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Chapter 2: You Are What You Do. Religious Determinism Naturalism maintains that freedom is an allusion because actions are not free. Actions are nothing.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 2: You Are What You Do. Religious Determinism Naturalism maintains that freedom is an allusion because actions are not free. Actions are nothing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 2: You Are What You Do


3 Religious Determinism Naturalism maintains that freedom is an allusion because actions are not free. Actions are nothing more than the results of brain processes. Other contemporary theories are equally deterministic. Freedom as a human capacity is under severe attack in a number of philosophies and theologies.

4 Historically some Christian churches taught that God’s knowledge and will have predetermined the course of the world, as well as the action of every human. Religious Determinism

5 What do you think about this? What do you think about the possibility your every action or omission is decided by God and not yourself? Religious Determinism

6 Today most Christians believe in providence, that is, God’s influence upon events and actions. This belief can only be maintained if one believes that God can achieve the salvation of the world. Religious Determinism

7 If salvation or damnation is predetermined, is there any recognition or respect for freedom? If freedom does not exist, would there be any point of trying to be good and moral people? Although predetermined, we still would most likely not know if God has reserved salvation of damnation for us! Religious Determinism

8 Calvinists (followers of John Calvin, the French Protestant reformer and theologian)believe that human freedom and ethics have no place in the doctrine of predestination. The Catholic position disagrees with Calvin. Catholic teaching maintains that human freedom and God’s providence does not conflict. Religious Determinism

9 The Puritan tradition, which is an offshoot of the Calvinist tradition, believes that sin has corrupted humans so much co they are born and live their entire lives deserving eternal damnation – they can do nothing to save themselves. They hold that God loves and elects some and rejects others. Thus they do not believe that God wants all people to be saved.

10 God freely grants salvation to the elect – it is God’s freedom at the expense of human freedom. Puritans do not claim to understand why God chooses to save some and damn others; to question God on this would be sacrilegious. This is a harsh doctrine and certainly difficult to interpret. Religious Determinism

11 The Catholic tradition has struggled to maintain that humans are free precisely because of God’s providence – salvation is God’s to grant but God’s love requires and makes possible our cooperation. The Catholic tradition has been the great defender of human freedom. Religious Determinism

12 St. Augustine (354- 430) was the first great theologian who wrote extensively about the free will and its connection with grace. Religious Determinism

13 Social Determinism Social Determinism is in many ways like naturalism. A social determinist believes your actions can be explained by what you have undergone at the hands of others. ▫Your parents / family / friends ▫Your culture ▫Your psychological state (including any traumatic experience) ▫Your history


15 ▫Your social background – this includes:  Socio-economic status  Race  Gender  Religion  Education Social Determinism

16 Your behaviour is explained by social factors, not by your decisions. If your actions are determined entirely by the past, how can you be responsible for those actions? Social Determinism

17 Social Determinist You are not free because you are the product of what others have done to you. To a social determinist, the past, your past, determines who you are. Your behaviour is explained by social factors, not by your decisions. Have you ever had that feeling...where you know that the events of your past will automatically determine who you are as a person. And more so, that your freedom and ability to make a decision will not play a part at all?

18 A social determinist might argue, “I did this because I was abused as a child.” But if your actions today are determined entirely by your past, how can you be responsible for those actions? What affect would social determinism have on the judicial system? Would it be similar to naturalism? Social Determinism


20 Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Freud demonstrated that human behaviour is often driven by unconscious impulses based on repressed memories and desires. For a variety of reasons – the memories were too painful or shameful – humans repress these memories and desires through a sort of memory censor (blocking it out). This censorship does not remove the memories or desires. It only represses them out of consciousness.

21 Until you reconnect with the repression and its causes, your actions are not free. Therefore you can not be held directly responsible for your actions. Freud also recognized that people can use the emotional power of repressed memories and desires for right action by channelling this energy creatively and less neurotically. He called this sublimation. Freud Continued

22 Id - unconscious desires (reproduction, life and death) Ego- conscious part Superego- societal expectations via guilt and shame. Interesting...after instances of war, soldiers have an unconscious desire to reproduce so as to ensure the survival of their species. This is why birth rates increase after significant periods of change in society.

23 The life and death instinct. Instinct (such as sexual instinct), he maintained, is something that exerts pressure on the minds causing humans to act to reduce that tension. Pleasure results when we reduce this pressure. Freud Continued

24 Life or love instincts (Eros) and the death instinct (Thanatos). The life instinct is found in the various ways that humans express their desire for life and love for the other. The desire for life conflicts with the desire for death. Freud arrived at the notion of the death instinct as a result of his experience of the first world war. Freud Continued

25 Freud was struck by the aggressive-destructive tendencies manifested by the horrendous war in which people slaughtered one another by the thousands each day. He also noted aggression in the way humans deal with themselves. He was critical of morality, which he saw as self-aggression. He believed that morality was based on coercion. It demand’s the renunciation of one’s instincts. Freud Continued

26 Who, then, is the self? THIS IS WHO YOU ARE: You are more than what you have done. You are capable of projecting yourself into the future. You can make promises and commitments. You can make choices!

27 You can give your word – you can shape your future. You cannot undo events of the past, but you can reinterpret them (even painful events). Who, then, is the self? THIS IS WHO YOU ARE:

28 So...what do you think In groups of three-four, answer the following questions on chart paper. Each group will present their responses with the class. What is determinism in your own words? What effect does determinism have on human freedom? Give some examples. Would society still need prisons if freedom were an illusion? Why or why not?

29 You are what you do NATURALISMSOCIAL DETERMINISM RELIGIOUS DETERMINISM Our genes (DNA) determine who we are (Nature?) We have no free will Our environment determines who we are (Nurture?) God predestined us for salvation (Heaven) or damnation (Hell) We are simply just puppets

30 You are what you do St. Augustine, who represents the Catholic church, says a loving God created us to love and we have the free will to choose our destiny. We may sin but the grace of God enables us to be better than our mistakes. In this “model” our futures are not destined by our past, and not only by genetics or our environment.

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