Development of the Will

Next ⇒ Development of Mind


The Will manifests as Objective Good in three levels: prosperity, justice, and eternal bliss.

The nature of a person manifests in three forms of being: feeling, thinking, and willing. Vladimir Solovyov is interested only in their objectifications, unlike the modern mentality which considers these forms of being as merely subjective. The first form Solovyov looks at is willing. The modern mind considers the will only insofar as it reflects personal desires or, in the abstract, as simply the will to power for its own sake. But to regard the will as a positive principle for life, requires that it seeks its objectification, or manifestation, in definite goals, a fortiori, as an objective good.

The objectification of Will takes place in three levels, corresponding to the three castes. In order to achieve any goal, it is first necessary to provide for the existence of persons, which depends on their relationship the external world and the activities required to extract the means for existence. This is the beginning of economic society, whose task is the organization of labour. This task belongs to the Vaishyas who are oriented to the external world. This is the material basis of society. Its primary elementary form is the family, which is based on the division of labour. We saw that the Ancient City was based on extended family relationships, up to the clan.

The next level is concerned with the relationship of people to each other and their interactions as members of a single collective whole. This is political society, or the state, whose task is the organization of workers, and this task is the responsibility of the Kshatriyas. Since there are many states, there is also the problem of international relations between states. These relations are not always pacific, so the Kshatriya caste must also include warriors. However, this does not preclude the possibility of the realization of a universal state, as in the case of the Roman Empire.

The third level is determined by the religious character of a person, or his relationship to the transcendent. Clearly, the ultimate responsibility belongs to the Brahman caste. Solovyov writes:

A person desires not only material existence, which is provided by economic society, and not only lawful existence, which is given to him by political society, but he desires as well an absolute existence, one that is complete and eternal. Only the last of these if a genuine, supreme state of well-being, the summum bonum, with respect to which material goods attained through labour, and economic and formal goods attained through political activity, serve only as the means. Since the attainment of absolute existence, or eternal and blissful life, is the highest goal for everyone alike, this goal necessarily becomes the principle of social union, which may be called spiritual or sacred society.

These considerations may be summarized in the following chart:

Level Society Correspondence Role in development
I Economic society Matter External basis
II Political society Form Means
III Spiritual society Spirit Goal
  • A person must live

    Material prosperity, the fruits of his labour, do not provide a person with well-being for his essential, or True, Will. Economic activity alone is not moral.

  • A person must live with others

    To be moral, the Will must take the form of justice, which is determined by the political society, or the State. Even still, just interpersonal relationships do not produce bliss.

  • A person must relate to the transcendent

    Bliss comes from principles that are outside for the natural and the human worlds.

Solovyov concludes his discussion:

Only that society that is based directly on relations with these transcendental principles can have as its direct objective the well-being of a person in his totality and absoluteness. This is what spiritual society or the church must be.

Here we have a program, as yet still partial since it only concerns the Will, for any attempt at the reformation of the modern world.

  • It must provide for the material well-being of the people, whose fundamental unit is the family, not the individual.
  • It must provide a stable and just political system that also protects against external threats.
  • It must be unified by a common spiritual tradition, since the relationship to the Absolute provides the ultimate meaning to man.

Next ⇒ Development of Mind

2 thoughts on “Development of the Will

  1. Hello, I’m sorry for posting my comment on your last article without reading the article itself. (It was a very weird thing to do, and I think I was in a mental pit devoid of all self-awareness.) I have now read both articles and I think the subject is fascinating.

    I agree with logres that this hierarchy is better than the status quo, but I think democracy is only part of the issue. Human beings respond to the metaphors our teachers fit us into. Economics analogizes human behavior to the physics of a machine. If our society is analogized to a machine by its smartest leaders, then we will act like we are trapped in a machine, and indeed many intellectuals seem to be ruled by this delusion. But if we are meant to be playing a role in a great Will, then we will engage ourselves to express that Will. In your model, flaws in our society come not from the rulers playing with the controls of the machine, but with everyone’s personal lack of understanding of what the Will of their nation is and how they are meant to execute it.

  2. This is perfectly put together – how is it done? But it doesn’t matter. A thought or a question – in a graded hierarchy (replete with caste and with shades of gradation through the human pyramid), wouldn’t it actually be EASIER to relate to others, both immediately above you, and slightly beneath you? Since the difference (although perhaps great in terms of caste) would be not so great in terms of human gradation or circumstance? Barzun thought that democracy had caused a huge suspicion of intellect & endless jockeying for position, since no one “knew where they stood”.

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