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Spinoza, Baruch - Ethics - Will and free will

Identifier

014189

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

The universe is 'operated' by a system - in effect there is one integrated system of the universe - like a massive computer package

Mind is part of that overall package, as such the inter-relationships and functions of the mind including the will are preprogrammed - in the same sense that a decision support system can be pre-programmed.  It is possible to produce a program that makes decisions based on certain ules, but the actual outcome at any one time will depend on the actual inputs. 

It is important philosophically to make the distinction between classes - entities and functions and function dependencies and occurrences of these.

Thus free will can only be said to exist according to the rules of the decision making process encapsulated within the Will.

The second aspect of free will is our ability to choose a course of action.  Yet again, however, the options open to us will be limited by firstly the functions we have been allocated or learnt and second which functions can logically follow from the ones available.  We are thus free to choose but from a range of possible options which are again limited by what functions are available to us.

A description of the experience

Baruch Spinoza - Ethics

 The will cannot be called a free cause, but only a necessary one.  The will, like the intellect, is only a certain mode of thinking.  And so each volition can neither exist nor be determined to produce an effect unless it is determined by another cause, and this cause again by another and so on, to infinity.  Even if the will be supposed to be infinite,  it must still be determined to exist and produce an effect by God.

And from this it follows that God does not produce any effect by freedom of the will.  Will cannot be called a free cause, but only a necessary and compelled one.

The source of the experience

Spinoza, Baruch

Concepts, symbols and science items

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Commonsteps

References