The Will makes choices, but at the instance in time when the choice is made, the Will is not choosing the choice. You simply make the choice, you don’t choose the choice.
“Choosing the choice” is a kind of self-reference, which subtly introduces the idea that the Will cannot be free from itself. Your choices reflect who you are, i.e. your choices are part of what defines you as a person.
If, given a situation, you acted differently than you would have, then the implication is that you were not being yourself. But the statement that “you are not yourself” is absurd, so this is a sort of reductio ad absurdum approach to disproving the idea of a Will that can be free from itself.
Our actions are profoundly dependent on who we are, and the fact remains that we can only always make the choice that is most faithful to who we are as a person.
In our discussion, a friend asked me the question, “Do you think God has free will?”
This was my answer:
Hmm, I would actually say confidently that God in fact does not have “free will”, because the concept of “free will” is absurd. As Sam Harris puts it:
“the illusion of free will is itself an illusion—which is another way of saying that if one really pays attention (and this is difficult), the illusion of free will disappears. ”
For the simple fact that the self cannot cause the self, the self-referential nature of “free will” instantly renders it an absurd concept.
But when we see that what really matters, is that the present self can cause the future self, then determinism no longer becomes a problem. The moment an ignorant fool is given knowledge, he is forever changed, both in the present and also in the future that causally flows from the present. He is from now onwards better able to make good choices for himself, than he was able to when he was ignorant and foolish. His Will that was trapped in ignorance has been freed.
On the one hand, the fact that my choices are causal products of my Will which is itself a causal product, means that my Will is not “free”.
But on the other hand, being uncaused seems far more detrimental to any possible concept of autonomy. Because then, my present self cannot even influence my future self!!! This also means that God, understood as the perfect, uncaused being, does not need “free will”, because his “will” is already perfect in the first place! In fact, I would argue that God is perfect precisely because he is not free to change from his original state of perfection.