Monday, April 11, 2005

Truth and Consequences

I believe that free will is not about selecting from a group of options so much as choosing between the sets of consequences attached to each option. The big problem that faces us mere humans is that no one can see all of the consequences of a particular action. If a butterfly flapping its wings can change the course of a hurricane months later, imagine what your last sneeze might unleash in the future. Now, no one could possibly hold you responsible for that, just bear it in mind the next time you leave your house without a hanky.

Another definition I use is that wisdom is the experience that adds to one's predictive range. In a sense, it is the ability to peer into the box to catch at least a glimpse of what is to come. Wise or foolish, however, the future will come with the consequences chosen.

Commentor Unseen Depths wrote to a post below:

Death is not a right: it's a consequence of living.

I agree about the death as consequence portion. Without life, there is no death, but life also has the consequences of happiness, pain, love, anger, hope, betrayal, forgiveness, and obviously more than can be listed. Of all of these, only death is the one that is assured. With death comes nothing: nothing good, and nothing bad (at least from my materialistic point of view, your beliefs may vary).

Now I believe firmly in the right of the individual to his/her life. Equally important is the right to keep others from forcing their decisions onto oneself. However, a right is mocked when it is made into an obligation. There is no more fundamental choice than to look ahead at the rest of one's life and weigh it against the nothingness of death. Right here, right now, I hope that all of you are still choosing to see tomorrow. But if you lacked the option of not seeing tomorrow, then there is no positive value to that decision.

Life/Death, Speech/Silence, Salvation/Redemption. There are many things that having the right to one is meaningless without the right to choose the other.

(Sorry about the meandering, but this essay has been bugging me for a while now, and it still refuses to be pinned down)

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