PHI 1103 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Determinism
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Humans are Determined
Determinism: the belief that all acts are caused by past events and, given enough knowledge,
one could predict what a person will do, with this in mind, can one be blamed if all of one’s acts
1. How does Holbach describe a person’s life on earth?
Man’s life is in a line that nature commands him to describe upon the surface of the earth
● He is born without his consent
● His organization does in no way depend upon himself
● His ideas come to him involuntarily
● His habits are in the power of those who cause him to contract them
● He is unceasingly modified by causes (visible or concealed) over which he has no
Despite being entirely controlled by forces beyond his control, he must still pretend he is a free
2. Why does society reject the idea that all of the actions of humans are necessary?
Society rejects the idea that all of the actions of humans are necessary because if it were true,
then the right of punishing those who injure their associates would no longer exist. Instead,
human vanity has created a hypothesis which distinguishes man from all other physical beings.
3. What is the relation between the brain and the will?
The will is a modification of the brain, this will is necessarily determined by the qualities (good or
bad) of the objects that act upon his senses.
He acts necessarily because his action are the result of the impulses he received either from the
motive, from the object (from his senses), or from the idea which has modified his brain =>
disposed his will
4. What have been the errors of philosophers on the free agency of man? What are the
sources of actions of humans?
The errors of philosophers on the free agency of man have arisen from their regarding his will
as the original motive of his actions. They have not perceived the multiplied and complicated
causes which cause his will (independently of him), or which modify his brain.
The sources of human action are his natural organization and the causes by which he is
5. Why is a person not free even when there is an absence of obstacles?
Free agency: the absence of obstacles competent to oppose themselves to the action of man
In response: it is not up to him to place or remove the obstacles that either determine or resists
him. Also, he is not master of the thought presented to his mind which determines his will
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