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We discuss Un-Willing: An Inquiry into the Rise of Will's Power and an Attempt to Undo It (2014) with the author, covering Socrates, Augustine, Aquinas, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Sartre, compatibilism, the neurologists' critque of free will, and more.
What is the will? Is it an obvious thing that we all can see in ourselves when introspecting? If so, then why is there so much disagreement in the literature about what it is? (e.g., Is it a causal force or just an epiphenomenon? Is it opposed to desire or the expression of desire? Is it an expression of individuality or is it a trans-personal force à la Schopenhauer?)
Eva (whom you may recall from our Heraclitus episode) thinks that the notion is a historical artificat that causes needless philosophical confusion, and worse, has had a damaging effect on our culture. Read more about the topic and get the book.
End song: "I Insist" by Mark Lint. Read about it.
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Lynda OReilly says
Thanks or having Eva back, what a treasure that lady is! Crystal clear. I listened to the Heraclitus episode some months ago and listened to this new one hoping to be as gratified — yes. Absolutely. It’s a pleasure to listen to you guys anytime but some episodes….
It appears that once you define will in a certain way, it becomes a problem, particularily for the issue of freedom.
However, the reverse is also true, – once you define freedom in a certain way, it becomes an issue for will.
I am not that much of a philosopher and more of a programmer. When this happens, the professional in me says that when two logical structures react in this way to any attempt to define them separately of each other, we are dealing not with different logical structures, but rather with the same structure that resists being pulled apart.
Free will discourse is currently being dominated by contradiction between “free” and “will”. Eva proposes to resolve this contradiction by taking “will” down a peg. But what if the contradiction itself is fiction?
After all, what is will if it is not free and what is freedom if its subject has no will? Seems to me like the relationship between these two concepts is that of logical equivalence, not that of contradiction.
Professor Onion says
Can you talk about Habermas’s communicative action?
Yasmine Alhiane says
Eva Brann is truly amazing. Thanks for having her back.
I greatly enjoyed the discussion of Nietzsche in this episode, but there was a somewhat problematic absence of historical/biographical fact. The discussion seemed to center on Will to Power, but I did not hear anyone bring up his sister’s manipulation of that book. It seemed somewhat ironic when Eva said “once you publish a book anyone can read it” because Nietzsche didn’t publish Will to Power. My respect/fandom of Nietzsche’s philosophy may be leading me to have a more charitable interpretation than I should, but I feel like it’s unfair to treat Will to Power as the culmination of Nietzsche’s thought.
Charles Crawford says
At last! Someone on PEL (namely Eva – alas not one of the hosts) who links all that continental philosophising mumbo-jumbo about The Will to the totalitarian disasters of the C20.
It’s not that Hegel, Nietzsche et al called for or ‘encouraged’ totalitarianism. But they did create a superior intellectual climate in which it was far more likely to be respectable, and so bear some share of intellectual responsibility. See eg Heidegger.
Scott Mead says
Hi, I’m a newcomer to your podcasts. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying them so far, but may I know the reason for having Brann on the show? Initially, I found her ideas quite reasonable, and she sounded like a wonderful person. But, alas, we often confuse mannerism with morality, as she’s a contributor at the Imaginative Conservative – what one may consider a far-right ideology propagator. Or, perhaps, help me convey my question to her as to why she’s contributing to the site? Thanks.
Seth Paskin says
Eva teaches at St. John’s College, where Wes attended and Dylan was faculty. That’s the connection.
Alan Cook says
As to why she contributes to TIC, you might find this of interest: