Has man a free will?
It is a widely spread idea that man has a free will. This idea we will analyze.
Although there are differences of nuance between desire, wish and longing,
we will consider them in this text as identical.
What is free will?
Everyone can think endless about desires. In that sense, everyone has a free will.
The fantasy can be unlimitless.
When spoiled Gerard wishes to be on the planet Mars within three seconds, neatly dressed in a
spacesuit, which is a nice fantasy but certainly no realistic desire, even though he stomps of anger
on the ground or clenches his fists.
Usually the free will means something else.
We only can argue about something if we know what we are talking about.
Therefore, we must agree on what we mean considering to be free will.
We make the following definition.
A man has free will if he is in any situation in which he can make a free choice.
If Charlotte wants to turn on the light because it is too dark, this is a wish on which may reasonably follow an action.
After that choice a corresponding action or act must be able to follow.
It does not matter whether the decision has been formed by reason or feelings,
consciously or unconsciously.
Sometimes the action is blocked, for example because the lamp is broken or the power is cut off.
It was not free will due to falling darkness.
Believers often bear the opinion that the Creator gave to man a free will.
This comes from the following arguments.
Any monotheist assumes that the Almighty has a free will. At the very beginning of the Holy Books is
told, that the Creator created man as His image. Man would therefore have free will.
Watching at this reasoning we can recognize two mistakes.
1. When the Creator has something such as omnipotence, it does not mean that man has this also.
2. The Creator voluntarily promises something in the Bible to Abraham and his descendants.
(What he promised is not relevant for the application of the definition of free will.)
Every believer assumes that the Almighty is entirely reliable. Then the Creator has not the ability
to break his vow, even if he wanted to. So he has no longer a completely free will.
This He freely volunteered partially.
The will arises as a result of certain needs.
Every person has a number of requirements, such as oxygen, food, drink, enough sleep, love, be a
social member in a group and a sense of security. Often the adult wishes good sexual contacts.
Maybe offspring is wanted. These are all basic needs that animals have too.
Some needs are determined genetically. Predators have such different food needs than herbivores.
Some people's body cannot tolerate cow's milk, others enjoy it.
Certainly is, that everyone has their own number of individual needs as a result of education at home,
in school education and training, by dealing with fellows and by various entertainment offerings.
Examplary needs are wealth creation, empowerment, want to learn or not, to show off or not, to know
the ins and outs or be shallow, manipulating other people or let them in their self esteem, to kick
on exciting events, actively and passively enjoy the arts and sports or music, yielding to addiction
or just fight it, the need to recognize the Creator or not, to meet certain standards and values.
Commercials, fashion and social needs often invade unnecessary and expensive needs.
To feel (un-)happy
Now it is quite easy to reflect objectively what a feeling of happiness actually is: a person feels
happy if enough of his needs are met. The more (less) needs are satisfied the more (un-)happy one is.
To want, to need and to be able
Children must attend school, adults must pay income tax, everyone should observe the traffic rules.
But do they? Some do, some do not. Must, not allowed, and must related to (un-)desirable behavior
with norms and values. It is clear that norms and values seriously impose restrictions on the will.
Values and norms
Everyone has adopted for himself some values, consciously or not, most of the times forced by parents.
Initially it was an unconscious choice.
After a learning process a conscious choice can be made.
The norms and values, valuable or worthless, their basis lay in
To want and to be able
- divine standards as they are described in the sacred books,
- social rules such as etiquette and group behavior,
- civil rules, such as the traffic rules,
- the law of the jungle, the law of the strongest,
- only my own self; anybody else is not important,
- … .
A pupil in the elementary school wants to become a vet. It is a common desire among children.
In general it has been allowed to want anything, but can the desire be realized?
Is the student intelligent enough to make the necessary follow up to the next levels?
Has the student sufficient perseverance?
A good incentive: "Where there's a will there's a way." The future of the pupil will tell what he can
achieve. This example makes clear that there is a fundamental difference between to want and to be
able to. Not all wishes are attainable.
To fear and to dare
For every need exists the fear that a need will not be satisfied.
As opposed to the need of oxygen is the fear of choking.
Facing the need for a traffic violation is to fear getting caught, to get a penalty,
to meet an accident. Etc.
The distinction between fear, anxiety and phobia is not relevant for the sequel.
The crucial questions
Anyone who deliberately tries to formulate objectives, one needs to ask the crucial questions.
Is my objective feasible? Maybe I need too much money.
The weight of needs and fears
Is my target acceptable in social and civil aspects and
is result measurable or verifiable that the objective has been achieved?
Every need and fear has a weight, a degree of strength. Needs and fears do not weigh all equally.
Needs and fears may change over time. Moreover, considering a need or fear in one person is not
as much as the other one.
Some fears are so heavy, that it is difficult to live with them. That's a phobia.
The need to not always to be disturbed weighs less than the need for oxygen.
The need for a cigarette for a chain smoker is much larger than for someone who smokes once a week.
The need for rest is generally less in the morning after getting up than after a day of exertion.
The need for food is before the meal greater than afterwards.
Preconditions and chance
The sum of all these coincidences determines how your overall personality
- It's a coincidence how many effords your parents spend for your education.
You have hardly any control about it.
- It is a coincidence which friends lived in your neighborhood during your childhood.
- It is coincidence which teachers and classmates you had.
- It is coincidence what happens to you unless it was planned.
- It is a coincidence which stories and gossip give you some nightmares, fears or even phobias.
- It's a coincidence how your mental abilities develop. It is not a merit to be intelligent.
The merit is only available due to using your intelligence optimally.
- It's coincidence wether you are willing to use your intelligence well.
- It's coincidence, what injustice is done to you.
- … .
develops and how the needs and associated fears come about.
Parents may fight chance slightly. They choose with whom a child may or may not play or visit;
they choose a public or denominational school; they feed the child themselves or leave it to others;
They can chose a spouse for their daughter. (It happens a lot worldwide.)
Everybody makes choices in his life. Essentially this can happen in three ways:
Needs versus fears
- a conscious choice. Someone considers various options and makes the decision
which option he wants. There are arguments which he uses to make that choice.
- a random choice. The random choice is made, if multiple options are available and
if there is no argument to one of the options as the best one.
- an unconscious choice. Sometimes someone makes a choice, while not at all he realizes,
that he choses from several options.
A decision is established due to the total of driving and inhibitory motifs.
The needs are the driving motives. The fears indicate the inhibitory motifs.
If the sum of the driving reasons is stronger than the sum of the inhibitory motifs,
then a decision is made.
If the inhibitory motifs are stronger, then the opposite decision is made.
If the driving and the inhibitory motifs balance then indecision arises. Then either nothing happens
either an accidental circumstance let the balance tip in either direction.
That coincidence or precondition can be eg mood, the influence of medication or drugs, the fatigue
of that time, irritation by brutality, sadness, cigar smoke, itching and/or noise.
An unknown situation
Sometimes a person is faced with a situation that he or she never experienced.
What it concerns needs, everyone who is curious shall investigate the unknown situation.
Fear says 'unknown, unloved'. Caution should be exercised in self-preservation.
If there is any recognition with a similar situation, then the agreements help to a certain decision.
If all recognition does not occur and nevertheless there must be decided, example continue or turn
back. Then the chance will play a role: toss a coin? In such a situation certainly you cannot speak
about a free will: this person is forced to gamble.
Who carefully red and understood this chapter, comes to the following conclusion:
a man has no free will. In the course of the years personality developed and
obviously constraints are decisive for the choice that each decision needs.
A person is reasonably aware of his needs and fears. Therefore he knows that his decisions are made
by these processes. He takes his free will as an illusion.
Others do not know him (that well), and for them he seems to have a free will.
According to the foregoing reasoning man between his conception and 'now' is wholly 'programmed'.
Some hate the thought to be compared to a machine, a computer or robot. Sadly unfortunately.
Some people believe that any person has a pre-defined destination.
This idea comes from the 'predestination' doctrine. But many unpredictable causes determine one's fate.
Between birth and the present day, man was shaped by many experiences.
Under the influence of all these experiences, everyone has developed a set of needs and fears.
The total of these desires and fears determines how a man will respond under certain circumstances.
This means essentially that man has no free will. He has been programmed.
This implies that educators and heads of mass media that children and students strongly influences
have an incredibly responsible social and civil task:
they largely determine how children wil operate in society.
After socially undesirable behavior therefore reeducation should be a substantial part of
a punishment, never mind the age.