Having spent most of the last two weeks confined to a house I had no particular wish to leave, I have been reminded of John Locke's free-will analogy. Locke, a 17th century English philosopher, wrote, "Suppose a man be carried, whilst fast asleep, into a room where is a person he longs to see and speak with; and be there locked fast in, beyond his power to get out: he awakes, and is glad to find himself in so desirable company, which he stays willingly in, i.e. prefers his stay to going away. I ask, is not this stay voluntary? I think nobody will doubt it: and yet, being locked fast in, it is evident he is not at liberty not to stay, he has not freedom to be gone." (from An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1690) For Locke, the man's freedom was an illusion; he could not have left even if he wanted to because the door (unbeknownst to him) was locked. Likewise, Locke believed that free will is an illusion, that our actions flow from prior causes and that even if we think we have the power to choose differently, we in fact do not. This 40-second video explains Locke's locked-room thought experiment. www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZMJ-xaaNu0
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