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22.8.04

Destiny v. Free Will

My trial settled. More on that later. Or maybe not. Regardless, it.is.finished.

So, a friend and I are having a disagreement about what type of person I am. I think I’m better able to define who I am, but, of course, immediately before this discussion I argued in another discussion, "We are not who we say we are. To insist we are is to say that the rest of the world doesn't count, that the opinions of our friends don't matter, that their honest attempts at objectivity are not really important to us. We are not who we think we are, or claim to be. We are what others say we are, which is why in courts and schools and businesses, we don't accept what people claim about themselves; we ask witnesses, teachers and references. We are who others say we are." --John Kaminski. This of course makes it somewhat difficult for me to later argue that only I can define who I am and his opinion doesn’t count. Even if I was just messing around with him when I made the initial argument.

It started with an innocent question. "So I gather you don't believe in fate or destiny?" Well, that’s just ridiculous! I do believe in fate and destiny. Wholeheartedly. Why do you think that I take it all so seriously? And so, I answered accordingly. And his reply was, "You're messing with me on the fate and destiny thing, right? I just see you as person who focuses on effort and will to move through this world." Well, shit, how does one respond to that?? Because the fact is, I do believe in free will. But I also believe in destiny. Are they mutually exclusive? I never thought so. In fact, I think it’s a matter of how you consider time. I don’t see time as linear. (This theory is less odd than my disbelief in gravity I think. I was talking to Yoda about that -- my disbelief in gravity I mean -- and he just laughed. Me thinks Yoda, who believes that pheromones explain all friendships, marriages, and aversions to peoples, is in no position to laugh at my yet unproven theories.)

Anyway, the best quote to sum up free will and destiny that I’ve ever found is, "along the path there is free will, but once the goal is reached, we realize that everything was destined." I think what that means, or rather, what it means to me, is that when we come to a fork in the road, we have a choice whether we turn right or left. However, the decision has already been made -- by us -- because time isn’t a linear thing. We as humans have to turn it into something understandable, which means it’s now, and earlier was before, and afterwards is later. But time actually isn't a straight linear line of past, present and future. So therefore, the decisions of tomorrow were already made yesterday.

And I don’t mean this to sound like a time travel thing, or the traditional time travel theory, which of course leads to the ultimate "time Traveler Paradox" -- what if you went back in time and killed your own grandfather? The problem is, of course, if you kill your grandfather then you would not be born. Thus you could not travel into the past, thus you would not kill your grandfather. Thus, you would be born causing you to again travel into the past to kill your grandfather. The ultimate paradox. But that's not what I mean when I say that time isn't linear.

Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will. ~Jawaharial Nehru That seems to suggest that life is both destiny and free will. However, under my theory, we have already played the cards. So when we get the cards, what we will choose to play have already been played. The cards we play are destined, but we made those decisions. (By the way, I love card anologies to life, so if you have any, please share.)

I am not making much sense, I know, and I have to get my thoughts together to respond to him...but it's too hard because they are seemingly contradictory. But I just don't believe they are.

4 Comments:

  • At 10:11 PM, Blogger Alli said…

    I agree. =)

     
  • At 12:40 PM, Blogger Katie said…

    I was a philosophy major in college. I used to write papers about this stuff until my brain was squeezed into a little walnut. So I've given it a little thought.

    I think free will & determinism are definitley mutually exclusive - anything else would be logically incoherent. That's not to say that we don't make decisions freely - it's just that we're so vastly influenced/programmed/determined (pick whichever phrasing you like, they all come down to about the same thing)by our lives, by our upbringing, by the social environment, constructions of gender and so on (and this goes back to our parents & theirs and on and on) that it would be difficult if not impossible to think differently. And if we did, that, too would be due to a molding force in the outside world.

    A lot of people find this view either really stupid ("I wasn't fated to put on a red shirt today, dumba**!"), or they get it but find it really depressing. I actually find it kind of comforting, in a weird way; it makes ME feel less bad about all of the stupidity I see around me all of the time, since it makes me reflect on the ways that people are influenced to be however they are. It makes me hopeful that better influences could, well, influence things for the better. Does that make any sense at all?

     
  • At 1:01 PM, Blogger Me said…

    Also a philosophy major (and three classes towards the masters before I stopped, "temporarily" I told myself at the time, but haven't yet resumed years later), but absolutely don't believe that free will & determinism are definitley mutually exclusive.

    And I understand what you are saying that they seem contradictory to say that they are not exclusive, but that's why I think it is so hard to accept - because what we believe impossible is actually - true.

     
  • At 5:38 PM, Blogger Katie said…

    I spent so long trying to justify libertarian free will that I finally gave up & became a determinist. I don't think there's any middle ground, though, even though a LOT of really smart people disagree with me. :) Philosophy geeks rule. Oh, oh! A Simpson's joke:

    "Can God microwave a burrito till it's so hot that even He can't eat it?" - Homer

     

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