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Summary of question
According to the principle of causation, the effect must always follow the cause. The question is: How is man’s free will consistent with the principle of causation?
question
According to the principle of causation, every possible and created being needs a cause. In order for that being to materialize and come into being, its perfect cause must be available because insofar as a thing has not become necessary it will come into being. That is to say, the effect will always follow the cause. The question arises as to how man’s free will is consistent with the principle of causation because man is supposed to act of free choice, something which we can see and admit consciously. Man’s decision is by itself possible and it, therefore, needs a complete cause. If we say that one of the components (conditions or requirements) of its perfect cause is man’s free will, again we would say, man’s free will is possible and originated and it needs a perfect cause which, if available, will follow free will and authority. Free will is the effect of a perfect cause. Having said that, does it not imply weakness or restriction of the law of causality?
Concise answer
The criterion with which an action can be described as arbitrary and voluntary is not the existential independence or necessity because nothing is independent in the world except God. According to transcendent philosophy, if an act has to be voluntary and of free choice, it should be preceded by the will of the agent, not that it should not be included in the principle of causation.
 
Detailed Answer
The principle of causation is neither weak nor is it restrictable but only a formal understanding of it does not help us understand the issue. In response to the above question, theologians have assumed that the principle of concomitance of cause and effect is particular to involuntary and incontrollable causes.  When it comes to voluntary causes e.g. man – who is the focus of the present question –the agent acts of free choice and free will after materialization of all the elements.  In fact, a rational law is never restricted.[i] If the principle of ‘concomitance of cause and effect’ is a kind of determinism, then this kind of determinism must be true everywhere and if it is free will, again it should include all agents. The truth is that an involuntary action is such that it is not in contradiction with causality in transcendent philosophy and with their being dependent in relation to God.
There is no doubt that human being is a phenomenon whose ultimate cause is God and man is compelled to be free but the question is: Does this cause man to be compelled in his actions? Does it mean that man’s actions cannot be ascribed to him? The answer is in the negative. In fact, it is true that God’s creational will encompasses all matters of the world based on unity of actions but this has nothing to do with God’s legislative will. God’s legislative will is based on commanding man to do good and stay away from evil.  He has granted man freedom to do good and to stay from bad of free choice. Existentially, no action is out of divine power or out of God’s judgment but He consents only to the good, however, it is man who misuses his free will by doing evil.
In other words, the criterion with which an action can be described as arbitrary and voluntary is not the existential independence or necessity because nothing is independent in the world except God. The entire world is not but purely dependent on God, the Ultimate cause. According to Sadrian transcendent philosophy, if an act has to be voluntary and of free choice, it should be preceded by the intention or the will of the agent, not that it should not be included in the principle of causation.
According to principiality of existence and unity of being in Sadrian philosophy, all beings (other than God) have one thing in common and that is God’s single light which pervades throughout the universe and includes all things. These beings constitute one of the divine states and man is among the creatures. His will, free will and actions are subject to man’s existence. Therefore, depending on the level of existence, man himself has a level of free will. This is exactly what they have said, “man’s free will is after God’s will”.  Hence, the principle of causation is in complete conformity with man’s free will (because there are different levels of free will and a level of it has been relegated to each and every existent). The more man’s existential poverty increases, the stronger and more intense his will and authority becomes, not that he is compelled.
Therefore, there are different levels of free will and the highest degree of free will is prerogative of God, the Exalted, because not only God is not influenced by an external factor but He is also purified of the contrast of internal tendencies.  Then the will and authority of abstract things are complete because they are only under the domination of divine will but they are at the mercy of internal contrasts and domination of one tendency over another. However, the supernal souls which is characteristic of matter are lower degrees of free will; their will is influenced somewhat by external and internal factors.  In case, however, a man attaches importance to his elemental and despotic soul and acquire divine will, he will be in a better position as compared to that of abstract things. In fact, man’s free will which is a part of his essence will be at the highest degree of free will. It is for the same reason that free will in its particular meaning which is a trust of God and which includes the biggest choice in the realm of existence[ii] is particular to human being. Apart from what we said in accord with transcendent philosophy (gradational levels of existence), we can find another answer from a mystical perspective regarding the nature of man’s free will and authority.
Insofar as a man has not understood his real position as the vicegerent of God on earth and as long as he has not realized his lofty human free will, he will continue to remain a captive of the contradictions which arise from non-cognitive and unwanted factors. In this perspective which emanates from man’s imperfection, man sees himself compelled in everything not feeling the least responsibility whereas, in fact, the perfect cause of his free will is he himself or his reality. Here man’s free will is the same as God’s will just as is the perfect man the manifestation of God’s will. A free man is one who stands at this position and does not escape from the responsibility which originates in it.
In reality, our real ‘self’ is hidden behind the false and pseudo self and it is possible only through knowledge of the self that one can unveil its true face. It is for the same reason that man, as the vicegerent of God and one who received a great authority from God, is responsible against how he is. Man’s perfection is in accepting this responsibility, otherwise he would remain a captive of various kinds of compulsions whereas in fact he can change every compulsion into freedom. Yes, it is man himself who has adopted for himself in the world of existence a path full of illusion, compulsion, coercion and strife.
It is through knowledge of the ‘self’ that man understands his essence and reality; that is to say he attains the position of imamate (complete expression of truth on earth). Not only does he overcome his despotic soul, but he also gains the power to leave an impact on others. This is where man’s will unites with divine one and he reaches the highest degree of authority and free will. This is the power with which man has set foot on earth but he is not aware of it.
The conclusion is that the principle of causality in its divine meaning and the law of poverty is not only compulsion but it is very much the same as authority. The relationship between cause and effect i.e. the relationship between God and His vicegerent is purely free, full-fledged and perfect which is in mystical literature called ‘love’.
 

[i] Mesbah Yazdi, Philosophical Instruction, vol.2, Tehran, International Printing and Publication Company affiliated to Amir Kabir Publications, fifth edition, winter of 1383 (2004), pg. 58.
[ii] «إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمانَةَ عَلَى السَّماواتِ وَ الْأَرْضِ وَ الْجِبالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْمِلْنَها وَ أَشْفَقْنَ مِنْها وَ حَمَلَهَا الْإِنْسانُ إِنَّهُ كانَ ظَلُوماً جَهُولاً»  Surely We offered the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to be unfaithful to it and feared from it, and man has turned unfaithful to it; surely he is unjust, ignorant. (al-Ahzab, 72).
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