1
   

Schopenhauer on freedom of the will.

 
 
kennethamy
 
  -1  
Reply Sun 19 Sep, 2010 06:16 pm
@chai2,
chai2 wrote:

kennethamy wrote:

chai2 wrote:

kennethamy wrote:

Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.

The question is this: how (or why) does it follow from the premise (even supposing the premise is true) that we cannot want what we want,


I took this to mean that the thought of wanting something changes the wanted object, so it is no longer what was initially wanted.

When one does not express what they want, the wanted object is in its initial state.


Why would you think it meant that? It certainly does not say that.


Well, in my interpretation, it certainly does.


You think that there are no limits on interpretation, so that however you interpret something, that is its correct interpretation? I am happy you are not an interpreter at the United Nations.
0 Replies
 
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Sep, 2010 06:41 pm
@kennethamy,
Imagine a world in which you've finally revealed to everybody the foolishness of denying freedom of the will. We all got it... we realize how stupid we were. We thank you for showing us the error of our ways. Is that what you want?

0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 05:46 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:
To quote from Einstein's "Credo" (part I):
Quote:
... 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper.

"... [the quote's sentiment] reconciles me with the actions of others": This is a wise sentiment to bear in mind as we observe the decisions and acts of others - that even those come from a place of deep motivation the 'actor' likely doesn't fully comprehend. It doesn't relegate responsibility - not one iota - but it might help in our interpretation, judgments and interaction.

The second part, "... [this] lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously" swings a couple of directions. While I'd hold it needful and productive that we each understand that many of our wants aren't consciously formulated (that they work behind the scenes, to a large extent), the idea that it might free one from responsibility from actions and decisions can lead to a wee bit troublesome conclusion. On the other hand, as taking it to heart can allow one to be more patient with themselves - and by extension, less volatile in temper - it is in that way a positive outlook

Good quoteage, thanks.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 09:12 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

Walter Hinteler wrote:
To quote from Einstein's "Credo" (part I):
Quote:
... 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper.

"... [the quote's sentiment] reconciles me with the actions of others": This is a wise sentiment to bear in mind as we observe the decisions and acts of others - that even those come from a place of deep motivation the 'actor' likely doesn't fully comprehend. It doesn't relegate responsibility - not one iota - but it might help in our interpretation, judgments and interaction.

The second part, "... [this] lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously" swings a couple of directions. While I'd hold it needful and productive that we each understand that many of our wants aren't consciously formulated (that they work behind the scenes, to a large extent), the idea that it might free one from responsibility from actions and decisions can lead to a wee bit troublesome conclusion. On the other hand, as taking it to heart can allow one to be more patient with themselves - and by extension, less volatile in temper - it is in that way a positive outlook

Good quoteage, thanks.


The supposed consequences of believing in free will are one thing. Whether the belief is true is a very different thing. We should not mix them up, nor think that because we think the consequences of the belief are useful that the belief is true. That is called, "wishful thinking". That Einstein mixed up the two issues, and that, moreover, he believes that because he consequences of the belief are useful is only more evidence (if more were needed) that he should have stuck to physics.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 09:40 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:

Khethil wrote:

Walter Hinteler wrote:
To quote from Einstein's "Credo" (part I):
Quote:
... 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper.

"... [the quote's sentiment] reconciles me with the actions of others": This is a wise sentiment to bear in mind as we observe the decisions and acts of others - that even those come from a place of deep motivation the 'actor' likely doesn't fully comprehend. It doesn't relegate responsibility - not one iota - but it might help in our interpretation, judgments and interaction.

The second part, "... [this] lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously" swings a couple of directions. While I'd hold it needful and productive that we each understand that many of our wants aren't consciously formulated (that they work behind the scenes, to a large extent), the idea that it might free one from responsibility from actions and decisions can lead to a wee bit troublesome conclusion. On the other hand, as taking it to heart can allow one to be more patient with themselves - and by extension, less volatile in temper - it is in that way a positive outlook

Good quoteage, thanks.


The supposed consequences of believing in free will are one thing. Whether the belief is true is a very different thing. We should not mix them up, nor think that because we think the consequences of the belief are useful that the belief is true. That is called, "wishful thinking". That Einstein mixed up the two issues, and that, moreover, he believes that because he consequences of the belief are useful is only more evidence (if more were needed) that he should have stuck to physics.

I couldn't agree with you more and am unable to find in that quote anything that suggests Einstein mixed up the two.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 09:59 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

kennethamy wrote:

Khethil wrote:

Walter Hinteler wrote:
To quote from Einstein's "Credo" (part I):
Quote:
... 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper.

"... [the quote's sentiment] reconciles me with the actions of others": This is a wise sentiment to bear in mind as we observe the decisions and acts of others - that even those come from a place of deep motivation the 'actor' likely doesn't fully comprehend. It doesn't relegate responsibility - not one iota - but it might help in our interpretation, judgments and interaction.

The second part, "... [this] lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously" swings a couple of directions. While I'd hold it needful and productive that we each understand that many of our wants aren't consciously formulated (that they work behind the scenes, to a large extent), the idea that it might free one from responsibility from actions and decisions can lead to a wee bit troublesome conclusion. On the other hand, as taking it to heart can allow one to be more patient with themselves - and by extension, less volatile in temper - it is in that way a positive outlook

Good quoteage, thanks.


The supposed consequences of believing in free will are one thing. Whether the belief is true is a very different thing. We should not mix them up, nor think that because we think the consequences of the belief are useful that the belief is true. That is called, "wishful thinking". That Einstein mixed up the two issues, and that, moreover, he believes that because he consequences of the belief are useful is only more evidence (if more were needed) that he should have stuck to physics.

I couldn't agree with you more and am unable to find in that quote anything that suggests Einstein mixed up the two.


"This awareness of the lack of free will....". Apparently, Einstein thinks that Schopenhauer did show that there was no free will, and consequently Einstein believes there is no free will, and consequently it keeps him happy. Now, it is true, I allow, that Einstein does not say that it is because his belief that there is no free will keeps him happy that he believes there is no free will, if that is what you mean. But he certainly indicates that the fact that it does keep him happy inclines him to think that Schopenhauer showed there was no free will. In any case, it is true that Einstein was taken in by the argument.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 01:01 pm
@kennethamy,
I guess if we were all to follow your opinions you would be the only one on earth to have some free will...considering that you don´t, I can´t fault you.
Nevertheless whatever you think Schopenhauer might have meant you come short of demonstrating it...actually want and will might well read as synonyms ! There is no confusion in Schopenhauer´s words but sheer clarity.
(Stubbornness does n´t make Philosophy more orderly... only more poor !)
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 02:54 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:

Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.

Not quite. Schopenhauer wrote: "der Mensch könne tun, was er will, aber er könne nicht wollen, was er will." That can be translated as "man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants" or as "man can do what he will, but he cannot will what he will." Although the verb "wollen" can be translated as "want," in the context it's pretty clear that Schopenhauer meant "will."

kennethamy wrote:
This famous quote is often adduced as an argument against free will

It should be. It is.

kennethamy wrote:
The question is this: how (or why) does it follow from the premise (even supposing the premise is true) that we cannot want what we want, although we can often do what we want, that we do not sometimes have free will? (Which is, I think, Schopenhauer's argument)? Schopenhauer seems to be assuming here that if (or even, "because") it is not up to us what it is we want, but only up to us to do what we want, that we are compelled to want what we want, so that even if we are not compelled to do what we want, we still do not have free will. But how does that follow?

Because we act in accordance with our will. If a thief sees a pile of unattended money in a place where he is certain no one will see him, he can always walk away. But he won't, because he wouldn't even consider that to be an option. Instead, he'll grab the money because he wants to grab it, but he doesn't get to decide whether he'll be the kind of guy who will grab unattended piles of money.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 02:55 pm
@joefromchicago,
Well, that's a horse of a different color then.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 06:17 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

kennethamy wrote:

Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.

Not quite. Schopenhauer wrote: "der Mensch könne tun, was er will, aber er könne nicht wollen, was er will." That can be translated as "man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants" or as "man can do what he will, but he cannot will what he will." Although the verb "wollen" can be translated as "want," in the context it's pretty clear that Schopenhauer meant "will."

kennethamy wrote:
This famous quote is often adduced as an argument against free will

It should be. It is.

kennethamy wrote:
The question is this: how (or why) does it follow from the premise (even supposing the premise is true) that we cannot want what we want, although we can often do what we want, that we do not sometimes have free will? (Which is, I think, Schopenhauer's argument)? Schopenhauer seems to be assuming here that if (or even, "because") it is not up to us what it is we want, but only up to us to do what we want, that we are compelled to want what we want, so that even if we are not compelled to do what we want, we still do not have free will. But how does that follow?

Because we act in accordance with our will. If a thief sees a pile of unattended money in a place where he is certain no one will see him, he can always walk away. But he won't, because he wouldn't even consider that to be an option. Instead, he'll grab the money because he wants to grab it, but he doesn't get to decide whether he'll be the kind of guy who will grab unattended piles of money.


If the thief does what he wants to do (takes the money) and does not even consider not doing so, why does he not take the money of his own free will. Are you supposing that he is somehow compelled to take the money? What reason is there for that supposition? Now, it is true that there are people called "kleptomaniacs" who have the compulsion to steal, and who steal even when they have no reason to steal, and even if they think there is an excellent chance of their being caught. They are not deterred by the prospect of being caught, and will sometimes even steal in plain sight. Now, such kleptomaniacs are very different from ordinary thieves, for when they steal they cannot help themselves, and indeed, they express the experience of stealing contrary to their will. They do not do what they want. In fact, they do what they do not want to do. Now, such people do not fall under Schopenhauer's description of doing what they want to do, but not wanting to do what they want to do. Instead, they don't want to do what they do. They have an inner compulsion. You should not confuse ordinary thieves with kleptomaniacs.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 07:54 pm
I can´t help but notice that still there are to much people who often don´t have a clue on what Identity is all about...something that for the purpose upon the table can be resumed as mandatory and prior to will... in fact, the cause FOR will but not the cause OF will.
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 08:34 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Hey Fil, cool Shopenhauer verbage (look at page 69):

http://www.archive.org/stream/theworldaswillan03schouoft#page/68/mode/2up

The later chapter on the will to live is also interesting.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 08:41 pm
@Arjuna,
Brilliant, small piece of reading ! Thank you for that Arjuna !
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 08:46 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
If the thief does what he wants to do (takes the money) and does not even consider not doing so, why does he not take the money of his own free will. Are you supposing that he is somehow compelled to take the money?

First of all, let me make it clear: I'm not presenting my position here, I'm trying to explain Schopenhauer's.

Second, I don't think Schopenhauer would say that the thief is compelled to take the money. Rather, the thief has no imaginable alternative. As AS noted, he could decide to give away all of his money, but that would be so out of character for him that it would be inconceivable. On the other hand, a saint might decide to give away all of his money, and such an action for him would not be out of character.
0 Replies
 
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 11:30 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:

joefromchicago wrote:

kennethamy wrote:

Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.

Not quite. Schopenhauer wrote: "der Mensch könne tun, was er will, aber er könne nicht wollen, was er will." That can be translated as "man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants" or as "man can do what he will, but he cannot will what he will." Although the verb "wollen" can be translated as "want," in the context it's pretty clear that Schopenhauer meant "will."

kennethamy wrote:
This famous quote is often adduced as an argument against free will

It should be. It is.

kennethamy wrote:
The question is this: how (or why) does it follow from the premise (even supposing the premise is true) that we cannot want what we want, although we can often do what we want, that we do not sometimes have free will? (Which is, I think, Schopenhauer's argument)? Schopenhauer seems to be assuming here that if (or even, "because") it is not up to us what it is we want, but only up to us to do what we want, that we are compelled to want what we want, so that even if we are not compelled to do what we want, we still do not have free will. But how does that follow?

Because we act in accordance with our will. If a thief sees a pile of unattended money in a place where he is certain no one will see him, he can always walk away. But he won't, because he wouldn't even consider that to be an option. Instead, he'll grab the money because he wants to grab it, but he doesn't get to decide whether he'll be the kind of guy who will grab unattended piles of money.


If the thief does what he wants to do (takes the money) and does not even consider not doing so, why does he not take the money of his own free will. Are you supposing that he is somehow compelled to take the money? What reason is there for that supposition? Now, it is true that there are people called "kleptomaniacs" who have the compulsion to steal, and who steal even when they have no reason to steal, and even if they think there is an excellent chance of their being caught. They are not deterred by the prospect of being caught, and will sometimes even steal in plain sight. Now, such kleptomaniacs are very different from ordinary thieves, for when they steal they cannot help themselves, and indeed, they express the experience of stealing contrary to their will. They do not do what they want. In fact, they do what they do not want to do. Now, such people do not fall under Schopenhauer's description of doing what they want to do, but not wanting to do what they want to do. Instead, they don't want to do what they do. They have an inner compulsion. You should not confuse ordinary thieves with kleptomaniacs.


In context, Schopenhauer's comment is neither an argument for nor against "free will". Arguments for "free will" (and/or determinism) are not part of Schopenhauer's metaphysics. Both terms are relatively meaningless within that philosophy.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 11:38 pm
@Razzleg,
Can you gives us a hand and developed that comment a bit further ?
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2010 12:25 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:

Can you gives us a hand and developed that comment a bit further ?


i can try, but take into account that i haven't read Schopenhauer for a few years. Also, as joefromchicago has said, i am merely trying to present an interpretation of the works as i remember them.

For Schopenhauer, will was both an universal principal and unique manifestation. It functionally replaced both the "thing-in-itself" and individual consciousness within a general Kantian framework, thus reconciling the two in a way Kant had not imagined. The modern pragmatic equivalent of the metaphysical "situation" that Schopenhauer describes is the strong anthropic principle. Since both the ontological principle and the ontic examples thereof are substantially, if not functionally, identical, questions of a relationship between the two framed by "freedom from" or "determined by" are not treated by Schopenhauer. Given that he did not treat of such matters, and his works do not provide the grounds for the distinctions that ground each argument, the question of the viability of "free will" is relatively meaningless in Schopenhauer's works.

Perhaps i'm wrong, and he discussed the matter openly in some writing that i'm unfamiliar with. But otherwise, this is my interpretation of his non-position,
0 Replies
 
Razzleg
 
  0  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2010 01:03 am
If one wished one could remove the given statement from context and construct from it an argument for either side of this controversy. But if one opted to do so, it would be necessary to ground the terms at play therein within another context to clarify their general meanings and specific use, and to delineate the warrant for the argument.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2010 07:54 am
@Razzleg,
Razzleg wrote:

kennethamy wrote:

joefromchicago wrote:

kennethamy wrote:

Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.

Not quite. Schopenhauer wrote: "der Mensch könne tun, was er will, aber er könne nicht wollen, was er will." That can be translated as "man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants" or as "man can do what he will, but he cannot will what he will." Although the verb "wollen" can be translated as "want," in the context it's pretty clear that Schopenhauer meant "will."

kennethamy wrote:
This famous quote is often adduced as an argument against free will

It should be. It is.

kennethamy wrote:
The question is this: how (or why) does it follow from the premise (even supposing the premise is true) that we cannot want what we want, although we can often do what we want, that we do not sometimes have free will? (Which is, I think, Schopenhauer's argument)? Schopenhauer seems to be assuming here that if (or even, "because") it is not up to us what it is we want, but only up to us to do what we want, that we are compelled to want what we want, so that even if we are not compelled to do what we want, we still do not have free will. But how does that follow?

Because we act in accordance with our will. If a thief sees a pile of unattended money in a place where he is certain no one will see him, he can always walk away. But he won't, because he wouldn't even consider that to be an option. Instead, he'll grab the money because he wants to grab it, but he doesn't get to decide whether he'll be the kind of guy who will grab unattended piles of money.


If the thief does what he wants to do (takes the money) and does not even consider not doing so, why does he not take the money of his own free will. Are you supposing that he is somehow compelled to take the money? What reason is there for that supposition? Now, it is true that there are people called "kleptomaniacs" who have the compulsion to steal, and who steal even when they have no reason to steal, and even if they think there is an excellent chance of their being caught. They are not deterred by the prospect of being caught, and will sometimes even steal in plain sight. Now, such kleptomaniacs are very different from ordinary thieves, for when they steal they cannot help themselves, and indeed, they express the experience of stealing contrary to their will. They do not do what they want. In fact, they do what they do not want to do. Now, such people do not fall under Schopenhauer's description of doing what they want to do, but not wanting to do what they want to do. Instead, they don't want to do what they do. They have an inner compulsion. You should not confuse ordinary thieves with kleptomaniacs.


In context, Schopenhauer's comment is neither an argument for nor against "free will". Arguments for "free will" (and/or determinism) are not part of Schopenhauer's metaphysics. Both terms are relatively meaningless within that philosophy.


Eh,

Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.

Prize Essay On The Freedom Of The Will (1839)

Does the fact that the quote is from an essay on the freedom of the will make you have second thoughts about whether Schopenhauer is presenting an argument about freedom of the will?
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Sep, 2010 10:36 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:

Prize Essay On The Freedom Of The Will (1839)

Does the fact that the quote is from an essay on the freedom of the will make you have second thoughts about whether Schopenhauer is presenting an argument about freedom of the will?


Haha, oops. Let this be a lesson to me re: speed-reading threads. You are correct, the essay title does give me pause.

But one only long enough to "rationalize" a reposte. Neither the thread title, nor (as Arjuna properly points out) the selected quote lend themselves to making an explicit argument regarding the issue at hand. Given my understanding of the content of The World as Will and Representation, which appeared years before the essay in question, and my slight knowledge of the author of both, it seems unlikely to me that the essay offered an unqualified endorsement of either the concept free will or determinism. i again concede that i might be entirely wrong in my interpretation of the brief quote, but i don't think that its meaning is entirely opaque to me.

That being said, it also seems to me that some of the ambiguity regarding interpreting the selected statement's value or veracity, via rephrasing it into an explicit argument, lies in the ambiguity of the terms involved. Obviously, you owe me no favors, but could you provide either a summary or synopsis of the essay at large, and by thus providing a context for the quote also clarify the unusual usage of the terms involved? Given that, i think both myself and others would be able to to contribute to the thread more profitably.
 

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