The philosophical inquiry into the conditions of freedom of action is divided over the question of causes of human actions and reasons for actions owned by the agent. It is argued by the determinist philosophers that even the reasons for actions, such as our desires and our rational thinking over our desires, is caused by natural conditions outside consciousness. On the other hand, conception of ourselves as rational agents, acting on our own, involves the idea that natural causality is a process of events causing other events, whereas our actions are not merely events in nature. However, the contention that our free actions are not like natural events involves the idea that they spring forth from a self who thinks and acts on certain occasions, even though the actions may appear as events to an external observer. This, however, requires that somehow
the conditions of free action are different from the way natural events take place. One of the conditions that seem to differentiate actions from events is that actions are intentional occurrences. Nevertheless, intentionality of actions is, in my view, hard to be philosophically corroborated in contrast to the obvious and over looked aspect of being self-conscious about what we do or intend to do. Though it is clear and undeniable that most of the time we are conscious of what we do or intend to do, still the idea of a continuant self-acting divergently through his choices and decisions is, in my opinion, a necessary condition for the actions to be called free in contrast to natural events caused by other events. However difficult it may be to explain this continuant self in the flux of nature, still I think the very idea is a necessary condition for explaining the various ways in which thoughts, desires, will, intentions, and actions are related. In other words, to be a rational agent means to be self-conscious. This paper is an attempt to bring back the debate of freedom and determinism under the focus of this notion of self-consciousness. The notion of self consciousness seems to me intuitively obvious as a unifying condition of freedom, such that without this our freedom of action either entails randomness, or we unintentionally end up in
arguing for freedom in a deterministic fashion by trying to explain the mental behind the physical and vice versa.
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Copyright (c) 2011 Prof. Dr. Zahoor H. Baber