Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No Free Will

It seems to me that when people say they believe in "free will, what they mean is a center of consciousness that is not forced by conditions outside it to choose what it does. That is, it's compelled neither by people or things outside the body and mind it inhabits nor by biochemical effects, emotions, desires, or other elements inside the body or mind to make the choices it does. Thus, a free choice is one that could have been other than it was despite all the conditions inside and outside the choosing agent's body and mind at the time it made that choice.

On the other hand, those who say that we have no free will because all our choices are caused by heredity, conditioning, values, environmental circumstances, and so forth typically appear to envision the chooser as a kind of helpless puppet whose every act arises from strings pulled by external forces.

I’m inclined to view both of these conceptions as simplistic. I’m inclined to agree with those who say that chooser, mind, body, and environment are ultimately a unified field of interrelated conscious and unconscious thoughts, emotions, values, desires, aversions, biochemistry, genes, past and present conditions in the environment, and past and present conditions in the environments of the environments expanding until the entire universe is accounted for. In other words, when you examine the chooser closely enough, you see that he ultimately implies and therefore IS the entire universe, and that every choice he makes is made by the interrelated conditions of the universe as a whole. Thus, given the state of the person who ultimately is the universe at any given moment, the choice this person made at that moment could not have been other than it was. It was an inevitable manifestation of the unified universe.

Thus there is no free will in the sense of uncaused choices made by a completely independent center of consciousness, nor are our choices forced upon us by conditions external to that which chooses them. The chooser is the inside and the outside. The chooser is the “whole shebang” of unified Reality.

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