Free will?

Is there such a thing as free will?

Are we capable of deciding, thinking, and then acting on those decisions?

Or is free will only an illusion, and our are decisions made by an inner, determined mechanism that leaves no liberties to the “soul”?

Post your thoughts.

My thought: maybe not, but probably so.

Yes, I believe so.

Yes, maybe not in that order :wink: but yes I think so.

Could you clarify this question please? I’m not sure what you mean by “inner, determined mechanism that leaves no liberties to the soul.”

it really depends on your definition of “free will”.

it is at best an ill-defined concept. my usual response to the question is what is it that is free? what is it that is making those decisions?

if you think of yourself as being made up of parts, be it molecules or a collection of beliefs or whatever, it can be said in any case that there is no choice to be made, that these things make the choice for you.

it can also be said that those things are you, and it is in fact you that is free and making the decisions. then you can say you have “free will”.

the question might arise then if there is in fact a choice that can be made, given a set of circumstances and beliefs. but does the fact that their is only one choice that is a possible outcome mean that there was no choice to begin with? that, i don’t know.

again, it all depends on your definitions.

—Are we capable of deciding, thinking, and then acting on those decisions?—

Definately yes. I decide, I think, I act. What this has to do with “free will” in the strong sense of the term (i.e., something OTHER than "I am free to decide, think, and act), though, is anyone’s guess.

—Or is free will only an illusion, and our are decisions made by an inner, determined mechanism that leaves no liberties to the “soul”?—

You can’t just have a liberty in a vacuum. You need something to HAVE that liberty.

I very much appreciate everyone pointing out the obvious equivocation inherent in the way the question was stated. The freewill that is (or ought to be) under discussion in a theological context is freedom of moral volition, not freedom of intellectual volition.

The only suggestion that leechow was asking the question in a theological context was the use of the word “soul”. Why are you so quick to leap into theology?

Additionally, why should we distinguish between moral volition and intellectual volition. As far as I can tell, making decisions about morals and ethics isn’t fundamentally different from any other sort of thought process.

Some of our actions are not performed because of freewill, but are automatic responses to internal states
the question is, perhaps,
are all our responses automatic or are some of them caused by ‘free will’ whatever that is.

Vorlon wrote:

I mentioned both theological and intellectual contexts. Therefore, your suggestion that I leapt into theology is misleading.

As one example, by moral volition, I can easily decide that you have value, while by intellectual volition, I can easily decide that you don’t.

let me be the first to point out that that makes no sense. at least not to me.

i’ve seen you before say that human “free will” is actually moral volition.

why is there any volition at all? how is it that some can make a choice to be moral? why is there actually a choice that is made? and who or what is making that choice?

** Um, you mentioned both, but only to suggest that one should be the focus of the debate and the other shouldn’t.

So why’d you bring this up? The OP doesn’t specify a theological context. If you were just casually mentioning that moral volition would be more appropriate if a theological context were being discussed, it’s rather an odd non sequitur, isn’t it?

What? According to’s definition, volition involves making a conscious choice or decision. What’s the difference between making a moral choice and an intellectual choice? Isn’t a moral choice automatically an intellectual one?

Ramanujan wrote:

You didn’t read very carefully. Moral volition is the significant freewill. Intellectual volition, if it exists, is trivial.

(1) It is God’s nature, and we are created in His image. (2) All make a choice one way or the other as to whether they value goodness, which is what a moral choice is. (3) See 1. (4) See 2.

Vorlon wrote:

Your words, but not mine. Mine were: “The freewill that is (or ought to be) under discussion in a theological context is freedom of moral volition, not freedom of intellectual volition.” I said nothing about whether this debate ought to focus on theology. Your wishful thinking does not constitute my position.

No, but your obsession with it is rather odd.

No. Intellectual choices are made by the brain. Moral choices are made by the heart.

I’m not implying that. I want to know why you mentioned the theological position in the first place. If you’re not suggesting that the debate either is or should be about theology, then it’s an utterly pointless non sequitur.

Cardiologists will be stunned. And all this time they thought it was merely a pump.

This is also how I understand the difference between intellect and morality. I.E: The brain is the seat of intellect, the heart is the seat of emotion.

I agree that the concept can be discussed in a theology-free context however I can see why it could end up going in that direction.

FWIW, I thought the OP did indeed put the discussion into a theological context by virtue of using the word “soul” in his third question.

This is why I asked him for clarification. He SEEMS to be asking if instinct overrides the free will of the soul. If this is the correct interpretation of this question, then it seems to me that the question is postulating that the soul is the “decision-maker”.

Of course, I could be completely wrong which is why I hesitate to try to debate any of this without being sure what it is the OP would like us to debate. :smiley:

All right, so what do you mean by “heart”?

Why are you suggesting that the brain isn’t the source of emotion?

Heart: “The vital center and source of one’s being” — American Heritage.

So what makes you think that the brain isn’t that center?

your response is trivial.



translation: because there is.



translation: because it happens.



translation: because there is.



tranlation: because it happens.

now, those are my translations, they way i took your words. you did not show at all that there is actually a choice that is made, nor did you enumerate what it is that might make a choice, and why that thing has the ability to make a choice. those are what i’m looking for here.

and for the record, my heart pumps blood through my body. it does not make choices, certainly not about the direction of the blood flow.

Sorry, I should have been more clear.

The statement “The brain is the seat of intellect, the heart is the seat of emotion” is not meant literally, of course. It’s simply a well-known device to use these organs as a sort of metaphor for the difference between moral and intellectual choices.

I’m just stating that I understand the use of this metaphor, if that’s the right term.

Here’s another one, cleaned up for use in this forum: “The guy’s thinking with his genitals, not his head”. Obviously, this indicates that the gentleman is allowing his baser instincts to overrule his intellect in making sexual choices.

Using parts of the body as a metaphor for mental/emotional/instinctual processes is a well-known device which IMO, are okay for use in debate as long as everyone involved understands and accepts their meaning.

If this use of language is not accepted and understood by all, the debate gets bogged down in semantics and fails to move forward. As appears to be the case at the moment. :wink:

One significant point to me is that, while “free will” is not externally mandated by definition, neither is it random. You choose what you choose to choose, for reasons that are drawn from your heredity and experience. And those are the product of the world you live in.

Therefore, without depriving you of your free choice, someone who knew you totally, better even than you know yourself, could know what your choice was going to be, because it would be an elementary deduction from who you are.

Many of us believe that that Someone does in fact exist. But that’s a different debate.