by James Wallace Harris, Sunday, May 24, 2020
After watching the TV show Devs, I’ve been thinking about free will and determinism.
If I had free will, I’d:
- Do what I decide to do
- Keep my house clean and orderly
- Eat only healthy food
- Exercise just the right amount
- Weigh sixty pounds less
- Own only what sparked joy
- Finish every writing idea
- Complete my To-Do list daily
- Open my mail and not let it pile up
- Master a few hobbies
- Remember all the important details
- Be kind, generous, charitable, and helpful
- Not waste time on useless fantasies
- Be more active
I have to assume because I can’t achieve any of these goals that I lack free will. But is free will only about self-control? Did I choose to write this essay or did I write out of determinism? I think of having free will as being disciplined, but does that mean that people who are discipline have free will? What if being lazy and undiscipline is what I chose with my free will?
Other people think that free will as being able to choose between right and wrong. It seems much easier to not kill someone than it does to vacuum the house. It takes no effort not to lie, but a lot of effort to be creative. Maybe there are levels of free will, and I’ve got enough free will to not steal, but not enough to lose weight.
I once read that success in life was getting to be sixty-five without becoming a drunkard or living in a mental institution. I think James Mitchner said that. Maybe free will isn’t more than not giving up?
My wife Susan says I just don’t have any will power.