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The Free Will Irony June 6, 2012

Posted by Dr. Gus Lott in Book Review, Determinism, Free Will, Interconnectivity, What Is Life?.

A little more on the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. It talks about the illusion of the self-made man. As I mentioned, Gladwell begins by pointing out that virtually all professional Hockey players in Canada are born between January and April… and goes from there. I highly recommend the read.

We are formed by forces in the world and then we become an expression of those forces acting again in the world. Free will is the idea that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps; literally. While this is an often used colloquial phrase, we know it is nonsense.

The reason for the hockey player phenomena is that the league cut-off birthdate is January 1, so the people born early in the year are the most physically matured in their classes (when they are young) and get selected out for extra training early on because of their relative performance. This snowballs into pushing them into outlier status. If we can acknowledge the FACT that we are a construct of these kind of external influences, then we can, ironically, take control. We can change the hockey league such that it takes this into account and somehow weights performance based on calendar year birth date when making selections. Then we could have 3 times as many amazing hockey players!

Free will is a dodge. It is a fixed mindset construct that our western culture has fostered. It is a cop-out so that, ironically, we don’t have to take responsibility for our lot in life. With it, we can blame the nature of the world on intrinsic actors instead of accepting responsibility and taking control to create environments that generate beauty.

That’s the trick and the irony of free will. Free will is a dodge to shirk responsibility and lays on guilt and regret in an unending cycle. Rejecting the notion of free will truly allows you to take ownership of the world while freeing yourself from the notions of guilt and regret. It also allows you to have compassion where free will does not.  When viewing individuals as confluences of a myriad forces, how can we not feel compassion for them, whatever their actions?

I find it funny how backwards the idea is.


1. Victor Davies - June 8, 2012

I don’t really concur fully with those submissions. I actually do find it strange that we would conceive free will as being absoulutely absent, not when powerful variants of controlled degrees of it such as the conception and expression of faith lie within almost infinite but unbounded egocentric powers. The free will question is a God question and if we assume God to be as necessary as he is deemed necessary although knowing he may chose to act as necessary as he is deemed unneccessary, everything just falls out fine; not too analytically simple, but enough to make all of the choices you make out of your life worth it in the end

2. Juris - June 17, 2012

Hi Gus
I never could get the hang of this bit:

Rejecting the notion of free will truly allows you to take ownership of the world while freeing yourself from the notions of guilt and regret.

I understand the guilt and regret aspect, but truly taking ownership?
It might allow me to understand that I’m taking responsibility for the universe, but I can’t help thinking I’m falling back into a dualistic frame of reference or perhaps language.


3. Robert DuBeau - September 14, 2013

Why do people always seem to think we are either all or nothing, in regard to free will? Can we not be both subject to forces and also partly free to determine the future? In other words, can’t we see that we have at least some free will, while acknowledging we are also partly determined? It’s a funny way that the physical world appears to be built, with both partial determinism and partial randomness down to the smallest parts. Some thinkers have said that out of partial determinism can come will, and out of partial randomness can be found at least some freedom. The “standard argument against free will” — that determinism does not allow for freedom and randomness does not allow for will — can be turned right on its head to support free will if one thinks about it. No?

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