156 Reopened: Free Will

I'm probably resting, in much pain and agony at this point in time, or having a celebratory dinner, but whatever I'm doing, I should be pretty happy and satisfied with myself. I would still be in Sabah today, and I'll be leaving tomorrow, and returning from one of the largest islands in the world to the peninsular (the Almost an Island).

Note:In Latin, Peninsular is made from Pen- and -insular, which means almost and island respectively

Now, to the main post...

This is the opening of a study I wanted to write about free will, but it got stalled because I keep jumping from project to project, when I'm free, but I think it's quite nicely written so I didn't want to let it go to waste, virtually rotting in My "My Documents" . So here it is, I hope that the opening will inspire you to thnk twice about free will:

A simple consideration for you

Here is a question that would neither seem to be rather difficult to answer nor strike you as being extremely profound. Did you choose to read the first sentence? Maybe, in jest, you would answer no, because it would be absurd to start reading at the second sentence. Humour aside, it would, to most of us, be an intuitive (if not natural) yes. My question in response would be a resounding “Why?”

The freedom of choice, as we call it, has been taken for granted in our everyday life. We do not ponder whether we had the right to walk (or drive) down the road to the grocery store, or whether we can choose what to have for lunch with John. We naturally assume that it is a right or our abilities as human beings to make decisions in our life. Of course, a commonsense view would also extend these privileges from everyday trivialities such as shopping, to life changing decisions such as ethical or social choices. It grants us the power of judgment; it creates impressions and even go as far as altering our social reality. Life, some believe, is the sum of all our past decisions; the power of free will can create identities.

Yes, these statements are all but obvious, it would seem that any further discussion of free will is useless, irrelevant, and it should end here. Free will is just another part of life, a tool, as important but as mundane as walking, talking and eating. Or is it?

Now I invite you to take a step back, and ponder. Free will seems to be a given to any living sentient being. We have an innate ability to choose, but how sure can we be that this is not a persistent illusion? Can we be sure that what we do is not already scripted or determined? And can we be sure that when we make decisions, it can only be attributed to ourselves, and ourselves only? These are some of the questions that will interest us in the coming sections, as we begin to pick apart the surface of our pedestrian perception of free will to gain an understanding of what lies beneath and beyond these veils. But first, what really is free will?

The word “will” in the context of “free will” is an ability to desire and achieve that desire. We often speak of a person’s willpower as the extent a person wishes to achieve something. However, will is sometimes with constraints. For instance, perhaps John has the will to tell a white lie about his mother’s health, but the will neither necessitates the action nor does it mean that he can achieve it. There may be factors that prevent him from following his will. Therefore, whether he does tell the lie is not determined whether he has the will to do it.

Next, we shall now introduce the concept of “free”. “Free” basically means without restrains in any aspect; physical, social, divine or ability. If John has free will, he should be able to choose between whether to tell or not to tell the white lie, independent of societal views of him, his ethical principles or any other reasons, which may force him to pick one in favour of the other. In short, free will is about having the ability to make any particular decision, (ethical, mundane etc.), without any restraints from any external factors, keyword being without any restraints. Now that we have laid the foundations of this study, let us examine this rather interesting concept.