Will (philosophy)

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Will, or willpower, is a philosophical concept that is defined in several different ways.

Will as internal drive

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche defines will similarly to the "any internally motivated action" usage, but more narrowly. In this sense, will is more a "creative spark," a certain independence and stubbornness.

Idealism: Will as all

In idealist models of reality, the material world is either non-existent or is a secondary artifact of the "true" world of ideas. In such worlds, it can be said that everything is an act of will. Even if you are arrested by the police, this is actually an act of your will, too; if you didn't want it to happen, you could have decided otherwise. This line of thought is seen among proponents of a spiritual or mystical universe such as the Carlos Castaneda , New Thought writers Frank Channing Haddock (The Power of Will) and William Walker Atkinson (Personal Power Volume V: Will Power), and the occult writer Aleister Crowley.

Free Will

The standard use of this term is as a distinction between internally motivated and caused events and external events. Jumping off a cliff would be an act of free will; accidentally falling or being pushed off a cliff would not be an act of free will.

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. More contemporary materialists have introduced into Spinozan causality a notion of randomness, which further negates notions of free will.

For both classical and natural law thinkers, human nature can be divided into three parts, reason, will, and appetite. Reason can be divided into at least two categories, theoretical reason and practical reason. Will can also be divided into two categories, that which pushes away and that which pulls toward (anger and desire). A "free will" here is defined as a "rational appetite." In other words, when a person correctly identifies what "is" or "exists" through theoretical reason, and that person correctly discerns what is perfective and fulfilling of that which exists and therefore how to act according to practical reason, and then does that, one has a free will, or a will capable of overriding and reorganizing the appetite. The materialist view is criticized for being self-contradictory. In other words, the materialist or "naturalist" who does not believe in free will, must consider his actions and consciousness illusory. Since reason and action, under the materialist model are nothing more than what must happen due to cause-effect relationships.

Will as thing in itself

Kant's Transcendental Idealism claimed that "all objects are mere appearances [phenomena]."[1] He asserted that "nothing whatsoever can ever be said about the thing in itself that may be the basis of these appearances."[2] 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.

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