Originality As an Expression of Free Will

by nielskunze on July 6, 2016

The Snake Sheds Its Skin Again...

The Snake Sheds Its Skin Again…

A man goes to a party and has a good time. He drinks too much, gets drunk, and passes out. While he is unconscious he is moved into the guest bedroom. The next morning he awakes, takes stock of his situation and finds it to be rather agreeable. The room is comfortable; there are books, music and television available; snacks have been provided. The man decides to stay in the room; however, the door is actually locked.

In deciding to stay, has the man exercised his free will?

The above scenario comes from a first-year university philosophy course called Problems in Philosophy. It begins to examine the free will versus determinism debate which has raged since at least Descartes’ time. Does the man exercise his free will– because he genuinely chooses to stay– even though there is no choice to be made (the door is locked)? Is free will ever only such a proposition of the illusion of choice where only one option ever actually exists? Is everything determined or conditioned by the past in a tight causality chain of such complexity that choice is a mere appearance?

I have sat with these questions for most of this lifetime… and it seems that both free will and determinism are true within differing conditions.

In simplest terms, when we choose from among predetermined options, we are locked into deterministic causality. The ‘choice’ we ultimately make will be conditioned by the past… and therefore cannot be truly considered to be a genuine choice. In such a circumstance, we are following someone else’s map of reality– very predictably.

However, when we choose instead to create our own original option– something that has never existed before– then we are firmly in the realm of free self-determination; we are essentially redrawing the map of reality to accommodate our own unique expression.

Novelty opens upon freedom; repetition closes out real, meaningful choice. It’s not hard to see the truth of this.

So, in essence, free will itself is a choice. It is chosen through creativity, originality, through novelty. Conversely, in the abdication of our prerogative to create our own options, we essentially abandon all choice, entering into the illusion of a deterministic universe.

One place where this has been clearly demonstrated is in the realm of government or politics. Democracy as we have known it is purely deterministic. By its very nature, our democracies only ever ask us to choose among given options– options which all lead in the same general direction. The best our votes can ever accomplish in such systems is to perhaps forestall or postpone for a short time particular inevitable outcomes. Democracy as we have known it is purely someone else’s game; and the people have never been consulted– in any meaningful way– on the rules.

So what would the alternative look like?

True democracy would be a creative collaboration– what I have previously termed the Collaborative Mind, or what others have termed direct democracy. The system we have now is one of representational government; and how much more obvious can it be that in such a system we are choosing to play someone else’s game? We’re voting for people, for fuck’s sake– some of the most non-creative people the Earth has ever known!

Real democracy has to listen to the people… listen to their creative solutions, not just grievances and concerns; listen to their innovations, not just their criticisms. Democracy in this technological age holds the promise of being the most creative, innovative, life-fulfilling system since Nature began this adventure eons ago.

But the kind of democracy I’m talking about will never be one of the options provided within the current system. We can only choose such an option by creating it for ourselves, by ourselves.

We are the new game in town. Now let’s play.

(Oh, and the guy in the locked room… what does he do? He digs a secret tunnel of course, so that he can visit the room any time he likes.)

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