Sunday, November 4, 2012
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Free will is one of the subjects we question on a daily basis. I have come to some of my own quasi-conclusions but as with all open-ended studies, there is no ultimate answer. Anyone who purports to have definitive answer is speaking on the basis of belief. My own meditation on the concept started when I was taking a class on Milton and we were in deep discussion about Paradise Lost. I was fortunate enough to have an exceptionally brilliant teacher for the class and so the study was far more worthwhile than it may have been. Milton's Satan sought to be his own master, to have true free will but this meant defying God's will and early on declared "better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." This line is overly quoted but sparks a debate and discussion on the matter of individual control. The reality is that we are driven by so many needs and wants that free will seems impossible. We must eat, we must sleep, and most of us are compelled to do so much more. People go to work every day because they have to, not because they choose to. The addict gets another hit because he or she has to, rarely because of want. We respond to each other in automated methods or of of emotion that are challenging, if not impossible, to control. The interesting part of this discussion is that people are the being that conceptualized free will. We developed the idea, gave it a name, built nations, lived, and died with this concept yet as the most complex system known, we must follow more rules and regulations than any other organism. If complexity leads us further from independence, what does simplicity lead to? A single atom in space is bound by little and moves about with minimal rules, but it does with no knowledge. We have knowledge and understanding of the concept but are at a distant point from the reality. This is a horrible idea to believe for we have the ability to gain knowledge and understanding to explore the infinitude of freedom with purpose and organize it into our own beautiful world. That statement highlights were we can escape the trap and why we are so driven to create. Art, of any kind, liberates the individual from all things and provides the creator complete control within the medium. As an exercise of medium, art limits the maker to very specific elements but freedom within those areas and transient space within the mind of the maker to feel, and therefore, be free. The painter can only work with certain materials, the musician is tied to the instrument, the potter forms clay but they find a place of their own in the process of creating. This place is where free will does exist and provides a crucial explanation for our need to create beyond the enjoyment of cool stuff.