As usual during the lunchtime someone wished “Bon Appétit!”. We all said thank you and started. I suddenly thought, but wait, thank you for what? what does it exactly mean to actually wish someone something? How do I make sure if my good wish is actually granted to the receiver? Isn’t wishing not an empty endeavor anyway?
In the domain of natural philosophy which resides in the realm of greater philosophy, scientific methods can safely be applied to questions. Also the problem at hand can be viewed from the point of view of physics, at least for the starters. In physics, there are no interactions or information exchange without exchange of energy. This is basically true also for our case at hand, because wishing someone something involves a form of interaction and so a form of energy exchange would be needed. So either by sending off photons causing visual effects or transfer of energy via sound waves or by doing a similar act or gesture the act of wishing can be accomplished.
The only one limitation is that both parties must be able to agree upon a reference physical system that both understand, making sure that sending off visual signals can be perceived visually, and sending off acoustic signals acoustically. Even the quality matters, say whether the color red is perceived as red color on the receiving side, or the volume of the acoustic signal should be comparable for both parties, or at least the sender assumes so based on previous experience and/or social standards (the latter point being the source of many intercultural goofs throughout the history of mankind.)
So far so good. Now that I can send the above physical signals, I can use them to either express positive (wishing something good), negative (wishing something bad) or neutral feelings (making an indifferent sound). But would be exactly the difference?
Indeed we see that people cheer up when we make a compliment. They even thank you for this, as if you would have given them a gift. You give them a present, they say thank you. You make a compliment, wow you look good today, they say thanks. It seems that putting two different things into the system gives out the same result. Are then the two inputs equivalent? Or do both actions carry some sort of information with them that result in the same response? In any case there is no question that the action of wishing actually works. That wishing someone something good has an effect is not questionable. What can be questioned is why it actually works. What is the mechanism that causes the good feeling. What is the nature of the agent that is responsible for causing the good feelings in case of a good wish, and bad feelings in case of bad wishes? And in case of an indifferent noise or sound or gesture, no feelings at all are transferred?
Another point is the role of intention. It seems to me that the core agent that is responsible for the effect caused by good wishes is somehow related to the intention. The question still remains, what exactly is the nature of the good intention or the good will?