On the Possibility of Free Will

We seek here to investigate by means a priori whether free will can be reasonably held to be true in the sphere of ordinary human endeavour or not.

By the term “free will” we intend to convey that given a situation involving a human being that is conscious (i.e., not in sleep, dream or hypnosis) and a set of objects some of which can be said to be subject to his conscious will, the being in consideration is said to possess free will if, to state in a pleonastic manner for now, what he experiences as his will is free of all influence.

When we thus consider defining free will, we immediately see the inherent paradox, the metaphysical impossibility, because we know that any object conceivable cannot be completely independent from the others for every object is a finite perception in the space-time-cause complex, and is defined with respect to other objects, and the framework itself ultimately being in respect to consciousness – the ancient mind-body dichotomy.

We need therefore to consider the possibility of a partial free will, by which we can mean that the scheme of affairs casts its impression upon the will of the person only so far as to establish in him a tendency, by which we can only mean that in the event that he opts for the path of lesser resistance, he would be choosing that towards which his tendency is made, and resistance is a concept derived from quantity of pain, which can only be known and not be explained without tautology. In the case of partial free will, it may be said that whether one would choose to follow the given tendency or not is a decision that the person alone can make, and no agent can influence it, and therefore his decision cannot be known before hand.

Yet surely the reasonability of free will of any kind is not to be entirely based upon whether knowledge of a person’s decision is acquirable before hand, for there is the argument that we pronounce our ignorance as chance or randomness as if it were not yet decided even by God, so to speak (and thus, the assertion in free will would also imply that God also does not yet know what one’s decision will be, a contradiction in terms, for God is in our estimation the omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, and would thus lead to an atheistic paradigm of various agents interacting with each other, subject perhaps to blind universal rule).

And yet we cannot distinguish between those issues that we cannot know within our scope and those that may be beyond all epistemology itself. We realise that even though the triad of known-knowable-unknown exists in all our inquiries (the unknown being at least in that we may not know what the unknown is), we cannot employ it to support a proposition positive of the existence of free will in any restricted form.

Then there is also the other mode of departure of argument wherein to commence we assert that ours is a universe governed by Law and not otherwise (for it can only be either way, and the way of disorder is clearly not acceptable except to the ignorant). The Law is applicable to all and therefore there can be no admission of freedom sanctioned by the Law itself to its subjects or any such notion (it would rather be akin to the puppeteer sanctioning “freedom” to his puppets).

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