By Edmund Opitz, author of The Libertarian Theology of Freedom and Religion and Capitalism: Allies, Not Enemies. This essay was originally published in the December 1972 issue of The Freeman, and continues from his previous article.
Part One of this essay presents a diagnosis of the present malaise in terms of a loss of contact with six vital ideas. The ideas which keep us human may be summarized as follows:
- Free Will. Man’s gift of free will makes him a responsible being.
- Rationality. Man is a reasoning being who, by taking thought, gains valid truths about himself and the universe.
- Self-responsibility. Each person is the custodian of his own energy and talents, charged with the lifetime task of bringing himself to completion.
- Beauty. Man confronts beauty in the very nature of things, and reproduces this vision in art.
- Goodness. Man has a moral sense, enabling and requiring him to choose between good and evil.
- The Sacred. Man participates in an order which transcends nature and society.
It is no secret that a great many philosophers and scientists deny free will and affirm determinism; it is also a fact that no one can really bring himself around to believing that he is an automaton. A philosopher who announces himself as a determinist presumes to offer us a conclusion he has arrived at after observation, after marshalling the relevant evidence, after reflection, and as the end result of a chain of reasoning. Each of these steps reflects the action of a free being, and these free actions can never be pieced together so as to contrive an unfree result. Man’s will is free; it is so free that it can deny this freedom!