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What kind of free will did the Buddha teach?

By Asaf Federman

Abstract

The modern version of the problem of free will is usually described as a collision\ud between two beliefs: the belief that we are free to choose our actions and the belief\ud that our actions are determined by prior necessary causes. Determinism—the view\ud that events are determined by specific causes—makes most aspects of reality intelligible.\ud It works quite well, for example, when explaining aspects of the natural world\ud (quantum physics aside). When heat, fuel, and oxygen come together there is fire.\ud There must be fire. To borrow a famous Buddhist simile, when a mango seed is given\ud the right conditions, it will grow to become a mango tree. It cannot grow to be anything\ud else. However, we do not usually think of agents as being caused in the same\ud way. We tend to think that agents somehow transcend natural causation by their\ud ability to choose freely. If we also think that agents are part of the natural order, we\ud face a paradox. This is, in short, the problem of free will

Topics: BQ, BJ
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:3142

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