Sunday, September 26, 2010


"How did you get in here?"

"Your wife let me in."

"No, I mean how did you physically enter this room?"

"What do you mean? I opened the door and walked in."

"But that's an automatic door. It opens when someone steps in front of it. So you didn't open it yourself."

"Oh. But I pushed on it and felt resistance."

"You must have pushed on it at the same pressure that would have been necessary to open it."

"Well, I turned the handle anyway."

"No you didn't. The handle automatically turns too. When someone steps in front of the door, the handle turns and then the door opens."

"But ... I felt pressure when I turned it. It felt like I was really turning the handle."

"Well, again, you must have used the same amount of pressure that it would have taken to turn it if it hadn't turned automatically. And you still haven't answered my question."

"What question?"

"How did you get in here?"

"Oh. Right. I can't say I opened the door; I can't say I turned the handle; well, at least I can say I moved my hand on the doorknob and moved my legs when I walked in here."

"Can you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Weren't those actions caused by preceding physical conditions?"

"Well, sure."

"Then those conditions caused your hand and legs to move."

"Well ... those conditions don't mean that I didn't move my hand and legs. I mean, maybe I caused the conditions."

"Except that those conditions had conditions which in turn had conditions, et cetera. Pretty quickly it leads to conditions external to you. In fact, we can trace them back to before you were even conceived. The conditions a hundred years ago inevitably led to your hand and legs moving a few moments ago. All of these conditions were inevitable. You didn't contribute anything to them. They caused it; you didn't."

"But, but ... isn't there anything I did?"

"Isn't there anything who did?"

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