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Holbach: Illusion of Free Will

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Holbach: Illusion of Free Will

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  • July 2006
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We Must Believe In Free Will; We Have No Choice
Analyzing our individual free will can be very intriguing. There are many sides to this debate, and you must take them all into account to fully understand whether or not we truly have free will. In doing so, one can almost reach the point of free will being paradoxical. Ultimately, free will determines the level of responsibility we claim for our actions. Obviously, if outside forces determine our choices, we cannot be held responsible for our actions. However, if our choices are made with total freedom than certainly we must claim responsibility for our choices and actions. This is exactly the point that Paul Henri D'Holbach made in writing his essay, "The Illusion of Free Will." Free will is the philosophical doctrine that the choices we make are completely under our own control. Consequently, a choice we make that isn't under our own control must somehow be determined by something else. That something else, according to D'Holbach, is an external or internal force which actually drives humans to make certain choices. D'Holbach states that man is never a free agent. We are never a truly free agent because we're never truly free. As hard as that is to accept, D'Holbach says we must accept it because it is true. We were not free to choose whether or not we wanted to be born, and even still, now, when we think ourselves to be independent, free adults, we are not. This is because everything we think; everything that comes to our minds; every single decision is influenced by something. D'Holbach defines free will as the original or primary cause of your actions. To an extent, D'Holbach has negated the theory that free will exists in saying that our will is a secondary cause of our actions. He doesn't go as far as to say that every thought is predetermined for us, but he does believe the choices we make are not completely up to us; there is a force independent from what we want that urges us to make the decisions we...