April 18, 2008

From Edward N. Haas:

Re: Brain found to prepare decisions in advance (April 15): At the heart of virtually every argument regarding free will, there is a curious assumption of which few parties take note. It goes like this: Free will means a choice consciously made after consciously deliberating several alternatives no one of which is any more attractive than the others; and so, free will exists only where choices are unpredictable. Though few if any perceive it, such a definition of free will means the will is free only if it is not free to choose a different kind of free will. To put it another way: The will is free only if it is not free to have a kind of free will other than what logic says is free will. To put it still a third way: The will is free only if it is not free to be free the way will itself arbitrarily chooses to be free rather than be free the way the intellect’s critical thinking demands it be free. To put it yet a fourth way: The will is free only if it is not free to cease being the slave of the intellect. On the face of it, all who place such a limit on free will engage is self-contradictory gibberish. The “logic” which demands all free choices must be free in the same, one way is no more logic than a square circle is. In short true logic instantly and totally rejects such pseudo-logic, and, thus, a truly intellectual intellect automatically and instantly excludes itself from the free will scenario until after the will, by some wholly arbitrary and willy-nilly act, gives the lead to the intellect.

Here, then, is the kind of free will which I choose: I am an absolutely and outstandingly unique individual made such by the fact that An Infinitely Informed Being -- one always perfectly aware of every individual who ever was, is, or shall be -- guarantees that I am a “will story” outstandingly unique in comparison to all other individuals who ever have been, are, or shall be. No matter how similar my “will story” may be to some others, there’s still enough difference to make me and every one of us outstandingly different from every one of our fellows. To be more specific, say this: From the standpoint of The Infinitely Informed able to observe the sum total of all the choices I or anyone else ever has made, is making, or ever shall make, each of us is a cluster of choices different enough from all the rest to guarantee that each of us is outstandingly unique, and so much so, that everyone able to enter infinity and, like The Infinitely Informed, able to observe the sum total of any individual’s choices, shall, like The Infinitely Informed, explode with infinite rapture at the sight of the beauty of it all. I, therefore, in a kind of backward glance at a choice I made instinctively at conception, fully second and most enthusiastically welcome that long-ago, instinctive choice which determined that all my subsequent choices should be determined before hand by what The Infinitely Informed says I must choose in order to maintain my absolutely and outstandingly unique individuality.

Doesn’t that mean God alone is responsible and to blame for those of my choices which involve evil, injustice, and undeserved injury to others? By no means! For, just as the man, who knowingly and willingly gets drunk, is responsible and to blame for what evil he does while drunk, so also am I -- I who knowingly and willingly choose to let God make sure I always make whatever choice preserves my absolutely and outstandingly unique individuality -- responsible and to blame for whatever choices I subsequently make. Furthermore, if, in the view of The Infinitely Informed, I -- at the innermost depths of my instinctive self -- really, really, REALLY choose to be responsible and to blame for what evil I choose, then a Truly Loving Infinitely Informed will invariably honor my choice. After all, that choice, too, is an absolutely indispensable part of what makes me an absolutely and outstandingly unique individual. Oh, and nothing do I -- whether instinctively or deliberately -- choose more forcefully than I choose to be an absolutely and outstandingly unique individual!

In sum, then, dear editor: Free will is an issue far, far more subtle and complex than what your article suggests.

Incidentally, these words of mine will spur many to say something like this: “If that’s what you want, fine. But, don’t read your choice into me.” Many of those same individuals will also say that nothing is certain. If so, how do they manage to be certain that there is nowhere in their innermost, utterly instinctive depths a really, really real choice to have the same kind of free will I choose? Are we ever aware of what we really, really, r e a l l y want, or do we merely observe what we speculate we want? I repeat: If there is no certitude, how is it anything more than pure speculation to say your choice is not the same as mine?


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