The Concept of Free Will

Let’s assume for the moment that there is such a thing as free will.

If so, wouldn’t that mean there was no cause to the will except the self?

But aren’t there many things that cause the self?

And if so, how can our will be free if our self causes our will, but is not itself free?

2 thoughts on “The Concept of Free Will”

  1. We are controlled by many circumstances beyond our control, however, and thank you for asking this question — finally some Buddhist teachings are made more clear to me.

    I’m not sure I can explain my epiphany yet.

    But, if we are wise, if we are lucky enough in our lives to have the leisure and luxury to do so, it is necessary to examine ourselves and our circumstances to see how much we are imprisoned by our circumstances and how much freedom we can achieve. However, if one is at that stage of human development, do not ever read anything by Ayn Rand or those of her ilk. Totally irresponsible woman!

    Liberation. One must also remember that one is liberated in the process of liberating others, looking to see that everyone has the leisure and luxury of at least some introspection, that no one lives a life of total drudgery, barely existing.

    When one is constantly hungry, one is consumed by the hunger and cannot afford the luxury of introspection.


  2. The question of “free will” is usually couched in the religious sense. If one is a non-believer, it seems obvious that all Humans are “free” to make choices, and do so partly from instincts that have evolved in us over the millennia, partly from immediate circumstances and our previous experiences with similar situations, and, in those of us who are at liberty to be concerned with issues other than immediate survival, from what we may have learned from those who went before and left records we might have the time to review (i.e. Scripture, philosophy, history).
    I would submit, however, that these choices are always made so as to maximize “good” results and/or minimize “bad” results, at least to the extent that one has time to consider and can project the expected outcome with reasonable accuracy. Obviously, most of our daily “choices” are not life threatening or necessary to avoid some major catastrophe, but it seems to me that we always make them to optimize our hoped-for outcomes. So, in a sense, although we are theoretically “free”, we can seldom escape the accumulated life experience/upbringing/religious teaching/evolved survival responses that have accrued up to the time of every important decision we must make. We are, after all, “slaves” to all of these accumulated “rules” for behavior; as a result, none of our important choices can be said to be truly “free”.


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