Saturday, April 27, 2019

Vonnegut on Free Will


"Where am I?" said Billy Pilgrim. 
"Trapped in another blob of amber, Mr. Pilgrim. We are where we have to be just now - three hundred million miles from Earth, bound for a time warp which will get us to Tralfamadore in hours rather than centuries." 
"How - how did I get here?" 
"It would take another Earthling to explain it to you. Earthlings are the great explainers, explaining why this event is structured as it is, telling how other events may be achieved or avoided. I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanation. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber." 
"You sound to me as though you don't believe in free will," said Billy Pilgrim. 
"If I hadn't spent so much time studying Earthlings," said the Tralfamadorian, "I wouldn't have any idea what was meant by 'free will.' I've visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports of a hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaugtherhouse Five

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