The one inexorable law that can be discerned
in life is the Law of Cause and Effect.
arious antecedent conditions are the cause.
They include the manifold capacities of the
objects involved. These capacities have limits
of operation which are determined on the one
hand by heredity or inherent properties, and
on the other by habit through internal conditioning
or modified function through external conditioning.
However, the performance of any of the objects
is a random variable and may not reach the limit
of its capacity nor any portion of it which
may be predetermined by some external object.
These capacities are further dependent upon
instantaneous quanta of energy; generally
speaking, what is called electro-magnetic or
mechanical energy; biologically speaking, chemical
or physical energy; and psychologically speaking
emotional or intellectual energy. They are
dependent on the "free will" of the object (the
measure of the randomness of its performance), its
total capacities, and the degree of their integration
in order to achieve a unified result.
The conditions include the manifold stimuli
acting on the objects involved. These are
all interwoven with each other and with the
capacities of the objects; they or others have
acted to develop the capacities of the objects;
and objects which are the source of stimuli to
another object in turn receive stimuli from the
The capacities will limit the result of the
interactions in the phenomena which we call
"success", "medlocrity", or "failure"; the
stimuli will limit the end result in the interaction
which we call "opportunity".
The interactions will either be random or will
be according to some design. If we call this
design "omniscience" it will not determine
the result unless we call it "omnipotence" as
well. In either case unpredictable behavior of
the objects will be observed.
he effects will be of two types.
Changes may occur in the objects or in the
objects' activity. The change may involve the
nature or character of the object, its activity
or its "motive" or "purpose".
A "choice" may be made; that is, of two or
more possible avenues of. continuation one w1ll
constitute the effect. Avenues of continuation
are never what we may call precisely "equal"
since this would necessitate a precise equivalence
in the capacities and the stimuli; hence we might
say that no true "choice' can ever be made, except
in limited cases where the results will probably
be unimportant, and the avenue of continuation
will be the one of the greatest tendency. But
regardless of whether or not they make a "choice"
certain objects, which we call "life forms", form
intentions and make and carry through decisions.
This then is the point. Whether or not free w1ll
exists iS irrelevant to the quest1on of action;
one has free will proportionately to his belief
in it. Somewhere beyond the ultimate stimuli there
may be forces over which a person has no control
but if he acts vigorously and with determination
and knowledge, and certainty or faith in his free
will, then he "has" it, whereas if he doubts it
he will act vacillatingly, indefinitely, or not
at all, and we may say that he "hasn't" it.
(originally published under the name of John Fitz)