And so I will start where I left off 2 days ago. In my post “Perception”, I left off with the following quote from the TV show of the same name:
Does free will exist? Do I exert conscious control over my actions? Did I do that on purpose? Or was I forced to do it by some unseen neural process? Fact is, most of the neuro scientific data suggests free will is an illusion. But if that’s true, are we simply meat puppets? All of our choices made for us? -Daniel Pierce
Here is what the band Rush has to say on the matter of free will….
But then, do they in a later album contradict themselves within these lyrics?
So, now let us examine a couple of terms and definitions that are often argued and contemplated when philosophizing about freewill.
Pre-Determinism: the idea that the entire past (as well as the future) was determined at the origin of the universe.
Casual Determinism: Causal determinists believe that there is nothing in the universe that is uncaused or self-caused.
The basic scientific idea of hereditary determination fulfills the definition of causal determinism, a metaphysical concept.
Determinism: Determinism is the philosophical idea that every event or state of affairs, including every human decision and action, is the inevitable and necessary consequence of antecedent states of affairs.
Determination: Determination is the idea that our decisions are determined by our motives and deliberations, by our character and values, and by our feelings and desires. The idea that events (including human actions) can be adequately determined by immediately prior events (such as an agent’s reasons, motives, desires), without being pre-determined back to before the agent’s birth or even back to the origin of the universe.
the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.
||self-determination, freedom of choice, autonomy, liberty, independence
The photo meme above was one that was generated by one of those Facebook “find your quote of the year, made specially for you” sites….It is of value to this meandering…I would like to start here and work backwards through the definitions. The canvas analogy of this quote resonated in me as an Adoptee because in many ways I felt like a blank canvas with no reference picture, as I was not brought up around my birthfamily. I was floundering around as a child, always trying to fit in, trying to draw from those in my environment, but always knowing that the boxes I was trying to fit in to were not who I was deep inside. By high school and college, the true me, my true identity, emerged and it was very different from anyone I was raised around. When I finally got in touch with my birthfamilies, it was uncanny how much of the identity that I was so drawn to, that emerged despite never having met them until I was in my late 30s, was a perfect blend of my birthmom and birthdad. My identity seems to me (to use the terms within the confines of this argument), to be a casual determinism. In fact, no matter how hard my adoptive parents have tried to quash that identity, it has remained in tact, partially out of choice, partially because it is “who I was”, despite never knowing this on the conscious level at that time.
Moving along to the actual definitions and debate.
Back in college I took several social science classes, a variety of psychology classes, philosophy classes (even one of my math requirement classes was a blended math/philosophy class), sociology, social psychology etc….I will admit it has been some time since I have read up on the classic Philosophers, and unfortunately, due to my ADHD, one of my coping techniques was to purge the info I learned for each exam in order to learn the info for the next exam. Sadly, I have not retained much of my knowledge. So, what I put forth may not be factually accurate and may have already been covered by someone, and I may be behind the game on this one. I am only beginning to re-emerge in to the world of research and knowledge seeking, so please forgive any indiscretions and misinformation.
My opinion on free will simply boils down to what is stated in the above meme. “You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.” I do believe that the definitions of the terms work in conjunction with each other, in the consecutive order that I listed them. I believe we do all have free will, that we are free to choose, and make any choice we want, but that our choices are influenced by all of the factors (Pre-Determinism, Casual Determinism, Determinism and Determination). We ultimately have to answer to our own minds (as that is the main jail cell we are stuck in 24/7), and then there is the other barrage of possible consequences, depending upon what the choice to be made is. Those who are religiously minded have the fear of their higher power looking over them as a consequence. There is fear of losing some type of relationship as a possible outcome. Fear of losing income, or a job. Somehow, free will seems to coincide with a decision between something that could possibly be beneficial and something that could potentially be harmful or negative in some way. There always seems to be that “what if” chance on the other side of free will. Do I have the free will to leave my house right now and go for a drive in my car? Absolutely. No one is stopping me. Someone else might choose to do so under the given circumstances. Nothing really bad happened. Just some negative energy. Could getting out the house right now possibly be beneficial? Maybe. Would it really do much harm? No. My daughter just went up to go to bed. My husband is home. I wouldn’t be endangering anyone. But it also raises the risk of me getting in to a car accident by being on the road later at night. There really aren’t any places for me to go other than bars at this point, and I’m not a drinker. So what is the benefit? Not much. Options are weighed and there seems less benefit to it than it is worth. But do I have the free will? Yes. Could I exercise it if I choose to? Yes. I choose not to (even though it was really only a hypothetical situation that I came up with merely for this mental experiment). And I still have made a choice not to have to decide, as Rush points out in their song.
Regardless of any one person’s decision, the world will still keep on turning, until the day it doesn’t. So everyone is free to decide however they choose. But they are not free from the consequences (good or bad) of those choices. Even if one person is the reason for the final act that causes the extinction of the world as we know it, there will always be acts and people involved in those steps leading up to it that played their role. No person is ever a complete lone soldier in their mission.
Free will, always something leading up to it, always free to use it, always a consequence and outcome from it. Only fools rush in…