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

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

Post #1

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?"

Post #31

Post by Dimmesdale »

Miles wrote: Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:31 pm
So, whats the deal with the will, "The capacity to act decisively on one's desires." (it's common definition). How does a capacity to act decide anything? Isn't that the thinking part of a mind's job, to decide what desire the will is to act upon and pass that order onto the will?
It is true that we probably haven't defined the will sufficiently for this discussion (although, from a practical point of view, I think knowing what will is should be more obvious than it is generally nowadays, more in the realm of "common sense" but, alas..) Looking at the history of philosophy, there isn't one text-book definition everyone has agreed on. A popular definition is only useful on a surface level. Spinoza, who was a determinist, believed intellect and will are one and the same. Others, like myself, take a different, older view. Personally, I take free will to be an inviolable aspect of oneself, really the central aspect, that a person prizes above all and which gives meaning to her other aspects of life. For example, sex. Bring two people together who wish to have sex, and you get something mutually pleasurable. Take the same people, under different auspices, where one wants and yet another rejects, and you get rape. Consent in that case, acts as a mirror for the inviolability of the will, a type of honor, a type of respect. The two people in my example can be the perfect fit for one another, but unless there is a mutual relationship of respect then no matter how attractive each person is, there can be no headway in the matter of love.

So, I would connect the will to the inherent dignity and worth of a human being. Your dignity is not dependent on any aggregate of factors or attributes. Your value is SINGLE, that is, it is simple and reducible to ONE kind of principle. All else stems from this root of meaning. The meaning itself I would call "love." Love is, in fact, defined by some as "willing the good of the other." So a proper definition of the will should be nested within this larger webwork of related concepts. To reduce it to mere material or mental causation is to do a tremendous disservice to the history of this term in my opinion. It would decontextualize it, and render it as just another impersonal process. Kind of like working in a fast food restaurant.
Dimmesdale wrote:
Miles wrote: .................................What is it within yourself that causes you to do A rather than B?
The more you attempt to reassure me that you are not denying what I'm saying, the more it seems to me you are.
C'mon Dimmesdale. Quit tap dancing and answer the question.


.

[/quote]

I feel I have adequately answered it.

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

Post #32

Post by Miles »

Dimmesdale wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:27 am
Miles wrote: .................................What is it within yourself that causes you to do A rather than B?
The more you attempt to reassure me that you are not denying what I'm saying, the more it seems to me you are.
Dimmesdale wrote:
Miles wrote:
C'mon Dimmesdale. Quit tap dancing and answer the question.

I feel I have adequately answered it.

Then have a good day.

.

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