Loose ends

Prashant Sharma psharma at BUPHY.BU.EDU
Fri Oct 3 20:46:01 CDT 1997

On Fri, 3 Oct 1997, Greg Goode wrote:

> 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....

        Yes and no.  Yes because I am trying to emphasise a freedom which
defies prediction.  No because I am stating the fact that there is an
observer who sees or knows of this freedom.  This last part is what is
used to talk about the will. That there is this quality of the "mind"to
reflect and observe.  It is this quality which sees "free will".  You
cannot deny it (for whatever denies it is the entity itself...), and as
long as you have it you always have an observer, free will and fate. So
coming back to the simplistic example that I used:  the drunk man is the
body and the observer is that quality of the "mind" which one calls the
reflective quality.

> > 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.)

        The point is this.  As long as the observer in you knows that you
have a choice (that is there are undetermined factors which allow for this
choice) it has a "free" will.  As long as the observer exists you will
have this "problem".  It doesnot matter to this observer that the choices
are determined by other factors and therefore are not "his". The point
that I was trying to make (and obviously failed to make :) was that this
free will and fate exist as long as there is an observer and an observed.
And that both exist in the way that I pointed out.

> > 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?
        This is really for you to infer from the simple picture that has
been put forth.  If you appreciate the reality of this difficulty that I
am trying to express then welcome to this world. Otherwise you are
banished to the other-world :-)

>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?
        The very same entity that possesses and hungers and does all this
dance of life. It is really no-thing.

> >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!!!!
> --Greg
Best Regards,

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