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Becoming Belief; Self-Determination in a more or less Deterministic Universe

Marcus Tullius CiceroJun 14, 2017, 2:33:40 PM

If it weren’t for a strangely certain feeling of free will, we’d all be determinists. After all, how are you sure that you have free will just based on intuition? The world is swept up in material, freedom and life can’t be breathed into material it by a vague intuition, and metaphysical explanations seem entirely ridiculous in this day and age. No, one must assert that everything is determined; there is no agency except the idea of agency. Everything must follow from the last moment of the iterated universe with clockwork regularity, although we cannot compass it all with our understanding. Even with a God as the first cause of everything it is evident that He set the universe into motion, and gave it a certain speed and heading, which we little creatures cannot hope to change materially just based on our assumption of free will.


**According to hard determinists, free will is no more meaningful than writing the words; this gear is a free agent, on every gear in this extraordinarily complex astronomical clock.** 


But does this miss something? Is it really important on a human scale that everything is predetermined in some remote sense? I think my own thoughts and I act on them, does it really matter to me that those were the only thoughts I could have been thinking according to somebody else’s a priori assumption that the universe is clockwork and robots through and through? Even if that is the case I clearly shouldn’t ignore my sense of personal agency, but now we are left with a very stark problem. I don’t want to be predetermined because that is a kind of slavery, even if that slavery is to a benevolent God, or indifferent Universe it’s still slavery to something so multifarious and large that I am to it, as a cell on the end of my finger is to me.



**The compass in symbology marks out limits.**


As a result there are two choices, one is to be indifferent to our own lives, because they are predetermined, or predetermined enough that we will find no real enduring escape from our fate, or we can try to change the outcome of the Universe before we are subsumed back into it’s cold regularity in death. But how can one change the outcome of a predestined Universe? Perhaps because a logical way to reconcile determinism and free will is to say that our own thoughts and beliefs predetermine us rather than the remote calculations of the Universe made sometime long before we were born. Hence an aphorism of mine; you will become what you believe. This would make sense and has the advantage that it appeals to both our sense of free will, and our sense of how we might logically restrict ourselves, or when we witness the sometimes absurd and seemingly arbitrary motivations which people give voice to in their actions. 


**If your mind is a machine, change the programming to change the outcome. It's as B.A.S.I.C. as that.**


Perhaps true free will only exists when we seek to be our best self against the backdrop of an entropic universe that we would otherwise cascade into. Striving against the current, lifting up our comprehension and applying our skills, so that we grasp more with our minds than otherwise would belong to us to understand. Perhaps this is our only escape from a waking death in determinism. Now having striven, intellectually and even physically, one finally might have a modest amount of freedom with which to act with true, philosophical free will, and even better, one receives a kind of power derived from the knowledge gained in the process. Thus perhaps we are only really free to choose what we read, believe and train ourselves to be in the first place, and in this way control what we become.