Oct 11, 2021
6 mins read
According to d'Holbach, all of a human’s choices are predetermined. It seems like he believes in a higher power of “nature” (which I take as a Mother Earth, Goddess belief holdover) that has a plan and that we can not act in any way save the prechosen way which is caused by what we must have (actual needs) and what we think (meta-programming?) and that as such we can not choose what to do or even choose to change ourselves without it either being a part of the original plan or (and I like how this bit attempts to reach) without someone or something outside of ourselves causing us to see how we ‘must’ change and therefore can and do change… but not by choice but because we had no choice…
Let me say in addition that Determinism is the belief that one has no choices, that we simply perform the script written in our DNA. We live and die exactly “as we were meant to”, where and when we are meant to. I have seen this belief in the religious before, but then they picket “god’s plan” by yelling at scared women in front of Planned Parenthood. The belief should state that since “he” is all-knowing, all-powerful, creator of all things, and operating under a master plan, how is anything that happens on earth not “the plan”? The Nordic peoples called Viking had a prayer for Wotan (Odin) for before battle or even a sea storm that says ‘fight as hard as you can and hope today is not your day, fear not battle (or storm) as the “fates” have already decided when you die. To them, it was more of a call to relax, not fear, and just do. To me, in America at least, when people try to convert others to their religion, they are not showing love for their god but fear that they are lying to themselves about it. The overall point here is that usually, people do not actually believe that everything is preordained, regardless of their claim.
Sartre believes we have free will because he believes that we must exist before we can become. He states that a Wo(man) is first born into this existence, then at some point becomes aware of their own individual nature and from there begins choosing what to “make of themselves”. We each are born a blank slate that is then written upon, first by our parents, then schools (and TV), and somewhere along the way (I was 4) begin to wonder at what we can become (or learn in my case). The important thing within this belief is to remember that you can change yourself, essentially, you are a self-programmable being. You do not have to be the thing you have always been, you can go to college after a whole life has passed, at age 48, and choose to become something more, or at least something different (and to find and also to create new paradigms). I am aware of myself, of my failings, of my flaws, and my capacity to achieve, I see the future (a vision that can change as I near it), and I work towards it. I am in college, I am in therapy, I practice meditation, journaling, and CBT along with micro-dosing so that I can rewrite some of the old and create someone and something, new. I am proof of Sartre’s “free will”, I choose not to react (no matter what I think or feel) within my current way of being but choose instead to change; to grow, and to become more than the current sum of my experiences. I take responsibility for the things I chose as well as the things I let happen, the things I did to become, and the things I know I should have done (but failed to; such as starting therapy, etc, at age 46 instead of age 20. I knew I should but was too arrogant).
It seems he is trying to say that to certain extents both material and intellectual things such as where and when you are born (societal norms) as well as to whom and what they teach you (moral behaviour) can in a way predict who “you” will grow up to be, maybe even what you will grow up to do, but that humans can and do exert personal choice into this and sometimes a child raised by two heroin addicts, seeing mostly violence and force, chooses to raise a family without drugs or violence. My older and younger half-brothers succumbed to the determinist’s expected outcome, but I have not. I exert choice and control (as much as possible) and work to alter my path. The idea seems to be that I can choose to go along with the way things are or I can choose to fight my way out of the current and into calmer waters where I might choose a new Way (Taoist joke). Stace is very sure, and I fail to disagree, that morals, in general, prove some amount of free will or choice in behaviour. I choose to be good and not just in my perception but in that of others as well.
Well, all is as it should be is clearly not correct. The world is not a well-oiled machine functioning well within acceptable ranges. So, no one made this stage and took the time to write all five-hundred-trillion lines for each actor. On the other hand, the concept of absolute free will, the clean slate that can then self-determine… when the first thing you figure out in this world is which god is the one true god… yeah, not that either. The attempt to either join to somehow negate these arguments made by Stace seem closest to my way of thinking which I in turn took from the Chinese. Tao, The Way, it is live a great cosmic river of all lifeforce, existence, time, consciousness flow in a never-ending river of being. I am but a man on a raft on the river. I wonder sometimes if I did not choose where I started (to whom I was born) but hope it is not true. I started where I started though and it was not to my liking, since I was 4 I knew I wanted something more, different, than what I saw around me. My father and his friends wanted me to grow up to work with the family… I thought they were liars and thieves by the time I was 6 and started looking for different examples of what normal is. Somewhere along the way, I figured out that a lot of life was always going to be beyond my control. I am not a world maker, I can not birth a river, but I come from shipwrights (Nordic and Celtic) and it is within my power to sail my own vessel on this river, to choose where to make port, to decide what cargo to carry (there is a funny life baggage joke), and in the end, I have to choose if I want to be someone I like or if I will allow the world to make me into… what? My father? Pass.