The World Is Will & Communication
Ok, so here is the biggest social problem of them all: humans are, almost by definition, willful creatures. I would argue that it is not our intelligence or our emotionality that makes us unique and special. It is our will.
Few philosophers have properly and directly focused on will. Most notably is “Nietzsche’s Will to Power”. But I place that all in quotes because it is likely that he borrowed/learned from another philosopher whose main work was “The World as Will and Representation/Idea”: Arthur Schopenhauer. But we are not here to debate who said it first, we are here to discuss will directly.
Going beyond philosophy, it is obviously hard for social scientists to study “will” and of itself. What do you test for? A person’s decision-making? What choices did they have in the first place? Some have studied decision-making, and this does in fact seem to be the closest we can get to “will” itself. But what is will anyway?
Will = Idea + Communication
Although there are better ways to define will, this is the formulation that most people are likely to understand most easily. “Will” is a combination of idea and communication in the sense that there must be something to start with. Something concrete yet intangible. Perhaps ephemeral like a momentary thought. An idea. But then, it must interact with something else in some way. It must express itself. Verbally, visually, physically. It doesn’t matter how, the important part is that there must be some communication of the idea, otherwise it can’t even exist in a vacuum (this will be the topic for another article, but in essence it means that someone with an idea must be able to conceive of it by communicating it to himself/herself).
Now, think of the word will. It can have many meanings.
It can be a legal document about what should happen to your “stuff” after death. It can be a verb signaling that something “will” take place in the future or a request for something to happen in the future (“will you please __?”). But all of these, as well as the concept of “will” have one thing in common: intentionality/expectation.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”
In the same way that “correlation is not causation” (a phrase often abused by people trying to sound educated), “causality is not intentionality”. What we mean here is that just because something happened, it does not mean that it was intentional, and just because someone had an intention, it does not mean that they got the result they intended. That is perhaps why the phrase above is so well-known across so many languages. Sometimes you try to do something good and you are labeled the bad guy: sometimes a bad guy is acting purely out of self-interest and s/he is labelled as an angel.
And that is what makes all of this so complicated.
But it is not going to be solved in one short essay. It’s just not.
Logic, Ethics and Philosophy
In the same way that I defined “Will = Idea and Communication”, I am going to do my absolute best to summarize all of the answers into the simplest and most basic of terms. And here they are:
The Logic of 2=1
The Ethic of Sonderbodhi
The Philosophy of Both-Yet-Neither
All of these will eventually come together to help us make sense of the mothership of social problems: morality.
Whether it is politics, religion, law, justice, etc…. we have developed endless systems and methods to determine the morality of human actions. And at the center of it all is, you guessed it: will.
But the problem here is that none of this is as simple as it sounds. There is a reason why logic is not common sense (despite what any ‘smart and logical’ stable genius might tell you). There is a reason why ethics is still very often debated and it is often culture-dependent. And there is a reason why philosophy touches on pretty much all disciplines while still maintaining its own status as one. Many educated folks would argue that philosophy is the parent of all other disciplines which eventually branch off from it (after all, philosophy is by definition the “love of wisdom”).
Regardless of how you feel about philosophy’s status as a legitimate science, just hear me out as I explain all of this in a series of articles.
Who knows, you might have a new understanding of math, physics and social science when we are finished.