Thursday, June 14, 2007

Once again

If I am right that freedom is the seminal contradiction that makes "all things possible," we have a fundamentally new way of interpreting the works of Sam Harris (The End of Faith) and Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great, which I am currently reading). And a new way of interpreting scripture and the works of devout Hebrews, Christians, Muslims, and anyone else who writes about "God." More about that tomorrow.

But am I right about freedom? No one has challenged me on the point, but I suppose it could be because no one has understood me, or those who think they have understood me may simply think me insane.

In case I'm not being understood (and to give those who tend to think me insane more information on which to judge), let me try to explain it. The problem might be that my idea is simpler than they have supposed.

Are humans free? If we are, it means that we may act contrary to the causes that otherwise determine our actions and cause us to act in ways that are, in principle, predictable. That is, if we are free, then our actions are not completely determined. The fabric of causality has a tear in it. If we live in a cause-effect world, then when we exercise our freedom we perform a miracle.

But if we aren't free—if there are no miracles (as strict scientists contend), then...who's writing this? You might as well go have a beer or a cup of tea.

I'm not claiming that human freedom is the seminal contradiction of the Cosmos. Men and women are terrestrial beings—creatures of the Earth. It would be "God's" freedom that is the seminal contradiction that makes "all things possible" and makes it prudent for us to "believe all things" (rather than hold on to a particular dogma, especially one that might prompt us to stone to death or blow up people who believe otherwise).

2 comments:

  1. Is freedom to be insane and in a nut house and not know you're insane or is freedom to be on the outside, insane and know about it?

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  2. Provisional response, another question: Is it necessary to know that you are free in order to exercise your freedom?

    I can't for sure (at the moment) say no, but such knowledge would seem to be necessary in order to know that you're acting freely.

    Not knowing implies a kind of lack of awareness or lack of self-consciousness that seems implicit in making choices. For example, we tend to think that other animals are not free because they supposedly lack consciousness (or at least lack self-consciousness).

    As usual, Ed, you've asked a provocative question, and thanks for the provocation.

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