On free will

by Voltaire.

Before you say not again, Voltaire argues that all our actions are caused. And when there are two competing activities, the dominant idea will take precedence. He writes

The will, therefore, is not a faculty that one can call free. A free will is an expression absolutely void of sense, and what the scholastics have called will of indifference, that is to say willing without cause, is a chimera unworthy of being combated.

Free will by Voltaire

He concludes by saying we can only do what we will, but we can not will what we will do.

Schopenhauer in his essay on Freewill wrote

A free will would therefore be one that was not determined by grounds; and since everything determining something else must be a ground ± a real ground, i.e., a cause, in the case of real things ± a free will would be one that was determined by nothing at all. The particular manifestations of such a will (acts of will) would therefore proceed absolutely and quite originally from itself,without being brought about necessarily by antecedent conditions, and thus without being determined by anything according to a rule. In the case of such a concept clear thinking is at an end because the principle of sufficient reason in all its meanings is the essential form of our whole faculty of cognition, yet here it is supposed to be given up. However, we are not left without even a terminus technicus for this concept; it is liberum arbitrium indifferentiae. Moreover, this is the only clearly determined, firm, and settled concept of that which is called freedom of the will. Therefore one cannot depart from it without falling into vague and hazy explanations behind which lurks a hesitant insufficiency, as when one speaks of grounds that do not necessarily bring about their consequents. Every consequence of a ground is necessary, and every necessity is a consequence of a ground. From the assumption of such aliberum arbitrium indifferentiae, the immediate consequence that characterizes this concept itself and is therefore to be stated as its mark is that for a human individual endowed with it, under given external circumstances that are determined quite individually and thoroughly,two diametrically opposed actions are equally possible.

ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER Prize Essay on the Freedom of the Will

May you will what you will in this coming year!


If you have time, I suggest this post. The history of the free will problem

How faiths spread

But how do you think, then, that my religion became established? Like all the rest. A man of strong imagination made himself followed by some persons of week imagination. The flock increased; fanaticism commences, fraud achieves. A powerful man comes; he sees a crowd, ready bridled and with a bit in its teeth; he mounts and leads it.

Voltaire

the Questions of Zapata

I know most of you are familiar with the work of Voltaire: Toleration and other essays in which is found the questions of Zapata. Zapata presented his questions to a committee of doctors in 1629 which did not answer him but suppressed them.

The questions are not new, but they are quite refreshing

  • Is Genesis literal or allegorical? How did God create light before there was a sun? How could there be a day before the sun was made? How was the firmament created when there is no such thing. Was not the firmament an illusion of the ancient Greeks, who came later than the Jews?
  • Since God allowed the construction of the pyramids, how high was the tower of Babel? Did it reach the moon?
  • Exodus says the Jews remained in Egypt for 400 years. Counting carefully, only 205 years can be accounted for; why the disparity?
  • Moses took an idolater to wife. Why did God not reproach him? How could Pharaoh’s magicians change into blood all the waters since they had already been changed into blood by Moses? Led by God, why did not Moses simply take Egypt, in which God had already slain the first born? Why did they take the long and difficult way home instead of going straight to Canaan?

There are many more questions in that link that I don’t think our pious friends have answered. Maybe Ark’s friends James and Willy have answers.

Voltaire on Absolution

Hello good friends.

In Joseph Lewis book, Voltaire, he has a few quotes from the works of the man. On absolution, we learn the church had the following price list

  1. absolution for one who has carnally known his mother, his sister cost five drachmas
  2. absolution for one who has deflowered a virgin 6 drachmas
  3. for one who has revealed another’s confession 7 drachmas
  4. for one who has killed his father, mother 5 drachmas.

And in another area where I have constantly asked the same questions, that of prohibitions

Voltaire asks

were the Jewish ladies intimate with goats? You assert that your mothers had no commerce with he-goats nor your fathers with she-goats. But pray, gentlemen, why are you the only people upon this earth whose laws have forbidden such commerce? Would any legislator ever have thought of promulgating this extraordinary law if the offence had not been common?

Voltaire’s biggest undoing was to suppress the work of Jean Messlier. To make our atheist a deist.