Essay—Determinism Versus Freewill (Issue 28)

Summary—Determinism Versus Freewill contrasts the worldviews of determinism (ie. the view that our destiny is predetermined) and freewill (ie. the view that we are free to create our own destiny).

René Descartes (1596-1650) was a French scientist, mathematician and father to modern philosophy.  He began his philosophic quest for certainty by tearing down the medieval house of knowledge and then building again from the ground up.  Descartes expressly advocated the option-based approach to reading.  Accordingly, the first pass is strictly experiential—as if driving a convertible sports car along a mountain road on one of the last days of summer.  The goal here is simply to keep the car on the road.  The optional second pass requires a more careful reading and asks that the reader mark pertinent passages and make plenty of notes in the margins.  The optional third pass calls for the rereading of notes and marked passages.  The Cartesian method provides the option of forgoing the second and third readings while still affording the reader a good basic sense of the material.  This essay has been carefully written for the cultured public.  It is an ten-minute luxury vacation through the brave new world of onespace.

The Complementary Principle.  Niels Bohr (1885-1962) defined the complementary principle as the coexistence of two necessary and seemingly incompatible perspectives of the same phenomenon.  One of its first realizations dates back to 1637 when Descartes revealed that algebra and geometry are the same thing—analytic geometry.  In 1860 Maxwell revealed that electricity and magnetism are the same thing—electromagnetism.  In 1905 Einstein revealed that light is both waves and particles, that matter and energy are the same thing, and that space and time are the same thing—spacetime.  In 1915 Einstein revealed that gravity and inertia are the same thing.  In 2001 I revealed that lightspeed and Planck’s constant are the same thing—the boundary of spacetime.  Gribbin and Strathern have produced an excellent library of twenty-five or so in-ninety-minute pocketbooks.  In keeping with the notion of the option-based approach to reading, one could read Descartes in Ten Minutes before optionally going on to read Descartes in Ninety Minutes.

The Method of Authority Versus The Method of Argument.  The method of authority is the basis of Western society.  Essentially it means that authority gets the last word and that government agents (eg. doctors and educators) are not responsible for answering to arguments.  Consider that Descartes formulated his famous Cartesian model for constructing arguments which is—Order thoughts from simple to complex—Only accept clear and distinct ideas as true—Divide arguments into as many parts as necessary—Check thoroughly for oversights—And rehearse, examine and test arguments over and over until they can be grasped with a single act of intuition or faith.  Initially, one faithfully or intuitively senses truth, which is followed up by constructing rational arguments and then intuitively capturing completed arguments.  In other words, faith leads us to reason and then reason leads us back to faith.  And we must remember what Socrates (469-399 BC) said—Follow the argument wherever it leads.  However, using the method of authority, the conclusion is predetermined and arguments are thus constructed to meet with authoritarian dogma.

Freudian Psychoanalysis Versus Existential Psychoanalysis.  Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was an Austrian physician, neurologist and founder of Freudian psychoanalysis.  Freudian psychoanalysis is a theory of personality and a system of psychotherapy.  According to his theory, people are strongly influenced by unconscious forces.  Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was a French philosopher, dramatist, novelist and political journalist.  He was a leading advocate of existentialism and the originator of existential psychoanalysis.  Against Freud, Sartre argued that the notion of the unconscious is conceived of in bad faith.  Bad faith is a form of self-deception in which one unsuccessfully attempts to flee from freedom and responsibly.  Freudian psychoanalysis is a method that seeks to find the original complex—ie. a knot in the psyche.  Existential psychoanalysis seeks to find the original project—ie. the fundamental choice of Being in the world that manifests itself in every action that a person takes.

Relativity Theory Versus Quantum Theory.  BF Skinner (1904-1990) was a behavioral psychologist and a hardcore determinist who once wrote—Physics did not advance by looking more closely at the jubilance of falling bodies—Similarly, we do not try to discover plans, purposes and intentions in order to get on with the analysis of human behavior.  While his deterministic statement holds true for the macro-world of relativity theory, the micro-world of quantum theory is fundamentally indeterminate.  Relativity theory is the natural law of space and time and is based on lightspeed and the Pythagorean Form.  Quantum theory is the natural law of matter and is based on Planck’s constant and a probabilistic wave equation.  I have solved the problem of how to unite relativity theory and quantum theory with my theory of one by recognizing that lightspeed and Planck’s constant are the very same boundary of the spacetime continuum—thus providing the complementary perspectives of lightspeed and Planck’s constant in relation to the phenomenon of boundedness.

Animal Versus Man.  Saint Augustine (354-430) once described existence as an ontological set of stairs leading to God.  EF Schumacher once described existence as four ontological dimensions being matter, life, consciousness and self-awareness—ie. reflected consciousness.  These four steps are fundamentally different.  That is, they are incomparable and discontinuous.  Animals posses the first three dimensions while man possess the potential of existing in all four dimensions.  Essentially, society fails to draw a distinction between consciousness and self-awareness.  Consider that Skinner insisted we could extend the Pavlovian dog model to the human sphere of existence.  In other words, he argued that man, like dog, unconsciously and deterministically responds to external stimulus.  Here we must remember what Socrates said—To know the self is to know God.  Specifically, the ontological dimension of self-awareness is equivalent to knowing God.  And even if one does not believe in God, the intention would still be the same—which is to know the self.

The Superego Versus The Id.  Consider that the Freudian cognitive model makes the reality-based ego the decisionmaker who must choose between the internal values of the id, self, soul, mathematics, the method of argument and God—and the external authority of the superego, behaviorism, scholasticism, church, government, medicine and education.  In simple terms, it is the question of the superego versus the id.  The behavioral cognitive model chooses the superego over the id—while the existential cognitive model chooses the id over the superego.  In that doctors have not specifically chosen existentialism over behaviorism, the choice of cognitive model defaults to behaviorism.  Thus by means of their passive inaction, doctors are making a killing off this inflicted illness—and are thus committing a fundamental moral error.

The Causal Model Versus The Teleological Model.  The causal model operates by demonstrating that events follow necessarily from the antecedent events that preceded them.  The teleological model operates in terms of goals, purposes and intentions.  It pulls from ahead in contrast to the causal model which pushes from behind.  Skinner, a behavioralist, wanted to do away with the teleological model because of his suspicion of any nonphysical or unobservable processes.  Behaviorism is the theory that nothing external exists which is not observable.  Conversely, existentialism is based on the inwardly focusing Cartesian cogito—ie. cogito, ergo sum—ie. I think, therefore I exist.  Behaviorism is the malignant cancer within society in that it is strictly outwardly focusing—thus denying the existence of consciousness—while the inwardly focusing existential model makes consciousness and self-awareness primordially important.  The causal model identifies with behaviorism and determinism while the teleological model identifies with existentialism and freewill.

Freewill vs Determinism.  To paraphrase TZ Lavine—The problem of determinism versus freewill has tormented philosophy ever since Saint Augustine (354-430)—Determinism is the worldview that every event occurs necessarily from the prior events that gives rise to them—It denies the possibility of freewill—Freewill is the worldview that refutes the notion that the will is completely determined—and claims that moral judgment is meaningless unless the will is free in its choice of actions—The doctrine of freewill rejects the idea that determinism applies to the actions of man—The debate between determinism and freewill is particularly important in the field of criminal psychiatry—The question arises—Is the criminal act the necessary result of a set of antecedent causes so that the criminal could not help doing what he did—or is the criminal free to do otherwise and therefore is responsible?  Determinism arises in a society when the government fails to draw a distinction between determinism and freewill.  In that Canada is strictly deterministic, it could be argued that criminals are not responsible for their criminal actions.

Conclusion.  Einstein once wrote that even the most complex notions could be reduced to a simple set of fundamental principles.  This essay applies the complementary principle to seven interrelated comparison of perspective of phenomena—all of which are related to the overriding thesis of determinism versus freewill.  In reference to each of the seven paragraphs, we must shift from the first perspective to include the second complementary perspective.