Tag: free will

riff on our perspective of freedom and inevitability

Was what you JUST did a free act? Was what you read in a history book an inevitable event?

Think about this: The amount of freedom we associate with an event/action is inversely proportional to the amount of time and space that separates us from the event. Recent events = seem to be more free. Events long ago = seem to be inevitable.

The closer one is to an action in time and space, the more freedom is attributed to the action. On the other hand, the further one is in time and space, the more inevitable the action seems. 

For instance, in this very moment we are completely free. Think about distance of time: what you’re doing RIGHT now seems to be your choice. Your current perspective is most closely associated with freedom of your own thought, movement and being because we all live in the present apart from the passage of time. But, an action you did years ago is more closely associated with inevitability… you can hardly imagine that NOT happening.

This perspective of elapsed time creating inevitability has to exist, for as soon as you perform an action and time elapses, it is impossible to compare that choice to anything else you could have done instead in that exact moment of time.

Try to test that theory. Think about an action taken by yourself or others and then ask yourself “what other action could have been performed under that exact set of circumstances?”. There is no way to test it if anything else could have happened, or in other words if there was a choice otherwise. To re-create that action is now impossible because the test would no longer take place under the exact circumstances to make an exact comparison “could I have done anything different in that exact moment of time?” The passage of time in this case has created space for there to be a new set of circumstances. Thought took place, new decisions (whether to test for instance) also took place, and – in more complex actions – many other circumstances (like the actions of a larger group of people, weather, natural laws, etc) could have be altered greatly. So it is impossible to re-create a situation to test for the availability of a different choice under that set of circumstances; it was inevitable that that had to happen under the circumstances. 

So in that simple illustration, we can see that even a moment of TIME added to an action creates a perspective of inevitability. Expand that over history, and actions that took place years ago most certainly seem inevitable. Also, large scale events (“SPACE”) such as looming, large-scale, global situations, wars, economic situations, movements of culture, etc, are often referred to in advance as events that are inevitable. The sheer mass or “space” of the event creates a situation that cannot be tested for multiple outcomes or choices. So, when either time or space are added to an event either after OR before, they give a perspective of inevitability: we simply can’t see it any other way and have no way of testing or proving multiple options. Only the event that took place was possible in our perspective.

A basic conclusion can be made concerning justifying freedom and inevitability. Both perspectives are logical ONLY independently, when one perspective is present (that being either a perspective of action being performed in this very moment OR the perspective of consideration of past or future events) but cannot coexist when being considered together.

But… there is no way to remove the perspective of freedom we have because we constantly live and act in the present. The present knows no past or future. We only act and think NOW. The only thing that exists in the present – in this very second – is freedom. Inevitability cannot exist in our current perspective, because for inevitability to exist or be understood, time has to have elapsed, or the thought of scale/space has to be considered. 

Both freedom and inevitability are only perspectives that humans express in varying degrees. The true existence can’t be comprehended and thus if they are to exist they have to rest somewhere else. With someone else…