Sunday, November 20, 2005

Implications of Free Will

I know that it really feels like we are free, but even more importantly, if we do not have free will then our lives lose a heck of a lot of meaning. It's a depressing view where we are mere biochemical machines thinking that we choose how we act but where even our very thoughts and desires are determined by mindless chemical interactions. We cannot then assign moral value to anything and even praise or blame for any action whatsoever is entirely misplaced.

After chewing on that for awhile I think most people will not want to live in such a worthless view of life and decide that they believe in free will regardless of what the evidence so far supports. Whether free will exists or not, I don't know, but the point is that in "choosing" free will we demonstrate that the positivist's method is not good enough to build a meaningful philosophy. We find that we must engage in speculation and live as if many unproven things are true. Essentially, even the atheist must have a form of faith.

With such a realization it is apparent that the atheist can no longer claim complete rationality in his views. Does this prove the theist correct? Not at all. But it does serve to hurt the atheist's standing and perhaps provides the justification to begin exploring other meaningful kinds of speculation.

10 comments:

B. Spinoza said...

>With such a realization it is apparent that the atheist can no longer claim complete rationality in his views

right you are. rationalism is a dead dog .

B. Spinoza said...

you should read Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, if you haven't already.

David said...

>>It is apparent that the atheist can no longer claim complete rationality in his views.

Nobody can. Every field of study, even the most rigorous science, still requires some reliance on basic intuitions.

Hayim said...

Interesting direction you're taking lately. So what are the "other meaningful kinds of speculation" you're referring to, any idea at this point ?

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

I don't know if rationalism is a dead dog, but like in most philosophies, it leaves something to be desired.

Btw, thanks for the Dostoevsky link. I read through a bit of it, I'll try to finish it once my schoolwork lightens up.

David,

"Nobody can. Every field of study, even the most rigorous science, still requires some reliance on basic intuitions."

Yes, this is true, but I think what I've described is a more serious "breach" than admitting to reliance on intuitions.

Hayim,

"So what are the "other meaningful kinds of speculation" you're referring to, any idea at this point ?"

I'm talking about metaphysical assumptions. Perhaps assumptions about morality, the nature of the universe, and even about God. But I have issues in doing so because then these assumptions start crowding my rationality and I have no choice but to quench them. I'm not much good at this faith business.

UberKuh said...

Inducting "faith" or expectation that the sun will rise is much different than faith in a supernatural deity and the 2,000 year-old book he wrote.

UberKuh said...

"inducting" s/b "inductive" ...tired

Orthoprax said...

Uberkuh,

Quite right. But on that same note, "faith" in free will is not the same as "faith" that the sun will rise tomorrow.

alex said...

I Kings 18:21: Ad masai atem poschim al shtei hasipim?

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

Until a clear winner becomes apparent.