Book review: Free Will, the Basics
on January 28, 2015
by Massimo Pigliucci
[This essay is part of a special “free will week” at Scientia Salon. The Editor promises not to touch the topic again for a long while after this particular orgy, of course assuming he has any choice in the matter… Also, as part of Scientia Salon’s apparently somewhat controversial “(slight) course correction” we are beginning to publish book reviews and — forthcoming — interviews. Stay tuned.]
I think that the whole question of free will is useful to dislodge the view that (current!) science has a universal framework of explanation: as a result of thinking they have one they automatically apply universal deterministic explanation to the issue of will explained as behaviorism. As a dialectical counterpoint that’s ‘be my guest’ while the enigma persists. Any student of the macro effect has to start blinking hard at the way that a spectacular new philosophy called ‘transcendental idealism’ emerges at the ‘great divide’ point: downright spooky. And this new philosophical construct tries to defend free will in a Newtonian universe.
I think that the slightly different version of Schopenhauer almost returns to the reductionist field, but in fact proposes the most obvious resolution of the free will issue: it is a factor beyond the phenomenal and thus able to generate causal events in its larger non-causal domain.
This would explain the endless debates that can’t resolve themselves. And it might also expand thinking by allowing a new set of properties: for example ‘will’ can be unfree, or constrained in some way.
There is another way to go, but related to the TI of Kant/Schopenhauer, in figures such as J.G.Bennett where ‘will’, as in Schopenhauer is an independent category of reality.
Science as we know it is the search for the one universal framework, but, just here, as we explore the aspect of the ‘will’ (in Bennett, thence Samkhya) we notice the as we push towards the ‘ultimate source’ we come not a univalent ‘one point’ but a primordail triad, the object of much bad philosophy over the ages, but in principle a definite format/idea for a source. The hopeless muddle of the totally confused notion of the Trinity is one later degeneration of an original idea here, now lost to us. In any case, the point is that instead of a single deterministic framework and source point their might be instead a triadic foundation (which itself could have a focal source point). Thus, the point is that we just might have separate categories of reality, making universal determinism a possible confusion.