onsdag 13 augusti 2008

Free will and determinism?

Dear Dino

Jan Söderqvist and I are writing on "free will" in our next book "The Body-Machines" which will be released beginning in Swedish from next year.
The problem with these endless discussions is that people do not dfine what they mean with "will" and "Freedom" but rather assume that these abstractions are universally agreed on. However, they are not, most definitely not.
We end up with a world in which THE BODY has will and that this will operates within a certain freedom. So Zoroastrian free will is completely compatible with modern science. In this sense, there is both freedom and will within a mainly but not completely deterministic universe.
However, it is impossible to argue for the existence of a soul separate from the body and for free will at the same time. Which is why Zoroastrian dualists wll find it very hard to argue for free will with say a modern neurobiologist.
But then, I'm not a dualist, so that is not my problem. I always speak of the free will of the body as a whole when I speak of free will in Zoroastrianism. As did Zarathushtra, when he UNIFIED thought with language and action. To Zarathushtra, thoughts, words and actions are activities of ONE UNIFIED body. This is what is sooo important to us as Zoroastrian ethicists.


2008/8/13 Special Kain

Dear Ushta community,

This topic is highly complicated and no solution has been scientifically confirmed. It is currently quite fashion to say that people lack the capacity to make decisions consciously. There's no free will, thus there's no freedom of choice. But this very freedom of choice is key in Mazdayasna. Some scientists claim that someone acting to his/her own deliberate wanting is a mere illusion. Other scientists have a different point of view. Benjamin Libet's experiments have always been used as a striking example to demonstrate that, while the body already prepared to act in one way or another, the decision to act occurs to us a few seconds later. But Libert was firmly against this misreading of his experiments.

It's a scientific puzzle that hasn't been solved yet. What do you think? Are we merely acting out decisions that were made unconsciously and reduced to a second-hand reaction? Or are we able to choose freely? There's no unconditioned choice whatsoever, but where does consciousness come into play? To Zarathushtra, it seemed obvious that there truly exists freedom of choice. Any feedback? Or should we step aside and discuss other issues, since there's no official solution? I don't think so.

Kind regards, Dino

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