Will (or willpower) is a philosophical concept that is defined in several different ways, most broadly as any internally motivated action.
- A willing heart adds feather to the heel,
And makes the clown a winged Mercury.
- Joanna Baillie, De Montfort (1798), Act III, scene 2; in A Series of Plays.
- He that will not when he may,
When he will he shall have nay.
- Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Also in The Loyal Garland. Song 28. "The fool that will not when he may, / He shall not when he wold." Blow the Winds, Heigho! Northumbrian ballad.
- He that complies against his will,
Is of his own opinion still,
Which he may adhere to, yet disown,
For reasons to himself best known.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part III (1678), Canto III, line 547. . Sometimes misreported as "is convinced" instead of "complies", according to Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), p. 11.
- Your will cannot always choose the path; very often the route is determined by chance or by the will of others.
- Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, 2013, p. 11.
- "When a man says he's willin'," said Mr. Barkis, "it's as much as to say, that man's a-waitin' for a answer."
- The readinesse of doing doth expresse
No other but the doer's willingnesse.
- Robert Herrick, Hesperides (1648), Readinesse.
- Der Mensch kann tun was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will.
- Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.
- Variant translations:
- Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.
- As quoted in The Motivated Brain : A Neurophysiological Analysis of Human Behavior (1991) by Pavel Vasilʹevich Simonov, p. 198.
- Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.
- I have known many who could not when they would, for they had not done it when they could.
- François Rabelais, Pantagruel (1532), Book III, Chapter XXVII.
- My will enkindled by mine eyes and ears,
Two traded pilots 'twixt the dangerous shores
Of will and judgment.
- That what he will he does, and does so much
That proof is call'd impossibility.
- "Akrasia" [weakness of will] in rational beings is as common as wine in France.
- John Searle, Rationality in Action, p. 10.
- Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.
- There is in Shaw, as in Gurdjieff and Nietzsche, a recognition of the immense effort of Will that is necessary to express even a little freedom, that places them beside Pascal and St. Augustine as religious thinkers. Their view is saved from pessimism only by its mystical recognition of the possibilities of pure Will, freed from the entanglements of automatism.
- Colin Wilson in The Outsider, p. 292 (1956)
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 871-82.
- The commander of the forces of a large State may be carried off, but the will of even a common man cannot be taken from him.
- Confucius, Analects, Book IX, Chapter XXV.
- There is nothing good or evil save in the will.
- Der Mensch kann was er soll; und wean er sagt er kann nicht, so will er nicht.
- A man can do what he ought to do; and when he says he cannot, it is because he will not.
- Johann Gottlieb Fichte, letter (1791).
- To deny the freedom of the will is to make morality impossible.
- James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects, Calvinism.
- Aber wer fest auf dem Sinne beharrt, der bildet die Welt sich.
- He who is firm in will molds the world to himself.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Hermann und Dorothea, IX. 303.
- The only way of setting the will free is to deliver it from wilfulness.
- J. C. and A. W. Hare, Guesses at Truth.
- All theory is against the freedom of the will, all experience for it.
- The star of the unconquered will,
He rises in my breast,
Serene, and resolute, and still,
And calm, and self-possessed.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Light of Stars, Stanza 7.
- A boy's will is the wind's will.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, My Lost Youth.
- Will without power is like children playing at soldiers.
- Quoted by Macaulay from The Rovers, Act IV. Found in Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin.
- Tu si animum vicisti potius quam animus te est quod gaudias.
- If you have overcome your inclination and not been overcome by it, you have reason to rejoice.
- Plautus, Trinummus, II. 9.
- And binding nature fast in fate,
Left free the human will.
- Alexander Pope, The Universal Prayer, Stanza 3.
- We sought therefore to amend our will, and not to suffer it through despite to languish long time in error.
- Seneca, Of Benefits, Book V, Chapter XXV, Epigram 67.
Life needs for life is possible to will.
- Alfred Tennyson, Love and Duty, line 82.
Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)
- Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
- We lay it down as a first principle — from which we can no more depart than from the consciousness of existence — that man is free; and therefore stand ready to embrace whatever is fairly included in the definition of freedom.
- Archibald Alexander, p. 615.
- There may be some tenderness in the conscience and yet the will be a very stone; and as long as the will stands out, there is no broken heart.
- Richard Alleine, p. 615.
- The true servants of God are not solicitous that He should order them to do what they desire to do, but that they may desire to do what He orders them to do.
- Augustine of Hippo, p. 616.
- Renew my will from day to day,
Blend it with Thine, and take away
All that now makes it hard to say,
"Thy will be done."
- Charlotte Elliott, p. 615.
- Do not let the loud utterances of your own wills anticipate, nor drown, the still, small voice in which God speaks. Bridle impatience till He does. If you cannot hear His whisper, wait till you do. Take care of running before you are sent. Keep your wills in equipoise till God's hand gives the impulse and direction.
- Alexander Maclaren, p. 615.
- What men want is not talent, it is purpose; in other words, not the power to achieve, but the will to labor. I believe that labor judiciously and continuously applied becomes genius. You cannot will to possess the spirit of Christ, that must come as His gift; but you can choose to study His life, and to imitate it.
- Elizabeth Prentiss, p. 615.
- My will, not Thine be done, turned Paradise into a desert. "Thy will, not mine be done," turned the desert into Paradise, and made Gethsemane the gate of heaven.
- Edmond de Pressensé, p. 616.
- Want of will causes paralysis of every faculty. In spiritual things man is utterly unable because resolvedly unwilling.
- Charles Spurgeon, p. 616.