Discussion On The Determination Of Self

1141 words - 5 pages

Discussion on the Determination of Self

In every day life we experience causality and order, which would
suggest that everything is ordered and caused by something outside
ourselves. However it is hard to believe that we have no free choices
when presented with a decision to be made, surely if we were unable to
make choices concerning the direction and outcome of his own life, is
a slave. However many philosophers and thinkers have pondered this
over the years, and some believe that when we believe we are presented
with choices we are being deceived, and as B.F Skinner said, ‘human
beings.. are not free, because all men are really puppets or robots.
Man is a meat machine.’ He argues that as a puppet, we have no will of
our own: our movements are entirely under the control of the
puppet-master who pulls the puppet – strings. This presents a problem
for us, because even if we were to hold that man has no real freedom
and all his actions are controlled, we need to know who it is that is
‘pulling the strings’. It has been supposed that he is God, who is
omnipotent and omniscient. These capabilities surely allow him to
control the destinies of mankind. This concept is known as theological
determinism. Both St Augustine and Calvin had a clear belief in
theological determinism. According to Calvin, God has already decided
who is going to go to Heaven and who is going to Hell. God’s power is
magnified at the cost of man’s freedom. It seems to me that by
accepting this theory of determinism, one must reject the idea of
moral responsibility. We must choose whether we believe that at the
point of decision making a person can distinguish and thus choose
between what is right and what is wrong, according to their moral
self. If we take this point as valid, we must all together reject
determinism and take the view of libertarianism. However the
libertarian does believe that there is an inanimate world which is
mechanistic, thus all events are predictable, and they postulate that
this chain of cause and effect may be reflected in our animate world.
However they deny that there is ever certainty in human action and
behaviour, to say this would be to take away from humanities freedom,
and thus the moral self. This is not an empirical concept, as it is
not involved in the animate world, but it is purely ethical. It must
satisfy a sense of moral duty rather than self interest. This is not
to say that a person’s environment isn’t highly influential in forming
a person’s character, including one’s moral self. However there is
always the possibility that the moral self will counteract with one’s
environment, upbringing and personality. In a sense the moral self is
able to overcome the pressures exerted on him by environmental factors
which have influenced his character and personality, and become

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