Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Determinist - the name

A few people have asked me why the name "determinist". Does it mean I believe in a deterministic universe? I get the impression that most people aren't determinists by nature, since being a determinist usually means that you don't believe in things like a soul, free will, God and these kinds of things.

This is true for me as well, and I'm comfortable with that. And, I think that everyone is actually a determinists whether they like it or not.

One of the recent issues of "New Scientist" discusses "The big questions" like religion versus science (like there is a conflict!), life, death, free will, the theory of everything and so on. I read two different pieces on free will that I found quite interesting, and the bits that struck me were well put.

Generally, free will can be put this way, and I quote, "A rigid philosophical tradition claims that no choice is free unless it is uncaused; that is, unless the "will" is exercised independently of all causal influences - in a causal vacuum. ... The problem is that choices are made by brains, and brains operate causally..."

That sums up most of the entire argument about free will, even though I go one step further with determinism, which says that everything that will happen is determined here and now, i.e. everything is cause and effect.

This doesn't take away any of the magic of the universe, since we still can't predict this determined future, and that's where the magic is. Eventually maybe we will, but until then, we can live with the illusion of free will and that's good enough for most people.


Violet said...

I remember having a hard time reconciling the two when I came across it at university. I do think that the universe is deterministic, but not to the point that we can predict the future with much accuracy, and not as an excuse for crime.

Determinist said...

The whole idea of "responsibility for your actions" I guess MUST be a point of the discussion, since if we aren't making choices, then how can you blame anyone?

My answer: blaming people is just part of the thing being determined. :)

My theory - to calculate the future would probably take the calculating power of the universe to do, so you might as well just wait and see.

Doesn't mean that you might not calculate approximate future though.