Did the Buddha teach we have choice? (aka The Great Free Will v Determinism Debate)

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Sam Vara
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Re: Free Will

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:12 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:46 pm
I would contend that this Free Will question is of the same type as those above.
Does free will exist?

...no...

Does free will not exist?

...no...

Does free will both exist, and not exist?

...no...

Does free will neither exist nor not exist?

...no...

Vaccha, the position that 'free will exists' is a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. It is accompanied by suffering, distress, despair, & fever, and it does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation; to calm, direct knowledge, full Awakening, Unbinding.
Some might claim that - unlike the imponderable questions - the Buddha did provide a definitive answer to this one. It is contained in one of the standard formulations of right view:
"And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view. And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions.
and his focus upon kamma as the means whereby people purify themselves.

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Re: Free Will

Post by Pseudobabble » Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:49 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:12 pm
Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:46 pm
I would contend that this Free Will question is of the same type as those above.
Does free will exist?

...no...

Does free will not exist?

...no...

Does free will both exist, and not exist?

...no...

Does free will neither exist nor not exist?

...no...

Vaccha, the position that 'free will exists' is a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. It is accompanied by suffering, distress, despair, & fever, and it does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation; to calm, direct knowledge, full Awakening, Unbinding.
Some might claim that - unlike the imponderable questions - the Buddha did provide a definitive answer to this one. It is contained in one of the standard formulations of right view:
"And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view. And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions.
and his focus upon kamma as the means whereby people purify themselves.

I don't quite understand - could you expand on this please.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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Sam Vara
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Re: Free Will

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:26 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:49 pm
I don't quite understand - could you expand on this please.
Yes, sorry - I should have been clearer.

In his references to kamma, or action, the Buddha says that we are responsible for what we do, and its results. Our actions are what cause us to have certain experiences; were we to act differently, then our experiences would be different. This would be incompatible with a form of strict determinism which would write our actions out of the picture, and focus on causes completely outside of ourselves.

In saying (in the formulation of right view) that there is something given, he is highlighting the agency involved. It's more than something - the gift - merely moving around in space; there is a giver, someone who acts. It's not behaviour, which is conditioned. Actions have agency, such that the actor is free to do otherwise. Without that agency, there could be no morality, and no human activity could be more meritorious than any other.

The questions that the Buddha left unanswered might well feature in lists of metaphysical questions that we, today, find difficult, and such a list might also feature the problem of free will. But it's possible that the Buddha didn't include the free will question in those imponderable questions because the answer was already implicit in other aspects of his teaching.

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Re: Free Will

Post by Pseudobabble » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:40 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:26 pm
Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:49 pm
I don't quite understand - could you expand on this please.
Yes, sorry - I should have been clearer.

In his references to kamma, or action, the Buddha says that we are responsible for what we do, and its results. Our actions are what cause us to have certain experiences; were we to act differently, then our experiences would be different. This would be incompatible with a form of strict determinism which would write our actions out of the picture, and focus on causes completely outside of ourselves.

In saying (in the formulation of right view) that there is something given, he is highlighting the agency involved. It's more than something - the gift - merely moving around in space; there is a giver, someone who acts. It's not behaviour, which is conditioned. Actions have agency, such that the actor is free to do otherwise. Without that agency, there could be no morality, and no human activity could be more meritorious than any other.

The questions that the Buddha left unanswered might well feature in lists of metaphysical questions that we, today, find difficult, and such a list might also feature the problem of free will. But it's possible that the Buddha didn't include the free will question in those imponderable questions because the answer was already implicit in other aspects of his teaching.
I understand. I rather think that free will and determinism resemble other similarly aligned false dIchotomies like mind/matter. From the present, the future looks free, and the past fixed, but such was the truth at every point in time. It seems we have free will, but whether or not we do is, I would hazard, unprovable.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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Sam Vara
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Re: Free Will

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:46 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:40 pm

I understand. I rather think that free will and determinism resemble other similarly aligned false dIchotomies like mind/matter. From the present, the future looks free, and the past fixed, but such was the truth at every point in time. It seems we have free will, but whether or not we do is, I would hazard, unprovable.
Yes, you make a sound point, in that it certainly is a dichotomy, and deciding the issue one way or another would certainly be beyond my pay grade! I tend to favour the free will side of the debate because it looks more like common sense to me, and also that I would have to unravel my understanding of what the Buddha meant if I thought that his teaching did not presuppose free will.

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Re: Free Will

Post by paul » Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:10 pm

:goodpost: Sam Vara: "But it's possible that the Buddha didn't include the free will question in those imponderable questions because the answer was already implicit in other aspects of his teaching.”

It is true that the identity of the conventional being who exercises the volition that makes or doesn’t make kamma is a significant presence implicit in the teaching.
“The two truths- ultimate and conventional- appear in that form only in the commentaries, but are implied in a sutta distinction of ‘explicit (or direct) meaning’ (nitattha) and ‘implicit meaning (to be inferred)’ (neyyattha).” Buddhist Dictionary, Nyanatiloka

Imponderables:
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
It should be pointed out that the investigation of cause and effect is a necessary task in the achievement of mundane right view, but that the precise identification of the result of every action should not be attempted.

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L.N.
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Re: Free Will

Post by L.N. » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:59 am

I would invite someone to provide a coherent explanation of the difference between "choice" outcomes and "random" outcomes. Assuming that determinism is not true, then how does a "choice" outcome (or "free will" outcome) differ in substance from a "random" outcome?

Context:
L.N. wrote:
Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:42 pm
...
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=6322
...
This six-year-old thread goes on for 23 contentious pages, until finally, on the last page, the following observation is made:
acinteyyo wrote:This is one of the worst threads I've ever seen. You guys are repeating yourselves over and over again...
I want to drag your attention to one thing, namely you are approaching the question from different points-of-view in relation to time (past, present, future), which imho is the reason for this seemingly endless ongoing discussion.

I only want to pick out Tilt's and Alex' posts to point out what I mean, because as I see it they represent the two different views from where most of the participants are approaching the issue. Both of you are right within their own appropriate point of view ...
I hope that if this topic moves forward we can, six years later, respect one another's differing views, recognizing that the expression of views which may differ from our own is ok.

I would like to offer a few thoughts for the following well-stated purpose:
Kabouterke wrote:… not as an "exposition of opinion" but as a chance to explore … and receive feedback.
(1) Assuming determinism is not true, I would like someone to provide a coherent explanation of the difference between “free will” outcomes and “random” outcomes. (This is not to imply that no such coherent explanation is possible.)

(2) “Free will” is a misnomer. “Will” suggests a self nature, otherwise a different word other than “will” would be more clear. “Free” only has meaning in the context of freedom from greed, hatred, and delusion; anything less is not “free.” Speaking in terms of “choice” can be a red herring which distracts from underlying meaningful discussion.

Metta
L.N. wrote:
Sat Sep 17, 2016 2:26 pm
davidbrainerd wrote:First you'll have to define what you mean by "outcome."
Result. For example, if a child in a store faces a choice between (1) shoplifting candy, or (2) not shoplifting candy, the "outcome" or "result" of the "choice" will be either (1) or (2) (ignoring for now that there might be additional options). The outcome therefore is the result of "choice." Please let me know if this definition is deficient. ...
chownah wrote:I don't know the exact context for introducing "random" into the conversation.
It is because I believe the discussion would move forward in a meaningful way if someone would offer a coherent explanation of the difference between (A) "choice" or "free will" outcomes/results/decisions on the one hand, and (B) "random" outcomes/results/decisions on the other hand.
chownah wrote:I am not sure that "random" is really what people want to be saying here. The word "random" is often (in statistics, for instance) taken to mean that the there is no known condition which deteremines or even influences what the outcome will be. For instance if you flip a coin and it comes up heads (for instance) you really have no idea what conditions caused it to come up heads instead of tails....and if you repeat this coin flipping many times on each flip there is no known condition which determines or even influences what each individual outcome will be....so we say that the results are random.
Exactly. As you say, “no known condition.” So what are the conditions which prompt a child in a store to chose (1) not to shoplift candy rather than (2) to shoplift candy? At the very mind-moment when the choice is made, is that choice conditioned? Or is that choice unconditioned? If it is conditioned, then is it random? If it is not random, then is it nevertheless a "free will" choice? And if so, how can we explain the difference between a random selection of (1) or (2) on the one hand, and a "free will" selection of (1) or (2) on the other hand?
chownah wrote:But there is alway some uncertainty that maybe there is some really weak force which only weakly influences the outcome. The more flips you do the more confident you will be that there is no such force or at least the the force is a very weak one.
Is the "free will" condition of the choice a very weak one? If so, how does it differ from "random"?
10. VAJIRA

Setting at Savatthi. Then, in the morning, the bhikkhuni Vajira dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Savatthi for alms.[26] When she had walked for alms in Savatthi [135] and had returned from her alms round, after her meal she went to the Blind Men's Grove for the day's abiding. Having plunged into the Blind Men's Grove, she sat down at the foot of a tree for the day's abiding.

Then Mara the Evil One, desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in the bhikkhuni Vajira, desiring to make her fall away from concentration, approached her and addressed her in verse:

34. "By whom has this being been created?
Where is the maker of the being?
Where has the being arisen?
Where does the being cease?"
Then it occurred to the bhikkhuni Vajira: "Now who is this that recited the verse — a human being or a non-human being?" Then it occurred to her: "This is Mara the Evil One, who has recited the verse desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in me, desiring to make me fall away from concentration."

Then the bhikkhuni Vajira, having understood, "This is Mara the Evil One," replied to him in verses:

35. "Why now do you assume 'a being'?
Mara, have you grasped a view?
This is a heap of sheer constructions:
Here no being is found.
36. Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word 'chariot' is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There's the convention 'a being.'

37. It's only suffering that comes to be,
Suffering that stands and falls away.
Nothing but suffering comes to be,
Nothing but suffering ceases."[27]

Then Mara the Evil One, realizing, "The bhikkhuni Vajira knows me," sad and disappointed, disappeared right there.
from here: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... bl143.html
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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L.N.
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Re: Free Will

Post by L.N. » Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:18 am

Another link: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... an.html#s1
"And what is right view? Right view, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions [of becoming]; there is right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

"And what is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are contemplatives & brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions.

"And what is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, the path factor of right view in one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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Re: Free Will

Post by pegembara » Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:50 am

Perhaps one should inquire if one's intentions are conditioned or unconditioned. The answer given is that they are dependent on contact/phassa among other things. So is our pain entirely self inflicted or not? If not, how intention("will") has to be conditioned.
"Whatever brahmans & contemplatives, teachers of kamma, who declare that pleasure & pain are self-made, even that is dependent on contact. Whatever brahmans & contemplatives, teachers of kamma, who declare that pleasure & pain are other-made, even that is dependent on contact. Whatever brahmans & contemplatives, teachers of kamma, who declare that pleasure & pain are self-made & other-made, even that is dependent on contact. Whatever brahmans & contemplatives, teachers of kamma, who declare that pleasure & pain are neither self-made nor other-made but arise spontaneously, even that is dependent on contact.

"That any brahmans & contemplatives — teachers of kamma who declare that pleasure & pain are self-made — would be sensitive to pleasure & pain otherwise than through contact: that isn't possible. That any brahmans & contemplatives — teachers of kamma who declare that pleasure & pain are other-made... self-made & other-made... neither self-made nor other-made, but arise spontaneously — would be sensitive to pleasure & pain otherwise than through contact: that isn't possible.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: Free Will

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:58 am

pegembara wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:50 am
Perhaps one should inquire if one's intentions are conditioned or unconditioned. ...
There's a short segment on this Sam Harris podcast (starting at about 2:20, and not connected with the interview, which is also quite interesting) where he discusses why intention is still important even if both the intention and the action are conditioned.
https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/is-buddhism-true

In brief, the argument (which is probably not particularly original) is that the intention allows us to have some insight into someone's mind, and how the person is likely to behave in the future. If someone accidentally bumps into you, they are not likely to do it in the future and no action is required. If they intentionally punch you, they can be presumed to be somewhat dangerous, and need to be dealt with.

:heart:
Mike

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Re: Free Will

Post by binocular » Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:28 am

Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:46 pm
Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta: To Vacchagotta on Fire wrote:"Then does Master Gotama hold the view: /.../ only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless'?"
"...no..."
The concept of free will (and determinism) seems to be imported from some other, non-Buddhist discourse, hence the problems with it when we try to make sense of it in the Buddhist context.

I think that in the Buddhist context, the near-equivalent to the concept of free will would be something like "there is the possibility for action."
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Free Will

Post by binocular » Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:44 am

L.N. wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:59 am
I would invite someone to provide a coherent explanation of the difference between "choice" outcomes and "random" outcomes. Assuming that determinism is not true, then how does a "choice" outcome (or "free will" outcome) differ in substance from a "random" outcome?
It is my impression that this is a dichotomy that is extraneous to the Buddhist discourse.

Determinism and chaotism/randomism are examples of wrong view:
"Having approached the brahmans & contemplatives who hold that... 'Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... "Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past?"' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of what was done in the past. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... a harsh speaker... an idle chatterer... greedy... malicious... a holder of wrong views because of what was done in the past.' When one falls back on what was done in the past as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected.
/.../
"Having approached the brahmans & contemplatives who hold that... 'Whatever a person experiences... is all without cause, without condition,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... "Whatever a person experiences... is all without cause, without condition?"' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings without cause, without condition. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... a harsh speaker... an idle chatterer... greedy... malicious... a holder of wrong views without cause, without condition.' When one falls back on lack of cause and lack of condition as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
In Western thought, we generally seem to think that "determinism vs. free will" or "free will vs. chaotism/randomism" are adequate dichotomies.
But on the grounds of what do we think that those dichotomies are adequate?

As far as I can tell, the dichotomy "determinism vs. free will" seems to be pragmatic, tied to our notions of justice and our felt moral need to condemn some actions (in that we have a sense that we can rightly condemn only those actions that were done freely, as opposed to those done under durress or otherwise involuntarily).
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Free Will

Post by Pseudobabble » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:46 am

L.N. wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:59 am
I would invite someone to provide a coherent explanation of the difference between "choice" outcomes and "random" outcomes. Assuming that determinism is not true, then how does a "choice" outcome (or "free will" outcome) differ in substance from a "random" outcome?

This is very interesting, and I think the heart of the matter. I would say that from the standpoint of an external observer of another's actions, there is no way to differentiate a chosen outcome from a random outcome. Hence the unprovability of free will. This is in the same vein as the unprovability of the efficacy of a stock market 'strategy', or climate change. There is no 'objective domain' where we can re-run the process, removing the factors one by one, until we understand which factor in the initial conditions or process effects which element of the outcome - ie, no way to treat the matter with the experimental method. So we are left with categorical assertions, the interaction and eventual result of which, as we all know, inevitably depends on the initial definitions of the categories, and not the actual matter itself.

That is from the perspective of an external observer. From the perspective of the practitioner, the efficacy of Dhamma derives from the fact that it is not predicated on 'objective truths' ('is the cosmos eternal, finite, etc?'), but on a method, such that the truths of Dhamma are praxeological, true by virtue of being seen and put into action.

(Please nobody freak out and rebut me on the basis of 'he said Dhamma is untrue' - that is not my meaning).
Last edited by Pseudobabble on Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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Re: Free Will

Post by Pseudobabble » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:59 am

binocular wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:28 am
Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:46 pm
Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta: To Vacchagotta on Fire wrote:"Then does Master Gotama hold the view: /.../ only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless'?"
"...no..."
The concept of free will (and determinism) seems to be imported from some other, non-Buddhist discourse, hence the problems with it when we try to make sense of it in the Buddhist context.

I think that in the Buddhist context, the near-equivalent to the concept of free will would be something like "there is the possibility for action."
I read the sutta as saying there are certain things which a) cannot be known, and b) are not relevant to liberation, and therefore c) should not be bothered with.

I rather think that free will vs determinism' is actually the same question as 'cosmos eternal vs not-eternal', 'finite vs infinite' etc. These are dichotomies which come from attempting to apply logical, categorical thinking to topics which it is not suitable for.

It's like 0 or the word 'nothing' - because these tokens have the features of magnitudes (ie, they appear to designate something), we can use them in our linguistic and mathematical systems, but it is actually the absence of designations which they try to designate. The difference is that in the case of 'cosmos finite/infinite', and 'free will/determinism', these are not useful or well formed attempts at designation.
binocular wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:28 am
I think that in the Buddhist context, the near-equivalent to the concept of free will would be something like "there is the possibility for action."
Exactly - which is to say that we seem to be able to have an effect on things, for better or worse, which makes the question 'but how do you know it wasn't going to go like that anyway?' irrelevant, and actually a hindrance (not in the technical Buddhist sense), since it makes one sit around and ponder it, rather than practising for liberation.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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Sam Vara
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Re: Free Will

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:10 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:46 am
There is no 'objective domain' where we can re-run the process, removing the factors one by one, until we understand which factor in the initial conditions or process effects which element of the outcome - ie, no way to treat the matter with the experimental method. So we are left with categorical assertions, the interaction and eventual result of which, as we all know, inevitably depends on the initial definitions of the categories, and not the actual matter itself.

That is from the perspective of an external observer. From the perspective of the practitioner, the efficacy of Dhamma derives from the fact that it is not predicated on 'objective truths' ('is the cosmos eternal, finite, etc?'), but on a method, such that the truths of Dhamma are praxeological, true by virtue of being seen and put into action.
I think this amounts to saying that free will is not an object of perception, which is why philosophical systems with an empiricist slant tend to struggle with the idea of free will. We can't know it through the senses. (The same applies to concepts such as causality and the self.) They can be known, however, as a necessary precondition of other factors, such as morality, goodness, skill, etc. This, in Western philosophy, is more akin to a Kantian way of looking at the world, and is similar to what I said above relating to the Buddha's teachings. We don't need to have evidence of free will because it is presupposed by all our conscious actions, including even the search for its existence. Richard Gombrich makes this point very skillfully (in What the Buddha Thought) when he says that sankhara are necessarily involved in all "normal" experience because the Buddha claimed that our senses are active rather than passive. We can't experience anything without actively doing something.

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