I do not believe in free will. Schopenhauer’s words: ‘Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,’ accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper.
Nothing that I can do or say will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice, I can help the greatest of all causes — good will among men and peace on earth.
The feeling for what ought and ought not to be grows and dies like a tree, and no fertilizer of any kind will do much good. What the individual can do is give a fine example, and have the courage to firmly uphold ethical convictions in a society of cynics. I have for a long time tried to conduct myself this way, with varying success.
There is nothing divine about morality; it is a purely human affair. If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed. What the individual can do is to give a fine example, and to have the courage to uphold ethical values .. in a society of cynics.