyceum. The title is often assumed to refer to his son Nicomachus, to whom the work was dedicated or who may have edited it. Alternatively, the work may have been dedicated to his father, who was also called Nicomachus.
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he has been called the "Father of Western Philosophy". His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion.
In Book III Aristotle divided actions into three categories instead of two:
It is concerning this third class of actions that there is doubt about whether they should be praised or blamed or condoned in different cases.
Virtue and vice according to Aristotle are "up to us". This means that although no one is willingly unhappy, vice by definition always involves actions which were decided upon willingly. Vice comes from bad habits and aiming at the wrong things, not deliberately aiming to be unhappy. The vices then, are voluntary just as the virtues are. He states that people would have to be unconscious not to realize the importance of allowing themselves to live badly, and he dismisses any idea that different people have different innate visions of what is good.
In Book VII, Aristotle discusses self-mastery, or the difference between what people decide to do, and what they actually do. For Aristotle, akrasia , "unrestraint", is distinct from animal-like behavior because it is specific to humans and involves conscious rational thinking about what to do, even though the conclusions of this thinking are not put into practice. When someone behaves in a purely animal-like way, then for better or worse they are not acting based upon any conscious choice.
Akrasia, occasionally transliterated as acrasia or Anglicised as acrasy or acracy, is described as a lack of self-control or the state of acting against one's better judgment. The adjectival form is "akratic".
Aristotle also addresses a few questions raised earlier, on the basis of what he has explained:
Neoptolemus, also called Pyrrhus, was the son of the warrior Achilles and the princess Deidamia in Greek mythology, and also the mythical progenitor of the ruling dynasty of the Molossians of ancient Epirus.
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than or contemporary with those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides. Sophocles wrote over 120 plays during the course of his life, but only seven have survived in a complete form: Ajax, Antigone, Women of Trachis, Oedipus Rex, Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus. For almost 50 years, Sophocles was the most celebrated playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state of Athens that took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia. He competed in 30 competitions, won 24, and was never judged lower than second place. Aeschylus won 13 competitions, and was sometimes defeated by Sophocles, while Euripides won four competitions.
Philoctetes, or Philocthetes, according to Greek mythology, was the son of King Poeas of Meliboea in Thessaly. He was a Greek hero, famed as an archer, and a participant in the Trojan War.
Inspired by Islamic philosophers Avicenna and Averroes, Aristotelian philosophy became part of a standard approach to all legal and ethical discussion in Europe by the time of Thomas Aquinas.[ citation needed ] His philosophy can be seen as a synthesis of Aristotle and early Christian doctrine as formulated by Boethius and Augustine of Hippo, although sources such as Maimonides and Plato and the aforementioned Muslim scholars are also cited.
Ibn Sina, also known as Abu Ali Sina, Pur Sina (پورسینا), and often known in the west as Avicenna was a Persian Muslim polymath who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age, and the father of modern medicine. Avicenna is also called "the most influential philosopher of the pre-modern era". Of the 450 works he is believed to have written, around 240 have survived, including 150 on philosophy and 40 on medicine.
Ibn Rushd, often Latinized as Averroes, was a Muslim Andalusian philosopher and thinker who wrote about many subjects, including philosophy, theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, Islamic jurisprudence and law, and linguistics. His philosophical works include numerous commentaries on Aristotle, for which he was known in the West as The Commentator. He also served as a judge and a court physician for the Almohad caliphate.
Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. This school of thought, in the modern sense of philosophy, covers existence, ethics, mind and related subjects. In Aristotle's time, philosophy included natural philosophy, which preceded the advent of modern science during the Scientific Revolution. The works of Aristotle were initially defended by the members of the Peripatetic school and later on by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's writings. In the Islamic Golden Age, Avicenna and Averroes translated the works of Aristotle into Arabic and under them, along with philosophers such as Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi, Aristotelianism became a major part of early Islamic philosophy.
With the use of Scholasticism, Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica makes a structured treatment of the concept of will. A very simple representation of this treatment may look like this:
This is related to the following points on free will:
The use of English in philosophical publications began in the early modern period, and therefore the English word "will" became a term used in philosophical discussion. During this same period, Scholasticism, which had largely been a Latin language movement, was heavily criticized. Both Francis Bacon and René Descartes described the human intellect or understanding as something which needed to be considered limited, and needing the help of a methodical and skeptical approach to learning about nature. Bacon emphasized the importance of analyzing experience in an organized way, for example experimentation, while Descartes, seeing the success of Galileo in using mathematics in physics, emphasized the role of methodical reasoning as in mathematics and geometry. Descartes specifically said that error comes about because the will is not limited to judging things which the understanding is limited to, and described the possibility of such judging or choosing things ignorantly, without understanding them, as free will. Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius, considered the freedom of human will is to work toward individual salvation and constrictions occur due to the work of passion that a person holds. Augustine calls will as “the mother and guardian of all virtues”.
Under the influence of Bacon and Descartes, Thomas Hobbes made one of the first attempts to systematically analyze ethical and political matters in a modern way. He defined will in his Leviathan Chapter VI, in words which explicitly criticize the medieval scholastic definitions:
In deliberation, the last appetite, or aversion, immediately adhering to the action, or to the omission thereof, is that we call the will; the act, not the faculty, of willing. And beasts that have deliberation, must necessarily also have will. The definition of the will, given commonly by the Schools, that it is a rational appetite, is not good. For if it were, then could there be no voluntary act against reason. For a voluntary act is that, which proceedeth from the will, and no other. But if instead of a rational appetite, we shall say an appetite resulting from a precedent deliberation, then the definition is the same that I have given here. Will therefore is the last appetite in deliberating. And though we say in common discourse, a man had a will once to do a thing, that nevertheless he forbore to do; yet that is properly but an inclination, which makes no action voluntary; because the action depends not of it, but of the last inclination, or appetite. For if the intervenient appetites, make any action voluntary; then by the same reason all intervenient aversions, should make the same action involuntary; and so one and the same action, should be both voluntary and involuntary.
By this it is manifest, that not only actions that have their beginning from covetousness, ambition, lust, or other appetites to the thing propounded; but also those that have their beginning from aversion, or fear of those consequences that follow the omission, are voluntary actions.
Concerning "free will", most early modern philosophers, including Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke and Hume believed that the term was frequently used in a wrong or illogical sense, and that the philosophical problems concerning any difference between "will" and "free will" are due to verbal confusion (because all will is free):
a FREEMAN, is he, that in those things, which by his strength and wit he is able to do, is not hindered to do what he has a will to. But when the words free, and liberty, are applied to any thing but bodies, they are abused; for that which is not subject to motion, is not subject to impediment: and therefore, when it is said, for example, the way is free, no liberty of the way is signified, but of those that walk in it without stop. And when we say a gift is free, there is not meant any liberty of the gift, but of the giver, that was not bound by any law or covenant to give it. So when we speak freely, it is not the liberty of voice, or pronunciation, but of the man, whom no law hath obliged to speak otherwise than he did. Lastly, from the use of the word free-will, no liberty can be inferred of the will, desire, or inclination, but the liberty of the man; which consisteth in this, that he finds no stop, in doing what he has the will, desire, or inclination to do.."
Spinoza argues that seemingly "free" actions aren't actually free, or that the entire concept is a chimera because "internal" beliefs are necessarily caused by earlier external events. The appearance of the internal is a mistake rooted in ignorance of causes, not in an actual volition, and therefore the will is always determined. Spinoza also rejects teleology, and suggests that the causal nature along with an originary orientation of the universe is everything we encounter.
Some generations later, David Hume made a very similar point to Hobbes in other words:
But to proceed in this reconciling project with regard to the question of liberty and necessity; the most contentious question of metaphysics, the most contentious science; it will not require many words to prove, that all mankind have ever agreed in the doctrine of liberty as well as in that of necessity, and that the whole dispute, in this respect also, has been hitherto merely verbal. For what is meant by liberty, when applied to voluntary actions? We cannot surely mean that actions have so little connexion with motives, inclinations, and circumstances, that one does not follow with a certain degree of uniformity from the other, and that one affords no inference by which we can conclude the existence of the other. For these are plain and acknowledged matters of fact. By liberty, then, we can only mean a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will; that is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may. Now this hypothetical liberty is universally allowed to belong to every one who is not a prisoner and in chains. Here, then, is no subject of dispute.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau added a new type of will to those discussed by philosophers, which he called the "General will" (volonté générale). This concept developed from Rousseau's considerations on the social contract theory of Hobbes, and describes the shared will of a whole citizenry, whose agreement is understood to exist in discussions about the legitimacy of governments and laws.
Kant's Transcendental Idealism claimed that "all objects are mere appearances [phenomena]."He asserted that "nothing whatsoever can ever be said about the thing in itself that may be the basis of these appearances." Kant's critics responded by saying that Kant had no right, therefore, to assume the existence of a thing in itself.
Schopenhauer disagreed with Kant's critics and stated that it is absurd to assume that phenomena have no basis. Schopenhauer proposed that we cannot know the thing in itself as though it is a cause of phenomena. Instead, he said that we can know it by knowing our own body, which is the only thing that we can know at the same time as both a phenomenon and a thing in itself.
When we become conscious of ourself, we realize that our essential qualities are endless urging, craving, striving, wanting, and desiring. These are characteristics of that which we call our will. Schopenhauer affirmed that we can legitimately think that all other phenomena are also essentially and basically will. According to him, will "is the innermost essence, the kernel, of every particular thing and also of the whole. It appears in every blindly acting force of nature, and also in the deliberate conduct of man…." Schopenhauer said that his predecessors mistakenly thought that the will depends on knowledge. According to him, though, the will is primary and uses knowledge in order to find an object that will satisfy its craving. That which, in us, we call will is Kant's "thing in itself", according to Schopenhauer.
Arthur Schopenhauer put the puzzle of free will and moral responsibility in these terms:
Everyone believes himself a priori to be perfectly free, even in his individual actions, and thinks that at every moment he can commence another manner of life ... But a posteriori , through experience, he finds to his astonishment that he is not free, but subjected to necessity, that in spite of all his resolutions and reflections he does not change his conduct, and that from the beginning of his life to the end of it, he must carry out the very character which he himself condemns...
In his On the Freedom of the Will , Schopenhauer stated, "You can do what you will, but in any given moment of your life you can will only one definite thing and absolutely nothing other than that one thing."
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was influenced by Schopenhauer when younger, but later felt him to be wrong. However, he maintained a modified focus upon will, making the term "will to power" famous as an explanation of human aims and actions.
Psychologists also deal with issues of will and "willpower" the ability to affect will in behavior; some people are highly intrinsically motivated and do whatever seems best to them, while others are "weak-willed" and easily suggestible (extrinsically motivated) by society or outward inducement. Apparent failures of the will and volition have also been reported associated with a number of mental and neurological disorders.They also study the phenomenon of Akrasia, wherein people seemingly act against their best interests and know that they are doing so (for instance, restarting cigarette smoking after having intellectually decided to quit). Advocates of Sigmund Freud's psychology stress the importance of the influence of the unconscious mind upon the apparent conscious exercise of will. Abraham Low, a critic of psychoanalysis, stressed the importance of will, the ability to control thoughts and impulses, as fundamental for achieving mental health.
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation, wherein he characterizes the phenomenal world as the product of a blind and insatiable metaphysical will. Proceeding from the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant, Schopenhauer developed an atheistic metaphysical and ethical system that has been described as an exemplary manifestation of philosophical pessimism, rejecting the contemporaneous post-Kantian philosophies of German idealism. Schopenhauer was among the first thinkers in Western philosophy to share and affirm significant tenets of Eastern philosophy, having initially arrived at similar conclusions as the result of his own philosophical work.
In philosophy, idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies which assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In contrast to materialism, idealism asserts the primacy of consciousness as the origin and prerequisite of material phenomena. According to this view, consciousness exists before and is the pre-condition of material existence. Consciousness creates and determines the material and not vice versa. Idealism believes consciousness and mind to be the origin of the material world and aims to explain the existing world according to these principles.
"Bruces' Philosophers Song", also known as "The Bruces' Song", is a popular Monty Python song written and composed by Eric Idle that was a feature of the group's stage appearances and its recordings.
The categorical imperative is the central philosophical concept in the deontological moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Introduced in Kant's 1785 Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, it may be defined as a way of evaluating motivations for action.
German idealism was a philosophical movement that emerged in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It developed out of the work of Immanuel Kant in the 1780s and 1790s, and was closely linked both with Romanticism and the revolutionary politics of the Enlightenment. The best-known thinkers in the movement, besides Kant, were Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and the proponents of Jena Romanticism. Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Gottlob Ernst Schulze, Karl Leonhard Reinhold, Salomon Maimon and Friedrich Schleiermacher also made major contributions.
Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals is the first of Immanuel Kant's mature works on moral philosophy and remains one of the most influential in the field. Kant conceives his investigation as a work of foundational ethics—one that clears the ground for future research by explaining the core concepts and principles of moral theory and showing that they are normative for rational agents. Kant aspires to nothing less than this: to lay bare the fundamental principle of morality and show that it applies to us. In the text, Kant provides a groundbreaking argument that the rightness of an action is determined by the character of the principle that a person chooses to act upon. Kant thus stands in stark contrast to the moral sense theories and teleological moral theories that dominated moral philosophy at the time he was writing. Central to the work is the role of what Kant refers to as the categorical imperative, the concept that one must act only according to that precept which he or she would will to become a universal law.
A hypothetical imperative is originally introduced in the philosophical writings of Immanuel Kant. This sort of imperative is contrasted with a categorical imperative.
Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are mutually compatible and that it is possible to believe in both without being logically inconsistent. Compatibilists believe freedom can be present or absent in situations for reasons that have nothing to do with metaphysics. They define free will as freedom to act according to one's motives.
"Two Concepts of Liberty" was the inaugural lecture delivered by the liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin before the University of Oxford on 31 October 1958. It was subsequently published as a 57-page pamphlet by Oxford at the Clarendon Press. It also appears in the collection of Berlin's papers entitled Four Essays on Liberty (1969) and was more recently reissued in a collection entitled simply Liberty (2002).
Kantian ethics refers to a deontological ethical theory ascribed to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. The theory, developed as a result of Enlightenment rationalism, is based on the view that the only intrinsically good thing is a good will; an action can only be good if its maxim – the principle behind it – is duty to the moral law. Central to Kant's construction of the moral law is the categorical imperative, which acts on all people, regardless of their interests or desires. Kant formulated the categorical imperative in various ways. His principle of universalizability requires that, for an action to be permissible, it must be possible to apply it to all people without a contradiction occurring. If a contradiction occurs the act violates Aristotle's "Non-contradiction" concept which states that just actions cannot lead to contradictions. Kant's formulation of humanity, the second section of the Categorical Imperative, states that as an end in itself humans are required never to treat others merely as a means to an end, but always, additionally, as ends in themselves. The formulation of autonomy concludes that rational agents are bound to the moral law by their own will, while Kant's concept of the Kingdom of Ends requires that people act as if the principles of their actions establish a law for a hypothetical kingdom. Kant also distinguished between perfect and imperfect duties. A perfect duty, such as the duty not to lie, always holds true; an imperfect duty, such as the duty to give to charity, can be made flexible and applied in particular time and place.
On the Freedom of the Will is an essay presented to the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences in 1839 by Arthur Schopenhauer as a response to the academic question that they had posed: "Is it possible to demonstrate human free will from self-consciousness?" It is one of the constituent essays of his work Die beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik.
In early philosophies of psychology and metaphysics, conatus is an innate inclination of a thing to continue to exist and enhance itself. This "thing" may be mind, matter, or a combination of both. Over the millennia, many different definitions and treatments have been formulated. Seventeenth-century philosophers René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Leibniz, and Thomas Hobbes made important contributions. The conatus may refer to the instinctive "will to live" of living organisms or to various metaphysical theories of motion and inertia. Often the concept is associated with God's will in a pantheist view of Nature. The concept may be broken up into separate definitions for the mind and body and split when discussing centrifugal force and inertia.
In philosophy, desire has been identified as a philosophical problem since Antiquity. In Plato's The Republic, Socrates argues that individual desires must be postponed in the name of the higher ideal.
Wonder is an emotion comparable to surprise that people feel when perceiving something very rare or unexpected. It has historically been seen as an important aspect of human nature, specifically being linked with curiosity and the drive behind intellectual exploration. Wonder is also often compared to the emotion of awe but awe implies fear or respect rather than joy.
The 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is known as a critic of Judeo-Christian morality and religions in general. One of the arguments he raised against the truthfulness of these doctrines is that they are based upon the concept of free will, which, in his opinion, does not exist.
Common sense is sound practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge that is shared by nearly all people. The first type of common sense, good sense, can be described as "the knack for seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done." The second type is sometimes described as folk wisdom, "signifying unreflective knowledge not reliant on specialized training or deliberative thought." The two types are intertwined, as the person who has common sense is in touch with common-sense ideas, which emerge from the lived experiences of those commonsensical enough to perceive them.
Aristotle defined inclination in the first paragraph of Metaphysics with the statement "all men by their nature, desire to know." Thomas Aquinas proposed that humans have four natural inclinations - a natural inclination to preservation (life), an inclination to sexual reproduction (procreation), sociability, and knowledge. Inclination in the modern philosophy of ethics is viewed in the context of morality, or moral worth.
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