Convincing the Determinist

A being whose thoughts and actions are “determined” in the sense discussed previously, has no control over those thoughts. The very process of “reasoning” is therefore not under the being’s control. Logic, being the art of proper reasoning, therefore has no meaning to this entity, as it cannot willingly apply the practice to its thinking process.

I will use the term “determinist” to indicate a person who claims a belief in determinism, though I maintain that a person who truly “believes” determinism and has therefore integrated all of his knowledge and actions with this fundamental belief, embodies a contradiction, and therefore cannot truly exist. Such a person would not feel that decision making, no matter how trivial, is necessary as a conscious effort – indeed no “willful” effort can exist. In the attempt to be internally consistent to determinism, the individual will see every action and thought as “instinct”, and will be reduced to acting on instinct alone. In human form, such an individual will not long exist. Nonetheless, I will adapt the use of the term “determinist” as indicated above, although those who typically call themselves “determinists” are far from consistent in their actions and thoughts, and therefore would not be represented by this label. Specifically, most of the engineers and scientists who claim to believe determinism are not worthy of this label.

The determinist sees no meaning in Logic. Hence, logical arguments, such as I have been describing, will have no interest to him. In his opinion, I am pre-determined to make this argument, and he is pre-determined to reject it. He need not think about it logically, indeed that action would be non-sensical. The entire discussion, then, would be reduced to a series of meaningless sounds exchanged between individuals. This is clearly what the nominalist philosophers concluded – the “meaning” of a word is arbitrary and deeply subjective. Humans build their internal representations of the World in a determined manner. Two such knowledge systems may or may not share elements in common. Hence, the meaning of specific words may not be assumed to be consistent between any two individuals. True communication of ideas is consequently impossible to verify for the participants in a conversation. And that which cannot be verified (according to this school of thought) cannot constitute knowledge.

Hence, the determinist is left on his own to experience the truth or fallacy of his beliefs. In daily life, the very presence of free will permits him to evade focusing thought on the evidence presented to him by his perceptions. He, of course, fails to see this. Should he engage his rational faculty, and should it draw the conclusion that his actions are not and need not be arbitrary, he will reject this conclusion as the product of Logic, and resume his unfocussed “belief” in determinism. There would appear to be no way out of the determinist’s contradictions.

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