Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

CONTENTS
  1. The movie
  2. Leaf Falling Example
  3. Determinism
  4. Random Snoopy Example
  5. Flower Plucking Example
  6. Hume
  7. Bart Simpson & Dobby Example
  8. R&G Are Dead




The Movie

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is a Tom Stoddard flick about free will against the plot of Shakespeare's Hamlet. It illuminates the philosophical debate between Hard (or, Soft) Determinism vs Libertarian Free Will or Hume’s compatibilism. It is a theatrical query on whether or not life is determined, or whether we have free will. 

Leaf Falling Example

If you take for instance the leaves falling from the trees in a Northern Hemispheric winter, you might say the leaves had to fall due to the presence of a hormone in leaf-dropping trees that signals a chemical message to every leaf to essentially, “Take a dive!” 


Once this message is received, little cells appear where the leaf stem meets the branch. They are called “abscission” cells. Like their namesake, “scissors,” they cut themselves free. 

Determinism

In this sense, a leaf must fall. Its prior causes necessitate later effects. It is the leaf's fate to fall; it is already determined. 

Random Snoopy Example

“What if the wind picks up and blows the leaf off the tree?” 


That’s a good question, Snoopy. 

In this scenario, it appears that the leaf’s fate is random, i.e., not-determined. It can be affected by additional forces. Since the presence of random is not under our direct control, there is still no free will.

Hume

But what if your tribe is seated at the same campfire as Hume? 



You may retort the notion of determinism, saying that free will does not mean to do other than what you actually do, nor is it something that happens other than what actually happens


It means, doing something you want to do, regardless. 


Flower Plucking Example

Here, we pluck a flower and put it in our hair. Adorning ourselves with nature’s beauty. We exercised free will when we chose to pluck the flower. We seal its fate in our own story. 


Was the flower going to wither and fall, regardless of our action? Yes. 

Did we exercise free will? 
Yes. No. Maybe?

Bart Simpson & Dobby Example

Consider instead a more serious topic, one of life and death. 


In this scenario, we as human beings cannot escape death. We are still trapped in the cycle of birth and death (regardless of whether that cycle is singular or plural; get it? This image of Bart dying over and over is a gif. It keeps playing). 


We still die 
(dramatic pause), 
eventually. 

But if we had a choice, we may not choose death. The fact that is not our choice to make indicates that we have no free will. 



This is the dilemma of determinism, 
Dobby.



R&G Are Dead

In R&G Are Dead, both realize they are trapped. Literally living out a certain set of actions. In their realization, they still "decide" (free will) not to tell Hamlet, which ultimately leads to their deaths, the climax of their roles in the play Hamlet. 

Oh, and, by the way, 


Heads or tails? 

"Free will is a revenge theory.
We cannot answer the question of who wins."
~Soph Laugh







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