Massimo, I have thought about this a lot.

There’s two problems with this entire debate and they are the two assumptions it rests on. Firstly, somebody prove to me that the “laws of nature” are “laws” and not just contingencies. If something is observed to be consistent, even if for eternity, it doesn’t make it a necessary principle that’s hard-coded into the cosmos, just a regularity that may change and may be changing.

Secondly: cause and effect are only perceived by us. We see a resulting “effect” from identified causes. But effects are in turn causes. Hume pointed out that you can’t observe “causation”, only the cause and the resulting effect. But everything is causation. Isn’t this precisely why “causation” is not available to the senses? It’s the wood through the trees. It’s substance, properly defined.

This brings us back to the “laws”. What if what we observe as “cause” is the substance. Everything emanates from that unitary thing let’s call it “cause” or just “change”. How things emanate from that substance gives them properties. Gravity is a property of the observable universe in the same way that wood burns, or water takes the shape of the vessel that contains it. If what we believe to be laws are in fact properties, then nothing is determined — nothing at all. If we use our imagination to look at the universe from the perspective of a particle, we see things very differently.

So, if there’s no determinism (there are no “laws” doing any determining), then there’s no free will (since it is impinged upon by the web of cause). But there is a vast spectrum of free, since everything, on a cosmic level, is undetermined (negatively “free” of governing principles). How free we are depends on where we are situated in the web of cause.

My theory — which may sound amateurish, but I’m largely happy with — only leaves one question; the first mover. My only thought on that is that, again, we are finite and we impose finitude on the cosmos (in the same way we impose “laws” — a human construct — on nature). Eternity is hard to think about, but our language has tricked us into thinking non-existence is a possibility. The ancient Greeks — as far as I know — never entertained such a notion.

The lessons of philosophy and history, their practical benefits for your life and work. Feel free to get in touch: stevengambardella@gmail.com

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