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A rushed attempt at 'Free Will'

Posted 9 April 2003, 9.06 pm by Winter

The problem with free will is that the phrase itself is one that seems to have meaning, but on closer examination is found to have none. I will take it to mean self determination. Self determination requires the rejection of rationality. Rationality leads all actions from reflection to the same end (under the enlightened meaning of ‘rationality,’ though I’m unaware of any others), all things being equal. So you’re not acting because of any sort of self-determination but because rationality, a universal judgment, says to. The ability to act irrationally then? That has to be arrived at rationally, else it’s just acting at random, not acting via ‘free will’. Does it mean acting in a way that can’t be predetermined? How could that be verified (though it’s probably our best bet, or something close to it, a la Deterministic Chaos)? If it can’t be verified, we can at least see what the results would be. Acting in a way that isn’t predetermined would be saying something that could not be expected, that conflicted with rationality but was in accord with it. This would require that the project of Modernity is fundamentally flawed and that the Postmoderns are right when they reject the possibility of universality and insist that consensus is impossible due to social factors and chemical, biological and linguistic imbalances.

Rejecting free will does not mean acceptance of destiny. A Deterministic world view need not be accepted. The future isn’t mapped out, but we can’t do anything about it. We can’t plan because we don’t have the capacity for real planning (re: Stalin and such), ‘rationality’ disagrees with the world and acting irrationally disagrees with any attempt to plan beyond the act. We’re paralyzed and free, tied down and fucked (depending on you’re inclinations and the usage you see in their ambiguity, those can be bad or good). We don’t have any room to move but the future’s wide open. In this we can be voyeurs and decedents, watching life and acting like later-day Epicureans (Death is inevitable, don’t bog yourself down with misery but make merry as best you can) or we can be the thinking Dandy, Lucretius’ Epicurean (The god’s care not for man, existence is an accident, think and live as best you can).

Of course, chaos is another alternative to a Deterministic world-view. Everything is simply an accident, the right chemical and physical properties and components became arranged in a brief moment that resulted in everything I sense and remember and in another moment it will all fall apart. This only seems unlikely because of a history we believe we remember and any theory that explains that history as a momentary accident of chaos supersedes this ostensible objection, and, really, any sort of objection. But I’m still here so I might as well consider other things while I am, as nothing else seems to hold my mind as I wait for destruction.

Deterministic Chaos says that the rules of physics and chemistry and other high, new sciences apply only generally. If you know that hitting a billiard’s ball at a certain angle with a certain force will result in the ball moving in a straight line to a particular place, assuming no interruptions then you also know that if you hit the same ball with ten times as much force it will travel ten times as far. In practice, according the Deterministic Chaos, this is only approximately correct. The result of the theory does not map directly to the experiment, but only matches it very closely. The ball almost travels ten times as far, but not quiet or too much so, the rules of physics are wobbly. While this does not seem to allow for free will, it does explain variance in cognition and memory among other things, such as something being rational and ‘irrational’ or for reflection to lead to two different ends or acting in a way that can’t be predetermined, however you wish to argue it.

Of course, just because Determinism isn’t a ‘fun’ theory for those who like to think we’re conscious, rational beings able to think for themselves doesn’t mean we should just reject it. So our actions are pre-determined and we can’t do anything outside of the expected. What does that change? Any action we attempt is doomed to fail or succeed, but so is not acting because we’re depressed over this fact. Action for the sake of action (what is a ‘sake’ anyway?) is denied because of our lack of choices. We can still do what we think we feel like doing, knowing that no matter what we feel and think, it’s as unalterable as the past happens to be. Though the ill-fated “Do what you feel like” day celebrated by the city of Springfield several years ago should be kept in mind.

on 10 April 2003, 2.30 am
I'm not sure if it's good to have you back or not, old friend. Welcome nonetheless.

on 10 April 2003, 3.27 am
It's never good to have me around, I'm around me constantly and it's pretty sucky.

on 10 April 2003, 5.11 am
Waldo returns! yay!

on 10 April 2003, 8.13 pm
Free will is an illusion created by the media ... while in reality we act in accordance with everything that we are subconsciously asked to do.
Any decision we make is predetermined by the sum of everything that has gone before. In other words ... we decide in accordance with what we know ... and we only know what we are told ... and we are only told what we need to know in order to make the decicions we are required to make to maintain the current status of society ... a society fueled by the gods of commerce & industry.

Rudi aka The Green Mamba
Roadkill ( - For the chicken that almost made it

on 10 April 2003, 8.18 pm
Free will was created by ancient philosophers long before the media ever got a hold of it (and modern advertising insists that there is no such thing as free will or philosophy). A deterministic philosophy like your's seems to rely on causality being true.

on 10 April 2003, 8.45 pm
Let me rephraze that ... Free will is an illusion maintained/exploited by the media.
It is not good to make assumptions without the information to do so ... actually my entire philosophy is based on the premise that nothing is true ... or rather the truth only exists within the confines of what we know at any given point in time and as soon as new (more rational) information is available ... what was truth yesterday becomes outdated.
"How is it that you can tell a lie to a group of people who witnessed the truth" - Paul Park

on 10 April 2003, 8.46 pm
PS - By media I am refering not to advertising on its own ... but all forms of public communication.

on 10 April 2003, 8.49 pm
I would only add that free will is also maintained by the masses (whether they fling feces or not) and that a variable truth cannot be rested upon for any sort of discussion that is pro-truth (which you seem to be supporting when you say that by processing new information we can arrive at a new truth). Subjective truths are no kind of truths at all, they are the illusion of truth.

on 10 April 2003, 8.53 pm
My point exactly ... their are no absolute truths ... only truths within the confines of what we know (as individuals or as a scientific community)

on 11 April 2003, 5.40 am
" will is also maintained by the masses... "

How so?

on 14 April 2003, 10.02 pm
Free will is constantly insisted upon by the masses, the constant questioning of "What should I do?" can be taken as evidence of that.

The Green Mamba
on 14 April 2003, 10.10 pm
That my friend, is only evidence to the absense of individual free will and certainly not evidence thereof.

on 18 April 2003, 3.41 pm
The writer of the article is muddled over the definition 'rational' and 'irrational'. A rational decision is one made by analyzation - reflection on the past and predicting the future thereby. An irrational decision is a choice which does not use this left-brained mode, but instead an intuitive, most often emotional or 'automatic' basis (an automatic action being a reaction).
For free will to be possible we have to be making our own decisions, and in order for that we must be ourselves. Not what we believe to be ourselves - we cannot be dealing with ideas and ideals, but fact. Reality. We have to understand ourselves. This doesn't mean we reject the world and its obvious impact on everything we do or think; because that is plainly to reject ourselves. Instead we have to be clear of what we accept and what we reject in ourselves, make a choice of who we are, and know why we are making our decisions.

For myself, I don't see any conflict in Free will and determinism, and I believe in both.

The illusions weaved by media (or, more correctly, something I call "the Beast" (see Rudi's site at are many-layered: on the one hand, we make our own decisions in life - what we like, what we want - and we can feel good about these decisions because these are our own. On the other hand, though, for the more perceptive who see these are not our beliefs or wants - or would not be if there would be an actual choice being made, free from fear and need - there is the opposite illusion, that there is no choice, we are helpless and don't have the free will to help ourselves. This double-blind keeps us neatly in check, almost as if by plan. And it is the rare person that can pass both of these traps, to a level, clear view of themselves. Which is freedom.

You might want to check Rudi's site for something kinda related to this subject.

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