Friday, 19 September 2008

ON THE MATTER OF FREE WILL (Or Part Three Of A Triptych In Which Miss Dreamy Is Finally Coming To The Point...)

Bob: “(unconditional free will as in 'the choice that I make now is totally independent of the circumstances and the history including myself'), because we will never know which was the predetermined path and what happened when we took a turn from there.”


But this is hardly to concede that the whole question of free will can thus be summarily dismissed. That an indomitable will can always make itself felt is a matter of historical fact. For even though no such conscious will may exist, the entire past and future history of man must have been implicit in its unconditional configuration at the point of its creation.

Thus one may say, with scrupulous accuracy, that Pitt, Marlborough, Clive, Cook, Nelson and Wellington belong to the foremost rank of British imperial heroes. Where vital processes are at work, willpower and determination can gain an imaginative foothold, or make a breakthrough of far greater importance than the mere application of free will. The enormous ramifications of what, for want of a better term, may be called cosmic intuition found its most profound expression, perhaps, in Heraclitus and the intellectual impulse towards the modern idea of becoming. One is conscious of the legacy of this great man - Nietzschean rather than Euclidean. Galvani and Watt, Volta and Ohm, Ampere and
Bunsen dominated the early nineteenth century and the science of electro-chemistry. Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction. Maxwell founded the electromagnetic age.

But crucial to all was vision. Either that, or call it intuition.

Einstein had remarkable powers of perception. He was both the detached
observer and a reader of riddles. Newton, apart from a strongly marked
individuality, was at once the magus of the universe and a man of the
Enlightenment. The sheer scale of the man is breathtaking. But both Newton and
Einstein were preoccupied with the modus operandi of the law of gravity, and
their achievement is a triumph of the imaginative will gained not in the
interest of the individual, but of humanity. Men of such note are unique to any
period, but they are a force rather than a power. The broad currents of history
may not have been, and cannot perhaps be fundamentally altered by such impetus.
You need a thousand more to grasp the source and origin of human civilization.

Cultural contexts, then, whether psychological or technological, social
or scientific change their identity through vision and intuition, rather than intellectual
discrimination or free will. No individual freedom of will remotely fulfils the
collective purpose of mankind’s inner spiritual and its outer cosmic
development. Individual events are just part of a probability distribution.
Quantities and numbers come to hold a sovereign significance, pertaining to life
in a way that a metric unit pertains to a poem and are probably amounting to the
greatest single sociological force. Admittedly! In fact, the dependence is such
that social behaviour becomes a commodity charted in financial institutions.
That social patterns are the foundation of corporate profitability and the
rationalization of commercial law is an accepted doctrine of financial
establishments sanctioned by Marx and Adam Smith alike. Indeed, Marx points out
that a social context “can accurately predict the number and kind of crimes that
will be committed over any given period of time,” even though the offence itself
is casual.

Society's socio-philosophical content is, consequently, identical with that of
the first law of thermodynamics governing random motions of particles. However
haphazard they turn out to be, the determinate element is paramount. Free Will
is a myth contrived in scholastic institutions.



Crushed said...

Of course.

It stands to reason that the universe will not come to an end a second later than it has to.

The universe and everything is driven, inexorably to that point.

Really, it is all down to thermodynamics.
Everything we do, we do because we are driven to expound energy, to waste ourselves and everything in our path at a faster and faster rate.

Bob said...


Excuse me for simplifying things, it stems from my line of work I guess. What you are saying is that the choice of the individual really doesn't matter, the distribution of choices of the group will inevitably folllow the path of its destination.

It reminds of the voting system. It doesn't matter whom I vote for, but in the end a candidate gets voted because the majority chose him. (My 'free will' would matter if through a public platform I as one person could influence a large group of people to vote for my candidate.)

Nevertheless this does not rule out the concept of free will, it just constrains its significance.

(By the way: 'conditional free will' means you're free to choose because nobody else forces you to do what's in their best interest, it's a different definition. This is what the german wikipedia told me.)

So now that we know that what we really need is a vision, a divine inspiration, keep in mind that you must always beware of leaders with a vision.

Do you have a vision?

Selena Dreamy said...

"Do you have a vision?"

I do Bob - but few who can follow... (see below!)

Selena Dreamy said...

“Really, it is all down to thermodynamics.
Everything we do, we do because we are driven to expound energy, to waste ourselves and everything in our path at a faster and faster rate.”

Ah Crushed, a conspicuous piece of information but, I’m afraid, it has nothing to do with the subject matter here in hand. May I take it that you didn’t actually bother to read my post (a common complaint) or - may the Lord be blessed - have you been snorting again?

I’ve told you before, coke stops the rush of blood from cerebellum to penis. It loosens the tongue and softens your dick! Not to be recommended...

For the rest, yo’re right of course. So far as the second law of thermodynamics is concerned, , entropy is a measure of the disorganization of the universe which, due to irreversible energy transfers, must always increase - the eventual outcome being a heat death. Or, as the physicist would put it, a state in which organization is absent and temperature distribution uniform. There is no possibility of repeal, the entropy of a closed system can never decrease.

All Shook Up said...

I sometimes think your brain should be fired down a 27km tunnel until it meets itself coming the other way, so we can see what comes spinning out of the collision.

Quoting Newton, Einstein, Euclid, Galvani, Watt, Volta, Ohm, Ampere, Bunsen, Faraday, Maxwell, Nietzsche, Marx, Smith and your old pal Schopenhauer at us indeed... I can only reel from the onslaught!

Anyway... to show willing, isn't there a difference between the scientists (inc. Cook) and Marlborough, Nelson and Wellington here, in terms of will? Didn't the latter exercise better judgment than their opponents and therefore secure outcomes to their battles that were only one of a number of possible outcomes - and which led on to further unforseeable events? Whereas the scientists, for all their vision and genius, made discoveries of realities (particularly in Cook's case), which existed for anyone who looked for them.

Selena Dreamy said...

Well perceived, ASU, and I thank your for that. To brood upon the cryptic propositions of philosophical enquiry is not everybody’s cup of tea. Nor the grinding, sober, solitude of it.

It is tempting, of course, to play with the idea of a difference between scientists and soldiers and the implicitly suggested vision of “a number of possible outcomes.” On this evidence, however, I favour a less sophisticated reading: the Dreamers are as hopelessly trapped as the Dream. I still tend to think that - variations apart - the entire future history of man must have been implicit in its unconditional configuration at the point of the Big Bang.


Anonymous said...

I am wearing black stockings and suspsender belt tonight... bet you aint?

James Higham said...

I always use the analogy of a child's toy yacht which the boy holds onto so it won't come to grief but it is unsatisfying so he lets it go on its own adventure and only taps it back on course if it is truly going out to sea. That, to me, sums it up.

Jonathan said...

'No individual freedom of will remotely fulfils the collective purpose of mankind’s inner spiritual and its outer cosmic

Well, I certainly agree with that, but what happens I wonder if the individual will aligns itself with that collective purpose such as, perhaps, to become its instrument. Will it not then attain to a greater freedom?

I'm not sure if you are implying some conscious intelligence to this collective development or you defer to that kind of blind randomness of the larger picture which as a belief is so fashionable these days.

At a humdrum level, of course, the belief in free will, as it is common sensically understood and believed to exist, has been crucially important to our systems of social control and punishment.

And it seems to me the most compassionate souls, in contrast, have tended to accept that it is normal for people to be mecahnical, reactive slaves of internal and external circumstances; to locate the heart of blame either at the collective, societal level (in the way right wing moralists dont like) or in behavioural determinism in general.

Such souls view life as tragedy, not as moral drama. Though I ultimately reject the pessimism (but only because I believe in higher, transcendent love) I share the sentiment and the sense that we should be slow to judge, seeking rather to understand and liberate, insofar as we can.

Life indeed is a prison. But prisons imply realms of freedom beyond.