Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The World as Will

It's impressively easy to misunderstand the point made in last week’s post here on The Archdruid Report. To say that the world we experience is made up of representations of reality, constructed in our minds by taking the trickle of data we get from the senses and fitting those into patterns that are there already, doesn’t mean that nothing exists outside of our minds. Quite the contrary, in fact; there are two very good reasons to think that there really is something “out there,” a reality outside our minds that produces the trickle of data we’ve discussed.

The first of those reasons seems almost absurdly simple at first glance: the world doesn’t always make sense to us. Consider, as one example out of godzillions, the way that light seems to behave like a particle on some occasions and like a wave on others. That’s been described, inaccurately, as a paradox, but it’s actually a reflection of the limitations of the human mind.

What, after all, does it mean to call something a particle? Poke around the concept for a while and you’ll find that at root, this concept “particle” is an abstract metaphor, extracted from the common human experience of dealing with little round objects such as pebbles and marbles. What, in turn, is a wave? Another abstract metaphor, extracted from the common human experience of watching water in motion. When a physicist says that light sometimes acts like a particle and sometimes like a wave, what she’s saying is that neither of these two metaphors fits more than a part of the way that light behaves, and we don’t have any better metaphor available.

If the world was nothing but a hallucination projected by our minds, then it would contain nothing that wasn’t already present in our minds—for what other source could there be?  That implies in turn that there would be a perfect match between the contents of the world and the contents of our minds, and we wouldn’t get the kind of mismatch between mind and world that leaves physicists flailing. More generally, the fact that the world so often baffles us offers good evidence that behind the world we experience, the world as representation, there’s some “thing in itself” that’s the source of the sense data we assemble into representations.

The other reason to think that there’s a reality distinct from our representations is that, in a certain sense, we experience such a reality at every moment.

Raise one of your hands to a position where you can see it, and wiggle the fingers. You see the fingers wiggling—or, more precisely, you see a representation of the wiggling fingers, and that representation is constructed in your mind out of bits of visual data, a great deal of memory, and certain patterns that seem to be hardwired into your mind. You also feel the fingers wiggling—or, here again, you feel a representation of the wiggling fingers, which is constructed in your mind out of bits of tactile and kinesthetic data, plus the usual inputs from memory and hardwired patterns. Pay close attention and you might be able to sense the way your mind assembles the visual representation and the tactile one into a single pattern; that happens close enough to the surface of consciousness that a good many people can catch themselves doing it.

So you’ve got a representation of wiggling fingers, part of the world as representation we experience. Now ask yourself this: the action of the will that makes the fingers wiggle—is that a representation?

This is where things get interesting, because the only reasonable answer is no, it’s not. You don’t experience the action of the will as a representation; you don’t experience it at all. You simply wiggle your fingers. Sure, you experience the results of the will’s action in the form of representations—the visual and tactile experiences we’ve just been considering—but not the will itself. If it were true that you could expect to see or hear or feel or smell or taste the impulse of the will rolling down your arm to the fingers, say, it would be reasonable to treat the will as just one more representation. Since that isn’t the case, it’s worth exploring the possibility that in the will, we encounter something that isn’t just a representation of reality—it’s a reality we encounter directly.

That’s the insight at the foundation of Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy. Schopenhauer’s one of the two principal guides who are going to show us around the giddy funhouse that philosophy has turned into of late, and guide us to the well-marked exits, so you’ll want to know a little about him. He lived in the ramshackle assortment of little countries that later became the nation of Germany; he was born in 1788 and died in 1860; he got his doctorate in philosophy in 1813; he wrote his most important work, The World as Will and Representation, before he turned thirty; and he spent all but the last ten years of his life in complete obscurity, ignored by the universities and almost everyone else. A small inheritance, carefully managed, kept him from having to work for a living, and so he spent his time reading, writing, playing the flute for an hour a day before dinner, and grumbling under his breath as philosophy went its merry way into metaphysical fantasy. He grumbled a lot, and not always under his breath. Fans of Sesame Street can think of him as philosophy’s answer to Oscar the Grouch.

Schopenhauer came of age intellectually in the wake of Immanuel Kant, whose work we discussed briefly last week, and so the question he faced was how philosophy could respond to the immense challenge Kant threw at the discipline’s feet. Before you go back to chattering about what’s true and what’s real, Kant said in effect, show me that these labels mean something and relate to something, and that you’re not just chasing phantoms manufactured by your own minds.

Most of the philosophers who followed in Kant’s footsteps responded to his challenge by ignoring it, or using various modes of handwaving to pretend that it didn’t matter. One common gambit at the time was to claim that the human mind has a special superpower of intellectual intuition that enables it to leap tall representations in a single bound, and get to a direct experience of reality that way. What that meant in practice, of course, is that philosophers could claim to have intellectually intuited this, that, and the other thing, and then build a great tottering system on top of them. What that meant in practice, of course, that a philosopher could simply treat whatever abstractions he fancied as truths that didn’t have to be proved; after all, he’d intellectually intuited them—prove that he hadn’t!

There were other such gimmicks. What set Schopenhauer apart was that he took Kant’s challenge seriously enough to go looking for something that wasn’t simply a representation. What he found—why, that brings us back to the wiggling fingers.

As discussed in last week’s post, every one of the world’s great philosophical traditions has ended up having to face the same challenge Kant flung in the face of the philosophers of his time. Schopenhauer knew this, since a fair amount of philosophy from India had been translated into European languages by his time, and he read extensively on the subject. This was helpful because Indian philosophy hit its own epistemological crisis around the tenth century BCE, a good twenty-nine centuries before Western philosophy got there, and so had a pretty impressive head start. There’s a rich diversity of responses to that crisis in the classical Indian philosophical schools, but most of them came to see consciousness as a (or the) thing-in-itself, as reality rather than representation.

It’s a plausible claim. Look at your hand again, with or without wiggling fingers. Now be aware of yourself looking at the hand—many people find this difficult, so be willing to work at it, and remember to feel as well as see. There’s your hand; there’s the space between your hand and your eyes; there’s whatever of your face you can see, with or without eyeglasses attached; pay close attention and you can also feel your face and your eyes from within; and then there’s—

There’s the thing we call consciousness, the whatever-it-is that watches through your eyes. Like the act of will that wiggled your fingers, it’s not a representation; you don’t experience it. In fact, it’s very like the act of will that wiggled your fingers, and that’s where Schopenhauer went his own way.

What, after all, does it mean to be conscious of something? Some simple examples will help clarify this. Move your hand until it bumps into something; it’s when something stops the movement that you feel it. Look at anything; you can see it if and only if you can’t see through it. You are conscious of something when, and only when, it resists your will.

That suggested to Schopenhauer that consciousness derives from will, not the other way around. There were other lines of reasoning that point in the same direction, and all of them derive from common human experiences. For example, each of us stops being conscious for some hours out of every day, whenever we go to sleep. During part of the time we’re sleeping, we experience nothing at all; during another part, we experience the weirdly disconnected representations we call “dreams.”  Even in dreamless sleep, though, it’s common for a sleeper to shift a limb away from an unpleasant stimulus. Thus the will is active even when consciousness is absent.

Schopenhauer proposed that there are different forms or, as he put it, grades of the will. Consciousness, which we can define for present purposes as the ability to experience representations, is one grade of the will—one way that the will can adapt to existence in a world that often resists it. Life is another, more basic grade. Consider the way that plants orient themselves toward sunlight, bending and twisting like snakes in slow motion, and seek out concentrations of nutrients with probing, hungry roots. As far as anyone knows, plants aren’t conscious—that is, they don’t experience a world of representations the way that animals do—but they display the kind of goal-seeking behavior that shows the action of will.

Animals also show goal-seeking behavior, and they do it in a much more complex and flexible way than plants do. There’s good reason to think that many animals are conscious, and experience a world of representations in something of the same way we do; certainly students of animal behavior have found that animals let incidents from the past shape their actions in the present, mistake one person for another, and otherwise behave in ways that suggest that their actions are guided, as ours are, by representations rather than direct reaction to stimuli. In animals, the will has developed the ability to represent its environment to itself.

Animals, at least the more complex ones, also have that distinctive mode of consciousness we call emotion. They can be happy, sad, lonely, furious, and so on; they feel affection for some beings and aversion toward others. Pay attention to your own emotions and you’ll soon notice how closely they relate to the will. Some emotions—love and hate are among them—are motives for action, and thus expressions of will; others—happiness and sadness are among them—are responses to the success or failure of the will to achieve its goals. While emotions are tangled up with representations in our minds, and presumably in those of animals as well, they stand apart; they’re best understood as conditions of the will, expressions of its state as it copes with the world through its own representations.

And humans? We’ve got another grade of the will, which we can call intellect:  the ability to add up representations into abstract concepts, which we do, ahem, at will. Here’s one representation, which is brown and furry and barks; here’s another like it; here’s a whole kennel of them—and we lump them all together in a single abstract category, to which we assign a sound such as “dog.” We can then add these categories together, creating broader categories such as “quadruped” and “pet;” we can subdivide the categories to create narrower ones such as “puppy” and “Corgi;” we can extract qualities from the whole and treat them as separate concepts, such as “furry” and “loud;” we can take certain very general qualities and conjure up the entire realm of abstract number, by noticing how many paws most dogs have and using that, and a great many other things, to come up with the concept of “four.”

So life, consciousness, and intellect are three grades of the will. One interesting thing about them is that the more basic ones are more enduring and stable than the more complex ones. Humans, again, are good examples. Humans remain alive all the way from birth to death; they’re conscious only when awake; they’re intelligent only when actively engaged in thinking—which is a lot less often than we generally like to admit. A certain degree of tiredness, a strong emotion, or a good stiff drink are usually enough to shut off the intellect and leave us dealing with the world on the same mental basis as an ordinarily bright dog; it takes quite a bit more to reduce us to the vegetative level, and serious physical trauma to go one more level down.

Let’s take a look at that final level, though. The conventional wisdom of our age holds that everything that exists is made up of something called “matter,” which is configured in various ways; further, that matter is what really exists, and everything else is somehow a function of matter if it exists at all. For most of us, this is the default setting, the philosophical opinion we start from and come back to, and anyone who tries to question it can count on massive pushback.

The difficulty here is that philosophers and scientists have both proved, in their own ways, that the usual conception of matter is quite simply nonsense. Any physical scientist worth his or her sodium chloride, to begin with, will tell you that what we habitually call “solid matter” is nearly as empty as the vacuum of deep space—a bit of four-dimensional curved spacetime that happens to have certain tiny probability waves spinning dizzily in it, and it’s the interaction between those probability waves and those composing that other patch of curved spacetime we each call “my body” that creates the illusions of solidity, color, and the other properties we attribute to matter.

The philosophers got to the same destination a couple of centuries earlier, and by a different route. The epistemologists I mentioned in last week’s post—Locke, Berkeley, and Hobbes—took the common conception of matter apart layer by layer and showed, to use the formulation we’ve already discussed, that all the things we attribute to matter are simply representations in the mind. Is there something out there that causes those representations? As already mentioned, yes, there’s very good reason to think so—but that doesn’t mean that the “something out there” has to consist of matter in any sense of the word that means anything.

That’s where Schopenhauer got to work, and once again, he proceeded by calling attention to certain very basic and common human experiences. Each of us has direct access, in a certain sense, to one portion of the “something out there,” the portion each of us calls “my body.” When we experience our bodies, we experience them as representations, just like anything else—but we also act with them, and as the experiment with the wiggling fingers demonstrated, the will that acts isn’t a representation.

Thus there’s a boundary between the part of the universe we encounter as will and representation, and the part we encounter only as representation. The exact location of that boundary is more complex than it seems at first sight. It’s a commonplace in the martial arts, for example, that a capable martial artist can learn to feel with a weapon as though it were a part of the body. Many kinds of swordsmanship, for example, rely on what fencers call sentiment de fer, the “sense of the steel;” the competent fencer can feel the lightest touch of the other blade against his own, just as though it brushed his hand.

There are also certain circumstances—lovemaking, dancing, ecstatic religious experience, and mob violence are among them—in which under certain hard-to-replicate conditions, two or more people seem to become, at least briefly, a single entity that moves and acts with a will of its own. All of those involve a shift from the intellect to a more basic grade of the will, and they lead in directions that will deserve a good deal more examination later on; for now, the point at issue is that the boundary line between self and other can be a little more fluid than we normally tend to assume.

For our present purposes, though, we can set that aside and focus on the body as the part of the world each of us encounters in a twofold way: as a representation among representations, and as a means of expression for the will.  Everything we perceive about our bodies is a representation, but by noticing these representations, we observe the action of something that isn’t a representation, something we call the will, manifesting in its various grades. That’s all there is. Go looking as long as you want, says Schopenhauer, and you won’t find anything but will and representations. What if that’s all there is—if the thing we call "matter" is simpy the most basic grade of the will, and everything in the world thus amounts to will on the one hand, and representations experienced by that mode of will we call consciousness on the other, and the thing that representations are representing are various expressions of this one energy that, by way of its distinctive manifestations in our own experience, we call the will?

That’s Schopenhauer’s vision. The remarkable thing is how close it is to the vision that comes out of modern science. A century before quantum mechanics, he’d already grasped that behind the facade of sensory representations that you and I call matter lies an incomprehensible and insubstantial reality, a realm of complex forces dancing in the void. Follow his arguments out to their logical conclusion and you get a close enough equivalent of the universe of modern physics that it’s not at all implausible that they’re one and the same. Of course plausibility isn’t proof—but given the fragile, dependent, and derivative nature of the human intellect, it may be as close as we can get.

And of course that latter point is a core reason why Arthur Schopenhauer spent most of his life in complete obscurity and why, after a brief period of mostly posthumous superstardom in the late nineteenth century, his work dropped out of sight and has rarely been noticed since. (To be precise, it’s one of two core reasons; we’ll get to the other one later.) If he’s right, then the universe is not rational. Reason—the disciplined use of the grade of will I’ve called the intellect—isn’t a key to the truth of things.  It’s simply the systematic exploitation of a set of habits of mind that turned out to be convenient for our ancestors as they struggled with the hard but intellectually undemanding tasks of staying fed, attracting mates, chasing off predators, and the like, and later on got pulled out of context and put to work coming up with complicated stories about what causes the representations we experience.

To suggest that, much less to back it up with a great deal of argument and evidence, is to collide head on with one of the most pervasive presuppositions of our culture. We’ll survey the wreckage left behind by that collision in next week’s post.

220 comments:

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. said...

@Chris, when you look at your computer screen what you see is a representation. But "The Internet" is an abstract concept. You can't see, hear or touch the internet itself. You can't hit it with a stick. You have an abstract, intellectual understanding of what it is.

Mallow.

Jon said...

Have you heard of the theory of Emergence? It was formulated in the 19th century and basically says that complex things emerge from the interactions of many simple things and that the attributes of the complex thing can't be determined by studying the simple things. Examples are vibrating strings which create time and space an undeterminable distance away, then subatomic particles emerge immense distances away from these, continuing to quarks, subatomic particles, atoms, etc. Other examples include ants becoming colonies and neurons becoming conscious minds.

To me it always looked like a sciency description of Gary Larson's comic of the blackboard covered with flowchart symbols with squigly lines everywhere leading into one big box labeled 'Then a miracle occurs' and out comes 'The answer.'

Jon.

John Dunn said...

Read and chewed slowly. On the question of will: it is interesting when wills are placed in opposition. For instance, in martial arts, an practice opponent "feels" your attack, counters well, and gives you that gotcha smile. Round two begins. This is one of the great joys of training.

Hubertus Hauger said...

JMG, you say, that life, consciousness, and intellect being the main grades of will. Now I do miss instinct. Like for sexual reproduction or trying to step up towards a top role in ones group settings.

As I understand life to breath, eat, drink, i.e. the primary necessities what is needed to stay alive.
I understand consciousness as the awareness, to observe what happens around you.

Now you need either instinct, to react automatically on the receive signals or your intellect, to gradually learn from the signals, to create individual automatic behaviours.

What do you say?

heather said...

@Scotlyn- Your comment about physical courage being one factor increasing the likelihood of suicide helps me make sense of a radio story I heard a few weeks ago about the very high rate of suicide among police officers, as well as the epidemic rates we hear of among combat veterans. Of course, it goes without saying that both of these groups experience terrible on-the-job stresses and are exposed to death more than the rest of the population, which must often lead to emotional suffering, feelings of isolation, and so on, but to do their jobs they must also have that physical courage which under the right (or rather, terribly wrong) circumstances, allows them to actually follow through on suicidal motivations.
--Heather in CA

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Mallow,

Thanks for the explanation.

Cheers

Chris

Matt said...

Off topic for the current philosophy discussion but an interesting article nevertheless on the role of elites outside of the formal power structure influencing politics, arising due to the process of "elite overproduction" that happens at this stage of the game. Sounds consistent with some of the cyclical analysis people here use. Anyone any comment on the author referenced?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/21/paul-nuttall-ukip-hypocrisy-hillsborough-working-people?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi JMG,

Just thought I might drop in a little comment. I'm enjoying your essay but fear that it is above my head in terms of understanding, but at the same time are fascinated enough to go along with you on your intellectual journey.

I just wanted to give you a completely different perspective on languages.

My experience has been that I learn a language through putting that language to use. Take the word: granite - as an example. I know what is meant by that descriptive word because I have contact with rocks and although the idea of granite is abstract and it does not describe a rock itself, I understand what that type of rock is, because I understand the story behind that type of rock and I know where to find them. They are part of my day to day experience.

A lot of languages are taught, I've noticed by concentrating on the syntax, and to be honest syntax is usually an abstract concept that is applied to a language after the usage of the language has come into common usage. The syntax and structure isn't the language itself, it is an abstract overlay that may approximate some of the language and it is also an attempt to describe the language. I see this in music, mathematics, other languages etc.

Unfortunately for me that syntax and structure overlay is lost on me because I want to know the story behind the abstract concepts and that is the only way that I can recall what all of these things actually mean.

So when you wrote about the abstract concept representation, despite your story, it just didn't lock into my mind as I know that word by its other meanings and I didn’t get the story behind it.

This comment is not intended as a criticism of your writing, I'm just trying to provide an insight for you into how other people go about the process of thinking so that if you see dumb questions and comments it may help you put them into some sort of context.

Another insight for you is that I understand the many rules of language through usage. Those rules are locked into my mind, but if you asked me to describe them to you, I would probably struggle doing so as I've never had the need to do describe them. To me language is a bit like listening to music in that I understand the musical scales as they are generally understood and I can intuit that certain notes being played in the musical composition are "off" and that is as far as I've thought to learn about the process.

Dunno, I just noted that you had a sense of frustration in your "voice" and thought that you might appreciate seeing the world through other peoples eyes.

Cheers

Chris

Phitio said...

From novels about future past, to how much Hillary was doomed,to discuss about economics 101, to plain deep philosophical issues: I love this blog.

Just to clarify, for what it counts, Kastrups' work is plainly based on Shopenhauer

Scotlyn said...

Hi Heather - you may be interested in this paper on the subject - (My paraphrase of it was actually pretty rough, as it was a while since I read it) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3130348/pdf/nihms301351.pdf

From abstract: "We propose that the most dangerous form of suicidal desire is caused by the simultaneous presence of two interpersonal constructs—thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness (and hopelessness about these states)—and further, that the capability to engage in suicidal behavior is separate from the desire to engage in suicidal behavior. According to the theory, the capability for suicidal behavior emerges, via habituation
and opponent processes, in response to repeated exposure to physically painful and/or fearinducing experiences."

Matt said...

Hi JMG,

a couple of things you skate over quite quickly, which seem quite central to the argument.

First, how do we know that our experience of will isn't simply a representation? I accept that it's a possibility, as you say, that we experience will directly, but do we have a strong reason for believing that? Let's say I'm looking at my hand and I happen to have a twitch, so sometimes my fingers move seemingly by themselves, and at other times as a result of my will. It seems to me that I am having some kind of experience of my will in this situation - why can't that simply be another representation that is being integrated into my experience?

Second, the argument as you have represented it seems to centre almost exclusively on what we can experience. Of course as human beings that's incredibly important to *us*, but I don't see why that's the measure of *everything there is*. The argument seems to be: there's only will and representation in our experience, hence that's all there is. But why shouldn't there be something we think of as matter, which is out there, separate from our will and representations, and underlying the seemingly shared experiences we have? Is it just Occam's Razor?

Matt

Ruben said...

JMG and Onething—

Some neuroscientists suggest the lag between decision and action is to allow for Free Won't.

Free Won't: It May Be All That We Have (or Need) | Psychology Today

Gottfried Wilhelm Melvin Hicks-Leibniz said...

John,

I knew you would touch upon the will, but you didn't answer my question from last week's comments edition:

Who or what wills the will?

Thanks ;-)

Patricia Mathews said...

@Ruben - again, archaic science fiction has come up with that concept. Eric Frank Russell's anarchist society in "And Then There Were None," with it slogan "Freedom is the Freedom to Say 'I Won't.'"

llmaiwi said...

I think it's the use of the word "will" that throws me off--it seems to suggest mind or at least a kind of subjectivity. While it may or may not be that the thing-in-itself is mind-stuff, or that it has its own subjective experience, there are other, less anthropomorphic words that he might have chosen.

He might have said, for instance, that the world is "stuff" and "images," or maybe "substance" and "structure," or maybe just "territory" and "maps." I realize I'm poking at a word choice, but I'm curious whether you see a reason that it should be that particular word.

Is there a reason to think that the thing that wiggles your fingers is a grade of the same thing that wiggles the representations?

Candace said...

@ JMG

A couple of weeks ago, I believe another commenter recommended The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. It is an interesting discussion of some of our "windows". So I second the recommendation.

Candace

earthworm said...

Probably too late in the weekly comments cycle, but my confusion arises from how labels are applied and when someone does use a word (as a label), what is actually trying to be communicated.

Isn't 'will' just another label?

If your reply was changed from:

"Earthworm, once again, remember that Schopenhauer is starting from actual human experiences, not the more or less tricky conceptual labels we put on them. He refers to the substrate of being as will because that's how we encounter it in ourselves."

to:

"Earthworm, once again, remember that Schopenhauer is starting from actual human experiences, not the more or less tricky conceptual labels we put on them. He refers to the substrate of being as soul because that's how we encounter it in ourselves."

...the label 'soul' would not be any more or less opaque than the label 'will'.

I am not asking for a definitive description, at best words offer a rough attempt at describing things; what I am trying to do is grasp if your use of words has overlap between the fuzzy concepts of 'soul' , 'essence', 'atman', etc...

Specifically:
"He refers to the substrate of being as will because that's how we encounter it in ourselves.

Not being familiar with Schopenhauer I have not seen 'will' used in this way before. To me, it is the case that I am alive and 'something' seems to perceive and experience things within and without the body. Up until now, the main approaches I have come across for this are based on:
1. Consciousness is a by-product of matter and neuro-chemistry.
2. Consciousness is the way that 'atman' experiences itself through matter.

Regardless, my personal understanding of 'will' has been that 'will', or 'intent' is something that can be expressed or not expressed, rather than it being the fundamental essence.

Of course, that all means nothing much as my labels are just subjective grasping for understanding - an attempt to pattern what may or may not be patternable.

Boiled down? May I am just trying to work out if Schopenhauer and your use of the word 'will' is similar to other labels of the seeming ineffable!

earthworm said...

Or without the extraneous meandering...
Can you talk more about the nature of 'will' and if/how it realtes to ideas such as 'soul'?

ganv said...

" Ganv, I think you're missing the point. What philosophers demonstrated, using their own tools, was that the sort of straightforward faith in the reality of matter that most people have in western societies isn't compatible with our actual experience of the world. Scientists have come to the same conclusion in a different way, by showing that the only set of models that explains all the observed behavior of matter presupposes that matter can't be what we think it is. In both cases, using different tools, the apparent reality is shown to be an illusion."
I think I see what you are getting at. I tend not to go toward the reductionist idea that what is apparent is some kind of illusion. Everyday ideas about continuous matter are very effective in describing our actual experience of the world. Continuum mechanics makes these ideas precise, and helps us know when they will fail. The logical critique from the philosophers that other possibilities existed contributed something. But not the same thing as the empirical observations that showed which more fundamental models should replace continuous matter models for describing atomic phenomena. But the more fundamental and reductionist ideas are not somehow the 'real' story. They are simply another useful model that happens to describe atomic phenomena and can be shown to be consistent with macroscopic models of continuous matter.

. said...

@Gottfried, JMG doesn't answer comments at the very end of the week so you're out of luck.

"Who or what wills the will?"

That seems to me like a kind of X causes Y idea. Very linear. But in the world we're in there is no X that causes Y in any kind of linear fashion.

You are will, in a way. And so is the universe as you can know it. No one will is totally separate from any other. So you are will, you will and will acts through you. I think...

@Ilmaiwi

Epistemology is about what we humans can know. So it kind of has to be anthropocentric when talking about what we know through actual experience. We can't directly experience the world that a cat experiences, so knowledge about the world of a cat must always be limited for us. That must always be a different kind of knowledge.

Mallow.

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