Monday, 27 January 2014

The necessity of believing in Free Will

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It is a striking aspect of modern life that so many people - brain scientists, psychologists, social scientists, geneticists, metaphysicians, artists, journalists, politicians - are all trying so hard to persuade other people that there is no free will

...that people cannot control the way they behave and what they do: that people are in fact (and whatever they may feel about it) helpless puppets of their lower brain, subconscious mind, conditioning, upbringing, social circumstances, genes, instinct, class, sex, age, race, philosophical necessity, or propaganda.

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Just imagine! We apparently 'know' for sure that we are either helpless puppets of all these, at the same time (and others I haven't mentioned), or else whichever one of them happens to interest us (or pay our wages).

Or maybe all of them and one or more of them at the same time - or something...

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...We apparently know this for a fact - or many facts - or one fact and many facts at the same time; despite that it may be the deepest experiential conviction (deeper than belief in religion, science, art, politics or anything else) that we are autonomous agents; and despite that to assert anything else is very obviously self-refuting.

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Presumably the hordes of people in scores of professions who are so keen to assert that we all lack free will (and who spread their confusion/ despair-generating views by all possible channels in the research literature, educational establishments and mass media) are likewise merely helpless puppets that cannot stop themselves from spouting evil nonsense. 

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