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Pre-destined or choice?
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 12:19 pm    Post subject: Pre-destined or choice? Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

Do Ismailis believe in pre-destination or free-will (choice)? In nite school I was told and I also heard this from my dad's friend that we are pre-destined, but I am confused wheather to believe in it or not.
So can you please answer this question with our holy scriptures and farmans of the Imams.

Thank you
Faisal icon_confused.gif
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is what Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah says in his memoir.

"In Islam the Faithful believe in Divine justice and are convinced that the solution of the great problem of predestination and free will is to be found in the compromise that God knows what man is going to do, but that man is free to do it or not."
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you tell me your interpretation of the above quote?

Thank you
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

faisall667 wrote:
Can you tell me your interpretation of the above quote?

Thank you

This has always been a very controversial issue throughout history. That is the reason the Imam has used a neutral approach. On the one hand there is a point of view that everything happens through the will of God which if driven to the extreme leads to fatalistic view of life and intellectual sloth. On the other hand there is a view that humans are free to choose between what is right and what is wrong which if driven to its extreme leads to intellectual vanity and pride.

My view is that the Divine intellect (Aql-e-kul) both transcends and informs the human intellect (Aql-e-juz). Hence, while the human intellect is free to choose, the Divine intellect already knows what the choice is going to be by informing the functioning of the human intellect and by setting the appropriate context for the choice to be made. In this respect the human becomes a co-creator with God. This approach yields peace regardless of the outcome, because the individual surrenders the results to His will knowing that he exercised his God given intellect to its full potential.

I hope it clarifies a bit.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

January 2, 2007
Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t

I was a free man until they brought the dessert menu around. There was one of those molten chocolate cakes, and I was suddenly being dragged into a vortex, swirling helplessly toward caloric doom, sucked toward the edge of a black (chocolate) hole. Visions of my father’s heart attack danced before my glazed eyes. My wife, Nancy, had a resigned look on her face.

The outcome, endlessly replayed whenever we go out, is never in doubt, though I often cover my tracks by offering to split my dessert with the table. O.K., I can imagine what you’re thinking. There but for the grace of God.

Having just lived through another New Year’s Eve, many of you have just resolved to be better, wiser, stronger and richer in the coming months and years. After all, we’re free humans, not slaves, robots or animals doomed to repeat the same boring mistakes over and over again. As William James wrote in 1890, the whole “sting and excitement” of life comes from “our sense that in it things are really being decided from one moment to another, and that it is not the dull rattling off of a chain that was forged innumerable ages ago.” Get over it, Dr. James. Go get yourself fitted for a new chain-mail vest. A bevy of experiments in recent years suggest that the conscious mind is like a monkey riding a tiger of subconscious decisions and actions in progress, frantically making up stories about being in control.

As a result, physicists, neuroscientists and computer scientists have joined the heirs of Plato and Aristotle in arguing about what free will is, whether we have it, and if not, why we ever thought we did in the first place.

“Is it an illusion? That’s the question,” said Michael Silberstein, a science philosopher at Elizabethtown College in Maryland. Another question, he added, is whether talking about this in public will fan the culture wars.

“If people freak at evolution, etc.,” he wrote in an e-mail message, “how much more will they freak if scientists and philosophers tell them they are nothing more than sophisticated meat machines, and is that conclusion now clearly warranted or is it premature?”

Daniel C. Dennett, a philosopher and cognitive scientist at Tufts University who has written extensively about free will, said that “when we consider whether free will is an illusion or reality, we are looking into an abyss. What seems to confront us is a plunge into nihilism and despair.”

Mark Hallett, a researcher with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said, “Free will does exist, but it’s a perception, not a power or a driving force. People experience free will. They have the sense they are free.

“The more you scrutinize it, the more you realize you don’t have it,” he said.

That is hardly a new thought. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, as Einstein paraphrased it, that “a human can very well do what he wants, but cannot will what he wants.”

Einstein, among others, found that a comforting idea. “This knowledge of the non-freedom of the will protects me from losing my good humor and taking much too seriously myself and my fellow humans as acting and judging individuals,” he said.

How comforted or depressed this makes you might depend on what you mean by free will. The traditional definition is called “libertarian” or “deep” free will. It holds that humans are free moral agents whose actions are not predetermined. This school of thought says in effect that the whole chain of cause and effect in the history of the universe stops dead in its tracks as you ponder the dessert menu.

At that point, anything is possible. Whatever choice you make is unforced and could have been otherwise, but it is not random. You are responsible for any damage to your pocketbook and your arteries.

“That strikes many people as incoherent,” said Dr. Silberstein, who noted that every physical system that has been investigated has turned out to be either deterministic or random. “Both are bad news for free will,” he said. So if human actions can’t be caused and aren’t random, he said, “It must be — what — some weird magical power?”

People who believe already that humans are magic will have no problem with that.

But whatever that power is — call it soul or the spirit — those people have to explain how it could stand independent of the physical universe and yet reach from the immaterial world and meddle in our own, jiggling brain cells that lead us to say the words “molten chocolate.”

A vote in favor of free will comes from some physicists, who say it is a prerequisite for inventing theories and planning experiments.

That is especially true when it comes to quantum mechanics, the strange paradoxical theory that ascribes a microscopic randomness to the foundation of reality. Anton Zeilinger, a quantum physicist at the University of Vienna, said recently that quantum randomness was “not a proof, just a hint, telling us we have free will.”

Is there any evidence beyond our own intuitions and introspections that humans work that way?

Two Tips of the Iceberg

In the 1970s, Benjamin Libet, a physiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, wired up the brains of volunteers to an electroencephalogram and told the volunteers to make random motions, like pressing a button or flicking a finger, while he noted the time on a clock.

Dr. Libet found that brain signals associated with these actions occurred half a second before the subject was conscious of deciding to make them.

The order of brain activities seemed to be perception of motion, and then decision, rather than the other way around.

In short, the conscious brain was only playing catch-up to what the unconscious brain was already doing. The decision to act was an illusion, the monkey making up a story about what the tiger had already done.

Dr. Libet’s results have been reproduced again and again over the years, along with other experiments that suggest that people can be easily fooled when it comes to assuming ownership of their actions. Patients with tics or certain diseases, like chorea, cannot say whether their movements are voluntary or involuntary, Dr. Hallett said.

In some experiments, subjects have been tricked into believing they are responding to stimuli they couldn’t have seen in time to respond to, or into taking credit or blame for things they couldn’t have done. Take, for example, the “voodoo experiment” by Dan Wegner, a psychologist at Harvard, and Emily Pronin of Princeton. In the experiment, two people are invited to play witch doctor.

One person, the subject, puts a curse on the other by sticking pins into a doll. The second person, however, is in on the experiment, and by prior arrangement with the doctors, acts either obnoxious, so that the pin-sticker dislikes him, or nice.

After a while, the ostensible victim complains of a headache. In cases in which he or she was unlikable, the subject tended to claim responsibility for causing the headache, an example of the “magical thinking” that makes baseball fans put on their rally caps.

“We made it happen in a lab,” Dr. Wegner said.

Is a similar sort of magical thinking responsible for the experience of free will?

“We see two tips of the iceberg, the thought and the action,” Dr. Wegner said, “and we draw a connection.”

But most of the action is going on beneath the surface. Indeed, the conscious mind is often a drag on many activities. Too much thinking can give a golfer the yips. Drivers perform better on automatic pilot. Fiction writers report writing in a kind of trance in which they simply take dictation from the voices and characters in their head, a grace that is, alas, rarely if ever granted nonfiction writers.

Naturally, almost everyone has a slant on such experiments and whether or not the word “illusion” should be used in describing free will. Dr. Libet said his results left room for a limited version of free will in the form of a veto power over what we sense ourselves doing. In effect, the unconscious brain proposes and the mind disposes.

In a 1999 essay, he wrote that although this might not seem like much, it was enough to satisfy ethical standards. “Most of the Ten Commandments are ‘do not’ orders,” he wrote.

But that might seem a pinched and diminished form of free will.

Good Intentions

Dr. Dennett, the Tufts professor, is one of many who have tried to redefine free will in a way that involves no escape from the materialist world while still offering enough autonomy for moral responsibility, which seems to be what everyone cares about.

The belief that the traditional intuitive notion of a free will divorced from causality is inflated, metaphysical nonsense, Dr. Dennett says reflecting an outdated dualistic view of the world.

Rather, Dr. Dennett argues, it is precisely our immersion in causality and the material world that frees us. Evolution, history and culture, he explains, have endowed us with feedback systems that give us the unique ability to reflect and think things over and to imagine the future. Free will and determinism can co-exist.

“All the varieties of free will worth having, we have,” Dr. Dennett said.

“We have the power to veto our urges and then to veto our vetoes,” he said. “We have the power of imagination, to see and imagine futures.”

In this regard, causality is not our enemy but our friend, giving us the ability to look ahead and plan. “That’s what makes us moral agents,” Dr. Dennett said. “You don’t need a miracle to have responsibility.”

Other philosophers disagree on the degree and nature of such “freedom.” Their arguments partly turn on the extent to which collections of things, whether electrons or people, can transcend their origins and produce novel phenomena.

These so-called emergent phenomena, like brains and stock markets, or the idea of democracy, grow naturally in accordance with the laws of physics, so the story goes. But once they are here, they play by new rules, and can even act on their constituents, as when an artist envisions a teapot and then sculpts it — a concept sometimes known as “downward causation.” A knowledge of quarks is no help in predicting hurricanes — it’s physics all the way down. But does the same apply to the stock market or to the brain? Are the rules elusive just because we can’t solve the equations or because something fundamentally new happens when we increase numbers and levels of complexity?

Opinions vary about whether it will ultimately prove to be physics all the way down, total independence from physics, or some shade in between, and thus how free we are. Dr. Silberstein, the Elizabethtown College professor, said, “There’s nothing in fundamental physics by itself that tells us we can’t have such emergent properties when we get to different levels of complexities.”

He waxed poetically as he imagined how the universe would evolve, with more and more complicated forms emerging from primordial quantum muck as from an elaborate computer game, in accordance with a few simple rules: “If you understand, you ought to be awestruck, you ought to be bowled over.”

George R. F. Ellis, a cosmologist at the University of Cape Town, said that freedom could emerge from this framework as well. “A nuclear bomb, for example, proceeds to detonate according to the laws of nuclear physics,” he explained in an e-mail message. “Whether it does indeed detonate is determined by political and ethical considerations, which are of a completely different order.”

I have to admit that I find these kind of ideas inspiring, if not liberating. But I worry that I am being sold a sort of psychic perpetual motion machine. Free wills, ideas, phenomena created by physics but not accountable to it. Do they offer a release from the chains of determinism or just a prescription for a very intricate weave of the links?And so I sought clarity from mathematicians and computer scientists. According to deep mathematical principles, they say, even machines can become too complicated to predict their own behavior and would labor under the delusion of free will.

If by free will we mean the ability to choose, even a simple laptop computer has some kind of free will, said Seth Lloyd, an expert on quantum computing and professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Every time you click on an icon, he explained, the computer’s operating system decides how to allocate memory space, based on some deterministic instructions. But, Dr. Lloyd said, “If I ask how long will it take to boot up five minutes from now, the operating system will say ‘I don’t know, wait and see, and I’ll make decisions and let you know.’ ”

Why can’t computers say what they’re going to do? In 1930, the Austrian philosopher Kurt Gödel proved that in any formal system of logic, which includes mathematics and a kind of idealized computer called a Turing machine, there are statements that cannot be proven either true or false. Among them are self-referential statements like the famous paradox stated by the Cretan philosopher Epimenides, who said that all Cretans are liars: if he is telling the truth, then, as a Cretan, he is lying.

One implication is that no system can contain a complete representation of itself, or as Janna Levin, a cosmologist at Barnard College of Columbia University and author of the 2006 novel about Gödel, “A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines,” said: “Gödel says you can’t program intelligence as complex as yourself. But you can let it evolve. A complex machine would still suffer from the illusion of free will.”

Another implication is there is no algorithm, or recipe for computation, to determine when or if any given computer program will finish some calculation. The only way to find out is to set it computing and see what happens. Any way to find out would be tantamount to doing the calculation itself.

“There are no shortcuts in computation,” Dr. Lloyd said.

That means that the more reasonably you try to act, the more unpredictable you are, at least to yourself, Dr. Lloyd said. Even if your wife knows you will order the chile rellenos, you have to live your life to find out.

To him that sounds like free will of a sort, for machines as well as for us. Our actions are determined, but so what? We still don’t know what they will be until the waiter brings the tray.

That works for me, because I am comfortable with so-called physicalist reasoning, and I’m always happy to leverage concepts of higher mathematics to cut through philosophical knots.

The Magician’s Spell

So what about Hitler?

The death of free will, or its exposure as a convenient illusion, some worry, could wreak havoc on our sense of moral and legal responsibility. According to those who believe that free will and determinism are incompatible, Dr. Silberstein said in an e-mail message, it would mean that “people are no more responsible for their actions than asteroids or planets.” Anything would go.

Dr. Wegner of Harvard said: “We worry that explaining evil condones it. We have to maintain our outrage at Hitler. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a theory of evil in advance that could keep him from coming to power?”

He added, “A system a bit more focused on helping people change rather than paying them back for what they’ve done might be a good thing.”

Dr. Wegner said he thought that exposing free will as an illusion would have little effect on people’s lives or on their feelings of self-worth. Most of them would remain in denial.

“It’s an illusion, but it’s a very persistent illusion; it keeps coming back,” he said, comparing it to a magician’s trick that has been seen again and again. “Even though you know it’s a trick, you get fooled every time. The feelings just don’t go away.”

In an essay about free will in 1999, Dr. Libet wound up quoting the writer Isaac Bashevis Singer, who once said in an interview with the Paris Review, “The greatest gift which humanity has received is free choice. It is true that we are limited in our use of free choice. But the little free choice we have is such a great gift and is potentially worth so much that for this itself, life is worthwhile living.”

I could skip the chocolate cake, I really could, but why bother? Waiter!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Book probes ancient metaphors for better understanding of God
By Douglas Todd, Canwest News Service
October 31, 2009

The 1994 Northridge, Calif., earthquake caused wide damage. Author Carolyn Jane Bohler says nature has elements of chance and chaos.
Photograph by: Herald Archive, AFP; Getty Images, Canwest News Service

Soon after I was born, my father had a mental breakdown that lasted his entire life, which meant I never lived with him. Instead, I visited him on Sundays.

Since I went on to be raised in a household headed by atheists, my thinking about how this terrible illness could happen to my father did not lead to me asking: "Why would God do such a thing?"

As a young atheist, I just assumed life was chaotic and full of danger, including the Second World War in which my father had served years earlier as an ambulance driver.

By my early 20s, however, I was becoming open to a spiritual quest. So it became impossible to ignore the age-old question: "If there is a loving God, why do tragic things happen, including to a decent man?"

From time immemorial, millions of things have been said and written about this difficult question: What kind of power does the divine, if it exists, hold?

It's impossible to go into the complexity of this paramount metaphysical issue here, but I can point readers to one of the more accessible and wiser new contributions to the study.

It's a new book titled God the What? What Our Metaphors for God Reveal about Our Beliefs in God (Skylight Paths).

In a kitchen-table kind of way, the book explores many of the metaphors that have been used through human history about God.

Along the way, through a workbook format, God the What? adds more than a few surprising new metaphors for God for us to reflect on.

Author Carolyn Jane Bohler writes that metaphors are the only way humans have to describe their experience and understanding of God.

God will continue being whatever God is, Bohler says. But for humans "there is no way to think about God without metaphors." Her position might trouble some, but it makes sense.

For Bohler and many other religious people, the challenge is to point to the reality of God with the most accurate and evocative metaphors possible, realizing they'll always be partial.

Two awful things in life forced Bohler to dramatically question traditional metaphors for divinity while confronting the question: What is the real nature of God in a seemingly chaotic world?

They were the accidental death of her beloved son at age 19, and being near the epicentre of the catastrophic 1994 Northridge, Calif., earthquake.

As a Christian professor and pastor, Bohler became a bit like the suffering biblical figure, Job. She found it crucial to dig intensely through a wide range of understandings of God, of metaphors.

Although her intense pain momentarily drew her to the image of an all-powerful Almighty Lord, or king, who would magically make everything better, she ultimately couldn't accept it.

She couldn't believe a loving God would choose to kill her son, or directly choose to cause an earthquake that caused devastating damage.

It didn't make sense to her, as it does not to me in regards to my dad's illness.

To make her long biographical story short, Bohler came to reconfirm for herself, as I have, that nature has elements of chance and even chaos.

But, in the midst of this randomness, she believes God is the ultimate creative and sustaining power trying to bring everything in the universe to beauty and wholeness.

God does not have the power of force, control or coercion, Bohler concluded. God exerts power through persuasion, the gentle power of love.

While Bohler, an American, rightly celebrates many ancient metaphors for God--such as that of a Rock, Shepherd, Father and of Love--she also adapts some of them.

For instance, the United Methodist Church thinker finds great value in the metaphor of God being like a Rock, "steady, always there, strong."

However, she realizes, like all metaphors, the rock image sets a tone that is both true and not exactly true--since she rejects the connotation that God is unfeeling.

That's why it's necessary to not get stuck on one metaphor for God.

Since one of the most long-standing western names for God has been Father, Bohler spends time unravelling the implications of that rich and, for many, problematic, metaphor.

God is not literally a Father, she emphasizes. But like one.

And she points out that Jesus, instead of relying on Hebrew metaphors for God as Lord or King, used the term, "Abba," which is the Aramaic word for "Daddy." It conveys a very intimate relationship.

Bohler concludes that, even though some people have negative or even abusive associations with their own fathers, for others the image of God the Father can evoke feelings, including for herself, of trust, freedom and, "tenacious love."

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

July 22, 2010, 4:15 pm
Your Move: The Maze of Free Will
The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless.
determinism, free will, Philosophy

You arrive at a bakery. It’s the evening of a national holiday. You want to buy a cake with your last 10 dollars to round off the preparations you’ve already made. There’s only one thing left in the store — a 10-dollar cake.

On the steps of the store, someone is shaking an Oxfam tin. You stop, and it seems quite clear to you — it surely is quite clear to you — that it is entirely up to you what you do next. You are — it seems — truly, radically, ultimately free to choose what to do, in such a way that you will be ultimately morally responsible for whatever you do choose. Fact: you can put the money in the tin, or you can go in and buy the cake. You’re not only completely, radically free to choose in this situation. You’re not free not to choose (that’s how it feels). You’re “condemned to freedom,” in Jean-Paul Sartre’s phrase. You’re fully and explicitly conscious of what the options are and you can’t escape that consciousness. You can’t somehow slip out of it.

You may have heard of determinism, the theory that absolutely everything that happens is causally determined to happen exactly as it does by what has already gone before — right back to the beginning of the universe. You may also believe that determinism is true. (You may also know, contrary to popular opinion, that current science gives us no more reason to think that determinism is false than that determinism is true.) In that case, standing on the steps of the store, it may cross your mind that in five minutes’ time you’ll be able to look back on the situation you’re in now and say truly, of what you will by then have done, “Well, it was determined that I should do that.” But even if you do fervently believe this, it doesn’t seem to be able to touch your sense that you’re absolutely morally responsible for what you next.

The case of the Oxfam box, which I have used before to illustrate this problem, is relatively dramatic, but choices of this type are common. They occur frequently in our everyday lives, and they seem to prove beyond a doubt that we are free and ultimately morally responsible for what we do. There is, however, an argument, which I call the Basic Argument, which appears to show that we can never be ultimately morally responsible for our actions. According to the Basic Argument, it makes no difference whether determinism is true or false. We can’t be ultimately morally responsible either way.

The argument goes like this.

(1) You do what you do — in the circumstances in which you find yourself—because of the way you then are.

(2) So if you’re going to be ultimately responsible for what you do, you’re going to have to be ultimately responsible for the way you are — at least in certain mental respects.

(3) But you can’t be ultimately responsible for the way you are in any respect at all.

(4) So you can’t be ultimately responsible for what you do.

The key move is (3). Why can’t you be ultimately responsible for the way you are in any respect at all? In answer, consider an expanded version of the argument.

(a) It’s undeniable that the way you are initially is a result of your genetic inheritance and early experience.

(b) It’s undeniable that these are things for which you can’t be held to be in any way responsible (morally or otherwise).

(c) But you can’t at any later stage of life hope to acquire true or ultimate moral responsibility for the way you are by trying to change the way you already are as a result of genetic inheritance and previous experience.

(d) Why not? Because both the particular ways in which you try to change yourself, and the amount of success you have when trying to change yourself, will be determined by how you already are as a result of your genetic inheritance and previous experience.

(e) And any further changes that you may become able to bring about after you have brought about certain initial changes will in turn be determined, via the initial changes, by your genetic inheritance and previous experience.

Erin Schell

There may be all sorts of other factors affecting and changing you. Determinism may be false: some changes in the way you are may come about as a result of the influence of indeterministic or random factors. But you obviously can’t be responsible for the effects of any random factors, so they can’t help you to become ultimately morally responsible for how you are.

Some people think that quantum mechanics shows that determinism is false, and so holds out a hope that we can be ultimately responsible for what we do. But even if quantum mechanics had shown that determinism is false (it hasn’t), the question would remain: how can indeterminism, objective randomness, help in any way whatever to make you responsible for your actions? The answer to this question is easy. It can’t.

And yet we still feel that we are free to act in such a way that we are absolutely responsible for what we do. So I’ll finish with a third, richer version of the Basic Argument that this is impossible.

(i) Interested in free action, we’re particularly interested in actions performed for reasons (as opposed to reflex actions or mindlessly habitual actions).

(ii) When one acts for a reason, what one does is a function of how one is, mentally speaking. (It’s also a function of one’s height, one’s strength, one’s place and time, and so on, but it’s the mental factors that are crucial when moral responsibility is in question.)

(iii) So if one is going to be truly or ultimately responsible for how one acts, one must be ultimately responsible for how one is, mentally speaking — at least in certain respects.

(iv) But to be ultimately responsible for how one is, in any mental respect, one must have brought it about that one is the way one is, in that respect. And it’s not merely that one must have caused oneself to be the way one is, in that respect. One must also have consciously and explicitly chosen to be the way one is, in that respect, and one must also have succeeded in bringing it about that one is that way.

(v) But one can’t really be said to choose, in a conscious, reasoned, fashion, to be the way one is in any respect at all, unless one already exists, mentally speaking, already equipped with some principles of choice, “P1″ — preferences, values, ideals — in the light of which one chooses how to be.

(vi) But then to be ultimately responsible, on account of having chosen to be the way one is, in certain mental respects, one must be ultimately responsible for one’s having the principles of choice P1 in the light of which one chose how to be.

(vii) But for this to be so one must have chosen P1, in a reasoned, conscious, intentional fashion.

(viii) But for this to be so one must already have had some principles of choice P2, in the light of which one chose P1.

(ix) And so on. Here we are setting out on a regress that we cannot stop. Ultimate responsibility for how one is is impossible, because it requires the actual completion of an infinite series of choices of principles of choice.

(x) So ultimate, buck-stopping moral responsibility is impossible, because it requires ultimate responsibility for how one is; as noted in (iii).

Does this argument stop me feeling entirely morally responsible for what I do? It does not. Does it stop you feeling entirely morally responsible? I very much doubt it. Should it stop us? Well, it might not be a good thing if it did. But the logic seems irresistible …. And yet we continue to feel we are absolutely morally responsible for what we do, responsible in a way that we could be only if we had somehow created ourselves, only if we were “causa sui,” the cause of ourselves. It may be that we stand condemned by Nietzsche:

The causa sui is the best self-contradiction that has been conceived so far. It is a sort of rape and perversion of logic. But the extravagant pride of man has managed to entangle itself profoundly and frightfully with just this nonsense. The desire for “freedom of the will” in the superlative metaphysical sense, which still holds sway, unfortunately, in the minds of the half-educated; the desire to bear the entire and ultimate responsibility for one’s actions oneself, and to absolve God, the world, ancestors, chance, and society involves nothing less than to be precisely this causa sui and, with more than Baron Münchhausen’s audacity, to pull oneself up into existence by the hair, out of the swamps of nothingness … (“Beyond Good and Evil,” 1886).

Is there any reply? I can’t do better than the novelist Ian McEwan, who wrote to me: “I see no necessary disjunction between having no free will (those arguments seem watertight) and assuming moral responsibility for myself. The point is ownership. I own my past, my beginnings, my perceptions. And just as I will make myself responsible if my dog or child bites someone, or my car rolls backwards down a hill and causes damage, so I take on full accountability for the little ship of my being, even if I do not have control of its course. It is this sense of being the possessor of a consciousness that makes us feel responsible for it.”

Galen Strawson is professor of philosophy at Reading University and is a regular visitor at the philosophy program at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author of “Selves: An Essay in Revisionary Metaphysics” (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2009) and other books.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

August 2, 2010
The Summoned Self

This is a column about two ways of thinking about your life. The first is what you might call the Well-Planned Life. It was nicely described by Clayton Christensen in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review, in an essay based on a recent commencement talk.

Christensen advised the students to invest a lot of time when they are young in finding a clear purpose for their lives. “When I was a Rhodes scholar,” he recalls, “I was in a very demanding academic program, trying to cram an extra year’s worth of work into my time at Oxford. I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put me on this earth.

“That was a very challenging commitment to keep, because every hour I spent doing that, I wasn’t studying applied econometrics. I was conflicted about whether I could really afford to take that time away from my studies, but I stuck with it — and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life.”

Once you have come up with an overall purpose, he continues, you have to make decisions about allocating your time, energy and talent. Christensen, who is a professor at the Harvard Business School and the author of several widely admired books, notes that people with a high need for achievement commonly misallocate their resources.

If they have a spare half-hour, they devote it to things that will yield tangible and near-term accomplishments. These almost invariably involve something at work — closing a sale, finishing a paper.

“In contrast,” he adds, “investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. ... It’s not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips and say, ‘I raised a good son or a good daughter.’ ” As a result, the things that are most important often get short shrift.

Christensen is a serious Christian. At university, he was the starting center on his basketball team and refused to play in the championship game of an important tournament because it was scheduled for a Sunday. But he combines a Christian spirit with business methodology. In plotting out a personal and spiritual life, he applies the models and theories he developed as a strategist. He emphasizes finding the right metrics, efficiently allocating resources and thinking about marginal costs.

When he is done, life comes to appear as a well-designed project, carefully conceived in the beginning, reviewed and adjusted along the way and brought toward a well-rounded fruition.

The second way of thinking about your life might be called the Summoned Life. This mode of thinking starts from an entirely different perspective. Life isn’t a project to be completed; it is an unknowable landscape to be explored. A 24-year-old can’t sit down and define the purpose of life in the manner of a school exercise because she is not yet deep enough into the landscape to know herself or her purpose. That young person — or any person — can’t see into the future to know what wars, loves, diseases and chances may loom. She may know concepts, like parenthood or old age, but she doesn’t really understand their meanings until she is engaged in them.

Moreover, people who think in this mode are skeptical that business models can be applied to other realms of life. Business is about making choices that maximize utility. But the most important features of the human landscape are commitments that precede choice — commitments to family, nation, faith or some cause. These commitments defy the logic of cost and benefit, investment and return.

The person leading the Well-Planned Life emphasizes individual agency, and asks, “What should I do?” The person leading the Summoned Life emphasizes the context, and asks, “What are my circumstances asking me to do?”

The person leading the Summoned Life starts with a very concrete situation: I’m living in a specific year in a specific place facing specific problems and needs. At this moment in my life, I am confronted with specific job opportunities and specific options. The important questions are: What are these circumstances summoning me to do? What is needed in this place? What is the most useful social role before me?

These are questions answered primarily by sensitive observation and situational awareness, not calculation and long-range planning.

In America, we have been taught to admire the lone free agent who creates new worlds. But for the person leading the Summoned Life, the individual is small and the context is large. Life comes to a point not when the individual project is complete but when the self dissolves into a larger purpose and cause.

The first vision is more American. The second vision is more common elsewhere. But they are both probably useful for a person trying to live a well-considered life.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Neuroscience and Free Will BBC video [mirror]
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

October 19, 2011, 7:00 pm
What Makes Free Will Free?

Could science prove that we don’t have free will? An article in Nature reports on recent experiments suggesting that our choices are not free. “We feel that we choose,” says the neuroscientist John-Dylan Haynes, “but we don’t.”

The experiments show that, prior to the moment of conscious choice, there are correlated brain events that allow scientists to predict, with 60 to 80 percent probability, what the choice will be. Of course this might mean that the choices are partially determined by the brain events but still ultimately free. But suppose later experiments predict our choices with 100 percent probability? How could a choice be free if a scientist could predict it with certainty?

But my wife might be 100 percent certain that, given a choice between chicken livers and strip steak for dinner, I will choose steak. Does that mean that my choice isn’t free? Couldn’t she be sure that I will freely choose steak?



Published online 31 August 2011 | Nature 477, 23-25 (2011) | doi:10.1038/477023a

News Feature
Neuroscience vs philosophy: Taking aim at free will

Scientists think they can prove that free will is an illusion. Philosophers are urging them to think again.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

November 13, 2011, 5:25 pm
Is Neuroscience the Death of Free Will?
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tret wrote:
Dear ismailignosis,

I think I understand the way you describe it. Regarding to "Allah does not change His act". I'd like to pick your mind on the concept of "Free will or Pre-distant". I think it's somehow related.

so, if Allah's act [or will] does not change, how does it fit in the context of "Free will" or "Pre-distant". Which one really is it? If God's will doesn't change, does it mean it's pre-distant? or when we pray and seek help from the Imam, then we get spiritual or worldly barakat, then is it, somehow "Free will"?

I know this is altogether a different topic, but I just wanted to get your understanding.

Freewill and predestination relates to the action of man not of God. Man is free to do what he wills but God knows what he is going to do as per MSMS.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

can you please provide the reference?


... as per MSMS.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting Farman of Hazar Imam says you are master of your destiny in so far as you prepare for that destiny.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tret wrote:
can you please provide the reference?


... as per MSMS.

In Islam the faithful believe in Divine justice and are convinced that the solution of the great problem of predestination and free will is to be found in the compromise that God knows what man is going to do, but that man is free to do it or not.

read reference, source and the whole chapter on
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote, Free Will and Destiny.
God has kept few depatments in His hand, like birth, death, marraige or marraiges, wealth, kingdom, respect, intellect; rest He has given authority to man under free will. A man has to struggle for the rest of achievements as MSMS said, " Struggle is meaning of life."
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mazhar wrote:
Quote, Free Will and Destiny.
God has kept few depatments in His hand, like birth, death, marraige or marraiges, wealth, kingdom, respect, intellect; rest He has given authority to man under free will. A man has to struggle for the rest of achievements as MSMS said, " Struggle is meaning of life."
For success in the search for light, Grace is also required.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Paradox of Free Will

One of my earliest ventures into philosophy, back in high school, concerned the question of “free will versus determinism.” If the world unfolds according to fixed laws, then everything that happens is determined by events that have gone before. Since our brains are part of this world, their state is also determined by preceding events. Hence, so are our thoughts and experiences, and, most significantly, the decisions we make. On the other hand, we all experience making choices from small things like what to eat, to bigger issues like career and marriage. We live our lives on the assumption that we do indeed have free will. The two views seem incompatible. Hence the paradox. And the question: Which is right?

I suspect most of you will have pondered this question at some time or other. Many may have landed on the free will side of the conundrum, believing that we do make choices of our own volition. Some on the other side, believing that free will is an illusion. Others, seeing validity in both sides of the paradox, may remain baffled or uncertain.

Over the years I have revisited this paradox many times. In my mid-twenties I wrote a magazine article entitled “And the Opposite is Also True.” There I argued that it was not a question of whether free will or determinism was correct. I postulated that they were like two sides of a coin; two very different perspectives of the same reality. From one perspective determinism is true; from the other free will is true. But as to what these two complementary perspectives might be, I wasn’t clear.

Then last year, in one of those moments of insight, it all fell into place. I realized that the two fundamentally different perspectives stemmed from two fundamentally different states of consciousness.

But before I explain how this may resolve the paradox, we should first go a little deeper into the evidence for both “determinism” and “free will”.

The Evidence

Determinism, in its original form, holds that the future is determined by the present state of affairs. But this does not imply that the future is fully predictable. For a start, we could never know the present state of affairs in sufficient detail to calculate the future precisely. Even if we could, chaos theory shows that even the slightest uncertainty in the current conditions can, on occasions, lead to wildly different outcomes. Quantum theory added its own challenge to strict determinism, showing that events at the atomic level can be truly random. Today, scientists and philosophers alike accept that the future is neither predictable nor predetermined.

But even though the future may not be fixed in a classical sense, this does not necessarily give us free will. The activity in our brain is still determined by preceeding events—some random, some not—and so are our experiences, including our apparent experience of free choice.

In recent years, neuroscience has found interesting evidence to support this conclusion. In one oft-quoted experiment, subjects were asked to make a flick of their wrist at a time of their own choosing, and to note the position of the second hand of a clock at the moment of choosing. However, simultaneous recordings of the subjects’ brain activity showed that preparations for movement were occurring about half a second before the conscious decision to move.

Subsequent experiments have confirmed these findings. Scientists have been able to detect associated brain activity occurring as much as a second or more in advance of the conscious experience of making a choice. They conclude that our decisions are being driven by unconscious brain activity, not by conscious choice. But when the decision reaches conscious awareness, we experience having made a choice.

From this perspective, the apparent freedom of choice lies in our not knowing what the outcome will be. Take, for example, the common process of choosing what to eat in a restaurant. I first eliminate dishes I don’t like, or ones I ate recently, narrowing down to a few that attract me. I then decide on one of these according to various other factors—nutritional value, favorite tastes, what I feel my body needs, etc. It feels like I am making a free choice, but the decision I come to is predetermined by current circumstances and past experience. However, because I do not know the outcome of the decision-making process until it appears in my mind, I feel that I have made a free choice.

Yet, the other side of the conundrum persists. The experience of making choices of our own volition is very real. And we live our lives on the assumption that we are making decisions of our own free will, and directing our own future. It is virtually impossible not to.

A Self that Chooses?

Implicit in the notion of choice is the existence of a “chooser”—an independent self that is an active agent in the process. This, too, fits with our experience. There seems to be an “I” that is perceiving the world, making assessments and decisions, and making its own choices. This “I” feels it has chosen the dish from the menu.

The experience of an individual self is so intrinsic to our lives that we seldom doubt its veracity. But does it really exist in is own right? Two lines of research suggest not.

Neuroscientists find no evidence of an individual self located somewhere in the brain. Instead they propose that what we call “I” is but a mental construct derived from bodily experience. We draw a distinction between “me” and “not me” and create a sense of self for the “me” part. From a biological point of view, this distinction is most valuable. Taking care of the needs of this self, is taking care of our physical needs. We seek whatever promotes our well-being and avoid those that threaten it.

The second, very different, line of research involves the exploration of subjective experience. People who have delved into the nature of the actual experience of self have discovered that the closer they examine this sense of “I” , the more it seems to dissolve. Time and again they find there is no independent self. There are thoughts of “I”, but no “I” that is thinking them.

They find that what we take to be a sense of an omnipresent “I” is simply consciousness itself. There is no separate experiencer; there is simply a quality of being, a sense of presence, an awareness that is always there whatever our experience. They conclude that what we experience to be an independent self is a construct in the mind—very real in its appearance but of no intrinsic substance. It, like the choices it appears to make, is a consequence of processes in the brain. It has no free will of its own.

Complementary Perspectives

Nevertheless—and this is critical for resolving the paradox—in our everyday state of consciousness, the sense of self is very real. It is who we are. Although this “I” may be part of the brain’s model of reality, it is nevertheless intimately involved in the making of decisions, weighing up the pros and cons, coming to conclusions, choosing what to do and when to do it. So in the state where the self is real, we do experience our selves making choices. And those choices are experienced as being of our own volition. Here, free will is real.

On the other hand, in what is often called the “liberated” or “fully-awake” state of consciousness, in which one no longer identifies with the constructed sense of self, the thought of “I” is seen as just another experience arising in the mind. And so is the experience of choosing. It is all witnessed as a seamless whole unfolding before one.

When I appreciated the complementary nature of these two states of consciousness the paradox dissolved for me. Whether or not we experience free will depends on the state from which we are experiencing the world. In one state of consciousness there is free will. In the other, it has no reality.

Free will and determinism are no longer paradoxical in the sense of being mutually exclusive. Both are correct, depending upon the consciousness from which they are considered. The paradox only appears when we consider both sides from the same state of consciousness, i.e, the everyday waking state.

I like to illustrate this with Hamlet pondering the question of “To be or not to be?” The character in the play is making a choice. And if we have not seen the play before, we may wonder which way he will choose. This is the thrill of the play, to be engaged in it, moved by it, absorbed in its reality with all its twists and turns. However, we also know that how the play unfolds was determined long ago by William Shakespeare. So, we have two complementary ways of viewing the play. At times we may choose to live fully in the drama. Other times we may step back to admire his creative genius.

So in life. We can be engaged in the drama, experiencing free will, making choices that affect our futures. Or we can step back and be a witness to this amazing play of life unfolding before us. Both are true within their respective frameworks.

A Will Free of Ego

Although, in the liberated state of mind, there may be no free will in the sense in which we normally think of it, there is instead a newfound freedom far more fulfilling and enriching than the freedom of choice to which we cling.

The will of the individual self is focused on survival. Its foundation is the survival of the organism, fulfilling our bodily needs, avoiding danger or anything that threatens our well-being. In other words, keeping us alive and well, fending of the inevitability of death as long as possible. Added to this are various psychological and social needs. We want to feel safe and secure, to be feel stimulated and fulfilled, to be respected and appreciated. We believe that if we can just get the world to be way want it—and here the world includes other people—then we will be happy.

In the liberated state, the ego no longer drives our thinking and behavior. When it drops away we discover that the ease and safety we had been seeking are already there; they are qualities of our true nature. But it is the nature of the ego to plan and worry, to seek the things it wants, avoid the things it doesn’t want. In so doing creates it tension and resistance, which veils our true nature, hiding from us the very peace of mind that we are seeking.

The life-changing discovery of the liberated mind is that it is already at peace. Nothing needs to be done, nothing needs to happen, nothing needs to change in order to experience peace. There may still be much to do in the world; helping others, resolving injustices, taking care of our environment, etc.. But we are free from the dictates of the ego; we are free to respond according to needs of the situation at hand rather than what the ego wants. Here our will is truly free.

First published on the authors web site
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

junglikhan4 wrote:
According to statements of MSMS and the ginan you quoted; Why are we cursing, Caliphs, Abu jahal, Mu'awiya, Yazid, Hitler, Massullini, Sadam, Usama, Mullah umar, and so. It is a long list of tyrants history mentioned.
Every cruel action was according to will of God and is justified!!
We have to be very careful in cursing anyone. Sometimes there is good done even by an evil tyrant. MSMS in his Memoirs writes about Mussolini:

"Mussolini, for all his crimes and follies for which he paid in his ignominious fall and death, was in many ways a man of brilliant and powerful individuality. He achieved in the Italy of the period between the wars a political revival, in some respects analogous to the Wesleys' religious revival in England in the eighteenth century."

Many Ismailis from Uganda are grateful to Idi Amin who was an evil tyrant!
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MSNS says we have free will and that the fact that Allah knows what we will choose, does not and should not affect our free will. (memoirs). and we know Allah is everywhere, and closer to us than our jugular vein.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Islam’s Tragic Fatalism

Istanbul — Earlier this month, on the Muslim holy day of Friday, a horrible accident took place in Mecca near Islam’s holiest site — the Kaaba. A huge crane fell on the mosque that encircles the cube-shaped shrine, killing 118 pilgrims and injuring almost 400. This tragedy was the deadliest crane collapse in modern history, and thus it begged for an investigation. Yet, in a highly religious country, the technicians that operated the crane, the Saudi Binladen Group, had an easy way out. One of them spoke to the press and simply said: “What happened was beyond the power of humans. It was an act of God.”

To their credit, the Saudi authorities did not buy this argument. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud immediately suspended the company from work, ordered an investigation, and offered compensation for the families of victims. The investigators soon concluded that the company was responsible for the accident, because it did not “respect the rules of safety” and violated the manufacturers’ operating instructions.

While this factual investigation is a step forward, we must still ask why the technicians publicly absolved themselves of responsibility, and probably in their own minds as well, by evoking “fate.”

This is not the first time that this metaphysical excuse has come up in such circumstances. Worse accidents have happened near the Kaaba before, during the overcrowded season of pilgrimage, the Hajj, and the blame was reflexively placed on the divine. In 1990, 1,426 pilgrims died in a stampede caused mainly by a lack of ventilation. Nonetheless, the king at the time, Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, then argued: “It was God’s will, which is above everything.” “It was fate,” he added.

This isn’t just a Saudi problem; it is a global Muslim problem. Fatalism is constantly used as an excuse for human neglect and errors. Even in Turkey, which is much more modern and secular than Saudi Arabia, “fate” has frequently been invoked by various officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as an explanation for colossal accidents on railroads, in coal mines and on construction sites.

In almost every case, however, closer scrutiny has revealed the cause to be Turkey’s poor work safety standards and the government’s sluggishness in improving them. Only in February 2015, after hundreds of tragic accidents that killed more than 13,000 workers in 12 years, did Turkey become a party to the International Labor Organization’s conventions on work safety, which were drawn up more than two decades ago and adopted long ago by many other nations.

Accidents, of course, happen everywhere. Yet in the Muslim world, fatalism often serves as a cover for inadequate safety measures or greedy bosses unwilling to pay for them. That is why Turkey’s top cleric, Mehmet Gormez, an erudite theologian, felt the need to warn fellow Turks that “Producing excuses about ‘divine power’ for human guilt and responsibility is wrong,” after a Dickensian mine fire killed 301 workers in 2014. “The laws of nature are the laws of God. God has given us the ability to understand these laws and asked from us to act accordingly,” Mr. Gormez declared. “What is suitable for God’s will is to take the necessary precautions against the physical causes for disasters.”

This important statement was unmistakably grounded in certain medieval Islamic schools of thought, such as the Maturidis and the Mutazilites, who believed human beings possessed free will and could be “the creator of their own deeds.” They also believed that humans could use reason to interpret scripture and establish moral truths.

But such rationalist Muslim schools had powerful rivals, such as the Asharites and the even more rigid Hanbalis, the precursors of today’s Salafis. These dogmatists played down human free will by emphasizing God’s predestination, and discredited human reason. They also denied the existence of natural laws, assuming that causality is an infringement on God’s omnipotence.

Today most Muslims have little knowledge about these old debates, but they live within cultural codes largely defined by the dogmatists, who gained the upper hand in the war of ideas in early Islam. In these codes, human free will is easily sacrificed to fatalism, science and reason are trivialized, and philosophy is frowned upon.

Consequently, “God’s will” becomes an easy cover for intellectual laziness, lack of planning, and irresponsibility. Muslims in positions of power often refer to “fate” to explain away their failures, while never hesitating to take pride in their successes.

Colossal accidents in Mecca and elsewhere must be taken as alarm signals for Muslims to purge our societies of this problematic mentality and seek the great intellectual revival we need. Using oil money to import Western (or Far Eastern) technology is not a solution. What matters is gaining the skills to use that technology proficiently, with all the necessary precautions — and maybe one day inventing such technology ourselves.

Ironically, there was once a time when Muslims were the greatest inventors in the world, with towering mathematicians such as Al Khwarizmi (from whose name comes the term “algorithm”), physicians such as Avicenna (the father of modern medicine), or philosophers such as Averroes (who introduced Europe to Aristotle and rational theology). Taking pride in them today, as we sometimes do, is a start.

But the real question is why these thinkers’ ideas have had a greater impact on Western culture than on Islamic thought? And why have they been marginalized or branded heretical in the lands where they originated? Our past heresies could be exactly what we need to open our minds today.

Mustafa Akyol is the author of “Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty.”
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 29, 2016 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Life is like a game of cards.
The hand you are dealt is determinism;
the way you play it is free will.
- Jawaharlal Nehru

One of the annoying things about believing in free will
and individual responsibility is the difficulty
of finding somebody to blame your problems on.
And when you do find somebody, it's remarkable
how often his picture turns up on your driver's license.
- P. J. O'Rourke

Free will is not the liberty to do whatever one likes,
but the power of doing whatever one sees ought to be done,
even in the very face of otherwise overwhelming impulse.
There lies freedom, indeed.
- Anonymous
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Inshallah Is Good for Everyone


I drop about 80 inshallahs a day, give or take. I’ll get to the gym, inshallah. Yes, I’ll clean up around the house, inshallah.

Most commonly, inshallah is used in Muslim-majority communities to escape introspection, hard work and strategic planning and instead outsource such responsibilities to an omnipotent being, who somehow, at some time, will intervene and fix our collective problems.

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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2016 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Choice Explosion

Lansing, W.Va. — A few years ago, the social psychologist Sheena Iyengar asked 100 American and Japanese college students to take a piece of paper. On one side, she had them write down the decisions in life they would like to make for themselves. On the other, they wrote the decisions they would like to pass on to others.

The Americans filled up the side for decisions they want to decide for themselves. Where to live. What job to take. The other side was almost blank. The only “decision” they commonly wanted to hand off to others was, “When I die.”

The Japanese filled up the back side of the sheet with things they wanted others to decide: what they wore; what time they woke up; what they did at their job. The Americans desired choice in four times more domains than the Japanese.

Americans have always put great emphasis on individual choice. But even by our own standards we’ve had a choice explosion over the past 30 years. Americans now have more choices over more things than any other culture in human history. We can choose between a broader array of foods, media sources, lifestyles and identities. We have more freedom to live out our own sexual identities and more religious and nonreligious options to express our spiritual natures.

This opening has produced much that is wonderful. But making decisions well is incredibly difficult, even for highly educated professional decision makers. As Chip Heath and Dan Heath point out in their book “Decisive,” 83 percent of corporate mergers and acquisitions do not increase shareholder value, 40 percent of senior hires do not last 18 months in their new position, 44 percent of lawyers would recommend that a young person not follow them into the law.

It’s becoming incredibly important to learn to decide well, to develop the techniques of self-distancing to counteract the flaws in our own mental machinery. The Heath book is a very good compilation of those techniques.

For example, they mention the maxim, assume positive intent. When in the midst of some conflict, start with the belief that others are well intentioned. It makes it easier to absorb information from people you’d rather not listen to.

They highlight Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 rule. When you’re about to make a decision, ask yourself how you will feel about it 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now and 10 years from now. People are overly biased by the immediate pain of some choice, but they can put the short-term pain in long-term perspective by asking these questions.

The Heaths recommend making deliberate mistakes. A survey of new brides found that 20 percent were not initially attracted to the man they ended up marrying. Sometimes it’s useful to make a deliberate “mistake” — agreeing to dinner with a guy who is not your normal type. Sometimes you don’t really know what you want and the filters you apply are hurting you.

They mention our tendency to narrow-frame, to see every decision as a binary “whether or not” alternative. Whenever you find yourself asking “whether or not,” it’s best to step back and ask, “How can I widen my options?” In other words, before you ask, “Should I fire this person?” Ask, “Is there any way I can shift this employee’s role to take advantage of his strengths and avoid his weaknesses?”

The explosion of choice means we all need more help understanding the anatomy of decision-making. It makes you think that we should have explicit decision-making curriculums in all schools. Maybe there should be a common course publicizing the work of Daniel Kahneman, Cass Sunstein, Dan Ariely and others who study the way we mess up and the techniques we can adopt to prevent error.

This is probably especially important for schools that serve the less fortunate. The explosion of choice places extra burdens on the individual. Poorer Americans have fewer resources to master decision-making techniques, less social support to guide their decision-making and less of a safety net to catch them when they err.

As the researchers Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir have shown, the stress of scarcity itself can distort decision-making. Those who experienced stress as children often perceive threat more acutely and live more defensively. A school principal I met in Pittsburgh observed that living in an area of concentrated poverty can close down your perceived options, and comfortably “relieve you of the burden of choosing life.” It’s hard to maintain a feeling of agency when you see no chance of opportunity.

In this way the choice explosion has contributed to widening inequality.

It’s important to offer opportunity and incentives. But we also need lessons in self-awareness — on exactly how our decision-making tool is fundamentally flawed, and on mental frameworks we can adopt to avoid messing up even more than we do.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's Not That Simple

We all have free will, but only within the harsh constraints of predestination.
Within the limits placed upon our lives by the circumstances of our genes,
our place and condition of birth, the parenting we receive, and other events beyond our control,
we are defined by the free will we can still exercise.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

The contradictions are what make human behavior
so maddening and yet so fascinating,
all at the same time.
- Joan D. Vinge

Actions are always more complex and nuanced than they seem.
We have to be willing to wrestle with paradox in pursuing understanding.
- Harold Evans

I think wholeness is God's design for us;
and that often amounts to embracing contradictions.
- Bono

It's one of life's great paradoxes ...
Accepting with gratitude whatever life throws at us
is critical to happiness.
Yet without a goal and commitment, life lose much of its value.
The best we can do in the face of this paradox
is to play to win, but be cheerful in defeat
and ready to play again.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:55 am    Post subject: Ismaili theology - From Imams and IIS Reply with quote

Freewill choices and Predestination - Divine Guidance -
Based on Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah - MSMS and Institute of Ismaili Studies And earlier Imams.

Nur (Light), of Imam & Allah know the choices you will make. They do not interfere with your freewill. By seeking, sharing, and following Farmans, you will benefit from divine guidance.

There is punishment for Murids who knowingly do not seek, do not share and do not follow "divine guidance"

What Imam - Mawlana Sultan Mohammed Shah said;

"In Islam the Faithful believe in Divine justice and are convinced that the solution of the great problem of predestination and free will is to be found in the compromise that God knows what man is going to do, but that man is free to do it or not."

"After death Divine justice will take into consideration the faith, the prayers and the deeds of man. For the chosen there is eternal life and the spiritual felicity of the Divine vision. For the condemned there is hell, where they will be consumed with regret for not having known how to merit the grace and the blessing of Divine mercy"

" The creation according to Islam is not a unique act in a given time but a perpetual and constant event; and God supports and sustains all existence at every moment by His will and His thought. "

"Free Will in Isma‘ili Shi‘sm".

By Farhad Daftary and Faqir M Hunzai, (In Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. X, Ed., Ehsan Yarshater, Bibliotheca Persica Press, New York, pp. 202-205).


The different views on freedom of human action in Shia traditions stem from the saying of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq.

The Mutazilites, Jahmites and the Ithna Ashari schools have evolved their views on Free Will according to varying emphasis on 'al jabar' or 'al tafwiz' from al-Jafar's saying.

The Ismaili view on Free Will takes the intermediate position between constraint (jabar)and empowerment (qadar).

It emphasises the permanent need of mankind for divine guidance.

Free Will in Ismaili Shi'ism

Free will versus predestination was an important theological debate, with political implications, in Muslim society dating back to Omayyad times.

The Ismailis adopted an intermediate position in the debate and eventually accommodated the relevant issues within their theological doctrines.

At one extreme, a variety of Islamic movements and schools of thought espoused the predestinarian view, initially designated as Jabriya, holding that man's deeds as well as good and evil resulted from God's decrees and pre-ordination.

At the other extreme, there were those, originally designated as Qadariya by their opponents, who recognised the freedom of human will and the individual's moral responsibility for his deeds.

Both the Jabriya and the Qadariya based their arguments on verses from the Koran that supported their views, By early 'Abbasid times, the Mo'talzilites took over the Qadarite belief in human free will and argued that man can establish the truths of religion on the basis of reason, without any need of divine guidance.

In other words they held that God in the Islamic revelation had shown the believers the "right path" for attaining salvation and reward in paradise, and had then left it to man to determine rationally what was good or evil. Thus, man's ultimate destiny as a rational and free agent depended on himself.

However the majority of Sunni traditionalists, representing the mainstream of Muslim thought, eventually rejected Qadarism and adopted a form of predestinarianism as propounded by Ash'arism.

The classical Ismaili view in this theological debate dates to the 4th/10th century, the early Fatimid period of Ismaili history.

The earliest evidence for the "intermediate" Ismaili position may be found in the numerous extant works of the da'i Abui Ya'qub Sejestani (see Walker, 1993, pp. 107-42).

Similar "intermediate" views, rejecting both jabrand qadar, were expounded by the foremost Fatimid jurist Qazi No'man (Majales, pp. 377-82), and the da'iHamid-al-Din Kermani (fols. 151-52), culminating in the writings of Naser-e Kosrow (died after 465/1072).

These Ismaili authors drew on their earlier Imami Shi'ite heritage, especially the doctrine of the Imamate which articulated the permanent need of mankind in all spiritual matters for divine guidance.

Indeed, it was the standard view of the early Imami Shi'ites that God does determine the course of events at any time, but He has not pre-ordained it, and that He has not created man either as an infidel or a believer without responsibility for making choices.

The Imami position itself, representing an intermediate position between constraint (jabr) and empowerment (qadar), is attested to by a Hadith reported from Imam Ja'far-al-Sadeq (d. 148/765).

Concerning human will versus predestination, the Imam had said "la jabr wa la tafwiz [qadar] wa laken amr bayn amrayn" (see Kolayni, I. pp. 159-60). Naser-e Kosrow refers to this very Hadith in elaborating his own "intermediate stance in this debate ( 1998, text, pp. 74-75, tr., pp. 113-14).

The Ismaili da'is and authors of the Fatimid period further elaborated the earlier Imami views on the debate in question in their complex metaphysical systems of thought, holding that both the Jabrite and the Qadarite positions were rooted in a misunderstanding of Koran and, indeed, the immutable spiritual truths (haqa'eq) of religion.

By emphasising a fundamental distinction between the exoteric (zaher) and the hidden esoteric (baten) dimensions of religion, the Ismailis from early on argued that these religious truths concealed in the baten, transcend human reason.

As a result, man solely by his own efforts could never comprehend these truths and rationally choose the "right path" to salvation, even though he is endowed with the gift of the intellect and is free to make certain choices.

According to Ismaili Shi'ite theology, the knowledge of the religious truths (haqa'eq) is available only to those infallible (ma'sum) authorities who are "firmly versed in knowledge" (al-rasekun fi'l-'elm); they alone truly understand the real meaning of the Koran and the commandments and prohibitions of the sacred law of Islam (sari'a) and can, thus, act as trustworthy guides, interpreting through ta'wil or esoteric exegesis the true spiritual message of the Islamic revelation

(Qazi No'man, Da'a'em, I. pp. 22-24; Kermani, fols. 134, 144-45; Mo'ayyad fi'l-Din Sirazi, I, pp. 276, 452-53; Naser-e Kosrow, Wajh-e din, pp. 11-14: Walker, 1996, pp. 26-83; de Smet, pp. 350-77).

In the era of Islam, the required authoritative guidance in religion would be provided initially by the Prophet Mohammad, and then by his wasi, or legatee, 'Ali b. Abi Taleb, and subsequently, until the end of time, the rightful Imams in 'Ali's progeny - the Imams acknowledged by the Ismailis. More than any of his Ismaili predecessors, Naser-e Kosrow dealt with this theological issue (see also his Diwan, pp. 21-22; Jame'al-hekmatayn, pp. 135-44; Zad al-mosaferin, especially pp. 430-86).

All the major Ismaili authors of the Fatimid period held that man's destiny is not predestined as, in a sense, he is responsible for choosing between good and evil.

However, they also refuted the Qaqarite position by believing that man by himself is not capable of making the right choices rationally for moving along the spiritual ladder of salvation towards knowing God and his own origins in the universe because he lacks the required knowledge.

In every age or dawr (q.v.), therefore, man is in need of the guidance of a divinely-appointed and protected hierarchy of authoritative teachers - the prophet and after him the rightful Imam of the time. In its classical statement, Ismaili theology, thus, remained essentially revelational rather than rational, despite its promotion of a personal quest for knowledge and the importance attached to philosophical inquiry by many learned Ismaili theologians.

Later, the inadequacy of human intellect ('aql) in knowing God and the necessity at all times of an authoritative teacher (mo'allem-e sadeq) for the spiritual guidance of men were restated by Hasan-e Sabbah in terms of the doctrine of ta'lim, or authoritative teaching, which provided the basis for all the Nezari Ismaili teachings of the Alamut (483-654/1090-1256) period and subsequent times.

Similar views, always pointing to an "intermediate" solution, were later expressed by Nasir-al-Din Tusi (d. 672/1274) in his spiritual autobiography, Sayr wa soluk (text, pp. 4-5, 17-19, tr. pp. 27-29. 47-50), written while he was in the fortress communities of the Nezari Ismailis of Persia.

Abu Ya'qub Sejestani, Ketab al-yanabi', in H. Corbin, ed., Trilogie Ismaélienne. Paris and Tehran. 1961, pp. 1-97 (text); tr. in P. E. Walker, The Wellsprings of Wisdom. Salt Lake City, 1994, pp. 37-111.
Hamid-al-Din Kermani, Tanbih al-hadi wa'i-mostahdi, MS London, The Institute of Ismaili Studies Library, Ar. 723.
Abu Ja'far Mohammad Kolayni, al-Osul men al-Kafi, ed. 'A.-A. Gaffari, Tehran, 1381/1961.
W. Madelung, "Aspects of Ismaili Theology," in S. H. Nasr, ed., Ismaili Contributions to Islamic Culture. Tehran. 1977, pp. 53-65: repr. in idem. Religious Schools and Sects in Mediaeval Islam, London. 1985, article XVII.
Mo'ayyad fi' l-Din Sirazi, al-Majales al-Mo'ayyadiya, I. ed. Hamid-al-Din, Bombay, 1395/1975. Naser-e Kosrow, Divan, ed. M. Minovi and M. Mohaqqeq, Tehran, 1353 S./1974.
Idem, Gosayes wa rahayes, ed. and tr. F. M. Hunzai as Knowledge and Liberation, London, 1998. Idem, Jame' al-hekmatayn, ed. H. Corbin and M. Mo'in. Paris and Tehran, 1953.
Idem, Wajh-e din, ed. G.-R. A'wani, Tehran, 1977.
Idem, Zad al-mosaferin, ed. M. Badl-al-Rahman, Berlin, 1341/1923.
Nasir-al-Din 'Tusi, Sayr wa soluk, ed. and tr. S. J. Badakhchani as Contemplation and Action, London, 1998.
Qazi No'man b. Mohammad, Da'a'em al-Eslam, ed. A. A. A. Fyzee, Cairo, 1383/1963.
Idem, Ketab al-majales wa'l-mosayarat, ed. H. Faqi et al., Tunis, 1978.
D. de Smet, La Quiétude de l'intellect: Néo-platonisme et gnose ismaélienne dans l'oeuvre de Hamid ad-Din al-Kirmani, Louvain, 1995.
Paul E. Walker, Early Philosophical Shi‘ism: The Ismaili Neoplatonism of Abu Ya'qub al-Sijistani, Cambridge, 1993.
Idem, Abu Ya'qub al-Sijistani: Intellectual Missionary, London, 1996.
(Farhad Daftary and Faquir M. Hunzai)
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


"Think about this for a second:

God (being God), having Infinite Knowledge,
Not only knew your every thought and action
Your life would ever experience

(Even before your were born)

But He also, being the Divine Creator,
Has etched every moment of your existence
With His own hand

With the precision and care
No artist ever could.

Think about this for a moment:

I have never heard a bird or the sun
Ever say to God,
'I am sorry'.

There seems to be a great reward
For clear thinking:
All existence is a pawn in the Friend's hands.

Look, one gets wings and gifts to the world
Music each morning;
One turns into such an extraordinary light
He actually becomes sustainer of a whole planet,

One makes a thousand moons go mad with love
And blush all night

When one can surrender the illusion, the crutch, of
Free will,

Though still live - for the benefit of others -
The highest of moral

(Hafiz. "THE GIFT: Poems By Hafiz - The Great Sufi Master".
Daniel Ladinsky. Pp. 113-114)
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wisdom to Know the Difference

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
- Reinhold Niebuhr (Serenity Prayer)
My thoughts on the Serenity Prayer and more thoughts

Do what you can, and do it well.
Accept the rest with equanimity, and trust in God.
No one can ever do more than that.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Make the best use of what is in your power,
and take the rest as it happens.
- Epictetus

You have to accept whatever comes
and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage
and with the best that you have to give.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Today's affirmation:
I practice non-resistance.
I accept the wisdom of God
in creating the world exactly as it is.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Playing the Cards You're Dealt

Life consists not in holding good cards
but in playing those you hold well.
- Josh Billings

You play the hand you're dealt.
I think the game's worthwhile.
- Christopher Reeve

All men and women are born, live, suffer and die;
what distinguishes us one from another is our dreams,
whether they be dreams about worldly or unworldly things,
and what we do to make them come about.
We do not choose to be born.
We do not choose our parents.
We do not choose our historical epoch,
the country of our birth,
or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing.
We do not, most of us, choose to die;
nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death.
But within this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we live.
- Joseph Epstein

Customs form us all.
Our thoughts, our morals, our most fixed beliefs,
are consequences of our place of birth.
- Aaron Hill
Yet within these quite extreme constraints, progress, success, and happiness are still possible.

We all have free will, but only within the harsh constraints of predestination.
Within the limits placed upon our lives by the circumstances of our genes,
our place and condition of birth, the parenting we receive, and other events beyond our control,
we are defined by the free will we can still exercise.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Our circumstances define the playing field, not the outcome.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie
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