determinism (intermezzo) ~ a thing is the sum of its characteristics

I have laboured the point that if a deterministic model for 'the illusion of free will' accounts for exactly the same experiences and impressions as does the concept of 'truly' free will, then the conflict between the two is purely definitional, with nothing whatever to say about practical outcomes or therefore 'reality'.

An example will explain this further.
As a forgivably young child, I was much seduced by paranormalism, and can remember an argument I had with my sceptical father. The issue was Uri Geller, and his asserted ability to bend steel.
My father said that Geller must be a fraud because steel does not bend as a result of mental energy.
I said that I could not say for definite what strange powers this man Geller may or may not possess. How can we be so sure that because we cannot do a thing that appears magical to us, that therefore nobody else in the world can do it? The world is full of exceptional people with abilities that appear impossible to us because they are so far beyond our own capabilities. Why can't Geller be an extreme example of such a person?
He was right and I was wrong, not because of any assumptions I had made about Geller but because of an assumption I had made about steel: I was treating it as something that had no claims to definitional uniqueness.
My father's position had nothing whatever to do with Geller. He was not saying anything about human potential at all. As a structural engineer, he was rightly concerned with steel.

In saying what seemed infuriatingly closed to me at the time - steel does not bend with mental energy - he was saying something massively important about the world and the objects it contains.
We tend to think of an object's properties as incidental to it, 'defining' in the soft sense of being aids to its identification. If we were playing the game 'animal, vegetable, mineral', one could eventually find the answer 'steel' once one had established enough of the defining characteristics of steel - texture, colour, composition, strength, and so on indefinitely. But this makes definitional properties sound like something an object carries around with it in a bag.
What my father was saying, then, was that steel cannot bend with mental energy not because the issue of what minds can and cannot do is certain and beyond revision but because one of the defining characteristics of steel is that it cannot be affected in such a way, because if it were it would no longer be steel at all. It would literally in that moment of transformation be something else.

Steel structures rarely melt, because they are rarely subjected to the preconditions - sufficiently intense heat - necessary to bring about that change in their essential structure. But it is accepted that it can happen; it is therefore a definitional property of steel.
And sometimes objects are shown to have entirely unforeseen properties and characteristics, as for instance when radiation, lead or asbestos were belatedly seen to be toxic. This was not at first understood to be a defining property of those objects; now it is.
But it does not follow from this that all kinds of other things that we do not see steel or other objects as doing, or qualities that we do not detect them as possessing, are equally possible.
The definitional bedrock upon which the concept of steel exists as a discrete entity in the world precludes its ability to bend with mental power; in other words, an object is as much defined by what it is not and cannot do as by what it is and can.
Defining characteristics are the essence of a thing, they are what a thing is, they are how we tell one thing from another. Steel that acts in violation of a defining characteristic of steel is not steel but something else. Therefore, it matters not how Geller differs from us, all that matters is what is certain about steel. You cannot bend it by rubbing it, or looking at it in a spooky way.
Steel is not a thing, pre-existing in its pristine, essential steelness, that also has a set of characteristics. It is a set of characteristics. The characteristics, in combination, are steel.
Steel is steel.

We can apply that reasoning to experience just as easily as to material objects. Consciousness is consciousness, whether it is God-given or purely mechanistic.
And free will is not a thing in the world that we happen to have access to, that we make use of in the way that we make use of a bicycle, as an aid to getting around in the world. It is an experience, an impression, a sensation. It is the sum of its characteristics, not of material characteristics but of the characteristics of experience that it presents to us.
If determinism is understood merely as an alternative model for accounting for those experiences it can be seen that the net result is still 'free will' as understood. Determinism is not an alternative outcome, as alleged, but an alternative means of accounting for the same outcome.
The division between determinism (crudely characterised as a kind of uncomprehending roboticism, like the fake consciousness experiences of the 'replicants' in the film Blade Runner) and freedom is false: the first is a means, the second an end.
The true division is between determinism (materialism) and immaterialism as an explanation for free will, correctly defined not as a thing in the world but as a perception we experience.