A Response to the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: The Road Less Traveled
Disclaimer: The author of this post holds no responsibility of any crises caused by the effect of you reading the below work. The author of this post only wishes for you to think abut what he is saying but not feel like your whole world has been turend on its head. By reading below this line you are acknowledging that you are fully responsible for the rises you have.
I had three potential choices when applying for university. I could have chosen to pursue the creative arts (either guitar and vocals, or digital media). Had I travelled down here I imagine a much more eccentric, much more sociable version of myself appearing at this same end of the keyboard. I could have chosen a path in the engineering department (not that I would have been accepted there in the first place). Had I chosen that I imagine I would have become a completely different person. I can see myself as a monotonous lump whose sole focus is fixing what other people tell me to fix. Instead, I chose to pursue my love for language and philosophy.It is an interesting prompt today as I am currently trying to come to terms with the notion of choice. I am currently at a rather deterministic standpoint where I believe that yes, we do all have ‘choice’ in the sense that we have the ability to choose one option over another.
It is an interesting prompt today as I am currently trying to come to terms with the notion of choice. I am currently at a rather deterministic standpoint where I believe that yes, we do all have ‘choice’ in the sense that we have the ability to choose one option over another. But, that if I were the Laplacian Demon then I would be able to predict exactly which choice you would make.
I shall attempt to explain this a bit better.
Say that there was an entity that knew all that there was to know. Said entity would know not just the apparent world but also of any other dimensions and all the fundamental laws of how the world works. Said entity would know all effects, and their causes. Take the following example, in which said entity is referred to as The Demon or Laplace’s Demon. I take a sip of water. It is common knowledge that in order to take a sip of water I have to do certain things beforehand. I have to first move my head to the side to locate a water source through my sense of sight. I have to process, and invert, the image of the water bottle and associate it with being a potential water source. I then need to verify that it still has water in it. I recall my most recent memory of drinking the water bottle and think of whether or not I have already consumed all the remaining liquid. I realise that I have not and I can see the level of water left in the bottle. I make an assumption of how large a sip, or how many sips I have to take in order to finish the small amount of liquid left. All of this happens before one second has passed. Most of it is not even a conscious activity. Now lets hypothetically freeze time.
Now lets hypothetically freeze time.
I still want to drink water. I know that there are certain causes that have influenced my desire for water and then my realisation that I do not need to go far to get some. These are causes which I can know. I can also know what actions I will need to cause in order to successfully drink the water. I can predict that by sending electrochemical signals in my brain to trigger the muscles in my arm to expand and contract and then my fingers to close around the water bottle. If I were the Laplacian Demon I would know the precise movements of molecules that have taken place. I shall ignore the rest of the scenario as I fear as if the above example has gotten a bit complicated. But it is that very complexity of the simple act of drinking water that I wish for you to understand.
The theory works on the simple phrase “for every cause, there is an effect”. It goes that if there is an entity that knew all there was to know at present, and could work out what caused the present actions to come into play.I think this rings true of all effects, they all have something that caused them. The trees move because the wind blows them. The leaf falls because it has too weak a connection to its branch. The person acts because they have a motivation to do so.So did I really choose to travel down the path I am? Could it have been predicted by the Laplacian Demon? If it could, then what does that mean for my choice? Is it really a choice? If I ever find an answer that I can completely believe then I shall definitely let you all know.
Note: The disclaimer was added after I realised that after I ‘chose’ to pursue linguistics and philosophy at university I had an existential crisis or two when I first started contemplating the idea of choice.