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July 27, 2010


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(c) But you can’t at any later stage of life hope to acquire true or ultimate moral responsibility for the way you are by trying to change the way you already are as a result of genetic inheritance and previous experience.

(d) Why not? Because both the particular ways in which you try to change yourself, and the amount of success you have when trying to change yourself, will be determined by how you already are as a result of your genetic inheritance and previous experience.

--The key phase, "true or ultimate moral responsibility" is the issue. Is there another type of 'moral reponsibility' that would work? Could we acquire some sort of relative moral responsibility? Thus, in a small way change the way we already are despite the results of our genetic inheritance and previous experience. Likewise, how far back does this 'previous' experience need to go?

Interesting post and I think I see what you mean but I have to add some things.

Schopenhauer did indeed say that we are not free but he started with freeing the will from causality. In other words the will itself is not bound by the laws of causality and it strives for sex and power. Our thoughts on the other hand are also free but not nearly strong enough to stop the will and therefore we are not free to act in accordance with our thoughts. It is like trying to stop a huge fire with your breath. But Schopenhauer thought that the power of our compassion was strong enough to stop the lust and anger for a moment. Also he thought that if we could still the will we could for a moment enjoy the non-duality of what the will is in itself. He was quite a metafysicus.

However Frankl (a Jewish psychiatrist) came with a new insight he said that next to the will that is pushing us you can also become aware of a will that is pulling us. The will in the body became a pushing force but the will in its pure transpersonal form is a pulling force that you can feel if you want and you can decide to make it stronger if you chose so, if you meditate on it. The best way to experience this is when you are suffering a lot. If you get a sudden experience of the pulling transpersonal free will than your thoughts will find a meaning in life because like the pushing will looks meaningless to the mind the pulling will gives our mind all the meaning and mission. Your real meaning can be found in relation ship to the others, transpersonal. It makes one sustain the biggest suffering just to mean something to loved ones. That is a big message in a culture that is only interested in causal matters that push us around and seem meaningless by nature :)

It is difficult to explain all this in such a short post but as an end remark. I do think there is a reason why compassion is so strong in us (like Shopenhauer said), why it is able to still the forces of the body, is is because there is a transpersonal will in it. It is maybe the strongest prove that life is more than a selfish struggle for survival. At the very least it is a struggle that we have to life together.

Whether we choose free will over determinism or vice-versa depends on our perspective of whether we're looking at things subjectively (first-person) or objectively (third-person).

Whether I actually have free-will or it just appears to my mind that I do, from a subjective point-of-view that I have freedom of choice is axiomatic. Experientially, I have free will.

Likewise, if we accept the determinist argument, I can claim that he, (as the object of my thought), does not have freewill and his actions are entirely foreordained. His actions are deterministic.

However, it doesn't appear I can claim that you, (as the subject of your first-person point-of-view), are not experiencing free-will, experiencing himself as devoid of free choice or experiencing determinism.

I think my evolving ideas on free will may be of interest......


Schopenhauer and nietzche are interesting in their own right, and indeed in expressing desire or drives as wills, but I am not sure the meaning of a will to power or sex is really understood or even meaningful in a modern sense where we have evolutionary biology and genetics, which provide more clearcut explanations for our urges or biological desires.

While our genetical makeup as mammals will surely mean we have inherited similar instictual drives, we seem to have higher order functions by which we can better control our more instinctual urges.

So while it is an interesting question, I do not believe we are wholly enslaved by our unconscious instictual predispositions or even our emotions - so in that respect we are more free than the rest of the animal kingdom.

On a cultural level, it is true we cannot decide what family we are born Into or what our conditioning is - so free will would seem limited - but ppl can certainly make choices within a certain range and their attitude to life often makes all the difference, not always, but often.

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