And THIS is the break that Zarathushtra is making with the nomadic tribal circular worldview of pre-Zoroastrianism.
My point has all along been that Zarathushtra never was a RELIGIOUS pioneer. Zoroastrianism as a religious practice existed long before Zarathushtra (although under a different label, of course) and changed very little during his lifetime. This is why Parviz Varjavand is completely right about "Mazdayasna" as far more than a Gathic enterprise.
But the PHILOSOPHICAL aspects of Zarathushtra's revolution were truly dramatic. Zarathushtra created the first philosophy and philosophical lifestyle in history which put change, mobility, pragmatism and relativism at the forefront (long before Daoism did the same in China and Heraklitus did the same in ancient Greece). This explains everything about The Gathas, making its message coherent, and about the culture that the arrival of The Gathas fostered (with Cyrus The Great etc).
As I've always said, Zarathushtra is both The Original Spinoza and The Original Lao Tze!
2009/3/12 Special Kain
I believe that Zarathushtra was the first to come up with the concept of contingency and an indeterministic world. Before him, time was circular: everything was repeating itself over and over again, and will be doing so forever, with little to no variation. Zarathushtra introduced the concept of an open future to his and other tribes. If everything was repeating itself again and again, there would be no need for civilization, religious tolerance, equality between the sexes and ecological recycling. He was the first to say that time was linear, stressing the choices we could make in life. Without contingency, no freedom of choice.
--- Alexander Bard
Von: Alexander Bard
Betreff: [Ushta] Why freedom of choice is a better concept than freedom of will
Datum: Dienstag, 10. März 2009, 16:23
I agree. Free will can really only exist in a strictly dualist environment. Because it requires for there to be something that wills in the first place (a soul isolated within and from the body). In addition, the concept of freedom is far from clear. Free from what? Free to do what? I prefer to emphasize that the world is indeterministic and that within an intedeterministic world no outcome can be totally determined. This open up the future to a multitude of possibilities and it is more meaningful for us to talk about an open future than to discuss any freedom of will. To Zarathushtra, the freedom of the will is of no concern whatsoever, Instead, his focus is on our (ethical) identity. He is concerned that we should understand that WE ARE the thoughts, the words and the actions that are bodies produce. It is merely as a feedback loop of those phenomena that Zarathushtra is concerned with an ethical "freedom" of sorts.
To ask whether we have a free will or not is not the most sophisticated philosophical question, but it's important and getting more so in the light of brain research. Benjamin Libet's experiment allegedly proved that we can't want what we want, that decisions were taken subconsciously (or preconciously) and we only had the possibility to react and say "No!" (veto). Libet's experiment and theory became extremely popular amongst neuroscientists, evolutionary biologists and some philosophers, psychologists and sociologists. Fortunately, Libet's experiment didn't prove anything at all. Anyone interested in free to find the important and convincing methodological objections on the net.
But hasn't this debate been way too tiring? Of course, there's no free will in the sense that there was a totally unconditioned will: past experiences, socialization, cultural norms, biological and neurophysiological restrictions and other influencing factors do exist, for better or worse. But Zarathushtra's freedom of choice comes handy right here: there are restrictions, yet there's also contingency. And freedom of choice acknowledges the fact that restrictions and contingency exist. So there are options that we can choose from and other options that we can create for ourselves. Freedom of choice is a more pragmatic concept than freedom of will. Freedom of choice doesn't mean that there wasn't any free will - of course, there's self-control and there are more complex decisions to be made than grabbing an apple when being hungry! We can learn from our past experiences, we can use our (more or less) wise minds. So we can make free choices based on reasoning and past experience. We can create alternatives to those restrictions mentioned above (even though they'll continue to exist), widening our range of freedom.
My two cents on a Tuesday morning,