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December 30, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

The Determinism versus Free Will Debate is a Non-starter…..Almost of No Value to Agents Who have Conciousness or the Perception thereof

My considered opinion is that this ultimately does not make any sense. It makes as little sense as the notion that consciousness is an illusion. Consciousness cannot be an illusion for the simple reason that it is a presupposition of the distinction between reality and illusion. An illusion is an illusion to consciousness, so that if there is no consciousness there are no illusions either. There simply is no (nonverbal) distinction between the illusion of consciousness and consciousness. Similarly for the difference between the illusion of being a free agent and the reality of being a free agent. It is difficult to see any (nonverbal) difference.

Connected with this is the impossibility of existentially appropriating the supposed truth of determinism. Suppose determinism is true. Can I live this truth, apply it to my life, make it my own? Can I existentially appropriate it? Not at all. To live is to be an agent, and to be an agent is to be a free agent. To live and be human is not merely to manifest a belief, but an all-pervasive ground-conviction, of the falsity of determinism. Determinism cannot be practically or existentially appropriated. It remains practically meaningless, a theory whose plausibility requires a third-person objective view of the self. But the self is precisely subjective in its innermost being and insofar forth, free and unobjectifiable.

If you look at the self from a third person point of view, then determinism has some plausibility, for then you are considering the self as just another object among objects, just another phenomenon among phenomena subject to the laws of nature. But the third person point of view presupposes the first person point of view, and it is the latter from which we live. We are objects in the world, but we live as subjects for whom there is a world, a world upon which we act and must act. Subjectivity is irreducible and ineliminable.

We are left with a huge problem that no philosopher has ever solved, namely, the integration of the first-person and third-person points of view. How do they cohere? No philosopher has explained this. What can be seen with clarity, however, is that subjectivity is irreducible and ineliminable and that no solution can be had by denying that we are irreducibly conscious and irreducibly free. One cannot integrate the points of view by denying the first of them.

All indications are that the problem is simply insoluble and we ought to be intellectually honest enough to face the fact. It is no solution at all, and indeed a shabby evasion, to write off the first-person point of view as illusory.


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