Random Thoughts: A Tale of Two Extremes

Two extremes present themselves: Man can bully reality into whatever he wants, and a sort of resignation to determinism. The first sees the world as so malleable that power becomes the prime reality, and the second sees the world as a domineering and subtle force which no one can resist. We might characterize these two conceptions as whim and determinism, but they grow eerily similar in my mind.

They both promote a sort of abandon: If your actions are determined—and therefore there’s no real volition or responsibility—then simply do, for whatever will be done was always going to be done. Similarly, if whim is the primary factor, then any exercise of the will is inherently arbitrary, and the choice of red or blue is as the choice of cannibalism or veganism. Both remove the individual from responsibility for his actions, either by decrying his ability to act freely or denying any standard of judgment a hard reality might impose upon free actions. These two extremes are brothers, both attempts to circumvent a far more complex observable reality: One observes himself through introspection, an actor, and the world of limitations around through extrospection, a will constrained by reality.

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