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Free Will and Larry Gallagher, Jr.

“Free will is the ultimate human reality.”

My Uncle, Larry Gallagher Jr. mentioned this to me in our last exchange of emails and it has gotten me thinking. A flurry of counter questions meets this statement with a sense of cynicism and incredulity.

Is it?

I believe it is, if the goal is to be synonymous with the journey, the struggle. I believe the pursuit of free will is the ultimate human reality. It is the ultimate defining principle of humanity, that which goes further to create us as us and you as you. Imagine the strife, the friction, the conflict, that exists both internally and externally over this pursuit of free will, or its more modern interpretation, freedom. Are our free wills inherently opposed? My pursuit of free will, indeed my free will itself, is a Houdini-like escape of all snares, of all restrictions, of commitment?

Is it an escape of death? I do believe it is an escape of death’s rapture over us. I accept that I will die, that my body will decay, but my soul, my spirit will never wither, never fade, will strengthen as I lay dying. That is the first step towards absolute free will, towards freedom. A recognition of the dualism of mind and body. I believe at times it is almost an inverse relationship. That my mind gets stronger because my body withers or weakens. I suppose a sense of conflict is even imbued in our relationship with ourselves.

Does death hold sway over everything we do? Would we do anything at all if not propelled by a sense of urgency, of legacy, or fear of death? Is this why we hate finality so much?

“Free will is the ultimate human reality.” It is a great quote and a great foundation for self-analysis. Will I be subject to the whims of others, the gusts of popular feeling that pass for public opinion, the trends? Will there approach to death, and subsequently life, dictate mine?

Just by answering no (regardless if it is Truth or just truth) do you begin to establish you as you.
You draw the lines in the sand and the friction, the resistance imposed upon you begins to establish your identity, like hands in clay.

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About Author

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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