Blind Will vs. Free Will

Blind will (blind instinct/habit) is the paint and a free will is the painter.

No longer will it suffice for me to say “intentionally” or “wilfully” when what I really mean is “freely”. The words “intention” and “will” must now be qualified with either the word “free” or “blind.” Here’s why.
 [Edit… I think I’ll only be specific when I mean “blind” actually… less trouble… my brain won’t switch over.]

[To clarify: a selfless act is [b]focus[/b]ed on “other” whereas a selfish act is not.] [EDIT: A selfless act is other-inclusive, whether or not the inclusion is focused, whereas a selfish act is other-exclusive, whether or not the exclusion is focused. If we more often focus on other-inclusive, selfless acts, we will more often perform them when focus is difficult. Same deal if we focus more often on other-exclusive, selfish acts. The more focus required to ‘include’, the more selfless (and loving) the act. You might say God is eternally focused. The more focus required to ‘exclude’–the more selfish (less loving). However, as we selfish folk know, once you are good at something, it requires less focus, and doesn’t make it any less selfish. That feeling of it requiring less focus, is what is meant by “hardened heart”. If we get good (or were born good) at focusing on other-inclusive, selfless acts, it will require less focus… like when you are driving somewhere and before you know it, you’re there, and you don’t even remember most of the trip. That’s only a bummer if you wanted to enjoy the trip. Next time pay attention. But the point is, God loves us even if we were born more selfish than other people, even if we put our whole lives up to now into focusing on other-exclusive behaviors. If we think He’ll love us more, or if we think we’re better than everybody else if we focus focus focus on selfless acts, or get so good at selfless acts that we don’t even have to focus anymore–we’ve missed the point. It ain’t about us or how good we are. It’s about love.]

A selfless act is performed by free intention (free will) or by nature (blind instinct) or blind habit.

So, [b]focus[/b] (in this case, [b]focus[/b] directed to the Other) is not necessarily ‘freely’ intentional. [EDIT: yes, it is.]

A selfless act done out of habit conforms to a pattern of past selfless, free intention or blind instinct/habit.

A selfless act done out of instinct does not conform to any past free intention, is not in any way intentional (blind or free). Note the instances when we do what we should (the Law) by nature, but that we cannot live the Beatitudes (which require the full participation of reason) by mere instinct. Prosocial acts require focus on the other—instinctive prosocial focus serves as an example of blind focus. [That sounds wrong… blind focus.] [EDIT: that’s because it is. See first EDIT note.]

Instincts are neutral—are a good (without defect)—it is what we do with them that is moral or immoral. Many Christian authors have written on this.

Struggling against bad habits of how we used to respond to instinctive, habitual and environmental (all are ‘external’ to the internal, free will) stimuli is what is meant by warring with the flesh (the new man in conflict with the old). It is not warring with the instincts (neutral, good), but with immoral ways of responding to them.

As far as we know our blind influences (either instinctive or habitual), we have the power to counteract or choose them freely (the freer our free will). We are most free when our free will is aligned with God’s will (which is Love). And when we freely align our free will with the free will of God and allow Him to love through us, by habit (or perhaps with God’s help) we perform His free will (love) even when there is no time for thought.

I conclude by saying that God is free will (omniscient) [even when He became flesh… He maintained complete unity within the Trinity… Jesus’ will was the Father’s will (love)… and by will I mean free will]. Oh the awesomeness of the most awesome! [C.S. Lewis has more to say on this in his book “Miracles”… how our resurrected bodies will make our wills more free, with less disconnect between our bodies (and the impulses of it) and our wills.]

[edited a few things for clarification]

[this is prob’ly going to be reworked again in the future!]

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About Maryann

Maryann Spikes is the past President of the Christian Apologetics Alliance and now coordinates the CAA Catechism. She blogs at Ichthus77, and loves apologetics and philosophy. In particular she loves to study all things Euthyphro Dilemma and Golden Rule. A para-educator (autism) for five years, she holds a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, an AA in Humanities via Modesto Junior College, and moonlights as a freelancer. You can follow her on Twitter @Ichthus77, connect with the Ichthus77 community on Facebook, or look her up on Google+.
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