Archive for the ‘Philosophical Musings’ Category

Seven-Second Hook

April 4, 2012

The New Yorker occasionally publishes some delightful long form articles, and they rarely fail to captivate. This is one of those. Be warned (if you missed the sentence right before this one), it is the sort of thing that internet users tend to instinctively navigate away from without half a glance, “tl;dr” flitting through the mind as chipmunk-sized attention spans compel the fingers to find the next three minute long video of funny cats; it would probably be worse if the default layout had the article on a single page. It is bad news for authors and essayists who want to be heard on the internet, but at least it means magazines and long-form print journalism will outlive newspapers for at least a little while yet.

Neatly segueing into a discussion about attention spans and appreciation for artistry in writing would be pointless if the reader has not actually read the linked article, so I exhort you to take a little time to read it (I promise, if you have the time to be reading this you have the time to read the article, unless you happen to be reading this as a distraction to put off working to meet a close deadline,  like, say, 4pm tomorrow).

Good, you’re back. Now we can talk about music. More precisely, about the pop which dominates the airwaves: the muzak backdrop of our daily routines that insinuates itself into the crevices of the subconscious, depositing persistent and poisonous tunes like an insidious virus.

Call me a counterculture hipster reflexively rejecting the mainstream , or prematurely aged and capable of only appreciating the music of my youth, I will regardless maintain that Party Rock Anthem is no Bohemian Rhapsody. Pop radio has become a rotation of smash hits produced by handful of songwriters like Ester Dean and producers like Stargate, performed by stars who possess the necessary ‘swag’. And the goal of that songwriting, of that production, of that performance, is not art but money.

“You can have two or three hot singles on an album, or no singles, and that’s the difference between selling five million copies worldwide and launching an eighty-date sold-out world tour, and selling two hundred thousand copies and having no tour. That’s like a twenty-million-dollar difference.”

-Tor Hermansen, Stargate

Like all other pop culture art forms, pop music is beholden to money.  With greater potential for mass recognition and huge earnings come more slavish devotion to fortune-generating smash hits. Large video game publishers have more or less settled on a model of gambling tens or hundreds of millions into a single make-or-break project and hoping for the next multi-billion dollar series such as Call of Duty or Mass Effect. The slightly more mature movie industry makes the same gamble (case in point: John Carter was likely an attempt at the next Transformers or Pirates of the Caribbean); the difference is that studios are rich enough, awards important enough, and filmmakers are influential enough that blockbusters are used to subsidise directors who want to win something at Cannes.

Pop music is no different, because there is so much more money in it than there used to be. The advent of online digital music stores has shifted the business from the album-centric model back to the days of hit singles. Goodbye concept albums, and hello iTunes top ten. Without albums but with customers able and willing to pay for singles 99 cents at a time, the business is all about smash hits nowadays. And what better way to produce a smash hit than pandering to the masses and exploiting their psychology?

“I go into the booth and I scream and I sing and I yell, and sometimes it’s words but most time it’s not. And I just see when I get this little chill, here— and then I’m, like, ‘Yeah, that’s the hook.’” 

-Ester Dean, songwriter

Ester Dean is a pop songwriter that does her best work when she is not writing; at least, not in the conventional sense. Her songwriting is not so much a putting of words in order, a conveyance of meaning, a missive from the author’s mind and soul. It is more akin to a spontaneous and irresistible urge to dance upon overhearing an infectious beat, or a passionate, furtive, kiss snatched from a stranger in the doorway of a club before hasty flight. It is a sensual craft, focusing on the ineffable primal reactions we all carry. It is the song that sticks in our head all day long, the bait that awakens the appetites within. It is feeling.

And such is the fate of all pop culture. To chase money is to chase broad appeal, and to chase appeal is to exploit the instincts deep within that humanity shares. It panders not to any kind of artistic taste or appreciation for beauty or wit, but to base needs, to what feels good. As the New Yorker puts it, “The words are more like vocalized beats than like lyrics, and they don’t communicate meaning so much as feeling and attitude—they nudge you closer to the ecstasy promised by the beat and the ‘rise’, or the ‘lift’, when the track builds to a climax.”

There is, however, reason not to despair. As Stargate ought to know, public opinion turns faster than any one person can hope to keep up with. Adele, with her much more sensible lyrics and sudden widespread success could mean the return of lyrics instead of words accompanying synthesised tunes designed to hook the listener. Nonetheless, the role of public opinion in shaping (popular) art is huge, and likely to keep growing. Like how videogames have splintered into money-spinning franchises and indie developers making art games, or movies into blockbuster sequels and Oscar hopefuls, music will diverge into pop and not-pop. Thank goodness that the not-pop of the day often finds itself part of a genre with its own set of dedicated fans.

 

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Machiavelli meets Mill: A comparison of systems of governance

September 15, 2009

This is the kind of things that happen when things are written in four fragments many days apart

On the Purpose of Community

Clichéd as it sounds, the world is increasingly globalised. More and more, states interact with each other and form symbiotic relationships, and we observe the rise of the “global citizen”. How then, are rulers of nation-states to govern their people, in light of the spread of the “civilized” concept of human rights?

Many documents, such as the UN charter and the US Bill of Rights, lay out rules that we expect national leaders to uphold. However, the question remains: what is the purpose of a nation, or of a community?

The social contract theorists maintain that people in an organised society subscribe to a set of arbitrary rules, designed to limit certain freedoms, for the protection of other freedoms. The widely held belief within the particular society is that these protected freedoms benefit the individuals of the society, and by extension, the society itself.

Similarly, it could also be argued that society forms as people, ideas, and manpower are consolidated, and progresses with the aim of benefiting its constituent members.

It appears, then, that human society is a utilitarian enterprise. The usual criticisms of utilitarianism then arise. How is the utility of any particular action or rule measured? In the case of fully consequentialist utilitarianism, is the permissibility of intuitively abhorrent actions problematic? A debate arises over human motivations: should people act in a utilitarian or (rule-based) ethical manner, and does this necessitate a new understanding of the purpose of society?

On the Machiavellian Governor

For now, let us proceed with the assumption that society is a utilitarian enterprise, with the aim of maximising utility of individual persons. As we compare Machiavelli with Mill, we keep in mind how their proposed systems of governance benefit the governed.

Machiavelli, in The Prince, summarily encourages rulers to do whatever is necessary to remain in power. We bandy about the term “Machiavellian” to describe one who is cunning and manipulative, resorting to any means to achieve a goal.

In The Prince, Machiavelli encourages leaders to keep up the appearance of virtue; as such appearances endear him to the populace. This virtue can take many forms; religiosity, charity, integrity, etc. However, this very exhortation precludes the need for any real virtue; in fact, the only truly valuable trait, in the Machiavellian school, would be any behaviour that, suiting the situation, enables the ruler to maintain his hold on power.

In light of our presumed purpose of governance, Machiavelli seems inadequate. A ruler that seeks foremost a hold on power may try to do so by endearing himself to the people, but surely not all the time, and surely not always by addressing their most pertinent needs. On occasion, the interests of such a ruler may be antagonistic to that of the governed; surely this is not what we desire out of a government that seeks the benefit of the governed.

The failings of the Machiavellian idea of leadership are succinctly expressed by Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

Of course, Machiavelli does make praiseworthy suggestions. Undoubtedly, there are benefits in uninterrupted rule; the advantages of government stability have been evident in the success of long-term government policy and vision, whilst planning upset caused by regime change has often left nations struggling. A ruler able to consolidate his hold on power and ensure long-term stability will be able to provide the attendant benefits to the governed.

Additionally, Machiavelli does recognise that the best way for a ruler to stay in power is to pander to the desires of the governed. The desires may not always be to the best interests (best utilitarian outcome) of the governed, but oftentimes, with the guiding hand of a skilled leader, they are close enough that the governed receive a fair fraction of maximum potential utility.

On Mill’s Liberty and the Democratic mode of Government

As discussed above, the continuous rule of a single entity seems insufficient to ensure the utility of the governed. Does Liberty as favoured by J.S. Mill and the democratic mode of thinking it has spawned fare better towards this end?

In his celebrated treatise, On Liberty, Mill champions, foremost, the cause of individual liberty. He espouses the necessity of exercise of individuality and unfettered thought and opinion, for utilitarian ends. However, there is debate over the nature of the utilitarianism he pursues.

Mill forwards the proposition that, through the “collision of truth with error” and the resulting “livelier impression of truth”, and through the promotion of personal individuality exercised via liberty in thought and deed, beneficial, utilitarian, outcomes arise.

However, Mill’s conception of utility seems counter to that of aggregate utility of a community. In any such community, it appears necessary that some individuals possess more liberty of individuality than others, as such inequitable distribution of individuality results in greatest aggregate individuality or aggregate happiness.

In light of how the conflicting desires of differing individuals necessitates the limitation of some liberties, should Mill’s envisioned state of “free individuals” still guide us in seeking a mode of governance?

The resolution lies in viewing Mill’s vision as an ideal, while constructing a social order based on the realities of community. Ideally, every individual would be free to exercise their individuality in any manner non-harmful to others. However, due the conflictory nature of varied individual demands, many groups or individuals will find their individuality limited in some way.

The outcome of these limitations is the State. The State imposes Law that curbs certain liberties, for the sake of the combined welfare of the individuals. Every government does this, from the most authoritarian dictatorships to the most liberal democracies; there are areas that remain prohibited.

Therefore, we see that Mill’s ideals, espoused in On Liberty, do seek to achieve utilitarian aims. However, Mill places emphasis on individuals attaining maximum happiness and its translation into collective happiness. Oftentimes, this may not be the case. Instead, individual happiness (read, liberty) may be curbed to some degree, so as to achieve the maximum for the community as a whole.

Concluding Statements

It seems that Machiavelli makes no overtures towards accomplishing the utilitarian goal of society in The Prince, while Mill seeks only the utilitarian cause of the individual in On Liberty. What, then, is required of leadership?

Certainly, Mill was considering the happiness of community best served by the happiness of individuals, which in turn was best served by affording said individuals with liberty. But seeing as how such liberties inevitably come into conflict with each other, it appears that the role of a leader is to find the balance between the conflicts of wills most beneficial to the community.

The role of leadership is no easy one. The leader must actively choose to suppress some freedoms, no matter how odious the thought may be, if the result of such action is for the benefit of the community. He must be “Machiavellian” in nature, willing to be ruthless, to sacrifice the few of the sake of many. The difference lies in his aims; while Machiavelli’s Prince seeks to grasp power at all costs, the New Prince seeks the greatest communal benefit, at whatever immediate cost.

Of course, this raises the hoary issue of the nature of the “best course of action”. To lead with the greatest conviction that the sacrifices being made are for the best requires infinite wisdom and knowledge, two things that leaders might find themselves in short supply of. If it turns out unfeasible or impossible to discern the best course of judgement, the only choice left may be Rule Utilitarianism.

But even then, there are problems. Mill’s Liberty is a sort of rule utilitarianism; the rule being: “protect liberty”. But even then, the wisdom and knowledge to discern that “these are the best rules” is still lacking.

I can only then forward this humble solution; that each individual struggles along as best as he can, to eke out the greatest happiness he can for himself, even whilst caught in churning seas of the conflictory desires of other individuals around him. And that each individual schleps along until we become a race of Übermensch, capable of co-existing completely without conflict and with complete understanding of “goodness”, toiling for the greatest good of all other men in a true utilitarian society.

Will you parade in red?

August 9, 2009

I was wondering about how much I really care for Singapore (How much do you? If you want to, take a peek at what I think at the bottom.) Haven’t we been accused of lacking in freedoms?

We, the citizens of Singapore
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society,
based on justice and equality,
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and
progress for our nation.

And these are the things we like to discuss, to plan for and to hope for. Justice. Egalitarianism. National happiness, wealth, and continued development. Would be very socialist, if not for that little bit about democracy. Perhaps you’ve heard the label of ‘social democracy’ bandied about before, to describe this nation of ours.

We, of course, reject the notion of our Singapore possibly being socialist. Should we not consider the largely government-owned housing we enjoy at affordable prices, as well as the government dominance of the local economy that brings stability and vision, as luxuries and advantages? Surely, the claim is absurd enough to not even warrant consideration. Didn’t we put all the Communists in prison a few decades back?

And so, we conclude that Singapore must be democratic. Haven’t we lauded ourselves for meritocracy, transparency, and minimal corruption? After all, democracy is, as Lincoln put it, ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people’. Clearly, what we have is what we have demanded: the same government for forty four years.

Unfortunately, all those liberal Westerners love to pick fights and compromise our conservative Asian values, don’t they? They barge in telling us we’re ‘authoritarian, not democratic”. And so, we’re left in a quandary;  are we still democratic, even as we appear to relinquish some rights of thought and expression for the happiness, prosperity, and progress we’ve enjoyed?

Forget, for a moment, about trade-offs between freedoms and wealth, and consider democracy.

Democracy finds its roots in social contract theory. Supposedly, it supplants systems where the government, being in opposition to the governed (e.g. a king all too glad to own for himself the lands of his subjects), needs to be controlled and restricted from abusing the governed. Hence, documents such as the Magna Carta. By placing the ruling authority in the hands of the governed, it was thought that no government could act against its subjects; that people no longer needed protection from the rulers.

John Stuart Mill would beg to differ.

In On Liberty, he sets out with how people have rights. And then he goes on from this simple premise. As the subjects’ rights needed protection from the king, so does the populace’s from the government. The problem with democracy being that the majority decisions can impinge upon the rights of some people.

What rights then?

Mill holds that the right to freedom of thought and expression, and the liberty to do as one pleases, without harm to another, should remain unmolested. Firstly, because such freedoms lead to discussion, which in turn lead to understanding, which gives rise to knowledge; if one holds a belief but has no understanding why, it is no better than prejudice. To understand a belief is to understand why one believes, and it is only through discussion with, not silencing of, the opposition that one can reach understanding.

Secondly, and more importantly, Mill believes that freedom has the value of improving Man. Without an atmosphere of freedom, men would be left at the mercies of custom and habit of the times. According to Mill, the worst kind of man is the kind that does no thinking himself, but bows slavishly to the custom of the times; and that, precisely, is why freedom is so important.

Similarly, a man should be equally free to not use his freedoms optimally, and to not pursue original thought and consideration of issues. For a thinking man to coerce him against such behaviour would be in itself an inhibition of freedom. ‘The power of compelling others into it is not only inconsistent with the freedom and development of all the rest,but corrupting to the strong man himself’.

So, why do we find such rights restricted, if it could only be for benefit? Well, one must always consider the potential for an ill-placed opinion to arouse anger and violence. And those, Mill most certainly concurs, are wholly unacceptable.

Given that free expression promotes improvement of Man and society, but that wrongly-placed it can cause harm, where then are the boundaries? All democracies have their limits on free expression; some stop at racially offensive language, others at Holocaust denial. So, what makes them qualitatively different from authoritarian states that imprison those who voice objectionable views? After all, it’s only a matter of scale and severity, from fines versus imprisonment and torture, from a few dissenters to a mob.

Discounting the merest literal interpretation of democracy, how can the rights-defending interpretation survive? It appears that the popular will, which may oppress a section of the populace, is incompatible with any notion of rights. How does one draw the line at what is permissible and what is not, without it being a mere subjective standard?

And, perhaps, we should ask, why should men have rights anyway? Does the argument that it allows others (should we care about others anyway?) to improve themselves hold any water?

__________________________________________________________________

Let’s take a short detour for a moment shall we? Why should we bother about rights anyway? Take the specific case of political protesting, which is limited here in Singapore. Would anyone who has no intention whatsoever to head a political protest care about the right to do so? Does anyone fight for a right they don’t intend to excercise; does anyone feel offended by a restriction against plowing a car into a tree?

The matter at hand then becomes as follows: if you don’t intend to express opinion that may be offensive and risks censorship, why would one irrationally feel offended that other people can’t do it? To be involved in such disputes about rights would be absurd.

In the case of the censoring body, it becomes a little more complicated. However, the censor’s own improvement as a thinking individual, as one who considers his actions and rejects the bondage of custom and habit of society, is not jeopardised by reducing that of another.

Furthermore, Mill’s stand for permitting even the morally or religiously objectionable is reasonable only if the moral standards are non-objective. For the believers in higher authority, there is reason enough for censorship. For others, the imposition of moral standards then becomes on of personal taste, having disregarded the need for allowing others to supposedly improve themselves (escape the slavery of custom) through their views, no matter how objectionable.

Thus, we return to the issue of moral subjectivity.

For the religious, those with a codified set of morals, objectionable views surely cannot be permitted.

For those less inclined, we encounter to problem of extent. To what extent is expression tolerable, and to what extent is it not? As a society is composed of distinct individuals, so to do distinct views exist.  The multitude of standards, the differing of opinions as to what is tolerable and what is not, leaves us in the same quandary we began. The concept of rights seems incompatible with democracy. Literal democracy seems more like despotism by the majority, while rights-based democracy seems to really be restricted (expressive) rights, albeit to a smaller degree.

And to whether I care for Singapore? Well, I began wondering why my nation doesn’t treasure freedom, as much as others do. Had she really sacrificed Liberty for Prosperity? Well, it seems to me that Liberty isn’t a light that is on or off. It’s more like a tap that can range anywhere from dripping to gushing. It becomes a matter of how much and to what degree is comfortable. The prosperity is always welcome though.

And so far? I like the prosperity, I like it very much. But beyond whether Singapore is a good place to live, whether she provides wealth and freedom, there will come the time she will mean more, where, as the song goes, she’ll be home. And then, who cares? Family doesn’t look at the merits and failings, family doesn’t judge by attributes on a scale; family judges by emotions.

Happy Fourth of July.

July 4, 2009

We stand on the cusp of a new day, a special day. As tomorrow dawns, so begins a day of remembrance. A date that serves as a memorial, lest we forget.

Tomorrow, on the 4th of July, Rwanda will celebrate Liberation Day. It will be 15 years since the events of 1994 erupted into racial violence. 15 years ago, more than a million individuals were murdered in the course of a hundred days. In the span of three months, as neighbour turned on neighbour, a million unique people ceased to be. And the world watched, rapt with horror.

As international leaders found themselves unable to act, racial hate fanned into the flames of genocide. As men debated the sovereignty of nations, other men became murderers. Some enjoyed it, many others were subsumed by the bloodlust of their so-called brethren. Men became killers or risked their own death, in a society burning down to reveal the primal behind the façade.

As we remember the genocide, let us question ourselves. How could any hate be so great as to blind a man to himself? How could a matter of race, a matter of ethnicity, a matter of wealth or power be enough to drive a nation to destruction? How could enough men hate enough to tear a nation asunder?

And as we consider the weakness of irrational mankind, of how great his folly is, let us also remember a little more. Back to 1945, and to Dachau. Today, there stands at the camp a simple engraving; Never Again.

And we ask of ourselves, why. If we said Never Again, then why? Has our memory failed us, or our resolve? As the world watched the camps, liberated one at a time, through newsreels and reporters, it recoiled in horror and shock. Did we make ourselves hypocrites in 1994?

And yet, everything goes on, as it must. Each new day brings with it fresh headlines; of suffering and of devastation, of joy and of hope. The world keeps turning, it’s just up to us to write the story. The story of humanity is a long and chequered tapestry; we can choose to let this latest thread be of justice and goodness, of charity and goodwill. We can be the ones to bring the headlines of hope, to see a future worth making a cause of.

It’s the choice and prerogative of every one of us six billion people on our lonely planet to make the very best of it, to put on all the virtue we could hope for. Like the Bard put it,

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;

Just over six billion parts, waiting to be played, each in their unique circumstances. Some with more responsibility, some with less, all with their varied roles. The actors are about and the production is afoot; will it be comedy, tragedy, or something else completely?

Happy Independence Day.

and now for something completely different

April 9, 2009

and so, the greatest British comedy sketch brings us to today’s topic, (albeit in a tortuously circuitous yet still painfully funny manner;) : human life’s definition by an “overwhelming terror of annihilation”; the meaninglessness of life and the inevitability of death

But first, why; I find myself increasingly less adept (as if that were possible) at creative production, and furtherly unaccomplished in the realms of sci-ence (now, this be shocking[!]). So I paint myself into the figurative, sticky, small corner of “humanistic thinking” and philosophy. Or, as a fellow Philosophy Circle participant put it, mental masturbation. Now, that’s philosophy. (and, yes, the first session of Philosophy Circle was good. Now we’ll see if I’ll ever get to take a peek at Writer’s Guild)

Roundabout life updates are continued HERE: Blank stares of incomprehension to rival a vegetarian zombie’s are still the standard response to thermal physics tutorials. Unwelcome sensations at nine in the evening indicate a seriously whacked body rhythm (I mean, like, dude. Who, like, sleeps, y’know, before, like, two in the morning?) Wants to go out some time with friends and just chill with nothing to do for a whole day, but doubt that’ll happen. Will settle for a few good hours of ultimate.

So, back to the issue. Let’s begin with a quote from Cicero: “to philosophise is to learn how to die”. In other words, to live well, to live the good life, is to live a life prepared for the inevitable outcome. By learning to die, and without fear, one unlearns how to be a slave (to the material distractions of the world, or inventions of afterlives engineered to escape death’s stranglehold). Neither temporary oblivion nor longing for immortality will hold any more allure.

Interrupt for SLEEP. If you happen to be reading, here are a few questions to ponder:

1) Stoicism (Google it) and “he will live badly he who does not know how to die will”; tranquility and calm in the face of death

2) What,  then, do YOU think is the good/right/noble/etc life? Is it living free of slavery to fear of death? Living free of slavery to all kinds of fear? For isn’t it fear that gives us pause, that makes us stop to reconsider?

3) If so, then consider now the existentialist. Is the way to live then being true to yourself? Is there but one path with obstacles and triumph, success and failure each in their parts? And is the best way to live to tread that very path, to do as (your) nature cries out to?

4) And then. The nobles ones. The compassionate ones. The altruistic ones. Those who give your lives and yourselves, your ambitions and your effort into others. The ones who give up their lives to be the listening ear at three in the morning. The ones who never get married in order to teach their students. Are they too afraid of living their own lives, and finding a natural path that leads to failure, that they would rather lead other lives? To invest in others in order to face one’s own.

Note: and it’s getting increasingly incoherent and unintelligable, compounded by the fact that it’s written, not dialouged. So, forgive me. Will try to work on it.

January 19, 2009

Disclaimer: The following contains material of a potentially frightening nature. However, if you are unafraid to ponder the possibility of being unable to make any choice at all, or are kind enough to do me the favour of reading and critiquing my thoughts, please do read on.

Consider a closed system, comprising an apple, in existence a distance above an object of significant gravity, say, the Earth. Start time. The apple, obeying common physical laws, falls to the ground. Or a bullet, racing towards a man. Start time, and it strikes him.

Consider then, a larger system. Say, a gun. Pull the trigger, and a number of physical reactions occur, sparking a chemical reaction, which again triggers the physical reaction of a speeding bullet. All in accord with the physical laws that exist in the system.

Consider then, the Universe as a system. The cosmos dancing in beautiful rhythm, governed by a set of laws that exist, regardless of humanity’s knowledge (of these laws). In this Universe, there exists people, made of the very same stuff as everything else. And as all stuff, held accountable to the law, they obey with perfect precision, for every moment, right until the end of time.

Assuming that the body is governed by the brain and the brain is made of stuff, the decisions of the brain and the actions of the body are then governed by the particulate behavior of stuff, which is perfectly predictable by the laws of the Universe. And thus, the terrifying conclusion is reached; free will is an illusion and any state of the Universe is fated and (theoretically) predictable.

I give you the frightening possibility of a deterministic Universe. Determinism, however, is (at least partially) debunked by chaos theory and quantum uncertainty. Therefore, move on to what really terrifies me.

Take the existence of a sovereign, omnipotent God. (for those of you who can’t, assume, for the sake of argument). Let’s define omnipotence, shall we? We’ll take it to mean capable of anything, and aware and in control of every thing that occurs, until the end of time.

An omnipotent God is therefore aware of every man’s actions. God is also capable of influencing that man’s actions and choices. Is the God then responsible for the man’s actions? Is the man incapable of acting outside of the omnipotent agency of this God? By his omnipotent character, is God incapable of “not making a choice”, for by doing so he in fact makes a choice, that leads to consequences?

The existence of an omnipotent God thus brings us to the same, ghastly, conclusion. Free will is impossible. The closest one can get is a facsimile, true motivations possibly being the decisions of an omnipotent God or the result of matter blindly following dead laws, but never a consciousness that resides within a man.

However, I offer those of you who are greatly troubled some small comfort. Read on.

Chaos theory posits that large systems quickly degenerate into chaos, meaningless and unpredictable, despite the abundance of laws that can accurately predict short-term, small-scale outcomes. Quantum uncertainty makes it impossible for every property of any discrete particle to be known simultaneously. This “quantum fuzziness” makes it impossible to make perfect predictions.

However, consider instead the minutiae of the atoms that comprise your brain. It is rather difficult, is it not? Or the extreme complexity of a weather system. It is hard to grasp and predict the future, for our puny human minds, yes?

So, a perfectly predictable Universe remains perfectly perplexing (, and opaque) to us mere mortals. In making our decisions, we (our brains) experience what feels like choice and independent will. The decisions we make feel all too real to us. An excuse cannot be made “that wasn’t my choice”, simply because, to all measurable extents and purpose, an action is the result of free will and choice.

Similarly, the will of an omnipotent God are so far beyond us, so much so that our decisions appear to be motivated by independent will, and for all practical purposes are indiscernible from such. The existence of an omnipotent God does not absolve us from seeming (to ourselves and to other) to make the right choice.

Well then. I’m done. I thank you for reading this far, and do hope that you will poke holes in my arguments, delivering all of us from the deterministic terror of a world without free will, or plunging us further into this pit of despair. For the sake of truth, then, be honest with me!

Ps. Comment on the post, not on the tagboard, if at all possible. Much thanks.