• Benj96
    Despite the obvious fact that we can only have one life path - the one we ultimately take, we are often caught up in “what’s ifs” - Which are ultimately futile as they reduce to “what if my life wasn’t the one I am experiencing? It’s as good as saying “what if I was a different person” which is mute because it’s something we can never be.

    It stands to reason that a person at the end of their life, on their death bed, is the epitome of determinism - their whole life from start to finish is determined. Their potency to influence their personal future is null and void by the fact that they’re about to die. A baby just born... on the other side of the spectrum - is to the contrary one where the entirety of their life is uncertain and yet to be determined.

    So instead of trying to establish whether our lives are ones of pre-determinism or free will... perhaps life is a gradient, a progression - from a state of total free will and uncertainty to one of determinism and certainty. In this case the Two qualities are mutual and inversely proportionate.

    Take language as an example. A baby is omnipotent in their capacity to learn and master any human language, a trait which is rapidly cancelled by selective differentiation towards one of few specific languages. After only a few years it is impossible for a child to maintain the ability to learn any language with automatic ease. Sure you can train yourself through hard work to be more linguistic but the brain simply doesn’t reserve plasticity. In order to develop it must choose a path that renders others harder and harder to achieve as time passes by.

    So is the question of determinism verses free will a false dichotomy?
  • Jack Cummins

    It seems that you are really saying that we are in pathways of causation arising from our previous choices. In other words, we start out with many choices, but as we go through life we are more restricted. Surely, this is more about restrictions of options rather than free will, and not necessarily the same as free will, which involves the capacity to make the specific choices we make.

    But it is interesting to think about how we have limited choices and, this probably also varies as a social and socioeconomic factor in some ways. The people who come from poorer backgrounds don't have the same range of choices as some from wealthier backgrounds. There is probably a whole spectrum of some people having more possible options than others, but, of course, the options do become less as one progresses through life. For example, we may look back and think that we would have been able to choose different career pathways if we had chosen to pursue other studies rather than the ones we chose.
  • 180 Proof
    So is the question of determinism verses free will a false dichotomy?Benj96
    It must be.
  • Benj96
    well yes in a way I see what you’re saying.
    But then this would be a question of the diminishing returns of free will... that each choice reduces the degree to which we can operate from free will. With an end point - death - in which really the only option left is to cease existing. We have at that point exhausted all of our free will.

    So in this case the strongest form of free will is the free will we have when we begin life. And we are continually restricted in our access to it as we progress through our life choices. The path we take becomes more and more defined and uncertainty less and less until everything is absolutely certain.

    But if that’s the case then we could argue the same for determinism in reverse. The degree to which we operate from determinism increases as we age.

    For example the choice to begin smoking increases the determinism of the means by which we die. Overeating and drinking alcohol furthers us down that path and increases the definite nature of our death as caused by our toxic habits. If one quits all their bad habits after 40 years they will never regain the free will to die another way that was offered to them before they began that lifestyle due to the accumulative damage.

    If in the case of two identical twins one chooses an outdoor lifestyle in a hot country and the other an indoor lifestyle in a cool climate... the degree to which their skin ages and is damaged by sun is determined and the sun exposed twin can never go back to a point at which they can look as youthful as the other who chose not to to be irradiated by uv longterm.

    There’s definitely an interplay between the consequences of our choices setting up a restricted state from which we can operate wish diminished effect to resolve or omit past choices.
  • Jack Cummins

    It may not be that clear though because life is not entirely mechanistic. Some people smoke and live to be in their 90s, while others lead a healthy lifestyle and get sick and die young. Of course, the choices we make play a certain amount of influence, but it is within a whole set of variables.

    We could ask to what extent are the variables determined in the first place, taking it right back to genetics and socialisation For example, are criminals born or made? This goes more into the territory of the nature vs nurture debate, which is probably relevant to considering free will in some ways, Howevrr, it still doesn't really get to the issue of whether we as individuals make the specific choices as conscious reflective beings or whether we are more like puppets, enslaved by the combined interplay of nature and nurture.
  • unenlightened
    I am free to determine whatever is within my power and ability. My post, my words, your reply, your choice.
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