Will as Commitment and Resolve: An Existential Account of Creativity, Love, Virtue, and Happiness

By John Davenport | Go to book overview

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The main ideas for this project grew out of the first half of my 1998 dissertation, which was titled Self and Will and directed by Karl Ameriks at the University of Notre Dame. However, less than a third of this book has any parallel in my Ph.D. thesis, so Karl is certainly not to blame for any problems. Although my argument is closely related to Kant’s critique of the eudaimonist view that happiness is the proper function of human reason (and thus of human nature generally), the historical analyses and my theory of projective motivation go beyond anything found in Kant, and so the great German deontologist is the subject of only one episode in this story. Still, Karl’s criticisms and advice were an indispensable help in formulating some of the initial ideas for this theory.

Among so many others who provided encouragement and questions, I want to single out for special thanks David Solomon, Fred Dallmayr, and Stephen Watson. The discussions of Kant, virtue ethics, and Levinas owe a great deal to their insights—and indeed, my conception of the will can be regarded as a development and expansion of Levinas’s notion of metaphysical desire. In addition, my intellectual debts to Alasdair MacIntyre are too enormous and obvious to need stating. Though he must disagree with much of this work, I hope to have added in some small way to the new dialogue among traditions that he started. The other great debt in this work, as in much of what I have published, is to Harry Frankfurt. Here I can only repeat MacIntyre’s refrain that constructive criticism of a philosopher’s work is the greatest compliment one can pay.

Although this book does not discuss Kierkegaard at any length, the inspiration of countless Kierkegaard scholars stands behind it. In particular, I would like to express special appreciation to Edward Mooney, who has helped through the years in too many ways to name, including many valuable suggestions on how to make this work more readable. MacIntyre was right when he wrote that giving can never be equally reciprocal and we can only hope to pass on to others in the future the great benefits of generosity that we have received. It is also a pleasure to thank my colleague Merold

-xvi-

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