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I love it when people tell me philosophy isn’t important. It makes me feel like a shark in a pool of farmed fish.
I’ll put this simply. If a person doesn’t think having his own philosophic stance is important, then he should consider that other people have philosophies, and they are bent on creating reality FOR him…and in doing so, they use that philosophy “thingo” he doesn’t think matters at all.
And one of the great philosophic issues—it flies under the radar—is free will versus determinism. Determinism means: events and lives and reality itself are a parade of happenings entirely devoid of choice. No freedom.
In labs all over the world, brain researchers are pushing this notion, believing that someday they will be able to control the brain to an absolute degree. For them, you see, it really doesn’t matter what they do to that organ in our skulls and how that will affect the global population…because they’re sure people were never free to begin with.
Get it? So nothing much is riding on the question of free will vs. determinism except the future of the human race.
In the next 50, 100 years, will we see billions of fully-programmed, “new-brain” human androids everywhere, or will freedom survive?
Armed with a philosophy of determinism, researchers will try to install whatever programming they want to, “for the good of all.” And they won’t feel even a twitch of guilt.
I was searching through a 1929 Saturday Evening Post interview with Albert Einstein. I found an interesting quote:
“I am a determinist. As such, I do not believe in free will…Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed. If I wish to live in a civilized community, I must act as if man is a responsible being.”
I’m always shocked but not surprised when I come across statements like this from scientists.
I guess after Einstein escaped from the Nazis in 1933, he eventually came to America because our brand of no-free-will just happened to be better. Or something.
So I decided to pull Einstein back from the past and engage him in conversation.
Every time I do one of these interviews with dead people, somebody thinks it’s real. I don’t know why. So again, for clarification, this is fiction. However, sometimes fiction makes a point more clearly.
# # # #
Does free will exist?
Q (Rappoport): Sir, would you say that the underlying nature of physical reality is atomic?
A (Einstein): If you’re asking me whether atoms and smaller particles exist everywhere in the universe, then of course, yes.
Q: And are you satisfied that, wherever they are found, they are the same? They exhibit a uniformity?
Q: Regardless of location.
Q: So, for example, if we analyze the brain into its constituent elements, we find those same tiny particles, which are no different in kind from other sub-atomic particles anywhere in the universe.
A: That’s true. Actually, everything inside the human body is composed of these tiny particles. And the particles, everywhere in the universe, without exception, flow and interact and collide without any exertion of free will. It’s an unending stream of cause and effect.
Q: And when you think to yourself, “I’ll get breakfast now,” what is that?
A: The thought?
A: Ultimately, it is the outcome of particles in motion.
Q: You were compelled to have that thought.
A: As odd as that may seem, yes. Of course, we tell ourselves stories to avoid that conclusion.
Q: And those “stories” we tell ourselves—they aren’t freely chosen rationalizations, either. We have no choice about that.
A: Well, yes. That’s right.
Q: So there is nothing in the human brain or what some would call the mind that allows us the possibility of free will.
A: Nothing at all.
Q: And as we are sitting here right now, sir, looking at each other, sitting and talking, this whole conversation is spooling out in the way that it must. Every word. Neither you nor I is really choosing what we say.
A: I may not like it, but it’s deterministic destiny. The particles flow.
Q: When you pause to consider a question I ask you and what your answer will be…even that act of considering is mandated by the motion of sub-atomic particles in the brain. What appears to be you deciding how to give me an answer…that is a delusion.
A: The act of considering is not done freely with a range of possible choices. I know that sounds harsh. It may be hard to swallow. But there is no free will.
Q: The notion of considering is, you might say, a cultural or social delusion.
A: I guess that’s so, yes.
Q: And the outcome of this conversation, whatever points we may or may not agree upon, and the issues we may settle here, about this subject of free will versus determinism…they don’t matter at all, because, when you boil it down, the entire conversation was determined by our thoughts, which are nothing more than the products of atomic and sub-atomic particles in motion—and that motion flows according to laws, none of which have anything to do with human choice.
A: The entire flow of reality, so to speak, proceeds according to determined sets of laws.
Q: And we are in that flow.
A: Most certainly we are.
Q: But the earnestness with which we try to settle the issue of free will versus determinism, the application of feeling and thought and striving—all that is irrelevant. It’s window dressing. This conversation actually cannot go in different possible directions. It can only go in one direction.
A: That would ultimately have to be so. Yes.
Q: Now, are atoms and their components, and any other tiny particles in the universe…are any of them conscious?
A: Of course not.
Q: Some scientists speculate they are.
A: Some people speculate that the moon can be sliced and served on a plate with fruit.
Q: What do you think “conscious” means?
A: That’s hard to say.
Q: Is imagination made up of the same tiny particles that inhabit the whole universe?
A: That’s an odd idea.
Q: Let me broaden it. Any of the so-called faculties we possess—are they ultimately anything more than particles in motion?
A: I see. Well, no, they aren’t. Because everything is particles in motion. What else could be happening in this universe?
Q: All right. I’d like to consider the word “understanding.”
A: It’s a given. It’s real.
Q: How so?
A: The proof that it’s real, if you will, is that we are having this conversation.
Q: Yes, but how can there be understanding if everything is particles in motion? Do the particles possess understanding?
A: No they don’t. They just are.
Q: And does “they just are” include understanding?
Q: Then, how can what you and I are saying have any meaning?
A: Words mean things.
Q: Again, I have to point out that, in a universe with no free will, we only have particles in motion. That’s all. That’s all we are. So where does “meaning” come from? Is it just an automatic reflex, a delusion, as “being conscious” is a delusion, as “understanding” is a delusion?
A: “We understand language” is a true proposition.
Q: You’re sure.
A: Of course.
Q: Then I suggest you’ve tangled yourself in a contradiction. In the universe you depict, there would be no room for understanding. There would nowhere for it to come from. Unless particles understand. Do they?
Q: Then where do “understanding” and “meaning” come from?
A: They are facts.
Q: Based on what?
A: …I don’t know.
Q: If we accept your depiction of a universe of particles without free will, then there is no basis for this conversation at all. We don’t understand each other. How could we? We are not truly conscious, we are making sounds, we are “going back and forth,” the outcome is not within our choice, and we don’t understand what we are saying to each other. Again, there is no room for understanding in your universe.
A: But we do understand each other.
Q: And therefore, your philosophic materialism (no free will, only particles in motion) must have a flaw.
A: What flaw?
Q: Our existence contains more than particles in motion.
A: What would that be?
Q: Would you grant that whatever it is, it is non-material?
A: It would have to be.
Q: Then, driving further along this line, there is something non-material which is present, which allows us to understand each other, which allows us to comprehend meaning. We are conscious. Puppets are not conscious.
A: But that would open the door to all the religions that have fought with each for centuries.
Q: Why? Does “non-material” of necessity translate into “religion?”
A: Well, no, I suppose not. But non-material consciousness would certainly be a mystery.
Q: Is that acceptable?
A: The mystery?
Q: As we sit here talking, I understand you. Do you understand me?
A: Of course.
Q: Then that is coming from something other than particles in motion. And freedom would be another quality, a non-material quality that exceeds the “grasp” of particles in motion. In fact, without these non-material qualities, you and I would be gibbering and pretending to understand each other. And both the gibber and the pretense would be no more important than a rock developing a trace of fungus after a thousand years.
A: You’re saying that, if all the particles in the universe, including those that make up the human body and brain, possess no consciousness, no understanding, no comprehension of meaning, no freedom, then how can they give birth to these qualities of understanding and meaning? There must be another factor, and it would have to be non-material.
Q: Yes. That’s what I’m saying.
Q: There are many people who would say this conversation is terribly old-fashioned and outmoded—and much newer concepts on the frontier of exploration have relegated what we are talking about to the dustbin of a bygone era.
A: Yes. But I could also say the notion of solid objects is passe, because we know nothing is actually solid. However, as long as I can stub my toe on a rock and break the toe, the notion of solidity is still relevant.
Q: So you believe what we’ve been discussing here is significant.
A: I do.
Q: And you admit your view of determinism and particles in motion—this picture of the universe—leads to several absurdities.
A: I’m forced to. Otherwise, this very conversation is absurd to a degree I can’t fathom.
Q: You and I understand each other. What we are saying has meaning.
A: I had not thought it through all the way before, but if there is nothing inherent in particles and their processes that gives rise to understanding and meaning, then everything, and I mean everything, is gibberish. Except it isn’t gibberish. I see the contradiction. The absurdity.
Q: And if these non-material factors—understanding and meaning—exist, then other non-material factors can exist.
A: For example, freedom. Yes.
Q: And the drive to eliminate freedom in the world…is more than just the unimportant pre-determined attempt to substitute one delusion for another, one reflex for another.
A: That would be…yes, that’s so.
Q: In one way or another, there is a great impulse to deny the non-materiality of the qualities that are inherent to human life. There is a reason for this impulse. Scientists, for example, would be absolutely furious about the idea that, despite all their maneuvering and discovering in the physical and material realm, the most essential aspects of human life are beyond the scope of what they, the scientists, are “in charge of.”
A: It would be a naked challenge to their power. You know, I don’t like leaving this mystery hanging in the air.
Q: Which mystery is that?
A: We’ve come to agree that basic qualities of human life—meaning, understanding, consciousness, freedom—would have to be non-material. But where does that leave us? “Where” is the non-materiality?
Q: It’s certainly not going to be in the physical universe. By definition, that would be impossible.
A: I know. I can see that.
Q: Let me suggest that your capacity to understand, your ability to comprehend meaning, your freedom, your consciousness, are wherever YOU ARE.
A: I’ll have to think about that.
Q: I could say, “Well, you see, throughout the universe there are other levels of energy, and they aren’t based on atomic or sub-atomic particles. These other energies are ‘spiritual,’ they are most certainly conscious, and they impart to us our capacity to understand, to comprehend meaning, to have freedom, to imagine, and so on. This other energy is part of our very consciousness, or our consciousness is an aspect of this other energy.”
A: You could say that, yes. But that’s just a convoluted way of asserting that consciousness, meaning, understanding, freedom, ad imagination are beyond the realm of physical causation. It’s a hypothesis that doesn’t open the door to actual research, to science. To me, it’s just a kind of passive, permissive religion.
Q: Not only that, it tends to allow the idea that freedom, free choice are not really our own, and therefore, we don’t have to pay any price for the choices we make. We can become passive and quietly pass the buck to “the universe.” I’ve seen that outcome in many people who take this “cosmic view” of energy.
A: I wouldn’t like that at all. If we’re going to let freedom in the door, then we need to act on it in a dynamic way, and also accept the results of the free choices we make.
—end of interview—
Einstein disappeared in a puff of wind, and I saw a note he left on my kitchen table. I went over to it and read it:
“If everything in the universe is composed of sub-atomic particles, including us, then this conversation and its outcome are HG^&&%DSE^. Gibberish. If there truly is freedom, consciousness, meaning, and understanding, then each one of us is, at the root, a non-material being.”
I put the note down.
Finally, consider that, for a non-material being operating with a physical form called the body, perhaps his most valuable adjunct, aid, and “assistant” in that partnership is the brain.
Scientists and elite planners believe the brain can be programmed and reprogrammed and surgically altered at will, because freedom has never existed.
They believe they’re simply changing the specifications of a robot, an android.
Actually, they’re interrupting and changing a vital link between the non-material and free and conscious YOU and your brain, in order to make your potential actions simpler and less capable.
The result would be a civilization of androids.
Which says a great deal about the importance of that rejected item called philosophy.
# # # #
About Jon Rappoport:
Mr. Rappoport is the author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX. Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at www.nomorefakenews.com
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