I have spent the majority of my day reading everyones posts, considering carefully the differing viewpoints at hand. I apologize in advance for the longwinded response. I cannot pretend to say that I am an expert in determinism, causality, or free will. There is no such thing.
I can't say what I know, but can try to convey how I suppose the world is. We are seemingly, with the exception of possibly the dolphins and the whales, to be the only species that is self aware.
Let's suppose for a moment, that the first self aware human or protohuman, as science would suggest, becoming self aware. How would he/she express his/her new self awareness? And thus language is born. To clarify, by language I do not mean just words, but is a set of conventionally agreed upon system of communication. Agreed upon by the masses and not subject to change without that approval. Without these "conventionally agreed upon systems" communication would be impossible as we all know. But these signs we use, nowadays words and the occasional smilie face, would have no meaning by themselves. These signs we use are connected to other things, mainly intangible "things". The sign "COW" does not mean the bovine, but in American culture it represents the idea or concept of what we suppose a "COW" to be. It could be said that all human experience is inevitably linguistic. No direct experience is possible for more than a millisecond in so far as we live in a meaningful world. Structure has meaning, and meaning is relative and so it is to say that we made it all up.
What we know empirically, we made all up. Things are for us as our languages describe them. Our speech is only validated as meaningful when those who prescribed relationships are made. This is to say, our world is how we "suppose" it to be.
Let me quickly say, by suppose I mean the agreed upon definition: believe to exist or possess a specific characteristic.
We express our suppositions as language as how its supposed to be. We suppose it any way we want. But once we embody it in language we make it how it is supposed to be. The thing morphs and becomes what its supposed to be. To simplify, we begin to think of the "cow" as different from the actual animal and the animal can only be a "cow" if it meets the conditions of what we suppose it to be. The idea is thought of first before the experience of what is a cow. We have a unique ability to suppose how we might see the world sensibly.
Since meaning is all how you see relationships... meaning in human society is a human product, not a presupposition. In matters of faith, one tends to understand that some supreme being has put a truth for us to understand things. Empirically, all we can tell is that we make it all up. We are making meaning. We make meaning by manipulating languages. We are linguistic creatures living in a linguistic universe of our own devising. We manipulate only our description of it. We've evolved spin doctors that work on re-describing things... (I swear I'm getting to my point soon)
All of us buy into this... philosophers, artists, filmmakers, writers etc... Although the rules for each vary, nobody is exempt. In our case, we're using these alpha-numeric symbols...
I am a product of my experience. We can suppose that this is a part of human nature and none are an exception. As a kid fall of your bike and skin your knee, that helped build your character. From this we can also suppose that no person could have exactly the same experience. Things change, no matter how infinitesimally small. We all have are own subjective bubbles. So if all experience among humans differ and language is based upon experience, how the hell can we even communicate?
Well with the invention of photography the more tangible experience's become easier. Cow, fire, steak... they can more easily cross each others bubbles of experience. But for harder things, concepts and belief structures like love, hate, saudade (there's no word for it in english), or more relevant, free will, how do we discuss them? We begin to create rules for the system. We make it more complex, but of course with the addition of rules, the essence of what that sign was describing was lost. It's a dilemma that we we put up with to attempt to "make sense" of this world.
That's what we're trying to do here... make sense of things. So in this question of determinism, causality, and free will. I find myself agreeing with Fil. Albuquerque. I was relieved to see that you brought Taoism into the mix. For now I am going to suppose that we do experience. Although things seem to "just be."
As I stated earlier, I am a product of my experience, whether illusion or otherwise. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau has stated, man is born free, but everywhere he walks he is in chains (rough quote). Man may have been born with free will, but as soon as he begins to be conscious, that free will ends. That is to say I am not here of my own free will, but here because a culmination of different pressures conscious or subconscious and experiences has led me to this moment. I may have the choice to close my computer and forget this entire forum, but I don't. I may have the choice to go outside or but ultimately its irrelevant. Choice is an illusion. Every supposed choice in my life has already been made before the choice is even presented. Experience will dictate what path to take. Does it mean our "making a choice" is any easier. No, just because we don't know what choices we're going to make does not mean that they haven't already been made.
Now, in regards to determinism, whether it is valid or not is irrelevant. Human existence is so limited we can't even begin to conceptualize or even practically apply determinism to live. In any single event there are an "N"th amount of possibilities of what "could be" and an "N"th amount of factors that play upon the outcome of the event. And for every event, there are an "N"th amount of causes and effects (loose interpretation of string theory). Only something subconscious or otherwise, existing outside of time could possibly begin to conceptualize and determine the validity of determinism.
This is where I credit Fil. Albuquerque for bringing up taoism. Taoism adheres to a natural law of things. A tree will act like a tree, a dog will be a dog, water will flow, wind will blow, the sun will rise, and water can sometimes fall. There is a natural balance, a harmony if you will, there is "the way". In more western terms "the way" can be conceptualized as a life energy that links everything, living and non. As science has proven to us (as far as we "Know") all things are essentially made up of energy, neurons, protons, electrons, all moving.
In Taoism, "the way" is a balance of nature, and energy, likes to stay balanced, hence the creation of matter (in a very simplistic way). Protons and Nutrons bind, electrons float around picking up and discarding other electrons, these are of course atoms, with enough atoms we get the formation of matter. All this in trying to stay balanced. Anyways, all this is leading me off topic a bit, but feel is necessary to reach my point.
So in this universe, as we know it, atomic particles just work the way they are supposed to work, and we suppose they work the way they are intended to. Is it not equally possible that the events in our lives operate in the same way? We are simply here doing what we are supposed to be doing. trying to create and complex system in which we can express our experiences of the world? Creativity and uniqueness is not contingent on free will. Is it so scary to think we are not in control of our lives living our lives in this remarkable system we call the universe? I for one, take joy in the fact that I might be supposed to think about these concepts. :a-ok:
I'll conclude with these few words: Life is a rollercoaster, just ride it.
Nike: Just do it!
All I know, is that I know nothing.
Again sorry for the length of this post!! Happy reading!