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Example research essay topic: Is Our Freedom Compatible With Determinism - 1,672 words

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Is our Freedom Compatible with Determinism? (1) The issue of determinism vs. free will has been the subject of philosophical debates since people had realized themselves of being able to indulge in philosophizing as one of their most natural pursuits. This is because the realization of what causes people to act in one way or another might provide us with the key to understanding the essence of homo sapiens destiny, as specie. Traditionally, there have been two opposing views on whether people posses the freedom of choice, when it comes to choosing in favor of particular way of acting, on their part. The proponents of the concept of free will, which is being strongly linked to Christian theology, suggest that it is only our conciseness that defines our behavior. St.

Augustine was the person who formulated Christian concept of free will for the first time in his work A Treatise on Grace and Free Will: He (God) has revealed to us, through His Holy Scriptures, that there is in a man a free choice of will There is, to begin with, the fact that God's precepts themselves would be of no use to a man unless he had free choice of will (St. Augustine, Ch. 3). According to the proponents of free will concept, human beings are endowed with a unique ability that allows them to design their own destinies. This point of view derives out of Biblical tradition, which suggests that person can only be saved from eternal damnation if he chooses in favor of pious mode of existence. Humanistic philosophers of 18 th century, such as Voltaire and Russo, also believed that is our ability to make conscious choices that defines who we are. However, it was only the matter of time, before Christians and humanists realized that their understanding of human nature is not altogether flawless.

The best argument against Christian vision of free will comes from their own holy book if God is omnipotent, than he knows what will happen to every particular individual in the future. However, if this is the case, it means that person is deprived of freedom of choice, because his choice is still going to be predetermined on some higher level. In addition, the Christian idea of free will is utterly hypocritical, because believer cannot enjoy the liberty of being able to decide for himself how to act, as he is being threatened by the prospects of going to hell, if he decides to actually utilize Gods gift of free will. The numerous scientific breakthroughs in different fields of science, throughout 19 th and 20 th centuries, had proven that individuals behavior is largely predetermined by biological factors.

This automatically deprived humanist arguments of their philosophical validity. Baron d'Holbach was the first Western thinker who proved that the concept of free will does not correspond to the objective reality. At the beginning of his famous book System of Nature, which is being often referred to as atheists bible, he comes up with perfectly legitimate statement: Man has always deceived himself when he abandoned experience to follow imaginary systems. -- He is the work of nature. -- He exists in Nature. -- He is submitted to the laws of Nature. -- He cannot deliver himself from them: -- cannot step beyond them even in thought (d'Holbach, Ch. 1). Apparently, peoples ability to make conscious choices corresponds to their ability to operate with abstract categories. In its turn, this ability is predetermined by their genes. It is not a secret that the average IQ rate of White people is 120, whereas the average rate of IQ of majority of people in African countries, for example, is 70.

This explains why Africans will never able to end their poverty, not matter how hard they try. It is not by their choice that the members of many native tribes in Africa, Australia and Latin America were never able to evolve beyond the Stone Age peoples genetic makeup defines their existential mode more then anything else does. Such suggestion, of course, deprives the concept of free will of its ideological credibility. However, very often, throughout their lives, people are being required to make conscious decisions that have a potential of affecting them to a great extent. When we choose in favor of pursuing a particular professional career, we often rely upon our sense of logic, during the process of decision-making. Still, as practice shows, our vision of ourselves often does not correspond to who we actually are, which is the reason why many people become disappointed with existential choices they have made early in their lives.

This is when Hobart's concept of Free Will as Involving Determination comes in handy. In his article Free Will as Involving Determination and Inconceivable Without it, he makes a good point while suggesting that: Determinism says that my morrow is determined through my struggle. There is this significance in my mental effort, that it is deciding the event. The stream of causation runs through my deliberations and decision, and, if it did not run as it does run, the event would be different. (Hobart, p. 353). Even though Hobart ideas have been interpreted in variety of different ways, we can say that they correspond to authors subconscious conviction that somehow, the determinism and the concept of free will are interrelated. In order for the individual to have grounds in believing that he possesses the free will, he must be able to elevate itself above objective reality.

In other words one only ceases to be subjected to determinism, when he becomes a semi-God. (2) It is not a secret that majority of progressive biologists and historians refer to homo sapiens as intermediate link between the ape and the super-man, because such suggestion logically derives out of the main premise of theory of evolution, which describes the essence of evolutionary progress as never-ending process of living organisms becoming more and more complex, as time goes by. In his book The Philosophy of Style, Herbert Spencer provides us with the insight on what the concept of evolution stands for The more specific idea of evolution now reached isa change from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity, accompanying the dissipation of motion and integration of matter (Spencer). Therefore, Friedrich Nietzsche's famous saying: Man is to ape as Superman shall be to man becomes indispensable, during the course of discussing determinism and free will in conjunction with each other. People, whose behavior is subjected to their anomalistic instincts, cannot have free will by definition, because they are not much different from just about any animal, which explains why they never had any influence on the flow of history. For example, when first European explorers set their foot on African continent, they found it being populated by cannibals, who were indulged in never-ending tribal warfare. After the brief period of law and order that were installed in Africa by European settlers, Africans now began regressing back to the natural state of affairs and Africa once again became the arena of such warfare.

What differs people from animals, besides the fact that they posses a superior intellect, is that their apparatus of abstract thinking allows them to choose in favor of what is necessary over what is the most convenient at the time when decision is being made. When we consciously decide to act as responsible individuals, we become the agents of free will, even though that it is being often associated with suppressing the drives of our ego. However, if our existential weaknesses begin to define our behavior, than our fate becomes predetermined. Therefore, we can say that our freedom compatible with determinism, for as long as we talk about this determinism within the context of evolution theory. In order for us to summarize this paper, we will need to come up with the list of main conclusions, in regards to the relation between the concept of free will and determinism: 1) Peoples behavior is defined by predominantly hereditary factors; therefore, we can talk about it as being predetermined. However, during the course of course of evolutionary process, people learn how to master surrounding reality, thus slowly becoming the masters of their own destiny and eventually gaining the status of semi-Gods. 2) Even though existential determinism affect our lives to a great extent, we should not discus it as something that deprives us of freedom of choice, for as long as it corresponds to the laws of nature. 3) People are quite capable of designing their own destiny, however, since realization of this fact comes too late in their lives; it usually does not have any practical effect. 4) The concept of free will is best described as peoples ability to combat energetic entropy, by adopting an active stance in life, while being in full control of their emotions.

However, only biologically advanced people are capable of doing it, which means that the concept of free will is actually being metaphysically predetermined. Bibliography: Augustine, A. 427 A. D. A Treatise on Grace and Free Will. Soli Deo Gloria.

Available at: web [ 8 June 2008 ] Boynton, G. 2007 Ian Smith has Sadly Been Proved Right. Telegraph. Co. Uk. Available from: web [ 8 June 2008 ] d'Holbach, B. 1820. System of Nature.

Freethought Archives. Available at: web [ 8 June 2008 ] Hobart, R. 1934. Free Will as Involving Determination and Inconceivable Without It. Mind, Vol. XLIII, No. 169. Pp. 340 - 365.

Haugland, J. 2004. Free Will vs Determinism. Secular Blasphemy. Available at: web [ 8 June 2008 ] Spenser, H. 1852. The Philosophy of Style. Project Guttenberg.

Available at: web [ 8 June 2008 ] Teen, S. 2003. Determinism vs. Free Will. Meru Foundation. Available at: web [ 8 June 2008 ] Weiss, P. 1996. Does Free Will Exist? .

AOL Hometown. Available at: web [ 8 June 2008 ] Abstract: This paper discusses whether it is appropriate to suggest that our freedom is compatible with determinism. Outline: Part one Part two


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