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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Naggash

[Plot Specific] Good and Evil, Creator and DO?

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The problem is not that I am conflating possibilities and actualities, it is that you are conflating actual possibilities with the illusion of possibility. Take your pancakes as an example - your choices are to eat pancakes for breakfast, or to eat pancakes for breakfast. Sure, you have cereal in the cupboard, you have some bread so you can make toast, and it is from this that you draw the illusion of choice - you say that you could, if you chose, have something other than pancakes. The problem is there is no actual chance of you having something other than pancakes. That you will have pancakes is a certainty, it is the only possible option. So how do you have free will? An option that you are incapable of exercising is not an option at all. There exists no possibility that you could have something else. You are incapable of having something else - not because you are being forced to have that, not because there is nothing else to eat, but because the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided. Absolute foreknowledge does not cause a deterministic future, but a deterministic future is required for that foreknowledge to exist, therefore foreknowledge does preclude free will. You haven't truly got to grips with the contradiction at the heart of your position. Before you are even born, your every choice is already made, yet you still have free will. Saying that you are free to choose in the moment of choosing is absurd - in the moment of choosing, your choice has already been made, the outcome has already observed, it has already happened. To a being outside time, your choices that you have yet to make, and the choices you have already made are the same. So either you can change the decisions in your past, or you cannot change the decisions in your future.

 

Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated):

(1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe"

(2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?)

(3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom

(4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom.

 

There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning.  But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle.

Not really. "Choices" aren't determined by the people themselves, because there is no choice being made. There is only ever one possibility. If there is only on epossible thing that could happen, you are not choosing to do it, it is merely happening. Now, how can it be known what you will choose before you choose it, known not merely as a strong probability, but as an absolute certainty, as sure as 1+1=2? It can only be known as an absolute certainty if there is no other possibility. 1 and 1 don't discuss amongst themselves whether they equal 2 today, or whether today is the day they will change things up and equal 3. If a train is moving along the tracks and approaches a set of points, if the lever is one way the train goes one way, if the lever is the other way the train goes the other way. Does the train have free will? No. It doesn't choose, it merely goes down the path it must go down. The other set of tracks might give an illusion of choice, but the train makes no actual choice. To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not. Are there variant pasts or presents? Variant futures? If there is only one timeline, and the beginning and end and all the other points along the way are already set, then there is no option to deviate from it. Maybe God could change the points, send things down a new path, but we can't.

You attack the same problem from a different angle: at other places in what you wrote you seem to suggest that my choice tomorrow morning for pancakes cannot be free, since it is the one and only possible choice. I don't like this way of stating it, since it seems to confuse possibility and actuality.

I know you don't like it, but it needs to be addressed. It doesn't confuse possibility and actuality, it merely highlights that the illusory possibilities are not actual possibilities, and could not be chosen, not just were not chosen. There exists no mechanism by which you could have chosen something other than what you did, therefore no choice was made. If only one possible can become actual, and which possible can become actual is fixed then there is no freedom. For free will to exist, you must be able to choose which possible can become actual, therefore it cannot be fixed. If there is no way by which the other "possibles" can become actuals, then they are in fact impossibles. Asserting that it is "your choice" is meaningless - there is only one possible choice, you cannot change it or alter it in any way.

 

You deny what I've just said when you claim: "the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided." Ok, let's say this is the case. "Mapped out" and "decided" imply that every detail is in place beforehand--let's say this is the map the creator consults to "see" the entire scope of the universe, "foreknowing" every event, every choice, etc. How does this entail that there is no freedom in the world? It doesn't. Perhaps "the map" includes that at a time X I will freely choose pancakes for breakfast. There is no inherent incompatibility here between such a highly detailed "map" and freedom. In order to make a case that freedom is incompatible you need to say that the creator personally decided every single detail in the map, and then personally caused every single detail in the map to be the case. But that's really another sort of argument.

Actually, such a map does entail that there is no freedom. Again, free will requires the ability to choose between one or more possibilities. A road map that dictates all that will happen indicates that there are no other possibles, therefore there exists no mechanism to choose from, so there is no free will. The creator doesn't need to decide all the details, nor even any details - determinism doesn't require a creator at all. If you set up a domino rally, when the first one is pushed the others have no choice, they all fall, one after another. It's physics. The same principle applies here - each specific input results in certain outputs, cause and effect. Once the initial conditions are set things merely follow there course. They can follow this course whether or not something is watching, but the fact that something can already see the end that must happen means there can be no doubt as to what that end is. If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast? Yes, there's cereal in the cupboard, but the inputs are such that pancakes are the output. You would have needed to be programmed differently to choose differently. You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will.

 

 

God doesn't require omniscience. Omniscience doesn't preclude free will, depending on what is meant by omniscience - knowing every choice that could be made, knowing all the outcomes to all those choices, but not knowing which potential future is the real one until it happens, that allows free will. Knowing what will happen requires that there exists no possibility of it not happening, of it happening differently. Thus there are no possibilities, only certainties - what will happen, and what will not. Thus, no ability to choose between different possibilities.

 

I think you're wrong. God REQUIRES omniscience. Its'a a fundamental part of what "God" is or means. And I think knowing everything that will happen not because you don't have free will but because I know what you will choose in virtue of my limitless knowledge (which includes limitless knowledge about the psyque of a person and so implies knowing how that person will act) is a much perfect omniscience than knowing everything just because its written and you cannot change it.

God does not require omniscience. You are flatly wrong in stating that - it is not my opinion that you are wrong, it is a fact. Many cultures have believed and do still believe in non-omniscient gods, so it cannot be fundamental to the meaning of God, even if it is fundamental to your understanding of God. As for choices, the problem here is that you only have one. All events have a probability of 0 (they will not happen) or 1 (they will happen). If there was free will, they could be expressed somewhere between them - something with a 0.99999999 chance of happening is extremely likely to occur, but there exists the possibility that it won't. You assert the paradox that you have no choices (because no ability to choose otherwise) yet still possess free will. In other words, free will does nothing. There appears to be an option B, but you are unable to take it, ever, because option A is so fundamental to you that you will never, ever choose differently. An option that you are incapable of exercising isn't an option at all, therefore you have no free will.

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To be honest, I don't believe many religions have a truly omniscient God; the closest are probably the Fates or such in Greek (and other) mythology, which do prophecise parts of the future.

 

The Christian God, for example, may be spatially omniscient (He supposedly knows what you're doing irrespective of where you do it) but appears to be good at guessing the future only, rather than exactly knowing it (hence testing Abraham/Job, flooding the world because it sucks, etcetera). That combination, to me, seems like it allows Free Will even if God will probably know what you do next because He knows all about your now.

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The problem is not that I am conflating possibilities and actualities, it is that you are conflating actual possibilities with the illusion of possibility. Take your pancakes as an example - your choices are to eat pancakes for breakfast, or to eat pancakes for breakfast. Sure, you have cereal in the cupboard, you have some bread so you can make toast, and it is from this that you draw the illusion of choice - you say that you could, if you chose, have something other than pancakes. The problem is there is no actual chance of you having something other than pancakes. That you will have pancakes is a certainty, it is the only possible option. So how do you have free will? An option that you are incapable of exercising is not an option at all. There exists no possibility that you could have something else. You are incapable of having something else - not because you are being forced to have that, not because there is nothing else to eat, but because the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided. Absolute foreknowledge does not cause a deterministic future, but a deterministic future is required for that foreknowledge to exist, therefore foreknowledge does preclude free will. You haven't truly got to grips with the contradiction at the heart of your position. Before you are even born, your every choice is already made, yet you still have free will. Saying that you are free to choose in the moment of choosing is absurd - in the moment of choosing, your choice has already been made, the outcome has already observed, it has already happened. To a being outside time, your choices that you have yet to make, and the choices you have already made are the same. So either you can change the decisions in your past, or you cannot change the decisions in your future.

 

Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated):

(1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe"

(2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?)

(3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom

(4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom.

 

There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning.  But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle.

 

Not really. "Choices" aren't determined by the people themselves, because there is no choice being made. There is only ever one possibility. If there is only on epossible thing that could happen, you are not choosing to do it, it is merely happening. Now, how can it be known what you will choose before you choose it, known not merely as a strong probability, but as an absolute certainty, as sure as 1+1=2? It can only be known as an absolute certainty if there is no other possibility. 1 and 1 don't discuss amongst themselves whether they equal 2 today, or whether today is the day they will change things up and equal 3. If a train is moving along the tracks and approaches a set of points, if the lever is one way the train goes one way, if the lever is the other way the train goes the other way. Does the train have free will? No. It doesn't choose, it merely goes down the path it must go down. The other set of tracks might give an illusion of choice, but the train makes no actual choice. To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not. Are there variant pasts or presents? Variant futures? If there is only one timeline, and the beginning and end and all the other points along the way are already set, then there is no option to deviate from it. Maybe God could change the points, send things down a new path, but we can't.

 

Your reasoning goes along these lines:

 

(A) You claim:

"choices aren't determined by the people themselves, because no choice is being made."

(B) Why is there no choice being made? Because:

"There is only ever one possibility."

© And why is there only one possibility? Because:

God can't foreknow what you will choose if there is more than one possibility. Everything has to be "determined" before the choice, and it cannot be determined by the person making the choice (paraphrasing).The only way God (or any such being) can know what will happen is if there is only one possible choice. Otherwise, there is no basis for the knowing beforehand.

(D) But why can't the person be responsible for determining the choice? Because:

If the choice is not fixed before the choice is made, then God cannot know what the choice will be before it is made. And this is what makes freedom impossible, in light of foreknowledge.

(E) Therefore:

If there is a being that has foreknowledge of the future, then our choices are already "pre-determined" and there is no (libertarian) freedom.

 

Basically, since you think there is no other explanation for foreknowledge, it follows that freedom would be impossible--the only way to explain foreknowledge is through some sort of comprehensive determinism that fixes choices before they are made. You've denied that a person could determine his choice. It's clear what motivates this claim (the worry over being able to explain foreknowledge), but it is less clear what actually supports it. I think this is what you think supports it (quoting you): "To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not." Obviously, "past," "present," and "future" are terms that refer to moving targets, and even for us the content of past, present, future, is not essentially distinct. These are terms that refer to points of view relative to our position in the timeline. But if God (or some being) were to see history "all at once," does this imply that there is no freedom, as you suggest? No. It doesn't imply the absence of freedom any more than a time traveler seeing the future implies that the people he watches don't have freedom. The time traveler, let's say, witnesses the future, then goes back to his own time and he knows what certain people will choose. God could "see" the future, "looking down the corridors of time," as it were, seeing "the whole at once," seeing everything clearly, but like the time traveler, seeing free choices made in their own respective moments. Why could not a being such as God have this sort of privileged access to time and history? Why must it be as you suggest, that everything must be determined in such a way (which, by the way, is not completely clear on your model) that there is no freedom?

 

 

You deny what I've just said when you claim: "the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided." Ok, let's say this is the case. "Mapped out" and "decided" imply that every detail is in place beforehand--let's say this is the map the creator consults to "see" the entire scope of the universe, "foreknowing" every event, every choice, etc. How does this entail that there is no freedom in the world? It doesn't. Perhaps "the map" includes that at a time X I will freely choose pancakes for breakfast. There is no inherent incompatibility here between such a highly detailed "map" and freedom. In order to make a case that freedom is incompatible you need to say that the creator personally decided every single detail in the map, and then personally caused every single detail in the map to be the case. But that's really another sort of argument.

Actually, such a map does entail that there is no freedom. Again, free will requires the ability to choose between one or more possibilities. A road map that dictates all that will happen indicates that there are no other possibles, therefore there exists no mechanism to choose from, so there is no free will. The creator doesn't need to decide all the details, nor even any details - determinism doesn't require a creator at all. If you set up a domino rally, when the first one is pushed the others have no choice, they all fall, one after another. It's physics. The same principle applies here - each specific input results in certain outputs, cause and effect. Once the initial conditions are set things merely follow there course. They can follow this course whether or not something is watching, but the fact that something can already see the end that must happen means there can be no doubt as to what that end is. If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast? Yes, there's cereal in the cupboard, but the inputs are such that pancakes are the output. You would have needed to be programmed differently to choose differently. You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will.

 

The "map" only excludes freedom if you build causal determinism into it, which you do, since you think it is necessary to explain foreknowledge. But see my comments above--a time traveler may know what you will do tomorrow, and yet, that does not imply that what you do is determined. God could have a similar access to history. As for your example of the dominos. If the creator sets up the domino line and pushes the first domino, then you are incorrect, since the creator has in fact determined every single detail. But this is not necessary for foreknowledge. All that is necessary is having a privileged access to the whole picture, "seeing down the corridors of time," and this seems to be consistent with freedom.

 

You write:

 

"If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast?"

 

I think your language here is slightly hyperbolic. You can choose something other than pancakes, but you don't. And God can know what you will choose. Can you change your choices? That's a strange thing to consider--when would you, or anyone, have the opportunity to change a choice? You only have one moment to make a choice.

 

You write:

 

"You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will."

 

Libertarian freedom is roughly defined like this: the ability to choose A or not A, where this choice is not determined by any external factors or antecedent conditions. And in principle, if you were placed in the exact same position again and again, you could make a different choice every time. But history doesn't give us the chance to do things over and over again. We face each choice only once. There is but one timeline, while there are many possible timelines. But there is no inconsistency with saying that God knows the actual timeline, which includes the decisions free beings will make. Even if you could have chosen differently, God can know what you will choose. Even if your choice was a very near thing, and you almost made the opposite choice, God can know what you do choose. Foreknowledge is a perfect knowledge about what is actual, about what actually happens, and this only requires a privileged access to history, which does not entail the loss of freedom.

 

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I'd like to point out that, depending on your point of view.  No one has free will.  Or rather, free will is not the simplicity of "complete choice" that so many want to ascribe to it.

 

We are all guided by limits.  No matter how free you are, you are shaped by your upbringing and your own conscience, you are limited by your actual ability. 

 

Some people will never be star athletes, because their own physical form places a limit they cannot overcome.  I will never take a sword and stab myself in the chest, because by my upbringing, nature and personality will not ever commit such an act.  Some peopel are as Mat is portrayed in the series, and no matter how much they choose to be selfish and avoid situations, keep bein heroes.  On the same note some people with every intention and desire to protect freeze and flee when presented with the reality.  etc, etc, etc.

 

The arguement that we somehow would lack free will if the influence of good/evil came from an outside source is only valid and relevant if you somehow have a world that is genuinely and completely "Free".  We don't have that, we never will, It's a concept like oblivion or infinity that while we can define we can in no way actually comprehend.

 

Edit:  To the line of thought specifically about god, or whichever deity you want to use not being able to know if there's multiple choices.  You're assuming a deity works on the same level of dimension and concept of time as we do.  For all we know "god" is all knowing.  And knows exactly what we will do, because being omniscient in a multiversal setting (IE where each choice splits) would mean s/he/it could and would follow every possible eventuality.

 

Maybe we have choice AND the divine knows what we'll do in the same way the scene in Premium Rush shows Wiley analyzing and understanding every move he could make and what the result would be, only on a supremely grander scale.

 

Or to put it even simpler.  Maybe whatever the divine is just knows you well enough that even with "free will" it can predict.  I know my son's behavior backwards and forwards, I know exactly how he'll respond to almost any situation.  I have been surprised all of once ever.  Now that's a case of one human vs another.  As a human I have limited knowledge and weaknesses that in theory a creator figure may not have.  If I can replicate a situation within our own limits, giving the idea that a divine being can do it on a grander scale isn't hard to believe, assuming we agree on there being a divine in the first place.

Edited by KakitaOCU

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The problem is not that I am conflating possibilities and actualities, it is that you are conflating actual possibilities with the illusion of possibility. Take your pancakes as an example - your choices are to eat pancakes for breakfast, or to eat pancakes for breakfast. Sure, you have cereal in the cupboard, you have some bread so you can make toast, and it is from this that you draw the illusion of choice - you say that you could, if you chose, have something other than pancakes. The problem is there is no actual chance of you having something other than pancakes. That you will have pancakes is a certainty, it is the only possible option. So how do you have free will? An option that you are incapable of exercising is not an option at all. There exists no possibility that you could have something else. You are incapable of having something else - not because you are being forced to have that, not because there is nothing else to eat, but because the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided. Absolute foreknowledge does not cause a deterministic future, but a deterministic future is required for that foreknowledge to exist, therefore foreknowledge does preclude free will. You haven't truly got to grips with the contradiction at the heart of your position. Before you are even born, your every choice is already made, yet you still have free will. Saying that you are free to choose in the moment of choosing is absurd - in the moment of choosing, your choice has already been made, the outcome has already observed, it has already happened. To a being outside time, your choices that you have yet to make, and the choices you have already made are the same. So either you can change the decisions in your past, or you cannot change the decisions in your future.

 

Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated):

(1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe"

(2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?)

(3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom

(4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom.

 

There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning.  But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle.

 

Not really. "Choices" aren't determined by the people themselves, because there is no choice being made. There is only ever one possibility. If there is only on epossible thing that could happen, you are not choosing to do it, it is merely happening. Now, how can it be known what you will choose before you choose it, known not merely as a strong probability, but as an absolute certainty, as sure as 1+1=2? It can only be known as an absolute certainty if there is no other possibility. 1 and 1 don't discuss amongst themselves whether they equal 2 today, or whether today is the day they will change things up and equal 3. If a train is moving along the tracks and approaches a set of points, if the lever is one way the train goes one way, if the lever is the other way the train goes the other way. Does the train have free will? No. It doesn't choose, it merely goes down the path it must go down. The other set of tracks might give an illusion of choice, but the train makes no actual choice. To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not. Are there variant pasts or presents? Variant futures? If there is only one timeline, and the beginning and end and all the other points along the way are already set, then there is no option to deviate from it. Maybe God could change the points, send things down a new path, but we can't.

 

 

Your reasoning goes along these lines:

 

(A) You claim:

"choices aren't determined by the people themselves, because no choice is being made."

(B) Why is there no choice being made? Because:

"There is only ever one possibility."

© And why is there only one possibility? Because:

God can't foreknow what you will choose if there is more than one possibility. Everything has to be "determined" before the choice, and it cannot be determined by the person making the choice (paraphrasing).The only way God (or any such being) can know what will happen is if there is only one possible choice. Otherwise, there is no basis for the knowing beforehand.

(D) But why can't the person be responsible for determining the choice? Because:

If the choice is not fixed before the choice is made, then God cannot know what the choice will be before it is made. And this is what makes freedom impossible, in light of foreknowledge.

(E) Therefore:

If there is a being that has foreknowledge of the future, then our choices are already "pre-determined" and there is no (libertarian) freedom.

Not quite. There is only one future, God knows what it is. That future is set, and cannot be changed. That means it is impossible to deviate from what must come to pass. If you have two choices, and they are so close that it really could go either way, then up until the choice is made, the future is in flux. Things might go one way, or the might go the other. If the future is not in flux, if in fact the future is set, then all choices made must be the choices that lead toward that future. You might think you could go either way, but you couldn't - if you went the other way, there would be a different future, but as that future did not happen, it therefore cannot happen. All choices that you have yet to make are already made before you make them. And as they are already made, then in the moment of choosing, you are not actually choosing, and therefore lack free will.

Basically, since you think there is no other explanation for foreknowledge, it follows that freedom would be impossible--the only way to explain foreknowledge is through some sort of comprehensive determinism that fixes choices before they are made. You've denied that a person could determine his choice. It's clear what motivates this claim (the worry over being able to explain foreknowledge), but it is less clear what actually supports it. I think this is what you think supports it (quoting you): "To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not." Obviously, "past," "present," and "future" are terms that refer to moving targets, and even for us the content of past, present, future, is not essentially distinct. These are terms that refer to points of view relative to our position in the timeline. But if God (or some being) were to see history "all at once," does this imply that there is no freedom, as you suggest? No.

Yes, actually. If the future is determined by choices in the past, then there is no actual future until the choices have been made.

It doesn't imply the absence of freedom any more than a time traveler seeing the future implies that the people he watches don't have freedom.

Is the time traveller seeing what might come to pass, or what will come to pass? If it's only a maybe, there exists the possibility of changing it. If there's no maybe, if this is the future, the only possible one, and it must come to pass, then it does mean that there is no free will.

The time traveler, let's say, witnesses the future, then goes back to his own time and he knows what certain people will choose. God could "see" the future, "looking down the corridors of time," as it were, seeing "the whole at once," seeing everything clearly, but like the time traveler, seeing free choices made in their own respective moments. Why could not a being such as God have this sort of privileged access to time and history? Why must it be as you suggest, that everything must be determined in such a way (which, by the way, is not completely clear on your model) that there is no freedom?

As God looks down the corridor of time, he sees everything that will come to pass, every fork in every path taken. And as he looks at the past, he sees every choice taken then, but the choices taken then must be taken, cannot be taken otherwise, or the future God has already seen wouldn't exist. A future set in stone is incompatible with free will, and you've done nothing to explain how it could be. In the moment of every decision being taken, the decision is already taken. It was set in stone before that moment. You can no ore change a decision in the moment than you can rewrite the past and have something different for breakfast yesterday.

 

 

You deny what I've just said when you claim: "the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided." Ok, let's say this is the case. "Mapped out" and "decided" imply that every detail is in place beforehand--let's say this is the map the creator consults to "see" the entire scope of the universe, "foreknowing" every event, every choice, etc. How does this entail that there is no freedom in the world? It doesn't. Perhaps "the map" includes that at a time X I will freely choose pancakes for breakfast. There is no inherent incompatibility here between such a highly detailed "map" and freedom. In order to make a case that freedom is incompatible you need to say that the creator personally decided every single detail in the map, and then personally caused every single detail in the map to be the case. But that's really another sort of argument.

Actually, such a map does entail that there is no freedom. Again, free will requires the ability to choose between one or more possibilities. A road map that dictates all that will happen indicates that there are no other possibles, therefore there exists no mechanism to choose from, so there is no free will. The creator doesn't need to decide all the details, nor even any details - determinism doesn't require a creator at all. If you set up a domino rally, when the first one is pushed the others have no choice, they all fall, one after another. It's physics. The same principle applies here - each specific input results in certain outputs, cause and effect. Once the initial conditions are set things merely follow there course. They can follow this course whether or not something is watching, but the fact that something can already see the end that must happen means there can be no doubt as to what that end is. If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast? Yes, there's cereal in the cupboard, but the inputs are such that pancakes are the output. You would have needed to be programmed differently to choose differently. You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will.

 

 The "map" only excludes freedom if you build causal determinism into it, which you do, since you think it is necessary to explain foreknowledge.

You've yet to explain how the route can be set, unchangeable, yet you can still have the power to make a choice. Before the choice is made what the choice will be is already known.

But see my comments above--a time traveler may know what you will do tomorrow, and yet, that does not imply that what you do is determined. God could have a similar access to history. As for your example of the dominos. If the creator sets up the domino line and pushes the first domino, then you are incorrect, since the creator has in fact determined every single detail.

Not so. It only requires that the dominoes be set up - once the push is given, they will fall as they must, because that is the only outcome from the preconditions given. The "creator" can just be the one who gives the push. It's the same with any inanimate object - they obey the laws of physics, we do not need to create some fig leaf of volition to make them feel like their existence has meaning.

But this is not necessary for foreknowledge. All that is necessary is having a privileged access to the whole picture, "seeing down the corridors of time," and this seems to be consistent with freedom.

How? If you have a privileged access to the whole picture, that means the whole picture is already painted. So, from the perspective of those within the picture, their actions are what leads to the creation of the next part of it, and so they think they control the story being told.

 

 

You write:

 

"If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast?"

 

I think your language here is slightly hyperbolic. You can choose something other than pancakes, but you don't. And God can know what you will choose. Can you change your choices? That's a strange thing to consider--when would you, or anyone, have the opportunity to change a choice? You only have one moment to make a choice.

It's not hyperbolic in the slightest, merely accurate. You didn't answer the question, I see. How do you choose something other than pancakes? There is already a future, a real future, not merely a possibility, in which pancakes were chosen. Before you ever started making them, before you bought the ingredients, before you learnt how to cook, before you were born, and all the way back to the first moment of time, that future, the one with the pancakes, has always been there. There exists no possibility of a future in which you do not choose pancakes - how is that compatible with free will? Before you make the choice, the choice is made. Certain inputs produce certain outputs - as the output is already known, then the inputs cannot be changed.

 

 

You write:

 

"You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will."

 

Libertarian freedom is roughly defined like this: the ability to choose A or not A, where this choice is not determined by any external factors or antecedent conditions. And in principle, if you were placed in the exact same position again and again, you could make a different choice every time. But history doesn't give us the chance to do things over and over again. We face each choice only once. There is but one timeline, while there are many possible timelines. But there is no inconsistency with saying that God knows the actual timeline, which includes the decisions free beings will make. Even if you could have chosen differently, God can know what you will choose. Even if your choice was a very near thing, and you almost made the opposite choice, God can know what you do choose. Foreknowledge is a perfect knowledge about what is actual, about what actually happens, and this only requires a privileged access to history, which does not entail the loss of freedom.

You're still dodging the point. There are no possible timelines - the events in them had no chance of happening. There is only what did happen. If you are so predictable that your actions can be known with absolute certainty, then, per your definition, you have no libertarian freedom - your decisions are set by antecedent conditions. Under these inputs, you will produce this output. If there existed the slightest possible chance that you would choose something different, then God's foreknowledge could not be absolute. This may be the one time when you don't do what you probably will. You've yet to explain how absolute foreknowledge is compatible with freedom. I've already explained how they are incompatible.

 

 

Edit:  To the line of thought specifically about god, or whichever deity you want to use not being able to know if there's multiple choices.  You're assuming a deity works on the same level of dimension and concept of time as we do.  For all we know "god" is all knowing.  And knows exactly what we will do, because being omniscient in a multiversal setting (IE where each choice splits) would mean s/he/it could and would follow every possible eventuality.

If every possible outcome comes to pass, that likewise invalidates free will, as I've already addressed - it removes the option to not choose something.

Maybe we have choice AND the divine knows what we'll do in the same way the scene in Premium Rush shows Wiley analyzing and understanding every move he could make and what the result would be, only on a supremely grander scale.

 

Or to put it even simpler.  Maybe whatever the divine is just knows you well enough that even with "free will" it can predict.  I know my son's behavior backwards and forwards, I know exactly how he'll respond to almost any situation.  I have been surprised all of once ever.  Now that's a case of one human vs another.  As a human I have limited knowledge and weaknesses that in theory a creator figure may not have.  If I can replicate a situation within our own limits, giving the idea that a divine being can do it on a grander scale isn't hard to believe, assuming we agree on there being a divine in the first place.

If understanding of what will happen is absolute, that means it cannot be deviated from. If it cannot be deviated from, then there is only one possible choice. If there is only one possible choice, then there is no free will. If foreknowledge is not absolute, that doesn't mean free will exists, but it does leave space in which it might exist.

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The problem is not that I am conflating possibilities and actualities, it is that you are conflating actual possibilities with the illusion of possibility. Take your pancakes as an example - your choices are to eat pancakes for breakfast, or to eat pancakes for breakfast. Sure, you have cereal in the cupboard, you have some bread so you can make toast, and it is from this that you draw the illusion of choice - you say that you could, if you chose, have something other than pancakes. The problem is there is no actual chance of you having something other than pancakes. That you will have pancakes is a certainty, it is the only possible option. So how do you have free will? An option that you are incapable of exercising is not an option at all. There exists no possibility that you could have something else. You are incapable of having something else - not because you are being forced to have that, not because there is nothing else to eat, but because the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided. Absolute foreknowledge does not cause a deterministic future, but a deterministic future is required for that foreknowledge to exist, therefore foreknowledge does preclude free will. You haven't truly got to grips with the contradiction at the heart of your position. Before you are even born, your every choice is already made, yet you still have free will. Saying that you are free to choose in the moment of choosing is absurd - in the moment of choosing, your choice has already been made, the outcome has already observed, it has already happened. To a being outside time, your choices that you have yet to make, and the choices you have already made are the same. So either you can change the decisions in your past, or you cannot change the decisions in your future.

 

Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated):

(1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe"

(2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?)

(3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom

(4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom.

 

There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning.  But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle.

 

Not really. "Choices" aren't determined by the people themselves, because there is no choice being made. There is only ever one possibility. If there is only on epossible thing that could happen, you are not choosing to do it, it is merely happening. Now, how can it be known what you will choose before you choose it, known not merely as a strong probability, but as an absolute certainty, as sure as 1+1=2? It can only be known as an absolute certainty if there is no other possibility. 1 and 1 don't discuss amongst themselves whether they equal 2 today, or whether today is the day they will change things up and equal 3. If a train is moving along the tracks and approaches a set of points, if the lever is one way the train goes one way, if the lever is the other way the train goes the other way. Does the train have free will? No. It doesn't choose, it merely goes down the path it must go down. The other set of tracks might give an illusion of choice, but the train makes no actual choice. To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not. Are there variant pasts or presents? Variant futures? If there is only one timeline, and the beginning and end and all the other points along the way are already set, then there is no option to deviate from it. Maybe God could change the points, send things down a new path, but we can't.

 

 

Your reasoning goes along these lines:

 

(A) You claim:

"choices aren't determined by the people themselves, because no choice is being made."

(B) Why is there no choice being made? Because:

"There is only ever one possibility."

© And why is there only one possibility? Because:

God can't foreknow what you will choose if there is more than one possibility. Everything has to be "determined" before the choice, and it cannot be determined by the person making the choice (paraphrasing).The only way God (or any such being) can know what will happen is if there is only one possible choice. Otherwise, there is no basis for the knowing beforehand.

(D) But why can't the person be responsible for determining the choice? Because:

If the choice is not fixed before the choice is made, then God cannot know what the choice will be before it is made. And this is what makes freedom impossible, in light of foreknowledge.

(E) Therefore:

If there is a being that has foreknowledge of the future, then our choices are already "pre-determined" and there is no (libertarian) freedom.

Not quite. There is only one future, God knows what it is. That future is set, and cannot be changed. That means it is impossible to deviate from what must come to pass. If you have two choices, and they are so close that it really could go either way, then up until the choice is made, the future is in flux. Things might go one way, or the might go the other. If the future is not in flux, if in fact the future is set, then all choices made must be the choices that lead toward that future. You might think you could go either way, but you couldn't - if you went the other way, there would be a different future, but as that future did not happen, it therefore cannot happen. All choices that you have yet to make are already made before you make them. And as they are already made, then in the moment of choosing, you are not actually choosing, and therefore lack free will.

Basically, since you think there is no other explanation for foreknowledge, it follows that freedom would be impossible--the only way to explain foreknowledge is through some sort of comprehensive determinism that fixes choices before they are made. You've denied that a person could determine his choice. It's clear what motivates this claim (the worry over being able to explain foreknowledge), but it is less clear what actually supports it. I think this is what you think supports it (quoting you): "To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not." Obviously, "past," "present," and "future" are terms that refer to moving targets, and even for us the content of past, present, future, is not essentially distinct. These are terms that refer to points of view relative to our position in the timeline. But if God (or some being) were to see history "all at once," does this imply that there is no freedom, as you suggest? No.

Yes, actually. If the future is determined by choices in the past, then there is no actual future until the choices have been made.

It doesn't imply the absence of freedom any more than a time traveler seeing the future implies that the people he watches don't have freedom.

Is the time traveller seeing what might come to pass, or what will come to pass? If it's only a maybe, there exists the possibility of changing it. If there's no maybe, if this is the future, the only possible one, and it must come to pass, then it does mean that there is no free will.

The time traveler, let's say, witnesses the future, then goes back to his own time and he knows what certain people will choose. God could "see" the future, "looking down the corridors of time," as it were, seeing "the whole at once," seeing everything clearly, but like the time traveler, seeing free choices made in their own respective moments. Why could not a being such as God have this sort of privileged access to time and history? Why must it be as you suggest, that everything must be determined in such a way (which, by the way, is not completely clear on your model) that there is no freedom?

As God looks down the corridor of time, he sees everything that will come to pass, every fork in every path taken. And as he looks at the past, he sees every choice taken then, but the choices taken then must be taken, cannot be taken otherwise, or the future God has already seen wouldn't exist. A future set in stone is incompatible with free will, and you've done nothing to explain how it could be. In the moment of every decision being taken, the decision is already taken. It was set in stone before that moment. You can no ore change a decision in the moment than you can rewrite the past and have something different for breakfast yesterday.

 

 

You deny what I've just said when you claim: "the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided." Ok, let's say this is the case. "Mapped out" and "decided" imply that every detail is in place beforehand--let's say this is the map the creator consults to "see" the entire scope of the universe, "foreknowing" every event, every choice, etc. How does this entail that there is no freedom in the world? It doesn't. Perhaps "the map" includes that at a time X I will freely choose pancakes for breakfast. There is no inherent incompatibility here between such a highly detailed "map" and freedom. In order to make a case that freedom is incompatible you need to say that the creator personally decided every single detail in the map, and then personally caused every single detail in the map to be the case. But that's really another sort of argument.

Actually, such a map does entail that there is no freedom. Again, free will requires the ability to choose between one or more possibilities. A road map that dictates all that will happen indicates that there are no other possibles, therefore there exists no mechanism to choose from, so there is no free will. The creator doesn't need to decide all the details, nor even any details - determinism doesn't require a creator at all. If you set up a domino rally, when the first one is pushed the others have no choice, they all fall, one after another. It's physics. The same principle applies here - each specific input results in certain outputs, cause and effect. Once the initial conditions are set things merely follow there course. They can follow this course whether or not something is watching, but the fact that something can already see the end that must happen means there can be no doubt as to what that end is. If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast? Yes, there's cereal in the cupboard, but the inputs are such that pancakes are the output. You would have needed to be programmed differently to choose differently. You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will.

 

 The "map" only excludes freedom if you build causal determinism into it, which you do, since you think it is necessary to explain foreknowledge.

You've yet to explain how the route can be set, unchangeable, yet you can still have the power to make a choice. Before the choice is made what the choice will be is already known.

But see my comments above--a time traveler may know what you will do tomorrow, and yet, that does not imply that what you do is determined. God could have a similar access to history. As for your example of the dominos. If the creator sets up the domino line and pushes the first domino, then you are incorrect, since the creator has in fact determined every single detail.

Not so. It only requires that the dominoes be set up - once the push is given, they will fall as they must, because that is the only outcome from the preconditions given. The "creator" can just be the one who gives the push. It's the same with any inanimate object - they obey the laws of physics, we do not need to create some fig leaf of volition to make them feel like their existence has meaning.

But this is not necessary for foreknowledge. All that is necessary is having a privileged access to the whole picture, "seeing down the corridors of time," and this seems to be consistent with freedom.

How? If you have a privileged access to the whole picture, that means the whole picture is already painted. So, from the perspective of those within the picture, their actions are what leads to the creation of the next part of it, and so they think they control the story being told.

 

 

You write:

 

"If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast?"

 

I think your language here is slightly hyperbolic. You can choose something other than pancakes, but you don't. And God can know what you will choose. Can you change your choices? That's a strange thing to consider--when would you, or anyone, have the opportunity to change a choice? You only have one moment to make a choice.

It's not hyperbolic in the slightest, merely accurate. You didn't answer the question, I see. How do you choose something other than pancakes? There is already a future, a real future, not merely a possibility, in which pancakes were chosen. Before you ever started making them, before you bought the ingredients, before you learnt how to cook, before you were born, and all the way back to the first moment of time, that future, the one with the pancakes, has always been there. There exists no possibility of a future in which you do not choose pancakes - how is that compatible with free will? Before you make the choice, the choice is made. Certain inputs produce certain outputs - as the output is already known, then the inputs cannot be changed.

 

 

You write:

 

"You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will."

 

Libertarian freedom is roughly defined like this: the ability to choose A or not A, where this choice is not determined by any external factors or antecedent conditions. And in principle, if you were placed in the exact same position again and again, you could make a different choice every time. But history doesn't give us the chance to do things over and over again. We face each choice only once. There is but one timeline, while there are many possible timelines. But there is no inconsistency with saying that God knows the actual timeline, which includes the decisions free beings will make. Even if you could have chosen differently, God can know what you will choose. Even if your choice was a very near thing, and you almost made the opposite choice, God can know what you do choose. Foreknowledge is a perfect knowledge about what is actual, about what actually happens, and this only requires a privileged access to history, which does not entail the loss of freedom.

You're still dodging the point. There are no possible timelines - the events in them had no chance of happening. There is only what did happen. If you are so predictable that your actions can be known with absolute certainty, then, per your definition, you have no libertarian freedom - your decisions are set by antecedent conditions. Under these inputs, you will produce this output. If there existed the slightest possible chance that you would choose something different, then God's foreknowledge could not be absolute. This may be the one time when you don't do what you probably will. You've yet to explain how absolute foreknowledge is compatible with freedom. I've already explained how they are incompatible.

 

 

Edit:  To the line of thought specifically about god, or whichever deity you want to use not being able to know if there's multiple choices.  You're assuming a deity works on the same level of dimension and concept of time as we do.  For all we know "god" is all knowing.  And knows exactly what we will do, because being omniscient in a multiversal setting (IE where each choice splits) would mean s/he/it could and would follow every possible eventuality.

If every possible outcome comes to pass, that likewise invalidates free will, as I've already addressed - it removes the option to not choose something.

Maybe we have choice AND the divine knows what we'll do in the same way the scene in Premium Rush shows Wiley analyzing and understanding every move he could make and what the result would be, only on a supremely grander scale.

 

Or to put it even simpler.  Maybe whatever the divine is just knows you well enough that even with "free will" it can predict.  I know my son's behavior backwards and forwards, I know exactly how he'll respond to almost any situation.  I have been surprised all of once ever.  Now that's a case of one human vs another.  As a human I have limited knowledge and weaknesses that in theory a creator figure may not have.  If I can replicate a situation within our own limits, giving the idea that a divine being can do it on a grander scale isn't hard to believe, assuming we agree on there being a divine in the first place.

If understanding of what will happen is absolute, that means it cannot be deviated from. If it cannot be deviated from, then there is only one possible choice. If there is only one possible choice, then there is no free will. If foreknowledge is not absolute, that doesn't mean free will exists, but it does leave space in which it might exist.

 

 

May I assume that you've studied some of the philosophical issues involved in our friendly exchange? Either way, you've thought about these questions, which is nice. They are deeply complicated, and at the heart, quite mysterious. I used to think along the same line that you are arguing. I had read a lot of Leibniz (not sure if you are familiar with him or his work on this subject). Leibniz argued with great conviction that libertarian freedom is incompatible with God's foreknowledge, and I think one of his main claims was that libertarian freedom is in itself absolutely impossible (something we are not debating). But another point that I think comes out of the Leibnizian picture (though I don't think he argued for this) is that God creates according to an absolutely complete conception of the world, down to the smallest detail--he called this concept a "possible world." In theory, God should be able to look at each possible world before creation, and on that basis he could choose which world to create. But if we have libertarian freedom, then there is no way for God to know, simply by looking at a possible world, which world he would be creating. Why? Because there is no basis for knowing "ahead of time" which choices we will make, and therefore, which world would ultimately be created. Our choices would in part determine the overall possible world that is created, and this determination would not be contained in the concept God looks at before creation. So on Leibniz's model, divine foreknowledge is inconsistent with libertarian freedom.

 

The above is roughly the view you've been giving. So, I do understand the basic position you are taking, and I think it has an intuitive plausibility. But as I said, I no longer hold to it. Built into that sort of explanation seems to be certain commitments to the nature of time, and the relation a being like God would have with time. All very tricky stuff. So, from a certain perspective--yours, and Leibniz's--it looks like there can be no freedom, since "everything is already determined." But this really doesn't say all that much. To insist that (1) freedom absolutely requires the ability to "choose otherwise," and to say that (2) there is no other possible choice if there is divine foreknowledge, is in my opinion to misconstrue the situation. First, even if we grant that the whole of history is in some sense "determined," including our choices, we still must answer: what has determined our choices? One answer might be causal determinism (where every action merely follows from a "first cause"). Another option is that the determination occurs from within history, occurring at discrete points and events, namely, the particular choices of human agents. The whole of history would then not be determined in a flash, as a whole, but would occurs as history seems to occur to us: moment by moment. The whole would then be determined by the parts, and not the other way around (and not from a first cause). To illustrate how a divine agent may foreknow free actions, I suggested the example of the time traveler. He goes to the future, witnesses Johnny freely choose to read A Memory of Light, then goes back to his own time to tell everyone with total certainty that Johnny will read A Memory of Light on such and such a day. The time traveler's knowledge is not inconsistent with Johnny's freedom. I further suggested that God could be thought of as having foreknowledge similar to the time traveler's. Foreknowledge and freedom are inconsistent only if we assume that God cannot look "down the corridors of time" in this way (or a similar way) to see what will occur. There are more complicated theories that I won't go into. So maybe the time traveler will work. :smile:

 

One last issue, before my stamina runs out. You have claimed that freedom absolutely requires at least two "real" or "legit" possible choices. But this is really somewhat controversial--in fact, I'm not sure I believe it. Here is a famous example (I change some of the details). Suppose you have been abducted by a mad scientist who wants you to vote for the Green Party in the coming election, and he plants a chip in your head that can force you to choose the Green Party. You don't remember any of this, and you go to vote. The mad scientist is monitoring your thoughts, and if you think of anything that will cause you to vote against the Green party, he will flip the switch and make you vote GP. Otherwise, he won't do anything and he will let you vote GP. You go to vote, and vote GP without the mad scientist influencing or overriding your choice. In this example, there was really only one possible outcome: voting GP. Yet, even so, you still made your decision without any outside influence, and made up your own mind. Your choice was among several options, even though one of those options was "determined"--it was still ultimately determined by your choice.

 

I hope I've been clear enough. I realize these are difficult issues. Some brilliant minds in history--like Leibniz--have taken your position, even though I now disagree with it.

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May I assume that you've studied some of the philosophical issues involved in our friendly exchange? Either way, you've thought about these questions, which is nice. They are deeply complicated, and at the heart, quite mysterious. I used to think along the same line that you are arguing. I had read a lot of Leibniz (not sure if you are familiar with him or his work on this subject). Leibniz argued with great conviction that libertarian freedom is incompatible with God's foreknowledge, and I think one of his main claims was that libertarian freedom is in itself absolutely impossible (something we are not debating). But another point that I think comes out of the Leibnizian picture (though I don't think he argued for this) is that God creates according to an absolutely complete conception of the world, down to the smallest detail--he called this concept a "possible world." In theory, God should be able to look at each possible world before creation, and on that basis he could choose which world to create. But if we have libertarian freedom, then there is no way for God to know, simply by looking at a possible world, which world he would be creating. Why? Because there is no basis for knowing "ahead of time" which choices we will make, and therefore, which world would ultimately be created. Our choices would in part determine the overall possible world that is created, and this determination would not be contained in the concept God looks at before creation. So on Leibniz's model, divine foreknowledge is inconsistent with libertarian freedom.

 

The above is roughly the view you've been giving. So, I do understand the basic position you are taking, and I think it has an intuitive plausibility. But as I said, I no longer hold to it. Built into that sort of explanation seems to be certain commitments to the nature of time, and the relation a being like God would have with time. All very tricky stuff. So, from a certain perspective--yours, and Leibniz's--it looks like there can be no freedom, since "everything is already determined." But this really doesn't say all that much. To insist that (1) freedom absolutely requires the ability to "choose otherwise," and to say that (2) there is no other possible choice if there is divine foreknowledge, is in my opinion to misconstrue the situation. First, even if we grant that the whole of history is in some sense "determined," including our choices, we still must answer: what has determined our choices? One answer might be causal determinism (where every action merely follows from a "first cause"). Another option is that the determination occurs from within history, occurring at discrete points and events, namely, the particular choices of human agents. The whole of history would then not be determined in a flash, as a whole, but would occurs as history seems to occur to us: moment by moment. The whole would then be determined by the parts, and not the other way around (and not from a first cause). To illustrate how a divine agent may foreknow free actions, I suggested the example of the time traveler. He goes to the future, witnesses Johnny freely choose to read A Memory of Light, then goes back to his own time to tell everyone with total certainty that Johnny will read A Memory of Light on such and such a day. The time traveler's knowledge is not inconsistent with Johnny's freedom. I further suggested that God could be thought of as having foreknowledge similar to the time traveler's. Foreknowledge and freedom are inconsistent only if we assume that God cannot look "down the corridors of time" in this way (or a similar way) to see what will occur. There are more complicated theories that I won't go into. So maybe the time traveler will work. :smile:

 

One last issue, before my stamina runs out. You have claimed that freedom absolutely requires at least two "real" or "legit" possible choices. But this is really somewhat controversial--in fact, I'm not sure I believe it. Here is a famous example (I change some of the details). Suppose you have been abducted by a mad scientist who wants you to vote for the Green Party in the coming election, and he plants a chip in your head that can force you to choose the Green Party. You don't remember any of this, and you go to vote. The mad scientist is monitoring your thoughts, and if you think of anything that will cause you to vote against the Green party, he will flip the switch and make you vote GP. Otherwise, he won't do anything and he will let you vote GP. You go to vote, and vote GP without the mad scientist influencing or overriding your choice. In this example, there was really only one possible outcome: voting GP. Yet, even so, you still made your decision without any outside influence, and made up your own mind. Your choice was among several options, even though one of those options was "determined"--it was still ultimately determined by your choice.

 

I hope I've been clear enough. I realize these are difficult issues. Some brilliant minds in history--like Leibniz--have taken your position, even though I now disagree with it.

So you have freedom of choice, provided you freely choose the only possible option? The net result is that there is only one possible option, one possible choice that can be made. That's akin to saying you have free elections, because you either vote for the party in power, or you can vote against them, get your head kicked in by the ruling party's thugs, and then have your vote counted towards the ruling party anyway. Functionally, there is no difference between this and an absence of free will - the pre-determined outcome still comes to pass, you still feel you are making a choice, but ultimately that ability to choose is meaningless. You still have no power over your destiny, no ability to effect a different outcome, no ability to deviate from an outlined course. You can only ever choose A or A. The idea that an outside force or entity could force you to choose A and make you think it was your own choice has implications enough for free will.

 

With your time traveller analogy, what if Johnny now doesn't read AMoL? Or he does, but on a different day? Do these possibilities exist? Can they come to pass? Johnny reading AMoL, as you predicted, doesn't preclude free will. But if the only possible future, the future that must come to pass, and there is no other possibility, then Johnny lacks the ability to not choose to read AMoL according your prediction - therefore, free will is denied.

 

And I've not read Leibniz, but he does seem to have a point.

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Have either of you considered either Kant's or Schopenhaur's conception of transcendental/practical freedom. They would appear to be apt choices given that they are the only two philosophers I can think of that make time relative rather then absolute. They put the concepts of God and the soul outside of time much like the pattern, creator, and DO. In this scheme a person could exist in a completely determinate world of cause and effect but at the same time the soul would be outside of time and thus cause and effect and therefore could make entirely free choices that would affect their physical form. In WOT free choice would exist at the level of the person as a thread in the pattern no matter how determinate or circular time is. Schopenhaur would add that since a person can not actively control their subconscious will that their ability to move around in the pattern has some limitations.

On the practical level of freedom there is the concept of being able to consider what "ought" to be done which has no place in a determinate world where every cause has a fixed effect.

That is a very quick overview of a long and complicated topic but it is useful to look into given the relativity of time in WOT which is not considered by most Western philosophers.

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Have either of you considered either Kant's or Schopenhaur's conception of transcendental/practical freedom. They would appear to be apt choices given that they are the only two philosophers I can think of that make time relative rather then absolute. They put the concepts of God and the soul outside of time much like the pattern, creator, and DO. In this scheme a person could exist in a completely determinate world of cause and effect but at the same time the soul would be outside of time and thus cause and effect and therefore could make entirely free choices that would affect their physical form. In WOT free choice would exist at the level of the person as a thread in the pattern no matter how determinate or circular time is. Schopenhaur would add that since a person can not actively control their subconscious will that their ability to move around in the pattern has some limitations.

On the practical level of freedom there is the concept of being able to consider what "ought" to be done which has no place in a determinate world where every cause has a fixed effect.

That is a very quick overview of a long and complicated topic but it is useful to look into given the relativity of time in WOT which is not considered by most Western philosophers.

 

Howdy. I only have about two minutes to spare, so I hope what I say is coherent. Interesting. I was only attempting to defend a very flat understanding of basic libertarian freedom. But you are right to call attention to other concepts. I don't know Schopenhaur, but I have some knowledge of Kierkegaard's freedom--somewhat radical stuff, actually (the self IS freedom, not just an activity of an agent).

 

Your suggestion on Kant is interesting, given that time is not metaphysically absolute on his account--it's more a condition for experience. Also, I think Augustine had a conception of the soul as being outside time, and yet able to causally interact with the body.  Well, that's all I have time to add.......

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Perhaps off topic to the current debate, but relevant to the thread title: I was a bit disappointed that "good and evil" was framed, in the end, as evil (and hence the dark one) being necessary for humans to have free will/choice.  Instead, I felt it would have been more fitting to frame it as that humans ARE both good and evil and have to wrestle with it.  THEREFORE, if you take away the dark one (and hence evil), you take away something essential that makes humans human and reduce them to the automatons that we see in Rand's failed attempt at Creating/Visioning the future without a dark one.

 

This would kind of fit the psychoanalytic ID-SUPEREGO struggle aka the angel vs. devil on your shoulder struggle.

 

I also think that Galad's arc and realization in the end could have been tied in even more effectively with this overall theme.

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I always just assumed that because the WoT universe has a cyclical time system that prophecies and Min's visions weren't of what was going to happen but what had already happened. They don't see what decision you will make but rather see what decision you made and the way events played out the last time. So in a sense they aren't telling you what you will have for breakfast tommorow but rather telling you what you had for breakfast the last time this particular moment in time happened.

 

As for the the Creator and the DO they exist outside of time so from their perspective there is no future and no past, the past and future are the real illusions because they don't exist, they are just the way we percieve things because we move linearly through time. So in essence the Creator and DO never percieve what you will do because they exist through all points of time at once instead they can see what you are doing at any given point in time at any other given point in time because they exist simultaniously in both.

 

Also since 3 things are constant in all the portal worlds T'A'R, the Creator, and the DO the Creator and DO don't just react to one of your possible decisions they react to every decision you could possibly make, these decisions being limited not by a lack of free will but rather by a person's tempermant, knowledge, ability, etc. (which makes me think Rand was incorrect in believing he could destroy the DO because as long as the DO survives in one portal world he survives in all worlds)

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I always just assumed that because the WoT universe has a cyclical time system that prophecies and Min's visions weren't of what was going to happen but what had already happened. They don't see what decision you will make but rather see what decision you made and the way events played out the last time. So in a sense they aren't telling you what you will have for breakfast tommorow but rather telling you what you had for breakfast the last time this particular moment in time happened.

Per RJ Min's quotes are always about the future. Plus while the overall pattern is the same the details change enough after a few turnings that there would be no way for that to work.

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Perhaps off topic to the current debate, but relevant to the thread title: I was a bit disappointed that "good and evil" was framed, in the end, as evil (and hence the dark one) being necessary for humans to have free will/choice.  Instead, I felt it would have been more fitting to frame it as that humans ARE both good and evil and have to wrestle with it.  THEREFORE, if you take away the dark one (and hence evil), you take away something essential that makes humans human and reduce them to the automatons that we see in Rand's failed attempt at Creating/Visioning the future without a dark one.

 

This would kind of fit the psychoanalytic ID-SUPEREGO struggle aka the angel vs. devil on your shoulder struggle.

 

I also think that Galad's arc and realization in the end could have been tied in even more effectively with this overall theme.

I have a feeling that somewhere along there was some confusion between the concept of the DO as representing free will and the concept of the DO representing the Will itself which would make more sense.  That the creator represents compassion appears to me to be fairly straight forward.  It is in the DO where all the confusion lies.  In Christianity there has long been a connection between the Devil and original sin.  What is original sin, this knowledge of good and evil?  Many philosophers think that it is consciousness itself.  In the garden Adam and Eve were not truely conscious human beings.  They were automitons in a way.  Only after they ate of the fruit and were expelled did they become conscious not only of good and evil but of mortality which is the inescapable knowledge that came from original sin.  Schopenhauer has some interesting comments which might help

 

 

Awakened to life out of the night of unconsciousness, the will finds itself as an individual in an endless and boundless world, among innumerable individuals, all striving, suffering, and erring; and, as if through a troubled dream, it hurries back to the old unconsciousness.  Yet till then its desires are unlimited, its claims inexhaustible, and every satisfied desire gives birth to a new one.  No possible satisfaction in the world could suffice to still its craving, set a final goal to its demands, and fill the bottomless pit of its heart.

If the DO were equal to original sin which also equals human consciousness then the DO would have a dual nature.  At one end of the spectrum there is the painful knowledge of mortality and of an unquenchable striving that can never be be satisfied in life.  It also entails knowledge of one's own faults and errors.  There is also the temptation of pure egoism.  This knowledge is both painful and tragic.  At the other end of the spectrum this very knowledge makes compassion possible and compassion is the basis of all morality.  Out of this knowledge also comes all creativity and all invention.  Without it there would be no human society and we would all be automatons in nature.  It is in this way that I think Will and free will have become confused.

 

 

The animal lives without any real knowledge of death; therefore the individual animal immediately enjoys the absolute imperishableness and immortality of the species, since it is conscious of itself only as endless.  With man the terrifying certainty of death necessarily appeared along with the faculty of reason.  But just as everywhere in nature a remedy, or at any rate a compensation, is given for every evil, so the same reflection that introduced the knowledge of death also assists us in obtaining metaphysical points of view.  Such views console us concerning death, and the animal is neither in need of nor capable of them.  All religions and philosophical systems are directed principally to this end.

The first sentence of the second quote is actually an interesting model of how the wolves think in WOT. 

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I've also come to view the DO as the amalgamation of humanity's Id. If you wished to destroy it, you would have to lobotomize humanity. Its part of what we are, so we must constantly battle it in an unending conflict to remain in control and civilized.

Edited by mbuehner

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I've also come to view the DO as the amalgamation of humanity's Id. If you wished to destroy it, you would have to lobotomize humanity. Its part of what we are, so we must constantly battle it in an unending conflict to remain in control and civilized.

Yes this is what it boils down to in the end.  It could be the muddled point that is supposed to be made in the ending is that the only true reality, the thing in itself to Kant and the Will to Schopenhauer, is the pattern.  Not only could the DO be an objectivization of the human subconscious but so could the creator.  They would represent consciousness/free will (DO) and compassion (creator).  A bigger question might be if Rand's pipe represents a solipsistic breakdown that occurs realist philosophy between representation and reality?  Schopenhauer presents the dilemma fairly clearly in his introductory sentences to 'The World as Will and Representation'

 

 

"The world is my representation": this is a truth valid with reference to every living and knowing being, although man alone can bring it into reflective, abstract consciousness. If he really does so, philosophical discernment has dawned on him. It then becomes clear and certain to him that he does not know a sun· and an earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth; that the world around him is there only as representation, in other words, only in reference to another thing, namely that which represents, and this is himself. If any truth can be expressed a priori, it is this; for it is the statement of that form of all possible and conceivable experience, a form that is more general than all others, than time, space, and causality, for all these presuppose it.

RJ tells us that the concept of the Wheel is from Hinduism and this is one of the central issues in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy in the East and Kant and Schopenhauer in the West.  If all we can know is what is represented by our mind, how do we know it corresponds to reality?  Obviously in the Judeo/Christian tradition God is postulated as the first cause in a strictly deterministic world of cause and effect and is the guaranty of reality .  By putting the wheel in and taking God out, RJ opened a big can of worms but one that could open a whole world of fantasy possibilities that tend not to get explored in the West.

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in Rand's final battle with the DO, the DO seems to act like a spoiled child the size of the universe. The DO himself is the master of Absolute Darkness, darkness of soul, of life; he is the essence of chaos and disorder.

According to Rand (not that i agree with it) the Pattern requires both Light and Dark in order to weave correctly. Without the DO pulling at the Wheel of Time, you have only the Light of the creator in the Pattern, you have no balance. Mankind achieved its pinnacle when the DO was forgotten, but a closer look at the Age of Legends shows that it was not that much of a Utopia. The DO was hidden, his pull on the Pattern subtle and indirect. When the Bore was opened and then sealed, the DO was able to tug the pattern more directly, skewing the balance slightly towards evil and chaos. At the end, with the Last Battle approaching the balance was even more and more skewed, the pattern itself started to unravel. Had the DO just remade the pattern his own way, you would not have balance anymore; the Light would be much more distant and removed.

 

What Rand did was remake the Bore pre AoL. He used the elementary threads that make up the Source and the Pattern to Reweave the Bore, rather than patch it with cuendillar as LTT did. This restored the balance of the pattern that existed before the AoL - allowing people to freely choose between good and evil, light and dark, without any undo influence from one or the other.

 

 

I can't understand if he WANT's the power of remaking the pattern in his own image (which could be Tainted Two Rivers (T2R) or Evil Caemlyn (EC), or Nothingness) and which option he would prefer. Ishy is of the opinion that the DO will not bother remaking the pattern, he will simply destroy it.

The DO seems to be happy to have even marginal Power over the world; sealed away in the bore with a minimal effect on the Pattern, he has countless shadowspawn at his disposal, dozens or perhaps hundreds of Grey Men, and thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Friend of the Dark.

He's got his Black Ajah (and his Black Ashaman).

Of course he wants more power, but what good is power if there is no one left to serve him? does he prefer the fight, the challenge where he can enjoy the thrill of minor victory, or does he prefer the nothingness?

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Perhaps off topic to the current debate, but relevant to the thread title: I was a bit disappointed that "good and evil" was framed, in the end, as evil (and hence the dark one) being necessary for humans to have free will/choice.  Instead, I felt it would have been more fitting to frame it as that humans ARE both good and evil and have to wrestle with it.  THEREFORE, if you take away the dark one (and hence evil), you take away something essential that makes humans human and reduce them to the automatons that we see in Rand's failed attempt at Creating/Visioning the future without a dark one.

 

This would kind of fit the psychoanalytic ID-SUPEREGO struggle aka the angel vs. devil on your shoulder struggle.

 

I also think that Galad's arc and realization in the end could have been tied in even more effectively with this overall theme.

I have a feeling that somewhere along there was some confusion between the concept of the DO as representing free will and the concept of the DO representing the Will itself which would make more sense.  That the creator represents compassion appears to me to be fairly straight forward.  It is in the DO where all the confusion lies.  In Christianity there has long been a connection between the Devil and original sin.  What is original sin, this knowledge of good and evil?  Many philosophers think that it is consciousness itself.  In the garden Adam and Eve were not truely conscious human beings.  They were automitons in a way.  Only after they ate of the fruit and were expelled did they become conscious not only of good and evil but of mortality which is the inescapable knowledge that came from original sin.  Schopenhauer has some interesting comments which might help

 

 

Awakened to life out of the night of unconsciousness, the will finds itself as an individual in an endless and boundless world, among innumerable individuals, all striving, suffering, and erring; and, as if through a troubled dream, it hurries back to the old unconsciousness.  Yet till then its desires are unlimited, its claims inexhaustible, and every satisfied desire gives birth to a new one.  No possible satisfaction in the world could suffice to still its craving, set a final goal to its demands, and fill the bottomless pit of its heart.

If the DO were equal to original sin which also equals human consciousness then the DO would have a dual nature.  At one end of the spectrum there is the painful knowledge of mortality and of an unquenchable striving that can never be be satisfied in life.  It also entails knowledge of one's own faults and errors.  There is also the temptation of pure egoism.  This knowledge is both painful and tragic.  At the other end of the spectrum this very knowledge makes compassion possible and compassion is the basis of all morality.  Out of this knowledge also comes all creativity and all invention.  Without it there would be no human society and we would all be automatons in nature.  It is in this way that I think Will and free will have become confused.

 

 

The animal lives without any real knowledge of death; therefore the individual animal immediately enjoys the absolute imperishableness and immortality of the species, since it is conscious of itself only as endless.  With man the terrifying certainty of death necessarily appeared along with the faculty of reason.  But just as everywhere in nature a remedy, or at any rate a compensation, is given for every evil, so the same reflection that introduced the knowledge of death also assists us in obtaining metaphysical points of view.  Such views console us concerning death, and the animal is neither in need of nor capable of them.  All religions and philosophical systems are directed principally to this end.

The first sentence of the second quote is actually an interesting model of how the wolves think in WOT. 

 

I saw a fascinating approach which renders original sin as having knowledge of Good and Evil  experientially rather than Academically.

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If you look at it, prior to the Tree, they had an encyclopedia's knowledge of what evil was, they "knew" that there was such a thing. But they had not felt the temptations prior, there was no urge, no grey area, it was all black and white. In Rand's vision of "Good Caemlyn" (Camelot????) Everyone knew exactly what evil was and it was 'academic' - it simply did not exist. No thieves, murders, orphans. Everyone was happy and evil was simply a thing that was. But thats not humanity, and he rejected that. (I don't get what happened in the Ogier built Two Rivers)

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I saw a fascinating approach which renders original sin as having knowledge of Good and Evil  experientially rather than Academically.

 

 

If you look at it, prior to the Tree, they had an encyclopedia's knowledge of what evil was, they "knew" that there was such a thing. But they had not felt the temptations prior, there was no urge, no grey area, it was all black and white. In Rand's vision of "Good Caemlyn" (Camelot????) Everyone knew exactly what evil was and it was 'academic' - it simply did not exist. No thieves, murders, orphans. Everyone was happy and evil was simply a thing that was. But thats not humanity, and he rejected that. (I don't get what happened in the Ogier built Two Rivers)

 

Definitely on a Christian religious level it is the case that having experiential knowledge of evil is what is important.  On that level it makes possible the Felix Culpa (happy fault) from the exultet (chanted at the Easter Vigil): "happy faultO necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!"  Thomas Aquinas' comments make the point:

 

 

 

There is nothing to prevent human nature's being rasied up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exultet sings, 'O happy fault, . . . which gained for us so great Redeemer'

 

On a philosophic level many religions have some concept of either original sin or at least a concept of going back to nature or Earth mother which generally boils down to achieving a state prior to human consciousness and the guilt and pain that is it's result.  On a personal level it is the guilt and suffering in oneself develops into knowledge of pain and suffering in others and creates compassion for the suffering of others.  In Rand's vision none of the criteria necessary for the development of compassion are present and as a result compassion will die out and the DO will win.

 

I have a feeling that what is being advocated in WOT is something more akin to the Buddhist concept of the 4 noble truths as a pathway to enlightenment rather then the solution being going back to a preconscious/pre original sin state.  I guess a religious interpretation would also be possible.

 

 

The four noble truths are:[g]
  1. The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction)
  2. The truth of the origin of dukkha
  3. The truth of the cessation of dukkha
  4. The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha
Edited by Terazed

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I saw a fascinating approach which renders original sin as having knowledge of Good and Evil  experientially rather than Academically.

 

 

If you look at it, prior to the Tree, they had an encyclopedia's knowledge of what evil was, they "knew" that there was such a thing. But they had not felt the temptations prior, there was no urge, no grey area, it was all black and white. In Rand's vision of "Good Caemlyn" (Camelot????) Everyone knew exactly what evil was and it was 'academic' - it simply did not exist. No thieves, murders, orphans. Everyone was happy and evil was simply a thing that was. But thats not humanity, and he rejected that. (I don't get what happened in the Ogier built Two Rivers)

 

Definitely on a Christian religious level it is the case that having experiential knowledge of evil is what is important.  On that level it makes possible the Felix Culpa (happy fault) from the exultet (chanted at the Easter Vigil): "happy faultO necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!"  Thomas Aquinas' comments make the point:

 

 

 

There is nothing to prevent human nature's being rasied up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exultet sings, 'O happy fault, . . . which gained for us so great Redeemer'

 

On a philosophic level many religions have some concept of either original sin or at least a concept of going back to nature or Earth mother which generally boils down to achieving a state prior to human consciousness and the guilt and pain that is it's result.  On a personal level it is the guilt and suffering in oneself develops into knowledge of pain and suffering in others and creates compassion for the suffering of others.  In Rand's vision none of the criteria necessary for the development of compassion are present and as a result compassion will die out and the DO will win.

 

I have a feeling that what is being advocated in WOT is something more akin to the Buddhist concept of the 4 noble truths as a pathway to enlightenment rather then the solution being going back to a preconscious/pre original sin state.  I guess a religious interpretation would also be possible.

 

 

The four noble truths are:[g]
  1. The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction)
  2. The truth of the origin of dukkha
  3. The truth of the cessation of dukkha
  4. The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha

 

actually that theory is not of christian origin.

Imagine (substitute Adam and Eve for Rand al'Thor) that Rand is standing at a crossroads between the creator and the DO. The crossroads is a hall with several doors each leading to a different form of existence. the crossroads has a nice little garden where travelors can refresh themselves, et al.

Door 1 is the Age of Legends. Everyone knows exactly what good is and what evil is. everyone is good, and the handful of evil people are identified immediately and summarily punished.

Rand, and his generation, can choose to serve or to worship the creator in peace and harmony, do good, be good, know good.

 

Or, Rand can choose to enter Door 2, which is the late 3rd Age. Everyone knows what good is and what evil is, but the line, the grey areas, are often blurred. Man has to struggle to be solely good, and sometimes a little evil is necessary to accomplish the greater good.

Are the whitecloaks evil just because they are over zealous and over militant in their goals? 

Sometimes evil can accomplish good by accident, even.

 

If you want to say that Adam and Eve were meant to live in the AoL, by eating from the tree they caused themselves to live in a different world, like the 3rd Age, where strife is both internal and external. It wasn't so much as Original Sin which Corrupts Mankind Forever, but more of a choice of free will that ends with them living in a different place.

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Shaitan in Islam means opposition. You need both good and bad in order to be whole. Without strife your learning stagnate. DO represent pain, the blight of the soul. We learn most acutely in life from experiencing pain. Not all pain is bad; the pain of having your heart pierced by something beautiful, the bitter sweet pain of saying good bye to someone loved at school gates...Without pain life loses its poignancy and flavour. Learn to embrace pain are the maxim of Aiel because by embracing it you become whole and pain will gain no dominion over you. DO is pain and when Rand understood this at SG Shaitan was thus diminished relegated outside of time. However He can't be killed for by killing him you diminish yourself. Only ignored for a time to let the lesson of pain sinks in. You only ignore pain at your own peril. 

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Free will is not unlimited choice.  Free will is your ability to choose actions on your own without direct control over your choices.  By the nature of free will others free will with conflict with yours. Meaning if someone decides to kill you or accidentily runs you down your free will will come into conflict with their choices. 

 

Things predetermined does not conflict with free will. 

 

The Wheel of Time universe does not have complete free will and never claimed to have it.  From book one ta'veren and the Wheel were introduced as factors that change and alter the free will of those to fix problems in the wheel.

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I agree with the OP, but the DO IS Evil.  The Creator IS Good.

 

The difference is that the Creator knew how the world needed to be, which is why he doesn't take any hand in the world.  He created it, set the rules and moved on.  If he stuck around, it would be full of what Rand had in his perfect vision.  He created the Dark One to balance his "perfectness", then sealed him away, allowing Humanity to choose what they want done.  

 

There really is no "enemy" per say.  

 

The Pattern is about Balance.  Choose 100% Good, and you get screwed up people.  Choose 100% Evil, and you get screwed up people.

 

Rand is the Creators method of balancing the Pattern.  Rand essentially chooses what the next turning of the wheel will be like, not the Dark One or the Creator.  No doubt the Dragon sometimes chooses wisely and sometimes chooses poorly.  

 

The enemy really becomes choosing "wrong".  

 

One day the DO will come again because humanity will choose to let him out, and the Dragon will be able to choose again.  This is why we are constantly told throughout the series that the Dark One needs to Turn Rand.  He has done it before and will do it again, but for this turning, Humanity gets peace once more, as they probably did before the Age of legends...

Edited by Mithan

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I think that this is the debate between whether or not destiny(pre-determined destination) and choice(free will) can coexist.

 

I believe, and have for a while(regardless of the WOT), that choice is for Man to comprehend and that destiny(the pattern) is for the Creator to "Know".

 

 

Regarding the DO, I believe that it is just the "embodiment" of the absence of light... Anything that is "not good" is not of the light and therefore stems from the dark... I believe that the DO HATES this role with all intensity and because he is "bound" to the "wheel" because "light" exists(light creates shadow) he may never know oblivion and envies man and his ability to "choose".

 

The DO seeks only destruction so that "all" may end and IT(the DO) can stop being a pitiful mite(scum of the earth) that it is.

 

The Creators main influence for the Creation was/is Love... Love is a memory of Light, the ultimate show of love is that one man lay down his life for another. Rand did this for the world, Elan did this for LTT. (At least this is what I'd like to think).

 

Love cannot exist without people(and the wheel for people to exist) to show and sacrifice for it.

 

Love is the point and purpose of it all.

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