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[Tips] The causal nexus

The causal nexus

Here, again, only motives in general are mentioned, without taking into account the difference between unconscious and conscious motives. If a motive affects me, and I am compelled to act on it because it proves to be the “strongest” of its kind, then the idea of freedom ceases to have any meaning. How should it matter to me whether I can do a thing or not, if I am forced by the motive to do it? The primary question is, not [10]whether I can do a thing or not when impelled by a motive, but whether the only motives are such as impel me with absolute necessity. If I must will something, then I may well be absolutely indifferent as to whether I can also do it. And if, through my character, or through circumstances prevailing in my environment, a motive is forced on me which to my thinking is unreasonable, then I should even have to be glad if I could not do what I will.

The question is, not whether I can carry out a decision once made, but how I come to make the decision  The answer given to the two problems.
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What distinguishes man from all other organic beings is his rational thought. Activity is common to him with other organisms. Nothing is gained by seeking analogies in the animal world to clear up the concept of freedom as applied to the actions of human beings. Modern science loves these analogies. When scientists have succeeded in finding among animals something similar to human behaviour, they believe they have touched on the most important question of the science of man. To what misunderstandings this view leads is seen, for example, in the book Die Illusion der Willensfreiheit, by P. Ree, 1885, where, on Page 5, the following remark on freedom appears: “It is easy to explain why the movement of a stone seems to us necessary, while the volition of a donkey does not.

The causes which set the stone in motion are external and visible, while the causes which [11]determine the donkey’s volition are internal and invisible. Between us and the place of their activity there is the skull cap of the ass?….  is not visible and is therefore thought to be non-existent. The volition, it is explained, is, indeed, the cause of the donkey’s turning round, but is itself unconditioned; it is an absolute beginning.” Here again human actions in which there is a consciousness of the motives are simply ignored, for Ree declares, “that between us and the sphere of their activity there is the skull cap of the ass.” As these words show, it has not so much as dawned on Ree that there are actions, not indeed of the ass, but of human beings, in which the motive, become conscious, lies between us and the action. Ree demonstrates his blindness once again a few pages further on, when he says, “We do not perceive the causes by which our will is determined, hence we think it is not causally determined at all.”

But enough of examples which prove that many argue against freedom without knowing in the least what freedom is.

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