Roger Garaudy, the Hellenic tradition, and imaginative space.--Kazantzakis' making of God.--Existentialism and language.--The argument of water.--Literature as ikonic language.--Literature and morality.
Among the casualties of the rush to relativism is a central tenet of classical thought: that great works of literature are great in and of themselves and not because of the needs and values of their time. This “canon-based view,” supply taken for granted by Johnson, Arnold, Pope, and Eliot, has long since been shown the door by views ranging from Marxism to today’s cultural studies. These views hold that the great works become great because of the values and concerns (...) of their own times, and they remain effectual, if they do, because of the ways they speak to their times’ concerns. There are no transhistorical values and concerns, though of course there is a past to culture and its works continue their indirect .. (shrink)
Being part of a culture seems, on the face of it, empirically describable, and verifiable. But in fact that kind of participation is not so easy to characterize. Our existence as members of a culture is given to us fleetingly, and in awarenesses tightly locked to the awareness of the other, who is not our culture. Being part of aculture therefore is part of knowing yourself as limited. But to what are you limited? You are limited to being a presence (...) other than that of the other that you are defined off against. It is thus worth noting that being of a culture is a fleetingly given awareness of a condition in which your not being something else is what defines you. The logical consequence of this structural situation is that you, or I, exist foremost as a site, rather than as a substance, in our occupying a post within culture. (shrink)
The essay hypothesizes a norm condition of stasis—the mood of sentient peace occupied on a quiet porch. From there the psyche is drawn upward by concept, into the benign/abstract world or downward into the pre-verbal which links us with prespeech man/woman. Is there any default position in this map of the positions of consciousness?
"Die Tat" concerns the effort to recapture a particular memory. In searching to recover that memory trace the writer discovers that the memory datum itself diffuses and breaks up into the present remembering action of the one who remembers. The essay anatomizes that process of diffusion, and tries to come up with a definition of memory.
This essay illustrates senses in which linear time can be proven to be non existent. Yet, as the essay agrees, the practical use of linear time, as an organizational principle in life, is unquestionable. Do we live a lie by relying on the non existent to undergird our lives? Or is lie a misleading, and naïve, word for our solution to this state of affairs?
This paper outlines one way of thinking about the problem of free will, some general reasons for dissatisfactions with traditional approaches to solving it, and some considerations in favor of pursuing a broadly revisionist solution to it. If you are looking for a student-friendly introduction to revisionist theorizing about free will, this is probably the thing to look at.
Over the past three decades, I have been developing a distinctive view of free will motivated by a desire to reconcile a non-determinist (incompatibilistor libertarian) view of free will with modern science as well as with recent developments in philosophy. A view of free will of the kind I defend (called a “causalindeterminist” or “event-causal” view in the current literature) did not exist in a developed form before the 1980s, but is now discussed in the philosophical literature (...) as one of three chief options an incompatibilist or libertarian view of free will might take. As such, this view has been the subject of much recent discussion. In this paper, I explain and defend my view of free will, and answer recent criticisms of it. Some of these criticisms are made by Robert Allen in his paper “Self-forming Actions,” a contribution to the seminar of which the present paper is a part. I also respond to Katherin Rogers’ contribution to this seminar “Libertarianism in Kane and Anselm.” Her book, Anselm on Freedom (forthcoming from Oxford), argues that Anselm defended a unique libertarian view of free will, avoiding both Pelagianism and Augustine’s later compatibilism, a view that she argues has affinities to my view of free will. I also discuss these affinities to Anselm in my paper and their theological and well as philosophical implications. (shrink)
Many prominent accounts of free will and moral responsibility make use of the idea that agents can be responsive to reasons. Call such theories Reasons accounts. In what follows, I consider the tenability of Reasons accounts in light of situationist social psychology and, to a lesser extent, the automaticity literature. In the ﬁrst half of this chapter, I argue that Reasons accounts are genuinely threatened by contemporary psychology. In the second half of the paper I consider whether such threats (...) can be met, and at what cost. Ultimately, I argue that Reasons accounts can abandon some familiar assumptions, and that doing so permits us to build a more empirically plausible picture of our agency. (shrink)
The present chapter is concerned with revisionism about free will. It begins by offering a new characterization of revisionist accounts and the way such accounts fit (or do not) in the familiar framework of compatibilism and incompatibilism. It then traces some of the recent history of the development of revisionist accounts, and concludes by remarking on some challenges for them.
This introductory chapter discusses the philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism and their implications--including the debate between Saul Smilansky's "illusionism," Thomas Nadelhoffer's "disillusionism," Shaun Nichols' "anti-revolution," and the "optimistic skepticism" of Derk Pereboom, Bruce Waller, Tamler Sommers, and others.
It is my view that one essential difference between persons and other creatures is to be found in the structure of a person's will. Besides wanting and choosing and being moved to do this or that, men may also want to have (or not to have) certain desires and motives. They are capable of wanting to be different, in their preferences and purposes, from what they are. Many animals appear to have the capacity for what I shall call "first-order (...) desires" or "desires of the first order," which are simply desires to do or not to do one thing or another. No animal other than man, however, appears to have the capacity for reflective self-evaluation that is manifested in the formation of second-order desires. (shrink)
This paper shows that several live philosophical and scientific hypotheses – including the holographic principle and multiverse theory in quantum physics, and eternalism and mind-body dualism in philosophy – jointly imply an audacious new theory of free will. This new theory, "Libertarian Compatibilism", holds that the physical world is an eternally existing array of two-dimensional information – a vast number of possible pasts, presents, and futures – and the mind a nonphysical entity or set of properties that "read" that (...) physical information off to subjective conscious awareness (in much the same way that a song written on an ordinary compact-disc is only played when read by an outside medium, i.e. a CD-player). According to this theory, every possible physical “timeline” in the multiverse may be fully physically deterministic or physically-causally closed but each person’s consciousness still entirely free to choose, ex nihilo, outside of the physical order, which physically-closed timeline is experienced by conscious observers. Although Libertarian Compatibilism is admittedly fantastic, I show that it not only follows from several live scientific and philosophical hypotheses, I also show that it (A) is a far more explanatorily powerful model of quantum mechanics than more traditional interpretations (e.g. the Copenhagen, Everett, and Bohmian interpretations), (B) makes determinate, testable empirical predictions in quantum theory, and finally, (C) predicts and explains the very existence of a number of philosophical debates and positions in the philosophy of mind, time, personal identity, and free will. First, I show that whereas traditional interpretations of quantum mechanics are all philosophically problematic and roughly as ontologically “extravagant” as Libertarian Compatibilism – in that they all posit “unseen” processes – Libertarian Compatibilism is nearly identical in structure to the only working simulation that human beings have ever constructed capable of reproducing (and so explaining) every general feature of quantum mechanics we perceive: namely, massive-multiplayer-online-roleplaying videogames (or MMORPGs). Although I am not the first to suggest that our world is akin to a computer simulation, I show that existing MMORPGs (online simulations we have already created) actually reproduce every general feature of quantum mechanics within their simulated-world reference-frames. Second, I show that existing MMORPGs also replicate (and so explain) many philosophical problems we face in the philosophy of mind, time, personal identity, and free will – all while conforming to the Libertarian Compatibilist model of reality. -/- I conclude, as such, that as fantastic and metaphysically extravagant as Libertarian Compatibilism may initially seem, it may well be true. It explains a number of features of our reality that no other physical or metaphysical theory does. (shrink)
In this essay I present what is, I contend, the free-will problem properly thought through, or at least presented in a form in which it is possible to think about it without being constantly led astray by bad terminology and confused ideas. Bad terminology and confused ideas are not uncommon in current discussions of the problem. The worst such pieces of terminology are "libertarian free will" and "compatibilist free will." The essay consists partly of a defense of (...) the thesis that the use of these phrases by writers on the problem of free will can only generate conceptual confusion and partly of a formulation of the problem that does not make use of them. I contend that this formulation is neutral with respect to the historically important positions on free will (e. g., compatibilism and incompatibilism). (shrink)
In this paper I shall define a thesis I shall call 'determinism', and argue that it is incompatible with the thesis that we are able to act otherwise than we do (i.e., is incompatible with 'free will'). Other theses, some of them very different from what I shall call 'determinism', have at least an equal right to this name, and, therefore, I do not claim to show that every thesis that could be called 'determinism' without historical impropriety is incompatible (...) with free will. I shall, however, assume without argument that what I call 'determinism' is legitimately so called. In Part I, I shall explain what I mean by 'determinism'. In Part II, I shall make some remarks about 'can'. In Part III, I shall argue that free will and determinism are incompatible. In Part IV, I shall examine some possible objections to the argument of Part III. I shall not attempt to establish the truth or falsity of determinism, or the existence or nonexistence of free will. (shrink)
The problem of free will arises because of the conflict between two inconsistent impulses, the experience of freedom and the conviction of determinism. Perhaps we can resolve these by examining neurobiological correlates of the experience of freedom. If free will is not to be an illusion, it must have a corresponding neurobiological reality. An explanation of this issue leads us to an account of rationality and the self, as well as how consciousness can move bodies at all. I (...) explore two hypotheses. On the first, freedom is a complete illusion. On the second, it is not an illusion, and there is a corresponding indeterminism at the neurobiological level. This can only occur if there is in fact a quantum mechanical element in the fundamental neurobiology of consciousness. (shrink)
Do people have free will, or this universal belief an illusion? If free will is more than an illusion, what kind of free will do people have? How can free will influence behavior? Can free will be studied, verified, and understood scientifically? How and why might a sense of free will have evolved? These are a few of the questions this book attempts to answer. People generally act as though they believe in their own (...) free will: they don't feel like automatons, and they don't treat one another as they might treat robots. While acknowledging many constraints and influences on behavior, people nonetheless act as if they (and their neighbors) are largely in control of many if not most of the decisions they make. Belief in free will also underpins the sense that people are responsible for their actions. Psychological explanations of behavior rarely mention free will as a factor, however. Can psychological science find room for free will? How do leading psychologists conceptualize free will, and what role do they believe free will plays in shaping behavior? In recent years a number of psychologists have tried to solve one or more of the puzzles surrounding free will. This book looks both at recent experimental and theoretical work directly related to free will and at ways leading psychologists from all branches of psychology deal with the philosophical problems long associated with the question of free will, such as the relationship between determinism and free will and the importance of consciousness in free will. It also includes commentaries by leading philosophers on what psychologists can contribute to long-running philosophical struggles with this most distinctly human belief. These essays should be of interest not only to social scientists, but to intelligent and thoughtful readers everywhere. (shrink)
This paper has two parts. In the first part, I concede an error in an argument I have given for the incompatibility of free will and determinism. I go on to show how to modify my argument so as to avoid this error, and conclude that the thesis that free will and determinism are compatible continues to be—to say the least—implausible. But if free will is incompatible with determinism, we are faced with a mystery, for free (...) class='Hi'>will undeniably exists, and it also seems to be incompatible with indeterminism. In the second part of this paper, I will defend the conclusion that the concept of agent causation is of no use to the philosopher who wants to maintain that free will and indeterminism are compatible. I conclude that free will remains a mystery---that is, that free will undeniably exists and that there is a strong and unanswered prima facie case for its impossibility. (shrink)
"This is an important book, and no one interested in issues which touch on the free willwill want to ignore it."--Ethics. In this stimulating and thought-provoking book, the author defends the thesis that free will is incompatible with determinism. He disputes the view that determinism is necessary for moral responsbility. Finding no good reason for accepting determinism, but believing moral responsiblity to be indubitable, he concludes that determinism should be rejected.
Much has been written recently about free will and moral responsibility. In this paper I will focus on the relationship between free will, on the one hand, and various notions that fall under the rubric of “morality,” broadly construed, on the other: deliberation and practical reasoning, moral responsibility, and ethical notions such as “ought,” “right,” “wrong,” “good,” and “bad.” I shall begin by laying out a natural understanding of freedom of the will. Next I develop some (...) challenges to the common-sense view that we have this sort of freedom. I will go on to explore the implications of this challenge for deliberation, moral responsibility, and the central ethical notions. (shrink)
As a philosopher of action, I might be expected to believe that the will is a good thing. Actually, I believe that the will is a great thing - awesome, in fact. But I'm not thereby committed to its being something good. When I say that the will is awesome, I mean literally that it is a proper object of awe, a response that restrains us from abusing the will and moves us rather to use it (...) respectfully, in a way that does it justice. To say that the will is a good thing, however, would imply that having a will is better than not having one, or that using it is better than not using it - neither of which I am prepared to assert as a general rule. Speaking metaphorically, I would say that the will is like a magic wand. In fairy tales, the character who looks upon a magic wand as an unalloyed good is destined to be sadder but wiser in the end. Being a magician isn't better than being an ordinary human, just different; and a magician must value his powers by respecting them and therefore using them appropriately, even sparingly, not by using them as much as possible. (shrink)
The standard account of weakness of will identifies it with akrasia, that is, with action against one's best judgment. Elsewhere I have argued that weakness of will is better understood as over-readily giving up on one's resolutions. Many cases of weak willed action will not be akratic: in over-readily abandoning a resolution an agent may well do something that they judge at the time to be best. Indeed, in so far as temptation typically gives rise to judgment (...) shift -- to a tendency to change one's judgment so that one values the tempting option as the best -- weak willed action will typically be akratic. But conversely, strong willed action now looks as though it will be akratic. I argue though that it need not be, once we distinguish between actual judgment, and dispositions to judge. Within this framework, the issue of inverse akrasia looks rather different. I argue that whilst Huckleberry Finn plausibly does show weakness of will in abandoning his resolve to turn Jim in, it is far from clear that he is akratic: a point brought out well in Twain's later additions to the text. Whilst cases of inverse akrasia are clearly theoretically possible, I suggest that, given cognitive dissonance mechanisms, they are unlikely to be very common. (shrink)
Accessible to students with no background in the subject, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will provides an extensive and up-to-date overview of all the latest views on this central problem of philosophy. Opening with a concise introduction to the history of the problem of free will--and its place in the history of philosophy--the book then turns to contemporary debates and theories about free will, determinism, and related subjects like moral responsibility, coercion, compulsion, autonomy, agency, rationality, freedom, and (...) more. Classical compatibilist and new compatibilist theories of free will are considered along with the latest incompatibilist or libertarian theories and the most recent skeptical challenges to free will. Separate chapters are devoted to the relation of free will to moral responsibility and ethics; to modern science; and to religious questions about predestination, divine foreknowledge, and human freedom. Numerous down-to-earth examples and challenging thought experiments enliven the text. The book is an ideal addition to introduction to philosophy, metaphysics, and free will courses. (shrink)
This paper examines recent attempts to revive a classic compatibilist position on free will, according to which having an ability to perform a certain action is having a certain disposition. Since having unmanifested dispositions is compatible with determinism, having unexercised abilities to act, it is held, is likewise compatible. Here it is argued that although there is a kind of capacity to act possession of which is a matter of having a disposition, the new dispositionalism leaves unresolved the main (...) points of dispute concerning free will. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen contends that free will is a mystery. Here I present an argument in the spirit of van Inwagen's. According to the Assimilation Argument, libertarians cannot plausibly distinguish causally undetermined actions, the ones they take to be exercises of free will, from overtly randomized outcomes of the sort nobody would count as exercises of free will. I contend that the Assimilation Argument improves on related arguments in locating the crucial issues between van Inwagen and libertarians (...) who hope to demystify free will, while avoiding objections these arguments have faced. (shrink)
Bergson argues for free will by showing that the arguments against it come from a confusion of different conceptions of time. As opposed to physicists' idea of measurable time, in human experience life is perceived as a continuous and unmeasurable flow rather than as a succession of marked-off states of consciousness--something that can be measured not quantitatively, but only qualitatively. His conclusion is that free will is an observable fact.