Free Will vs. Determinism: An update

Free Will - Existential Comics

Back to my favourite perpetual philosophical dilemma: am I free or determined? I’m pretty sure I’ve solved it this time. I’m available for book deals, interviews, guest speaking slots. Contact my agent.

I was convinced right out of the gate that free will doesn’t exist – that it can’t, given the fact that our brains make our choices and several factors beyond our control make our brain. Simply put, you can do what you decide to do, but you can’t decide what you will decide to do.

There I went along thinking I had it all figured out. I could go through life a little more relaxed knowing my choices were the responsibility of something else, and eventually my brain would kick into the gear I’ve always hoped, wanted, expected it would. And the path of least resistance will get me there. 

Or else I’d just get what I get and not get upset. It’s a win/win, determinism.

But I am upset. I’m deep into adulthood and, having made no investments, am left wanting. I do what I want, but I do not really want what I want in the long run. So, it’s time to change my mind.

Thankfully, this is one of those beliefs you can change on a whim because it’s one of the few truths that truly is relative. Both are true, in a sense. On a level. Free will is true in the sense that you generate options and choose one. Determinism is true in the sense that those options you generate and the choices you make are influenced by factors you can’t choose. It’s very easy to understand why someone would believe one over the other.

Perhaps determinism has the edge because it comes first. But that’s assuming they are on the same level where linear rules apply. I say the edge belongs to free will because it’s the one that’s measurable; the freer we are depends on our awareness of our options, the strength of our will to choose, and the ability to stick to it.

Both being equal and neither being provable, it really is a matter of what you choose to believe, a.k.a. which is more convenient. Determinism is convenient if you have existential anxiety you don’t want to confront or moral failings you don’t want to be accountable for. Free will is convenient if you are not burdened by these feelings and, well, want to free.

I feel more and more the latter. I want to believe I can choose to be better. I choose to believe I can make any choice I can imagine, and can do things to broaden my imagination.

The only thing that was already determined is the line I was going to end this on.

Now I realize, the one who had to be determined was………………………….me.

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