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Journal of No. 118


December 16th, 2005

Grrrrrrr @ 02:22 pm

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Got a lot of work done today, so I can enjoy my weekend with a free conscience. Though I did just waste some time hanging around on hold. Being on hold with the credit card company took longer and was more painful than my last trip to the dentist, where I got fitted for a crown. Not only was I subjected to the soothing holiday stylings of the 101 strings, but I was transferred from Accounts to Disputes to Fraud to Security with lengthy periods on hold between each. And finally, when the fourth person had asked -- "Mellow greetings, citizen, what seems to be your boggle?" -- the answer I received was anticlimactically simple. GRR!

Last night, I spent some time lying awake thinking about the conflict between free will and determinism. I find myself more and more convinced that free will is an illusion, or a useful fiction, or at the very least much less free than one might suppose. After all, who would choose, of their own free will, to lie awake thinking about the conflict between free will and determinism?

Even supposing that one had 'free will', that hardly means that one is in total control of one's destiny. Perhaps you choose to read a new book. Without already knowing its contents, there is no way for you to predict its ultimate effect on you and your future choices. If one's will is so free that no amount of reading can have any effect on one, then we are all capricious and incorrigible monsters. Since it would appear that most people can be affected by learning, reading and experience, this is fortunately not the case. Thus, even freely made choices (assuming they exist) can lead to unseen ends, uncontrolled by the will. If one chose, for example, to read some Borges before turning in, one might find oneself lying awake thinking about the conflict between free will and determinism.
 
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From:rsheslin
Date:December 16th, 2005 11:39 pm (UTC)
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Complete Free Will <> Random Choices, IMHO.

One is influenced by the outside world, yet what one chooses to do with the influence is ultimately a choice.

At the same time, on a personal level, I have great compassion for those who are so bound by influence that they do not realize that although pain may be inevitable, suffering is optional, i.e. they can choose how they perceive their situation and therefore widen their available choices of actions and have impact on their world.

Except for my husband. Lacking some compassion there because we're all sick and he's currently driving me up the wall.
From:aaronjv
Date:December 17th, 2005 10:47 am (UTC)
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Does it matter?

The question to ask about determinism is "determined/known by whom?"
If the answer is "no one", then we have free choice...to read a book or not, to put it down when we want, to pick it back up again.

I agree that we are not in control of our own destiny; if we were, I'd live until I chose to die. However, how we choose to deal with that fact is free, but out free choice can be influenced.

Lastly, by "us", do you mean our conscious, our subconscious, or both?
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From:freudinshade
Date:December 20th, 2005 06:48 am (UTC)

Borges

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Labyrinths will do interesting things to you. In addition to being a collection of pretty much his best short works, it's a better translation (in that it reads a lot better) than others I've read. The Judas piece (Three Versions of Judas) is a most interesting exploration of what, in today's America, would generally be a taboo subject... It's definately in my top 10 books.

Journal of No. 118