Saturday, November 28, 2009

Multiple causes and routes for change

The linear way of looking at life holds that there a list of causes, and a "situation" with which one got to cope/handle. You have what there is, and from there with the known causes you play what you can to change the situation.

But it does not work that way.

There are various interconnected dynamics in life. Each one affecting the others. In principle one can change hte system from various direcitons.

You can effect enormous change in the system by playing some obscure parameter. If you change something enough and use it as a level to reap its rewards you may be able to change everything without fighting the main obstacles.

And I have not started talking on creatiung new combinations of changes etc., which is quite interesting etc.

The idea is that with the endless effects and dynamics one can approahc life from various angles, and indeed with enough strenght and sophistication very many tricks may work. There is no one "situation + casuse" with which one got to work. There maybe endless tricks

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Criticism from involved parties

When a person who did not got form you what he wnats, tells you negative thigns about yourself, do not be naive. He is whinning (or manipulating) about not getting his interests.

He may call you egoistic, mannerless, etc. all because he did not got what he wants.

Still, do not be naive. These self interested parties may say right things. Just do not take them at face value.

Especially on the moralistic side and that of fairness, remember that your critics are as self interested in criticising as their subject of criticism.

It is funny that people not getting what they want are egoistic enough to accuse with egoism......

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Natural vs. artificial joys

Joy is joy. Its source irelevant.

If you learn to enjoy (forthcoming post). If you create artificially something that makes you have fun - so good.

There is an aesthetic tendency to see artificial joys as inferior. It exist more by some and less by others. I deem it irrational. (See Against delicate taste)

Natural joys do have advantages. It is usually more ecological (i.e. comes more naturally, and fits better with other things nad with emotional and practical needs). But that it is.

Same for actions.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The ironic meaning of "no free will"

1)The free will controversy includes a logical problem.

There are many levels to look at phenomenon. As I am typing these letters, there are atoms involved. There are words, and there are ideas. You can look on different stages and details of what happens. Every way of looking depicts different phenomenons and details.

There is a phenomenon of something within the human brain that plays a role in making things happen. In a sense, this program is created by genetic instructions, outer experience etc. But at every given moment there is something in the mind that is part of making things happen. (another rather psychological controversy is how much is this program involved and how much are other processes, but this is an empirical issue which I am not handling here. See Bandura's chapter in the volume "are we free" references below for a presentation in favor of more free will in doing).

This program of dynamic in the human brain is influenced by endless factors, no doubt. No one claims it to be a pure soul that makes decisions. Now, there is a confusion about the levels of causation. The fact that there is a higher level of causes that influences the "self" program, does not means the self does not exists. It also seems reasonable that the self is having it own procedures now. Even if earlier these procedures and tendencies where coming from outer sources, they do exist now.
It may feel strange psychologically that what I call "my" self is created from outer influences. But this psychological discomfort does not reduce the existence of the self, it may merely reduce its aesthetic appeal. In a sense the effect comes from a naive psychological want to it to be purely "my", fully initiated by oneself. We are clearly strongly influenced from the outside at the origin. But now, we exist and we have an effect.

2) The ironic game of beliefs in free will.
The self acts differently when he believes or does not believe in free will.
In reality, the argument about free will is which belief to feed the "machine". It is not just about truth, it is about which aspect will be fed into the machine. Here one may want to ask what effect will this belief have vs. this belief. (There is interesting research in Baumeister laboratory showing that when people believe in free will, they are happier, more efficient at work and nicer towards others).

Ultimately, the sides fight on how the self will act and feel rather than just about a philosophical claim. Practically, they want the machine to act so or so.

One may talk about truth. But truth lies with both sides, since what matters is the meaning of free will rather than its technical (so called "philosophical" truth). Truth is how people understand and perceive the statement, rather than its legal meaning. Since most discussions of free will ignore the meaning problems mentioned above, the talk about truth is empty. Truth is with the ultimate meaning of what you talk about, not in being technically right but wrong in the implications and common understanding. (aside of that, having a better life and world is clearly more important for normal persons than "truth").

Bandura A. (2008). Reconstrual of "free will" From the Agentic Perspective of Social Cognitive Theory in Baer J., Kaufman J. C., Baumeister R. F. (Eds.) Are We Free? Psychology and Free Will New York, Oxford University Press.