29 Quotes About Free Will – Do We Have Choice or Is Everything Determined?

The concept of free will has been debated for many years.

There seems to be a clear divide between those who believe free will to be an illusion and those who blindly refuse this statement.

And then there are people like myself who are on the fence, or maybe slightly swaying towards determinism.

Even though this freaks me out, I can’t help but think my every decision came from somewhere other than my conscious choice.

I still find this hard to wrap my head around fully. But it sure is an interesting topic that will forever fascinate me.

Here are 29 quotes about free will that will get you questioning your entire life.

29 Free Will Quotes That Will Get You Thinking

“You can do what you decide to do – but you cannot decide what you will decide to do.” – Sam Harris

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” – Søren Kierkegaard

“If nothing is random, and everything is predetermined, how can there be free will? The answer to that is simple. Nothing is predetermined; it is determined, or was determined, or will be determined.” – Mark Helprin

“Free will is to mind what chance is to matter.” – Charles Darwin

“Think of destiny more like potentiality because of an element called – free will.” – Ruben Papian

“Human beings do not like being pushed about by gods. They may seem to, on the surface, but somewhere on the inside, underneath it all, they sense it, and they resent it.” – Neil Gaiman

“Most people are not really free. They are confined by the niche in the world that they carve out for themselves. They limit themselves to fewer possibilities by the narrowness of their vision.” – V.S. Naipaul

“I have noticed that even those who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” – Stephen Hawking

“The neutral view of free will is impossible. It involves choice without desire.” – R. C. Sproul

“The essence of spiritual life is simply to use our free will properly.” – Radhanath Swami

“A universal paradox: you are free to choose but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.” – Unknown

“No one has free will until they are an adult, and by then the choices that were made for them, have already set them on a course that gives limited freedom in the choices to be made.” – J.D. Stroube

“[Research] suggests that what we think of as free will is largely an illusion: much of the time, we are simply operating on automatic pilot, and the way we think and act – and how well we think and act on the spur of the moment – are a lot more susceptible to outside influences than we realize.” – Malcom Gladwell

“Busy is a choice. Stress is a choice. Joy is a choice. Choose well” – Ann Voskamp

“Free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” – C.S. Lewis

“The time will pass anyway. You can either spend it creating the life you want or spend it living the life you don’t want. The choice is yours.” – Unknown

“One of my core beliefs is that belief itself is a choice that can be made of our own free will.” – Steve Pavlina

“Honestly, I cannot understand what people mean when they talk about the freedom of the human will. I have a feeling, for instance, that I will something or other; but what relation this has with freedom I cannot understand at all. I feel that I will to light my pipe and I do it; but how can I connect this up with the idea of freedom? What is behind the act of willing to light the pipe? Another act of willing? Schopenhauer once said: Der Mensch kann was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will (Man can do what he will but he cannot will what he wills).” – Albert Einstein

“What people have the capacity to choose, they have the ability to change.” – Madeleine Albright

“We’re a government that believes in everybody having the illusion of free will.” – Anthony Burgess

“Free will does not enable any man to perform good works, unless he is assisted by grace; indeed, the special grace which the elect alone receive through regeneration. For I stay not to consider the extravagance of those who say that grace is offered equally and promiscuously to all.” – John Calvin

“Losing a belief in free will has not made me fatalistic—in fact, it has increased my feelings of freedom. My hopes, fears, and neuroses seem less personal and indelible. There is no telling how much I might change in the future. Just as one wouldn’t draw a lasting conclusion about oneself on the basis of a brief experience of indigestion, one needn’t do so on the basis of how one has thought or behaved for vast stretches of time in the past. A creative change of inputs to the system—learning new skills, forming new relationships, adopting new habits of attention—may radically transform one’s life.” – Sam Harris

“Morality pertains only to the sphere of man’s free will – only to those actions which are open to his choice.” – Ayn Rand

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism, the way you play it is free will.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

“Free will is not the liberty to do whatever one likes, but the power of doing whatever one sees ought to be done, even in the very face of otherwise overwhelming impulse. There lies freedom, indeed.” – George Macdonald

“You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm.” – Sam Harris

“And one who is just of his own free will shall not lack for happiness; and he will never come to utter ruin.” – Aeschylus

“Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.” – Scott Adams

“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 on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.” – Kurt Vonnegut

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Steve Allen

Steve Allen

Steve is a self-proclaimed writer and the founder of Grand Habit. A blog where he shares practical advice on self-awareness, personal transformation, solopreneurship, and productivity.

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