Human Will: Dialogues on the Nature of the Will by Joseph Schrock
This book consists of dialogues concerning the nature of the human will, as well as some discussion of concepts pertaining to a Divine Will. The problems and questions dealt with in this book surround the contrasts between a physicalist approach to the nature of the will versus a mental, metaphysical, and spiritual approach. The debates on these issues are intense and oftentimes passionate. Throughout the book, the imaginary interlocutor, Dennis, passionately defends attempts to reduce the human will to mere brain activity, and he argues that what seems to us like a personal will is no more than the our strongest drives and desires directing our behaviours. The opposing interlocutor, Paul, argues vehemently against this reductionist outlook, and he claims that the common-sense concept of a personal will that possesses some freedom to make genuine choices is precisely the crux of this mystery that we naturally are inclined to think of as our will, as well as our sense of feeling responsible for our choices. Early in the book, a little space is devoted to work done by Benjamin Libet concerning experiments that sought to determine when, where, and how choices really are made. The experiments cast some real doubts on our capacity to will and to initiate actions, but Libet concluded that free will can still exist, given the powers of the individual to veto desires and impulses, once those impulses have welled up into consciousness. Paul and Dennis spend much time debating deep philosophical issues surrounding the nature of consciousness, whether or not it makes sense to reduce consciousness (mind) to mere brain activity, and whether or not science will ever be able to decipher the nature of this wondrous phenomenon well call our consciousness or our mind. This book results from the author’s intense concerns over the nature of human consciousness, the nature of the will, whether or not the will possesses some powers to make free choices, as well as how it is that a human will can be trained, groomed, and developed into a more powerful and effective will. Although the book is highly philosophical, one of the interlocutors, taking a spiritual approach, is powerfully persuaded that free will, responsibility, and a capacity to improve character are all genuine realities for human beings. His opponent, however, seeks valiantly to repudiate such a spiritual and metaphysical worldview, arguing that it is merely the strongest passions in our consciousness that result in driving our “choices”, with no vestige of genuine freedom ever being available to us. Toward the end of the book, Paul makes quite a lot of discussion over his conviction that a Divine Will is the power that gives rise to and undergirds our universe with all life in it. Paul argues that the Divine possesses infinite powers of free choice, but is eternally committed to making only the best choices possible. Dennis, of course, ridicules these efforts, and he argues that science fails to offer any support for any such worldview. This book might well appeal to a fairly diverse readership, ranging from sceptical scientists, materialists, and those who repudiate free will, all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum where devout theists can enjoy and benefit from reading about how the human will can be trained and groomed into stronger and better character. By Paul’s worldview, the will is the “engine and the steering wheel” for the soul — such that the will is the arbiter of conduct and character development. This outlook, then leads to the conviction that our will is the essence of our character. This book might well be unique in its in-depth philosophical and scientific analysis of what constitutes that which we commonly refer to as our “will”. We all think that we can will to take specified actions, but the philosophers would oftentimes ridicule this “naive” viewpoint as philosophically inept and untutored. In this book, such scepticism is challenged.
About the Author: Joseph Schrock
Joseph A. Schrock received a B.A. in philosophy from Mississippi State University (1987); he did coursework toward a B.A. in mathematics (also at MSU) and lacks 4 mathematics courses from completing that degree. The author has come to the conclusion that writing for publication, and further studies in mathematics, logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of religion, etc. are the wisest kinds of endeavours for him to pursue in his search for knowledge, truth, and reality, as well as to seek to apply this education toward service to humanity. The author can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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