Loose ends

Greg Goode goode at DPW.COM
Fri Oct 3 18:29:53 CDT 1997

At 02:06 PM 10/3/97 -0400, Prashant Sharma wrote:

>        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.

Are you inferring free will from our inability to predict the drunk's
next step?  The same argument would establish free will in a young
puppy scampering around the back yard....

> At the sametime the path he has taken before the present time
>is a fated path for you.

Whether it's fated or not depending on the observer?  Interesting point...

>  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.

It's not necessary to know all the determining factors in order to say
an action is determined.  It's enough to know that free will doesn't
exist as a reality.  (Though there is a view in Western philosophy
called "compatibilism," which holds that there is free will along
with determinism.  You have free choices, but they are determined
by other factors.)

> Those unknown factors comprise its fate and they
>also comprise his "free" will.

What IS it that could constitute the person's free will?  To what
entity does free will belong?  The actions coming through a human
mind/body organism cannot be other than what they are, they're
determined by the tastes, values, conditioning, genetics, etc.
of that organism.  If the organism is the subject, then actions
are happening, but no will.  For that you have to have a choosing
entity (and even then, as William James points out, it's a matter
of competing impulses, the strongest one winning out).  What kind
of thing would this entity be?

>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.

I like this last paragraph!!!!


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