A pragmatic view on free will

In the episode of Judge John Hodgman I mentioned in the previous post, they talked about free will. 

For me, this is a pragmatic question. 

I can take a simple action in my life, find innumerable causes from the wider world and universe, and see that “I” am not doing any of it. That helps me notice what I am, as capacity for the world and what the world to me happen within and as. 

Beyond that, it’s more interesting to see what the consequences are of assuming that I have free will or don’t. When I explore this for myself, I find that neither of the assumptions are very desirable. If we hold either view as true and live as if it is, it tends to create weirdness. In its most extreme form, believing I don’t have free will can create a form of nihilism and not taking responsibility for my own life and actions. And if I believe I have free will, it can lead me to overlook all of the influences from the larger whole.

It makes more sense to hold the question lightly, and live our lives as most do. 

And for pragmatic reasons, it makes sense to assume no free will when we do something people see as admirable, to keep us sober and grounded. And assume free will when we consider our actions and choices, to keep us more accountable

There is another side of this, which I often write about. When I find myself as capacity for the world, and what my field of experience – of this human self and the wider world – happen within and as, then I notice that this human self lives its own life. The mind can take this to mean “no free will” and make it into a belief, but that’s trying to fit something far more rich, fluid, and unknown into a simple category. Here, it still makes sense to hold any ideas about free will lightly and use the pragmatic approach mentioned above.

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