You Cannot Claim BY Your Existence That You Do Not Exist: The false ideological paradox of human free will and choice, and the implicit determinism of physical or natural law

1.

[Please note that in this essay I will use the phrases “laws of physics”, “physical law”, and “natural law” interchangeably.]

“Since there is no distinction between man and the laws of physics, it is impossible that man should know and assert that he is determined by them, these laws.”

-Me

This is an axiom I have made countless times before, and yet it doesn’t seem to get much traction. Perhaps it’s difficult to wrap one’s head around the claim without a substantial amount of rumination, and experience with the underlying arguments. This is understandable, since the assertion runs ostensibly paradoxical to an ontology and frankly dubious scientific philosophies that are taken by the vast majority of people as given. But what is also difficult, and more like impossible, is its refutation. And this makes sense, of course, for you cannot refute–at least objectively (which is to say reasonably)–an axiomatic truth. A truth perfect in its rational consistency, and irreducible in its conclusions, which have been derived from a comprehensive and carefully reasoned examination of the premises it answers.

I do understand that the axiom I aver is not necessarily intuitive given the heavy influence of Platonist thinking in western culture, but nevertheless it is perfectly consistent to state the following:

If a man is absolutely determined to think what he thinks and believe what he believes and say what he says, then it must be because he is absolutely determined to BE what he is.

And if man is absolutely determined to be what he is, then there really isn’t any distinction between man’s Self and the determining force, ITSELF. For that which is absolutely determined must be an absolute function of that which determines it. In which case, there is no real or relevant distinction between the two. If man is absolutely determined by the laws of physics then man cannot know he is absolutely determined because there is no man which independently exists in the first place. There is no one to KNOW anything.

Nevertheless, it is often asserted and assumed that the laws of physics are not actually abstract, but are real, actual, and causal, and possess a power to govern and mathematically order all things (which makes math also non-abstract, being the “code” or “language” through which the determined order is set). And it is by this rationale that it is asserted, without as much as a blush toward the irony and contradiction, that human beings, their choices, and actions, and thoughts are determined by these physical laws. Or stated another way, there are many (if not most) people who claim that they and everyone else have no actual “free will” from the place of consciously autonomous, moral, volitional and self-aware agency; that bodies and brains are fully determined by natural law–by the mathematical constructs which dictate all processes; and therefore no one actually chooses or thinks or acts for themselves. Conscious existence is an illusion (an illusion of what, exactly, cannot be answered). There is no will. There is no choice. There is no doing. There is only the all-compelling force of physics.

And yet, somehow, without will or choice or volitional action, or self-existence, there IS knowledge. We are told that though man cannot actually think, he can know, and can possess understanding with respect to his categorical determinism. He is not existentially sufficient to individual action, nor does he possess an individual, independent capacity for learning. And yet he can know . He can know and assert with un-ironic certainty that he is absolutely determined by physical law.

People convinced of their own natural determinism declare with unequivocal surety a thing which their own logic and their own admission cannot possibly be true. To say that you can know that you cannot choose what you do and cannot choose what you think and cannot choose what you feel because what you ARE is an absolute function of determinative natural laws OUTSIDE of you is a contradiction so obvious that one must assume that the only reason it is not immediately recognized as self-negating is that it is completely obscured by the smoke of two thousand years of gnostic, Platonist philosophical convention which demands the “enlightened” determinist position. This and the evolution of the specious presumption that the scientist–many or most of whom conflate and infuse their false determinative philosophy with and into what is considered the empirical essence of the natural universe–is the final arbiter of Truth.

2.

To put the assertion more concisely: man knows that he is determined by the laws of physics because he is determined by the laws of physics to know.

How is it that one knows?

Because he is determined.

And how is it that he is determined?

Because he knows.

This is an outrageous and shocking bit of purely circular “reasoning”. And it is shocking because it is so quickly asserted and accepted by people who are otherwise to be considered to possess above-average intelligence.

(Short side note: If the above assertion is true then there can be no consciousness. Man can have no frame of reference for “he”, because “he” or “self” is a concept, and concepts are cognitive, and cognition is determined. And certainly if his thoughts are determined then his brain, which is part of his body is equally determined. In which case ALL of man is subsumed under absolute determinism. There is no individual consciousness because there is no individual body because all bodies are direct products of the all determining laws of physics. More explication of this below.)

Here is the real maliciousness and mendacity of the circular logic:

One knows that he is determined to know; and the knowing is the very, and ONLY, proof possible that he is determined to know. In this case, ultimately, it must be the root EXISTENCE of man which is the very PROOF that everything about him is determined, because what man knows is a direct and absolute function of his existence. Again, this makes man’s knowing of his determinism a function of his utterly determined existence by physical law. And of course it isn’t just knowing, or knowledge, but ALL that man does and whatever capabilities and capacities he possesses is a function of his root, irreducible existence. Therefore, determinism as a function of physical law is unfalsifiable because no matter what man does, or thinks, or asserts, it is proof of the veracity and efficacy of determinism. And this is why this circular reasoning (and circular reasoning in general) is so vile. It co-opts the entire argument by rendering ideas, and thus the argument itself, meaningless. It consigns ideas and all discussion and reason and cooperation into oblivion by making every counter point ipso facto agreement with the premise because it is only possible because of the POWER of the premise to effect it. Man exists–man IS–because he is determined to be. And therefore he knows whatever he knows because he is determined to know. And since ALL assertions, beliefs, ideas, presumptions, assumptions, opinions, hypotheses, theories, confessions of faith, affections, passions, sympathies, inclinations, inferences, and even queries etc. are a function of what man thinks and this a product of his full sum of knowledge and man’s knowledge is determined by the laws of physics, then ALL contrary arguments to determinism become affirmation and proof of it by fiat.

People, this is artifice.

Man’s knowledge is determined because man’s Self is determined. And is absolutely determined by that which is absolutely NOT man. Which…cannot be true. That which absolutely determined man IS absolutely man. Thus, there is no man. THAT’S the only way he is determined. In which case, what is man?

Man is nothing. So man cannot say that he knows. For “he” has been summarily removed from the existential equation.

3.

Man is absolutely determined by the laws of physics, so he knows. Because he knows, he is absolutely determined by the laws of physics. His conscious knowledge of his own absolute determinism by the determinative force–in this case, the laws of physics–is itself likewise by definition an absolute product of the determinative force. Man knows, somehow, that both he and what he knows are a direct and absolute function/product/derivative of natural law which must by its very definition and very purpose render any distinction between itself and man impossible. The tautology thus renders to us this equation:

Man’s knowledge via man, himself = the laws of physics.

Proceeding from this equation is what I call the Law of Absolute Context:

Because of this axiom rooted in the logic of determinative natural law, man does not and cannot possess a frame of reference–which could only be an independent, distinct, autonomous Self–by which to observe and thus define the ABSENCE of determinism as a function the laws of physics. Without being able to define a distinction between what is determined by the laws of physics from what is not determined by the laws of physics, and without being able to claim an individual identity or agency of Self because any such agency must be a direct function of the determinative laws of physics, he cannot possibly know that he is determined by the laws of physics. It’s the same false logic utilized by those who insist that the universe must have been consciously created by God due to the ostensibly non-chaotic, mathematically ordered nature of it. But one only has to point out that without the frame of reference of a DISORDERED universe, which is not possible because of the ABSOLUTE and ipso facto nature of the ORDERED universe, it cannot be claimed that the universe is necessarily ordered and thus must have been consciously created by God. A disordered universe is merely a theoretical abstraction, predicated upon the constant of the material, ordered universe, and a direct function of it. In which case, there is no actual, empirical distinction at all by which to make the comparison that would lead to the conclusion.

It is for this reason I submit that if the laws of physics determine man, man cannot possibly know he is determined, and thus he cannot claim it. The tautology makes it impossible. Man is determined by the laws of physics and therefore, by logical extension, his consciousness is determined, and from that determined consciousness he knows and claims that he is determined by the laws of physics. This necessitates the following corollary: man is determined by the laws of physics to claim what he knows, as a function of his consciousness which is a function of his being which is a function of the determinism of the laws of physics. Man’s Self and therefore ALL of his Self-expression IS nothing more than the EXACT natural law which determines him. By definition then, man is impossible. There is no distinct agency or identity to him. He has no Self and therefore no Self consciousness, no Self-awareness, no Self-knowledge, and no Self-expression–no ideas, no beliefs, no opinions, no assertions. This is why we must vigilantly resist taking seriously anyone who claims our free will is an illusion and our independent, conscious choice impossible because of the determinative power and nature of the laws of physics. Because if man has been entirely subordinated and subsumed by natural law, then he doesn’t actually exist and therefore he cannot know and thus claim that he does not exist.

The context is absolute determinism, you see. There is no context of non-determinism, or conscious agency free from the determinative power of the laws of physics which then creates the comparison that can lead to the conclusion that an independently conscious, moral agent is determined by the laws of physics.

And thus, again, the irreducible axiom must remain, and remain in perpetuity:

“Since there is no distinction between man and the laws of physics, it is impossible that man should know and assert that he is determined by them, these laws.”

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28 thoughts on “You Cannot Claim BY Your Existence That You Do Not Exist: The false ideological paradox of human free will and choice, and the implicit determinism of physical or natural law

  1. Cool. But I think your axiom might be phrased incorrectly, since it is not impossible that I might Assert that I know I am not determined by natural law, even as I am; I just asserted it right now. And the world did not crumble, so it is not Impossible to assert it, how ever false it might be.

    That an axiom needs no proof does not require reason; it merely is thus. Reason that it is axiomatic then is more an irony, a reflection of the truth it itself; axiomatic. But this does not make anything impossible necessarily, only continently.

    I think your logical reduction is imprecise. However true it might seem.

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    I do not mean that it is impossible to assert that you are determined, as in impossible to believe and declare. Indeed, my entire essay is a treatise on the fallacy of such an assertion. I mean that it is impossible that it be so. Meaning, you could not assert it if it were in fact true.

    The fact that one asserts that he is determined is the very proof that he is not determined. Thus, my axiom requires no underlying, further reducible argument, to prove it, necessarily, were I to concede your definition of what is “axiomatic”. I could say that arguments I employ in this essay are for the purposes of removing and dismantling the false ideas, assumptions, and premises which act as a barrier to people seeing and apprehending the axiom. And unless you take the time to do this, you cannot expect that the axiom will necessarily appear axiomatic.

    Besides that, how can one arrive at an axiom without conceptual consistency? All axioms are rooted in concepts, a function of cognition. Thus, no axioms exist apart from reducing concepts to their most basic, non-contradictory parts.

    I think you define axioms as somehow existing independent of human cognition and consciousness (and by consciousness I mean “awareness of Self”). Which is impossible, since it is only by your cognition and consciousness that you can claim an axiom is in fact axiomatic. Otherwise, you claim an axiom exists “outside” yourself. Which is impossible since putting anything existentially outside yourself makes it infinitely exclusive of you. In which case, you could have no awareness of it.

    In other words, you cannot claim that any premise “is so” apart from the frame of reference of your independently conscious Self. By consciousness you employ concepts, and conceptual consistency is reason. And from this, and only this, do you get axioms.

  3. Hmm. I think you are missing something. Maybe, your idea of reason as a ubiquitous ideological mandate. Badiou, Zizek,Laruelle, maybe Harman, Latour. Might disagree with you. Maybe. It appears the terms you use to place your proposal are taken to reflect unilateral and unimpeachable maxims, identifying an unproblematic stasis, of sorts, whose effect encompasses a whole type to f humanity. I’m not sure if this is justifiable.

  4. …just because you say there can’t be things outside concepts — this itself is relying upon some basic condition of reason being a conduit of sorts, of some ‘universal truth’, which is then a kind of reasonable axiomatic state.

  5. So, I would say that axioms are in fact a product of logical reduction. And thus the only way my reduction is imprecise is if it leads to an incorrect conclusion; and/or a conclusion which is not irreducible.

  6. …maybe. How can you have a logical reduction without some informing object by which the reduction has any veracity? Perhaps the axiom is ‘leading’ reason to its ‘reason’ ? What is reason?

  7. Ah…here we go with the Kant accusations. I was wondering how long it would take.

    You were the quickest to draw that false comparison ever.

    I’ve nothing in common with Kant. And before you can make such a comparison, you need to ask a lot more questions.

  8. You are employing a false dichotomy. Material reality from consciousness. No. There are abstract concepts and material concepts, but both are concepts.

    observation without conceptualization is a zero sum equation. Without cognition and consciousness what “is” before it is observed and after it is observed is one and the same. Observation is the means by which man expresses himself, not becomes himself.

  9. Yes. If by “universal truth” you mean an irreducible, absolute metaphysic. A singularity which can incorporate both relative distinction (because all actions are relative) and the conceptualization of those distinctions by which they have any meaning and efficacy.

    But you not asked me any questions about that. You’ve invoke Kant, the “Hitler” of philosophical debate, but haven’t asked me about my metaphysics. You haven’t asked me anything, actually.

  10. I define reason as absolute conceptual consistency. And since concepts are how man organizes his reality to the promotion of Self qua Self, then reason is the only means man has of claiming Truth. There is no evidence, no axiom, no morality, no Truth outside of reason.

  11. So, are you saying we are determined , but our ability to reason defies the possibility of implementing such determinism as a reasoned act, that is, of effecting a kind of ‘categorical imperative’ ?

  12. I mean, if you can show me a truth that you observe from outside the frame of reference of your own existence, your own conscious Self, then I’d love to see it. If you can show me something that is true absolutely ABSENT you, then that would be something. But I think you’ll find this difficult, to say the least.

    I call it “the Law of Absolute Context”

    My article above explains why.

  13. Not at all. Determinism is impossible because determinism itself becomes absolute. What determines determinism to determine whatever it determines? There is no answer to that question except “more determinism”. And on and on. Determinism precludes reason.

    The only “categorical imperative” I am aware of is the Self, of the Self, and from the frame of reference of Self. The Individual, from himself and to himself, is the only imperative that make sense. (P.S. I’m not an objectivist.)

  14. The fact that you are positing some sort of truth, evidences I kind of axiomatic basis from which you gain the veracity of the statement, transferred to me. Otherwise you are ‘playing’ an automatic and necessary series of events that is the clausal formation, never mind that I can only apprehend this event ( the series of terms) is such a way wherein I have no choice on the matter.

    I am not sure how you are attending or reaching a middle ground.

  15. What I propose is ultimately not a “series of events” in this article. It is a rationally consistent line of thinking from specific premise to a specific irreducible conclusion. The “events” are ultimately just concepts conjoined in ways that do not contradict. From that, I can argue my axiom.

    Im not sure what you mean by “middle ground”.

  16. How Can a singularity not be determined? Is not a singularity at its zenith a zero sum?

    Concepts that do not contradict only occur as such within a particular medium. It appears you are placing all this within a ubiquitous and omnipresent arena.

    You appear quite Kantian because you appear to place the ‘operative of knowing’ , a ‘privileged user of reason’ , in the center from which vectors of authority proclaim upon what might be ‘the rest’, or otherwise all that which is subject or submits to this Swiss Army knife here called ‘reason’.

  17. …middle ground, meaning either you are drawing truth from some arena other that the area where discourse occurs, or the discourse itself is the only arena. Where is a ‘third course’ ?

  18. And I really don’t see the problem your having. I claim an axiom, and then I argue why it’s axiomatic. I use reason–rational consistency–to verify that which I have claimed is axiomatic.

    This you dislike because it proposes that axioms must have reasons they are axiomatic. Which…I would say it’s impossible to claim and axiom without explaining why it’s axiomatic. A thing “which is” but which cannot be rationally integrated into how humans define “reality” and organize their environment, is categorically irrelevant to them. Which means that they cannot be claimed axiomatic by definition.

    But, if I explicate the axiomatic nature of the axiom using the only tool humanity has for accepting something as absolutely true, reason, then I’m just playing an automatic and ipso fact “series of events” which necessarily excludes your own will, as though you can ultimately “choose” what is impossible according to reason. Which…no. My argument is that if as soon as you “choose” to violate reason, you actually affirm it.

    E.g., as soon as you “choose” to believe you are determined you actually affirm the fact that you cannot possibly be determined.

    I’m not quite sure what you expect me to concede here. And I’m not really sure you have an actual point. You seem to want a “middle ground” of paradox or something.

  19. The use of reason is not an appeal to authority. It takes no authority to “enforce” an axiom arrived upon by conceptual consistency…consistent to the Standard of the Self. But even “self” is a concept that must rationally comport with the root metaphysic. The truth of the axiom enforces itself. There is no authority involved in the truth that: as soon as you say you are determined, you cannot possibly be determined.

    This is where your perspective is more projection. The real Kantian is the one who conflates freedom of choice and will as the abject ability to declare a “reality” outside of the individual. A reality utterly exclusive of human reason (conceptual consistency rooted in a rational, absolute, singular metaphysic).

  20. Does reason find itself with reference to something that is not reason? Or does reason move ‘thru its own waters’ ? Or is there another way?

  21. … Because. I tend to see this consistency as implying an axiomatic situation. That reason witnessed unto its consistency is axiomatic in its presentation.

  22. Wow…no offense, but you are really projecting here. You’ve already categorized me. That’s a very difficult hole for me to climb out of. Really puts me at a disadvantage.

    Less assumption, more careful reading of my comments would be appreciated.

    I’ve said a couple times, in so many words, that all things are a function of the metaphysic which allows for relative distinctions in “objects” which are then given meaning and efficacy by the necessary corollary to relativity, conceptualization.

    The metaphysic must be a singularity because you cannot have a dichotomy as either a “material” or “conceptual”, or however you want to label it, root. Essence. All. Is.

  23. The argument is always fundamentally about the metaphysics. The answer to the question “what is…(A-Z)?” always distills down to the metaphysical root.

  24. “That reason witnessed unto its consistency is axiomatic in its presentation.”

    Perhaps, but so what? That’s the point of my philosophy. To show how axioms are always axiomatic because reason itself is axiomatic. This is because conceptual consistency is axiomatic. Because YOU and ME as Self is axiomatic. Because the metaphysics are axiomatic.

    The problem isn’t one of the “circular logic” of an axiomatic argument. It is ultimately the denial that axiomatic truth, which is the only Truth (because rational consistency stems from a legitimate metaphysic) is really true at all.

    It’s not circular. It’s a system wherein the metaphysic affirms itself by the very reason it demands from the moral agents it “spawns”.

    I get your reservations. I really do. This is hard.

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