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

Post by beanyan »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:14 am Of course we have free will. We have no choice.
Of course if Gotama did not believe in free will he would have become a disciple of Makkhali Gosala who the canon says taught that you are automatically liberated after X rebirths just because you reached the magic number of rebirths.
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Dhammanando
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Re: Did the Buddha teach we have choice? (aka The Great Free Will v Determinism Debate)

Post by Dhammanando »

beanyan wrote: Thu Apr 16, 2020 7:08 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:14 am Of course we have free will. We have no choice.
Of course if Gotama did not believe in free will he would have become a disciple of Makkhali Gosala who the canon says taught that you are automatically liberated after X rebirths just because you reached the magic number of rebirths.
To argue, "Someone of Makkhali's view would reject free will, therefore someone who rejects free will would be of Makkhali's view" is to commit the fallacy of affirming the consequent. (P → Q,Q) → P

There are countless views besides Makkhali's which, if held, would logically entail the rejection of free will.
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta
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Dhammanando
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Re: Did the Buddha teach we have choice? (aka The Great Free Will v Determinism Debate)

Post by Dhammanando »

Dhammanando wrote: Thu Apr 16, 2020 8:23 am "One of Makkhali's view would reject free will,
An afterthought...

It occurs to me that there's a more elementary problem in beanyan's argument: rejection of free will would not necessarily be entailed by Makkhali's view, at least as we know it from the suttas. To hold that the actions beings perform are soteriologically irrelevant because everybody is liberated after they've reincarnated enough times doesn't amount to taking any particular stand on the free will question. That is, it would be equally compatible with a determinist, a voluntarist or a compatibilist understanding of willed actions.
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta
beanyan
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Re: Did the Buddha teach we have choice? (aka The Great Free Will v Determinism Debate)

Post by beanyan »

Dhammanando wrote: Thu Apr 16, 2020 12:24 pm
Dhammanando wrote: Thu Apr 16, 2020 8:23 am "One of Makkhali's view would reject free will,
An afterthought...

It occurs to me that there's a more elementary problem in beanyan's argument: rejection of free will would not necessarily be entailed by Makkhali's view, at least as we know it from the suttas. To hold that the actions beings perform are soteriologically irrelevant because everybody is liberated after they've reincarnated enough times doesn't amount to taking any particular stand on the free will question. That is, it would be equally compatible with a determinist, a voluntarist or a compatibilist understanding of willed actions.
The Purana who said beings become deiled for no reason etc.
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Dhammanando
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Re: Did the Buddha teach we have choice? (aka The Great Free Will v Determinism Debate)

Post by Dhammanando »

beanyan wrote: Thu Apr 16, 2020 3:58 pmThe Purana who said beings become deiled for no reason etc.
Actually that's still part of Makkhali's view, not Pūrāṇa Kassapa's. But I take your point, thanks. At the time of my afterthought I was thinking only of the "purification by the round of saṃsāra" part and had forgotten about this bit:
Great king, there is no cause or condition for the defilement of beings; beings are defiled without any cause or condition. There is no cause or condition for the purification of beings; beings are purified without cause or condition. There is no self-determination, no determination by others, no personal determination. There is no power, no energy, no personal strength, no personal fortitude. All sentient beings, all living beings, all creatures, all souls, are helpless, powerless, devoid of energy. Undergoing transformation by destiny, circumstance, and nature, they experience pleasure and pain in the six classes of men.
So forget the afterthought. But the earlier post still stands.
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta
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