KNOCKOFF PAUL GRAHAM ESSAYS:

Blame It On The Chain.

Your choices aren’t yours. What now?

At the level we understand it, our universe is deterministic. When we observe something happen, we know there must’ve been a force that drove it. When we observe a force, we know it’ll lead to something if we follow it.

We might not always know what the causes are, or what the effects might be, or how quintillions of them connect to form the reality we experience, but it doesn’t change the fact they exist.

Every thing you think you feel, every action you think you make, and every thought you think you think is just determined by the causes that came before them.

And if you traced them back far enough, you’d just arrive at those first chains. The circumstances you never got to choose.

Now, isn’t that interesting? If you wanted to, you could blame the supposedly random expansion of a 14 billion year old atom for whatever situation you’re facing.

Wait. Let me take a guess guess at what you’re thinking.

Try thinking about the last time you chose something. Would you have been happier if someone else did the choosing — even if it was what you wanted to choose anyway?

Imagine the mundane scenario of picking breakfast. How would you feel if you woke up and found your favourite cereal (with the perfect ratio of milk) lying there on your table? Chances are, it wouldn’t match the satisfaction you’d get from looking at your options and choosing what you’d pour in your bowl yourself.

If free will’s an illusion, then you’re an illusion. But if you’re an illusion, there’s no escaping it, is there? Enjoy the game. Really, that’s the only choice you have to make.

After all that mind-warping, you probably have a few things to talk to me about. I know we probably won’t ever meet in real-life to do that, but if we ever met at a coffee shop, our conversation would be pretty short.

I write about things every week(ish).