Thursday, September 09, 2004


The blogspot wasn't working properly so I've missed a few days, but we're back up and running now.


The question we ought to be asking the Republican Swift boat boys is why they support atrocities.

By railing against men who told the truth about the atrocities which were widespread in Nam but not universal, the Republican swifties show their support for those who commit atrocities. One can only imagine what would go on if they had anything to do with the Abu Ghraib prison atrocities. Imagine what they think of the young reservist whose conscience made him spill the beans about Abu Ghraib? Do they even respect his act of conscience?

One really must ask why these swifties can’t put Vietnam behind them and get on with their lives. So many vets I admire have been able to do that but not without facing some real truths about Vietnam and themselves and what happened to them there. These Republican swifties seem to be haunted with what I’d call a “bad conscience”. That’s why they can’t move on with their lives and put Vietnam behind them. You’d almost think they have something to hide, the way they hate those who tell the truth about Vietnam atrocities. Such hatred can only come from suppressed and hidden fears of revelation.


Believe it or not, I am approaching the end of Daniel Dennett’s “Freedom Evolves”. I know my reading seems slow, but I read daily newspapers and weekly newsmagazines and try to get in “The Humanist” and “FreeThought” magazines and just about anything else my eye falls upon. I’m still stuck at Chapter Eight with Camille Paglia. Recently I started to read a book of interviews with the film director Ingmar Bergman and sent away by interlibrary loan to Washington State University for three novels by Samuel Beckett which bore me now. When I first read Beckett, I was entranced. I believe he, like so many existentialist writers of the early 20th Century, altered my own consciousness. I’m so very pleased with what these men did for me, though, at the time, I suffered a great deal, shedding my romantic skin of despair and defeat and embattlement. I’m sending back the Beckett novels without reading more than a few pages of them.

Anyhow, here’s some more from writer Daniel Wegner who makes a strong case for “determinism” in his book, “The Illusion of Conscious Will” (2002) which I also recently used interlibrary loan to send away for:

“The unique human convenience of conscious thoughts that preview our actions gives us the privilege of feeling we willfully cause what we do. In fact, unconscious and inscrutable mechanisms create both conscious thought about action and the action, and also produce the sense of will we experience by perceiving the thought as the cause of the action. So while our thoughts may have deep, important, and unconscious causal connections to our actions, the experience of conscious will arises from a process that interprets these connections, not from the connections themselves. . . . (p. 98)

“Consciousness and action seem to play a cat-and mouse game over time. Although we may be conscious of whole vistas of action before the doings get underway, it is as though the conscious mind then slips out of touch. A microanalysis of the time interval before and after action indicates that consciousness pops in and out of the picture and doesn’t really do anything. . . .” (p. 59)

"Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it." —G.B. Shaw

I include Shaw's conundrum to give a contrasting way of talking about free will as compared to the scientific way of discussing free will. Shaw is stuck in the moral world rather than the real world. Even the way that Dennett allows for free will, won't make much room for such a strong statement as George Bernard Shaw makes. I say that as long as people stay in this moral, judgmental world view, we'll have violence and war which spring out of the sense of being wronged. Even the bad guy, unless a sociopath born without conscience, usually strikes from a feeling of having been wronged. How many a man is killed in a barroom fight just because another man feels wronged, feels from his moral sense rather than his common sense?

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