In the European historical period, generally known as, “The Enlightenment,” man made great strides to rid himself of the widespread belief in supernatural or other-worldly influences, and to take personal responsibility for his independently determined action and decisions. In philosophical and ethical discourse, there was seen to develop, thereafter, no more materially determinant canon, than the new concept of “free will.”
We wholeheartedly applaud the elimination of the attributive influence of spirits, hob-goblins and other supernatural forces upon man’s actions and deliberations; yet we still believe that the term, “freedom” employed in the term “free will” is not yet up to the desired standard, since it is encumbered by many empirical considerations. It is our impression that the declaration of the declared concept, that man is purportedly free to make unrestrained, volitional choices, may be somewhat optimistic and overstated.
We revere independence, ethical autonomy, discretionary caution, diplomatic, as well as empathic interaction, as well as approved societal behavior; all inarguably acts of volitional (“free will”) We are, however, interested in the extent of unrestrained spontaniety in each choice of “volitionary,” or” free act.”
Before proceeding further, we would like to reassure the reader, that it our firm, personal belief, that man is, in all respects, individually responsible for his actions and statements; our interest, here, is limited to the nature and the source of his personal motivatition. We believe that the laudatory and exemplary concept of the phrase, “free will” (viz., free from external influence) is more honored in its idealized conception than in its empirical reality.
We have chosen to exclude the subject of “illness” from this note, except to observe that it is a matter of public knowledge, that the malady known as “depression” is caused by a chemical imbalance; either innately pre-determined, or brought on by reaction to trauma. The motivation and behavior of the depressed patient, like a person who has ingested a psychic drug, is markedly affected, and not a product of his “free will.” The evident point is that changes in bodily chemistry, particularly brain chemistry, affect, or motivate, mood and behavior. Any regular jogger or dedicated exerciser, knows that sustained exercise results in a felt change in brain chemistry (endorphins), resulting in increased energy and a discernably improved mood.
The concept of “free will”, might suggest to some, an independent, and unlimited franchise to think and act, in a completely infettered condition of temporal spontaniety. The English (l8th Century) philisopher, John Locke, declared that man is born with a blank slate and that all knowledge is acquired by learning from empirical experience. Early childhood teaching, including cultural mindset, language, societal attitudes and general approach, have been shown to be enduring, if not permanent. These early teachings affect later perception and decisional motivation. Race and ethnicity, economic hardship, disability, state of health, economics; the remembered experience of traumatic or extremely unusual life experiences, such as fire or assault, by their enduring remembrance, may, also have their effect on our later choices.
Medieval, “Dark Ages” limitations on “free will” have, in large part, been eliminated (and where they may still exist, can be eliminated, by the proper application of mature and healthy reason). Where applicable, and needed, assistance in education, especially literacy and general education, can be offered to those who are willing. Medecine and therapies are available for people beset by chemical illness, behavioral therapies are accessible, for people whose choices of behavior are limited by previous experience of trauma or phobia, physical and medical counseling and therapies are offered to enhance the range of activities for the handicapped. For others, the portion of the American population, limited by low information and lack of vision, a resolute undertaking to participate in life’s unlimited enhancement possibilities, may be obtainable.
With the superstitious nonsense out of the way, we all now have the “free will” and the personal responsbility, to choose to take action towards the enhancement of the quality of our life, or, otherwise, simply let it grind on, meaninglessly.
Gremlins are reported to be gratefully relieved to be “off the hook.”