Will As Thou Wilt


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Eliezer_Yudkowsky

Followup toPossibility and Could-ness

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) said:

"A man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills."

For this fascinating sentence, I immediately saw two interpretations; and then, after some further thought, two more interpretations.

On the first interpretation, Schopenhauer forbids us to build circular causal models of human psychology.  The explanation for someone's current will cannot be their current will - though it can include their past will.

On the second interpretation, the sentence says that alternate choices are not reachable - that we couldn't have taken other options even "if we had wanted to do so".

On the third interpretation, the sentence says that we cannot control our own desires - that we are the prisoners of our own passions, even when we struggle against them.

On the fourth interpretation, the sentence says that we cannot control our own desires, because our desires themselves will determine which desires we want, and so protect themselves.

I count two true interpretations and two false interpretations.  How about you?