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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7991/hazlitts-way-to-will-power/

Hazlitt’s Way to Will Power

April 3, 2008 by

Remember that awful scan that we had of the very very rare 1922 book by Henry Hazlitt? It is called The Way to Will Power. Well, we just retypeset it. Yes, a print edition is coming.

In the meantime, for your viewing pleasure: The Way to Will Power.


Tuur Demeester April 3, 2008 at 6:26 pm

I found it a great read. Here are some quotes I kept in my notebook:

“Will-Power, then, may be defined as the ability to keep a remote desire so vividly in mind that immediate desires which interfere with it are not gratified.”

“As long as we keep in the backgrounds of our minds that the will is really an abstraction, there is no harm in speaking of it a good part of the time as if it were an entity; and insofar as it can be said to represent a definite and permanent entity, the will may be defined as our desire to be a certain kind of character. ”

“It is not the “conscience” in itself, nor the “evil” desires, that ultimately count; it is the relation of the one to the other. The stronger his conscience, or counter-desires, must be; the weaker his desires, the less need he has for a strong conscience.”

“A man who is good from docility, and not from stern self-control, has no character.”

“Not all of us have refused tempting commercial opportunities for certain poverty and struggle for a time, to gain an end in which the mathematical chances were ridicilously and overwhelmingly against us. Not all have kept desperately fanning the embers of dissatisfaction, fanning them into a constant white hot flame. With most of us the early fire dies; the embers fade and grow cool. We reach a high level as we ever seriously hope to reach. We have spasms of dissatisfaction with our position in the world, but not sufficient dissatisfaction to make us work our way out of the rut to a higher position. We have moments of longing for mountain tops, but not enough longing to make us willing to give up something for them. Strolling in the valleys is so much more pleasant than climbing.”

“Forming a new habit is like forging for yourself a new path in the woods, through stubborn underbrush and prickly thorns, while all the while it is possible for you to tke the well-worn, hard-trodden, pleasant path that already exists. But you can reflect that every time you travel through the new path you are going to tramp down more shrubbery and clear more entanglements from the way.”

About Oscar Wilde’s temptation epigram (“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”): “Like all good epigrams, it is at least true in a special sense. And the sense in which the epigram is true is that if you yield to a temptation, you will get rid of it for the moment. … For the very fact that you have yielded to the temptation will make it return at a later time with increased power and urgency. Every time you yield to it, you do two things: you increase the intensity of the desire and lessen the power of resistance.”

“The problem, then, in all creative work, is to seek to sustain the interest at the highest pitch, never allowing it to flag. … Eight times out of nine it is flagging interest, rather than real fatigue, which makes us quit.”

“We honestly intend to do certain things, and for some strange reason we keep ont intending to do them. There is nothing especially difficult about them. They demand no gritting of teeth, no heroic sacrifice. They are simply not as pleasant as certain other things.”

“Interest, excitement, absorbtion in the pursuit of a subject, make you forget yourself and your discomforts. … This principle in the mental field applies quite as strongly in the physical. A man who would be completely tired out if he beat a rug for his wife, will play five sets of tennis of an afternoon… . The first is ‘work’ the second ‘play’.”

“You want your friends to know of your will-power, but the best way for them to discover it will be through your actions, not your words.”

Fephisto April 3, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Reading this book is fairly scary, or I’m fairly predictable, for when Hazlitt says, “Now you are probably thinking . . .” I usually AM thinking just that :-/.

(Especially when he said, “After reading this a few minutes, you may become bored (I am not blaming you)”)

jdavidb April 4, 2008 at 9:08 am

Thank you! I’ve been wanting to buy a print edition!

N. Joseph Potts April 4, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Will-power would be the way it was written in 1922. Today, it’s most-often written as one word, willpower. To render this as “Will Power” would be a mistake.

Will is a transitive verb in its own right, and “The Way to Will Power” would mean “the way to wish power (for or onto something or someone)”.

Just curious April 7, 2008 at 1:54 pm

Will the same retypesetting be done to THINKING AS sCIENCE ?

Just curious April 7, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Will the same retypesetting be done to THINKING AS sCIENCE ?

Scott Lahti April 7, 2008 at 6:55 pm

I’m challenged beyond words to express my delight to see this further effort on behalf of Hazlitt’s most formerly-subterranean work, my third copy of which over the last decade I just received last week. I discovered his life and works while in high school in Wilton, Connecticut thirty years ago, through the financial bestsellers of the late and much-loved libertarian author Harry Browne. Hazlitt, then in his mid-80s, lived about five miles across town from me, in a house on Drum Hill Road, with the former Frances Kanes, his wife since 1936. I wrote him and he replied, over my college choices as a libertarian economist-aspirant, which found me soon after at, first, Hillsdale, then NYU. While back in Wilton, on spring break at a friend’s in 1982, I made my first and only pilgrimage to Drum Hill Road, six-stack or so of Henrician tomes under arm for signing. Remember his awed recollection from 1940, when a phone call in New York from the formidable Ludwig von Mises, just arrived from wartime Europe, found him feeling as though the voice of the great Victorian liberal John Stuart Mill himself was crackling from the other end? I, too, was Spartacus, that March morning twenty-six years ago…

Seventeen years later (Hazlitt left us in 1993, just over a year shy of extending his veteran membership in the Century Club to his own lifespan), in 1999, an interlibrary loan through my local Portland, Maine, library, courtesy of Dartmouth, made of me an Indiana Jones @ 37, spellbound in uncovering this pulsing, glowing nugget of literary radium, duly photocopied for me four pages a doubleside sheet by my friend, bookstore colleague and fraternal Son of Suomi, the veteran suspense-fictioneer Rick Hautala.

Come spring 2000 at eBay, fall 2005 over the web, and just last month again webwise, my three copies (so far), arrayed themselves seriatim along my mantel, proud centurions of an ancient and vanished guard.

To think that all it took for this heroic reclamation by the Mises Institute was a stray comment I made at BK Marcus’s “lowercase liberty” blog in January, catalyst to Gil Guillory’s securing his own interlibrary loan anon toward the original PDF scan tendered herein, and – Hey Presto! – a new reset PDF, and forthcoming print edition.

One last thing: The New York Times has devoted two much-emailed articles since early December to the subject of will-power,



and my comments beneath each online version



suggesting the Hazlitt book (the Mises PDF appeared in time to alert readers of the second article), and the famous material from William James “underwriting” Hazlitt’s early work herein,



have attracted enough readers’ votes so far to suggest an unaccustomed influx of Times readers to the new PDF, and maybe even the forthcoming print edition. The second article, in fact, was the paper’s most-emailed article from the last 7 days, and the #3 most e-mailed from the last 30 days – potentially climbing to #1 once the two Obama-related articles from mid-March drop off later this month. Not bad standings in a paper running, by my recent count, well over five thousand email-enabled articles monthly. And we’re already seeing links to the reset PDF popping up at blogs and other sites worldwide, in just four days.

At the black-tie gala the shade of Henry, and the very-much-with-us Gil and Jeff have earned, I plan to be proud presenter of the first Pullet Surprise for Meritorious Public Service: trust me to have gold-plate aims on a chicken budget…

just curious April 8, 2008 at 9:26 am

out of curiousity, will the same retypesetting be done to Hazzlit’s Thinking as a Science ?

just curious April 12, 2008 at 12:52 pm

TYPO ALERT for new pdf of The Way To Will Power

p79 last paragraph line 7 of that paragraph : ” Your mind my miss…” instead of “your mind mAy miss …”?
p81 line 2 ” …a less important subject that to play and dabble…” instead of “..a less important subject thaN to play and dabble…”

Any chance of Thinking as a Science being retypeset ?

Thinking as a Science June 29, 2009 at 12:55 am

Thinking as a Science by Henry Hazlitt

Bill Starr April 15, 2011 at 10:17 am

Thanks for releasing Thinking As A Science in epub today. Would you please consider putting out this one in epub as well? Thanks!

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