The news has seen a recent influx of demonstrations around the world, from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Morocco, to our own Wisconsin and Ohio. These public displays of free will are all examples of people’s attempts to stay true to personal beliefs in spite of the way of their cultural environments, illustrating the human potential to see the possibilities of the future and to choose one.
Now, the problem most have with free will is its apparent incompatibility with deterministic scientific perspectives, and for those whom this trouble irks, consider this. An objective view from above a labyrinth would let one map it, and determine all permutations of moves someone might make to solve it. The entirety of paths one may take and the constraints for their order are predetermined by the structure of the labyrinth. The actions the agent can take, and the environment where they are taken, must be determined for the agent to do anything besides just react with the chaos around it.
And yet, the subject inside the labyrinth freely solves it, even if they have knowledge of its objective nature; the agent is in control of its actions and chooses when and where to execute them. In fact, the subject’s decision making process is determining. The determining of what must necessarily be a determined process is the essence of choice. While things are both predetermined and determined from the objective perspective, the subjective one is the determining relation between them. Just as choice doesn’t really exist in the deterministic domain, the lack of choice can’t exist in the subjective, as they are both inherent to the structure of their realms.
The difference between the free will of a wolf and that of a human is only a matter of awareness. Both decide between simulations of potential futures to take the best course of action, humans are just aware that we do so. While awareness adds an entirely new mental dimension to the decision process, the structure of the process remains the same. Our imagination, our dreams, our beliefs, the graces of our conscious perspective gives us creative control over our destinies, if we are determined. We generate our cultural reality, a force powerful enough to transform the global landscape, and should therefore be able to choose to change it.
Freedom lies at the heart of the American Dream. This concept of freedom as the road to possibility and prosperity, after driving the exhaustion of better physical lands, has led us to this current streamlined culture of consumerism. While this is one free way to have a free culture, it doesn’t support other cultures that don’t fit its rigid economic structure. While this is the reason for the enormous progress of a country less than three-hundred years old, our progress is being used to profit as well as prosper.
People cannot deny freedom of belief, only suppress its expression. Here in Portland, and everywhere, we should strive the American Dream a free culture created by the people every day. A culture that is always changing for the better, does not alienate through rigid adherence to one culture, encourages achievement based on ability, judges not for commercial but personal contribution, in a realization of our collective collaboration for creative good. A better land where we help each other prosper through embracing the diversity of freedom.