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quotations about free will

Each man is the bard of his own existence.

CORMAC MCCARTHY, Cities of the Plain

Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.

JAWAHARLAL NEHRU, quoted in The Shotoku Teahouse

The same way a compact disk isn't responsible for what's recorded on it, that's how we are. You're about as free to act as a programmed computer. You're about as one-of-a-kind as a dollar bill.

CHUCK PALAHNIUK, Invisible Monsters

I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.

STEPHEN HAWKING, attributed, Words from the Wise

God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us.


It's true that there's no such thing as free will. We can't help what we are or what we do. It's not our fault. Nobody's to blame for anything. It's all in your background ... and your glands. If you're good, that's no achievement of yours -- you were lucky in your glands. If you're rotten, nobody should punish you -- you were unlucky, that's all.

AYN RAND, The Fountainhead

I have free will, but not of my own choice. I have never freely chosen to have free will. I have to have free will, whether I like it or not!


In historical events great men—so-called—are but labels serving to give a name to the event, and like labels they have the least possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity.

LEO TOLSTOY, War and Peace

Not all of life's roads are set fast, for a man may do this or a man may do that and not even the gods know the mind of a man.

ROBERT E. HOWARD, Kull: Exile of Atlantis

That which you call your soul or spirit is your consciousness, and that which you call "free will" is your mind's freedom to think or not, the only will you have, your only freedom, the choice that controls all the choices you make and determines your life and character. Thinking is man's only basic virtue, from which all the others proceed. And his basic vice, the source of all his evils, is that nameless act which all of your practice, but struggle never to admit: the act of blanking out, the willful suspension of one's consciousness, the refusal to think -- not blindness, but the refusal to see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know. It is the act of unfocusing your mind and inducing an inner fog to escape the responsibility of judgment.

AYN RAND, Atlas Shrugged

We must believe in free will — we have no choice.

ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER, City Journal, Summer 1997

Most of us fail to appreciate the extent to which our behavior is under situational control, because we prefer to believe that is all is internally generated. We wander around cloaked in an illusion of vulnerability, mis-armed with an arrogance of free will and rationality.

PHILIP ZIMBARDO, "Ten Questions with Dr. Philip Zimbardo", Apr. 26, 2007

This error of free will is a special doctrine of the Antichrist.

MARTIN LUTHER, Grund und Ursach aller Artikel D. Martin Luthers so durch römische Bulle unrechtlich verdammt sind

One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it's remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver's license.

P.J. O'ROURKE, Rolling Stone, Nov. 1989


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