FREE WILL, CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE LIVING WORD
More discussions on the World Pantheist Movement website:
Walter I like the way you laid it down in your last entry. I'm sure there's a psychological necessity that we humans feel as if we exercise free will. If I felt my moment to moment activities were not in my control, my existence would be anxiety filled. I'd feel out of control, and having, in my past, felt what it feels like to feel out of control, I'd hate to feel that way all the time, so I do believe it's a psychological necessity for humans to feel they are the captains of their ships. In fact, I feel more in control of my life now that alcohol abuse is a long time back in my past, and I don't feel anxiety during most of a day as I did back then when my fears overwhelmed me. So the sense that I control my existence adds to a calm and mostly worry free emotional existence but, of course, I believe I lived my way to my current sense of well-being and did not think my way to it. Thoughts follow acts. Not the other way around.
Ron, you wrote, Can I intentionally as a conscious act of free will fire a neuron? Yes any time that I choose at random or by a whim,to remember in detail some particular memory.
Yes, but what fired up that synaptic whim or randomly fired up the thought that you are going to consciously go through all your memories in order to choose one memory and bring it to consciousness? Unless you consciously search through all your memories in order to choose one to bring into consciousness, then I maintain, something out of your control triggered your reflection and chose the memory to be experienced or to enter consciousness. I'm absolutely certain that we humans are incapable of stopping our thoughts on a dime (without cause) and deciding to have a memory moment. Something triggered the moment that brought you to experiencing a memory moment.
My view of mental life both as (1) experienced consciously in fragments and (2) as existing in memories stored in synaptic patterns waiting to be called into action and/or consciousness to guide our behaviors in the moment is that it commenced somewhere in the womb when the brain was mature enough to retain a synaptic impression. I truly believe we human animals consciously experience our births, but they're so traumatic that we repress them. Imagine the sensations that accompany being squeezed through that birth canal, being expelled into light and sounds so much different than those we'd had in the womb. Suddenly being hit by unfamiliar smells, sounds, sensations of all kinds. We've all experienced what it's like to be an alien in an alien environment.
Once the brain is mature enough to begin retaining impressions in the womb, it NEVER shuts down. One sensation flows into the next, sleeping or awake, and when we awake each morning out of dreams or out of unconsciousness nights (nights of unremembered dreams) our very first actions are not chosen but are decided by habitual actions or necessities and our conscious thoughts flow right out of sleep to trigger our first conscious thought of the day which triggers the next and the next and the next. Our bodies have been carrying us along for several years before most of us recall our first conscious moment. The body is in charge of our lives long before we come to imagine that we control our bodies. Our bodies are carrying us along and we experience what is going on in fragmented moments of consciousness.
I challenge you to an act of imagination, for I believe it requires imagination to get to the point where you have the moment of aha? and you sense that your body and your consciousness are one, that you are an animal in the human environment, that your body is making all the important decisions that keep you alive and well and content in the human environment of buildings and jobs and crowds. I superimpose an image of a stag in its environment over my imagination of buildings and et cetera. Like a stag I move through my environment, following the lead of my instincts. Consciousness slips away into second place in order of importance. My staglike body is powerful and leading where consciousness follows. It's a pretty powerful image. This imagination moment must transcend the conscious thoughts my words on this page trigger in your consciousness. The imaginative leap must be so powerful that you FEEL it, experience it so that you feel you are landing on a new undiscovered continent or planet.
In recovery from alcohol abuse, I often understood the words of some helpful hint, but until the words penetrated through my consciousness and struck fire in my emotional life, they were a dead set of words. Live words are in touch with the realities of the body and its decisions; they are in direct contact with the emotional triggers that lead our lives for us.