Episode 84

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Published on:

27th Aug 2020

STOIC POETRY | No more free will

I once imagined I was steering my own life in a very full and meaningful way. Full control. Nearly complete, adult, and independent self-management of my direction and course of being. Such a fool I was—grasping at the controlling wheel which I'd imagined for myself, steering left at will, and then right at will, and again right, and then left, on and on, every day and night even; driving away my life in pretend that, though I could certainly make any decision I like, I could ever choose in any way other than I actually did. And then my greatest folly of all—imagining that I then utterly owned these decisions and the consequences which they did bring about.

I am a passenger
Gazing out the window
On a bus
Hurtling
Without a driver

It is a frightful thing to imagine the consequence of believing that we have no free will. As, the life ahead with such vision may appear as resigned, and given up, and without impetus to actively live. For, if we are nothing more than engines of consequence, destined to fall like dominoes lined up by the mindless will of universal chance and failing order, then why bother even to get up in the morning, let alone to seek after our fortune, well being and the pursuit of good—for what is good when life is so seemingly determined and without will?

But I do not believe we have no utter free will. I hold that we can indeed make choices, and decide as we like, and choose to get up before dawn, and make coffee, and eat well before a good day of hard work, and active thinking, and considered choices and the willful pursuit of a well lived life. A life passed seeking the good which we perceive and maintain as true, and which we discuss with others to refine and improve, and which we then work together towards a better world for us all—working hard each day, to then sleep a satisfied rest while the determined stars arc gently overhead while we dream. A good life. A considered life. A willful life. A life of meaning, and purpose, and pursued best ends. I do believe this life is true, and real, and something we can freely choose.

Only, I will nevermore fool myself into thinking my will is truly free. For, I know that I am indeed a puppet—if not a slave—to the mindless forces which unconsciously made me, and which force my hand now to the left, and then the right, and again to the right and at last wherever they will. My choices are my own...somehow they are mine. Or maybe I just tell myself this to hold on to some bitter crumbs of hope that I really do freely live? Perhaps I fool myself free? But, so be it. This is the place I find myself now. And maybe it is because I simply cannot possibly now think—or bear—to imagine any way other.

My belief in free will is that I am free to think and choose as I will...though, in fact, I could never think or choose in any way other than I actually do.

I am only free to live the life which I actually choose to live.

As ridiculous as that may seemingly seem.

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About the Podcast

Stoic Poetry
A Stoic theory of life adventure | Be safe...but not too safe.
There’s little good news in nature. The universe seems incapable of care, or of opinion, or of preference regarding right or wrong, good or bad, or what constitutes a just and virtuous society or life. The universe’s first opinion on these matters is evident in the dead, bleak environment of space and time; the restless progress of all order in the direction of entropy, and the cold indifference of matter and energy everywhere - where the curious phenomenon of life appears like some strange, exotic exception to a rule of inorganic truth. So, what do we do with this fact? How do we prevent a slide into nihilism? How do we keep our upright posture while our legs buckle and give way as our mind struggles to accept a reality the facts cannot seemingly deny? This project takes on this challenge.

About your host

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Kurt Bell

I like to walk and think.