You see, gentlemen, reason is no more than reason, and it gives fulfillment only to man's reasoning capacity, while desires are a manifestation of the whole of life--I mean the whole of human life, both with its reason and with all its itches and scratches. . . . I quite naturally want to live in order to fulfill my whole capacity for living, and not in order to fulfill my reasoning capacity alone, which is no more than some one-twentieth of my capacity for living. ~ Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground, as cited in the text of a lecture prepared by Ian Johnston http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/introser/dostoevsky.htm
Simply put, there is a point in time, a moment of truth, when "the inner connection between our role, our motivations, and our type and manner of experiencing the world suddenly dawns upon us" ( 1968:47). To be sure, some level of social determinism is real, for sociologists and all those who seek to unravel the puzzles of social life (including the puzzle of knowledge itself). None of us is free to exercise some metaphysical power of will. However, to the extent that one uses the power of reason to gain insight into the sources of such determinism, to that extent a relative freedom from determinism is possible. It follows that this potential for simultaneously comprehending self, the socio-historical context, and the object to be analyzed must be realized (especially by sociologists).
quote:In more recent writings, Nancy has also used the term "freedom" (liberté) to articulate this communal structure. By "freedom," Nancy does not mean either freedom from determinism or political freedom as it is traditionally understood. Rather, he means "ungrounded" or "lacking a determining principle." Thus, a free being is a pure gratuity, a gift that exists, "is there," without a reason for being there. "To be sure, here there is no longer even 'freedom,' as a defined substance. There is, so to speak, only the 'freely' or the 'generously' with which things in general are given and give themselves to be thought about." This freedom is, in turn, intimately connected to the being-in-common of a community. "The community shares freedom's excess. Because this excess consists in nothing other than the fact or gesture of measuring itself against nothing, against the nothing, the community's sharing is itself the common excessive measure of freedom. Thus, it has a common measure, but not in the sense of a given measure to which everything is referred: it is common in the sense that it is the excess of the sharing of existence." The link between freedom, thus understood, and community runs (unsurprising for a student of Derrida's) precisely through signification. Freedom is not a definable characteristic that people possess; instead, it is the inability to reduce people to a defining (set of) characteristic(s), to a signification. The community, then, is the sharing of that inability to be reduced to a signification, which is the nature...of freedom. In community, an individual's-or, in Nancy's terms, a "singularity's"-freedom is exposed to the freedom of other individuals, and in that mutual exposure exists the relationship that, resisting signification, forms the communal bond. This does not mean that freedom is then the common substance that defines the nature of the community. Freedom is instead the opposite of a common substance; it is precisely the resistance to the kinds of identities of which common substances are made. ~ Todd May
For an agent’s actions to be within its control, the agent must be free from determinism (i.e. be able to do otherwise given past events and the laws of nature). However, we should recognize that if an event is undetermined, it will appear to be random or a matter of chance. It makes little sense to assign any responsibility to any agent in such an event. Therefore, it seems in the case of responsibility, what matters is not that a decision was caused, but that it was caused in the proper way. This assertion provides quick refutation to an obvious objection: Computers cannot be moral agents because they simply act in accordance with their programs and are not free. Since freedom from determinism is not needed for the assignment of responsibility, this objection is invalid (Bechtel, 1985 and Dennett, 1984). ~ Can a Computer Be a Moral Agent? by Matthew E. ? at http://www.mattsbistro.com/academics/agent.doc
"Kind hearts are the gardens; kind thoughts are the roots; kind words are the flowers; kind deeds are the fruits."~English Proverb
[This message was edited by thenostromo on 07-04-04 at 10:57 PM.]
"In your hearts you know that true love is a gift from God and respects His plan for the union of man and woman in marriage. Do not be taken in by false values and deceptive slogans, especially about your freedom.... Freedom is not the ability to do anything we want, whenever we want. Rather, freedom is the ability to live responsibly the truth of our relationship with God and with one another." ~ Pope John Paul II http://www.adoremus.org/399Popevisit.html http://www.wandererforum.org/publications/focus030.html