Wednesday, 20 October 2010

david j larkin on existential determinism

David J Larkin lays down an interesting point here. In a nutshell, he is forwarding the idea that our previous actions have a profound influence on our status and 'being' and humans rather than external influences such as friends and hobbies. Although granted, that these can certainly be contributing factors to our 'being'.

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Existential (Experiential) Determinism

"The doctrine of existential determinism recognises that antecedents are essential to identity, that is, integral to 'who we are'--defining factors integral to our 'being'--rather than extraneous influences or characteristics of an 'external agency'.

Although we cannot choose our primitive state(s) of being, once capable of interaction, we influence and are influenced (in turn) by our environment; in the process, we appropriate these influences (or antecedents) and our 'being' evolves. It is critical to emphasise that, as cognitive creatures, we appropriate these influences--they cease to be external to our 'being'. These appropriated antecedents represent the complete or collective cause--and importantly, can be viewed as a unique collective-subconscious. As we 'grow', what 'stimulates' or determines our 'response' is a measure of both the immediate extraneous-influence and what we have appropriated; and what we have appropriated 'defines' us as individuals. To strip-away the antecedents would be to render our 'being' barren, that is, to strip-away the antecedents would be to strip-away the characteristics that render and identify us as unique cognitive-entities.

Therefore, when we act, 'we' act--when we choose, 'we' choose. We choose in the context of our 'being' and the context of our 'being' is inseparable from our appropriated antecedents. To regard those antecedents as 'external' is nonsense. This in turn makes a nonsense of 'what will happen will happen regardless of what we do'--which is not to say that events aren't determined, however, it does not follow that events are either predetermined or (consequently) predictable. Furthermore, it is only within this context of appropriation that the notion of 'self caused' becomes credible--but not in the sense of 'without cause'.

Summary

The concept of connectedness within identity appears to be misunderstood or ignored in the examination of issues pertaining to free will and determinism. Existential determinism recognises that antecedents are essential to identity, that is, integral to 'who we are'--defining factors integral to our 'being'--rather than extraneous influences or characteristics of an 'external agency'.

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If 'we' choose, are we blameworthy or praiseworthy, indeed are we responsible? If we perpetrate a particular action, we are indeed responsible in at least a simplistic sense, but whether we should be held accountable, praised, or reviled would depend (in part) upon whether we were 'free' to act."

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