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

By John Davenport | Go to book overview

Conclusion
The Danger of Willfulness Revisited

[M]any persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

—Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

Opus, November 2004

My defense of striving will as key part of the new existential account of personhood started with the contrast between “Eastern” and “Western” attitudes toward willing in its heroic sense. In fixing the concept of willing to be explained by the existential theory of projective motivation, I argued in chapter 2 that it is possible to formulate a moderate version of the positive “Western” attitude toward heroic willing, which the subsequent existential analysis clarifies and supports. We can now ask whether that analysis has shown that heroic willing can play a positive role in the formation of robust practical identity and a meaningful life.

In taking stock of what the previous chapters imply for our original question, it is clear that some “Eastern” worries that the striving will is too Promethean or violent have been recognized as valid in the limited context of radically evil willing. I also acknowledged that decision may frequently be egoistic, taking its goals from self-interested desires. Yet we have also found several reasons to think that human striving will is not essentially violent, metaphysically rebellious, or inherently bent on misappropriation, illegitimate power, or dominance. While it is not a mere privation or result of ignorance or mere weakness in the face of desires for lower goods, radically evil will is still a deficient mode of the striving will, not its natural state.

-539-

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