Thursday, October 1, 2009

Free Will & Freewheelin'

Driving in this morning’s gloomy rush hour, I found people pushier and sneakier than usual, trying to grab the right of way, squeezing into my interval, cheating. Rudeness is probably easier scooting around in these anonymous, inarticulate boxes, than if we were all face to face. There’s probably some educated party who could say what parts of the brain and which neurotransmitters are involved in honest society, and could speculate about what prehistoric -- maybe pre-human -- condition honesty accommodated, but I like to think virtue stands on its own.

I’ve been carrying a quote of Herman Kahn’s, of all people, on the cover of a sketch book with one blank page left: “Even if it’s a deterministic world, you get a preferable kind of people by treating them as if they have free will.”

And maybe you get a preferable kind of world if you treat yourself as if that mattered.


GooseBreeder said...

Leaves so much open doesn't it? Preferable world and preferable people!To whom?

Tom Roark said...

That's the thing about Herman Kahn. He started out as a nuclear war strategist. But I'll take the comment as meaning I have to drive courteously and sensibly.