Beyond Karma

Prashant Sharma psharma at BUPHY.BU.EDU
Thu Mar 19 10:57:40 CST 1998

On Wed, 18 Mar 1998, Jonathan Bricklin wrote:

> On Wed, 18 March 1998, Prashant Sharma wrote:
> >        Free will is really a matter of choice that is present (goes with
> >the individual), rather
> >than of "making something new".  It is not too difficult to take the view
> >that nothing "new" is ever created (in the sense that the knowledge of it
> >didnot exist in some form).
> My argument is that, in the absence of any evidence of free will, we use
> analogies with other sc-called acts of creation or generation.  We *do* in
> these analogies believe in the generation and creation of something new.
> It would be very hard to conceptualize a belief in free will without those
> analogies.
        The view that I am talking about is related to the fatalistic
philosophy  according to which the statement that there is no freedom of
action (or free will), means that there is  no way of acting except
through the help of the knowledge that is passed on to an individual.
However, that doesnot mean that the individual is devoid of freedom of
choosing between known alternatives.  And since the individual is itself
existing because of knowledge, it is he who makes this choice. This is the
"free will" that I don't see being denied as long as the individual is

> >However, even that view doesn't deny the freedom
> >of choice that an individual has. Let me state it this way.  The knowledge
> >of individuality is inherent
> Why elevate  "sense of" to "knowledge of"?
        There is no meaning to "sense of " individuality all by
itself, when there is no individual without the "knowledge of" his

> >and has nothing to do with a belief system
> >but more to do with the way the thing is structured.
> I don't know what you mean by "the way the thing is structured."

        By this I mean the fact that there is no way of seperating an
individual from another except through the knowledge which is common to
both. This is the structure that is referred to as "mayA". I remember my
vedAnta teacher referring to the meaning of mAya as "to measure".  But
there is no way one can measure anything unless there is a space, and
there is a point of reference. The moment thought arises, that becomes the
point of reference, and one creates another point and tries to measure. So
thought creates space and anything one experiences from that point on is
an illusion.  Whatever one expreiences of the world, or of oneself as an
entity, is an illusion because that experience is born out of the
knowledge that is there.

> >Along with this comes the knowledge of choice and thence free will.  I
> really don't see
> >how you can deny that.
> Once again, why elevate "belief" in will to "knowledge" of will?  Changing
> the word is not going to change your experience into an empirical certainty
> or a mathematical formula.  What *knowledge* do you have of free will?

        The same kind that you have of your existence!

> do not deny that *belief*, at any rate, in free will is inherent in the
> structure of individuality, as individuality is *commonly* understood.  In
> fact that was my point.

My point was that you cannot deny the freedom of choice while still
claiming that you are an individual.  The two go hand in hand.  And this
is borne out in everyday life. Do you actually live without exercising
your choices? Even this argument cannot be continued without "will".

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