Thursday, May 09, 2013

Will and world


In his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus Wittgenstein wrote: “The world is independent of my will.” (6.373) And he explains it by saying: “Even if everything we wished were to happen, this would only be, so to speak, a favour of fate, for there is no logical connexion between will and world, which would guarantee this, and the assumed physical connexion itself we could not again will.” (6.374) But if this were true, what then is the relation between my will and the world? Is my will then outside the world and is it no part of this world? But this would mean that there is a second world, which contains my will (for my will must exist somewhere). And what is this second world then and what is the relation of my will to it?
Moreover, we can apply Wittgenstein’s reasoning to anything else: the existence of bikes, trees, rocks, and so on. (note the wording, for Wittgenstein says: “The world is everything that is the case. The world is the totality of facts, not of things.” 1.1.1) But what do we mean then when we ask whether there is a free will? What does it mean then that some say that experiments show that we first start to act and only then develop a will to perform the action concerned? (Libet and Wegner, for instance) Reasoning in Wittgenstein’s way, life would not be a part of the world, or at least not of the “primary world” he talks of. And, whether we have a free will or whether we haven’t (but I think we have, at least in some sense), what does acting then involve if it doesn’t mean performing something in the world? There is only one world, and will and willing are a part of it, as does everything there is.

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