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Free Will Philosphy

There is always a cause or a multiplicity of causes for human actions, which 'are never free; they are always the necessary consequence of [man's] temperament, of the received ideas, and of the notions, either true or false, which he has formed to himself of happiness' (419).

MS. You may have multiple causes and motives, but that does not prove they are determined in advance. It only means that exercise of will may be a complex affair.

PH. You cannot grasp the reality, so attached are you to your illusion of human agency. As I have said, everything that happens by and to and in and next to a person, 'as well as all that happens in nature, or that is attributed to her, is derived from necessary causes, which act according to necessary laws, and which produce necessary effects form whence necessarily flow others' (422). I insist on that point.

MS. Your agenda seems deliberately provocative and self-contradictory. Are you making a case for a wholly determined existence because you really want to show that actions in the pursuit of, say, happiness of hedonism or of wealth at the expense of others, are perfectly understandable and reasonable because they were inevitable? In that case, you are effectively valorizing power and cunning and making irrelevant the experience of those who are their victims. In other words you are valorizing the problem of evil, which is for some a problem of human agency and responsibility and for others proof of the nonexistence of God.

PH. I know that my book System of Nature has been called 'the bible of atheists' (418). I do not shrink from it.

MS. Yet I wonder whether you, champion of atheism, realize that what you argue is much the same as saying, as so many people of faith do, that everything is 'God's will' or that 'there's a reason for everything'? Your position justifies atheist and fundamentalist determinism alike.

PH. I am entirely a man without illusion.

MS. Absence of illusion to you me...

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Free Will Philosphy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:25, August 18, 2017, from
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