Thursday, July 13, 2017
--- Notes on free will ---
What is freedom? It means not being a slave to any circumstance, to any restraint, to any chance; it means compelling Fortune to enter the lists on
My position on fortune, destiny, and the like is that we're dealt a hand at the beginning and we can choose how we play our cards. Destiny is at the first, not the last.
As long as free-will remained in the claws of the philosophers (and I include unthinking thinkers like Skinner in that group), humans could not reasonably be said to necessarily have free-will because their every action, every thought was predetermined by their circumstances. The physicists and neuroscientists have reopened the question. That's an odd twist.
As it is, there is too much chaos in the works to be able to say that there cannot be free will.
Freedom, in the language of physicists and statisticians, is the number of directions a thing can move in. They rarely talk about freedom - they talk about "degrees of freedom" - how many different ways can a thing move or change. I get the idea that when people talk about free will, they're talking about the ability of a person to make literally any decision within their physical capabilities. I hope not. Random action is not free will. Free will is the ability to choose between any of a range of rational decisions available to a person. It's the ability to think things out and then decide a course of actions.
Cognition is fuzzy enough to easily allow for free choice. The logical positivism set (may logical positivism rest in peace) wanted to believe that everything was strictly determined - it would make the calculation of everything a lot easier. But then Heisenberg came along with his uncertainty nonsense and put a stop to their dreaming.
I often have recourse to, "That's a good explanation, but not a very good excuse." Serial and mass murderers often have very good reasons for doing what they do. Hate humanity? I can see that. I was mistreated as a child? Yep, so people go through that. Humans taste good? Probably do.
But those are not good excuses. I know too many people who had horrible childhoods and they grew up to be caring, helpful people. I know too many people who have every reason to hate humanity but, surprisingly, don't. I don't want to hear anyone use their bad temper as an excuse. I have a murderous temper, I can easily go into a berserker's rage, but I don't. People are supposed to develop self-control as a part of growing up. I don't want to hear any one say, "I just couldn't control my sex drive." I'm a satyr and have been plagued with a raging libido since I was 8 years old. If anyone had the right to claim over-active sex drive it would be me, yet I respect other people. Too many minorities grew up to be great people who quite obviously love humanity and live lives that make life worth living for others for other individuals to justify bad actions by, "I was mistreated by The Man."
So I just can't buy the, "I had to do it," or "the devil made me do it," or the "they just caught me in a weak moment," defense. I believe that people do have choice and they're responsible personally for how they use it.