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Re: Free Will

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Posted by spacejan on March 21, 1999 00:31:04 UTC

: This board has slowed down considerably over the past few days. Its been a "bear" board, but I'm a "bull". If your not into finance, just ignore my comments.

: The topice of Free Will has religious implications. It is a topic I find interesting, and have yet to formed an opinion. The more I learn about genetics, the more I am persuaded against the idea of Free Will. But my own life goes against the notion of not having Free Will. It seems as if I make choices, on my own accord, with freedom to make them. But is this the case? Perhaps my entire life is simply a product of two things, my genetic makeup and my environment from the time of conception until death.

: Thoughts?

: H

Oops! The philosophical debate between free-will and determinism can easily set your head spinning in the infinite regression of illusory contradiction. Kant's brilliant critique of the antinimonies of pure reason gets us out of it, but also sets the head spinning. Samual Johnson's approach was "There is free-will Sir, and let that be an end to it." or some such. He was right of course. Like Kant.

My reading of Kant's philosophy and metaphysics is something like this.- Although we human beings exist in a world subject to the laws of nature, we cannot exist as human-beings other than under the concept of freedom. Any examination of this idea will confirm it. We cannot dispense with the concept of freedom of the will any more than be can dispense with the concept of cause and effect, and make sense of our world. This is what it is to be a rational being. Freedom of the Will is a necessary concept, and according to Kant, an a priori concept of pure reason.

Implicit in Kant's philosophy is an equivalence between Laws of Nature and Laws of Reason (the Moral Law). His moral philosophy is founded on the priciple of universality, with freedom pre-supposed.

It is possible to see in Kant's thougts on pure reason, a similarity with the rationalist idea of innate concepts which so infuriated Locke, the father of British empiricism. But at the end of the 20th Century, it is not difficult to accept ideas of biological determinism, which makes the idea of innate ideas much more interesting than Locke thought, and give Kant's ideas about the harmony between Laws of Nature and Laws of Reason much more important, I think, than many scientists realise.

I think that in formulating one's views about free-will it is helpful (to an extent!) to go beyond free-will and contemplate the idea of freedom itself. Not to attempt to define it assertorically,- that is impossible, but to understand it from all the levels we are capable of. This can involve drawing upon the truths of art and literature, nature, music, mathematics, the self...

It is possible to see (transcendental)freedom as not only an a priori necessity for rational beings but as a pre-requisite for the existence of the universe and all life itself.

The Greek Philosopher Democritus'explanation of the behaviour of atoms, which would logically apply in the context of sub-atomic particles, has them "swerving". Free-will? sj

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