Rafed English

Freedom and Liberty

There is no doubt that if the divinely appointed fate is supposed to be related to the events direct without the intervention of the causes, human freedom and liberty will have no meaning. Now the next question is whether it is possible to accept the general principle of causation and the principle of human liberty simultaneously. Are they not inconsistent? It appears that the only way to believe in human freedom and liberty is to consider human will and acts not to be related to any external causes and to accept the first theory out of the three theories mentioned above.

Many ancient and modern thinkers are of the view that the principle of causation is inconsistent with human liberty, and hence they believe in free will not related to any cause. In other words they are the proponents of mere chance and accident.

We have established in the foot-notes of our book, Principles of Philosophy, vol. III that the general principle of causation is undeniable and it admits of no exception. The denial of relation between human will and external causes would amount to saying that the acts of man are totally beyond his control. Thus instead of adding to human liberty, we will be diminishing it further, by accepting the view.

Man has been created free. That means that he has been endowed with intellect, will and thinking power. As far as his intentional acts are concerned, he is not like a stone which if dropped from above will automatically fall on the ground under the pressure of the gravity of the earth. Nor is he like a plant which has only a very limited course open to it and is only subject to the laws of growth and decay. Similarly he is not like a mere animal which works only instinctively. Man always finds himself at cross roads, but is not in any way compelled to choose anyone of them. Other roads are not closed to him. The choice depends upon his will and personal thinking. It is entirely up to him to choose a particular way.

His choice will be the outcome of his personality, his moral and spiritual qualities, his previous training, his hereditary traits and his intellectual capacity. His happy or unhappy future depends on these qualities and the choice he makes consequently.

Fire burns; water submerges; a plant grows and an animal walks. They all work. The difference is that they do not choose, whereas man chooses. He decides what he wants to do and which way he wants to go. His work is subject to his own personal desire.

Adapted from the book: "Man and Destiny" by: "Shahid Mutahhari"

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