Theoretical Paper From Determinism to Single Space Theory

We all think that when we wake up in the morning we can do pretty much whatever we want. We can choose to go to work. We can choose to stay home and watch “Oprah.” We can get in the car and drive to Taos. We can chop off our pinky fingers with a pair of good, sharp pruning shears. Certainly given all these choices we can make, we must have freewill. Not so, says Schopenhauer. Imagine that water is conscious. It can boil, become waves, evaporate, and turn to ice. What’s more, it remembers that it sometimes boils, sometimes becomes waves, sometimes evaporates and sometimes turns to ice. It therefore thinks it can do these things, and attributes its various states to its own voluntary decisions. But what the water doesn’t know is that it can only achieve these various states if conditions are right. It can’t, for example, turn to ice if the temperature is too high. I could make the same point by imagining a leaf falling in the autumn winds, thinking to itself: “Now I’ll go this way, now I’ll go that way.” In other words, merely because we think we are making free choices doesn’t at all mean that we are actually making free choices.

The apparently contrasting theories of free will and determinism have been an endless debate that has plagued philosophers for thousands of years. There are various definitions of free will; this has led to difficulty in applying it to human behavior. Philosophers such as Plato, Kant and Descartes have all acknowledge the existence of free will, to a varying degree. The exercise of free will consists of making choices from a genuine selection, free from coercion. As Hobbes suggests freedom means choice (or, more accurately: no coercion). It is only at the actual point of action that the final outcome will be determined. However, this does not imply that human behavior is uncaused or random; as Schopenhauer believed. (SEP)
Returning to the point of definitions; lets define our term:

“Determinism: The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law.” (SEP)

There is a remarkable amount of information on this subject – ranging from classic mechanics to quantum mechanics.  I must admit, some of it seems over my head.  A question that arouse in my mind came from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry under ‘Casual Determinism:’ in the metaphysical argument it basically just says that it’s “out of fashion” (SEP) and may raise its head again in the coming century.  I didn’t find it very informative about the argument itself.  I think the metaphysical argument would be based on the idea that every event must have a cause. Human actions would fall into this category as well. If they have a cause, then they can be predicted. If they can be predicted (with certainty), they are not free.

    To counter this argument I’m going to refer to Haselhurst’s argument.  This relies heavily on the ‘Most Simple Science Theory of Reality’ to be true.  In this theory space must exist with the properties of a wave medium, and matter is formed from wave motions of space.  The author cites several premises one of which is “There are many different minds and material things but only One common Space.” (Haselhurst)  He goes on to add a short explanation of Occam’s razor: wherein “the theory which deduces the most things from less assumptions is better, thus the best theory must be founded on the most simple foundation of only one thing existing.” (Haselhurst)

    So, now I can explain his argument against the picture I’ve shown for determinism.  He theorizes that we have limited free will given that we exist in a finite and ‘Necessarily connected’ universe which has an infinite amount of Space.  Furthermore, “an infinite system can never be pre-determined.” (Haselhurst)
Eric Lerner was quoted in saying:

 “With absolute, infinite knowledge of the comet’s velocity and infinite precision in calculation, its orbit is simply unpredictable. Yet this is not an effect of ‘chance’. At all points the orbit was under precise control of the laws of gravitation as programmed into the simulation… This doesn’t mean we can’t make useful predictions about the future. We can if the amount of time we try to predict is short enough. For unstable systems this time limit is the amount of time that passes between collisions of the particles that make up the system.” (qtd. in Haselhurst)

Meaning that even if we can predict something reliably, as is the case with the plant’s orbit, we can only do so for a restricted amount of time.  Essentially, they mean that even with eternal natural laws determining how the world moves, there is room for free will because on a long enough time line even these concrete observations will be unpredictable, according to Lerner.

    Haselhurst continues by using a thought experiment where he uses a set of regular playing cards to illustrate his point.  He places the Ace of Hearts on top of the deck. He has a pre-determined knowledge of the card. So he has complete knowledge of the system (because he knows there are 52 cards of certain variations) and there is no chance involved.  He claims that at this point “the system is both necessarily connected and pre-determined.” (Haselhurst)
He then gives the stack of cards to someone else who has no knowledge that the Ace of Hearts is the next card. 

“So while they are still necessarily connected to the top card (Ace of Hearts) they do not have pre-determined knowledge of this card, thus if I ask them to tell me which card is on top of the pack they only have a one in fifty two chance of guessing correctly. Thus we see how chance exists when we do not have pre-determined knowledge (even though we are still necessarily connected).” (Haselhurst)

    From this; we can apply this the mind and body.  When we are ‘necessarily connected’ to matter we can never have knowledge that is determined beforehand concerning the motion of anything really.  Which would explain how free will can exist, albeit in a limited fashion, in a deterministic universe.

    As long as we don’t gain knowledge of a pre-determined case (such as the Ace of Hearts above) before the actual event: then we can assume that our choice was free.  In my opinion, it sounds like he’s saying that as long as we don’t know we’re not free – we’re free.  Implying that the person choosing the card was actually free to choose whatever card he wanted, until he learned that the next card was, in fact, the Ace of Hearts. 

    All of this makes me believe that Haselhurst is just saying the same thing as Schopenhauer.  In Schopenhauer’s picture, we have the illusion of free will by our consciousness’ ignorance of the fact everything is already determined by immutable laws.  Similarly Haselhurst shows that we have “limited free will” due to a lack of prior knowledge of pre-determined events.  From my research it seems not many people have criticized Haselhurst’s theory.  Sharing this commonality with Schopenhauer is by no means bad in of itself.  The reason it is bad is because they conclude virtually opposite conclusions from their pictures.  Haselhurst, basically, concludes that we can have morality and that we have free will.  While Schopenhauer concludes that life is an absurd, random, and painful existence that starts with birth and ends with death.

    While I don’t have an objective reason as to which theory is right: I can give you my opinion.  Schopenhauer has more sources so I believe his argument over Haselhurst.  I had planned on giving a detailed explanation as to why one was right over the other: but have since given up hope due to my pragmatic stance of explanations.  It is my earnest hope that one day I’ll be able to provide a truly unique theory as Haselhurst tried.  I chose Haselhurst as the main focus of this paper because he is a virtually unknown “philosopher” with a good amount of work available (and was easy to read).  I would recommend his work to many because his writing style is very informal although some of his statements require fact-checks. (Maggio)

Sources Cited 

“Arthur Schopenhauer.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 17 Nov 2007. 1 Apr 2009 .

“Causal Determinism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 23 Jan 2003. 25 Mar 2009 .

Haselhurst, Geoff. “Deducing Most Simple Science Theory of Reality.” On Truth & Reality. 4 Apr 2009 .

Haselhurst, Geoff. “WSM Explains Limited Free Will over Determinism.” On Truth & Reality. 3 Apr 2009 .


Maggio. “User Response via Post.” .

Originally made April 29th, 2009.

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