Free Will and Determinism: Baron D’Holbach and William James No unread replies. No replies. Free Will and Determinism (390-394)
For this assignment, read the introduction on Free Will and Determinism and Baron D’Holbach We are Completely Determined, 395-400.
For this assignement, we begin an exploration of determinism, the idea or theory that everything in the cosmos (universe) is inevitably dependent upon a causal event. This idea is in opposition of free will, or libertarianism, where the individual is the primary or only cause behind actions.
You are reading Baron D’Holbach’s “We are Completely determined” on pages 383-389. He was a materialist who argued that free will is an illusion. For him, there is no such thing as a soul. Humans are materialist objects that just happen to be able to move.
Here are some quick facts about Baron D’Holbach, Paul-Henri Thiry (1723-1789). He was a prominent French author who was very wealthy. He was also an atheist and wrote arguments against religion. He also created a salon for people to attend—these were meetings on select days for men where food and wine were provided while participating in discussions.
Does D’Holbach make a convincing argument for determinism? If he does, cite examples from the text, which offers the greatest support. If he is unsuccessful, explain why? What do you think are the specific weaknesses in the text? Does William James sufficiently explain why neither free will nor determinism can be proved and why it is better to choose free will over determinism? Explain.