Free Will vs. Determinism

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"I thought free will had to do with sin."
     I think about this, "No", I say, "why should free will be limited to right and wrong? I mean, you just decided, of your own free will, to take off your shoes. It doesn't matter, nobody cares if you wear shoes or not, and it's not sinful, or virtuous, and it doesn't affect the future, but you've exercised your free will."
     Clare shrugs. "But sometimes you tell me something and I feel like the future is already there, you know? Like my future has happened in the past and I can't do anything about it."
      "That's called determinism," I tell her. "It haunts my dreams." (Niffenegger p. 75)

Arguments between free will and determinism have always intrigued me. It seems as if Clare has the power of free will. She is able to do what she wants, when she wants to do it. She has the power to decide if she wants to meet Henry or not. Yet, it seems as if her determinism is controlled by Henry. Because he is able to go back and forth in time, I would conclude that he is the events that determine her future. The actions that take place in the future are determining the things that take place in the current life she is living. Because Henry seems to be a constant in both times in her life, I would say that he is the chain of events controlling her. The idea of determinism is based on the idea that control of the future is directly related to the past and the present. Henry talks about how he cannot change anything, yet he does, in my opinion. He is changing everyday what Clare does in her young life, because she does things for him. If he stayed in the future, she would not be doing these things. Now, when it comes down to free will and Henry, I think it is safe to say that he does not really have any. He is not able to come and go as he pleases, or always do what he wants. This is because he does not know when he will time travel again. He says that determinism haunts him, and I can see how this is. While he is often not able to change the future or the past, he knows what will happen. He cannot change what is already determined, again because he does not have the free will to control his time travel.

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Aja Hannah said:

I agree with this Henry not having free will. He tries to change things and can't. It seems to me that as a time traveler he is not allowed to have the power of free will because he would then be able to change the past, present, future.

Yet Clare can change things like signing the date on the paper. But when he travels back to see the artwork the date is not there because she cut it off because she was superstitious. And Henry feels relieved. Why does he feel this way? And perhaps this suggests further that even though Clare has free will everything is still predetermined for her.

Joshuawilks said:

THis is something that really intrigues me as well. the whole book seems to be about this idea of free will and determinism. Henry knows that certian things are going to happen but he is helpless to change them. things are certainly pre-determined. Clare has no choice in meeting henry becasue if she doesnt then henry's future wont come true and things would get muddled up. This paradox always happens when Time travel is involved, and it really is kind of fun to think about. How would everyones life be different if this happened a different way.

Rosalind Blair said:

It is possible that Clares free will is limited because of Henry and her dedication to him. She is able to do whatever she wants, yet does not want to mess up her relationship with Henry in any way (or to put him in danger). Without Clare, things would not work for Henry - she is the constant in his life - and I can see how this is very limited to the free will she may possess.

Alicia Campbell said:

I, too, find this debate very interesting. I hesitate when saying that Clare has free will, because technically she does, but I agree that her life seems to be so controlled by Henry. But then again, I would not know what else to expect when she has been influenced by Henry, a very mature adult, since early childhood. I also agree that Henry cannot exercise free will. He already knows what will happen, and so for him it seems like the past, present, and future are all occuring at once (as he admits when he witnesses Ingrid's suicide, although Ingrid has been dead for years). Henry could not be able to change what happened or predetermine anything, because if he could, he would be...God.

Rosalind Blair said:

I never thought about how Henry would take on the role of God if he changed things while he was time traveling. Having Henry as a part of her life since she was a small child I think plays a role in everything Clare has ever done. This, I suppose, would take away her will.

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Alicia Campbell on Free Will vs. Determinism: I, too, find this debate very
Rosalind Blair on Free Will vs. Determinism: It is possible that Clares fre
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Aja Hannah on Free Will vs. Determinism: I agree with this Henry not ha