By D. F. Pears (eds.)
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Additional resources for Freedom and the Will
If, on the other hand, you say that you can will things to move while disavowing any belief in the possibility of moving them by willing then you are just confused. D. F. P. Yes, we were imagining that someone now, as things are, said he could will things to move in an alleged weaker sense; like William James or Prichard saying that he could will the distant table to slide towards him as easily as he could will to write. If someone who had already shown that he could make tables slide towards him just by willing them to were to say: 'I am trying to will that table to slide towards me, but I can't somehow seem to manage it', the case would be altogether different.
So haven't you got to be able to say just what his willing the book to move consists in,how he does it? J. F. T. I don't think so. Or rather I don't think these two questions are the same. If we ask him how he wills the book to move he may say, 'I don't know. ' Consider: you find by accident that you can serve in table tennis in such a way that the ball doesn't bounce on the other side of the table but runs along it. That you can do this is shown by sufficiently frequent success. But you may be quite unable to see how you do it.
S. But wait a moment. In making this general point about explanation, I think you're ignoring the special difficulty about human behaviour (as I think Warnock did too). People, unlike aeroplanes, often have reason for what they do, and often can say what their reasons are. Well, wasn't the significant feature of the example I produced, not just that this man's neurotic behaviour was abnormal (as Warnock said), but that the reason he gave for it was plainly inadequate? He is frightened, as he tells us - but by something which just isn't really frightening.