Being Conditioned and Being Determined

Can anyone elighten me with the key differences between being conditioned and being determined?

If a sunflower seed would always turn into a sunflower, no matter what, the resultant sunflower would be determined by the sunflower seed. This is clearly not the case though, as there are a variety of supporting conditions required in order the the seed to become the flower (rain, sunlight, etc.).

I think there may be a variety of ways to answer your question, depending on where you’re coming from. For instance a substance dualist might say that you possess free will, but the way that will is expressed is modified by physical conditions.

Since this has to do with what the words “condition” and “determine” mean as verbs, your best bet is a good dictionary.

To me it seems that being conditioned and being determined must be intimately related.

Being conditioned is, in a sense, to think or act based on past experience, memories, beliefs, prejudices, and the like - it’s to be more or less enslaved to one’s past.

True freedom (if there is such a thing), on the other hand, would seem to imply a sense of freedom from the past, perhaps a kind of unconditioned spontaneity.

Might freedom be the ability to think and act spontaneously?

Well, being conditioned seems to be a state wherein a thing’s existence and/or manner of existence rests upon other considerations or circumstances that must sufficiently persist and continue to be, else the existence and/or manner of existence of the thing in question would no longer be the case. This does not seem to overly imply determination, since sufficiency of persistence of sustaining/conditioning circumstances does leave some room for change, uncertainty and “freedom” (the capacity to do different than would otherwise occur, always within limits, of course). It seems that being conditioned has as its essential meaning these very limits placed around freedom itself. Being determined then seems to imply a lack of this sort of limited freedom, that a thing’s existence or manner of existence is wholly set in advance, and unable to be changed. Of course, change does occur, always, inevitably, which means that determination as such is at best a temporal thing, and possibly even really nonexistent or impossible. So I would wager that being conditioned is a better refinement and more nuanced, accurate understanding of the notion of determination.

IMO the construct of ‘conditioned’ is a matter of circumstances of place and time and a recognition of the causal nature of existence without our being able, generally speaking, to assert ‘cause-and-effect’ with complete certainty. There’s an inter-relatedness of all things and everything is constantly in a state of change (whether quickly or slowly, doesn’t matter). So the fact that what may happen to me at any point in time is conditioned by all the things that occurred before depending upon all circumstances of each instant, and all the things that caused all those things depending upon all circumstances of each instant, and so on and so on, means it’s not measurable and not predictable. I can’t know in advance the innumerable chains of events that led to this present or, more accurately, I can’t know how any of those chains of prior events will cause this present to pan out at this particular instant. In this perspective, the future is not determinable. On the other hand, the construct of determinism claims that there isn’t that variability factor in how the future will unfold. Perhaps it’s just a bit more linear in nature.

Both are philosophically incoherent. The first platitude comes from biological behaviourism and the second, more general term, comes mostly from neuroscience and materialism.

Conditioning is the act of trying to make something which is not, determined

Determined indicates an inescapable consequence of concurrent events. Conditioned however implies some last bastion of choice may be involved - conditioning may be overcome.

This sounds right, especially if we’re speaking of physical/physiological as well as psychological events.

But with regard to psychological events, say in acts of choice or will - in such cases it seems to me the distinction between conditioned and determined gets blurry.

One may big to differ, but I think a certain degree of chance or randomness must come into play here, such that brute materialistic causality/determinacy eventually collapses into probability and uncertainty.

Psychological uncertainty is always the case in a state of not knowing. To think that something is known to be the case is preceded by assumption (the assumption arises from the possible answers to the questions about the circumstances of an occurrence). The psyche cannot experience an event unless it proceeds from a state of blurry assumption to a state of knowing of it. But if the initial answers (that gave rise to the assumption created by the questions asked) were never encountered, there would be no assumption and there would be nothing known of it whatsoever. It wouldn’t exist anywhere in the psyche.

So, are you proud of what your psyche knows? You’re just sitting there watching a video game in front of you; the game created by your psychological make up.