What is (or constitutes) a "good will?"

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What is (or constitutes) a "good will?"

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Post by Dimmesdale »

I have been thinking recently about good and evil, and how to judge whether a person as a whole, as well as in a given instance, is good, evil, in neutrality, or some combination of all three.

After mowing the lawn today, it occurred to me that that could be an apt example of what I mean.

My decision to mow the lawn was something I took upon myself. I did it of my own free will. And, if you break down the activity of mowing the lawn, it has a number of parts. As far as I can see, I can parse the activity into the following: deciding upon the action, initiating it, doing it, following through on it, and concluding it. These aspects highlight the nature of goodness in man.

First is, as I have said, the freedom, the choice, to do an action. Any action. Without this preliminary motion of the will, nothing worth doing can be done or may be done. There is no moral value to the action. Even desisting from a bad action is itself a good, virtuous action, and draws its strength from the storehouse of moral free will, and not mere random or mindless action. So is committing to doing the same action over and over again. That requires discipline, but before that, in the bud so to speak, there exists the first motion of the will, to start, to begin, to act in a specific way, with a moral objective.

So my deciding to do an action is part of the moral world. It is not merely a will-o-the-wisp. It runs against the grain of immorality, for example. Say, indolence. Or some other form of resistance. Perhaps cowardice. Even if there is no resistance, so long as one makes a specifically moral action, one is asserting his moral being. Because it does not have no meaning. It follows on the heels of an objective. And that cannot be understated. Without it, an action cannot be birthed, as it were, ex nihilo.

Next, is initiating the action. This may be conflated with deciding to do an action, but it is not the same. When it comes down to actually doing the activity, the deciding is necessary but not sufficient. Deciding surely does initiate in the sense that one commits to doing the action, but it has to be initiated in yet another way. The real initiation is finalizing the act by starting it. By fulfilling the promise, by making good on the commitment. This shows that one is serious. Initiation is concrete. Deciding upon is theoretical. Both are required, but they are not one and the same.

(continuing....)

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Re: What is (or constitutes) a "good will?"

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Post by bluegreenearth »

[Replying to Dimmesdale in post #1]

As far as I've been able to assess, decisions are either determined by reasons or are randomly determined. When you chose to mow the lawn, there was a reason behind that choice. One obvious reason to mow the lawn would be because the grass had grown too long. Therefore, your decision to mow the lawn was determined by that reason. If you had no reason, then taking the action of mowing your lawn would have been randomly determined rather than determined by some reason. Could you have chosen not to mow the lawn? Yes, but that decision would have been determined by a reason or randomly determined as well. One reason to not mow the lawn would have been because it was about to rain in any second. Therefore, had you decided to not mow the lawn, your decision would have been determined by that reason. If you had no reason, then taking the action of not mowing your lawn would have been randomly determined. I'm unable to detect a "freewill" decision in any of these scenarios. However, I'm open to considering your thoughts on this problem.

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Re: What is (or constitutes) a "good will?"

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Post by Dimmesdale »

The third part is doing the action. This is after one starts the action, by continuing with it. This may go underneath the radar for some, but it shouldn’t. There may be some overlap with the second part, the third part not being fully discrete from it, but anyone who has done an activity can attest that there is a marked difference experientially between merely starting it, and doing it in the full sense. This is especially the case in an activity with many parts. Mowing the lawn has many steps, and one may initiate the process, but unless one goes deeper into doing the activity, one cannot properly be said to DO the action of mowing in a holistic or full sense of the word. There are some actions which involve only one step, at least seemingly. Flicking on a light switch, say. But even flicking on a light switch may involve a process in the sense of how one does it. With what level of awareness or mindfulness one does it. Various grades of attention may be brought to the table even with regard to doing such a seemingly simple and isolated action as swatting a mosquito. To DO an action in the fullest sense involves an absorption of the mind and soul, and this involves doing it wholeheartedly and with full attention.

Next, is following through. This is an aspect that follows on the heels of doing, but is separate in the sense that it requires commitment to doing the whole of the action in its successive steps. This involves a kind of loyalty, a kind of determination, to, not get to the finish line, but to press on TOWARD the finish line IN THE DOING of the action…. In that sense, following through requires perseverance and loyalty to the course of the action. It isn’t sufficient to do, one must do with a certain attitude. An attitude that is negative, that is rebellious, that does not WANT to do, in the course of doing, leads to shoddy work and diminishes the general force and vigour of the actions, leading to inefficacious results.

And lastly, is the concluding of the work. To make good on the promise of the whole of the enterprise. This too involves loyalty and a commitment. It involves a certain dedication to the end goal. A fulfillment of the original and final objective. It is loyalty to the end, not the process as in the former case. A making good on the PROMISE. To not let the work be half finished, or partially finished, but to meet a standard of FULLY FINISHED.

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Re: What is (or constitutes) a "good will?"

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Post by Dimmesdale »

bluegreenearth wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:40 pm [Replying to Dimmesdale in post #1]

As far as I've been able to assess, decisions are either determined by reasons or are randomly determined. When you chose to mow the lawn, there was a reason behind that choice. One obvious reason to mow the lawn would be because the grass had grown too long. Therefore, your decision to mow the lawn was determined by that reason.
There is also the reason to make good on an obligation. I want to honor an obligation to my parents, and this is not just an emotion of honor, but a choice to do an action because I choose it for it's own sake. At least, I don't think I am consumed merely by the passion for honor; I am not beholden to it that strongly. It is not random in the sense that it has no objective, that it isn't guided by a principle.
bluegreenearth wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:40 pm [Replying to Dimmesdale in post #1]If you had no reason, then taking the action of mowing your lawn would have been randomly determined rather than determined by some reason. Could you have chosen not to mow the lawn? Yes, but that decision would have been determined by a reason or randomly determined as well. One reason to not mow the lawn would have been because it was about to rain in any second. Therefore, had you decided to not mow the lawn, your decision would have been determined by that reason. If you had no reason, then taking the action of not mowing your lawn would have been randomly determined. I'm unable to detect a "freewill" decision in any of these scenarios. However, I'm open to considering your thoughts on this problem.
I take issue with the notion that it is "random." If there is an objective, a guiding principle, then it is not random. A decision, a true decision, is reflective. It is set into motion by the principle of itself. This is not randomness but following the principle of freedom. This isn't that easy to get across, but I hope you might see that it isn't the matter of a coin flip. A coin flip has no consciousness of itself. A mind does.

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Re: What is (or constitutes) a "good will?"

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Post by Dimmesdale »

At any rate, what does this all have to do with free will? Or what constitutes a "good will?"

Because a good will is constituted of multiple parts. This goes underneath the radar.

Some people say that the only thing necessary for a good will is sincerity, or earnestness, an apologetic attitude, or contrition, or some combination of all these things.

But the intention behind a good will cannot consist only of such good feelings. They may be necessary, but I wouldn't say they are sufficient. Feelings come and go, they are not the barometers for measuring our goodness. The proof is in the pudding, and that pudding is not our inconstant feelings, but something deeper. Some deep formation of the soul. That formation is, I would call, virtue. And virtue, just like the action of mowing the lawn or any other virtuous action, has many parts, many dimensions.

We have to uncover these dimensions within us I'd say. There is so much that goes beneath the surface of even the most casual actions. As I have pointed out in my example. We can dissect and find very meaningful strands of data.

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Re: What is (or constitutes) a "good will?"

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Post by bluegreenearth »

Dimmesdale wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:32 pmThere is also the reason to make good on an obligation. I want to honor an obligation to my parents, and this is not just an emotion of honor, but a choice to do an action because I choose it for it's own sake. At least, I don't think I am consumed merely by the passion for honor; I am not beholden to it that strongly. It is not random in the sense that it has no objective, that it isn't guided by a principle.
What you've described above is the reason that determined your decision.
Dimmesdale wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:32 pmI take issue with the notion that it is "random." If there is an objective, a guiding principle, then it is not random. A decision, a true decision, is reflective. It is set into motion by the principle of itself. This is not randomness but following the principle of freedom. This isn't that easy to get across, but I hope you might see that it isn't the matter of a coin flip. A coin flip has no consciousness of itself. A mind does.
Then the objective or guiding principle was the reason that determined the decision.

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Re: What is (or constitutes) a "good will?"

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Post by Dimmesdale »

bluegreenearth wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 5:06 pm What you've described above is the reason that determined your decision.
I disagree. It (the reason) didn't determine my choice for me, I determined my choice for myself. It is my initiative, my endorsement which causes the decision to be in any sense real or finalized. I could have not, but it is in my power.
Dimmesdale wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:32 pmI take issue with the notion that it is "random." If there is an objective, a guiding principle, then it is not random. A decision, a true decision, is reflective. It is set into motion by the principle of itself. This is not randomness but following the principle of freedom. This isn't that easy to get across, but I hope you might see that it isn't the matter of a coin flip. A coin flip has no consciousness of itself. A mind does.
Then the objective or guiding principle was the reason that determined the decision.
[/quote]

But the difference here, when it comes to freedom, is that I willingly consent to obey a certain guiding principle. That willing consent is not random; it is within my power or sovereignty.

You might say "well, your consent was random." No. It does not feel random to me. I am it's author, not the other way around. I think you are wagging the dog, in other words.

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Re: What is (or constitutes) a "good will?"

Post #8

Post by bluegreenearth »

Dimmesdale wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 6:46 pmI disagree. It (the reason) didn't determine my choice for me, I determined my choice for myself. It is my initiative, my endorsement which causes the decision to be in any sense real or finalized. I could have not, but it is in my power.
That is the illusion of freewill at work. The logic of the matter dictates that "I determined my choice for myself" is the same thing as " I had a reason that determined my choice." Otherwise, you would be saying that you had no reason for making the choice. If you had no reason, then your choice was randomly determined. The answer to the question "What reason did I have in mind at the moment the choice was made?" is what determined your choice.
Dimmesdale wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 6:46 pmBut the difference here, when it comes to freedom, is that I willingly consent to obey a certain guiding principle. That willing consent is not random; it is within my power or sovereignty.

You might say "well, your consent was random." No. It does not feel random to me. I am it's author, not the other way around. I think you are wagging the dog, in other words.
Actually, I wouldn't suggest your consent was random in that scenario. Logic dictates that you you had a reason for consenting to obey a certain guiding principle. Otherwise, if you had no reason to consent, than your decision to consent would have been randomly determined. So, the answer to the question "What reason did I have in mind at the moment I consented to obey a certain guiding principle" is what determined your decision.

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Re: What is (or constitutes) a "good will?"

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Post by Dimmesdale »

bluegreenearth wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:18 pm That is the illusion of freewill at work. The logic of the matter dictates that "I determined my choice for myself" is the same thing as " I had a reason that determined my choice." Otherwise, you would be saying that you had no reason for making the choice. If you had no reason, then your choice was randomly determined. The answer to the question "What reason did I have in mind at the moment the choice was made?" is what determined your choice.
I still disagree. I think that that is a false equivalence you are making, and that it doesn't do justice to the phenomenology of "deciding." When I decide something (specifically of my own free will), I do not merely look to reasons. Not all the time at least. I will admit that very often this is the case, when I am committed, for example, to doing things in a strictly "logical" manner (for example, in being as impartial a judge as I can be in a certain matter.) In that case I may as well be unconscious and "objective" - not looking to myself. But when it comes to for example, whether I want to help someone or not, where the reasons either/or are even or beside the point, there is a third ingredient, besides reasons or randomness. That is my own endorsement. My initiative. My right, to help or not to help. I do not see any reason to mark this off as illusion, anymore than the world is a dream or illusion. You can say it is an illusion, but that is not proof.
bluegreenearth wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:18 pm Actually, I wouldn't suggest your consent was random in that scenario. Logic dictates that you you had a reason for consenting to obey a certain guiding principle. Otherwise, if you had no reason to consent, than your decision to consent would have been randomly determined. So, the answer to the question "What reason did I have in mind at the moment I consented to obey a certain guiding principle" is what determined your decision.
I would still maintain that my own right to exercise my power of freedom is a third ingredient, besides either "randomness" or "reasons." I will admit though that this may go beyond some people's heads, who have no idea of what "sovereignty" is or can't grasp it.

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Re: What is (or constitutes) a "good will?"

Post #10

Post by 2ndRateMind »

Hi, my friend, Dimmesdale,
What constitutes a good will?
I think the answer lies in the question. The solution to the various subjective and objective social ills that afflict us must be good, and their solution must also be willed. I am content to leave the definition of good, and the matter of will, for the forum to discuss. They are both contentious debates.

Best wishes, 2RM.
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