The Equanimist

Part III.A. Mutual Exclusivity

A. Mutual Exclusivity

Like “everything”, belief in freewill – the singular ability (generally attributed to “higher” animals and their familiars) to think, decide and act irrespective some inexorable extra-personal causative agent or agents (i.e., responsibly) – belief in freewill is over-determined.

It just seems right; does it not? I think, decide, act and can “observe” myself as I do so. Intuited, as it were, observations of freewill originate within me. Why question it?

Further, the concept of “personal responsibility” (i.e., the concept that I am master of my body and, therefore, uniquely accountable for its actions) is deeply ingrained and, generally, “works”. Application of the concept of freewill to life’s problems can and frequently does produce desired results.

Yet, the concept is integral to western justice systems, which are (almost universally and in toto) justified by freewill, or, “personal responsibility”. The “justice system” is supposed to “hold” individuals “responsible” and “punish” them for their bad actions. (Not so “capitalism”, a justice system, itself, which does not seek to “hold” individuals “responsible” and “reward” them for their good actions but as aforementioned in Part I.) Henceforward, it would seem, to extirpate the concept could turn justice on its head.

Moreover, it is often argued that, personal responsibility is the one best rational justification for productivity. And, this may be closest to home for many “successful” people [who (as it happens) either are or are not endowed by their creator with certain gifts] both social stratification and capitalism are virtually predicated upon freewill, without which (it seems) the socioeconomy could be imperiled.

Besides, when we assume determined will, many of us reach distasteful conclusions. Do we disavow determined will on that basis?

Some will understand “determinism” to mean that it doesn’t matter what a body does. This is patently absurd. Still, when we assume determined will the individual is reduced to a sentience, which can be neither more nor less blame- (or praise-) worthy than another – making the human experience just that.

Paradoxically, it is only when we assume determined will that we have control over the universe: I must be causative to be cause.

Personal and extra-personal control are mutually exclusive possibilities (as with black and white, up and down, left and right, ability and disability.) If we accept the former we disavow the latter and the converse.

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