Introduction. A Willfulness Archive
1. Th is translation uses the En glish spelling “wilful.” I have in this book used the
American spelling as it allows us to see the “will” in “willful.” I should note also that in the
German story the child is not given a gender. In this En glish translation of the German
story, the child is “she” but in some other translations the child is “he.” I will address the
willful child in this book as “she” because I would argue willfulness tends to be registered
as a feminine attribute. However, I hope to show how the gendering of will as well as
willfulness is complicated (see chapter 2). Boys and men can be called willful, although
that call might sound diff erently and have diff erent eff ects.
2. I explore the relation between property and the will in the fi nal section of chapter
1 with specifi c reference to Hegel and Marx.
3. Classical and early modern texts cited are referred to using book number, chapter
number (where relevant) and page number.
4. From Oxford En glish Dictionary Online (2008). All dictionary defi nitions used in
this book are from this edition.
5. Probably the only text I have come across that foregrounds “willfulness” in off er-
ing a history of the will is Richard E. Flathman’s Willful Liberalism. However his book
does not involve a discussion of willfulness as an attribution: it is rather a defense of
a style of liberalism, a refashioned liberalism that is in the “free spirit” of Nietz sche,
focusing on the creativity and self- making of individuals (1992, 208). Flathman does
off er some important readings of voluntarism, including theological voluntarism, and
this book provides a useful contrast to Hannah Arendt’s Th e Life of the Mind (1978). His
approach to the “semiotic of the will” could also be related to my emphasis on will and
willfulness as a grammar (1992, 158), although he uses this method primarily to avoid
thinking of the will as a “single entity and force” (159), while my interest is in developing
a model of how the will is socially, aff ectively, and unevenly distributed between per-
sons and things. My argument also attempts to disentangle willfulness from individu-
alism. For a useful edited collection debating Flathman’s willful liberalism, see Honig
6. In this section and the book that follows, my argument rests on teasing out the
relationship between two words/concepts “will” and “willfulness.” I should note that