Freedom of Will: a Philosophical Problem?

Published: 16th October 2014 06:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2014 06:07 AM   |  A+A-


BANGALORE: I see a 15 or 16-year-old adolescent. I observe her facial features - droopy, flickering eyes, her body language - waving, abrupt gestures while laughing, legs in careless disarray while sitting, and her speech - impulsive and uncertain, at times ignorantly rude.

I observe her clothing - undersized. Glaring pink and orange top paired with blue jeans and I infer a lot about her; not judging her but studying her without motive.

I know for certain (fallibility admitted) in what sort of an impoverished environment she must have been brought up and what damage has already been done to her personality. I gauge what could be perhaps her maximum reach of growth (as a human). I try foreseeing it and sadly it isn't much.

I believe that we make our own destiny and our actions change the course of our lives. In contrast I observe and sense that she and so many others like her; are each bound by the psychological damage of innumerable kinds - irrational fears, inhibitions, suspicions, habituations, repressions and the like. I question myself, assuming, that given what I foresee is true, do each one of us come to this planet only to make limited, fettered movements, only to drudge through a life of suffering and occasional happiness?

Are we all already so permanently paralysed by teenage that one can never recoup and grow? Is this true? Is this true for most? Does freedom of will germinate at a certain phase of human development? Prior to it, are we largely driven by our psychological attributes alone? Who germinates freedom of will? Does natural evolution bring it about? If one's own self manifests choices, restrictive or liberating, it would already imply his/her freedom of will, wouldn't it? If only natural evolution brings freedom, then, are we most of us, here merely to endure the play of time?

I remind myself of Charles Dickens' words, "I wear the chain I forged in life….I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it."

I rationalise in a corner of my mind that a human does have freedom of will which gets covered and eventually discovered. Yet, I am not satisfied. Freedom of will is an age old philosophical problem.

I have read the theories on it but this observation and inquiry is not about finding an answer; it is about the predicament of seeing the sorrow of delimited human existence in fellow humans and still being able to let it be. And not being able to change anything. Of being delimited when we can be free.

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