Monday, May 14, 2012

Number Eighty-Nine

Ein Mensch hat freien Willen, und zwar dreierlei: Erstens war er frei, als er dieses Leben wollte; jetzt kann er es allerdings nicht mehr rückgängig machen, denn er ist nicht mehr jener, der es damals wollte, es wäre denn insoweit, als er seinen damaligen Willen ausführt, indem er lebt. Zweitens ist er frei, indem er die Gangart und den Weg dieses Lebens wählen kann. Drittens ist er frei, indem er als derjenige, der einmal wieder sein wird, den Willen hat, sich unter jeder Bedingung durch das Leben gehen und auf diese Weise zu sich kommen zu lassen, und zwar auf einem zwar wählbaren, aber jedenfalls derartig labyrinthischen Weg, daß er kein Fleckchen dieses Lebens unberührt läßt. Das ist das Dreierlei des freien Willens, es ist aber auch, da es gleichzeitig ist, ein Einerlei und ist im Grunde so sehr Einerlei, daß es keinen Platz hat für einen Willen, weder für einen freien noch unfreien.

A man has free will, and this is of three kinds: first of all he was free when he wanted this life; now, of course, he cannot go back on it, for he is no longer the person who wanted it then, except perhaps in so far as he carries out what he then wanted, in that he lives.
Secondly, he is free in that he can choose the pace and the road of this life.
Thirdly, he is free in that, as the person who will sometime exist again, he has the will to make himself go through life under every condition and in this way to come to himself, and this, what is more, on a road that, though it is a matter of choice, is still so very labyrinthine that there is no smallest area of this life that it leaves untouched.
This is the trichotomy of free will, but since it is simultaneous it is also a unity, an integer, and fundamentally so completely integral that it has no room for any will, free or unfree. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

Man has free will, and of three sorts:
First he was free when he wanted this life; now admittedly he cannot take back his decision, because he is no longer the one who wanted it then, he must do his own will then by living.
Second he is free inasmuch as he can choose the pace and the course of his life.
Third he is free in that as the person he will one day be, he has the will to go through life under any condition and so come to himself, on some path of his own choosing, albeit sufficiently labyrinthine that it leaves no little spot of life untouched.
This is the triple nature of free will, but being simultaneous, it is also single, and is in fact so utterly single that it has no room for a will at all, whether free or unfree. [Hofmann]


The Hofmann translation occurs as number 104 in his edition, while Kaiser/Wilkins identifies this one as number 89. The corresponding number in Hofmann, as noted in the previous post, is combined with number 88.

The first freedom is responsibility or even guilt, setting oneself on a path. The second freedom is in degree of application and in direction of path, but does not extend to the possibility of ceasing to continue down any path. Does this mean that we are not free when we commit suicide?

The third freedom involves a choice of route that is indifferent from the point of view of the terrain, since every route covers the terrain entirely and consequently varies from every other route only in terms of things like order in which various locations are visited, number of times revisited, rate of travel and so on, which seem to fall under the second freedom. This third freedom seems to invoke the idea of eternal recurrence, that I freely choose myself with the understanding or at least as if I understood that I would one day have to be this one again, because choosing to be myself once, if I am really being myself and not just playacting, means committing to being myself in a way that affirms that choice for all time. When I choose something forever, or with maximum commitment, then I am choosing never to make any other choice, choosing to renounce further choice.

These freedoms are necessarily the case, which means we can't choose not to have them, nor can be say that the choices are determined by anything outside us. So we have no choice but to choose, but the choice we make is our own choice.

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