I was talking to my ladyfriend about the expression the other night, and it occurred to me that ‘why not’s have never plaged me. Almost every choice I’ve ever made has been calculated, and in retrospect seems rational given my information at the time. Visions of lost pasts, presents, and futures have never graced me, and it isn’t nice. I’ve got a much worse problem: I realize how few real decisions I’ve acctually had to make.
The meaningful decisions are the hard ones, and those are the ones where you don’t have enough information, or don’t know how something will turn out. You speculate; you exaggerate; you rationalize; and ultimately, you flip a coin. Mental or physical. Where is the choice in all of this?
Free will has never been adequately defined, and I’m not up to the challenge of defining it. If chemical reactions dictate your every action, then you have taken none. Every choice that has ever been made was made billions of years ago, in the first moments of creation. If there is an element of randomness in there, then you still have not truly ’chosen’. The outcome was randomly determined. I can see no place for choice. A decision can be based upon pre-existing factors, or random elements, or both, but neither of those things constitue choice.
So many people cling to the concept, and I can understand why. The idea of choice gives so much meaning to our lives. We don’t want to believe that we are just along for the ride; we want to be the driver. I want to be the driver.
There is no other way; ‘what is’ is what would always be. One must even ask if even randomness itself is predetermined by necessity; time does apear to operate that way.
Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is nothing and knowledge is everything. Do not shy away from this truth. Just remember to pay attention to whatever is going on outside that car window; it will be the last time that you or anything else sees it.