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Free will vs determinism essay writer

Apr 25, 2018

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10 November 2016

The argument of whether we humans are pre determined to turn out how we are and act the way we do or if we are our own decision makers and have the freedom to choose our paths in life is a long-standing controversy. The ideas of Sartre, Freud, and Darwin are each strong in their own manner, yet Sartre presents the best and most realistic argument as to how we choose our path; we are in control of the things we do and responsible for the decisions we make.

Not only this, but also, our decisions have an effect on our peer’s choices, just as theirs affect ours. In this paper, I will argue that Jean-Paul Sartre makes the best argument of the three philosophers in saying we can choose our own path and direction in life because as humans we are consciously aware of what is going on around us and base our decisions on that. During the mid 1900s, when Jean-Paul Sartre began publishing his ideas, his reasons for free will and disbelief in determined human nature began to show up.

He is an atheist existentialist; therefore, he believes that philosophy is directly related to individual’s emotions, responsibilities, actions, thought, and “if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence” (Sartre 187). This means simply that man first exists, discovers himself, and then goes on to define who he is. With this, Sartre believes strongly that individuals have an innate freedom to choose the meaning of their lives based on the decisions they make. He talks in his exposition titled Existentialism and Humanism, about how man begins with nothing and no purpose.

He proceeds to say, “He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself. Thus, there is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it” (188). His quote is explaining that when we are born, we are not who we are going to be in our lives. Who we grow to be is all dependent on the decisions we make throughout our life and how we are affected by the people around us. Our freedom to choose what we do and our consciousness are directly related; therefore, we make each of our choices for a reason.

With each and every decision we make in our lives, we are shaping our purpose and our meaning, but in making our own choices, we have to take on the responsibilities that come with that power. Every individual needs to be accountable for his own actions. Sartre explains in his exposition, “I cannot obtain any truth whatsoever about myself, except through the mediation of another” (199). This is saying that we need others to help us form our own decisions create and image of how we are to be perceived.

It is our responsibility to establish our own value and make the best choices for us and our peers. Sartre goes on to argue, “When we say that man is responsible for himself, we do not mean that he is responsible only for his own individuality, but that he is responsible for all men” (188). As individuals part of a larger group of humans, we must come to the understanding that all of our choices will affect our peers and have an impact on the decisions they will choose to make which in return affect us. Many people turn to a higher power to pawn off responsibility for their actions.

For example, acts of terrorism are often blamed on a higher power “speaking” to the group of terrorists telling them to do this, however, this higher power does not exist and the responsibility is completely on the individuals. Our choices and actions create an image of humanity and human nature; therefore, we must consciously make decisions that will benefit our group as a whole. In reading part three of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, I had a difficult time finding where in there free will could be seen.

After reading thorough it again, it began to show up that the citizens really didn’t have total freedom. Their decisions were being controlled by the individuals in the government, therefore, preventing them from having true free will. Although in today’s society we are still be controlled by the government just as Winston is in the story, Sartre’s argument of free will still exists. We can still make our own choices to do what we want, but as he said we are also still responsible for our actions, whichever they may be. Sigmund Freud is a philosopher who is well known for his studies in child development.

He believed strongly that the choices that are made for you as a child are ones that will shape who you are as you get older. As far as free will, Freud believes it is something in which we like to think that we have, but really our life is already chosen for us. The way our life is chosen during the child development period is specific and unique for each and every human being because we all encounter different experiences. To Freud, our actions are chosen by an unconscious force, therefore, leaving us no room for free will.

As mentioned before, Freud says that we like to think that we have free will, but in reality it is just unconsciously predetermined thoughts which shape our decisions. He argues in Totem and Taboo, “If one of them undergoes psycho-analytic treatment, which makes what is unconscious in him conscious, he will be unable to believe that thoughts are free will…” (101). With this, he says that because we like to think we have free will, we also believe strongly in superstitions Other determinist philosophers, such as Skinner, believe that there are some behaviors and actions which are not predictable, however, Freud argues otherwise.

His method of thinking is incorrect because as Sartre says, our choices are made by free will and have an effect on others. This effect on others is the reason for their decisions; therefore, it is not the result on an innate predetermined force. Charles Darwin is well known for his evolutionist theories on how we developed from apes into the human being we are today. His most famous idea is that of natural selection, also known as survival of the fittest. He argues that we are a result of a “blind process” of man changing based on the environments we are placed in.

He says that animals adapt physically to their settings through bodily transformations whereas humans adapt to their environments with a change in their habitual behavior passed down through inheritance. Charles Darwin writes in The Descent of Man, “Thus the social and moral qualities would tend slowly to advance and be diffused throughout the world” (166). Darwin strongly argues this point that we are determined by the social changes made by our ancestors. He believes that these changes are made over a large period of time and then slowly be acquired by others.

With this, it can be concluded that Darwin believes we are determined by pre-existing factors especially the habitual changes of our ancestors. Sartre prepares the best argument out of the 3 philosophers to explain our method of choosing our paths in life. We are not unconsciously choosing based on our child development as Freud implies, and we are not who we are based on the process of natural selection which our ancestors have gone through just like Darwin suggests.

We are, in fact, the result of choices both ourselves and others have made and the effects that these decisions create on society. We are all held accountable for our actions and are not to blame a higher power for choosing our courses when we negatively affect others. In lacking a higher power we have no other source of value to turn to other than our own actions. From Sartre’s argument, it is clear to see that we are given the freedom to choose our purpose in life and are presented with a conscious free will in all situations.

When more and more people are thrown out of work, unemployment results. Calvin Coolidge I live in a village where people still care about each other, largely. Jan Karon People with a sense of humor tend to be less egocentric and more realistic in their view of the world and more humble in moments of success and less defeated in times of travail. Bob Newhart We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. Abraham Lincoln We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. Charles R. Swindoll I don't want to be just known for the way I dress. I want to be known for how I play, how I treat people, and how I am as a role model. I don't just want to be, 'He dresses cool' or 'He dresses crazy.' You're going to have lovers and haters. I want my golf game to be the main thing. Rickie Fowler I try to explain to people that the only way to be cool is to be who you truly are, and the only way to live life is to do the things that you want to do and be the person that you want to be no matter who that is or what that is or how you have to do it. That's the only way you can be genuinely happy. Tucker Max If you make decisions based upon people's reactions or judgments then you make really boring choices. Heath Ledger I like to see myself as a bridge builder, that is me building bridges between people, between races, between cultures, between politics, trying to find common ground. T. D. Jakes True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. Franklin D. Roosevelt We have a lot of people that are oppressed. We have a lot of people that aren't treated equally, aren't given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about, need to be brought to life, and we need to fix those. Colin Kaepernick When you look at people who are successful, you will find that they aren't the people who are motivated, but have consistency in their motivation. Arsene Wenger The more people rationalize cheating, the more it becomes a culture of dishonesty. And that can become a vicious, downward cycle. Because suddenly, if everyone else is cheating, you feel a need to cheat, too. Stephen Covey I refuse to accept other people's ideas of happiness for me. As if there's a 'one size fits all' standard for happiness. Kanye West Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know. Ernest Hemingway Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained. Helen Keller A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead The unreal is more powerful than the real, because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it, because it's only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles, wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. Chuck Palahniuk Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. John Wooden When you hear the word 'disabled,' people immediately think about people who can't walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted. But I find the real disability is people who can't find joy in life and are bitter. Teri Garr We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken. Fyodor Dostoevsky There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. Josh Billings People say satire is dead. It's not dead; it's alive and living in the White House. Robin Williams I think fitness is important. I think a healthy lifestyle is important. I think putting positive energy out there is important and just staying connected with the people. LL Cool J The biggest hurdle is rejection. Any business you start, be ready for it. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the successful people do all the things the unsuccessful people don't want to do. When 10 doors are slammed in your face, go to door number 11 enthusiastically, with a smile on your face. John Paul DeJoria Serious and intense people, they drain you. But someone who's an idiot, like myself, they're fun. You either hate me or you love me. Pauly Shore The rainbow is a part of nature, and you have to be in the right place to see it. It's beautiful, all of the colors, even the colors you can't see. That really fit us as a people because we are all of the colors. Our sexuality is all of the colors. We are all the genders, races, and ages. Gilbert Baker I feel that people are basically trying to do their best in the world. Even when you see people making mistakes, you understand why they're making a mistake. Everybody has flaws, everybody has demons, everybody has ghosts, but I think you watch people and you see everybody trying to do their best. Jason Katims Sustainable development requires human ingenuity. People are the most important resource. Dan Shechtman There's almost no food that isn't genetically modified. Genetic modification is the basis of all evolution. Things change because our planet is subjected to a lot of radiation, which causes DNA damage, which gets repaired, but results in mutations, which create a ready mixture of plants that people can choose from to improve agriculture. Nina Fedoroff There are horrible people who, instead of solving a problem, tangle it up and make it harder to solve for anyone who wants to deal with it. Whoever does not know how to hit the nail on the head should be asked not to hit it at all. Friedrich Nietzsche What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet. No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled or uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people. Robert Kennedy But people who really know me, know that I am not a bad boy at heart... I am a big teddy bear. A. J. McLean Many people look at me and think they know me but they don't at all. This is the real me. I am a humble person, a feeling person. A person who cares about others, who wants to help others. Cristiano Ronaldo

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