Free-will

Free-will is the capacity of choosing in an autonomous and independent way.  The impression of choosing freely is inescapable aspect of our daily life. But the problem of free-will is if this impression real, or is it just a mental appearance? Do we really choose freely and independently, or are our choices conditioned by forces that we are not aware of?

The problem of free-will is not just academic. It is central to some of the most important aspects of our self conception. It is central to our moral beliefs, which depends on the reality of free-will to choose between what is right and what is wrong. It is central to problems like addiction: is addiction a physiological dependence, or is it a fiction where the individual is always free to choose what he consumes? It is central to problems like criminal responsibility: are criminals fully responsible for their crime, or are poverty, social exclusion or mental health problems causes for criminality? And it is central in Abrahamanic religions (and their standing on the above problems) where from the premise that we have a free-will we are responsible to choose between good and evil, and consequently, we shall be rewarded or punished in an afterlife.

In present times, science has a strong influence on our world view and how the physical world behaves. From a scientific point of view, the world is a causal and deterministic world where everything is determined by its causes. And in such a deterministic world free-will is not possible. The problem with this view, is that it opposes moral and religious views.

So there are currently two antagonistic opinions about the reality of free-will: between those with more moral or religious views and those with more scientific or secular views. Between those who believe that man has a free-will, and those who are skeptical or deny the reality of free-will (There is also a third position, Compatibilism, which tries to bring together science and religion by sustaining that determinism and free-will are actually compatible. For an analysis of its fallacy see The unreality of indeterminism). Because free-will is so central to our self-concept, this polarisation is manifested in different opinions about general aspects of life. For example, those with stronger moral or religious views tend to attribute higher responsibility to criminals and addicts than those with more secular views, who tend to look for causes for addiction and crime.

In the present we are going to analyse free-will in the context of a monist universe. In a monist universe the world is neither deterministic, nor man behaves autonomously. From a monist point of view, both opposite views (free-will and determinism) are partially right and partially wrong.

In a monist universe the world is a natural world where everything responds to Nature. If man would have a free-will then there would be a discontinuity between man and Nature: everything would be responding to Nature except man that is capable of behaving in an autonomous and independent way. In a monist universe this is not possible. Since nothing exist out of Space, everything responds to Nature. And in a monist universe a unitary Space has no gaps or discontinuities; meaning that there are no discontinuities and exceptions to Nature. In a monist universe we are a natural existence that responds to Nature with no free-will.

Monism precludes the possibility of absolute freedom, but it also contemplates the reality of our relative freedom. It is part of our nature to have a certain degree of independence in our choices. We might not be able to act out of Nature, but it is part of our nature to have certain degree of autonomy in our thought and our actions. Absolute freedom then, is impossible in a natural world; but relative freedom is a natural phenomena.

The relativity of freedom

The unreality of determinism

The unreality of indeterminism


%d bloggers like this: