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Agency and the Will

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Does physical will or energic feeling as expressed in animal mind and instinctual drive become a power of the self to choose, to decide and to initiate action? It is argued that will has no causal role; rather, it distributes, as conceptual-feeling, into all objects and mental contents. The paper also explores the relation of decision to action and the process through which choices are implemented. While the roots of feeling in instinctual drive appear as a bias of voluntary action by unconscious disposition, the presence of conscious choice implies the possibility of unfettered choosing, and the mitigation of will to feeling allows the allocation of irresistible impulse to measured implementation. Evolutionary and maturational trends individuate will as impulse to a feeling of activity, with action the measure of will in relation to a decisional self. Agency is consciousness of purposefulness but is not a mark of freedom. Free acts occur within the limits of the possible occasioned by the parcellation of core categories to concepts. The muting of impulse to desire, the emergence of a self in a subjective field, and the appearance -- illusory or not -- of a duration that unites past and present in conscious temporal order, are the bases of the belief in free choice. The evolution of feeling from energy, the primitiveness and animal ancestry of drive, the transitive nature of action as process, the ineffability of will and the presumed non-conceptuality of action, account for the sense that will is the closest we come to the in-itself of experience. That is, a felt but objectless experience of will is a contact with energic process in nature and the ground of becoming.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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