Loose ends

Prashant Sharma psharma at BUPHY.BU.EDU
Fri Oct 3 13:06:54 CDT 1997

On Fri, 3 Oct 1997, Jonathan Bricklin wrote:

> A few loose ends that I feel were not addressed in the debate that ensued
> between Vidyasankar  and Greg.  All the ">>'s" are V's:
> So says Descartes, but surely you are not invoking the Cogito here?  He got
> it wrong, agreed?  What then is your warrant for this statement?  If you
> mean "consciousness can not be doubted out of existence" that is a
> different claim than "nobody can doubt his/her own existence."
> >I would like to reiterate that where there is conventional reality,
> >including the conventional jIva, there is both fate and free will.
> In no reality can there be both fate and free will.  Whether or not you
> accept the validity of precognition, if fate (as viewed through
> conventional reality) is real then some very specific action at some very
> specific time "must" take place.  Otherwise what is meant by saying "there
> is fate"?
        Here is a simple example that illustrates a reality in which there
are both fate and free will (while in some sense defining them both).
Think about a drunk man walking on a street. You cannot predict his next
step (no precognition here :).  So the entity which you observe has a
"free" will. At the sametime the path he has taken before the present time
is a fated path for you.  In other words you can make the perfectly valid
statement that the man was *fated* to take the path that he took. As
you make these statements you are clearly assuming that you *cannot* have
a complete knowledge of the entity, but that *some* unknown factors are
governing its behaviour.  Those unknown factors comprise its fate and they
also comprise his "free" will.  Now bring in precognition in the following
way: suppose you "come to know" the path that the man will take in the
next four moves.  Look at what has happened when you got this knowledge:
you extended your role from an observer to somebody who is evolving with the
observed.  In other words you have started willing that the man takes the
steps in the way you want him to.  So the world now comprises not just
the man but you and the man-- both evolving. Consequently a third observer
can say that both of you are having "free" will and again that both of you
have a fate.

> >Where the absolute is known, there is neither fate nor will. There is no
> need to
> >bias one's judgment and raise either fate or will to an absolute level.

        When this happens, in the picture of reality that was just
presented, the observer is the observed.  There is no need to think about
will and fate.  Thought limits its roles.  But that is a physiologically
different state of existence.  It is impossible to think about it.

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