معمارِ حرم باز بہ تعمیرِ جہاں خیز
از خوابِ گِراں خوابِ گِراں خوابِ گِراں خیز
----------------------------------
ادھر آ ستمگر ہنر آزمائیں
تو تیر آزما ہم جِگر آزمائیں

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Understanding Randomness


The mind has delved into the realm of the “random”. Thus it asks the pivotal question, what is random? What constitutes random? Is random truly random? I remember my lecturer once telling the class for one of my engineering courses, “In digital world the random numbers generated are not ‘truly’ random because the system needs a ‘seed’, which is acted upon by few mathematical operators to generate this ‘random’ number”.

Accepting this premise for the argument’s sake, question arises that which ones are ‘truly’ random numbers? Randomness as a phenomenon goes beyond numbers as well to more abstract domains of words, letters and thoughts. A teacher once in school told us about the motion of molecules while lecturing on Brownian motion. He called it to be ‘random’. I guess this was officially the first time I came across the term which I understood to mean ‘something that cannot be determined prior to it occurring’ or simply ‘unpredictable’. Coming back to Brownian motion, one is compelled to further inquire whether it is unpredictable or not?

In order to understand the alleged ‘randomness’ of motion of molecules, let us perform a thought experiment. Excuse it to be an overly sciency narrative but anyways. Suppose we take an ideal gas at a temperature of zero Kelvin. It should have zero volume and zero energy. Now if this gas is supplied with a small amount of energy, the molecules would absorb this energy and thus start their vibratory motion while registering a proportional change in volume. These molecules owing to very high density of matter will have ‘elastic’ collisions with each other. These collisions will make the molecules to move in different directions. If properly analysed which the energy level of these molecules and other mechanical factors, the direction of travel after the collision can be calculated using elementary algebra. As my understanding of the word ‘unpredictable’ goes it does not include anything that can be calculated. So how come the motion is random? Or maybe the right question to ask would be; is it really ‘random’?

The scientific world is filled with processes that are called ‘random’ processes. The list includes Bernoulli Process, Dirichlet Processes, Gamma Processes and many others. But they all fall in the category of Brownian motion. The most convincing types of so-called ‘random’ processes are the ones of type alpha-particle emission as it seems not possible to calculate the emission prior to its occurrence. But having said this there is a possibility that these processes are random because our current technological level is not sufficient to ascertain the occurrence of event. So they might not be truly random but are random for us observers. This brings us to famous quotation from Einstein who while talking about randomness at sub-atomic level famously said, “God does not play dice.” To this Niel Bohr replied, “Do not tell God what to do”. Although I do not have any scientific proof to substantiate my claims, but building up from the above given arguments the possibility should not be overlooked that the processes are not truly random rather label as such due to either in availability of sufficient technology to ascertain or the calculation is too difficult to make. Whether they are sub-atomic processes, biological processes or any other including neurological or psychological process are not truly random per se. Who knows, maybe Einstein was right.

Monday, 15 August 2011

A Professor's Dilemma


A young and enthusiastic professor joined a local private engineering university. After completion of his doctorate he returned in a highly motivated state of mind in order to impart what knowledge he had acquired to the younger generation. He aspired to design the course in state-of-of-the-art sort of way so that he be able to make his students to strive beyond their capacities and try and achieve excellence at least in that particular course. He wanted to lead the students to the research horizons of his field so that to make them reach the skies. His colleagues advised him against such high goals arguing that this is a very new university and intellectual capacity of pupil does not support endeavours for such high standards. One of them suggested the professor to test these students with very trivial mathematical problems that can be solved by students of grade 10th or 12th. He further informed that the intellectual abilities of these students were not even of such a level that they could handle such trivial mathematical problems. On one hand he aspired to make his students to excel to world class standards of knowledge and on the other hand he was warned and discouraged by his colleagues and seniors that the students can not handle such high standards. With such conflicting thoughts in his mind, he moved towards the classroom to deliver his first lecture.

Assigned a course of final year students, the professor decided to conform to the later advice of his colleague and test his students with very trivial mathematical problems that should be of the level of 10th grade students. To the astonishment of the professor the complete class managed a score next to zero. These final years students of an engineering university miserably failed to answer the questions that should be within the grip of 10th graders.

With the test results in his hands the professor found himself in a fix. He was at a crossroads, where he had two choices and had to choose one of them. Unfortunately, he was not comfortable with any of these available choices. One of the choices that he had was to lower down standard of education to such a level that would be comparable with that of the pupils whom he was supposed to be teach. In this case what he could do was to start from this bare minimum level and then try and raise the standard of these pupil during the course of an 18 weeks semester. Having established this, one thing was certain that no matter how hard he tried and exerted these students, he might be able to improve them to a large extent but will never be able to reach the epitome that he aspired to reach. Considering current intellectual level of these students, an 18 week semester was way too less a time for a task of building it up to the level that is required for the professor to fulfil his aspirations. The second choice he had was to leave the students on their own and continue lecturing, maintaining those ideal standards of education that he wanted. He could lecture them without reducing the desired standard of education dis-regarding the intellectual ability or dis-ability of these students to grasp ideas presented. They were final year students and they should have been able to do it. If they are not capable enough they would simply fail as all those not capable enough always do. Reducing the standard of education just so that the students can pass the exams, it seemed morally wrong to him.

Now from here a question arises that what is morality? What constitutes a morally right position on this or any other issue for that matter? Kantian definition of morally right action states, “A maxim is morally right if it can be universally applied and then does not produce negative effects.”[1] Using this definition of morally right action let us analyse the above choices.

Let us first consider the case of reducing the standard of education. When such a maxim is universally applied this means every professor will have to do the same. Suppose every professor does reduce the standard of education just for the sake that these students can cope with it. This will obviously have some positive implications and some negative implications. The possible positive effects of such a move can be that nevertheless when the semester ends there will be some improvement in the intellectual ability of these students even if of the order of say 2%. Secondly, the results of the class will be respectable which at the end of the day matters to the students who had been paying the tuition and administration of the university if not to professors themselves. As for the negative repercussions of such an action, this will eventually reduce the standard of education on the whole. Reduction of standard of education on such a scale would obviously reduce the value of the course, thus the degree and the education itself. It leads to a sort of never ending downward spiral. As with successive years the standard of education would ultimately keep on reducing in real terms and a time will come when the degree would be worthless and outdated according to the technological level of that particular epoch. Unfortunately for us, the technological development in current age does not take into consideration the fact that pupil are intellectually not capable enough and therefore it should slow down its own pace. Rather it moves at its own pace which happens to be an exponentially accelerated pace.

Now analysing the second case of maintaining the standard of education. A standard of education which intends to stand at the pinnacle of technological advancement in current era and aeons to come. As with every deed this one will also have its own positive and negative ramifications. The negative effects of this will be that many of the pupil will fail the course and under the condition of universality of the maxim, they would eventually drop out of the university. It would increase rate of university drop outs which will negatively influence reputation of teaching staff at least if not the university itself. A high percentage of university drop-out might have a negative bearing on unemployment rate in the particular society and thus might possibly lead to social problems of its own. But these affects should be short-termed considering the fact that if such a maxim gains universality, then educational institutions catering for prior education would try to increase their standard of education for their own sake leading to reduction in the problem in long run. As for positive effects of this action. It will lead to increased respect for institution as it will be recognised as having a class of its own. It would attract intellectual brains from near and far, this would positively effect the university in form of its research output and the society at large as well. The university's graduates and its degree would gain respect and have its own worth, making it a favourable investment for those willing to invest for their education. The university would reach epitome in education and would be at the helm of research, and would surely retain such a position as long as it does not compromise on its standard of education.

The above analysis (I by no means claim neutrality for it, it may or may not be neutral) would find its supporters on both sides of the divide and many looking for a compromise between these two positions. I for one surely support the second position and abhor the idea of compromising on standard of education under any circumstances. I guess the other position would find many a sympathizers for itself and I would not be surprised if most of them are students themselves. But one thing I am pretty sure about is the fact that compromised reasoning leads to compromised results. Lastly, let me further add here that I by no means intend to blame students for these conditions, rather it is the system that is to be blamed. But unfortunately, it is the students who would suffer the brunt, one way or the other.


[1] Fundamental Principles of Metaphysics of Morals [1785], Immanuel Kant

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Ahmedi Question


The question that has come  up in the heretic mind that I carry around is, are ahmedis Non-Muslims? if yes, then why? When I asked this question to a friend of mine, the conversation went some what like this:

Me: Do you think Ahmedis are Non-Muslims?
Friend: Yes, ofcourse. They do not believe in khatam-e-nabuwat (finality of Prophethood)
Me: How do you know about it?
Friend: Who does not know? Everybody knows about it.
Me: Have you read any of their books? or do you have any Ahmedi friend who would have told    you some of their beliefs?
Friend: No. Are you Ahmedi?


After this the conversation shifted to my explaining that I am not Ahmedi and when somebody asks such questions it does not make him out of the circle of Islam.

From this conversation the obvious question that comes up is, what is meant by the “finality of Prophethood”? Well finality of prophethood is a concept intrinsic to Islam. It states that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is last of the long chain of prophets that God sent for guiding the mankind. In order to claim oneself of being a Muslim, a person has to believe in the above stated belief.

Here is a need to ask some more fundamental questions. Who has the authority to define a Muslim? What constitutes a Muslim? As I understand Islam the only authority that can define a Muslim is the Quran. Hadith being the second source of Islamic law stands second to Quran for definition of Muslim. So what does Quran say on the subject? Well as per Quran, a Muslim is a person who believes that there is only one God and believes on finality of Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him). As for the hadith, it has this to say in this regard:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever prays like us and faces our Qibla and eats our slaughtered animals is a Muslim and is under Allah's and His Apostle's protection. So do not betray Allah by betraying those who are in His protection.[1]

and

Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Allah's Apostle said, "I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.' And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah." Narrated Maimun ibn Siyah that he asked Anas bin Malik, "O Abu Hamza! What makes the life and property of a person sacred?" He replied, "Whoever says, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah', faces our Qibla during the prayers, prays like us and eats our slaughtered animal, then he is a Muslim, and has got the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have.[2]

Having firmly established what constitutes a Muslim, we move to see what does Ahmadi belief hold? More importantly where does it differ from the rest of Islamic sects. Before doing so, what needs to be understood is that Ahmadis have got two of their own sects as well. These sects hold slightly different views from each other. The names of these sects are Lahore Ahmediya Movement or Lahori group and the second sect is called, Ahmadiya Muslim Community. The following tables hold differences between Lahori group, Ahmadiya Muslim Community and the rest of the Muslims.


Finality of Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh)
Mainstream Muslims
The meaning of “Seal of the prophets” is that Muhammad is the last of the prophets.
Lahori group
The meaning of “Seal of the prophets” is that Muhammad is the last of the prophets. No prophet, either new or old can come after him.[3] Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the Mujaddid (reformer) of the 14th century Hijra and not a true prophet.[4]
Ahmadiya Muslim Community
Muhammad brought prophethood to perfection, he sealed prophethood and religious law, thus being the last law-bearing prophet. New prophets can come but they must be subordinate to Muhammad and cannot exceed him in excellence, alter his teaching, nor bring any new law or religion. They shall be sent for the revival of the true spirit of Islam.[5]

This article of faith is of foremost importance as it talks about the finality of the prophethood. The issue of finality of prophethood of Muhammad (saw) gains further importance as it is discussed by the Quran itself. What is evident from the table above is that as far as Lahori group is concerned they do not differ with mainstream Muslims at all. Given this particular sect conforms with the rest of conditions imposed by ahadeeth given above, calling them a non-Muslim would not only be sheer arrogant stupidity but straying away from teachings of these ahadeeth as well.

As for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, this sect may have strangely different concept of the issue but if looked on the whole they tend to conform to the basic understanding of Islamic injunctions by following Mohammadan law and excepting him to be above the rest. In this sense to submit that they are outside the fold of Islam would be mis-guided to say the least. Their belief may be wrong from the point of view of majority of the Muslims but on the whole it does not deviate from the original law or the spirit of that law. The reason being that the subsequent prophets it talks about seem more like “reformers” than a “prophet”. Although they insist on using word “prophet” for their “reformer” but then the question arises, whether this is enough to throw somebody out of the folds of Islam? Not to mention the fact that the very similar use of word “prophet” exists among sufi orders as well. As Ibn Al-Arabi, the greatest sufi mystic of all times, elaborates in his book “The Bezels of Wisdom” or “Fusoos al-Hikmah” as it is originally called..




Jesus, Son of Mary
Mainstream Muslims
Born of a miraculous birth from the virgin, Mary, but not the son of God. Did not die on the cross but was transported to heaven, where he lives to return in the flesh to this world shortly before Doomsday. Since Jesus (considered a prophet) came before Muhammad, his return to Earth would not disqualify Muhammad as the “last” prophet. Jesus will come to earth not as a prophet but as a follower of Muhammad and preach the teachings of Muhammad.[6]
Lahori group
Similar to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community belief except that the question of Jesus's virgin birth is not an essential requirement of faith and is left to the individual's personal conviction.[7]
Ahmadiya Muslim Community
Believes in virgin birth of Jesus but not that he is son of God. He survived the crucifixion and did not die an accursed death. Everything with Jesus was natural like other human beings regarding his birth and his death and that is the Lord's rule. Instead he travelled east to India in search of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Jesus lived a full life and died on earth, specifically Jesus's tomb lies in Kashmir under the name Yuz Asaf.[8]

This Issue is not of so much of significance that it should act as a litmus test of who is a Muslim or not, the reason being that it is not from the basic tenets of Islam elaborated above.


Return of Jesus
Mainstream Muslims
At the “end of days” Jesus himself will descend from heaven in the flesh.[9]
Lahori group
References to the second coming of Jesus among the Muslims are allegorical in that one was to be born and rise as a prophet within the dispensation of Muhammad who by virtue of his similarity, and affinity with Jesus and the similarity between the Jews of Jesus’ time and the Muslims of the time of the promised one (The Mahdi) is called by the same name. The prophecy of the second coming was fulfilled in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.[10]
Ahmadiya Muslim Community
References to the second coming of Jesus among the Muslims are allegorical in that one was to be born and rise as a prophet within the dispensation of Muhammad who by virtue of his similarity, and affinity with Jesus and the similarity between the Jews of Jesus' time and the Muslims of the time of the promised one (The Mahdi) is called by the same name. The physical coming of Jesus (an old Israelite prophet) would disqualify Muhammad as the final prophet. The prophecy of the second coming was fulfilled in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.[11]

This Issue is not of so much of significance that it should act as a litmus test of who is a Muslim or not, as it is not from the basic tenets of Islam. But what is worth mentioning regarding Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is that it further elaborates their earlier claim regarding finality of prophethood. It seems that their claim regarding new prophets is particularly about Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself. This claim gets further elaborated below.


Status of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Mainstream Muslims
Mainstream Muslims consider him an apostate and believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was one of the 30 false claimants to prophethood
Lahori group
Ahmad was a Mujaddid (Islamic Reformer) of the 14th Islamic century (19th Century Gregorian), the promised Mahdi and the second coming of Jesus. He is referred to as a prophet in the metaphorical sense only (as other recognized Islamic saints and sufis are similarly referred to), not a prophet in the technical meaning of the word.[12]
Ahmadiya Muslim Community
Ahmad was a prophet ("Rasul" as mentioned in 2:285 [We make no distinction between any of His Messengers]) but subordinate and deputy to the Prophet Muhammad. The Messiah, Imam Mahdi and Mujaddid of the 14th Islamic century, and the second coming of Jesus.[13]


As per Quranic teaching, whether I believe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be an apostate or not is immaterial as far as my belief as a Muslim is concerned. Some people might argue that in hadith mentioned above does imply this. But if looked more carefully the hadith does not name the persons, therefore my view of Ghulam Ahmad becomes immaterial as long as I believe in the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad (saw).

As for Lahori group, they call him to be saint the promised mahdi. this belief although not in conformity with the mainstream belief but at the same time is not such that it would put them out of the fold of religion Islam. The reason being that believing in somebody being a saint or not is not a basis for checking whether the person is a Muslim or not.

For the Ahmadiya Muslim Community, this point does also help their case as they seem to refer to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as second coming of Jesus Christ. While most of the Muslims believe that Christ’s second coming is awaited event, this group believes that he did return in the body of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. It again is deviant from the mainstream belief on the issue but does conform to the basic definition of a Muslim established at the beginning. As second coming of Jesus is not something which can be claimed as basic tenet of Islam. Whether he has come or is still to come is immaterial from the standpoint of definition of Muslim as endorsed by Quran and Hadith.

When confronted with this argument somebody reasoned that these people believe another thing and say something else to gain acceptance. This is a riddiculous argument and as a matter of fact can be used against anybody anywhere. As a refutation for this argument, I would like to quote the following hadith:

It is narrated on the authority of Usama b. Zaid that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent us in a raiding party. We raided Huraqat of Juhaina in the morning. I caught hold of a man and he said: There is no god but Allah, I attacked him with a spear. It once occurred to me and I talked about it to the Apostle (may peace be upon him). The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Did he profess" There is no god but Allah," and even then you killed him? I said: Messenger of Allah, he made a profession of it out of the fear of the weapon. He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Did you tear his heart in order to find out whether it had professed or not? And he went on repeating it to me till I wished I had embraced Islam that day.[14]

In light of above presented argument, I strongly feel that beliefs of Ahmadis might be different from rest of Muslim sects but it does not fall outside the fold of Islam. It is so, because the basic tenets of being a Muslim can not be dependant upon the whim and desires of any person and can only come from Quran and hadeeth. As far as my understanding of Quran and Hadeeth goes, these people may not be good Muslims (by somebody else’s standards) in the same sense as all the rest of Muslim sects think of all the other of the sects as not good Muslims but still are Muslims and can not be casted out of the fold of Islam, the same should hold here as well.

[1]Sahih Al-Bukhari: The Book of Prayer, Hadith Number 387
[2]Sahih Al-Bukhari: The Book of Prayer, Hadith Number 388
[3]The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement:
[4]The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement:
[5]The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Dr. Aziz Ahmad Chaudhry
[6]Sahih Muslim: Hadith Number: 242
[7]The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement:
[8]The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Dr. Aziz Ahmad Chaudhry
[9]Islamic View of the Coming/Return of Jesus, by Ahmad Shafaat, Islamic Perspectives
[11]The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Dr. Aziz Ahmad Chaudhry
[12]The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement:
[13]The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Dr. Aziz Ahmad Chaudhry
[14]Sahih Muslim: Book 1, Hadith Number 176

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Freewill

I, Muhammad Shemyal Nisar, was born on 22nd of May 1986 at about 10 minutes to 11 A.M.  to a traditional but educated Muslim family in the city of Lahore, Pakistan. What did I do to deserve all this? Although I can never be sure of this, but as far as I can tell I did nothing to deserve this nor did I ask for any of it (as per my knowledge), prior to the time I received all these linguistic constructs. I entered this world which was a deceptive mixture of physical as well as mental reality. The word “mental” needs further clarification for I do not mean it in the Cartesian sense of the word rather in the sense of ontologically subjective or linguistically constructed reality. I am so informed that after my birth I was named as Muhammad Shemyal Nisar by my dad.

Having born into a Muslim family I was proclaimed as “Muslim” and indoctrinated with its teachings to this day. My family is ethnically Punjabi and this made me one as well and because my family was “Pakistani”, I by default became one as well.  I had not asked for any of these labels, neither implicitly nor explicitly, but so it became. It is also important to mention that neither did I approve of this nor did I disapprove of this. It was as when this reality was unfolded onto me I did not show slightest sign of resentment. But even if I did, I could not change it. It was so “determined” and it happened. Did I freely and willingly chose this path for myself? As far as I can tell, No.

Now let us examine the situation. The above mentioned social constructs determined the path my life took in many a ways. The social and economic position of my family determined the nutritious value of the food I consumed and the quantity of it I consumed. The environment of the house that I lived in determined the way I looked at the world. Having a father who was a military man was beyond my choosing as well, but it did determine that I was not to be stationed at a single city/station for an extended period of time, rather would be moving around it the country. My being a Pakistani determined for me those geographic locations of the world where I could go and those where i could not go or were at least not easily accessible to me. There were visa procedures which were to be followed. I being a Pakistani and financial position of my parents further determined and consolidated upon the places of world inaccessible to me and those which were accessible to me at least for the earlier years of my lifetime. The same variables determined which schools I will attend and these schools were further a determining factors of my thinking abilities and the ideas I will be indoctrinated with. The psychological upbringing at my house and school were crucial in determining my likes, dislikes and attitude towards life in general as well as global events.

What can be an alternative explanation for all my attitudes if we are not comfortable with the above narrated “determinism”? Another explanation for my behaviours and attitudes towards world at large and my immediate environment in specific can be that each and everything was innate. More crudely speaking, it was in my DNA. Although contemplating on what personal features are determined by DNA and which of them are not determined by it would require an in-depth knowledge of DNA, which I clearly lack. But the point to which i would want to bring the attention is a philosophical problem that given all behaviours and attitudes are innate, it makes my life and will, so-to-say, even more determined than it was under psychological model of determinism.

The above given argument whether unfortunately or fortunately proves the case for determinism. The attitude amongst philosophers and the rest is that of dislike, if not contempt towards determinism. The idea is out-rightly rejected even in the presence of overwhelming evidence for determinism.

An argument for refutation of determinism that I heard from Professor Dr. John Searle[1] states:
“I intend to raise my hand above my head. The intention produces intention-in-action. Lo and Behold!! The hand actually raises above the head. It is not only one single incidence rather it can be done as and when you intend to do it.”

This phenomenon can be elucidated by three explanations. First of all it is a very trivial case, even if we assume that it was freely willed an action all it changes for the original stance is that such trivial matters can be freely willed and acted upon and are thus not determined giving limited freedom to the humans which gives a delusion to us that we enjoy this privilege completely and in all our actions. Such menial issues do not effect the overall architecture in anyway so can be ignored. Secondly, it can be easily argued that my psychological upbringing determined my likes, dislikes and attitudes towards life and the world around. This led me to the study of philosophy. Philosophy that I studied was also molded and fixed to be symmetric with my psychological background, of which should I remind I was not the architect. My study of philosophy led me to this trivial experiment to check my free-will and thus I move my arm. It was all rigged from the beginning. Third argument is given by Professor Dr. Searle himself that it may be that it was written in the great book of history some 10 billion years ago that so and so would raise his arm at so and so place at so and so time in order to prove his free will. The argument can also be postulated using the Laplace's demon[2]. Laplace’s demon is a thought experiment performed by Pierre-Simon Laplace which states that if some demon outside of our universe knew the position of each and every particle in the universe at a particular time and additionally it knew all the laws of physics, it could work out the position of all of them at any instance of time in future or in past. Humans or no Humans, each and everything in the universe in made out of particles. Hence it was all determined at the time of big-bang. As a counter argument to Laplace’s demon, many a philosophers try to use Heisenberg's uncertainty principle of quantum in-determinism to argue against determinism. Unfortunately they also know it quiet well that the randomness that is there at quantum level cancels out at larger level. That is the reason that Newtonian laws work perfectly accurately in our daily lives. Secondly, as far as I am concerned human actions were supposed to be “freely willed” and not random, which has its own completely different epistemological and ontological repercussions.

Unfortunately the above argument reduces humans to lambs and cattle. The only difference being that they have a delusion of freewill. This, the rest of the lambs and cattle do not have. This is what makes us different from them. A mere illusion. The argument for determinism is coherent with laws of science as well. As in the realm of science there are laws for everything and everything is determined by these laws. Why should the humans be any different? They are part of this great cosmos as the rest of the elements in it. The modern psychology tells us that human beings are rationalizing beings rather than rational beings as most of us would like to think. It makes the case of free will even worse.

One reason for reluctance of philosophers towards accepting determinism is that it creates moral and ethical dilemmas. It removes the moral and ethical responsibility of a person from his actions. A person whose actions are determined by something external to him can not be held responsible for those actions as anyone who under hypnosis is ordered to do some action and when he performs that action, he can not be held accountable for those actions committed under hypnosis.

As I see this, I see no problem that determinism might cause for moral or ethical responsibility. Given the case of determined reality, the psychological state of a person creates a subjective reality in his mind out the given reality. If the society has an established order for the crime and punishment, it should have ingrained in his sub-conscious during his upbringing. If it has gotten ingrained in his sub-conscious then it would and should come into account during the decision making process of the mind, therefore act as an inhibitor of crime.
Given this model consider the three cases presented above. First and the second cases are similar in this regard. As stated above the, psychological upbringing determines everything for the person. This psychological upbringing would also include laws and the punishments that are given for crimes. In other words the moral values would also be ingrained in the psychology of the person. While committing any action he would take this into account and whether the fear of law or otherwise, it would act as an inhibitor against crime. The punishments given under law would therefore be in order to warn other people from committing crimes as well as the culprit himself from repeating it in future. It is more like training the population against criminal activities as dogs are trained for certain behaviours. As for the third case where it is postulated that all was written in the book of history some 10 billion years ago at the time of big bang. Here when the criminal’s criminal behaviour was given in the book of history so would it be given that he would be castigated for the crime committed. As it removes the moral responsibility from the criminal so would it remove the same responsibility from those who sanction against the criminals.  

In light of the above discussion, as it seems the case is closed in favour of determinism. The free will that is so often talked about is mere illusion created by the human mind and does not exist in reality. The human world and lives are as determined as the laws of physics. No matter how much we wishfully think against this reality, our wishful thinking would not change the reality and the reality would remain as it has always been.

Having established the illusion of freewill, it is imperative to mention that human society can not work without assuming freewill, even if it is absent. For instance, when I wake up tomorrow morning and standing in front of my wardrobe I have to decide which dress should I wear. I can not claim determinism and try to sit and wait which dress I choose. Rather I would have to choose the dress that I would be wearing, although as clear from the above analysis it would be predetermined.

Having come thus far, it is imperative to consider a more fundamental of the questions on this topic. This question is, what is freewill? How can it be defined? Consider hypothetically that there was such a being who had the gift of freewill, how will he act or behave in certain situations?

As I understand freewill, I think it should mean that the actions that a person takes should be free actions and not a result of any external power. The word “power” needs further elaboration. Power is a capacity or ability or disposition that a person has over another person in regard to certain actions irrespective of whether he exercises this power or not. It is a kind of power that a person A enjoys over person B intentionally in order to get person B to do something regardless of person B’s desires. The power in human beings has to be linked to intentionality. The exercise of power has to be intentional, the person A has to intentionally exercise power. The unintentional exercise of power can be called influence which is distinctly different from power itself. Taking a hypothetical situation, there is a person that I abhor to the extent that I can not stand his presence and leave the room immediately when he shows up. This is not his power rather the sorry effect of his presence. On the other hand if he did intentionally want me to leave the room and thus went in the room to produce this effect, it would be his power and the exercise of that power.[3] 

Getting back to the topic at hand, the person with freewill should be able to perform actions that are not result of intention of any external agent rather should be result of free and independent intention of the person himself. In other words the person should have complete “power” over himself.


Having established thus far, it is imperative to contemplate on the question previously stated. How would a person behave, provided he has the gift of freewill for him? In this situation there seem to be two possible outcomes. First possible outcome considers that the person involved should not have any preferences, likes, dislikes or preconceived notions about the situation at hand. Suppose the test involves for the said person to choose a dress for himself assuming equal prices everywhere. Now the problem is that how will he choose? For he lacks likes, dislikes and preferences on which to base his decision. The only possible outcome of such a situation is that he would choose at random. Now there are two problems with in this case, first one being that as argued earlier randomness is not the same as “freely willed” action and we never wanted human actions to be random. Second problem in this case is that a person without likes, dislikes and preferences lacks everything we know to be “human”. Second possible outcome considers that the person involved has got likes, dislikes and preferences. He might like one colour more than the others and one style or dressing more than the others. This means that when he gets in the store he checks the available dresses with his preferences and “freely” chooses the one that fits his preferences. The reason that we can not dis-regard like, dislikes and preferences in this case is that it is a case of “Judgement of Taste”, as Immanuel Kant would call it or ontologically and epistemological subjective. A judgement of this kind should depend upon like, dislikes and preferences as there is no other method to measure or judge them and come to a “rational” conclusion. Although his choice was “predetermined” given his preferences, in the way that if there was such an agent who knew what the store had to offer and psychological condition, likes, dislikes and preferences of the person he would be able to make an “intelligent guess” regarding what that person will choose. This behaviour seems very similar to the way normally humans behave. I think the above given argument conclusively proves the case that although the choices maybe predetermined but they are “freely” or “independently” made and the people do have the freedom of action as according to our understanding of “freedom of action” elaborated above as having “power” over oneself.


Consider another example, there is a judge in a courtroom who is to give a verdict on the trial of the murderer. Now the judge is known to be upright and a man of principles implying he is incorruptible and without any bias who would judge the case on its merit. The law of the land says that the murderer should be shown the way to gallows. Then there is an overwhelming evidence incriminating the alleged murderer. Assuming no double play of any sort in the complete process, what would the judge do? Of course, in light of the given evidence judge would give the verdict in accordance with the law of the land. In this situation the murderer when caught with the evidence was “predetermined” to to hanged. In precisely the same way the judge being of upright character was “predetermined” to give the verdict which he ultimate does give. But having established all this it does also fit with our earlier stated definition of freewill. The judge had complete freedom of action and “power” over himself when he handed down the verdict.

In the above stated way “predeterminism” and “freewill” are related to each other and thus also different from each other.

Another related jargon that is used along with “freewill” is the word “fate”. What is “fate” and what is its ontology? The term “fate” as I understand refers to the inevitable outcome of the situation. When a certain person takes a certain action, it determines his fate for him in given situations although other factors do also come into play and his action is not the sole variable for the equation of fate. Taking the example of the judge from above, when the murderer committed the crime and was caught by the law enforcement agencies. It “sealed” his fate for him. Which eventually was later unfolded as to be hanged. Although our actions are free actions but the consequence that they bring about as a result of them is called fate. In the present model of freewill, the fate should change with each and every subsequent action that a “free” agent takes.

Considering an example for the purpose of elucidation. A person is waiting in his car at the railway junction for the train to pass. When he sees the train coming he is confronted with two options. Either he could wait, or he could take his car on the railway track and run his car on the track. Suppose he makes a free choice of the second option and runs his car on the railway track. Now his “free choice” seals the fate for him which of course is that he would die by being overrun by the train. On the other hand supposing that he “freely” chooses to wait for the train to leave and drives over when it is safe, he effectively changed his fate and would now live, at least for the time being.

The mechanism can work differently as well. Differently in the sense that the person who is to meet his fate, is himself unaware of it and/or it depends solely on actions of others. For example, I make a “freely willed” decision to walk down my street and then onto the main road. While I am walking on the main road I see two cars come close to each other and collide with each other. I hence become a witness of the accident. From this it can be construed that my fate is not only dependent upon my own actions rather it is intertwined with the actions and thus fate of others as well. When I chose to go for a walk I sealed my fate to be at the point where I was standing at that particular instant in time when the accident occurred. If for a second we assume that i am the only intelligent agent then I not only made it my fate to be standing there but also to be the witness of the accident. This is the case with natural disasters or events of like nature. In the case of intelligent agents operating as were in the car accident, then the split-second actions of the drivers that made it their fate to meet the accident did also make it my fate to be the witness of that accident. Therefore as expounded above, fate of human being is an inevitable outcome of the given actions of humans themselves or that of other intelligent agents such as all living creatures and lastly of the unintelligent things in this universe. Although this fate can change depending upon the choice of action that humans undertake. Not to mention that fate gave me an opportunity to help those involved in the accident which I can freely choose whether I want to do or overlook, although it might be predetermined by my psychological disposition.
                 
Finally there is yet another kind of fate. This one involves no intentionality on our part. Although not so permanent as we might think but it does influence many of our actions. In my personal case, my DNA was predetermined which determined many a features of my personality which i would later call as my fate. This includes my skin colour, the colour of my hair, the colour of my eyes, my voice, my height and my being male. The predetermined attributes not only include biological features but the ontologically subjective linguistic constructs as well. These include my being a Pakistani, son of a military man and so on. These would play part in influencing my fate although they included no intentionality on my part what so ever. This kind of fate being of the only kind that seems difficult to alter by any of the human actions, although later human actions can multiply or decrease the impact they have on our lives. Nevertheless it would be an overstatement to say that just because these attributes were determined implies that my whole life was determined as well implying no way I could make things better for myself.

The above argument shows that humans do have freewill but at the same time their actions are predetermined and fate plays in the equation as well. These things can and do co-exist and the presence of one does not negate the presence of the other. Although both of these statements are epistemologically subjective to the truth condition of the given arguments. But then “Freewill” is the ultimate philosophical problem.

Another thing that needs to be addressed is the “effectiveness” so-to-say of the freewill in contemporary times in wake of elaborate propaganda techniques and apparatus in place. Does it not undermine the true notion of freewill when humans start being bread as lambs by those with authority or otherwise? But I guess we better leave that for some other time and some other place.

Acknowledgement: I am greatly indebted thus would like to acknowledge the help extended to me by Mr. Waqas Ghazi for completing this work. It would have been quiet difficult without your guidance at such crucial time.
                                                

[2]A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities, by Pierre-Simon Laplace, 1902
[3]Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization, by John Searle, 2010