Love and free will

The message to the everything list

This week in Die Zeit there were two papers about love and fidelity. One more scientific, another more philosophic. In the latter there is a couple of paragraphs related to Goethe’s “Elective Affinities” that are 100% in agreement with Rex:

Die Utopie der Liebe

Fidelity is mere an idea that fails due to the natural laws. The materialistic calculation that Goethe has reviewed in a sharp game becomes clear in a remark by the captain, with whom Charlotte felt reluctant in love: “Think of an A that is intimately connected with a B, such that one cannot separate them without violence; think of a C that is connected in a similar way with a D; now bring the two couples in touch: A goes to D, C goes ​​to B, without that one can say who first left, who first joined the other. “

So it happens. And is it not devilish near to a common way of thinking? The fact that we are not masters of our decisions, but products of biochemical processes (or some others)?

Hence Rex might well be right that the discussion here continues because we do not have free will.

In the discussion there was a statement from Bruno Marchal

This shows only that we don’t have free-will in the absolute incompatibilist sense, but there are  compatibilist theories, which explains well the correctness of a relative (to the subject) incompatibilist feature of free will.

These two terms have been new to me and I have found some information at the SEP:

Free Will

Incompatibilist (Nondeterministic) Theories of Free Will

Incompatibilists hold that we act freely in this sense only if determinism is false. Some say little more about what, besides indeterminism, free will requires. And, indeed, the task of providing an incompatibilist account is not an easy one. If the truth of determinism would preclude free will, it is far from obvious how indeterminism would help.


Compatibilism offers a solution to the free will problem. This philosophical problem concerns a disputed incompatibility between free will and determinism. Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism. Because free will is typically taken to be a necessary condition of moral responsibility, compatibilism is sometimes expressed in terms of a compatibility between moral responsibility and determinism.

Rex Allen has recommended to this end:

On the compatibilism side, maybe Daniel Dennett’s “Elbow Room”?
On the incompatibilist side…maybe Galen Stawson’s “Freedom and Belief”?
Here is a recent article in the NY Times by Strawson on free will:

Some quotes from the discussion.

Rex Allen

The only difference between you and the prisoner is that you feel free, whereas he doesn’t. But he is right, and you are wrong. You are not free.

Bruno Marchal

Since then, Artificial Intelligence Research is born, and Mechanist theories have gone through the Gödel, and the Church-Turing “revolution”. Now many are open to the idea that machine can be conscious, and it is not far stretched to defend the idea that they can have a sort of free will similar to our own.

A clever computer is a computer which take a time before choosing its user.

John Mikes

“Enslavement” is a term I would be careful to use in such discussion because of its historic – societal general meaning. We – in my opinion – are not slaves in the unlimited everything: we are part of it.Embedded into and influenced by all of it.

We just do not see beyond our limitations – my agnosticism.

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