IS THERE SUCH A THING AS FREE WILL?
Since there is a similarity between the concept of free will and that of randomness, we might suspect that, since we have seen that absolute randomness must be considered to be impossible, the same should be thought to apply to the concept of free will.
There is a difference, however, in the concept of free will, in that the concept of the operation of a cause is not denied, whereas in the case of the concept of randomness it is denied.
However, it has to be considered that a fundamental property of the cause of a particular effect is that it, itself, also has a particular form of some kind, which is related to the particular form of the effect. Therefore the form inherent in a cause itself requires to be explained as the effect of some other cause, just as is the case with any particular form.
An object with momentum which collides with and gives momentum to another object acts as the cause of the motion of the other object, which is determined by the form of the motion, or momentum, in the causing object. Similarly, the gravitation field, which gives motion to an object in free fall, has a form which relates to the form of the motion of the falling object, and which can be given a mathematical expression.
Since, therefore, it appears that we must say that every cause has a particular form of some kind, it consequently appears that we must say that every cause itself is the effect of some other cause. This immediately leads to the concept of an infinite regression of causes, since this does not allow the existence of a cause that is not, itself, caused.
However, an infinite regression of causes implies the existence of a countable infinity, and we have already seen that a countable infinity is a contradiction in terms, and is impossible.
We are thus faced with the apparent paradox that
while the concept of an uncaused cause, which is similar to that of randomness, and which is the same as the concept of a free will, appears to be impossible, the alternative, an infinite regression of causes, is also clearly impossible. This leads to the conclusion that we therefore do not really understand the essential nature of causality.
The following remarks, while not suggested to qualify as an 'answer', might, perhaps, at least cast some light on this dilemma.
We have seen that finite measurements in space are supported by an underlying, background spatial infinity referred to as 'continuity', which supports the finite measurement of distance, but is not, itself, measurable in any absolute way. If we could similarly regard a finite succession of causes as a kind of finite measure of an underlying freewill causal nature that supports it, but is not fully described by it, we may then confer a kind of infinite nature on this freewill cause, which can be described by many alternative series of causes, but not absolutely described by any of them. That is, we might select various causes, A, B, C, etc., to each be the start of a different series that equally well describe a particular freewill causal act, in a finite way, but not in any absolute way. This could make the free will to appear as a kind of infinite substitute for an infinite regression of causes, which cannot be fully displayed as an actual regression of causes.
Since, however, I think that we cannot really regard this as a complete or fully satisfactory philosophical description of the nature of free will, it is of the greatest importance to be able to determine a justification for believing whether or not it exists, irrespective of how much or little we can actually explain it. I suggest that the article on the strange relationship between time and the free will is sufficient to achieve such a justification.
© Alen, October 2015
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