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Determinism and Free Will

The question of Determinism and Free Will in shaping our lives and destinies is a very old debate.  On the one hand there are the determinants of Western thought encapsulated in Plato’s and Parmenides’ views that nothing changes, there is no becoming, and eternal truth resides in immutable ideas.  Conversely, Heraclitus’ thesis is that the nature of reality is based on flux and evolution.  These antipodal philosophical traditions have left later generations to adopt either one view or the other.

Living organisms, however, appear to have adopted both scenarios: chance and necessity, invariance and evolution, Causality and free will; the immutable idea (i.e., DNA) and the imperfect processes of material reality.  Lothar Schäfer called it, “The deterministic evolution of not-quite-real tendencies, and the expressions of choices in creating true reality.”  He went on to note that, “One cannot help but speculate that the congruence is the sign of a deeper connection.”  

In a Special Issue, Time Magazine [1] investigated the “Mind-Body dualism” in which “The thoughts and emotions that seem to color our reality are the result of complex electro-chemical interactions within and between nerve cells.”  Schizophrenia and depression are viewed as “no more than distortions in brain electrochemistry.”  Time goes on to write that “The pathology of depression shows with especial clarity that mind and body aren’t separate at all; they are part of a single system.”  This view is in many respects the clock work mechanical view of the universe; one which does not allow for true Free Will.  

One article in the issue did admit to one aspect of Free Will, however, if only to avoid the threat of genetic encoding being held as a means to legally escape personal responsibility.  “Among the brain circuits laid down by genes are the ones that reflect on memories, current circumstances and the anticipated consequences of various courses of action and that select behavior accordingly -- in an intricate and not entirely predictable way.  These circuits are what we call ‘free will’, and providing them with information about the likely consequences of behavioral options is what we call ‘holding people responsible’.” [1]  

This is, of course, rather silly -- if only because the advancement of science might lead to the point where genetic dispositions could be much more predictable, and thus a person’s genes would dictate their actions.  This would result in a similar situation as encountered in the movie, Minority Report, where people would be arrested and convicted of crimes they had not committed, but who were genetically disposed to do so.  Such determinism would result in no personal responsibility.  Instead of “The Devil made me do it”, the new defense argument would be, “My genes made me do it.”  

One might give credit to Time for at least making it clear there is a brain-body interaction whereby our thoughts dictate our physical health (and vice-versa?). This is simply a means of Creating Reality, and thus it is encouraging to see the idea hitting the mainstream Media -- even if the journalists, in typical fashion, rather missed the larger picture.  

The reality of living organisms are that, “Without any mystery: genes determine residue sequence, sequence determines protein folding, folding determines structure, structure determines function, function determines life.  Which sounds pretty deterministic.  But, “If all but one residue in a given protein are known, nothing in the existing sequence will allow one to predict precisely which animo acid will form the missing link.” [2]  

“Once a particular sequence has been genetically coded, it is absolutely invariant, faithfully repeated, never synthesized at random, and its order is fixed, even though it is randomness reproduced over and over.”  Mutations are errors.  “Once an error has been made and the mutation put in place, it is rigorously and invariantly incorporated in the system, and from then on is faithfully reproduced by the organism until the next error occurs.  Chance has become necessity.  The congruence is striking between this and the processes by which physical reality is created; when they are not perturbed, the genes are reproduced in a deterministic process, like quantum entities evolve in a deterministic state when they are not perturbed.  When perturbed, a choice is expressed in the one case as in the other.” [2]

Furthermore, “All the cells in the body of an individual contain the same genetic material, the same information -- a thought -- in the form of DNA.  All cells develop by repeated divisions from a single, initial cell.  And yet an incredible differentiation takes place every time a human being is formed, leading to such diversified materials as muscles, receptors, tissues, membranes, organs, bones, and so on.  In the words of Sheldrake:  To believe that his procedure occurs without a design, without a master plan, automatically, guided by nothing but the laws of physics and chemistry, is equivalent to the belief that, after delivering a ton of bricks, cement, wood, and glass to a construction site, the new building will erect itself spontaneously.” [2]  

Meanwhile, such things as Astrology may fail in its appeal to many people on the basis that it sounds like or suggests determinism (fate) in a world where on the basis of hubris and arrogance the preferred operative would be Free Will.  (Else why would anyone make any effort to “win”, compete, or simply “do” -- as opposed to “be”?)  If the person with the most toys doesn’t win...  What are we to do?  

Such a fate versus free will argument against astrology is not viable for several reasons -- most of which involve not understanding astrology.  Basically, astrology may provide a script for our lives, even our destinies, but we always have free will to decide when to ad-lib, forget lines, ignore an entrance or an exit, and in general to thoroughly ham it up on stage.  In fact, free will and fate are on different levels -- the latter the base from which we launch all manner of unique, unexpected, and unpredictable journeys.  

Arthur Young <http://www.arthuryoung.com/astrocos.HTML> has addressed what he calls “a familiar paradox, the question of fate versus free will.  As has already been shown, the third derivative [e.g. Connective Physics] removes the apparent conflict of free will and determinism.  They are not in conflict because they are at different levels.  When we know the law we can use it to extend our freedom.  The third derivative is assurance from science on this option, testimony from science that there is something outside of science which can use science.” [emphasis added - see also Remedy and Recourse]  

“Free will and fate are also at different levels.  We could say that because we choose one [astrological] chart, we choose our ‘fate,’ and thus put free will on top of fate.  But ordinary life is on such a different time scale from that of fate that it is impossible for the two to be in conflict.  We do not and cannot know our fate in terms of ego consciousness; the self that chose a time of birth [critical to an individual’s natal astrological chart] is not on call to our waking personality (who may be asleep), and the conscious ego doesn't know its fate, so it cannot be in conflict with fate.  It’s busy, very busy, trying to do this, trying to do that, pushing buttons, ringing bells, knocking on doors; but this activity is 99 percent futile.  It is when Fate, a different agency, opens the door or returns the call that things happen.”  [“Hello, this is Fate.  Your plans for the weekend have been canceled.”]  

Young goes on to say, “This still doesn't answer the feeling that a pre-programmed scenario is inconsistent with our free will. This feeling may be insatiable, no doubt because it cannot see itself.  In this respect it is like reason and the Zeno paradox.  Reason cannot solve the Zeno paradox, that defining motion in terms of rest it has to realize that motion and rest are incommensurate -- like the point and the line which are regarded as undefined terms in geometry.  In other words free will and fate are not in conflict because they are not on the same level, or even at the same time scale. ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the peak leads on...’ ‘There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we may.’” [3] [emphasis added]  

Robert Hand, a well known and highly respected astrologer, in an article originally at <http://www.stariq.com>  observed that Consciousness appears to be playing a role in astrology (as well as Magic).  He notes the basic idea of consciousness as involving “being aware of something.”  He also notes that from Rene Descartes’ “I Think, Therefore I Am”, it can be inferred that “at the center of my being is an awareness of a subject, myself, experiencing an object, everything else.”  He also notes that consciousness is also an “awareness that can be shared through language.”

“When we know something together with someone, we experience each other as fully alive and aware.  When we do not, we do not fully accept each other as conscious, or, ultimately, as human.  We accomplish shared awareness by means of Language.  Shared languages enable us fully to experience someone else as aware.  So while it is debatable that language is necessary for us to experience our own awareness, language is necessary for us to experience each other and to share awareness.” [4]  

“We are [also] aware of things being true or false.  Based on this, we can make judgments and plan actions based on those judgments. This is free will.  While every living thing seems to have the capacity for directed movement, movement that has an intended object (plants reach for the Sun, animals hunt for food), only conscious beings have free will.  This is true of human beings, even though we clearly exhibit the primitive, almost machine-like drives that we see present in animals and plants.  When we operate from free will, there is something between our awareness and our actions, something that is not determined, something that is not predictable.” [4]  

Astrology also recognizes that different folks will have different strokes when it comes to free will or fate.  In an astrological chart, if the planetary arrangement tends to the left side of the natal chart of the person, they are likely to tend toward believing in free will, while a tendency to the other side, leans a person toward fate.  In effect, each of us has chosen our predilection to determinism or free will prior to incarnating.  



Co-Creating Reality

Creating Reality -- Another View         Creating Reality

Forward to:

Consciousness         Mind-Body         Mind-Matter



[1]  Time Magazine, January 20, 2003, pages 63, 66, and 99.

[2]  Lothar Schäfer, In Search of Divine Reality; Science as a Source of Inspiration, The University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 1997.

[3]  Arthur Young, <http://www.arthuryoung.com/astrocos.HTML>

[4]  Robert Hand, <http://www.stariq.com/pagetemplate/article.asp?PageID=1552>.



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