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Freedom And Moral Action

Nov 14, 2004
Admin note: A new thread started. This topic moved from Fools Who Wrangle over Flesh.

Spnadmin ji,

I think my main question was whether it makes any sense at all to think morality possible without freedom to decide or make choices.

In a world where in fact there is only a moment of consciousness, one following another, what needs to be known is what the reality is NOW.

Moral action is one kind of reality which may or may not arise in a day. However when it does, this is due to conditions, including accumulated inclinations from the past. If it is evil which is the reality now, this too is conditioned and only because there is an inclination for it. Sometimes, as in moments of sense experiences, the reality is neither good nor evil, but resultants, these too are however, *conditioned*.

There are just these kinds of realities in a day; everything else is in the realm of concepts. The past is the past, the present has already arisen and fallen away by the time it is known, and the next moment is unpredictable. The idea of "free will" must therefore be a result of misunderstanding the nature of reality / Truth. This often necessitates positing some kind of entity standing apart and to whom things happen, which is then saying that there is 'more' than just what has been conditioned to arise now.

Is the idea that this moment is conditioned and already fallen away, a fatalistic position? No, but coming to understand the present moment in the only way that it can possibly happen. And once it does happen, the inclination to the same is accumulated and that of thinking in terms of past and future is lessened, although very slight. And perhaps it will be seen then, that behind this insistence on choice is an attachment to and belief in the idea of 'control'.

As for your comment
Quote: So should we encourage freedom of choice or should we be talking about how morality and wisdom can be developed?

1. I am not certain that any one person or group can resolve the "should" part of your question. Either it is encouraged or it is not encouraged, which in turn has impact on whether there can be any morality absent freedom to make choices.

:) Yes, either it is encouraged or it isn't, but this is because it all comes down to 'conditions'. The 'should' is not about whether one can or cannot do, but what is of value and what isn't. Morality is not the product of thinking, nor can it be willed to arise. If one thinks that one can choose between good and evil, that thinking itself *is*, and the only object worthy of attention. So does it not look like that the insistence on 'choice' is in fact a hindrance to moral development?

2. The second part of your comment "should we be talking about how morality and wisdom can be developed?" is a philosophical question that has engaged philosophers from pre-Socratic times, east and west. Certainly I believe it is worth discussion. It is an excellent question but the discussion would take the thread off topic.

Again, this was only a statement about the value of considering morality as against the idea of freedom of choice.
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