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Re: The Gift Of Free-Will

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Posted by S.H. Le on October 4, 1999 22:33:04 UTC

: I believe that you've oversimplified the idea of free will. I think it's time to define it. I believe free will is the idea that we humans are the first causes of all things we cause, through making decisions. Believers in free will see it as something that's completely spontaneous. I do things that I wanna do, therefore I have free will. However, I question the desires; where do they come from? Why do you want to do it? Desires themselves are not uncaused by things beyond our control. They either come from instinct (primal urges like sex or eating), or they are formed through social contact with others. What gives a pedaphile the compulsion to have sex with young children? What makes serial killers want to kill randomly? Could it not be because of some traumatic childhood event? Studies report that much of your personality is set at the age of 8.

Take the example of being gay. It's a nature vs. nurture question. Is someone gay because of environmental factors or genetic ones? At this level it's irrelevant because you can't control your upbringing or your genetic makeup, because being gay robs you of some choice (just as being straight does). Most likely you'll want to find a same sex partner if you're gay. Well you might say that the gay person always has the option of going for an opposite sex partner right? But why would the person want to do that? It's because being gay is anti-social. It carries with it a stigma, thus people will repress their gay feelings to be accepted by others. No event is uncaused. A bunch of things just happen to us, and we merely react like a complicated computer program (which is our personality, which is pretty much set at a young age). The kind of person you are dictates how you will react. Sure that complex program changes and modifies itself, but these factors are external.

"All the other beasts of the field abide by instinct, which is God's Will for them. Only Mankind is Free to determine for themselves, the course their Future will take."

That maybe somewhat true. While animals are subject to only instinct, our decisions are based on instinct in addition to what society tells us is appropriate behavior. Like I've already said, your values are determined by social interaction with other humans. Place a piece of meat in front of a dog, and the dog must eat it because it's like a computer program. It has to eat it, because evolution has dictated it in its genes. But with the human, sure the human doesn't have to, but that's because the computer system is more complicated. It's no longer based entirely on instinct. It's based on individual values that are LEARNED. You have no choice. Evolution too has just dictated that to us. We are nothing more than higher evolved animals right?

Furthermore, at what point is one considered to have free will? Do babies have free will? What about the mentally retarded? Aristotle believed that only when one reached the "age of reason" could one truly have free will. But what does that really mean? It means that you've been socialized. When I say we're influenced by our environment, I don't mean our physical environment (Antarctica, Space, etc.), I mean social interaction with other people. The person you are today is the result of people you met, family you've been raised in, etc. If you were raised in north america, you would act in the typical north american fashion. No pre-arranged marriages, democracy, etc. If you were raised in Thailand, you might be a completely different person. You'd be programmed differently, and thus would react to situations totally differently.

You will always act in accordance to the type of person you are (your computer program). Put a child in a room with a pediphile, and the pediphile will almost always act the same way.

The example: "If I had the chance to do it over again I'd change it all." But this means that the program has altered. Experience after the fact has possibly made you wiser, thus given the same decision, you'd pick a different choice, but this still shows that you're acting in a predictable way.

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