No Need to Deify: How Determinism Generates Free Will

By A. Granville Fonda.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 28, 2014 $US5.00

For much of humanity the simplest and the best explanation to date of human mental capability and free will, notwithstanding the many advances of science, is its derivation directly from God, thereby exempting from corporeal principles the evident interaction between mind and body. No explanation which lacked some such an exception has ever met with widespread favor. In the philosophical sphere the corresponding problem of free will despite determinism is in that sphere considered to be either insoluble, soluble only by the denial of either determinism or free will, or arguably soluble but not yet by consensus. -- Which enigma is one to accept, then: cold monistic perplexity, or warm dualistic mystification? Many prefer the mystification to the perplexity, and structure their lives and indeed their cultures accordingly. In ancient Greece, however, a monistic solution did originate, one which now by means of modern-day control systems theory can incorporate equally modern neuropsychological findings. At its core even in Athens was the psychological “ownership” of the deterministic chain of causation as it passes through the mind. -- When conjecturally recast in modern terms, in a brain plastically prepared by both recent and long-term experience, non-conscious awareness generates alternatives for possible action. After testing for fitness the best scenario incites in succession actual or imagined action, a post facto feeling of willing, and further refinement of the plastic brain. The “will” which cumulatively emerges, goes the argument, is fully determined – physical cause alone producing every physical effect – and yet de facto free. This is how we become otherwise, so as to do otherwise. -- While for many dualism will still provide the preferred solution, for others it is this monistic account which will at last close the intellectual and the emotional explanatory gaps. For them religion may thereafter provide not a metaphysical imperative but a powerful secular metaphor.

Keywords: Freewill, Determinism, Naturalism

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 3, Issue 4, May 2014, pp.35-49. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 28, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 482.277KB)).

A. Granville Fonda

Consulting/Professional Engineer, Temple University: Osher Institute, King of Prussia, Pa, USA

A. Granville Fonda, BS and MS in Engineering, Cornell University 1951 and 1954. Registered in Pennsylvania USA as a Professional Engineer in 1978. Consultant, court-accredited expert witness, and author of published papers in vehicle dynamics, feedback control systems, and automotive accident reconstruction. In retirement a lecturer in philosophy in Osher Institute, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa. Mr. Albert Granville Fonda has presented a series of original lectures at the Osher Institute, such as "Franklin, Darwin, and Newton," and other as commentaries on and discussions of DVD lectures such as Dr. Daniel Robinson's multi-year series on Great Ideas of Philosophy, extending from "The Upanishads" through "God, Really?", and Dr. Shaun Nichols' 2008 lectures on Free Will and Determinism. As a Licensed Professional Engineer he has experience in machine design as used in industry, servomechanisms as used in aerospace and transportation, and physics and dynamics as used in forensic argumentation in product litigation and vehicular accident reconstruction.