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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Free Will vs Determinism/Destiny

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Author Topic: Free Will vs Determinism/Destiny
Viking_Longship
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Do we have "free will"or not? Are we ultimately the result of our envireoment, i.e. our communities, the input of our parents and even basic genectic predispositions or are we ultimately the products of our independant choices?

On a more mystic level, are we drawn to an inescapable destiny, are we meant to be with "one perfect person" who was "meant for us"? And if you believe in God does he have a divine will for our life he has already worked out and to which we should submit ourselves?

Personally I would say that intellectually I reject determinism as I believe that as we are self-aware beings capable of understanding things which influence us we can thus reject that influence. I definately reject predestination on the level that God already knows who the saved and the damned are, but also doubt that God has a specfic divine plan for each of us.

I find the idea of a single person out there who is supposed to be your soul mate for life terrifying.

Emotionnally I am still working on rejecting the notion of fate and destiny. I come from a fatalistic culture and married into another one, so that's no small task.

What do you all think?

[ June 08, 2009, 07:31 AM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Personally I would say that intellectually I reject determinism as I believe that as we are self-aware beings capable of understanding things which influence us we can thus reject that influence.
Except that, in so doing, we are influenced by other things to do so.

Free will is an illusion, but it is an absolutely necessary illusion. Without it, there can be no illusion of "self." If we're going to pretend that we are selves, we have to also pretend that we are free-willed.

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KnightEnder
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"No fate but that we make."


KE

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scifibum
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quote:
Personally I would say that intellectually I reject determinism as I believe that as we are self-aware beings capable of understanding things which influence us we can thus reject that influence.
What's the mechanism of intellectual evaluation and selection of influences, and why do you think it's not deterministic?

I don't think we have a very good scientific understanding of consciousness yet, but even if you posit that there's a soul/spirit self that contains and expresses consciousness, wouldn't it still function in a causal manner?

Most of the time I think a claim of "free will" means an assertion that we have choices. I think it's an important and useful (and essentially inevitable) perception; it's a very important feature of our minds. It's an expression of how we dynamically configure our software. Without such a perception maybe we'd be dull automatons. The ability for thought to influence our actions gives us enormous adaptability.

But I see no reason to say that contradicts determinism, or (potentially) mostly-deterministic behavior with an element of randomness. (Perhaps our systems are so subtle that a stray electron can make us choose one thing over another, but I don't think randomness is what people mean by "free will.")

One concern I've heard expressed is "if we don't have free will then we can't really blame or punish anyone for doing wrong things - that'd be terrible." It's completely wrong, though...We can allow that behavior might be determined without discounting the gravity of crime, or indeed altering our response to it. Whether a man beats his wife because that was inevitable from the course of his life, or because in some abstract undefined way he chose to do evil, our priority will be the same: stop the beating.

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
I don't think we have a very good scientific understanding of consciousness yet, but even if you posit that there's a soul/spirit self that contains and expresses consciousness, wouldn't it still function in a causal manner?

I would say more concience than soul. Ethics and self awareness wouold relate to the soul, if it exists, but also the mind. Of course the belief in free will could be simply another mechanism in what is really a deterministic system.
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Mormegil
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I have free will.

I have no need to account for it or defend it; I *experience* it.

Does my free will have limits? Sure. Tell me not to think of an elephant. There, you just made me think of an elephant. Bully for you. So what?

This issue is one I really have no desire to argue about. There is zero chance of anyone getting me to doubt my own experience in this matter, so what is the point? It'd be like arguing with someone who says the sky is red *while I'm looking at it being blue*. Pointless.

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Doug64
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For the question of which is in play, free will or determinism, the answer is "yes" - we are limited (or enhanced, for the lucky ones) and shaped by our genetics and we are shaped by our environment, but how we react to what happens to us is up to us, and if we don't like what we are we can change.

And theologically speaking, free will is a necessary part of God's plan - such an important part that all the suffering we choose to inflict on each other is permitted because there is no way for God to prevent it that is compatible with free will. Though we can reach a point that we are so enslaved by the nature we've chosen to cultivate that free will is lost - when an entire culture gets to that point you end up with events like Sodom and Gomorrah.

[ June 08, 2009, 07:24 PM: Message edited by: Doug64 ]

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