These notes are in response to the discussion, here: Freedoom (Prelude-1)
Usually, I find discussions of ‘free will’, determinacy, etc., constrictive & boring. I don’t want to be restricted by the metaphysical emphases of ‘traditions’ that I consider to be dogmatically limited. I just can’t take them seriously. Conversely, I can take anything at all seriously, if recontextualised in ways that I find interesting.
I guess the topics of ‘agency’, free will’, & ‘eternity’, are important ones, having considerable historical relevance, so I’ve tried to begin some sort of inquiry into them. No doubt, there is a vast prior literature involved, which I haven’t referred to, & of which I am mostly ignorant.
I’ve attempted to analyse the implicit assumptions that give rise to folk conventions, whose subsequent formalisations, in the abbreviated caricaturisations of an expedient & utilitarian mode of conceptualisation, so often produce paradox. The approach has very much been from the ground up, as it were, looking at the conceptual ingredients that sustain the apparently paradoxical. It isn’t my intention to domesticate the paradoxical, rather to see where it might be a contingent effect. In a sense, I’m suggesting that one has to go beyond ‘doxa’, anyway, but in a more radical way, than a safe circling around localised conundrums, from the perspective of largely unrevised ‘doxa’, would suggest. There has to be a more profound recontextualisation.
The first comment on your post, by Mai La Dreapta, expresses the same objection which I, too, somewhat tendentiously state (Mai La Dreapta’s expression is more elegant), concerning the core illogicality of the paradox you suggest:
“Philosophizing on this manner tends to turn opaque, because we want to smuggle in temporal language like “the future already exists”, ascribing grammatical tense to eternity. This is a false view of eternity and leads towards the absurdities and monstrosities discussed above.”
I’ve tried to outline the conditions for why such inflation of chronological convention occurs. Unlike Mai La Dreapta, though, I would question the notion of an objectively existent & fixed future.
Finally, you say that Calvinism is an “intellectual abomination”, that it “cannot be thought without ruin. You add: “It is also the dark motor of Western (and thus global) modernity: the core paradox that makes a horror story of history.” Could it be that the core animus of Neoreaction, itself, is the continuing “shock wave” “of a soul-shattering involvement in eternity, fusing tradition and catastrophe as doom”? Is the same obsessive need for certainty & precision characterising a Europe traumatised by centuries of plagues & wars, the same need atrophying the European mind around a fixated order of representation, all of whose receptions & implementations are localisations of a general traumatic field, which they are constrained to recapitulate?
““The notion of ‘eternity’ only indicates an endless series of events.” — This is totally not getting it. Eternity is the Outside of time (or perhaps, time-in-itself — the transcendental edge of time).”
A Note on ‘Apprehension’
Though the notion “apprehension” has been used, here & there, the use is ‘formal’, as it were, not a call to return to, or privilege, the ‘slums’ of a conventional metaphysics of the ‘subject’. The appeal is to open the ‘understanding’, to reconfigure “apprehension” beyond the grasp of the ghettos of insular error, not to confirm yet another locale of ignorant convention.
An Endless Series of Events as Eternity
An “endless series of events” implies a principle of perpetual continuity – the conditional unity of the endless series. This ‘conditional unity’, of an “endless series”, bears a relation of necessity to this “endless series”, the logical necessity of nominal unification. But note, if the ‘conditional unity’ is the unity of an ‘entire’ “endless series”, then no sequential limitation is possible for it: no objectification, ‘in time’, can occur, to it: it cannot be temporally reified: so, the relation must be one of ‘transcendental’ necessity.
So, to speak of an “endless series of events”, is to cite its unity, at least nominally, is necessarily to speak of “the Outside of time”, too. From what perspective, other than the ‘transcendental’, is it possible to speak of an “endless series of events”? Moreover, there would be as many ‘transcendental perspectives’ as there are ‘events’: the unity would be ‘holographic’.
Footnote to “An Endless Series of Events as Eternity”
If something – necessarily an identity of some sort, whether the structural constancy of an economy of events, or an ideality, or whatever – is “without beginning or end” & “lasts forever”: is that essentially identical with saying that that identity is ‘outside’, or unaffected by, time? If the element of identity is eternal (“without beginning or end” & “lasts forever”), does that constitute ‘timelessness’?
If it is suggested that the identity ‘changes’ through time, then it is no longer the same identity, its singular integrity has been vitiated by hybrid composition, it is no longer identical to itself. So, by virtue of being an identity at all, in the absolute, Parmenidean sense, ‘change’ could not be relevant. This, of course, precludes all attributions of conventional identity. Even ‘the One’ can’t be asserted. In order to articulate any identity, differentiation is required. Such ‘differentiation’ is always an event.
Conventional use of identity thinking is contingent on various contextual factors: the metaphysics of ‘subject’ (consensual agreement as to what is to be ‘identified’, & the nature of resultant identities produced)/’object’ (the ‘what’ – scenarios of the mundane – ‘worldness’): whether those ‘identities’ are ‘temporal’ or belong to ‘time-independent’ formal systems.
As can be seen, in the other comments, as soon as a ‘lockdown’ of identity is desired, the yen for an absolute consistency of function, of the ‘universe’, considered as an ‘objective system’, limits are quickly reached. The desire to be absolutely sovereign over worldly mechanism, yet wholly autonomous from ‘it’ (‘free will’), is the desire for absolute control of the ‘Object’ by this ‘Sovereign’ Subject. The whole structure is predicated on a metaphysical model that has become an obsession, an ideological fortress. Hence, all the contrived pathos, the searching for a zone of ‘freedom’, a ‘Mission Control’ of ‘autonomy, untainted by the imaginary of networked manipulation hallucinated by this ‘Sovereign’ Subject.
Shlomo Maistre’s Void
“It’s certainly not some endless cascade of events it’s the lack of events, it’s infinite, it’s an endless void you cannot even conceive of… Some things are beyond human understanding.”
“…to those in whom the will has turned and denied itself, this very real world of ours, with all its suns and Milky Ways, is — nothing.”
Schopenhauer “The World As Will And Idea (Vol. 1 of 3)”:526
It could be that this ‘void’ is the very ‘condition’ that enables ‘eventuality’: in which events have their ‘being’: the requisite tabula rasa that arises as a corollary of all reificatory dreams.
In this metaphysical drama of distinctions, this litany of ontological limits, Man would rather risk the ‘void’ in order to retain his defined teleological role in an objectified ‘Being’, than see that the very ‘freedom’ he so covets, is the very void that he hallucinates with horror as a fixed emptiness from which he attempts to flee.
“He who attaches to the void is truly lost.”
Time as an Object
There is no such thing as an event-in-itself.
If events are contingent, so, too, are their configurations: any laws of ‘constancy’ inversely derived from the oscillations of eventuality, derive their ‘constancy’, too, through systematic comparison. ‘Constancy’ is a temporal indication: ‘constant with respect to (perceived) change.
The notion of ‘timelessness’ is derived from the fact that an identifiable tendency, structure, or object, appears invariant with respect to a delimited field of ‘change’: identities in transition (events or ‘objects’, being themselves assumed & unanalysed structural constancies).
However, it can be seen that anything identifiable as a structural constant, through ‘its’ actions, is often a constitutive moment of transitional ‘force’ within the economy of another ‘object’ or ‘constant’. There is no final object(ification).
Laws of configuration are ‘abstract’ principles, whose ‘immanent’ ‘reality’ is inferred through the economies of ‘tangible’ haecceity that delineate them, & which they suggest. Such ‘inferences’ are available through the varying admixture of different scales of apprehension, of variant modes of perception, which bring different perspectives, or even ‘worlds,’ into ‘view’, as it were. The play of possibilities is endless. The conventional systematics of ‘Nature’ is only one possible configuration.
The Formalisations of Eternity
The formalisation , or mythologisation, of the notion of ‘Eternity’, as being ‘outside of the ‘temporal’, allows nominal objectifications of Time. Projecting or positioning chosen considerations into this ‘site’, or ‘topos’, of Eternity.
Objects, Times, & Totalities
1) You can’t objectify time: it’s the way objects are delineated, both experientially & otherwise.
2) As objects are interdependent, their essences are mutually derived & co-implicated. Are these ‘essences’ ex-changed, through time?
3)As a final objectification of time is not possible, it can’t be negated. So, timelessness is not objectifiable, either.
4) Chronological time is always derived from objective references, so is variable, referentially contingent.
5) Eternity is an ‘reductive’ objectification.
6)Temporal indications are reductive objectifications.
7) The notion of an essential structure that produces or generates secondary phenomena, is contingent on…
Any object requires a context.
The drive to understand wants totality.
So it always tries to objectify the totality of whatever field of identities concerns it.
As there is nothing else, it has to use nothing, negation, to do this.
Using negation, it can reintroduce all the known identities, but in different ways: fresh combinatorics, rearrangements, that weren’t done before ‘negation’
[The notion of ‘totality’ is always itself a contingent conceptualisation, one that is essentially dependent on the notion of ‘fragmentation’].
As the negation is the negation of a freshly discerned ‘totality’, according to whatever episteme prevails, the “fresh combinatorics” & “rearrangements” are going to differ, too, as long as there is sufficient historical continuity preserving earlier knowledge & insights with adequacy, & there are mechanisms of ‘conscious apprehension’ capable of discerning the respective relevances over time, but not overly tied to the episteme of their temporal location.
Free Will as ‘Its’ ‘Own’ Determinant?
The notion of Absolute Free Will has one determinant: that of Will, ‘itself’. What could be the nature of this ‘will’, abstracted from all determining conditions? Is not its essential nature that of responsivity? If so, then does all that it responds to, constitute ‘it’.
It may well have an integrated economy of appropriations, that are identified as ‘it’, but, in truth, ‘it’ has no absolute boundaries.
If ‘free will’ produces acts & decisions, this production always occurs in a determining context of choices. So, there is always an environment of determining constraints that sets the range of possible production, of possible forms of response.
What is ‘Free Will’, Without ‘Context’?
What is ‘Free Will’, anyway? What would it be outside of the interactions of physiological, cosmological (perhaps astrology is a proto-reading of quantum entanglements? lol), a myriad, subtle influences? A soul-in-itself? Another stupid object? Another braying of ‘Being’?
The Imaginary Universe of ‘FreeWill’
Imagine a universe consisting of a single entity called ‘FreeWill’, & various expressive media.
Take away the ‘expressive media’.
In what way can the freedom of ‘FreeWill’ manifest, be, be known, occur, realise ‘itself’?
Put the ‘expressive media’ back.
If ‘FreeWill’ has complete control of the ‘expressive media’, to the extent that any ‘wish’, any desired transformation, is simultaneously a realisation, then is the metaphysical model of ‘Will’ correct in this scenario?
Such a model often has connotations of ‘resistance’ or ‘difficulty’, such that the articulation of form generates problems of ‘choice’. Concerns of construction, involving these connotations, would not be relevant. Perhaps they could be generated, as aesthetic possibilities?
The point, though, is that if the prevailing structure is that of a wholly undetermined wishfulness-without-limits, as it were, & instant realisation, is it possible to speak of there being anything other than ‘FreeWill’? Is it possible to speak of ‘expression’, even? If there is no ‘Other’, would ‘self-expression’, too, be suspect?
If such a suspicion obtains, what then of the status of ‘FreeWill’? An undeterminable process of transformation(s)?
So, the notion of ‘free will’ only has any significance in a context of determinations other than those of ‘will’. But such a context can be inflated, to the point where ‘will’ disappears, becoming a moment of contextual determination: & the ‘will’ can be inflated, to the point where all contextuality disappears, becoming mere solipsistic resonance. Both are ‘correct’, both are the results of conventions of reification. The mystic transcends both. The mystic realises that the ‘disappearance’ of either, entails the ‘disappearance’ of the other. The mystic realises that everything between is conventional. The mystic realises there are other possibilities.
Do What You Will, See What You Want
Even if we assume future predetermination, would it not follow that this future is inclusive of the results of free will?
If you’re going to objectify all of time, if you’re going to objectify ‘free will’, to the extent of calling it ‘free will’, why not objectify & repeat the whole ‘universe’? Once, as ‘potentia’, twice, as ‘realisation’? Would a repetition vitiate freedom, in any way? Would it vitiate a structure, where, in the ‘moment of action’, the agent’s act is solely derived from a wholly undetermined ‘Will’, thereby conforming to an ideal of absolute autonomy?
But, what is ‘autonomy’? Autonomy is always independence from a determining Otherness. If you assert, reify, or objectify, ‘freewill’, you’re simultaneously asserting, reifying, objectifying determination, too. So, the essence of the autonomous is essentially dependent on a determining Otherness, to operate, to be. No determining ‘otherness’ to be autonomous from, no autonomy, either. Therefore, ‘autonomy’ always arrives as a structural effect, in an inalienable complicity with ‘determination’.
But we’ll put that to one side, for the moment, we can entertain the common view & see where it leads. So, getting back to the ‘repetition of universe’ idea: if it is stated, that for the act of an agent to be ‘free’: at the ‘moment of action’, the time of enactment: ‘its’ ultimate source, as a ‘decisive act’, must not derive from any pattern of temporal determination, i.e., causality. If it is so derivative, does this render the ‘decisive act’ a determined one, suggesting an automaton rather than an agency of ‘freedom’?
If it is held that the future, which would be inclusive of ‘free acts’: that, in principle, are unamenable to prediction: is already pre-existent in ‘Eternity’: does this suggest that ‘Eternity’ is a wholly determining factor, vitiating the uniqueness of the moment of ‘free will’s’ enactment? Does Eternity’s preduplication render the unique moment of ‘free will’ as a ’caused’ re-enactment?
Firstly, if the preduplication is timeless, it cannot, strictly, be subsumed categorically by notions of temporal sequence (past, present & future), at all, so no temporal relation can obtain.
Secondly, is it even a ‘preduplication’? Or is it an Eternal ‘apprehension’, as it were, of a singular action in time?
Thirdly, if the contingent nature of temporal objectivity vitiates any actual achievement of an object, in the Presocratic sense, what is there to timelessly preduplicate, to eternalise?
Any argument from ‘eternal duration’ (eternal law, etc.) rests on a comparative systematically derived from the eventualities already rejected. The timeless definition of Eternity, ironically, could be said to reject eternal duration, too, if such duration is ‘temporal’.
As concepts, the past, present, & future are systematically interdependent. What would they be without the objective interrelationships & sequences that provision the indexes for any actual (referential) chronological measure?
Their intuitive distinctness is a concomitant of apprehension, & is contingent. If the attempt to anchor apprehension in a referential objectivity is posited, such anchoring is vitiated by that objectivity’s temporal nature.
To sum this section up: if the aforesaid dubious reifications are indulged, a problematic schism, between a ‘timeless Eternity’ & ‘the temporal’ is produced. This produces a schismatic doubling, under the twin signs of ‘Eternity’ & ‘Temporality’, which can only produce the conundrum of an illusory “‘intra-temporal’ agency”, sub specie aeternitatis, if the doubling is reified so as to produce two distinct & separate entities (the ‘future’ & its timeless ‘Eternal preduplication, as it were): & if the timeless subsumption, as it were, of all temporality by Eternity, is temporalised in an illegimate way.
Notwithstanding the conventional nature of temporal measurement & objectification, even if all that is granted: even if we grant that the timeless duplication of a ‘future action’ would imply the sheer existence, ‘somewhere’, of a preduplication of that action: then there are only two choices.
If the eternal preduplication is identical with the ‘future’, then so are their respective agencies & actions: temporal agency is timeless, eternal agency: if it isn’t identical, then “the future” cannot be spoken of in the singular, in the formulation “If the future is (already) real”.
Reruns of a Fixed Universe
It would seem that ‘free will’, in the absolute sense, would entail a freedom from any pattern of necessary determination not having its source in the self to whom the ‘free will’ belongs, or with which it can be identified. That is to say, the self has to have a freedom of choice with respect to all the causal streams it encounters. It may not always avail itself of this ‘freedom’ in explicit ways: it could just ‘go with the flow’: but the freedom to do nothing, as it were, is still an expression of freedom, if it is chosen.
For the ideal of ‘Absolute Freedom’ to obtain, for a willing self to truly express such an ‘Absolute Freedom’, the ‘moment’ of this willing self’s action, has to be wholly without reference to any other force, except itself. The ‘will’ has no connection with anything else except itself.
If this conception of an absolutely free will is said to ‘belong’ to a ‘self’, or (id)entity, indeed, in some way, is thought to be essential to such a ‘self’, this would imply that the essence of this ‘self’, too, is non-contingent, underived, not susceptible to being subsumed under any economics of causal determination that does not originate within itself. It becomes an origin, an original source of ‘expression’. Its relation to the temporal ‘universe’, then, is one of ‘transcendence’. It is the intervention of an absolute autonomy, in the causal streams of ‘determination’ constituting the temporal ‘universe’.
The possibilities of these two conceptions can be run through, as a ‘thought experiment’. Assuming the idea of a wholly determined ‘universe’, & the static image of fixed events which it suggests, the notion of absolute free will can be repeatedly tested against this background of fixed variables, to chart its conditions of metaphysical possibility – rerunning freedom over a fixed ‘universe’.
If, over a number of reruns, it shows any kind of discernible patterns of preference, any kind of consistency, ‘it’ enters the realm of predictive determination. Whether such a realm indicates the work of ‘universal’ causal determinacy external to a ‘free will’, or expressions of ‘eternal & innate characteristics’, as it were, of that ‘free will’, is an irresolvable & open question. But, even if the latter, such ‘eternal & innate characteristics’ retain complicity with the system of causal determinations within which the ‘discernible patterns of preference’ find ‘expression’, such preferentiality being doubly contingent, on ‘eternal & innate characteristics’ of the will, & on the system of causal determinations. Given this model, does the complicity introduce causal determinacy into the autonomy of will? Even if the ‘autonomous will’ possesses a ‘timeless’ structure of selective preferences ( its ‘eternal & innate characteristics’), is such a structure not, at least, informed by the system of causal determinations, or their possibility? If so, would not such an anticipatory informing constitute, essentially, a contingency (of anticipation), on ‘the system of causal determinations’, without which no anticipatory structure would be necessary?
If it is wholly random in its choices, at every rerun, is it possible to distinguish it as a coherent entity, as an entity, at all?
Its ‘selfhood’ would only consist of a somatic continuity, a situational form it is seen to inhabit, or whatever signifying traces collect under its nominal rubric. Other than that, it would not be identical to itself in any way, so could not fulfill a fundamental criterion of identity.
This would not necessarily obviate a transcendental essence, as it were, of ‘Self’, but it renders this ‘essence’ insusceptible to ‘intra-universal’ representation.
Realities – A Question of the Real
Reality as a Fixation
Reality is a necessary concomitant of realisation. Realisation is essentially temporal.
Furthermore,the notion of reality as a fixed narrative (of events), presupposes that the distribution of observable events & their laws of configuration: all of which are time-dependent: is somehow determinably objective (capable of finalisation, as a network of structural constants). But is it reasonable to project the linearity & limitations of the modes of objectivity that are characteristic of the empirically ‘real’, into the ‘Eternal’? Need ‘Eternity’ correspond to the extrapolations of conventional, temporal determination? If ‘Eternity’ is the negation of time, then even time-invariant laws, which derive their status of invariancy from fields of temporal variation, cannot, strictly, be seen as ‘timeless’? If you reject events from a ‘timeless Eternity’, are you not going to reject their time-invariant laws of configuration, too? Even if they’re of ‘eternal’ duration (lol)? What renders a discernible ‘law’ so special? Abstraction? Where is the absolute border between the ‘abstract’ & the ‘real’? Is it not contingent upon apprehension?
‘Reality’, as an empirical event, is always going to be a sampling, from a ‘temporal’ perspective.
To presuppose that an ‘Eternal’ view of ‘time’ would see only a singular & fixed sequence of events, is to extrapolate the temporal modalities of sampling, or reception, onto that which one has explicitly stated configures & transcends all realisations.
You’re assuming that Eternity operates according to a model of fixed presence: that the “finite or ‘intra-temporal’” apprehensions of determinate existence, necessarily configure Eternal apprehension, so to speak.
Eternity & Illusion
A timeless perspective would not imply any ‘reality’ of past, present, or future, with respect to each other, because they are realities of time, realisations. To say, “‘’If the future is (already) real, which eternity implies’” temporalises ‘Eternity’. If you abandon the temporal qualifier, the most that can be claimed is that ‘Eternity implies a Platonist reality’, from which all of time is ‘’equally accessible’’. You can’t treat Eternity’s access to the future as an “‘intra-temporal’” fact which somehow renders only “finite or ‘intra-temporal’ agency’” unreal. You can’t have it both ways. You have to admit the illusoriness of the “finite or ‘intra-temporal’, objective world, too.
A ‘real’ Eternity would imply that all of temporality is an illusion.
Positions of the Real
1) If Eternity, is positioned as ‘Real’, this turns all of the temporal into ‘illusion’, not just ‘finite or ‘intra-temporal’ agency’. The negative logic that opposes a timelessness conception of Eternity’ to the ‘temporal’, demands that all of temporality be considered ‘illusion’, if ‘Eternity’ is ‘real’.
Such being the case, ‘reality’ cannot be temporalised, at all. You can’t start mixing the intuitive conceptualisations of ‘finitude’, which are contingent, with half-baked domestications of metaphysics. The calculus of contingent abstr(actions), exemplified by the temporal indexes of ‘past’, ‘present’, & ‘future’, are essentially perspectival, linked to the metrics of objectivity, of eventuality, of perceived limitations.
If you say Eternity is real, trying to appropriate this ‘reality’ in the operations of ‘finitude’, in the calculations of ‘illusion’, when you’ve expressly stated such a ‘reality’ is the negation of all such contrivances, necessarily produces error.
2) If Temporality, is positioned as ‘Real’, then Eternity, being its negation, has to be considered an illusion, according to the same negative logic. But if you do this, ‘Reality’ is subject to contingency, arbitrariness, & infinite recontextualisation – the position of the ‘Real’ changes. Or is perspectival, if there is an attempt to reify an ‘objective principle’ & derive a hierarchy of superveniences. Any logic of valorisation just produces more perspectives.
3) The nub of the ‘error’ is in neglecting to mention ‘eternal agency’, such an elision possibly suggesting that ‘agency’ is only ‘finite or ‘intra-temporal’, instead of ‘its’ temporal ‘effects’ being so. You might not be saying that, explicitly, but an undue emphasis on the “‘finite or ‘intra-temporal’”, on the consensual abbreviations of manifest agency, could suggest it. The ‘agent’ can be considered in many ways. If you insist on measuring, or identifying, ‘it’, only according to the language of observed ‘finitudes’, of the consensually observed & legitimated distillations of historical narrative, you’re dealing with a socio-political & domesticated symbol of agency, not ‘real’, metaphysical agency, in the sense of ‘Eternal Reality’.
So, to sum up, if it is claimed that Eternity is not an endless sequence of events, then it cannot be identified with them, or their operations. If Eternity is seen as ‘real’, then temporality is necessarily unreal, including any ‘agency’ seen as temporal (“finite or ‘intra-temporal’ agency)”.
Though you didn’t state, explicitly, that Eternity was ‘real’, you did state that Eternity’s hosting of ‘the future’ implied that ‘future’s’ present reality. This, as has already been indicated, engages in a complicated itinerary of metonymic transference, wherein Eternity’s hosting is implicitly configured as the preduplication of a fixed ‘future’, whose sheer being or existence, though ‘timeless’, confers the status of illusion on all timely proceedings, including those of agency. The itinerary plays off one positioning of ‘reality’ against the implicitly suggested derivations of another*, in a subtle conflation that masks a blatant incompatibility with the folk metaphysics of idiomatic usage.
* Achieved through an elision.