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Mathew Steel

The Philosophy Thread

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After reading through a few old threads on the site, it?s become quite apparent that our conversations often wander away from the original topic. This is not bad by any means, we are all intellectuals in our own fields and it really does open up many doors for conversation and debate. What I thought would be a good idea however, is to have a dedicated thread to philosophical conversations and even debates.


The idea of the thread is as follows:

  • I will start in this first post with a question or topic
  • I will give my opinion and words on the matter
  • Anyone and everyone is free to respond and add however they wish (within site rules of course)
  • Tangents are allowed, as they will ensure this thread continues
  • We may flow into a new topic from these tangents, and the new topic will be continued from there
  • If conversation comes to a slow or an end, I will post a new topic or question, and follow the same order again


Now that we have the basics set! Let?s begin! I don?t wish to start with the typical meaning of life question, so here we go!




Question - Is life a result of free will, or predestination?


Answer - Firstly, allow me to elaborate. This is a very controversial psychological/sociological debate. Is life a result of free will, or rather, does free will actually exist? Or, is predestination the answer? Predestination is the idea that no matter what decisions we make, we make these decisions as a direct result of our upbringing.


I have studied both sociology and psychology, which often have differing opinions. I find myself in a predicament with this question. On one hand, I do realise that our decisions in life are a result of our way of thinking, and our way of thinking is a result of biology and nurture, or our environment. Therefore, how can free will truly exist?


However, I can also understand that there are exceptions to any rule in life. I do believe that people who want to change their path can do so with the right attitude and effort. This is why we see extremes. The person we expect to not succeed in life (poor upbringing, poverty, substance abuse) can often surprise us. I know a man who was born into an extremely poor and uneducated family, who was in fact a drug abuser for some time, and he change his life. At the age of 14, he quit using any drugs, and is currently studying his 3rd year of medicine in university.



I really am struggling to choose my side here, however, from my own personal example, I do think that free will can in fact overpower predestination. I believe then, that predestination is a real concept, and in some way, ?fate? is the decider. However, I believe this fate can be manipulated and changed with enough effort, willingness, and endurance.

"Gofyn wyf am galon hapus, calon onest, calon l?n."

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A nice topic for a thread, Matthew.


Before I dive into the philosophical part, let me just say that I like this much better than having a politial thread for off-topc discussions. Some other forums do that, but I find that if you dig into politics, things can get to a nasty (or at best annoying) point. That is probably, because political convictions are so close to everyones heart that sooner or later someone is bound to get hurt, even unintentionally. With philosophical topics it is much easier to keep a cool head and a bird's eye view on things.




But now to go into the questions you are raising.

It is a good question and in my opinion there is not a black or white answer to it (like in many things).

I am a firm believer in the notion that "fate is in your hands" and I am sure that - to a very great extend - life is what you make of it.


Nevertheless it would be cynical to deny that a person born into a well-to-do and well educated family has a much easier road ahead of him and a much better chance to build a good life, than a person born into poverty, growing up among family and friends who do not care about education.


But as you said yourself, there are many individual examples which show that this is not a law of nature and that someone's free will can change things. Luck, of course, does also play a part in it and reading the rigth book at the right time or meeting the right teacher or friend can be all it takes to change someone's life completely. But then again, if the seed of luck does not fall on fertile ground, nothing will come of it.




As for the questions wether there is a free will or not, I like to think that there is. I acknowledge the fact that our thinking and decision making, even our feeling towards a subject, is inluenced by our background and experience. But saying that it is all merely a product or our past history sounds a bit far fetched to me. If it was, why do I laborate so much over important questions, having sleepless nights and all that. Why don't I just go: bang - that is the answer, a clear result of my own personal past.



With that, although I still think the answer is not black and white, if you put me on the spot I would have to say that I am siding with the free-will-camp, not the predestination-camp :)

Edited by Nigel

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Political threads can often turn hostile, and by their very nature, often discourage many users from interacting with said thread. Philosophy is where opinion is valid, and everybody may have whatever thoughts they wish. Whether they are crazy, or extremely simple. I'm hoping this thread will encourage newer users to interact with the more active group! It would be great to get to know more about our users through this thread!







Let's keep this topic going!



...well-to-do and well educated family has a much easier road ahead of him and a much better chance to build a good life...




Of course, this is very true! Although, it is important to remember that educated families can often still struggle, and uneducated families can too be financially stable, or even excel financially. For example, take big organisations and businesses that have been around for decades, I know a few people who run certain businesses that weren't educated by today's standards (didn't succeed in the education system, like school), but are very successful in their trade! My father himself, his school grades were unimpressive to say the least, however, he has designed many environmental machines by himself, just because of what he has learnt during his time in his trade. He even went to India for 3 months to make sure the machine he designed was running properly.


To my other point, statistically, single-parent families are more likely to raise a delinquent child compared to any other family. I myself have been in a single parent family since the age of 4, although, I've never committed any crimes! My point is, education is not everything, and I think that's also key to the original question. In sociology, we split socialisation mediums into two categories, primary, and secondary. Socialisation mediums are groups or organisations that teach us values and norms of our society. Primary, consists of the family, whilst secondary consists of education, the workplace, the media, religion, and our peer groups. I think when there are so many factors involved with raising us, it is almost certain that predestination plays a big role in our lives.


Then again, I still lean towards free-will in this specific debate, as we can manipulate certain socialisation mediums to change our behaviour. For example, peer group is easy to change as it requires finding new friends, and of course, the workplace can be changed simply by changing jobs. Yes, I am simplifying this greatly, but I think the essence of it is explained!

"Gofyn wyf am galon hapus, calon onest, calon l?n."

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