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STOIC POETRY | Giving in to fancy

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

August 26, 2019

Dear Eric,

My suspicion that free will is an illusion is a curious specimen of belief. You know how I don't like resting my hat on ideas which cannot be well demonstrated as true, and I can think of no way to prove that my suspicions regarding free will are indeed true, and yet I find myself sitting long with this thought...and even beginning to utilize it as a life principle. Heck, I even added it to The Good Life as a principle called "The Pirate Ride." It all comes down to one notion which I can't convince myself isn't true: namely, the idea that were the universe to somehow wind backwards, and then wind forward again, then you and I would make every decision we've already made - or ever will make - exactly as we did the first time the universe played out. It isn't that I think life is like a film strip which projects the same story every time, but more that life is - in fact - a complex chemical reaction which "unwinds" in the same way every time the universe "plays" due to the fundamental laws of nature and the interactions of chemical components. Of course I've no reason to think that there is any "ghost in the machine" - no soul which resides within us and somehow transcends nature - and for this reason I think we can safely reduce our lives to laws, chemicals and interactions borne of the infusion of energy. We only fool ourselves into thinking there's more due to the incredible complexity of the chemical reactions called us. Therefore, if the universe were to arise again in the same Big Bang, then all events should unfold in the same way, and lead to us making the same actions and choices again, no matter how many times the universe is replayed, assuming the universe has the same start each and every time. The only variable in this model which seems to muddy the waters is the seeming randomness of activity at the quantum level - the apparent popping into and out of existence of sub-atomic particles - which would introduce a real element of variability into my universe unfolding model. But - and this is a big butt (grin) - I expect that even this randomness is in some way ordered and governed by laws we simply have not yet discovered. You see my dilemma then? How I can rest my hat on a premise founded on so much speculation and so little fact or understanding. And yet I do. I like this idea of no free will very much. It has become my principle and toy held to me with the sweet dream of faith.



My name is Kurt Bell.

You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.

Be safe... But not too safe.

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