Free Will vs. Determinism

Topics: Mind, Thought, Free will Pages: 5 (1948 words) Published: August 25, 2010
Free Will vs. Determinism

Society walks about day-by-day living their lives and never really thinking or breaking down how their day unfolds or why it plays out the way it does. Some people have said that individuals have a choice and are able to decide on where their day goes. Others on the other hand would argue this assessment and state that your day and your life as whole are all pre determined. The different is free will vs. determinism. Do you believe we live in a free will world or has everything been planed out and is determined to happen no matter what? To start out on finding an answer to this question we must first break down the two terms and a bit about their background and what they mean to us as an individual walking around day-to-day living our lives.

We will start off with the more depressing of the two, and that being determinism. Determinism is the philosophical view that everything in a person’s life including behavior, human conditioning, and previous events have already been planned out and will happen that way no matter what we do. Mostly this means that our lives essentially our out of our control. Imagine if you will the universe unfolding from a state of very small matter and as it unfolds and expands and life is form it just continues to grow and build. Life goes on and society works the way it is built. Then over billions of years the universe contracts and everything is essentially erased or reversed. After it completes this cycle it starts it all over again recreating the events that it just created previously. Some believe that this is what is happening in our world and with our universe now. Some also believe that this is infinite and will happen for eternity, stating that everything has already happened before and will continue to happen over and over again in the course of existence.

Now you may be thinking, “I have a choice on what I do” well not according to this theory or any of the other ones in determinism. This idea is what some would put in the category of materialism. Materialism states that the only thing that truly exists is matter in a physical state, “that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions.” (Ott) SO with this theory there is a bunch of cause and effect included. One physical thing must happen in order for the other to happen, even in your thought process. Yes, that’s right even in your brain. This states that your thoughts are all physical and chemical things happening (hormones cause emotions) to create your thoughts and what you do. Are you a robot?

Next we have behaviorism. Many people have studied this idea but Skinner is probably the best known for his research on the topic. Behaviorism falls in the category of human conditioning. It also states that we are pleasure seeking animals and that we are determined to search and find the things that give us that pleasure. This falls in the determinism section because we have no choice with this essentially. We will only go after the things that make us feel good, all the way down to even helping a homeless person with some spare change. We do this because it makes us as an individual feel good that we helped someone else in need out. Also a lot of this has to do with when you do a good deed you are rewarded by society, given a nice pat on the back and encourages you to do that more often leading you in the direction you are going.

Last but not least there is Psychoanalysis, or know to some as the Freudian psychology. Sigmund Freud is highly attached to this type of determinism and approach to life. Freud believed that we as an individual have an unconscious state of mind and a conscience. Think of it as an ice burg in the ocean. Above the water you have the tip of the iceberg, or the conscience state of mind. It is there it is aware it is obvious and clear. Then below the water you have a massive part of the iceberg that is not visible. We cannot see it...
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