Discussions of computer technology often touch on matters of free will. Can living organisms, especially human beings, be interpreted as like computers? Much writing on computers today assumes that digital technology shows freedom of the will is illusory. Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914) had quite a bit to say about the freedom of the will and its relation to the laws of nature. This chapter provides evidence from a number of writers on computers and related matters which bears on his analysis. Peirce’s category of Firstness has a great deal to contribute to our understanding of freedom as well as human responsibility, but its true meaning requires quite a bit of explanation.
Part of the book: Cognitive and Intermedial Semiotics