Posted: December 16, 2014 in Integral Studies, Philosophical Debris

Determinism, an offshoot of the materialism that is prevalent in the Rational (Orange) world view, states that human action, individual and collected, is as predetermined and a result of scientific laws of causality as is the movement of the planets, or of billiard balls on a pool table. Consciousness and will power, it seems, are an illusion for many reasons, not the least of which is that it smacks of a “soul” or an unknown spiritual (i.e. non-physical) power, and that would be contrary to materialism. It is a reaction to the Pre-Rational, religious ideas of soul, spirit and self determination, wanting to throw out Will with the rest of the bathwater.

And yet Rationalism and Materialism value, above all else, scientific and empirical data, setting the objective high above the subjective.

This is important because, to my mind, what could be more empirical than each individuals personal experience of making a decision and carrying it out? My empirical experience of having the ability to carry out my decisions, along with similar experiences felt by almost all humans, belie the idea of Determinism on the most basic level. If fact, if there was a person who strongly felt and acted that he was a “robot”, strictly controlled by external forces, we would suspect that they were mentally ill in some capacity. Even staunch Determinists do not live their lives as if they had no will power.

In response, Determinists might claim that I’m using a subjective experience as if it were an objective one. I disagree. The universality of the experience is objective. Plus, the experience of being in control is no more or less empirical than experiencing, say, the colour red. While scientists may wish to qualify the experience of colour, or explain it in terms of physics, its existence is still accepted as fact.

Neuro scientists have done many studies showing that often an impulse from the brain will arise from its depths (sub-conscious or primitive brain stem), moving us to action before consciousness kicks in. But, on the other hand, there are also studies that demonstrate that conscious, decisive action can mediate such automatic responses and even work to influence and change them.

Hence, it seems, the Pre-Rational world believed that, as a divine being, man was a self determining animal. In fact it was the thing that placed him above the other animals. The Rational world view threw all of that out in the name of materialism and science, yielding Determinism. But as we dig deeper, we find that while many of our actions may be determined by subconscious or purely automatic reflexes, there is still an element of self-determination, which can be called consciousness. There is still the ability to make decisions and, more importantly, to self program those automatic reactions. This begs the question “Who is doing the self programming?” To which we have to respond, some conscious element of ourselves which is beyond determinism. This is the Trans-Rational view, which includes an acceptance of the Rational, but also returns to an aspect of the Pre-Rational in an informed and more enlightened way.

I think this is a common trend. When one explores the Rational to great depths, such as Quantum Physics or Neuropsychology, one begins to understand that the purely rational, logical interpretations that originated with Newton and Descartes have limitations. These are often the result of the Objective view completely denying the Subjective view. Even Descartes said, “I think therefore I am.”


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