love and heretics

It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness

wedging “choice” into determinism..can it be done?

A problem i have with strict determinism, (besides it’s attempt to alleviate personal responsibility πŸ˜‰ )
Is where does choice fit in?

It appears to me that with every innate given, we are also given choices.
We may be stuck in a boat going down stream, but we have the choice to jump out, row, or not?

I have no problem believing that some things may be choices while some may have less “choiceability”
For instance, two people are given voice lessons. One has natural ability, relative pitch, (perhaps even perfect pitch) and a beautiful tone. the other is tone deaf, and cannot stay on key. With the first…very little practice is necessary to sing and astound. With the second….infinite practice, dedication, hard work, sweat and tears…reward and punishment have zero effect on bringing a listenable performance.
Now with these two examples we have no choice as to ABILITY.
What we have choice on is whether or not the two WILL sing.
The first may choose to never sing…may just not be interested in it. May prefer playing video games all day alone in their room, or may want to write a book! Or may be interested instead in learning to solve world peace, or find a cure for cancer….
The second may choose to sing away…to their children…to themselves…to their god…to the anyone who dares to walk by..
This is choice in action on ones given ability.

If one is mute…one has no choice to sing.

and With this example, an interesting article…

Musical Ability Seems to Be 50 Percent Genetic
Beethovens of the world may have innate advantages like better signaling from inner-ear hair cells.”


(yes Mak…thought of you on this one… πŸ˜‰Β  )



  1. Metaphysical philosophy can be maddening.

    Great to see you back, Holly!

  2. My mother has perfect pitch and plays piano.
    I play guitar, yet it never came easy. My daughter also plays guitar and it took years to develop her
    ‘sound’. Her tone is exquisite. And she plays with relative ease.
    My son showed no interest at all.

    Oddly enough, I could find no musical history in Jimi Hendrix’ family other than his dad, Al, who, according to JImi, played the spoons!

    • Yes, I rather left out the middle ground. Someone who doesn’t appear to have natural given talent but is able to learn by hard work and sweat great talent.
      It was more of an extreme example on both sides to play out the determinist challenge. πŸ˜‰
      My dad played the spoons as well! He also played the mandolin, banjo, guitar, and birds eye banjo! (can’t play as much now due to arthritis in the thumbs. )
      My mother played piano, and trumpet, my sister and i both sing and play the piano. I played drums, (and the spoons πŸ˜‰ ) My daughter plays percussion, piano and sings.
      I do not know how far the music goes back in the family though. Could be an interesting topic to pursue. I believe it can be a bit of both,or one or the other.. inborn genes, and determination to learn.
      There is a parable in the bible that speaks of talents. Whether they are used, or buried in the sand…implying personal responsibility for what one is given…This popped in my head of course with Mak and I’s ongoing discussion re: free will vs determinism. πŸ˜€

  3. Hey Holly, am glad you are back.

    I saw the bait.

    I will start by saying that to will is tied directly to action. Further, I concede that at any given time, a person can act in two ways. For example, in the case you have presented, sing or not sing. The thing that would determine how a person acts is motive. For the kid to whom playing video games is more satisfying, he will not sing unless there is a greater motive to make him sing.

    You ask, where does choice fit in?
    I think nowhere. Let’s for a moment propose that human actions are un-caused, that they just happen, where, tell me, would be the choice? What control would you have on what your next action is going to be? Or rather, my question would be what is your conception of choice?

    I believe our actions or rather our choices are caused, just as every effect we observe in the universe around us. The underlying problem, as far as I can tell, is the difficulty in identifying all the preceding chain of causes to the point when we act and two because we do not know the particular disposition of the individual to know what motives drive him, we reason that his action is un-caused, but this you see is based on our ignorance of the facts.

    Your biggest problem, and I can guess for many others is what happens to responsibility?
    As I have written whenever I write on this topic is that people are going to act in a certain way depending on their training, temperament and environment. You will realize, if you are quite observant, that our actions are geared to happiness and avoidance of pain, though, there are times a person can endure pain for a short time if they think the reward is going to be greater than the discomfort they are undergoing. There are times, your action, though leading to your happiness, maybe be inimical to your neighbor and this is what human society have developed checks or laws to regulate.

    I don’t want to make my response longer than it already is, so allow me to rest my case here. If there is a question I haven’t responded to, just ask.

    • Would you then punish people who do things they cannot help? and what about the idea that “if you work you will eat” those who cannot help (since they do not choose) to be lazy and live off of other people? do you not believe that people can be encouraged to live in a better manner? learn to feed themselves? that our actions affect each other? that people should be held accountable for such actions or lack thereof?
      (wow…that all just popped out…guess I have been saving up!!! :D)
      love ya and miss ya my friend. hope you don’t mind the slam of questions! πŸ˜€

      • no no, I encouraged you to ask any questions you had, so I type away.
        I have written, and you must be aware, against punishment arguing they couldn’t act other than as they did. The example you give of if you don’t do this you’ll not get that maybe superfluous depending on the greater motive of the particular individual.
        I did indicate training is important so people can be trained to do things they would not otherwise have done but there is no choice there, another person with training would still do as bad simply because motive plays such a big part

  4. Argus

    Que sera, sera … choice doesn’t come into it.

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