http://darwiniana.com/2014/12/03/131525/ Free agency and historical dynamism
The issue of free agency is critical for a new post-marxist neo-communism. A theory is not enough for a movement. It needs a stance on free agents. Over the course of study I have learned to distinguish free will and free agency. The later is an indispendable concept: we cannot write histories using concepts of differential equations. We must talk about free agents who create history. The question of free agency means taking a step backwards to have discussions with determinists. Completely free will is an antinomial issue, and hard even to define. Free agency refers to actual persons, humans to start, who make choices and make ‘causal’ streams of reality bifurcate or change direction. That free agency exists because hominids make ‘choices’ and the outcome in reality changes. That choice could be determined by some other form of causality, but it is clear that one way or the other free agency is more or less real. It is at a minimum only because ‘choice’ is internal and ‘free’ of external causality/
We should not abandon the study of free will, however. There we are involved with very difficult debates over the nature of physical laws with people inside of them. The issue of free will is best prefaced with a study of Kant, his ethics, and then his great successor who both praises and critiques. In Schopenhauer we encounter to our often surprised but knowing assent an independent mode of reality, that of the Will and the relationship of phenomenon and ‘thing in itself’. There are many problems here, but the positing of ‘will’, before discussing its ‘freedom’, which is actually intrinsic, completely changes the discussion. Now ‘will’ is outside of the phenomenal and it manifests via causal starting points. That is where debate always gets confused. But the in principle is simple: the ‘will’ in outside of the phenomenal and its causation and generates causal sequences inside the phenomenal: the results of our ‘choices’.
The least we can say is that this is so cogent, compared to lame physicalism, that we sense we are onto the solution. But there are metaphysical issues here, to be sure. We must note that a drastic change to the scientific project of reductionism is implied in the ‘axioms’ of an independent factor of Will in nature, or its ‘reality’ superset. Will is not ‘free will’, we are not quite there yet, and the ‘will’ in Schopenhauer is not really psychological will, but we are out of the reductionist birdcage
So it is worth critiquing the marxist canon here. A doctrine intended to be a practical (praxis) set of strategies in social existence has renounced the free agent in the name of science and has a creature who can’t even liberate himself. The great religions from Zorastrianism to Xtianity/Islam always, even given the primitive facilities to do or study philosophy, never made this mistake and always spoke of a creature as a free agent with a will. So the modern left blundered into a regressive idea that none of its competing religious assemblies would countenance.
Marxist can get stubborn here and defend their canon, but they have lost their public, not the least for this reason.
So we can without much trouble remedy this classic positivistic mindset to proceed in a new way on the left.