Thursday, 10 May 2007

The Old Man

I am skipping talking about the first chapter of God's Debris. Maybe I am not smart enough to pick up on anything that is philosphical or pseudo-philosophical in this chapter. I just took it as an introduction to the story.

So jumping to the next chapter (The Old Man) we seem to get a short discussion on causality. The old guy asks: "Did you deliver the package or did the package deliver you?" (page 9). The old guy suggest that it was the package that delivered the guy, but the delivery guy holds his ground and suggests that “The difference is intention. If I leave this package here and go on my way, I think that settles the question of who delivered who.” (page 10).

You could answer to the man's question by stepping back a bit and say that the guys job (and perhaps he sense of duty or a willingness to get paid) got him to the old man. If he didn't have the job he wouldn't have access to the package and so no need to be at the old mans' place. But stepping back from that and thinking that way, we could then say that it was the guys boss that got him there as he employed him, and then in return perhaps the supply and demand of packages caused the boss to hire the guy, etc etc. That is, life is just a complex series of causes and events. But I think this deterministic point of view is a little to simplistic and removes the element of choice.

The guy chose to get a job and he chose to apply for the delivery one. The boss chose to employ the guy and once again the guy chose to take it. Maybe this is only a guise of freedom, as the guy might feel like he has to accept any job as he would rather employment over unemployment, so the real decision is in the bosses hand; and maybe the boss only decided to hire the guy on an already pre-defined criteria and he was just the best person that met the requirements to get the job. So does that then only make choice appear like a choice when really it isn't?

What I propose is that the guy is a free agent (perhaps with some qualification, and in staying that I guess it is reducding the idea of been free) and he delivered the package (not the package delivering him). He chose to do his job (or duty) and to turn up to the old mans' house. He chose to not leave a note and he chose to enter the guys’ house when no one came to the door. He even chose to not throw the package out his van window and he chose not to open the package himself to see what was inside. He felt bound by his sense of duty (maybe only for the financial reward or maybe from a sense of what he defines as right and wrong) but he still had a choice on how to act within his duty and even to obey it in the first place.

But maybe I have overstepped the scope (and perhaps the point) of this chapter as the next two are on free will.


Post a Comment