I saw Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhumi, a beautiful Malayalam movie made by Samir Thahir and acted on by Dulquer Salman and Sunny Wein. It is a new genre in Malayalam. To summarize it, I enjoyed it (Even the Pondy gal in swimsuit ). The theme of the movie was to travel. Though the motive of the travel was to find the protagonist’s lost love (a bit filmy huh!) mixed with dogmas, politics and the evergreen concept of freedom. The Hero believes and lives his life by the ideal “My Destiny, My Decisions”.
In this write-up, I am trying to paraphrase my thoughts on that.
I have always wanted to believe in “Free will”, but my doubts lingered on the possibility of fate during my formative years. Earlier, the doubts had to do with certain ‘helplessness’ associated with life. During my late teenage years, I was an ardent fan of Karma. I wanted to be an idealist. I wanted life to be fair. Karma was ideal. Karma was an ideal ideal. It was fair. It was simple. It dealt with cause and effect, it supported free will. The only drawback it had were lack of empirical proof. A leap of faith was required, that put it on equal footing with organized religion. I detested it. The truth should not be based on a leap of faith, it could be based on evidence, even imagination. But faith, I don’t think so. May be faith can be used as an initial hypothesis similar to a mathematical derivation. I used faith, lived with it for a while, and prodded karma in the Hindu way of philosophical inquiry.
Sadly, It was flawed. Or rather, my understanding of it is flawed. If Karma was to be true, it had to be true from the sub-atomic level to cosmic level. It was too anthropocentric. It was a good starting point or a resting place, similar to moving from Geo-centric world view to Heliocentric view. So, the Karma view was becoming inconvenient and hence false. And the possibility of Upper class Hindus using it to observe supremacy over backward classes was getting stronger (Similar to Christian whites supporting Slavery by claiming racial supremacy over Africans, third world inhabitants and new world natives.) The Brahmins were using the logic of Karma to observe supremacy over other classes by virtue of birth. Its widespread appeal was political in the case of upper-class and Amor-fati (An attitude or acceptance that happiness and suffering are both good) in the case of downtrodden masses. Both used it. Both seemed to be content until imperialists and new age reformists came.
These days, I am leaning more towards “Determinism”, that too Hard Determinism, Which rejects free-will altogether. (I will get to Determinism in a bit)
There is a concept of Vidhi along with Karma in Hinduism, (N.B. Vidhi is absent in Buddhism, Jainism etc., but these beliefs contain Karma) Vidhi along with Karma is Compatabilism (Free will coexisting with Determinism.) Vidhi alone is Hard Determinism, The etymology of Vidhi means ‘effect’ or ‘to bring about’. Also, there is a school of thought in Hinduism which propounds Karma as completely Deterministic.
So, I am against Karma, but with Vidhi alone.. Only Hard determinism, but no compatabilism.
let me dish out the arguments against “Hard determinism”.
1) There is no scope for God if Determinism is true, – Precisely my point.
2) Absence for explanation of ‘mind’ and ‘soul’. The dichotomy of mind and body is to be negated by the Determinism. In other words, the idea of mind and body as different entities is wrong. Your mind is your body. Your brain is a beautiful prankster unaware of its own pranks. Wanna see: A cool illusion Checker shadow illusion.
3) Ludic Fallacy: Though Ludic fallacy is not against hard determinism. However, using hard determinism to deduce or predict certain events especially in financial or managements situations is flawed is what it mostly say.
4) Life: Definition of life is itself grey, as viruses and computer programs have come to our understanding. Anyways, the possibility of life being purely materialistic exists. If life is ‘Consciousness’, Consciousness as we know is lost in case of deep sleep and coma stages. More or less, According to Squire in ‘Fundamental neuroscience‘ mentions that Consciousness is a state-dependent property of some undefined complex, adaptive, and highly interconnected biological system. Well, then that is consciousness, so is life.
So, in the case of Death, this connection between this biological system is lost and eternal oblivion creeps in for that consciousness or life.
Now support for “Hard Determinism”, It is supported by many scientists in the field of ‘cognitive sciences’ and ‘evolutionary psychology’. Recently neuro-scientists were able to predict choices based on mapping the brain based on chemical and electrical impulses.
It is to be noted that infinite forms are possible from a finite set of rules and parameters. Similarly, an illusion of free will is created from generation of infinite behavior from a finite set of basic laws.
May be this line of thought also led to a search for a ‘universal law of everything’. It is possible to have one similar to laws that govern ‘Game of life’ by Conway, Wikipedia article for ” Game of life”. One thing can be certain, the rules will be simple, Only the eventualities are complex.
A high school student is aware of “reaction to stimuli” in Animal and plant kingdom. The biologists developing culture is very much aware of what to feed and what to expect. It is repeatable. It is an experiment. It is science. It is mechanical.
May be, we are limiting the choices of the cells, rats, microbes by forcing to choose the only option we have for them. The lab workers are eliminating all other choices and thereby avoiding the possibility of any will.
It’s a valid argument, But, that is how determinism works. The circumstances(the surroundings, the system, call it whatever you want) eliminates all possible options and you are left with just one course of action. Then magically you do what you are about to do. All under the false premise of a free will.
That’s all folks..
The only trouble with lack of free will is in the field of morality and thereby judiciary. You cannot punish someone if he has limited or no control of his actions.
That’s true. And, I acknowledge the trouble.
I am open to comments, questions and doubts.. I am no Mr. Know it all after all. But this is just what I think.. (I think all this goes without saying..)