Determinism and Sartre

Topics: Free will, Mind, Ontology Pages: 9 (3716 words) Published: November 14, 2007
Determinism and Sartre
We do not live our lives in despair, constantly worrying about what may happen unexpectedly. For many people, life does seem like something that we control handedly. Life seems to be something we can direct, or at least influence. Supposing there are circumstances beyond our control, they rarely seem to present us a problem; we live contently believing that we are at least partly responsible for our fates. Seldom do we question the truth in this, of whether or not we have some say in the direction of our lives. Some would argue this is not so. Some of these people would happen to look at a deity or hard sciences to lead us to a cogent determined purpose. The fact remains that whether or not purpose lies in causality, a chain of events full of causes and effects may be explained perfectly if we had the knowledge. Determinists would argue that our free will is simply an illusion and we are deluding ourselves if we believe we have control. Sartre would argue that even the most seemingly random of occurrences are in fact entirely our fault; no matter what we do, who we talk to, and regardless of the circumstances, everything happens because it is our will because in some way or another our choices have allowed the event to happen. Each side of the debate has its merits and each side its flaws. As such, it becomes particularly difficult to choose between one and the other. I think that such a choice is not necessary. Though the choices seem at first to mark a dichotomy, they are in fact quite compatible with the truth of the matter lying somewhere in between. We do have choice; however, this choice is only between limited options, as determined by both the mental and physical worlds. It seems essential to define the two extremes. The first of these, determinism, is the belief that everything has a pre-noted physical existence and that interactions of physical elements are a set of known processes. Typically, this isn't an explanation of a religious merit, rather, it is in terms of science and of causality. According to determinists, the universe follows those rules that we observe and record in our sciences. The motions of bodies are given purely in terms of physics, with mathematical equations used to predict or explain these physical principals. What composes these bodies and how those basic elements interact is the domain of chemistry. Even the behavior of animals comes down to the satisfaction of certain basic drives, as biology tells us. According to this biology, plant and animal behavior are explained in simplest terms as the pursuit of life and procreation. Scientifically, there is little mystery why one animal kills another; it is in the name of self-preservation and for the preservation of progeny. According to scientific explanation, almost any behavior becomes seemingly explainable. Those processes that are not scientifically explained (such as quantum mechanics) are currently being "researched" in order to discover the "laws" behind them. This belief is quite hard to argue against, particularly when talking about a purely physical world. So long as bodies are free from the influence of intelligence, these rules will apply and apply consistently. Determinists seem to be able to take this whole ideology one step further by saying that even with "intelligence," everything must follow physical rules and laws. It does not matter that we think we do not have the ability to make choices nor does it matter that we think at all. There is no room inside a scientific universe for free will because it causes a sort of chaos that can't be resolved within the physical realm. Free will cannot and must not exist. More so, the determinist argues that while we may have certain mental states, they are entirely influenced by the physical world but cannot influence the physical world themselves. The primary flaw is that it the determinist principle goes against...
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