Clarence Darrow: "Every one knows that the heavenly bodies move in certain paths in relation to each other with seeming consistency and
regularity which we call [physical] law. ... No one attributes freewill or motive to the material world. Is the conduct of man or the other animals
any more subject to whim or choice than the action of the planets? ... We know that man's every act is induced by motives that led or urged him here
or there; that the sequence of cause and effect runs through the whole universe, and is nowhere more compelling than with man." Quoted in Lecture
Notes on Free Will and Determinism by Norman Swartz.
Baron D’Holbach: “The inward persuasion that we are free to do, or not to do a thing, is but a mere illusion. If we trace the true principle
of our actions, we shall find, that they are always necessary consequences of our volitions and desires, which are never in our power. You think
yourself free, because you do what you will; but are you free to will, or not to will; to desire, or not to desire? Are not your volitions and desires
necessarily excited by objects or qualities totally independent of you?” From Good Sense Without God.
I think these two statements are very true. Can you really do anything that is not determined by circumstance of consequence? Nope... How is that
really "free will?" How can someone say that you have "free will" when you have factors, other than what you really want to do, determining your
The perspective that I argue from is called "naturalism." Basically it is a line of thought which questions the validity of the idea of "free
will." Any thinking prson has questioned the concept of "free will" at sometime of other.
Abraham Lincoln: “The human mind is impelled to action, or held in rest by some power, over which the mind itself has no control.”
What Lincoln said in the above statement is exactly the way that I feel about "free will." Most of our decisions are made either by circumstance of
fear. Fear of what? The consequences of any decision we really WANT to make.
Locke3 and Hume4 have extended Hobbes's "freedom to do without restriction" to "the power to do or not as one wills." This meaning makes
freedom strictly a power, an ability, restricted to the person, and not a freedom of the will. The will may be fully determined by psychological or
biological forces and conditions; yet an individual may be externally free to act out this determined course. For Locke, the will is as I have defined
it, a power to choose.
It is argued that "free will" is the power of choice. Well, what about circumstances where our choices are limited? Is that still "free will?" If
so, then how? You see, i my mind, "free will" would constitue being able to do anything. Yes, anything. However, we all know that we cannot do just
anything. Not only are there universal laws by which we must abide, but legal as well.
Now, some ma argue that I am making the issue more complex than it really is. I don't think so. If we are to assume that "free will" is a FACT,
then there should be some REAL evidence of it. If you look at the classical definition of "free will," by the intelligencia, then you come to
realize that objectively it doesn't exist.
We are free insofar as we alone determine our behavior. We are not free when others dictate or hamper our decisions or for reasons of illness or
incapacity we cannot determine our actions. This meaning carries the question from the external empirical realm to the inner psychological domain of
will or subjective determination.
Another hitch in the whole concept of "free will" is that often our actions are determined by the actions of others. Would we, for example, have
went after "terrorists" had they not attacked the WTC buildings? I'd submit to you no we woulen't have. No one WANTS to fight, yet, once again,
action is determined by circumstance, not so -called "free will."
You see, one cannot have it both ways. You can't say that one is a victim of circumstance but still has "free will." No, a victim of circumstance
HAS to do what he/she HAS to do. That is not "free will" That is force.
What is his power which forces an individual to act as he or she must? From whence does circumstance and consequence emerge? Is it just a product of
universal law or something much, much stranger.
Honestly, being someone who believes in a Godhead, I have to say that we play the role we were individually meant to lay. Look at the universe,
particularly our solar system. The planets rotate just as they should. Do they not? Are we to assume that this is just a cosmic accident or joke? I
think not;I think not.
Now, take all of this a step further. Are we just simulations in some bigger picture? Is there an entity/ entities playing us and watching the
outcome? If so, who?
I realize that I have raised more questions than I have answered. However, it is something that I have thought about for quite some time. I'd be
interested in hearing what others thought on this topic. Do you believe in "free will." If so, why? If not, why not?