unasked questions (1) freewill vs determinism

Mon, 23 May 1994 22:25:21 EDT

less important, and less easily resolved, than the question of wherein lies
the great ideological appeal of either or both of these notions. There is
also the question of the cultural underside whereby, say, a Little Tradition
emphasizing voluntarism is masked by a Great Tradition emphasizing fatalism.
Example: Extreme voluntarism of Russian peasant revolts, anarchism, and
Leninism. Or the other way around. Example: Prevalence of some level of
belief in astrology and behavioral genetics, at the ideological level these
are equivalent no matter what the scientific truth value, in contemporary
US society. (The development of voluntaristic rationalism in Classical
Antiquity was also associated with the prevalence of belief in astrology.
See Lloyd, Magic, Reason, and Experience, 1980.)

A relationship between ideological determinism or voluntarism and
behavior may obtain, as Stephanie Wilson points out, but may be less than
perfect. Doctrines of Divine Providence and Predestination in Islam and
Calvinism, for example, did not inhibit entrepreneurial behavior where
other conditions were propitious for it. Yet before we get down to the
relation of formal doctrine to behavior, we should specify the relatiion
of ideology at the level of formal doctrine to ideology at the level we
call Reality. This is all a more interesting and fruitful can of worms than
the one that's open now.

Daniel A. Foss