FREEDOM AND DETERMINISM; A PARADOX IN THE METAPHYSICS OF CAUSALITY A PHILOSOPHICAL APPRAISAL
This research is focused on discovering and exposing the paradox in the notions of freedom and determinism. Also, it aims at using the research data to reconcile the enigma the notion of causality poses with the notions of Freedom and Determinism. Because a good knowledge of the place of man in the scheme of things in the cosmos would go a long way to help him manage his cosmic affairs appropriately and address his metaphysical encounters, it becomes necessary that his powers and the limitations of his powers are brought to bare. Hence, in this work, we committedly and diligently sought to accommodate freedom and Determinism as we would do well to file together their desirable features for scholarly endorsement. And so, this work will do well to employ the philosophical method of appraisal (philosophical appraisal) as it will stand to proffer some reconciliatory panacea to the paradoxical experience of freedom and Determinism in the everyday of human living. Also, it will definitely uncover the weakness of the contention that man is absolutely free to do whatever he wishes or worse still, the contention that humans and events of the world are already determined, and that there is no cause for cause (non causa pro causa) in the universe. On this need we say that, for man to paddle home the canoe of life, he needs to be free from blur, obscurity and illusion so that he misses no direction. Also, this work will make some honest endeavour to strip man of his unwarranted fantasies, wild imaginations and illusions in the voyage of life.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of Study 1
1.2 Statement of Problems 4
1.3 Purpose of Study 5
1.4 Scope of Study 6
1.5 Significance of Study 7
1.6 Methodology 8
1.7 Definition of Terms 9
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW 17
CHAPTER THREE: FREEDOM AND DETERMINISM
3.1 Notions of freedom 47
3.2 Freedom and responsibility 50
3.3 Notions of Human Act and Act of Man 52
3.4 The Problem of Free Will 55
3.5 Notion and Kinds of Determinism 58
3.6 The Problem of Determinism 62
CHAPTER FOUR: METAPHYSICS OF CAUSALITY
4.1 Notion and Kinds of Cause 68
4.2 Notions of Necessity and Contingency 70
4.3 The Problem of Causation Theory 76
CHAPTER FIVE: EVALUATION AND CONCLUSION
1.1. BACKGROUND OF STUDY
My mentor always begins his speech with the saying “the spiritual control the physical”1. I had been hearing this sort of adage since my childhood but never attempted to reflect the meaning and implication that come with it. However, in the course of my study, I discovered a disturbing implication of such a seemingly wise saying after coming across the work of Okwu Eboh Living Issues in Ethics. In living Issues in Ethics, Eboh tries to show how moot the point of psychological determinism and other forms of determinism are by quoting Omoregbe thus;
Every action indeed has a cause. But the cause of an action does not determine it. What determined one’s action immediately is one’s free choice. Thus for example if I am thirsty and I drink water, my action of drinking water has a cause and that is thirst. But if I am thirsty I am free to refuse to drink water. If however I decide to drink water, my decision is a free one and my action for drinking water is a free action, even though it has a cause.2
This particular excerpt aroused and awakened my intellectual interest to research on the topic freedom and determinism as I stand to resolve the paradox it becomes in the metaphysical causality. Also, the heated debate I had with my mentor, Mr Januarius Maduabuchi re-echoed in my mind as I read the same work of Eboh concerning freedom and determinism. And so, began to ask myself questions thus: if the spiritual control the physical, then how could human persons be said to have freedom, strictly speaking? Though man is both spiritual and physical (having body and soul), the presence of the spiritual part is not felt in this “world of opinions,” to use plato’s exact words.
C.C. Mbaegbu having observed the agony of the soul in the body concludes thus: “The body obviously is a great obstacle to the free operations of the mind. If man, is a composite of body and spirit, have you once asked yourself why the spirit in you does not see?”3
As Mbaegbu observes above, the body belongs to this world and therefore controls it since its (the body’s) nature is compatible with the worlds. And so, it must logically be said to be infinitesimally small, and the body, ineluctably large. To the above question, J.F. Donceel in his book Philosophical Anthropology answered emphatically thus:
The fact that the human soul does not possess during his life an immediate intuition of his own essence might be due to the union between the soul and the body. Therefore when this union is interrupted by death the soul might enjoy intuitive self-knowledge of its own essence, may even exceptionally occur in a few privileged individual during the present life.4
This implies that if the soul were to exist alone, it would intuitively know its own essence and that of the divine causality which maintains it in existence, and the numberless ties which unite it to other human souls and to the realm of the spirits. Also, by implication, this intuitive self-knowledge means a very uncommon and perfect knowledge of God and that of other non-ominious and ominious spirits. This knowledge is significantly accompanied by a corresponding activity of the will (free will). Consequently, after the soul’s separation from the body, it begins really to perform the real activities of knowledge and volition; until the great, fateful day, it remains inactivated. It is logically acceptable to say and hold that if the spirit world controls the physical world, then the former must at least have a reliquary in the latter which would necessarily serve as a link through which the spirits access the realm. Unfortunately, the soul is that spiritually deposited relic but incarcerated in the body, it could only be remitted and liberated by the saving hands of death. It is also pertinent to bring to fore that before a being can control another being, it would at least know, to a greater extent about the one to be controlled, so that it could have leverage over it. No wonder, Francis Beacon said that “knowledge is power”. From the above, we observe that the saying “the spiritual control the physical” is obviously reprehensible, and this prompted our choice of this project topic as we stand to remonstrate the weakness and demonstrate through this research work, the extent to which man is free and extent to which man’s activities are determined.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Due to the enigma which unrealistic, unfathomable and individual sense of freedom poses to humanity in both social and individual personal life, it becomes a necessity and seriously dawns on us all that we address the incongruity as found.
If we could advocate and vouch for human freedom, then it becomes inconsequential to jettison, to a greater extent, the notion of determinism in our actions and inactions. On the other hand, if we could reside with the notion of determinism, then, it would be inept to also subscribe to the notion of human freedom; whichever way, we ought to, and therefore must view this problem with philosophical lens, not with a conjectural lens.
And so, on the above crucial note, we have decided to bring up such a metaphysical and somewhat ethical problem with the ingrained intention of digging and seriously delving more into the fault in order to discover and then, weaken thick line of paradox prevalent in it.
In this regard, we shall look into the nature of human conduct, human responsibility, cause and effect, and other similar matters which need our ingenious attention, in order to proffer a lasting solution to the knotty problem, with the research work. From here, the questions of, to what extent does man have freedom? Does man’s freedom know some bounds? If man’s actions are determined, does he need to be blamed for acting his freestyle? Is man’s freedom in chain? How can we justify the freedom of human actions in the face of determinism?
1.3 PURPOSE OF STUDY
This work places much premium on the dire need for reconciling the paradox and theses of freedom and determinism. Just as necessity is the mother of invention, the work aims at discovering, giving human conduct and divine intervention their various proper places in life so that there would be a common, an objective ground for appraising and justifying our daily pre-occupation and therefore, provide the avenue for clarity and confidence in human living. If man knows the limits his nature permits, he would be at the vantage of making a purely reason-oriented decision in respect to God and mankind. Thus, “If through no fault of my own, I am born with a sinful nature and cannot Resist sinning, then why should I try To avoid the unavoidable”?5
A British monk named Pelagius in the fifth century advanced this line of thought that consequently led to moral apathy and “pulls the rug out from underneath any notion of moral responsibility and makes the struggle to be good apparently useless”6. And so, this work has the burden of appraising freedom and determinism at crossroads, thereby establish a more organized and clear thought about them.
1.4. SCOPE OF STUDY
This work has its scope within jurisdiction of philosophy. It is a pure philosophical piece which has its field of study on freedom and determinism. Obviously, this work delimits itself to the paradox freedom and determinism pose to the metaphysics of causality. Practically, the notion of freedom and determinism is epigrammatic, similar and logically appears incompatible. Hence, we want to trace the extent to which it runs congruent to human reasoning and reality, in order to resolve the frictions, conflicts and confusions it imprints on the minds of men.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
It is expected that this intellectual piece will have an unexaggerated significance and invaluable contributions to the students of moral philosophy, to the Christendom, the students of metaphysics, and the human society at large.
Also, this work is significantly expected to weaken the strongholds of misogynists, misoneists, misanthropists, religious fanatics and social extremists. By implication, we want to use this work to establish a lasting peace and order in the various human societies, so that the beauty of creation which is usually discovered by the rational man can be brought to light and appreciated. Reasoning in the same vein, Augustine puts it succinctly thus:
If the beauty of this order falls to delight us,
It is because we ourselves, by reason of our
Mortality, are so enmeshed in this corner
Of the cosmos that we fail to perceive the beauty
Of a total pattern in which the particular parts,
Which seem ugly to us, blend in so harmonious
And beautiful a way7(CG12.4)
Augustine made the above speech in his ‘city of God’, it then becomes logically necessary to hold that the way one comports oneself in this universe will eventually determine the place, weather in the “city of God” or “city of the World”8, but before one can make such necessary decisions it is expected that he is acquainted with the knowledge of the extents of freedom and determinism so that he walks with clarity in his life. Hence on this note, this work will hopefully resolve the friction and paradox of freedom and determinism, and then becomes referential paraphernalia in the moral life of the people
This work employs a philosophical appraisal as a method of study to reconcile and blunten the sharp edges of freedom and determinism. It also utilized library materials, journals, unpublished lecture notes, articles, relevant textbooks and dictionaries.
Chapter one of this work covers the introductory aspect; chapter two deals with the relevant literatures reviewed; chapter three deals with the background, notions and implications of freedom and determinism; chapter four undertakes the notion and implication of metaphysics of causality; and finally, chapter five dwells on the evaluation and conclusion of the work.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
For the sake of avoiding ambiguity and unwarranted misrepresentation of ideas put together in this work, we deemed it necessary to give our keywords some general definitions, and from discussion of the definitions, finally state our specific operational definition as this would get the work well-spiced, clarified, and assimilated.
The mind has greater power over the passions, and is less subject to them, insofar as it understands all things as necessary. When our ideas are adequate, we are no longer moved by something external to us; what initiates our movement is within us, and by definition we are free. According to the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, use of free will is a matter of traditional nomenclature; it is debated whether freedom is properly ascribed to the will or the agent, or to actions, choices, deliberations, etc. However, here, what we mean by freedom is simply a definition or term given to an act which is performed under the watchful eye of the will, and not beyond the will power.
This is the popular doctrine in philosophy which holds that things (objects) and human actions or events are already preconceived, known, set in motion and pre-planned by some natural force and ultimate designer (creator) of the world. It is simply a belief in the pre-planning, pre-ordaining and pre-determination of cosmic affairs by either the laws of nature or God.
CAUSE AND EFFECT /CAUSATION
According to the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, causation means the relation between cause and effect, or the act of bringing about an effect, which may be an event, a state; or an object (say a statue). The concept of causation has long been recognized as one of fundamental philosophical importance. Hume called it “the cement of the universe”; causation is the relation that connects events and objects of this world in significant relationship. Brown’s views on causation typically combined an empiricist analysis with what he called a principle of intuitive belief. He defined a cause as that which immediately precedes any change, and which existing at any time in similar circumstances has been always and will be always, immediately followed by a similar change. However, we would define the effect as that which results when something happens.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, paradox is a seemingly sound piece of reasoning based on seemingly true assumptions that leads to a contradiction (or other obviously false conclusion). A paradox reveals that either the principles of reasoning or the assumptions on which it is based are faulty. It is said to be solved when the mistaken principles or assumptions are clearly indentified and rejected. The philosophical interest in paradoxes arise from the act that they sometimes reveal fundamentally mistaken assumptions or erroneous reasoning techniques. So, in this work by paradox we simply mean two apparently opposing ideas which crave for a discreet look in order to be resolved.
This refers to an action or behavior which usually ensues from man’s decisions and choice in life; it is within the control of man, usually. Human act is usually attributed to humankind as they are regarded to be free moral agents. It is also called Actus Humanus in Latin. Philosophers disagree about how we are to discover our nature. Some think metaphysical insight into eternal forms or truths is required, others that we can learn it from observation of biology or of behavior.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, human nature is a quality or group of qualities, belonging to all and only humans, that explains the kind of being we are We are… all both animals and rational being (at least potentially) and ‘rational animals’. According to Hume, morality is an entirely human affair founded on human nature and the circumstances of human life.
According to Encyclopedia of philosophy, (vol.7 and 8) the concept of natural law provided the fixed and enduring framework within which the contract ending the state of nature could be concluded and subsequent breaches or revisions of the contract could be related to the original act. Therefore natural law had to be assumed if contract was to be taken at all, literally. According to ‘The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy’, natural law, also called law of nature, in moral and political philosophy, is an objective norm or set of objective norms governing human behavior, similar to the positive laws of a human ruler, but binding on all people alike and usually understood as involving a super-human legislator. And so, natural law simply means the law which controls everything natural, in the universe.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, (vol.1 and 2), the evolution of human species gave rise to the capacity for conceptual rational thought. This capacity is traditionally referred to as the intellect. However, the intellect is a term used to denote a faculty of the human being which directs and aids the will during decision or choice makings.
According to the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (vol.1 and 2), the WILL is an amalgam of desire and belief that one has it in one’s power to realize the desire; there is no further, indefinable operator in our voluntary actions. So, the will is an effluvia or a bundle of desires which are meant to be controlled, checked and directed by the human intellect.
This is a system of rules, principles and order which are always interiorized and internalized in the minds of people for a conscientious living. According to the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, morality is an informal public system applying to all rational persons, governing behaviour that affects others, having the lessening of evil or harm as its goal, and including what are commonly known as the moral rules, moral ideals, and moral virtues.
By responsibility, we mean the idea that man is accountable for action done within the ambit of the free will. According to the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, responsibility is a condition that relates an agent to actions of and a consequence connected to, that agent, and is always necessary and sometimes sufficient for the appropriateness of certain kinds of appraisals of that agent. However, responsibility in the context used here concerns being willing to own up certain roles and consequences of decision taken from freewill.
Casuistry refers to the doctrine of resolving doubtful cases of conscience or questions of right and wrong according to the injunctions of Holy writs or individual authority or social conventions. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy defines it as the case-analysis approach to the interpretation of general moral rules. Casuistry starts with paradigm cases of how and when a given general moral rule should be applied, and when reasons by analogy to cases in which the application of the rule is less obvious-example, a case in which lying is the only way for a priest not to betray a secret revealed in confession.
These are a set of people who hate women. The misogynists do no actually have aversion and distrust for women for any obvious reason but on the impulse of hatred for women naturally. Metaphysically speaking, these people are believed to be controlled by some force which is beyond their control.
These are a set of people on earth that always show aversion for change, innovation, or novelty. The misoneist do not think that change or improvement is necessary; the old way is the best the world can offer, and therefore, thinking in the primitive way and endorsing conservatism is always good for man. Understanding this group of people is a necessary moral challenge as they are moral conservatives that need some ethical touch.
1. Maduabuchi, Januarius, Philosophy and life (unpublished lecture note, 2010)
2. Eboh, Okwu, Living Issues in Ethics (Nsukka Afro-Orbis publishing Co. Limited, 2005), p.30
3. Mbaegbu, C. C, Philosophy of Mind, (unpublished Lecture Note, nnamdi azikiwe university awka 2016)
5. Lawhead, William, The Voyage of Discovery, (America: Wadsworth Group inc., 2002), p.119
7. Ibid, p. 132
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