Will has the potential to be turned into a fundamental concept through which ethics, epistemology, art, life and politics might be understood. How can we define the idea of will?
I’m sure I’ll find a lot of answers to this in the philosophical literature in time (maybe I should read Schopenhauer). But what I came up with myself, as a preliminary definition, is this:
A system can be said to have will if it makes progress towards some goal state in a wide array of circumstances, circumnavigating obstacles (including other systems with will) to some degree.
Here, progress doesn’t need to be an achievement – progress in the form of maintaining some state should also qualify.
This definition is dependent on definitions of states, progress, circumstances and systems. An intuitive conception of all of these should suffice for the time being.
One of my friends suggested that instead of trying to define will as an intrinsic property of something, it should instead just be understood as a human heuristic, a cognitive tool that we use as a lens through which to view the world. These two views are not incompatible, since the question here becomes: what is the minimal set of attributes that something must have for us to view it through the conceptual lens of “will”?