I remember one bright sunny morning, walking into my philosophy class and entranced, learning about determinism. Do I have control over my destiny, or is my life ruled by fate? Causal determinism, religion, environment, metaphysics, astronomy, scientific, the list goes on and on. Am I a lemming, just as all of us are lemmings walking through life only to one day dive over the cliff to my doom like everyone else?
Reading Carl Sagan, “In Praise of Robots”, St. Thomas Aquinas, “On Free Choice”, Baron De Holbach, “Why God is the Root of All Evil” are titles that to this day, come to mind. Perhaps what was important, what was the critical factor in our lives was that our professor was endeavoring to teach us how to see those other arguments. Many is the day that we would spend our hour arguing in class, some of us proselytizing, others ready and willing to fight for the other side — whether we agreed with what was being said, or not.
There is something to be said about a good philosophy teacher. In that a very good teacher can open your eyes to other beliefs, so that you can understand them. You don’t have to believe in them…but understanding is key to opening your mind, achieving the ability to see through another’s eyes, empathetically find the answers of those we diametrically oppose. What I found that day, was that I did not want to have a feeling of no control. I found myself in those arguments, something I had begun to lose these past few decades. Without free will, we are nothing but robots, following what we have been programmed to follow. I for one believe…truly believe that I am in control of my destiny, that my future is mine to cultivate, building my ice castle in the snow, or to piss away…a yellow stain on an otherwise pristine background. In this day and age, we need to rediscover our free will, so that our environment, our religion, our “fate”, does not rule us, rather we rule it.