Are all actions that we take determined by what happened in the past, or do we have free will to choose what actions we will take in the future?
This is a philosophical debate that has been going on since mankind began philosophizing, and to this date, no definitive conclusion has been reached. If anything, the debate has delved continuously deeper and wider as new theories and truths arise about ourselves – how our brain thinks and body moves, and what our hearts feel – and the world we live in – how matters come to exist and what effects they have on us, and how we perceive these effects.
I know I am a compatibilist (believing that determinism and free will can co-exist), but I am not a philosopher who can argue rationally about this stance… I am just an emotional lay person who has learned from experience, who hates to think that we cannot change our future because of the past, especially if we did not cause that past ourselves, but understands that sometimes we have little choice over what we can actually do.
I believe that the world works in a largely deterministic, cause-and-effect way. I believe that any action put into effect will have consequence(s), and it (they) will become the cause(s) of subsequent action(s)… But I also believe that free will resides in the parentheses. Maybe we do not always know it is there, and maybe it is extremely difficult or almost impossible to find, but I believe it is there.
And because I believe so, I think that when we make mistakes by choosing the wrong action out of free will, we can also make amends by choosing the right subsequent actions out of free will. I think that when things do not seem to be going right, we can stop perpetuating and escalating our conventional way of doing, and explore other options to find game-changers totally beyond our conventional way of thinking.
Maybe I cannot substantiate my belief with rational arguments, but I like to think that determinism and free will co-exist in the minds determined to will freely.
Here is the last batch of tatted cherry blossoms. I traced my lines of thoughts by placement – some turned out rather well (I really like the line leading to the cheerful-looking blossom at the top!), others turned out to be bad choices (the one at the bottom no longer looks like a blossom, but just a mutant shamrock with five leaves…).
In each blossom, one colour choice led to another, but there were always more than one I could choose. I tried to explore as many as possible, but I am quite sure I have not exhausted my choices, and I am certain I have not yet discovered every colour beyond my conventional image of cherry blossoms. I still have so much blank space to fill!
Not all will be “right,” but I have a determined free will that tells me not to be afraid of making mistakes – I am hopeful that I, and mankind in general, can will to free ourselves from actions that chain us to irreversibly determined futures.
What will the future hold for these tatted blossoms? I will find out soon where my determined free will takes them… I will keep you posted.