23 Mar 2004

Two men walking along a beach in long coats and hats. Like that Vettriano painting……

There is not much point in arguing the corner for freedom of choice if you are not going to use it.

Well, that’s the whole point isn’t it? As long as I have it I am free to do what I want with it, even if that means not using it at all. That is my choice.

Your choice for apathy.

Perhaps. You see Desmond, I believe that we do have the ability to change our futures with choices that we make. I believe that we can cause our individual paths through life to alter.

Right. For a minute there I thought you were suggesting that any actions that we make are futile maybe because everything is already pre-destined.

No, not exactly. I mean, I am lazy by nature but it is more than that. I believe that through free choice we do have the chance to affect our destinies.

Then why do you take no action?

Because, although our actions affect us, they never affect us in the way we might have intended them to. You see, there are too many other variables, too many other considerations to be taken into account in any one moment for us to ever have complete control of it.

Like what for example.

Like your own freedom of choice. If you choose to act in a certain manner might that not effect my actions? The weather. Every passing moment brings change. We can have no hope of keeping ahead of this tide.

So what are we to do?

Accept that we are going to be blown around, often away from our intended path, and continue in the general direction we have set ourselves, if we have indeed set ourselves one. What happens if you take the wrong turning when you walk to a new pub and then realise your mistake five miles down the road? Do you turn back or do you alter your direction to get back on the right heading?

I suppose it depends on your character, but I take your example.

Good. However, this does not explain why I take no action.

Well, why do you choose to take no advantage of your freedom of choice?

It could be argued that every event is indeed pre-ordained from the very beginning, the result of a chain reaction of action and effect, like dominoes if you will, and so every choice that I make is indeed not mine. It has already been made. I just have the illusion that I have the freedom to make up my own mind.

Then why argue for freedom of choice? I do not understand.

Nor do I really. However, I believe that although the chain reaction might seem like a done deal, like all the dominoes falling down, the outcome is not written in stone, if you will, and that other forces act upon the chain that are beyond the chain’s control. For example, what if, after knocking down the first domino in a line of dominoes, you took out the fourth and fifth domino before they fell, thus changing the expected outcome.

Ah, but wouldn’t your action of removing the dominoes itself be pre-determined itself?

Well, yes, but you miss the point. I mean to explain that there are many of these causal nexi that are all pre-determined by cause and affect but when they come into contact with other chains they cause changes in each other that could not be pre-determined.


Look, like I said earlier. As an individual, I cannot be sure of my future because I have to be aware that your actions might affect it beyond my knowledge and out of my control. We are like the chains. Do you see?

Perhaps. It is not too clear.

I know. It is a desperate attempt to escape the logical and rational answer that we, actually, have no freedom of choice at all. I’m not sure if it works yet. Shall we have a beer and continue this inside?

Much later indeed….

Nah, its all bollocks! We’re all stuck in a great big cosmic equation that noone fucking knows but we know about it and there’s fuck all we can do about it and it’s fucking crap. Landlord, two more tequilas.

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