Will (philosophy)
Will, in philosophical
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 discussions, consonant with a common English usage, refers to a property of the mind, and an attribute of acts intentionally
Intention is an agent's specific purpose in performing an action or series of actions, the end or goal that is aimed at. Outcomes that are unanticipated or unforeseen are known as unintended consequences....

 performed. Actions made according to a person's will are called "willing" or "voluntary" and sometimes pejoratively "willful". In general, "Will" does not refer to one particular or most preferred desire but rather to the general capacity to have such desiderata and act decisively to achieve them, according to whatever criteria the willing agent applies. The will is in turn important within philosophy because a person's will is one of the most distinct parts of their mind
The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different traditions, ranging from panpsychism and animism to traditional and organized religious views, as well as secular and materialist philosophies. Most agree that minds are constituted by conscious experience and intelligent...

, along with reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

 and understanding
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

. It is one of the things which makes a person who they are, and it is especially important in ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

, because it is the part which determines whether people act, at least when they act deliberately.

One of the repeating questions discussed in the Western philosophical tradition since christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 is the question of "free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

", and the related but more general notion of fate
Fate commonly refers to destiny, a predetermined course of events.Fate may also refer to:* Moirae or Fates, in Greek mythology* Time and fate deities, personifications of time and human fate in polytheistic religions- Film and television :...

, which asks how will can be truly free if the actions of people have natural or divine causes which determine
Determinism is the general philosophical thesis that states that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen. There are many versions of this thesis. Each of them rests upon various alleged connections, and interdependencies of things and...

 them, but which are not really under the control of people. The question is directly connected to discussions of what Freedom
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

 is, and also the "problem of evil
Problem of evil
In the philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is the question of how to explain evil if there exists a deity that is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient . Some philosophers have claimed that the existences of such a god and of evil are logically incompatible or unlikely...

", because it brings into question whether people really cause their own acts.

Classical philosophy

The classical treatment of the ethical importance of will is to be found in the Nicomachean Ethics
Nicomachean Ethics
The Nicomachean Ethics is the name normally given to Aristotle's best known work on ethics. The English version of the title derives from Greek Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια, transliterated Ethika Nikomacheia, which is sometimes also given in the genitive form as Ἠθικῶν Νικομαχείων, Ethikōn Nikomacheiōn...

of Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, 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.

In Book III Aristotle divided actions into three categories instead of two:
  • Voluntary (ekousion) acts.
  • Involuntary or unwilling (akousion) acts, which are in the simplest case where people do not praise or blame. In such cases a person does not choose the wrong thing, for example if the wind carries a person off, or if a person has a wrong understanding of the particular facts of a situation. Note that ignorance of what aims are good and bad, such as people of bad character always have, is not something people typically excuse as ignorance in this sense. "Acting on account of ignorance seems different from acting while being ignorant".
  • "Non-voluntary" or "non willing" actions (ouk ekousion) which are bad actions done by choice, or more generally (as in the case of animals and children when desire or spirit causes an action) whenever "the source of the moving of the parts that are instrumental in such actions is in oneself" and anything "up to oneself either to do or not". However, these actions are not taken because they are preferred in their own right, but rather because all options available are worse.

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
Akrasia , occasionally transliterated as acrasia, is the state of acting against one's better judgment. The adjective form is "akratic".-Classical approaches:...

, "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.

Aristotle also addresses a few questions raised earlier, on the basis of what he has explained:-
  • Not everyone who stands firm on the basis of a rational and even correct decision has self-mastery. Stubborn people are actually more like a person without self-mastery, because they are partly led by the pleasure coming from victory.
  • Not everyone who fails to stand firm on the basis of his best deliberations has a true lack of self mastery. As an example he gives the case of Neoptolemus
    Neoptolemus was the son of the warrior Achilles and the princess Deidamia in Greek mythology. Achilles' mother foretold many years before Achilles' birth that there would be a great war. She saw that her only son was to die if he fought in the war...

     (in Sophocles
    Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

    ' Philoctetes
    Philoctetes or Philocthetes according to Greek mythology, the son of King Poeas of Meliboea in Thessaly. He was a Greek hero, famed as an archer, and was a participant in the Trojan War. He was the subject of at least two plays by Sophocles, one of which is named after him, and one each by both...

    ) refusing to lie despite being part of a plan he agreed with.
  • A person with practical wisdom (phronesis
    Phronēsis is an Ancient Greek word for wisdom or intelligence which is a common topic of discussion in philosophy. In Aristotelian Ethics, for example in the Nicomachean Ethics it is distinguished from other words for wisdom as the virtue of practical thought, and is usually translated "practical...

    ) can not have akrasia. Instead it might sometimes seem so, because mere cleverness can sometimes recite words which might make them sound wise, like an actor or a drunk person reciting poetry. A person lacking self-mastery can have knowledge, but not an active knowledge that they are paying attention to. For example when someone is in a state such as being drunk or enraged, people may have knowledge, and even show that they have that knowledge, like an actor, but not be using it.

Medieval European philosophy

In the Middle Ages, at least in Europe, Aristotelian examples became part of a standard approach to all legal and ethical discussion. The overall movement is known as "Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

" and followers of this standard approach are often referred to as "School men". Much of their discussion on such matters consisted in debates about how to correctly interpret Aristotle, in a way consistent with Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 doctrine and the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...


Early modern philosophy

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
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

 and René Descartes
René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...

 described the human intellect
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

 or understanding as something which needed to be considered limited, and needing the help of a methodical
Methodology is generally a guideline for solving a problem, with specificcomponents such as phases, tasks, methods, techniques and tools . It can be defined also as follows:...

 and skeptical
Skepticism has many definitions, but generally refers to any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere...

 approach to learning about nature. Bacon emphasized the importance analyzing experience in an organized way, for example experimentation, while Descartes, seeing the success of Galileo in using mathematics in physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, 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.

Under the influence of Bacon and Descartes, Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

 made one of the first attempts to systematically analyze ethical and political matters in a modern way. He defined will in his Leviathan
Leviathan , is a sea monster referred to in the Bible. In Demonology, Leviathan is one of the seven princes of Hell and its gatekeeper . The word has become synonymous with any large sea monster or creature...

Chapter VI, in words which explicitly criticize the medieval scholastic definitions:
In deliberation
Deliberation is a process of thoughtfully weighing options, usually prior to voting. In legal settings a jury famously uses deliberation because it is given specific options, like guilty or not guilty, along with information and arguments to evaluate. Deliberation emphasizes the use of logic and...

, 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
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

 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
-People:*Locke , information about the surname and list of people*Locke *John Locke , English philosopher*Matthew Locke , baroque composer*Edwin A...

 and Hume
- People :* Hume * David Hume, a Scottish philosopher, economist and historian* Hume Cronyn, Canadian actor and son of the politician* Hume Cronyn , Canadian politician and father of the actor- In fiction :...

 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
Determinism is the general philosophical thesis that states that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen. There are many versions of this thesis. Each of them rests upon various alleged connections, and interdependencies of things and...

. Spinoza also rejects teleology
A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. The word comes from the Greek τέλος, telos; root: τελε-, "end, purpose...

, and suggests that the causal nature along with an originary orientation of the universe is everything we encounter.

Some generations later, David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

 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
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

 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
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

 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.


Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

's Transcendental Idealism
Transcendental idealism
Transcendental idealism is a doctrine founded by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century. Kant's doctrine maintains that human experience of things is similar to the way they appear to us — implying a fundamentally subject-based component, rather than being an activity that...

 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.


Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

 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
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

 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
On the Freedom of the Will
On the Freedom of the Will was 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...

, 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.

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
Carlos Castaneda
Carlos Castaneda was a Peruvian-born American anthropologist and author....

 , New Thought
New Thought
New Thought promotes the ideas that "Infinite Intelligence" or "God" is ubiquitous, spirit is the totality of real things, true human selfhood is divine, divine thought is a force for good, sickness originates in the mind, and "right thinking" has a healing effect.Although New Thought is neither...

 writers Frank Channing Haddock
Frank Channing Haddock
Frank Channing Haddock was an influential New Thought and self-help author, best known for his series, The Power-Book Library.-Early life and career:...

 (The Power of Will) and William Walker Atkinson
William Walker Atkinson
William Walker Atkinson was an attorney, merchant, publisher, and author, as well as an occultist and an American pioneer of the New Thought movement. He is also known to have been the author of the pseudonymous works attributed to Theron Q...

 (Personal Power Volume V: Will Power).

The concept of Will is especially important to certain Hermetic
Hermeticism or the Western Hermetic Tradition is a set of philosophical and religious beliefs based primarily upon the pseudepigraphical writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus...

 and esoteric
Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, that is, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek , a compound of : "within", thus "pertaining to the more inward",...

 traditions, particularly in the West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 and those mystical
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 practices associated with European ideology. Perhaps most notably, the concept takes on an essential role as the philosophical-spiritual basis of Thelema
Thelema is a religious philosophy that was established, defined and developed by the early 20th century British writer and ceremonial magician, Aleister Crowley. He believed himself to be the prophet of a new age, the Æon of Horus, based upon a religious experience that he had in Egypt in 1904...

 (and its various delineations), an occultic
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

 system of thought developed by the writer-mystic Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley , born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast, was an influential English occultist, astrologer, mystic and ceremonial magician, responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. He was also successful in various other...

: Crowley argued that Will provides for a certain ground of being, as well as the possibility that ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

s such as ceremonial magic
Ceremonial magic
Ceremonial magic, also referred to as high magic and as learned magic, is a broad term used in the context of Hermeticism or Western esotericism to encompass a wide variety of long, elaborate, and complex rituals of magic. It is named as such because the works included are characterized by...

, yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

, and meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

 allow for conscious beings to have direct influence over reality and both the spiritual and metaphysical world. Important to Thelema (the term itself meaning "will") is the notion of a difference between mundane "will" and True Will
True Will
True Will is a term found within the mystical system of Thelema, a religion founded in 1904 with Aleister Crowley's writing of The Book of the Law. It is defined at times as a person's grand destiny in life, and at other times as a moment to moment path of action that operates in perfect harmony...

, the latter of which is the purposed fulfillment of human beings through a process of [largely esoteric] methods employed to achieve self-realization
Self-realization is a self-awakening.Self-realization may also refer to:* Self-Realization Fellowship, worldwide spiritual organization founded by Paramahansa Yogananda...


In related disciplines

Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 also deal with issues of will and "willpower" the ability to effect 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
Akrasia , occasionally transliterated as acrasia, is the state of acting against one's better judgment. The adjective form is "akratic".-Classical approaches:...

, 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
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

's psychology stress the importance of the influence of the unconscious mind
Unconscious mind
The unconscious mind is a term coined by the 18th century German romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge...

 upon the apparent conscious exercise of will. Abraham Low
Abraham Low
Abraham Low , was a Jewish-American neuropsychiatrist noted for his work establishing self-help programs for the mentally ill, and criticism of Freudian psychoanalysis. He was born February 28, 1891 in Baranów Sandomierski, Poland....

, a critic of psychoanalysis, stressed the importance of will, the ability to control thoughts and impulses, as fundamental for achieving mental health.

The sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies was a German sociologist. He was a major contributor to sociological theory and field studies, best known for his distinction between two types of social groups, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft...

, in analysing group psychology, distinguishes between will directed at furthering the interests of the group (Wesenwille or "essential will"), and will directed at furthering individual goals (Kürwille or "arbitrary will").

See also

  • Aboulia
    Aboulia or Abulia , in neurology, refers to a lack of will or initiative and is one of the Disorders of Diminished Motivation or DDM. Aboulia falls in the middle of the spectrum of diminished motivation, with apathy being less extreme and akinetic mutism being more extreme than aboulia...

  • Categorical imperative
    Categorical imperative
    The Categorical Imperative is the central philosophical concept in the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant, as well as modern deontological ethics...

  • God's will
  • Neuroscience of free will
    Neuroscience of free will
    Neuroscience of free will refers to recent neuroscientific investigations shedding light on the question of free will, which is a philosophical and scientific question as to whether, and in what sense, rational agents exercise control over their actions or decisions. As it has become possible to...

  • Vīrya
    Vīrya literally means "state of a strong man" or "manliness." In Vedic literature, the term is often associated with heroism and virility...

  • World as Will and Representation

External links

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