The Problem of Free Will

John Searle and Rene Descartes on Dualism

Descartes’ philosophy can be represented as an extreme manifestation of dualism since the philosopher believed that a mind does not have any physical properties and, thus, is related directly to consciousness. Searle, on the other hand, believed that there is a strong biological connection between the functions of a body and those of a mind.

George Berkeley and Thomas Hobbes on the Mind

Berkeley believed that the sensual experiences affected the ideas emerging in one’s mind. Hobbes’ point of view, in its turn, represented an extreme interpretation of dualism as the philosopher assumed that all mental processes are derived from physical motion.

Materialism, Determinism, and Free Will

According to the Determinist interpretation of reality, the world is run by the laws of physics, which define the outcomes of every event. Therefore, being an integral part of the physical world and having the corresponding properties, people are also subject to the influence of these laws.

Materialism, on the other hand, states that the mind does not have any physical relationship to the body and, therefore, cannot be controlled by it. Hence, the dependence of mind on the physical conditions and environments is doubtful at the very least.

Ume and Milarepa on the Self

According to Hume, even a close observation of one’s self, i.e., the identification of the changes that occur to it and the attempts at understanding its essence, does not lead to capturing any tangible results. Instead, only transient emotions and impressions can be identified; therefore, the phenomenon of self cannot leave any evidence. Milarepa, on the other hand, viewed the self as a concept that one can be aware of.

Human vs. Computer

The fact that a computer can beat a user at the game of chess does not imply the fact that the computer can think. Instead, the phenomenon in question displays the ability of a computer program to provide programmed responses to particular circumstances and to the change thereof.

Free Will and God’s Plan

On the one hand, the presence of God’s plan denies the possibility of free will existence. On the other hand, the choices that people make in order to follow the track that God has designed for them are made based on people’s own decisions. Therefore, it can be considered that the two phenomena are coexistent.

The paradox of Buridan’s Donkey and Spinoza’s Argument

According to the existing interpretation of the paradox of Buridan’s donkey, the animal, when being both thirsty and hungry, and placed between a stack of hay and a pail of water, will hesitate to make a choice between the two to the point where it will die from water and food deprivation. Spinoza explains the given metaphor of people’s behavior by their inability to make a rational choice when in need of two or more items simultaneously.

Alyosha Karamazov: Personal Freedom

The life choices made by Alyosha Karamazov in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov can be defined as the ones based on free will due to his acceptance of the environment in which he lives and the ability to make choices within the boundaries of the limitations that the circumstances set. In other words, it is his choice not to rebel against the limitations mentioned above and not to despair, which means that he has the capability of making a choice.

Human Beings Outside Determinism

According to determinists from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, the existence of free will can be proven by the fact that people are able to choose how they feel about a particular phenomenon or a situation. Moreover, one is free to choose whether to be good or evil, which means that free will is a fact.

Anselm and Gaunilo: The Ontological Argument

Anselm claims that the very meaning of God is simple enough for literally everyone to understand it. The simplicity thereof, thus, defines its veracity and proves the existence of God. Gaunilo, in his turn, creates the setting of a perfect island and, therefore, argues that everything can be justified using Anselm’s argument.

Freud and Nietzsche: Rationality of Religious Belief

Freud claimed that belief in God lacked rational backing to a significant extent and considered religion the refuge of the people who are afraid of death. Nietzsche, while also assuming that religion was irrational due to a complete absence of evidence that could prove the opposite. While Nietzsche’s point of view is understandable, Freud’s approach seems more legitimate due to the connection that he makes to people’s emotional landscape.

Tolstoy and Kierkegaard: Rationality of Religious Belief

Coining the term “the leap of faith,” Kierkegaard stated that no external events could possibly change one and that the change process could only be started by an individual. Therefore, he denied the rationality of religious belief; Tolstoy supported him in this respect.

Pascal’s Wager

According to Pascal’s argument, it is more reasonable to behave in accordance with what God stated as acceptable as acting otherwise will lead one to eternal punishment; in other words, the negative outcome outweighs the pleasure of making one’s own choices. However, based on profit, the specified speculation is unlikely to help one get to Heaven.

William Paley’s version of the Design Argument

Paley’s argument refers to the function that every single element of reality has. The specified phenomenon proves the existence of God in Paley’s opinion.

Problem of Evil

The problem of evil concerns the inconsistency of the idea that omnipotent God allows the existence of evil. From the theological perspective, however, the existence of evil can be justified as the premise for developing free will in people (i.e., providing them with a chance to make a conscious choice between good and evil).

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