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If a man is hungry and he values his life, then wouldn't him eating be predetermined.

asked Apr 13 '11 at 20:28

Sage1's gravatar image


edited Apr 13 '11 at 22:58

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Well then that excludes those who want to diet. Then you would say that if a man values a slim physique, his dieting is predetermined and round and round it goes. But it is useless arguing with someone who argues FOR free will, but AGAINST awarding amnesty to everyone for their actions. Choice and free will are corollaries. Without choice, one cannot be blamed.

If he says that we cannot punish a man for raping his child because HE HAD NO CHOICE (the corollary of free will), then at least he is consistent.

(Apr 13 '11 at 20:37) dreadrocksean dreadrocksean's gravatar image

Something that is conditional on a choice is not pre-determined.

(Apr 13 '11 at 22:59) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Volke asks: "If a man is hungry and he values his life, then wouldn't him eating be predetermined."

Ayn Rand answers this question in TOE (VOS Chap. 1, p. 23 pb):

Man cannot survive, as animals do, by the guidance of mere percepts. A sensation of hunger will tell him that he needs food (if he has learned to identify it as "hunger"), but it will not tell him how to obtain his food and it will not tell him what food is good for him or poisonous. He cannot provide for his simplest physical needs without a process of thought. He needs a process of thought to discover how to plant and grow his food or how to make weapons for hunting. His percepts might lead him to a cave, if one is available—but to build the simplest shelter, he needs a process of thought. No percepts and no "instincts" will tell him how to light a fire, how to weave cloth, how to forge tools, how to make a wheel, how to make an airplane, how to perform an appendectomy, how to produce an electric light bulb or an electronic tube or a cyclotron or a box of matches. Yet his life depends on such knowledge—and only a volitional act of his consciousness, a process of thought, can provide it.

This excerpt falls more into the category of "reason as man's basic means of survival" rather than "reason as volitional," but there are plenty of other passages in Objectism that deal specifically with volition. Refer, for example, to the entry on "Free Will" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.

One key aspect of volition is that only the basic choice to think or not (or to focus or not) is directly volitional. Secondary, higher level choices do, indeed, follow logically if one exercises one's power of focus and thought, and continues to exercise it all they way through to action in pursuit of one's values. But one can go out of focus (and stop thinking) at any time.

answered Apr 14 '11 at 01:58

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

I answered this question in a recent episode of my Rationally Selfish Webcast.  An audio recording of my response is available as a podcast here: NoodleCast #70: Live Rationally Selfish Webcast. The discussion of this question runs from 51:32 to 57:21. 

My Answer, In Brief: Free will is validated by introspection, including your power to act against bodily appetites like hunger. The question confuses the final causation involved in motivated action with the efficient causation of determined action. For my full answer, listen to the podcast!

To catch all the Rationally Selfish Podcasts, subscribe to the podcast feeds in iTunes in enhanced M4A format (RSS) or standard MP3 format (RSS). Or better yet, join Greg Perkins and me for the live Rationally Selfish Webcast on Sundays at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET.

answered Apr 15 '11 at 20:30

Diana%20Hsieh's gravatar image

Diana Hsieh ♦

edited Apr 19 '11 at 20:09

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Asked: Apr 13 '11 at 20:28

Seen: 2,310 times

Last updated: Apr 19 '11 at 20:09