Monthly Archives: February 2014

The logic of deterministic free will

We’re always asked on DCI tours, what about free will? If seeds determine everything that is going to happen, then the universe is deterministic and everything is already decided; the Calvinists were right.

The answer I usually give is that if the first law of seeds is correct (seeds are definite; that is, they must produce a similar result), then what is the result that must come from offering someone else a choice? A friend of mine just emailed me about this, so I thought maybe I would write it out as a formal syllogism:

Consider the ability to make choices,
It must exist for you,
Because you have offered choices to others.

True or false? Let’s run the tests:

Test #1: Is there a connection between the ability to make choices and offering choices to others? I would say yes, that’s the very seed for that thing.

Test #2: If you offer choices to others, must the ability to make choices exist for you? Yes, the law of seeds #1 says that.

Test #3: If you the ability to make choices does not exist for you, does that mean you have not offered choices to others in the past? Again, I would argue yes here too. If you don’t give away money, you won’t have money in the future.

What do you think?

Class at Brooklyn College

I taught a class today at Brooklyn College; a friend of mine, Chris Kelley, invited me to come and give a talk to his class. Thanks to everyone who attended the class; it was fun teaching it.

We went over the basics of Tibetan Buddhist logic, and I used the syllogism that I always give first:

Consider money,
I’m going to get it,
Because I work hard.

If you run the three tests, you’ll find this syllogism is false. So it’s a great example of why we need to use logic; we’ve all been taught that if we work hard we’ll get what we want; the only problem with that assertion is that it’s false.

On the other hand, I’m not saying that you should not work hard. Just that hard work, in itself, is not enough to guarantee success.