Musings

Willpower is flexible; it can be directed at any circumstance.

Stubbornness, not so much.

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45 thoughts on “Musings

  1. Unfortunately for the old, stubbornness is their forte, and inevitably so. That’s something we cannot simply tear out of an old and hardened mind, with many years upon it. Time does the same to everything. Corrosion. Erosion. Wrinkles or smoothness. Wear and tear. Even a sheltered individual will go mad from longing.

    Flexibility is something that belongs to newness and a “fresh idea”, while stagnation has only good meaning in the unavoidable. When the old philosophies (such as beauty), were ripped free from the societies, they were moronically treated as if “beauty” were an imagining by Mankind. It is not so, for beauty has only to do with the universal application of love upon an individual that means enough to someone to risk their life for its preservation. That is beauty. This was made by Nature. Existing perhaps even since Dinosaurs were loving enough to protect their offspring. Existing perhaps since even since any sun from any galaxy was kind enough to depart so that night descends, and rest and comfort comes to life by way of sleep.

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    • Beauty is tricky—very subjective. What one person finds beautiful is not so for another. I’d say consistently being able to get positive outcomes, and then spreading the benefits to as many people as feasible in a sustainable manner, however, is a fairly enduring mode of behavior. This is basically the hero’s journey, which parables since the dawn of history have constantly encouraged.

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      • Beauty is not anything at all subjective. The only reason for this belief is the current world’s love for Demographics and Marketing Material. This has nothing to do with beauty.

        The “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” mentality has only been an implemented mentality for the past 100 years. For 2,000+ years prior to that, all the way back to Plato and Aristotle’s time, the definition for beauty meant something much different.

        It had an objective meaning to it. It meant “captivation” and it pertained to death. It meant to stare at the face of the one we loved and be held still by the sight of their presence. How can beauty be in the eyes of the beholder, when the loving mother will see her child through the same captivation as any other loving mother?

        And from what I know, the definition of “subjective” refers to selfishness. The definition of “objective” refers to selflessness. For the same reason that life is offered to the world, so is beauty offered to the world, whenever we see those we love, and feel at peace. Science and wisdom is offered to the world, and these things remain being “objective”, because they are meant to better another’s life.

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      • That’s all well and good in theory, but I think you only have to go on an online forum where people debate what is beautiful to see that my statement holds practical weight and yours does not. I, for example, don’t find the Mona Lisa particularly beautiful, although it has been historically held up as a standard for beauty. From a professional perspective, I have a couple of artist friends who not only have their MFAs, but have been featured in exhibits and one of whom manages to make thousands of dollars with each of her paintings. They would be the first to tell you that beauty is subjective. As far as the loving mother, that idea hews to an idealistic worldview. There are reports of mothers killing or abandoning their infant children; recently I saw one such incident captured on video. Additionally, to say that the love one mother views their children with is “the same” as the love another mother views their child with is, at best a speculative judgment, and in my mind, an erroneous one, given the examples I’ve referenced. Science and wisdom aren’t necessarily objective, as they are still filtered through our subjective perceptions; they are simply approaches that attempt to place functionality over the long term as their top priority (when done correctly).

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      • At the same time, art is not subjective. And also at the same time, since life is offered to the world, death would only the definition of, “The opposite of movement.” This may be why we have so-called “art” that is merely solid colors on a canvas, signalling the end of the art world and human emotion.

        Life is movement. Art is meant to be fluid. But when life turns from its movement to being abstract to being a solid color on a canvas, it is to say that life suffered a seizure. It went through its crisis of its own story, before dying. Death even so, twitches after a while, and we still see some movement in these “art works” that show scribbles on the canvas.

        If art and life and beauty is movement, then a lack of humanity and death and ugliness is a lack of movement.

        Death is a solid color. It is the same as the soil, also a solid color. That is why we say the “Blackest of earth is the most fertile,” especially when molten rock (which blackens) creates land and fertility.

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      • To me, life and death are inseparable. Without one, the other lacks meaning, and both can be beautiful, depending on how one wields the context and manipulates the rhythm. The greater theory behind this is implied in James Joyce’s idea of the epiphany, which states that beauty arises from the manner in which the artist temporalizes and arranges whatever information they happen to be conveying.

        You’re laying out a lot of premises which don’t lend themselves to functional consensus, which keeps your argument subjective.

        “Art” is fairly hard—if not impossible—to define, so saying it is or isn’t subjective is an unproductive rabbit hole. So is the idea that death is the opposite of movement. Sometimes life is stagnation, so death is the necessary movement that shifts it into the next phase, so I don’t agree with your second statement either.

        To say that art is meant to be fluid seems idealistic to me, and personalized specifically to your worldview. A lack of humanity and ugliness being defined as a lack of movement seems to also be an unproductive statement, and so is the idea of death as a solid color. The only instance something stops moving is—and this is only a theoretical possibility—within the collapse of space-time, because otherwise, the atoms in the universe are always moving; the universe is constantly expanding, our cells are always living and dying. So by default, we are always in movement, even when we are “dying.”

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      • Just so! I think, that while difference certainly exists, it can be a little arrogant to believe that ones own taste is totally novel. I mean we’re all human. All with many of the same senses. Same obstacles. Same basic needs. Why wouldn’t are desires for beauty be effected be affected by those things the same way it is warped around out personalities? Thanks for checking out my stuff by the way. I really appreciate it!

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      • Yep, no problem. I actually think that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a great place to start, as far as learning the fundamentals of human perception. Our view of the world is filtered through our desire for survival, sex, influence, actualization, etc.

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      • If only more people, I don’t know, realized that. It would help people get through the apparent harshness of others. See them for what they are. As fellow people existing in their own positions in the world. They, like life, are rarely our enemy. Only a point in the nuanced world of the real and the constructed. It can be hard to accept that though. Because it means that, while will certainly exists, the concept of that will being ‘free’ (in strictest terms) can be a little… muddled.

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      • I think it might become more popular. That almost stoic way of thinking of the world and the people in it, it waxes and wanes over time (when it becomes necessary to harden one’s self a little to the chaos of clashing cultures). I just wonder at how this and other cycles of thought will react to the accelerating changes technological communication enables. Are people emotionally and philosophically fast enough to wisely move from one mode of thought to another at a sprint? And what is the societal analogue for the repercussions of the runner falling in the attempt?
        You have writing that touches on this a lot. Part of why I like reading it. It seems, so far, that your answer is a refocus on individual responsibility. I see the same (in less bleeding edge ways) in our pop culture. Who knows. I applaud the optimism of others. I mean, historically, it is that person that believes in the future that makes that future come to be.

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    • The “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” mentality goes back further than 100 years :

      “Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty. One person may even perceive deformity, where another is sensible of beauty; and every individual ought to acquiesce in his own sentiment, without pretending to regulate those of others.” (Hume 1757, 136)

      It seems obvious to me that there are objective principles, such as symmetry and harmony, which influence whether an individual perceives of something or someone as beautiful, but that tastes will also vary according to personal associations.

      You say that beauty means “captivation” and relates to death. (You don’t explain how it relates to death.) I can see that we may be captivated by the sight of one we love, but we might be captivated by the sight of one we love who is ugly to everyone else. We are only captivated because we have fond associations to the person who wears that hideously deformed visage.

      You ask : “How can beauty be in the eyes of the beholder, when the loving mother will see her child through the same captivation as any other loving mother?” It is in the eyes of the beholder because the loving mother will not be as captivated when she looks at another’s infant as she is when she looks at her own. It is her love which produces the captivation, not the baby. (If her baby had been secretly swapped at birth with another woman’s she would probably not be able to tell, and would be equally captivated by the imposter.)

      You say that various things “are offered to the world.” Offered by who or what? Does the world have any choice about whether it accepts these gifts? Do you mean the natural world or the social world, or both?

      Subjectivity and selfishness don’t entirely overlap. The selfish individual will see the world in the way which conforms to his selfish needs and this is one form of subjectivity. But even the least selfish person will still have a subjective view of the world around them. They will have a limited access to information and their view will differ from that of others for that reason. No human being can experience the world objectively.

      We come to our perception of what is objectively true or wise by comparing our perceptions with others and testing them in a variety of contexts. Complete agreement is never achieved, but the more useful the perception proves to be over the widest set of contexts and to the widest number of people tends to determine its reputation as truth or wisdom. Science is a major part of this process. It is a subjective process (because it is carried out by limited human beings with their own biases), but one which aims for objectivity.

      If you experience beauty when you see the ones you love and feel at peace, that’s great. How is arguing about whether beauty is subjective or objective going to help others? Do you believe that people can be persuaded that it is objective and that this will cause them to experience it more and love more people?

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      • Beauty is captivation. It relates to death by what death does to the viewer. It places them at rest.

        And in you saying that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” is to say that which moves is not the beauty, but the eyes that observe the beauty. What is attraction? It is what Nature designed it to be. Attraction is needless without something for it to attract. Were a human to be stranded on an island, then the human would have no need to appear attractive. Because, the brain is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle, Lower. Attraction only conforms to the Middle, or the Mammalian brain, which means to reproduce. That is, the Man who reproduces with Woman will have no need to do this, were she never be attractive. Because, what is a seed? It is the thing that sprouts life.

        There is a certain chemical that races through the male body (by which name I forget), that causes a male to become sleepy after orgasm. That is death. That is the symbolic representation of death.

        Captivation creates death in the captivated, but Man would not be sleepy after orgasm without Woman to “bury his pride and become humble.” And beauty is not something that is “perceived” in various ways. It is something that resonates with life and hope. It resonates with optimism. To know that life is still there to be seen, and because life moves, then beauty is not that which IS the captivation, but what causes the captivation. And that “death” is the peace a worker yearns for, after returning from hard labor in a field, to his bed.

        Beauty cannot be in the eyes of the beholder, because beauty is the universal application of love upon something precious. It creates the union that is the symbolism behind Christ’s crucifixion. To be in sorrow, but also to forgive. To never enact vengeance, despite what Cain had done.

        When people are in pain, they are drawn close together. They love each other, and through that love, they are unified because they understand each other.

        Subjectivity is the selfish notion of “withholding truth”. Beauty is nothing more than truth when recognized. As we recognize those we love by their face, then we should say that the “objective” is what is recognized by what the heart notices.

        That which the eyes see, is not “various” between person to person. It is the love the draws people connected. Believing that beauty is varied, is to say that love is varied, and is to say that death has the same meaning as life. That the life one views to be beautiful, is not beauty, but can also be death. Death is the captivated, the stilled in movement, when viewing movement, which is life.

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      • I understand that this world is full to the brim of self-indulgence and division.

        I understand that unity is no longer present in the human mind or spirit. We believe in “self-worth”, and the notion that we should not be judged for our faults. We say that an imperfection like death is a wrong, but a perfection like love should be changed.

        This makes me sick down to the core. I believe people can be persuaded that beauty is objective. To also say that “truth is subjective”, it is not also the case.

        To say that truth is subjective, or that beauty is subjective, is to say that truth should be withheld, and that we should never promote optimism.

        And what do we have, today? We have people who believe more in dogs or cats, rather than humans. It’s goddamn pathetic.

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      • “Life is movement. Art is meant to be fluid. But when life turns from its movement to being abstract to being a solid color on a canvas, it is to say that life suffered a seizure.”

        But a solid color painting doesn’t contain less movement than a painting of a bowl of fruit, or less movement than a statue. Now if you said that life takes shape then your argument would stand up. At most, the movement in paintings is an illusion of movement.

        “If art and life and beauty is movement, then a lack of humanity and death and ugliness is a lack of movement.”

        I would say that art and life and beauty is a relationship between movement and stillness. A lack of humanity would not mean a lack of movement – animals and plants move. If you mean humanity in some kind of spiritual sense – in the sense that we may say that some forms of human behaviour are “inhuman” – then still I would say that the Nazis moved just as much as Jesus, probably more so.

        Death is not a lack of movement. During and following death the body continues to move as it decomposes. And the energy of which we were composed moves on. Death is only a lack of movement in the sense that we stop being able to move around of our own volition.

        And it seems to me that there is a lot which most of us would agree was ugly – toxic waste spewing from a factory into a waterway – which is in motion.

        If I were going to try to make such a grand generalisation I would say that art and life and beauty are harmonious integrity while death and ugliness are disintegration and discord. But I’m not even sure that that works, because death that brings an end to suffering is beautiful. After all, you can’t have art without nature, life without death, beauty without ugliness.

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      • “What is attraction? It is what Nature designed it to be. Attraction is needless without something for it to attract. Were a human to be stranded on an island, then the human would have no need to appear attractive. Because, the brain is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle, Lower. Attraction only conforms to the Middle, or the Mammalian brain, which means to reproduce. That is, the Man who reproduces with Woman will have no need to do this, were she never be attractive.”

        Yes, attraction between men and women serves a purpose. And sexual selection has shaped what we view as beautiful. Our ancestors were hairy all over and had sloping foreheads. We gradually lost most of our body hair and our foreheads became more vertical. In this way we came to be more like infants in our appearance. A chimpanzee foetus has a forehead like ours, no hair on its body and hair on the face only around the eyes and on the chin. So we became neotenous through selection of sex partners, choosing those who retained child-like features into sexual maturity. My view is that this occurred because of our psychological insecurity as a species. What separates us from other species is our tendency for our self-acceptance to be undermined by the way we are treated by others and by our own inability to meet our ideals. We are guilt-ridden. We find it very hard to love ourselves. For this reason we are powerfully drawn to that which would appear to signal a loving nature in others. Since children have, in general, not become as bitter and selfish as we adults, when we see a sexually mature woman who has childlike features our brain is tricked into believing them to be a source of unselfish love. Some cultures viewed fat women as being especially beautiful. That is because, where not everyone has enough to eat, the well-fed seem likely to be more loving because more protected from hardship.

        So there are principles which explain some of the broad aesthetic tendencies. But a woman that one man feels is incredibly beautiful, may be viewed as ugly by another.

        But this is only to talk about beauty within the context of sexual selection.

        Beauty may “resonate with life and hope” and “with optimism” and still be in the eye of the beholder. To stick with the sexual realm, a hundred men may each have a wife, and each of those wives may be unique – some redheads, some brunettes, some blondes, some slim, some fat, some cross-eyed – and each of those men feels his heart fill with life and hope and optimism when he gazes in captivation at his wife. But, maybe none of them see any of the other men’s wives as being beautiful in the slightest. What beauty means is not “in the eye of the beholder”, but who, in particular, is beautiful is.

        Now if you are saying that love itself is beautiful, that is something else again. I would agree with that. Physical beauty and the beauty of our feeling of warmth and care toward another are two different things. We can love someone we find physically ugly.

        To withhold the truth we have to know what the truth is. We may recognise those we love by their face, just as we recognise those we dislike by their faces also, but we don’t know what lies behind that face. We can’t necessarily tell when someone is lying to us.

        And beauty is not some magical quality by which we can tell that something is true, otherwise we wouldn’t need science or investigative reporting. It would be so much easier if our aesthetic sense alone could reveal the world’s secrets. It’s a pretty thought, but, like many pretty thoughts, it’s a lie.

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      • Is there no self-indulgence and division in you? The path to helping others begins with honestly acknowledging our own short-comings.

        I think we have a tendency to seek to establish our “self-worth” through pursuing status or material extravagance or competitive victories over others or virtue signalling… But I don’t believe we should judge others for their faults or ourselves for ours. As Jesus said, “Judge not that thou be not judged.”

        Love is unconditional acceptance and can only be grounded in unconditional acceptance of the self. Only by accepting ourselves unconditionally can we be liberated from the state of ego-embattlement which divides us against each other. Only than can we communicate with each other with openness, honesty, spontaneity and generosity.

        Truth is not subjective, but our apprehension of it is from a subjective base. In the classic Japanese movie Rashomon, each of the characters has witnessed a crime and we see the crime from each character’s perspective. In each case, what we see is significantly different. This doesn’t mean that there is no objective reality of what happened. It is an acknowledgement that the mind of each of us will form a different story, because we notice or remember different things and then fill in the gaps in a way which accords with our biases. The lesson, I think, is not that there is no objective truth, but that the biggest barrier to us learning more of the objective truth would be to believe our own perception was already a trustworthy guide to it. We need to recognise our own limits and accept the help of others in piecing together the truth.

        Optimism is a double edged sword. If we have no hope that things will turn out well, we may just give up. But too much optimism could lead to complacency. Tempered optimism is perhaps the thing to aim for.

        I think it is our compromised self-acceptance – our wounded and guilt-ridden nature – which makes some of us prefer dogs and cats to other humans. When someone has been wounded in their interactions with their own species, they may retreat to the non-judgemental acceptance of their pets. And a lot of people, I think, experience a feeling of collective shame about what we are doing to the planet – a shame that disempowers action, while breeding contempt for themselves and the rest of their species.

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      • Yes. Jung wrote extensively about this, and the “integration of the shadow” is an essential component to every hero’s journey, for it is only a fully realized being who can help others. Not someone who sneers at darkness, but has allied with it, accepts its purpose in the world, and channels it rather than demonizes it. Ironically, to outright reject it gives it power and only increases the probability it will co-opt your actions. This has been echoed throughout countless parables, and is foundational for psychotherapy and effective, resonant action.

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      • A more nuanced and fluid measure of momentary presentation than beauty, in my opinion, is assessment of something’s long-term functionality. This encourages consensus at a primal level, it encourages progress and creativity, it allows for instance-by-instance assessment of phenomena, it allows for the navigation of complexity/ambiguity, and it even encourages ethics.

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      • You would say that death can be far more beautiful than life, for the same reason that you may also say that your disemboweled family, were they to be disemboweled are also beautiful, in how they appear, smeared with blood and fat? Is this beautiful, or do you still believe that “beauty is subjective”?

        I can assure you that my work will prove to the world what once was, in the realm of beauty, making it an objective definition. Actually, the term is more “re-prove” that the definition of beauty makes it objective.

        You had mentioned that the “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” mentality goes back further than 100 years. I thank you for correcting me on that, but you also proved something that I originally stated. That the only reason for humans believing that “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” is because of business. You had quoted David Hume, who lived during the Era of Enlightenment. This era focused on the individual, and from I know of business, the “individual” is “He who becomes enticed through what the individual is enticed by” and that is how business thrives.

        Now if you are here to tell me that beauty is nothing more than a standard of marketing value, if this is the core to your argument, then you are even a bigger fool than I originally anticipated.

        You attempting to tell me that “beauty is subjective” only makes me think of you believing in beauty to have nothing to do with unity, but with division. For division is indeed the bread and butter among business. Division creates marketing brands, advertisements, and demographics.

        The individual has their individual taste, sure they do, but the individual is always paired with another individual to form a group. This proves Charles Darwin the prophet in today’s time, when he says, “Every man for himself”.

        You see, beauty cannot be in the eyes of the beholder when it creates this division. It must be universal, and I shall prove that through countless volumes that dedicate their content to the argument.

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      • The commonality you’re talking about can be roughly correlated to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which doesn’t include the perception of beauty, or if it does, doesn’t give it an objective nature which clearly supersedes its inherent subjectiveness.

        It appears you’re using an appeal to my emotions through the possibility of my disemboweled family to shock me into ceding the argument, but to me, it further hammers home the point that beauty IS subjective; because to a starving animal or a deviant serial killer, my disemboweled family has a reasonable chance of appearing beautiful, whereas to me it does not.

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      • You are making a series of straw man arguments. You are saying that, because I say one thing I mean something which does not follow from that and then you are arguing against that thing I never said. I don’t really see the point of that, except that it allows you to move from a statement of one aspect of your dogma to a statement of another aspect of your dogma.

        I suggested that death can be beautiful if it brings peace to a person who is suffering from a condition from which there can be no recovery. This has nothing to do with suggesting – as I would never suggest – that colourful and structured arrangement of a loved one’s entrails could be beautiful in the same way that a similar arrangement of red paint might be. The one does not follow from the other.

        I quoted David Hume simply because I did a Google search looking for a reference to the beauty is in the eyes of the beholder idea from more than one hundred years ago. You clearly know far more about Hume than I do. Any endorsement of his economic views was not intended.

        So you move on to arguing against the idea that “beauty is nothing more than a standard of marketing value…” But I don’t believe that and have never said anything of the kind. The ideas I expressed about our perception of female beauty being based on an association of childlike features with a loving nature shows that I don’t reduce beauty to marketing value. We became neotenous before we began buying and selling things.

        I do believe that beauty has to do with unity. It is a quality that brings the viewer and the viewed into a relationship which is a whole however temporarily. But that doesn’t mean that the same thing will inspire such a state of unity in every viewer.

        I don’t understand your reasoning when you say that beauty must be universal to create division. If it were universal then it would bring people together, not divide them.

        “It must be universal, and I shall prove that through countless volumes that dedicate their content to the argument.”

        To that I will have to say what I would say to someone who told me that they would fly to the moon powered by their own farts : “I’ll be most interested to see you do that, but I won’t hold my breath.”

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    • I see it as conditioning, which can be applied to an increasingly varied range of adverse situations, with increasingly high levels of adversity. A baby has no willpower, but a sufficiently conditioned adult can change the world.

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      • A baby doesn’t know what will be required to achieve its desires.

        What occurs in us is a conflict of desires. Which do I want most – to take things easy or to succeed at a task which requires planning and effort? Whichever desire is stronger wins out.

        We don’t have free will and thus no will power. We are simply the stadium where the match takes place. The strongest desire wins and then we say : “Look how much will power I had to have to make that happen.” It wasn’t us, it was the desire.

        Different things can drive that desire. Fear can be a tremendous motivating force, in which case the desire is to build the life which we believe will keep that fear at bay. Or it may be an imagination of something very appealing that acts as a carrot rather than a stick.

        Some things are hard to do. They take great physical or mental effort or great courage. But it isn’t will power, because the thought of one outcome repels us and/or the other draws us like a magnet. The only thing which can make us go against our desires or fears is a stronger desire or fear.

        This doesn’t mean that it is some stormy battle. We tend to form habits which give the whole process stability, but the same forces drive the process of habit formation.

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      • As far as not having free will, maybe; that’s debatable. But as long as the debate exists, I would argue it’s safest to assume we have a little bit, and act accordingly. If we assume we have none, then excusing ourselves from the idea we have moral and functional obligations becomes a viable basis for action. Which, when iterated into society, means that every institution we put into place can be ignored and we can engage in the worst sort of atrocities and selfish behavior, all because it’s not our fault. I’d say that a lot of our behavior is dictated by past programming, but by recognizing it, we can channel or counteract it with astute conditioning. Hard things can become easy and even pleasant, given time and conditioning. This requires a time investment, and in order to make good use of time investment and not waste them, it behooves one to know oneself, so that you can know if something is probably worth the effort (or not). So productive action starts with brutal self-honesty.

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      • I understand your objections, but the way I see it, whenever we do the right thing it is because we don’t want the consequences of doing the wrong thing. I might feel like killing someone, but I won’t do it if I don’t want the consequences of going to jail and also feeling guilty about it, probably for the rest of my life. If someone is so overcome by passion that they do it without having time to think about those consequences, then they really could not have not done it. So believing that each action is the working out of desire and fear within us doesn’t change the situation of whether I will do the right thing or the wrong thing. All that changes is that I have no right to feel any superiority to the person who did it. Maybe if pleading “I couldn’t help it” would stop me from going to jail then the situation is changed, but someone who can’t help killing people is dangerous, so I think that we will still want to lock them up.

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      • As humans we have a peculiar ability to be reactive in the long-term, (delay gratification in favor of a long-term objective), or, possibly—in the case of luminaries and “mad geniuses”—PROACTIVE before a problem presents itself, if you want to get speculative about it. Functionally, they are the same thing. So what you speak of—reactiveness as a sole motivation—hews to a Darwinian model of evolution being encouraged through survival and pain, but what I speak of—long-term reactiveness or proactiveness—does so too. As humans, we don’t have armor, claws, speed, strength, or agility to compete with other animals. We have the ability to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term fulfillment (discipline), and the ability to navigate a relatively high degree of complexity in a functional manner (strategy). The base of your argument—that primal forces drive our behavior—is the same as mine, but mine allows for the specific context of being a person over the course of evolution. I still stand by my position.

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      • I heard someone say recently that one of the principles of Buddhism is the idea that there is really no such thing as the self. I don’t know much about Buddhism, so I don’t know if that is true. But it sounds very much like my reason for believing that we don’t have free will.

        It seems to me that we are an indivisible expression of larger systems – society, nature, ultimately the universe. We have our strategies and our delayed satisfaction, but we don’t chose them, they chose us. We learn what we can’t help but learn. We give expression to the creation that happens through us in the only way that we can.

        We can’t help but conform with whatever path appears most likely to us at the time to take us where we want to go, and we have no choice about where we want to go.

        It is not that we are not complex intelligent and imaginative beings who exhibit complex forms of structured behaviour, but that is just a product of the formation of the pattern that is the universe. Of course we don’t think that way most of the time, because the illusion of free will is a functional one. It is all well and good recognising our oneness with the universe when meditating or taking LSD (I don’t do either), but when it comes to filling in our tax return its easier to focus our mind on the task at hand if we think of ourself as a person making decisions rather than a locus of wider intersecting influences.

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      • I just choose to believe that we do, especially when it comes to myself, albeit I track inputs and outputs as best I can in order to funnel my behavior into the shape I want. Treating myself as if I have no free will doesn’t have any good outcomes. Ironically, however, treating others as if they have none—especially if they refuse to examine their base motivations as iterated through their experiences—is incredibly useful, and is the best way to be compassionate toward others.

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