Jump to content

What do you believe regarding free will?


Richard
 Share

What type of free will / lack of is most likely?  

23 members have voted

You do not have permission to vote in this poll, or see the poll results. Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

Recommended Posts

Hello

I had a conversation with a friend last night that made me wonder what kind of numbers of people have different beliefs on this subject, so I thought I'd do a poll. I realise that the options are simplistic, but I wanted to make it clear what I'm asking, rather than use complicated words, and too many sub-categories. I will clarify each option below:

 

Free Will:

You can choose what to do in each situation, and you could have chosen otherwise

 

Fate:

Everything is destined to happen, there is a script or plan for the future. You don't have free will

 

Fate with some Free Will:

Some things are fated to happen no matter what, but you can steer yourself to some degree.

 

Determinism:

The behaviour of everything in the universe is determined by the laws of physics, including our brains and therefore brain activity. Therefore there is no free will.

 

Determinism with some Free Will:

Everything that happens is influenced by previous events, but you do have control over decisions you make.

 

Other:

Something else I haven't thought of

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Im not sure I see the difference. Everything that happens IS influenced by previous events, but it is all destined to happen, every second of every event in Universe is happening according to some grand design of some higher Intelligence we don't know anything about. I don't like to call it God, because the term has been abused so many times. I like negative theology (Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite) standpoint: you can only say that God ISN'T.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophatic_theology

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fate means that you have a point in the future which is definitely going to happen. Determinism says that each event that happens is determined by what just happened previously. The difference is that determinism isn't working towards something, it is just the process of how things are, whilst fate is saying there is a plan or time line already in place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ergh, technically everything that is going to happen is fate, and since it's going to happen no matter what, then fate does exist. However this doesn't mean people don't need to make choices. You can choose to make a good choice or a bad choice, and the result of that is fate.

 

Ergh again, this is hard to put into text

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would like to think free will exist, but isn't something like a meteor determined by gravity?

Well if you want to bring physics into this, technically the trajectory of a meteor is not determined until we measure it to be so. But I find that we shouldn't bring physics into this because the math is difficult and the theories uncertain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I voted for free will. At any point in my life i could have done anything differently or not at all or done something else entirely. But, I do believe that certain actions increase the likelihood of other actions in the future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

I'm not big on "fate" and the belief where everything has been pre-determined and that our choices have minimal to no impact on final outcome. Far too often, it ends up being the lazy person's excuse for apathy and why they don't try harder, after convincing themselves that it won't affect the outcome either way.

 

Not to mention, overt belief in fate is contradictory to far too many other ideas. For easy example, why preach that a vegan diet for potentially improving one's health and prolonging their existence if one honestly believes that either

 

A) With death being inevitable, it makes no point to alter the course prior to it, or

 

B) By the logic of complete fate, everyone who is meant to be vegan will become so via grand design pushing them toward it, so it would not matter if you encouraged someone to change their habits, it would happen regardless because of the grand design that is steering us all

 

By the definition of fate, if we cannot change the inevitable outcome and all has been pre-determined, then by doing what we consider "good" is only for the sake of stroking one's own ego in futility rather than making any viable change in the world for the better. Again, using this mindset, if we can't end animal suffering, why bother campaigning or protesting at all then? If the outcome will be unaffected overall and working to make a difference on a case-by-case basis isn't making change that can carry over, then by that logic it's 100% pointless to start in the first place. It's a defeatist way of viewing the world that allows most to simply give up sooner than later, and promotes a solipsistic self-driven view that disassociates one's choices from the impact is will have on others around them. Essentially, if you think that whatever you do won't make a difference overall and you remove all else from the picture, the only logical conclusion is to fend for one's interests only without consideration of others. Basically, it's the perfect path to becoming a self-serving a-hole for those who are looking for validation to think in such terms.

 

A fate-based view just is too devoid of logic for me side with. Again, using examples, our planet may have a set timer that has been put in motion where in 1000 years it may simply implode regardless of what we do. BUT, that does not mean that the correct thing to do is simply say "Screw it, it's probably gonna blow up someday anyway, why bother caring what we do to it?" - that's the conclusion to be drawn from believing in fate, as belief in fate is more or less a way to absolve one of personal responsibility and accountability in the name of lack of control. Rather, much of what we do for the greater good is done with a degree of faith in that our decisions and actions will impact other people/situations positively, and through enough change, things that are on a less-than-ideal path can be turned toward a better direction.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As usual, I think I got too far off point on a tangent!

 

I do understand they're separate things, I was more for making the point that a fate-based viewpoint is very contradictory to a logical existence unless you truly are in belief of a higher power that has the upper hand and have everything set in motion to where it cannot be changed. As well as that it conversely can provide justification for apathy, inaction, or doing whatever feels good without consideration for others, as it intertwines well with a "screw it, whatever is going to happen is going to happen anyway" mindset. By convincing yourself that you're powerless to have control over your actions or your destiny (as well as that your actions can impact a great number of things in the world over time), it allows for more scapegoating for things which you may have directly affected the outcome on (but, it will ALWAYS be due to other forces beyond your control in a fateist mindset) and does very little to encourage an existence beyond simply making the days go by if you truly believe that things will happen as they will regardless. At least, that's all I can envision from a fate-based view, it always seemed more bleak to me than anything else, and a way of seeing the world that absolves the viewer of feeling any need to do more than look out for their own interests.

 

What's interesting to me as well is that, many of the religious people I've spoken with don't feel that fate is a strong force in their lives while they are alive. Moreso, they tend to repeat a similar mantra - they are given free will, but that their choices on earth will steer them toward their ultimate destination in the afterlife, and that their actions are by their own design and certainly do have impact on the course of their lives and those of others and all actions should have consideration. While they may believe that a higher power has an ultimate plan that involved a beginning and that will involve an end to all things eventually, they seem quite convinced that what happens during their physical manifestation is that we create our own personal heaven or hell on earth as a result of our thoughts and actions, not that things such as properity, abundant health, misery, disease, destitution or other conditions have all been pre-determined by another sentient force before they came into being.

 

As far as to what I personally believe, I guess I don't know for sure. The older I get, the less I realize I know, and the more confusing it gets to ponder my existence and whether or not things have been pre-determined or if what I do really does change the course of the future. I guess that now I simply do what I can to be a decent human being to cover my bases under all possible circumstances

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Determinism with some Free Will:

Everything that happens is influenced by previous events, but you do have control over decisions you make.

 

This, but my app doesn't show me the option to vote =(

 

[...] Basically, it's the perfect path to becoming a self-serving a-hole [...]

 

And I completely agree with what VeganEssentials wrote, esp this line

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I think that regardless of whether there is free will, fate or determinism, any action you take does have consequences. It's just that if you believe in free will, then you think you could have done something else. If you believe in fate, you believe that you are destined to do whatever it is that you choose to do. But still, that action still leads to something else, you are a part of a bigger picture. If you believe in determinism, you believe that any choice you make is determined by the laws of physics. But, again, your actions will lead to further actions and reactions, it's just one big chain of reactions. So I don't believe that fate or determinism breeds inaction or apathy - perhaps by those who don't understand what it means. If you think about it, if you believe in fate, and you are thinking "I want to be a doctor" - if you then think "Ah well, it's either fated or it's not, so I won't go to college" - well, you certainly will not be a doctor. You at least have to try and hope that it is fated that you will succeed, same with determinism.

 

You have to remember, people have large egos, and so if they believe in "fate", they think it will revolve around them.

 

I'm mainly interested in seeing the results of the poll and the reasons why people believe what they do, rather than what they don't like about a belief. I mean, if a scientist is testing something, they don't say "Well, I don't want it to do this..." they say "What evidence is there of it or against it?" If they find a substance which is poisonous, then saying "I don't like it" doesn't make it any less true that it is poisonous! So regardless of whether fate or determinism would lead to a pessimistic or apathetic society, I'm interested in the credibility of such ideas - and credibility of free will.

 

I can't get my head around a combination of fate and freewill, or determinism and free will. Either we have some kind of lifeforce or spirit in us which allows us to make a choice, or we don't. If we only have 1 option, or a path is chosen for us, we don't have free will. If we have alternatives that we genuinely can take, then it smashes fate and determinism, I don't see a middle ground.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't get my head around a combination of fate and freewill, or determinism and free will. Either we have some kind of lifeforce or spirit in us which allows us to make a choice, or we don't. If we only have 1 option, or a path is chosen for us, we don't have free will. If we have alternatives that we genuinely can take, then it smashes fate and determinism, I don't see a middle ground.

I think it really comes down to how you define 'fate'. Everyone has choices to make in day-to-day living, and the choice they make is a product of their life experiences. However, once they have made that choice, it has become fate, since they did in fact make that choice and it cannot be undone. But I don't think that is the definition of fate you are thinking of.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[...]

I'm mainly interested in seeing the results of the poll and the reasons why people believe what they do [...]

 

Either we have some kind of lifeforce or spirit in us which allows us to make a choice, or we don't [...]

 

Ok. I believe the decisions made in the past lay the foundations of the present, but that we are free to do what ever we like, then reap the rewards or suffer the consequences, to put it simply. To me, the future does not exist, except in goals, desires, dreams and the likes. My favorite quote goes something like this, "do not regret the past; life is in you today and you make your tomorrow."

 

I don't believe we have a life force in us. It implies we are the body and have a spirit. I believe we are the spirit with a body, or we *are* that life force. We decide for ourselves if we take action and how. But that's another topic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Universe is chaotic and unpredictable. The choices one, few or many make have direct correlation and consequences in this society and on this planet, aside from that anything can happen in the cosmic scheme of things leaving us utterly helpless.

 

So I guess my answer is two fold, yes and no. We have limited control over our personal conscious decisions, the powers that be in this society and on this planet have that same control but much more clout, then the Universe kind of just does whatever, whenever, however...abiding by the laws of physics and such, we are at it's mercy thus negating free-will.

 

I cannot stop a super volcano from erupting and blowing half of North America to smithereens and sending America into a nuclear Winter. But I can refrain from killing the cricket under my water heater who won't stop playing violin with his damn legs...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't get my head around a combination of fate and freewill, or determinism and free will. Either we have some kind of lifeforce or spirit in us which allows us to make a choice, or we don't. If we only have 1 option, or a path is chosen for us, we don't have free will. If we have alternatives that we genuinely can take, then it smashes fate and determinism, I don't see a middle ground.

I think it really comes down to how you define 'fate'. Everyone has choices to make in day-to-day living, and the choice they make is a product of their life experiences. However, once they have made that choice, it has become fate, since they did in fact make that choice and it cannot be undone. But I don't think that is the definition of fate you are thinking of.

 

Yeah I wouldn't call that "fate". If you're genuinely choosing something to happen, and you can choose from 2 or more options, how can it be fated to happen? If what you happen to choose is what you always would have chosen no matter what, then that's no choice at all, even if it appears open, so it can't be called free will. I'll put it in a direct example to clarify what I'm asking in the poll:

 

Scenario:

There are two flavours of drink in your fridge, and you go to pick one.

 

Free will states that you can actually choose flavour A or B

 

Fate states that because of the nature of fate (whether it is a force of nature or a grand plan made by a god) it is already decided that you would choose A, and nothing you do could lead you to drink B

 

Determinism states that because of the series of events that lead to the present, your decision will be whatever it is, but whichever it is, you couldn't have chosen the other

 

So given those definitions, I don't see how there is any compatibility. I think those in this thread who are talking about a compatibility are really saying they believe in free will.

 

Alternatively, perhaps people are saying that inanimate objects are governed by physics, but things that are "alive" have free will. Kind of murky territory, do bacteria have free will? At what point does something become alive and make genuine choices that affect the universe? What is special about things that are alive in the first place? Given the lack of evidence of a spirit or lifeforce, we are actually just a collection of atoms, which are entirely governed by the laws of physics.

 

The way I personally see things (as I now realise I haven't actually said what I believe) is that there is 100% grindingly predictable determinism. That doesn't mean that a human is equipped to predict anything because the universe is so vast, and the number of things reacting and clashing with each other is completely outside our comprehension. We are made out of cells, which individually cannot be said to have free will. But that's all we are (and as you dissect a cell, you discover even smaller elements also governed by physics, which are reacting without free will).

 

In order to prove that there is free will, in fact you have to prove that in the brain there is activity that does not rely on the laws of physics - there has to be activity that ignores the laws of physics, or controls the laws of physics within the brain. That's not the case though. The laws of physics govern everything that the brain is made of, and therefore the brain itself depends on its parts, and your ability to choose is an illusion. The brain is a physical object after all. I would find free will more convincing if when we open the skull we just find an empty space. Then there would be no evidence of what controls us - and it would be more mysterious. Yet we plainly can see what controls us - the brain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...