Trapped in today

 

Since these are all eyes pouncing upon their own light

      since these words are still in the air we breathe

nobody has yet seen the cruelty of today

                 nobody has measured the necessity of crying

to be sick and living 

       asphyxiated with desires, unclothed by opinion

the taste is in my mouth:

      progress has vomited a sickly herd.

The Problem of Free Will

 Are we as free as we think we are?

 

 

The problem of Free Will is inextricably linked with a scientific belief. This belief is in itself perhaps older than formal science but nonetheless it acquired great force with the birth and development of the scientific enterprise. It can be stated thus:

 Everything in the present is the direct result of the configuration of the past.

Nothing is without a cause. Thus, whatever we encounter in a present state can be explained or understood by its former state and the natural laws involved. If this belief is to be adopted thoroughly, if nothing can escape causality, then anything we experience has a direct cause in the past.

When we bring this kind of reasoning to the debate of Free Will, we can conclude in the following manner:

Psychic phenomena all have a cause regulated and governed by natural biological laws that at present we cannot name them all. Whatever we experience in the present is inextricably linked to a past state of affairs.

We understand Free Will as the ability to make an act or decision independently of any necessity compelling us to choose one thing over another. Stated this way it seems that the act of choosing has escaped the law of causality. But if this is to be rejected by our common scientific understanding of the world, we arrive at a different conclusion. Any decision-making process is only possible when the individual is in a particular situation where (s)he reacts to the evidence or stimuli presented for making a decision or act. This stimulus is the psychic content, patent or latent, that takes part of the decision-making moment. To pick an apple over a banana is the result of the apparition in the individual’s consciousness of past experience with these fruits, past reactions to these that make one fruit preferable over the other. A decision cannot be achieved without the pre-existent conditions for making a decision; that is to say: desire in the individual for eating (something that is quite involuntary), the past experience with the objects and objectives of the decision or act. Bound to memory, expectation, desire, and many other, the decision-making process is dependent on psychic phenomena that arises in the mind without a conscious or voluntary action. When an act of “Free Will” has taken place we remember the act, and the possibility of choosing otherwise, but we forget the requirements for us to arrive at the chosen action. The action was conditioned by involuntary psychic phenomena, something which we do not control and therefore acted out of a necessity towards this stimuli that was presented to us: Desire, Aversion, Memory, Imagination, Etc.

In such a way the problem of Free Will can be reconciled with the idea of causality. And with this knowledge now in mind the upcoming decisions will be influenced by this new awareness. We may doubt at the moment of decision-making in order to prove our putative freedom, but we are still only reactions to involuntary psychic phenomena that permit the processes we call free and voluntary.

 

However, to understand the laws of the human psyche at the present seems unlikely because of the complexity involved; the apparent arbitrariness or spontaneity of the stimuli that allow our decisions to take place is sufficient to permit our current morality – based on the supposition that we are free agents making responsible decisions – to remain established.

 

::::::::::::: APPENDIX ::::::::::::::::

 

The main idea behind this short inquiry is to reconcile two basic assumptions we have about the world.

1. Everything is the effect of a cause. Therefore all effects can potentially be explained or understood by their causes. (A general accepted supposition in our contemporary scientific culture)

2. We are free agents, making decisions independently of any external necessity obligating us to make a certain choice.

These two assumptions we all have in the back of our minds are in stark contradiction. How can we be free if everything in the world is determined by natural laws and follow an unchangeable course? We then would be part of the immutable course of things and all our actions are predetermined since the beginning of time.
If we follow the suggestions of logic, we will conclude that we are nothing but puppets manipulated by the general course of nature’s laws. However, we don’t feel this to be the case. We feel we ARE free and independent.

The above paragraphs attempt to show that we may be deceived by our belief in Free Will. Simply stated, our decisions are not made by an omnipotent-omniscient ego that at each moment can decide what it wills. Our decisions are based and chained to mental phenomena that arise involuntarily into our consciousness (that is to say it appears quite without our consent, as a cloud would appear suddenly in an open sky). This involuntary phenomena (desire, aversion, fear, tribulation, excitement, anxiety, and countless others) determine the choices we make. Our choices have natural causes that do not depend on us. With this explanation we can find causes for our decision-making lives and discover that we are not as commonly believed: free creators of our destinies.

However, if we can find reason to doubt the first assumption: everything has a cause by which we can know the effect, then Free Will may be conceived without logical contradiction. And it is wise to reassess our dogmatic belief in science and the principles of casuality, which may be in the end altogether mistaken.

 

 

 

Turbulent Purple

 

 

The fiery afternoon had transformed itself into a turbulent purple. How else could I describe it? It had no other name than Turbulent Purple. I am by blind necessity bound to call it by that denomination, I am a slave to that ambiguous name. Leaping in and out the oblivious space of mind, short and poetically vague sensations occupied most of my purposeless time. Without explanation or warning I could read in the papyrus of thoughts scriptures such as these:

           
            Centuries of dancing shadows
            Has the strong wind of fate
            Extinguished Man´s recurrent dream?
 
Ah! From where do all these voices arise but from the nocturnal?
 
How senseless it is to reveal in words the impenetrable mystery of the mind, how lame an attempt to reproduce the wilderness of wonder. The afternoon had turned into a Turbulent Purple and I became sure the existence of written language had no purpose but to express the shock of our encounter with reality — it could never explain a thing. So, without regret I had survived numberless fears of imminent death so I could experience once more the unnatural beauty of nature.
 
Ha! So many years organizing my thoughts so that in my final despair I found every cell in my body to have a life of its own and my thoughts faithful pilgrims in the inhospitable lands of paradox. Therefore I studied my body with care as if it were an extraterrestrial lump of matter and completely gave up the hope of a systematical account of human experience. Then I focused again on the sky and the world was still a turbulent purple. It was not long after this that for the first time I started doubting of the ancient and perennial pillars of art. It seemed to me that if all things go wrong the last desperate redemption would come through art — art had a special bond with the essence of all experience, it embraces the whole multitude of feeling and all genre of action and yet it transcends them all — or so I thought.
 
“Life and death for art” would have been my motto two years ago. But in my rebellion against all dogma the mutiny of doubts turned against my ideals and the sky of my convictions became turbulent — perhaps purple to a spectator of my consciousness. If myths, religions, wars, slavery, races, countries, continents, suns, and galaxies all have an allotted time, art surely is as ephemeral as the rest. Alone and destitute I stood while the echo of a turbulent purple sunset reverberated in the coffins of memory. At last I got rid off the most obdurate preoccupation, second only to death — namely, life no longer lived for art, love, money, fame, joy or by instinct alone; it seems likely to be here for no reason in particular. One last thing remains certain:
 
               Returning from the underground
               Reflections in echoes
               From the pit of despair
               The fountain of wonder
               The irony of this paradox
               From the art of Nature
               Conceived the death of Art
               A dying fire. . .
                       Turbulent Purple
                          turbulent purple