The Error at the Core of Nihilism that is based on Determinism

There is a form of Nihilism that in essence states that we have no choices, because in the physical universe, all things are in the end determined by their causal relationships. Certainly, determinism is still a strongly debated topic in physics and philosophy.

Let us accept for the moment that determinism is correct. The nihilistic statement is then ever so false.

Determinism is closely related to hindsight. After an outcome, we may look back and say, “well, given that all is deterministic, we can see how all of the causal roots, their effects, conditionals and decisions inevitably led to this circumstance”.

Notice that each element in that reasoning is absolutely essential. The deterministic outcome is possible only when each element takes its place, when each decision is made based on all of the underlying causes and reasons. In the deterministic universe, all of our decisions and actions are crucial, just as much as they are unavoidable.

By contrast, in a universe where there is a significant level of non-determinism, we can count on none of them in the long-run. The incipient influence of non-deterministic effects eventually undermines the ability to find strong causal support for any outcome over a long period of time. The effects of our actions and decisions disintegrate and are wiped out.

So, while it is comforting, in a deterministic world-view, to rely on the nihilistic outlook that we can really not affect anything beyond what will happen anyway, it is an outlook that omits time. If we take into consideration time, and our perception within a moment of time, then the deterministic universe is full of unknowns, but also full of possibilities that crucially involve us.

Food for thought.

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About randalkoene

A computational neuroscientist, information theoretician and electrical engineer with a background in physics, with the desire to understand everything and create anything. :)
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