Determinism and Free Will

The issue of free will has occupied my thought for quite some time, and the answer seems to shrouded in a number of different layers of concepts and issues, which makes it an ardous task. Are humans free? Or are we a part of a grand design, and our free will is an illusion? I do not suppose that i have found the ultimate answer to this question, so i'll just talk a little about it, examining the matter from different angles.There are, i think, three major theories of determinism: Religious determinism, Physical determinism, and Psychological determinism.

Religious determinism believes in an omnipotent, omniscient God, who knows everything that has happened in the past, or will happen in the future. The immediate question raised is that if God knows everything is going to happen, how can we have a say of our own in deciding it. Well, to my mind, it is not a valid objection because "knowing" is not the same as "deciding". God may know that i'll have a sandwich for breakfast, but that doesn't mean he forced me to take it. But there can be other versions of religious determinism in which God does decide the whole future, as is revealed in the concept of fate. However, this clearly contradicts the idea of accountability associated with most religious. We can only be accountable for our actions if we are free. Obviously, the religious determinism rests on the idea of God, and if it is denied, it collapses. 

Physical determinism maintains that all things including humans obey the laws of physics, and therefore there is no free will. The difficulty with this idea is the assumption that "all things" obey laws of physics. As far as i know, physics is not capable of explaining the origin of consciousness in humans, and therefore believing that all biology is reducable to physics is, at present, unjustified. 

Psychological determinism states that all human actions have a motive behind them. We eat because we feel hunger, we work to get food, we sleep to rest, and we love because it is a biological drive. Behaviouristic psychology has emerged as one of the most important psychological theories. Although it seems reasonable, but when applied to concrete situations in which humans make decisions, I don't find this theory much convincing. However, the fact that we can to some extent predict human behaviour is a great support to this idea. 

Another problem associated with the issue is of defining free will. The most common definition is that when several courses are open to us, when can choose any one of them. The problem is that computers can also "choose" from a number of possibilites. Does that mean they are free as well? In fact, many believe that human mind too acts like an "artificial intelligence", making decisions on the basis of previous ideas and contents of mind.

I don't know, but determinism tends to make life spooky for me. It completely denies any distinction of good and evil, because they are associated with free will. Think about it.


Qasim Aziz said…
Well, i dont have any answer for this question,but Bergson made a good point against determinism when he argued that if everything is determined then 'motive' should flow with lubricant but what we encounter is quite contrary,as we have to strive to achieve our objectives and motives.

I know this is not a satisfactory answer but it does raise some doubts about the accuracy of hard determinism.No analysis can provide us with satisfactory answer,as Bergson himself said that 'Every analysis is analysis ad infinitum'.
Naima said…
Faith - Acceptance of which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot prove.
There is a word that can be manipulated in a feeling and a gesture as well -- FAITH. Everything in this universe does not revolve around PROOFS, this way analysis into analysis and then moving further with millions of analysis occupying the free mind state, there comes the POINT when we start suspecting the given free will.
Religion never bounds you yet it BINDS you, why do we only have to look at a certain verdict mentioned in HOLY BOOK with just one accustaion residing in our heart and mind that is WE ARE NOT FREE AND NOT GIVEN ENOUGH FREEDOM.
If keeping human behaviour in notice, they CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH, they always want to step ahead of time, move at the pace of light, make moon their abode etc but does that in any way defy the existing characteristics of free will.
I personally believe RELIGION & FAITH are the driving forces, if we start thinking everything with BRAINS and consider our hearts not the engine to drive our body with feeling, desire, faith and belief but a mere organ to pump blood sufficiently then this would be an INJUSTICE to OUR CREATOR who must have enriched our soul with almost everything required to lead a SUPERNATURAL life but not the FAITH IN HEART to carry on living in an IDEAL manner.