On free will

I think the whole free will – determinism discussion is pointless, because it’s about two extremes neither of which represents reality. Free will advocates who claim our will is completeley free of whatever influence are wrong (because our will is embedded in circumstance) – and so are determinists who claim everything is completely predetermined (because there is always room for choice). And both claims are (imho) dangerous: the idea of absolute free will results in people ignoring the circumstances that affect their choices, determinism leads to victimhood and the avoidance of responsibility.

I am an existentialist. This means I acknowledge that we were born without our will, we were thrown into this world, not having been able to choose when we were born, or where, to which parents, we did not choose our gender, our skin color, our physical limitations, etc.. But given the set of circumstances we live in, we do have choices. We constantly choose, small choices and big choices. We have to, it’s inherent to being alive. Like Jean-Paul Sartre said: We are condemned to choose.

And it is this freedom to choose what it is all about. We are free to choose who we want to be – given our own set of circumstances. We do have a free will in the sense that we are free to choose within the limitations life has set for us. What’s more important is that your will is your own will. Your choices have to come from what you want to do and who you want to become – not be imposed upon you by someone else. What’s important is that you acknowledge that it is you who chooses, it is your choice, and it is your responsibility. By choosing and accepting that responsibility you make it your will. And that’s what matters, that’s what constitutes freedom.