Whenever arguments are advanced concerning the study of nature (as in human nature and the natural world which is the main subject matter of poetry) they always include Freewill. The idealists define freewill as the power of making free choices unconstranied by external agencies. But these external agencies have far reaching influence on human life and actions. They say we have the freewill to do this or the freewill to do that which I find delusional. Because all our actions are reactions to the environment.
We can’t control planetary orbits nor alter their laws. We cannot control the climate and the seasons that come with it. We are locked in our genes which informs our instincts, emotions, behaviour, culture etc. Even concerning the natural world, in circumstances where people were informed of disasters such as rains, storms, tsunamis, disease epidemics etc. still we are at the mercy of such external agencies which strike unexpectedly. We are simply walking egos.
Unless the Freewill which they speak of almost in ecstatic way have limitations which I suspect to be related to human societies? If Freewill has limitations then our life is to a great extent determined in advance. For instance, one has no freewill to choose which gases to inhale. All animals must inhale oxygen in order to live. If we continue to carelessly cut down trees and destroy virgin forests and consequently become short of oxygen, we can only wait to die. Where is freewill in this?
Hume’s answer, that, by coping with a smaller evil humanity could avert greater evil did not answer the question of the problem of evil. The question was not about how to avert a greater evil but rather “from where comes evil?”
What we call “God” and what we call “the Devil” refers to the same entity. That’s obviously a mad logic of our existence. But He says right here:
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” — Isaiah 45:7
So next time we go through some pain and suffering, let us look to the Lord. Perhaps he creates evil and causes suffering to fortify our souls. So yes! God can be benevolent or malevolent depending on who he is dealing with.
Determinism is a philosophical theory holding that all events are inevitable consequences of antecedent sufficient causes; often understood as denying the possibility of free will. I, for instance, do not know if determinism is a continuum, permeating all aspects of our lives but what I do know is that we have freewill, to a great extent. This freewill which I speak of is nonetheless limited in certain respects by no other concept but determinism. We cannot decide on how the natural world or the universe is organised. We cannot decide on what gases to breath in or what food or herbs to eat (we can’t eat plankton) or what anatomy to have as humans. We can only decide on our abstract wishes and desires – things closely related or emanating from us.
So I am tempted to conclude that maybe what we call “Determinism” and what we call “Freewill” are the polar opposites of the same phenomenon. In other words, to the extreme left is determinism and to the extreme right is freewill. And that humanity is moving from the former to the latter. The reason for the unending argument between proponents of the two theories is that philosophy itself (logic) has an inherent problem – in that it cannot tolerate ambiguity or gradations. Neither does it tolerate any concept resembling the gestalt one. A conglomerate concept handed down by nature is often broken down by philosophers into individual parts and then these philosophers spend the rest of their lives struggling to derive meaning from the separate ideas, when in fact by grouping these ideas, we could instantly arrive at something meaningful.
Let us test this idea (determinism and freewill as opposite ends) with a historical event like the second world war. Determinists will say that the war was bound to happen due to certain “antecedent sufficient causes” whether or not Hitler became chancellor of Germany at the time or whether any humans triggered it. Proponents of freewill will say that the war occurred because of our thoughtless actions or mistakes as humans. But the fact remains, something good came out of the war, and that is the union of world nations. So we can say these two opposing concepts are a linear process juggling humanity back and forth depending on certain individual elements. African societies typically embrace determinism to a fault. In fact the typical unlettered African believe his actions or even his fate (misery or death) simply as by-products of certain divine arrangements and he is right in some respects. Perhaps we can say everything begins with Determinism and ends with Freewill. What are your thoughts?