“As ordinary people, we are addicted to habits, lifestyles, customs, that need to be repaired” (ibid, 170). As we can see in this excerpt, the issue here has to do with behaviour and habits, that is, a specific way of action. The will is unable to function for now, that is, it doesn’t obey to my goals since, as we said, it’s responsible for our behaviour that is based on “customs and bad habits” which “need to be repaired.” It cannot be controlled or directed. Therefore, as I am right now, I am unable to control or direct it according to my purpose. A person whose will is uncontrolled and blind cannot have any self-control. They are therefore dominated and directed, as entire beings, by weaknesses, passions, habits, etc. The will, as it is right now, is blinded and “leads the subject to its Spirit’s unstableness and indecisiveness” (ibid, 170). “That spiritual unstableness and indecisiveness is what we call stultitia-foolishness.” Therefore, stultitia is a condition under which “one doesn’t take care of themselves.” I’d say that no one can take care of themselves, because they don’t have the necessary will. The power of will which is necessary for the care of the self is something very primal, equal to zero. Stultitia is “in a way the opposite pole of the care of the self.” “Stultus-foolish are those who doesn’t take care of themselves.” “Those who are exposed to all external temptations, who are open to the external world, that is, those who allow all representations coming from the outside world to enter their Spirit” […] “without controlling them […], unable to set the limits” (ibid, 172). The stultus-foolish are, in my opinion, those exposed not only to external temptations or representations that the world offers to anybody but also to inner temptations: desires, pleasure, longings, bad habits, etc. But if they had (developed) their will, they wouldn’t be exposed to them and wouldn’t allow neither the external nor the inner representations to invade easily and conquer their Spirit. But “in conclusion, the stultus is also cleaved with the time, dispersed, which means that they’re open not only in relation to the world’s multiformity but also dispersed in (their) time. They don’t remember anything, they let their life slip by, they don’t mind giving their life a continuity by always keeping in mind what has value.” And they don’t “direct their attention, their will to one specific and precisely defined target.” We see that Foucault uses terms such as attention, will and I think that he sees correctly. So, this is a different attention from that of the stultus-foolish when one uses their will for their goal. It is the attention where the subject supersedes the objective world and its appearances, thus perceives said attention as something more, which means that they see it as power and energy. Later on: “The stultus-foolish let their lives flow uncontrollably, constantly changing their opinion. Their life, their existence flows by without memory and their will without direction” (ibid, 172). And also: “The foolish does not take into consideration their age and does not think of life’s limitedness” (ibid, 172). The stultus-foolish is the one showing “that openness to the outside world and that waste of time,” because as Foucault, that is, Seneca says: “the stultus-foolish in question is unable to want in moderation.” Earlier, we saw Foucault (Seneca) saying that the foolish cannot direct their attention toward one specific and precisely defined target. I’d like to add here that the stultus-foolish are unable to follow their goal to its completion because, as we said, at the moment they don’t actually have their will (developed). Foucault says the same thing later on when he describes the qualities of the stultus-foolish according to Seneca: “the life of the stultus-foolish, their existence flows by without memory and their will without direction.” Of course, he means without memory of their experience so that they learn from it not to make the same mistake they already did one or more times, and every time the same and for the same reason.
It is an undeniable fact that we don’t learn from the experiences of our past and, in my opinion, that happens because we try to remember the experience just by thinking it. Another way to remember the past is by reliving it as if it happened at this very moment. This way, we can regain the knowledge of past experiences, that is, remember it. On the other hand, even if we remember the knowledge from that experience and have it ready in our memory, most times we lack the power, the strong will needed to turn it into action.
The procedure to develop and purify our will through techniques and practices leads us to the knowledge and the power. That is the knowledge of all the “entities” that constitute our Being in its entirety; and since our will is responsible for the ways we exist, that is, for the beings that we are, our will consists of the same elements. Through change, we clean and liberate our will and through this, we metamorphose ourselves. This means that we become the opposite of the stultus-foolish that we used to be and consequently all the opposites of the characteristics we described as characteristics of the stultus-foolish. We saw what Seneca said about the foolish: that they were the ones “without will” who “cannot want in moderation.” And why don’t they want in moderation? Because, as Foucault and Seneca say: “The stultus’ will is an enslaved will that has been compromised and thus doesn’t always want.” Of course, that is true. Unfortunately, philosophers – and among them Foucault – stay at the simple recognition and verification of that truth. And they do it, in my opinion, because they consider will as another meaning of logic, a mere word that as such should obey logic’s principles and terms. Unfortunately, though, as everyone knows, we cannot direct or lead our will where we want it and dominate over it with just one thought or word. We can dominate our will, that is, ourselves only if we have it. One can control a power only by using another power and not with a thought or word. The thing that must guide the thought or word is the power and it becomes the true reason, as we’ll see later in this paper.
In my opinion, what happens in the human soul and spirit is a real human tragedy, but without the deus ex machina. All us humans are stulti-foolish. All people want while at the same time, they don’t have their will. And, in my opinion, this happens because as humans we didn’t spend time to find ways about how we could develop, that is, strengthen our will. We always thought that we could manage everything just by thinking it. In the 600 pages of Foucault’s book, while his syllogism tends to value the practice more than the theory, seeing only in the practice the possibility for the subject to change so that they become subject of practice, as he calls it, he however devotes no more than two pages to the will which is the only power we dispose of if we want to act and behave as we wish; what’s more, he devotes said pages in the chapter we are now examining concerning the stultus and our shared foolishness. (Note also that the use of “will” is made by Seneca, not Foucault. I don’t want to diminish Foucault’s contribution with that. Just the fact that he collected all those excerpts and directed them toward spirituality is already very important. What I want to show is how thinkers had a clearer view then about the powers of the soul and about what we can manage with them, something that philosophers of more recent years have been gradually losing, being dominated by logic, thought and language.) What I mean is that he should associate the study of the metamorphosis of the subject with the techniques and practices that cannot be applied without will; ancient Mexico’s shamans talk about an “unbending Intend.” So, he should see the metamorphosis of the subject only from the side of will and power and reach the correct conclusions.
Ancient Mexico’s shamans have the powerful conviction that concerning the way we live and act and because of the truth that we don’t take care of ourselves, we are all stulti-foolish. Everything that Seneca says, to whom Foucault refers when it comes to the stultus, confirms what we said earlier, that we don’t have the will, meaning that we haven’t developed it or that it’s overoccupied with the external and inner that we mentioned, and as a consequence we march on without will; also, that our will is enslaved and loaded, which makes us indecisive. And we will forever remain indecisive if we keep considering the will as another principle and meaning of logic and as something that should follow its principles and rules, as we usually do. The only thing we can achieve under the weight of such a prejudice, from which Foucault suffers along with us all, is to conclude that we either have will or we don’t. Indeed, with logic we can only reach such a conclusion. Under its absolute dominance over us, we always hear final statements like the following: You or I don’t have will. This way, we will never think that we don’t have the will and that we don’t have it now, but that we have the possibility to develop it. Such a thing is totally strange to the linear vision that governs us. The metamorphosis of the subject that we want to achieve in order to meet the Spirit is never possible unless combined with the idea of developing the will. The way I see it, the fact that as humanity we didn’t think to develop our will stems from our conviction that we have it, solely because we could think about the will and we had a word for it, a name to define it, among other significations of the logic registration. The way Foucault describes all this means that, just like all of us, himself too guided by that prejudice, he believes that we have the will and the only thing left for us to do is just think reasonably so that we behave logically. As reasonable we consider those who think right and can therefore speak equally logically. And since, more or less, we all can think and speak, we reach the wrongful conclusion that only some of us are stulti-foolish, even though on a daily basis no one behaves or acts properly, and despite the fact that the behaviour of all of us is in need of repair.
On the other hand, it’s true that we all should know it or that we can learn it. Since Foucault says early on in his study that the subject is in no position, as they are now, to reach spirituality, he must mean that what keeps them from making that move is that they don’t have the will, the power. And if the subject says that they must metamorphose toward that goal, I believe that said metamorphosis concerns the development, the liberation and the catharsis of the will.
At the same time, the perception that is guided and controlled by logic and considers everything to be given and eternal leads us to the conclusion that we stay at the recognition and the mere verification, that is, now and forever remain stulti-foolish and that we don’t have will now nor will we have it in the future. The prejudice that we have the will leads us to not even think that we may not have it or that it’s weak, much less that we can look for ways to develop it, that only few of us were born lucky enough to have will, such as the philosophers (?), but the big majority born without will is doomed to spend their life in foolishness. However, per Seneca, stulti-foolish are not those who don’t think right but those who depend on customs, lifestyles and bad habits in need of repair. The customs and the various addictions are ways of behaviour and thus ways of action that can be characterised only as logical behaviours and actions but don’t necessarily concern one thinking logically. Even the term “addicted” itself means that stulti are those who have no will. Somebody who has will cannot be dependent on something or somebody. (You surely have noticed that I always add a possessive noun next to the will. I do that because the will is not something general belonging to everybody, but something personal that each one needs to develop on their own.)
The will is the set of power and knowledge a person has, a power needed to follow that path, to direct their attention toward a specific target, to want without conditions, to want freely and without resistance. Not to want at one given moment and to not want the next moment as Seneca says; Foucault comments concerning the stultus: “they want and simultaneously are inert” (ibid, 173). Will is the power to not be a slave or, more correctly, the power with which you’ll liberate and purify the will. But what does Foucault mean when he says, “enslaved will?” Foucault says that it’s: “wanting without that want to depend on an event or an opposite tendency” (ibid, 173). This means free will. I believe that if someone is free from opposite tendencies, they will be so strong as to not be provoked by external events nor by inner stimuli such as tendencies, weaknesses, passions, needs, anxieties, fears, etc.
Foucault believes that what could metamorphose the stultus is one and only target: the self. “The only object we can want freely, without having to take into consideration external limitations is of course the self.” And: “What can the will stand without conditions?” asks Foucault; and he means that one already has will. Then, why can’t they resist to external and inner stimuli? Because their will is in a different direction. Their direction is wrong. And that target is the self. And who doesn’t want this? Is there anyone who doesn’t want this? Don’t we all want this? Even the stultus wants it, but “their effort stops before accomplishing the wished goal while they’re already directed toward a new goal” (ibid, 173). This happens, in my opinion, because they haven’t developed their will. To acquire the will at some point, the stulti-foolish must first have the will to want; firstly, they must want to develop their will, because the will, as already said, is the power that’s responsible for the various ways of being, for our behaviour. Also, the power of action, its development means the knowledge of the self and the strengthening of the subject, something that can lead to their metamorphosis.
Unfortunately, to Foucault’s disappointment – who indeed takes as a given that we have will – we forcedly reach the conclusion, after everything we said about the stultus-foolish, that the people who lack will are not just some unlucky amongst us but all of us or most of us. And that’s because we all have the same behaviour as the stultus. Ancient Mexico’s shamans believe that we are all stulti-foolish. “The shamans are convinced that we are all foolish. We could never willingly abandon our miserable effort to control everything” (Castaneda, Der Ring der Kraft [The Ring of Power], p. 261). By that, he means the control that logic tries at any cost to have over the actions and the thoughts of the human being in its entirety. Per the shamans, only people of knowledge have developed their will so much as to be able to control their foolishness with it, that is, to stop it. (In the case of the control of everything, this doesn’t happen actively on the part of logic, that is, by doing something and thus putting things in order and setting a measure to the other power that pushes us toward somewhere else. What happens is that logic blocks all the other powers that we have, such as the will, which is the eminent power for action. How? With a ceaseless, constant internal dialogue where logic keeps repeating the same things thinking that problems can be solved that way. But once it’s over, it sees that the problem remains unsolved despite the fact that logic analysed, processed and explained the problem with so much joy and naïve expectations. Now, to that unsolved problem, we also have to add the bad mood, the disappointment, the despair and – worst of all – the wasting of our time that we could have used to do something, an action toward the solution. For ancient Mexico’s shamans, there are no problems. There are only challenges that each of us is called to successfully face. And “the challenges,” says Don Juan Matus to his student, Carlos Castaneda, “have no personal element but are just challenges we will either win or be shattered by them. But it’s more moving and nice to beat them. So, win.” Blocking the will, on the other hand, doesn’t mean immobilisation because the will, like every other power, cannot be inert; we can only change its direction. It remains uncontrolled to serve habits, passions, pleasures of all kinds and all types of disease. What can cure our illnesses is the redirection of the random, uncontrolled and mostly purposeless energy flow inside us. Being a power, the will has to act, so it follows desires, passions, pleasures, energy-consuming bad habits, and illnesses, making them worse with its power.)
So, it’s not true that we either have will or we don’t, as we usually believe. The truth is that we don’t have will in the beginning of the road to our metamorphosis. But it’s also true that we can develop it. The hope and the belief that I will have the will at some point by applying the techniques and practices of spirituality stems from the new vision that the self and the whole world are firstly energy, will, power, secondly a solid, invariable, unmoving object and then a reasonable being.
We can also describe the will’s development with the terms: emancipation from all my tendencies and opposite propensities, my needs, my behavioral ways and my bad habits, etc. Catharsis in general from all “entities” that my various ways of existing consist of, or those who constitute my will and those that constitute my Being and my will. This leads us to the knowledge of the self as well as to the power to tame the will and direct it as I wish. We understand that the metamorphosis of the subject, which per Foucault is a prerequisite for the access to the Spirit, can only happen as a result of the will’s development.
Going back to Seneca’s excerpt, we’ll remember that the will is free only when it can want the self. In relation to that and the care of the self, ancient Mexico’s shamans go one step farther and think that the absolute, the ultimate purpose and goal of the human being is something more than the mere knowledge of the Spirit’s existence. The knowledge of the Spirit as the ultimate purpose goes even farther from the self and the care of the self and from bearing the adversities of human daily life. Then, the knowledge about the self and its care become a prerequisite and essential condition to achieve the purpose, that is, the immediate experience of the Spirit.
What we can take from all that we said until now is that just the idea that the world around us along with ourselves are firstly energy and power can lead us to a new vision and to the true metamorphosis of the subject.
Then, the power of that other vision is will which is our inner strength. Achieving that new vision is therefore can take place along with the liberation and the catharsis of the will. Through this, the divine part of our soul that until now remained passive, calm and quiet can now be revived so much as to become active in the subject’s life.
With the will, we can act against the opposite propensities and habits so that the soul remains free and unhindered to unite with its matter, the Spirit. And what is birthed from such a union can only be a solution, inspiration, knowledge, joy and laughter.