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    Do You Truly Have Free Will?

    How we're constantly at war with our biological programming
    by Chris Martenson

    Friday, July 12, 2019, 12:07 PM

If you prefer to listen to the author read this article, click this player:

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.

            ~ Carl Jung

I love that Jung quote.  I’ve used it generously in conversation, seminars and writings throughout the years.

Initially, I assumed that the “unconscious” he referred to the place in our brains where our experiences, beliefs and memories are undetectably stored.  You know, psychology stuff:  ego, subconscious, id. Old memories from childhood lurking beneath the conscious frame of reference, directing thoughts and coloring our current experiences.

In other words, post-birth experiences that came from nurture; the environment in which we were raised. As if we’re born as blank slates written upon by our parents, friends and the larger culture we grow up in.

Perhaps given the state of science at the time, that’s all that Jung did mean.

But now we have a lot more science to expand that quote out into some truly mind-boggling territory. In my mind, it’s now a case of including both nature and nurture into the equation.

More and more scientific research is revealing that our slates are only partially blank at birth, ready to accept whatever chalk lines might get drawn by life. But the majority of the remaining territory is already marked at conception with engraved instructions.

What Makes You “You”

For me personally, it has been incredibly liberating to discover that only some of my unconscious scripts were installed after birth.

The person that I call “I” or “Me” is a bundle of reactions, some of which were pre-programmed and some of which have been learned, and most of which are a combination of both.  The same is true for you. Our lives are a complex combination of both nature and nurture mixing like fluids to influence our experience of life.

This knowledge offers extraordinary power to those who can master their wiring, understanding which cerebral hacks and hijacks exist to create a richer and more engaged experience of life.  When applied at the collective level, these insights offer a helpfully predictive ‘most likely’ view of the future.

Bluntly, the odds of a group of humans rising above their core programming is pretty low, especially when various self-interested entities have learned to hijack the programming for fun and profit (and other often nefarious motivations).  This encompasses the media (both mainstream and social), politics and advertising.

So back to the Jung quote.

I now more broadly interpret “unconscious” to mean anything that you aren’t aware of that’s causing you to respond with certain actions, or experience things in a certain way.  It could be something from your past long buried (nurture) or it could be hard-wired into your neurochemical response set (nature).

Similarly, as long as it’s operating undetected by your conscious mind, yet resulting in certain responses, I’m calling that the “unconscious”, too.

Simply knowing that such scripts are running in your brain is truly life changing once you become aware of them.

As a topical reference, the current Epstein sexual predator case just reminds us that many men often live out their lives thoroughly subject to the biology of sexual hormones and the drive to reproduce, with about as much free will as a rutting elk during mating season.

The book Sex At Dawn presents a number of such science-based examples of the role of our genes in directing our behaviors.

In one famous experiment, men wore t-shirts for three days, then took them off and placed them in zip-lock bags. Randomly selected women of childbearing age were then asked to open the bags, sniff the contents and rate the men’s attractiveness from one to ten.  Their rankings were based solely on smell, no other information was given.

The women all had very clear preferences.  Some smells attracted them, some repulsed them.  The t-shirts were ‘hot or not.’

When the researchers then genotyped both the women and men, they discovered that the women’s noses had unerringly selected potential mates whose specific genetic make-up would yield offspring with particularly robust immune system combinations (via MHC typing for the science-wonks reading this).  Using just their sense of smell, the women were able to accurately determine very important information about a potential mate’s DNA.

Wow.  Go science!

It turns out we can tell something about the elemental molecular constituency of the people around us, all the way to decoding an algorithm as ridiculously complex as the combination of two dissimilar immune systems. Well, at least women can.

But who knows what else we’re going to discover with the passage of time?

The invitation here is to keep a very open mind, and a strong sense of humility, for the genius of 3.8 billion years of evolution and for what we humans are going to further decode over the next 100 years — should we make it that far.

Free Will?

Okay, so women can somehow detect better genetic matches using their noses.  But where the study got really interesting — and made the Jung quote explode in many directions for me — is when it further revealed that women who are on birth control pills lose this nose-DNA-detecting superpower.  The pharmaceuticals act as a disrupting agent.

Now imagine the poor woman who gets married, decides it’s time to have children, goes off her birth control pill and then, once her hormones have shifted back to her natural baseline, wakes up one day thinking “Crikey, who is this loser?” Somewhere deep and ancient inside her, the former ‘man of her dreams’ now smells entirely wrong.  A bad match.

So, they break up, at great emotional, logistical and financial disturbance.  She moves on, goes back on the pill, marries another great guy and then repeats the whole process.  Again, the new man just smells wrong.

Lacking the proper frame for what is happening, she manufactures all sorts of stories to match the experience.  “He’s a bad provider.  Doesn’t share my interests.  Doesn’t speak my love language.  Has bad hygiene…”

The unconscious operation running, however, is none of those things.  It’s that he’s a bad genetic match and her biological hardware — which was blocked from operating correctly earlier — has now finally been able to detect that.

Perhaps after the second ‘failure’ this woman has concluded that her luck is bad.  Fate has ruled against her.  She’s cursed in some way, destined to fail at love.  But it wasn’t fate at all. Rather, it was a biological response generated from the root code of her mammalian programming; unseen and undetected.

The unconscious had not been made conscious. It had directed her life, and she’d called it fate.

Had she known about the effect of birth control pills on mate selection, and been properly instructed in it by her MD at the time of first going on them, she would have been in a position to know to go off the pill while dating a potentially serious mate to determine if that changed how she felt about them.

It was only because she and her partner(s) were unaware of the silent biological, genetic script running in the background that so much “fate” happened to them.

Again:

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.

~ Carl Jung

There are literally hundreds of studies coming out all the time that reveal the subtle and powerful ways that both our genetics and epigenetics encode all sorts of pre-programmed and even acquired/learned behaviors into us, and we’re learning more all the time.

Would it surprise you to learn that evolution had found a way to encode PTSD-inducing experiences into a parent’s DNA to pass on to their own offspring (and subsequent generations)?  Well it has and this has been proven out in both humans (here also) and mice.

Quite to the surprise of scientists and students everywhere who thought the Darwin vs. Lamarck (nature vs nurture) debate was a decisive first round knock-out for Darwin, it turns out that mice and humans (and presumably many other creatures) can encode experiences into their DNA and pass them along to their offspring.

Rather than waiting for a random mutation to confer a new behavior that improves survival (Darwin) both mice and humans can encode a traumatic experience and pass that right along to their children.  Babies born to war-starved women store fat with miserly fanaticism and experience far higher rates of chronic health issues.  Children of holocaust survivors are prone to anxiety and have elevated stress hormones throughout their own lives.  The sons of Union war prisoners were far more likely to die early than the sons of soldiers who were not prisoners.

In other words, our DNA is busy talking with the world around us and storing what seems to be useful information to pass along and/or use.  The DNA is the hardware, that’s the part Darwin got right. And epigenetics is the software, which is the part that Lamarck understood.

Carl Jung perhaps understood more of this duality than I’ve appreciated:

Without knowing any of this, the children of women deprived of nutrition during gestation shame themselves as fat and unhealthy.  Fate has dictated that they be this way.  Fate has also frowned on children born to holocaust survivors and other similarly traumatized people.  The children of the tens of thousands of war-wounded US soldiers will be similarly afflicted.

(Self-) Knowledge Is Power

Knowledge is truly power if one is interested in moving towards free will and away from unconscious choice.

I’ve given up the fantasy of making it all the way to pure free will, but I can certainly move myself closer to it along the spectrum.

“Making the unconscious conscious” has been an area of great interest for me for many years, and I consider it to be incredibly liberating each time a new awareness can be brought into the light of consciousness.  “Fate” can be transformed into identifiable behavior patterns, that once recognized, can be embraced or abandoned at will.

If you share the life goal to operate with as much conscious intent as you can, then we are fellow travelers.  After many years of inner exploration and outer scientific curiosity I can report significant progress in my awareness and command of my own inner programming, though I remain constantly surprised by the many ways I’m still hard-wired for stimulus-response.

An important part of my progress resulted with the discovery that it’s possible to partially immunize myself to the dopamine-hijacking methods employed by advertisers and social media.  In some cases,  I’ve determined that I’m simply unable to resist, that my wiring is fixed and ‘they’ are simply too adept at juicing the pathways, and so my best defense is to limit my exposure.  Similarly, I’m currently wrestling with admitting my biological limitations and giving up my smartphone in favor of reverting to a much more basic flip phone.

Huge benefits have also resulted from understanding the ways in which emotionally manipulative language (a.k.a. “propaganda” or most of what passes for mainstream news) operates.  Once you’re able to spot it, you’ll see it everywhere and it will no longer sway you. In fact, it might even elicit the opposite reaction.  I wrote a long piece on this which is well worth re-reading.

More broadly, I’m keenly interested in how our pre-programmed behaviors are nudging us as a society closer towards certain futures.  These play out in economics, finance, energy and environmental issues.  Evolution has saddled us with both a severe time bias favoring the immediate over the distant, and a default setting for linear vs. complex (or systems) thinking. These preferences combine to strongly compromise our ability to respond intelligently to the really big predicaments the world faces today.

For instance, there are countries (Pakistan, 35 others) and massive cities (Chennai India, and 19 others) that are close to or have already run out of water.  That predicament was in plain view several decades ago. Yet the societal response in every single instance was to continue population growth and hope for the best.

Farming is becoming more uncertain as weather-weirdness piles up.  Soils are degrading slowly and steadily, mined for macro and micro nutrients that can only be replaced by geological processes (over millennia) or continued use of affordable fossil fuel energy (which is depleting).

Global debts are piling up far faster than economic growth. And economic growth cannot continue as it has for resource-based reasons.  Stocks and bonds are priced as if that were not the case, and perpetual exponential economic growth were assured.  Nobody cares.  The Fed has rescued stocks for another few weeks or months.  Whew!

All in all, there’s huge change being thrust upon us. But our social skills are optimized for collaborating on a hunt or remembering where the berries ripen next.  The social cooperation skills necessary for elegantly navigating the massive, complex, and systemic issues facing us may not be coded in our default neural programming.  They remain latent if they exist at all, perhaps requiring a severe population bottleneck to arise to provide the right epigenetic stress to turn these genes on.

Knowing that we’re not well-suited to the tasks at hand is the first step on the path to recovery and repair.  Both psychological and biological scripts are operating at the unconscious level. Being aware of and alert to this truth is a critical early step towards claiming real agency in our own individual lives and hope for our collective future.

Until and unless we do that, it will be business-as-usual until a painful systemic crash of some sort.  And what a doozy the next one will be.

As the data stands, you need to be ready for business-as-usual to be the most likely path society chooses to pursue, right up until things fall apart.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be so blind. More and more people are waking up to reality; especially younger folks, who are increasingly losing any interest in following in their parent’s footsteps.

If we really apply ourselves, and with a little luck, our biology doesn’t have to be our destiny.  It all begins with each of us becoming “conscious of the unconscious”.

In Part 2: The Choice Facing Us: Greatness or Oblivion?, we delve into how to do just that. What are the keys to “hacking” our biological programming and re-wiring it to better work in our long-term interest?

The scientific learnings here are exploding right now. And they provide the keys to our salvation in this story, as individuals and as a species.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access).

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36 Comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2019 - 4:37am

    #1
    efarmer.ny

    efarmer.ny

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    Bondage of the Will

    If we really apply ourselves, and with a little luck, our biology doesn’t have to be our destiny.  It all begins with each of us becoming “conscious of the unconscious”.

    Some of us have a world view that discounts luck and self effort in favor of realizing we need the help of a higher power to understand what limits or defines us.

    But I like the emphasis on self-awareness with a goal of improving society.

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  • Sat, Jul 13, 2019 - 5:29am

    #2

    Robinson

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    There si no free will, the only free will is the choice of environment, what do you see, who do you talk, that is your only choice.  Another choices are fake choices.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ3RzGoQC4s

    The self, is just a snapshot of a stream of experiences.  You are today a very different person that 10 years before, also will be very different 10 years in the future.   Then life and death as a individual dont exist. The only been that exist is the collective stream of experiences.

    Are we as a species headed towards greatness or oblivion?

    There is no choice of the destiny, greatness of course.   The humans have the choice is in the way to reach that greatness,  by great pain and suffering (more wars and destruction) or by conscious leaving behind our behavior as animals and start behavior as real humans, that is understand our role in nature, resolve our conflictive nature by be able to work as been of equal importance, with love over our innate hate.  kab.tv

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  • Sat, Jul 13, 2019 - 5:30am

    Reply to #1

    davefairtex

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    higher powers

    The problem with many of those “higher power” belief systems is, they tend to say the same thing: “no, really, OUR higher power is the Real Deal”, and some of them go a step further and then say “you better listen to us or else…” because in truth the human sales people of these belief systems are often just after earthly power and care a bit less for you personally, or for the tenets of the ostensible faith they are selling.  Or maybe they are earnest, and since it works for them, they assume it will work for you too.  Even if it doesn’t, or won’t.

    This why the Roman Republic/Empire did so well for so long.  They didn’t require you to pray to their gods.  An early “freedom of religion” thing, which turned out to be a really powerful concept.

    Turns out, nobody likes being told that “their God” is lame.  Even if he is lame.

    The most helpful belief system is the one you can believe in.  At least, that’s my belief.  🙂

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  • Sat, Jul 13, 2019 - 11:10am

    Reply to #1
    efarmer.ny

    efarmer.ny

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    Ay, there's the rub

    The problem with many of those “higher power” belief systems is, they tend to say the same thing: “no, really, OUR higher power is the Real Deal”, and some of them go a step further and then say “you better listen to us or else…”

    Yepper. That sounds like what I have heard scientists, republicans, democrats, conservatives, liberals, etc. say in regard to their belief systems. That sort of hubris runs well beyond organized religions.

    This why the Roman Republic/Empire did so well for so long.  They didn’t require you to pray to their gods.

    Huh?

    “A Christian’s faith was tested by forcing them on pain of death to swear by the emperor and offer incense to his images, or a sacrifice to the gods.”

    [source]

    The most helpful belief system is the one you can believe in.  At least, that’s my belief.  🙂

    How wonderfully self-reinforcing! [:wink:]

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  • Sat, Jul 13, 2019 - 12:09pm

    #3
    Uncletommy

    Uncletommy

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    Where was conversion therapy when I needed it?

    The expression on the kid’s face explains it all, I think!

    https://www.dragqueenstoryhour.org/

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  • Sat, Jul 13, 2019 - 3:03pm

    #4
    MarkM

    MarkM

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    Coming soon....

    Psychopath story hour. Get in touch with your inner psychopath. Free yourself.

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 4:17am

    #5
    brushhog

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    Leads to only one conclusion

    This line of thinking leads inevitably to one conclusion…when you realize that your attempts to rise above your programming are, in fact, part of your programming. Then of course you must conclude that everything is the result of what was destined before the beginning’s beginning’s beginning.

    There is no such thing as free will, and there is no line between nature and nurture, as previous experiences were only the manifestations of the encoded programming of previous  people/places/things.

    In that way, you also must conclude that YOU and your life were always baked in to the equation, just like the oak tree is already implied in the acorn.

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 7:10am

    #6
    RocketDoc

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    Smell

    Is smell the “least” important sense?  Given a choice, would most of us forego that one before the others?  It is #1 cranial nerve….and might be more important than we think.

    I have always enjoyed having a good sense of smell.  In college I noted that people’s dorm rooms and each person had a unique smell.  When challenged on it, I claimed I could identify everyone of my friends by their smell.  At dinner one evening everyone brought an article of worn clothing and I identified the owner.  My friends may have been impressed but on my next birthday, my roommate gave all of my friends an article of my clothing to wear that day and see how long it would take to recognize that my friends were wearing my clothes.  I recall a “weirdness” to the day but I didn’t actually notice so at dinner they began giving me hints and it finally clicked.  The “weirdness” could have been me subconsciously noticing, it could have been my friends treating me differently because they knew something I did not know, or perhaps even “smell” played a role.

    Babies and children almost all have a delightful smell (if they are not pooping) and adults gradually develop a signature that I like or don’t like.  Nursing homes–almost universally a decaying smell.  Now that I am “old” I like my personal smell less.  Several years ago I noticed my sweat after exercise had developed a “bad” rather than just funky odor.  Is it the nose or is it the subject?  Who knows….

    I have recommended choosing serious partners by smell and how much laughing you do around them.

     

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 7:21am

    #7
    rlm4765

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    Proving grounds

    Our biological make up is the lowest order of our being as a “spirit”, “soul”, and “body”!

    Our destiny has always been controlled by our Creator:

    The Book of Life

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 7:35am

    #8

    suziegruber

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    No Part Of Our Personality Is Truly Fixed

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for this great piece.  I totally agree that when we bring what’s unconscious into our consciousness, we then can choose to respond rather than react in any situation. I think this is absolutely key to feeling any kind of our empowerment in our current situation and I believe that the level of PTSD in our culture is part of what’s leading to countries and the world failing to address obvious crisis as rational adults.

    I will challenge you, however, on your belief that in certain areas your wiring is fixed.  That’s just not so in my experience.  I know I sound like a broken record but the NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM) helps us challenge any and all of what we call wiring so that we can free ourselves from these old patterns and make what’s driving these patterns fully conscious.

    I have the great good fortune to be writing this post from an advanced level training with Dr. Heller where we are diving into the intricacies of  the fixed images of ourselves that we hold and how we as NARM practitioners can help people resolve those images.  Dr. Heller is showing me yet again that we are limited only by our willingness to accept any part of ourselves as fixed.  I would love the opportunity to speak with you and Peak Prosperity community about this in detail if you are open to that.

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 8:50am

    Reply to #8
    brushhog

    brushhog

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    ” I totally agree that when we bring what’s unconscious into our consciousness, we then can choose to respond rather than react in any situation.”

    How do you know that you are choosing to respond? If you consider that your nature is fixed, then you were always going to make that choice.

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 9:04am

    Reply to #8

    suziegruber

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    I Don't Agree That Our Nature Is Fixed

    Brushhog,
    I don’t agree with the basic idea that our nature is fixed.  It’s only fixed to the extent we are unwilling to become conscious about our reactions to things and get curious about what’s driving those reactions.  We have far more ability to become conscious of our internal dynamics than people realize.

    –Suzie

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 9:15am

    #9
    RocketDoc

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    Higher Goals in an Ebbing Empire

    The Financial Crisis of 2008 sparked a number of reflections about the future that I mused about in an iWeb blog and re-posted somewhat later to my blog [email protected] (The Thunder said…).  Having caught the Archdruid, Orlov, and Kunstler bug, I wondered about Improving the Future while it was slated for decline.  So is a grand civilization even possible at this point given our environmental limitations?  I wondered if the image of a return to the Garden of Eden (activating mankind’s potential so to speak) or cobbling together some new idea of what a grand civilization would be, could guide, whoever we consider “us”, going forward?

    “Our” civilization seems Christian based to me.  Darwin and Nietzsche undermined that self conception.  Modernism, post-modernism, post-post modernism, are struggles to re-center the human project.

    I appreciate your reflections, Chris and Adam, on these struggles in post-truth times….

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 10:01am

    Reply to #1
    ezlxq1949

    ezlxq1949

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    Ancient Romans were theologically tolerant

    Dave said and efarmer reacted to:

    This why the Roman Republic/Empire did so well for so long. They didn’t require you to pray to their gods. An early “freedom of religion” thing, which turned out to be a really powerful concept.

    Both of you are correct. The Republic was almost fanatically tolerant, if that makes sense, of all gods and goddesses. After Julius Caesar, when the Republic degenerated into an Empire, at least some Emperors were given divine status. Julius became a God and entitled the Saviour of Rome, by bringing order out of chaos, and Augustus was the Son of God. Henceforth all religions and cultic practices were tolerated provided that the adherents, at least once a year, sacrificed to Caesar calling him (a) God. This did not go down well with certain peoples in the area of Jerusalem.

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 10:09am

    Reply to #6

    Chris Martenson

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    Re: Smell

    Is smell the “least” important sense?  Given a choice, would most of us forego that one before the others?  It is #1 cranial nerve….and might be more important than we think.

    In Part II I go into the many layers of “stacked archaic brains” that we’ve got.  There’s at least three, each simply a stacked function on top of the earlier ones.  Three primals upon which the human neocortex was hastily slapped for an experimental go.  just kidding.  Sort of.

    “Smell” is the detection of chemicals wafting about, and is undoubtedly the very earliest of sense detectors evolution came upon.  Bacteria display “chemotaxis” as they navigate towards tasty chemical gradients and away from nasty ones.

    Much later evolution came up with sight/light detection, hearing, etc.

    So smell is something that got worked out a long, long time ago, and it would seem that evolution simply said “got it!” and then stacked other senses and more complicated routines on top of smell.

    Sure, there were refinements along the way, but it would seem that once something got worked out it was kept, not unlike the way sharks and horseshoe crabs have not changed for hundreds of millions of years.  Some designs are just that good.

    Which is why the sense of smell is so powerful in how it can evoke memories and dictate behaviors that are quite subterranean.

     

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 10:24am

    Reply to #8

    Chris Martenson

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    Fixed Responses or Wiring

    Suzie:

    I will challenge you, however, on your belief that in certain areas your wiring is fixed.  That’s just not so in my experience.

    I consider my ‘wiring’ as a human male to give me a very fixed response to females.   I consider my taste preferences for what’s palatable to be fixed.  Rotten meat is just not in my wiring, and it never will be.  Vultures would disagree.

    I am wired to prefer a very specific range of tempuratures and humidity levels.  Thermophilic bacteria have a very different set of hard-wired preferences.

    It’s as yet unclear to me how much I can alter my epigenetic wiring that has come pre-installed.  While I wasn’t born to a mother who was under a starvation regime during the final two trimesters of pregnancy, so I don’t struggle with weight the way Dutch war babies do, I do have a rather strong spider aversion that seems to have been pre-installed.

    You should have seen me as a 12 year old in my inflatable dingy as I stalked pond bass near the bushy edge that one summer day.  The wind was shoving the boat around that day and while I was focused on my lure bobbing near some lily pads the whole shebang bonked into a bush leaning over the water.

    Boop!

    Into the boat dropped several, possibly a million, large wolf spiders, the big 2″-3″ ones that live at water’s edge, who then moved at around 128 mph in all sorts of directions but mostly seeking to regain the height of the bush.  The best and nearest  solution for several spiders were my legs.

    Before I could process anything at all, my adrenaline spiked to never-before seen levels, muscles contracted, and I was propelled backwards out of the boat and into the water where I commenced to flailing away from that floating spider palace as fast as I possibly could. I noped right out of there.

    It was quite a while before I calmed down.  I swam to shore, and carefully rescued my dingy with a very long stick, alert to any possible movement, and wishing I had a flame thrower handy. I’d never had any bad experiences with spiders or been bitten that I know of…that amazing neurochemical cascade came pre-installed.

    To this day, if one of those big, 2.5 inch hairy speedsters ran up my pants leg, I will experience a very pronounced and instantaneous biophysical reflex.  I seriously doubt I could alter that reaction consciously.  Maybe.  But it seems to have been wired in at a very deep level and I cannot explain it in terms of my own life experiences. It also doesn’t seem to pass through my brain at all, but takes the same shortest-possible-path through my spinal column as a knee-ligament reflex response.

    It’s like my eyes are direct-wired to my adrenals and sympathetic nervous system. No cortex involvement at all.

    On paper, spiders and me should be cool  But at a reaction level, we’re not.

    That’s the sort of hard-wiring I am talking about.

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 12:50pm

    #10
    drbost

    drbost

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    Acceptance and Freedom to Choose

    Thank you, Chris, for starting to explore a very important topic—why we humans are so resistant to change.

    May I contribute a few thoughts to contribute to this conversation?

    Yes, we are free to choose when confronted with values, external conditions, urges, or thoughts that conflict with each other. As Viktor Frankl, a well known holocaust concentration camp survivor and psychiatrist, has said in Mans Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
    (https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2782.Viktor_E_Frankl)

    However, awareness of this freedom is not sufficient to enable change. As. Frankl asserts, “Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.”
    (https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2782.Viktor_E_Frankl)

    This love to which Frankl refers has been described by others as “unconditional acceptance” or, as Carl Rogers put it, “unconditional positive regard”. “One of the most satisfying experiences I know is just fully to appreciate an individual in the same way I appreciate a sunset. When I look at a sunset…I don’t find myself saying “Soften the orange a little bit on the right hand corner, and put a bit more purple in the cloud color”. I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch it with awe as it unfolds. It is this receptive, open attitude which is necessary to truly perceive something as it is.” (https://www.google.com/search?q=carl+rogers+unconditional+positive+regard&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=ogNM8B0N3i4s0M%253A%252C_v79UfN2fvmPIM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kRCsMLGcxncrIRtp-FFoHeoFfhQVw&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjn-qLthbXjAhXHQc0KHdiuD50Q9QEwAHoECAMQAw#imgrc=ogNM8B0N3i4s0M:

    This acceptance (as distinct from agreement with) is necessary whether understanding and change is sought in oneself or in others. This acceptance melts rejection, blame, and defensiveness, and opens the way to understanding. (Zuckoff & Gorscak, Finding Your Way to Change, p. 62). As this objective understanding is achieved, trust is built. And as trust grows, openness to other points of view—and thus freedom to choose—becomes possible.

    Based on these principles, Motivational Interviewing (MI) offers a framework for asking questions to enable one to consider and implement behavioral change. MI was found, in numerous studies, to be more helpful in enabling positive change than confrontation or simply giving information. MI was developed in therapeutic work with addicts, but it has also been found to encourage behavioral change in people with a variety of medical conditions. It can be helpful in facilitating transformation in attitudes and beliefs about any number of issues, including those about which PP readers are most concerned. The MI framework and question-asking skills provide powerful strategies for helping people—ourselves and others—to change.

    I hope these thoughts are helpful as we explore this important topic.

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  • Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - 12:53pm

    Reply to #1

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3227

    2+

    the best belief system

    The most helpful belief system is the one you can believe in.  At least, that’s my belief.  🙂

    How wonderfully self-reinforcing! [:wink:]

    Oh yes, it is wonderfully self-reinforcing.  It also appears to be built into the physics of how our universe works.

    The placebo effect is a perfect example of the power of belief in action.  Eat a sugar pill, and if you believe hard enough, it makes you better.

    Alternatively, if you don’t-really-believe in your claimed belief system, I assert that your alleged belief system won’t work for you at all.  [Do you believe that an insincere prayer from someone who is effectively a non-believer will be answered by God?]

    If you believe sugar pills are beneficial, you are likely to derive benefit from taking them.  If in your heart you don’t really believe that God exists (yet you ostensibly profess to believe in God), well, I claim you are unlikely to derive value from your ostensible beliefs.

    I allege: it is more efficacious to believe in sugar pills and take them, than to pretend to believe in God but not really mean it.

    Certainly, it is probably better to believe in something that has substance behind it.  But which belief system can you really believe in?

    The enthusiasm of believers isn’t as useful as one might hope.  The proponents of almost every belief system tells us that they are correct, and that the others are just fakes.

    Which is why I go back to the Romans, who I believe, had the right answer.  “Believe in what works for you.”  Romans didn’t much like those who said their gods were lame – but if you let them alone, they would leave you alone.

    So back to Chris’s post.

    Biology provides a lot of clues about how things work down here on earth.  These clues work for me.  I see them in operation every day.  Once I see how things work in my own life, I can, to paraphrase Susie, notice them in operation, and make adjustments rather than become a prisoner to them.  This belief system, I find very helpful in my everyday life.  I call it being aware.

    I get the sense that this subject matter is not so interesting to you, since you’ve delegated all this detail to your higher power.  That works for you.  But I don’t believe in your higher power.  I believe in my higher power, whom I believe has delegated the responsibility of the details in living my life to me.

    And so I find all this stuff Chris says – just fascinating.

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  • Mon, Jul 15, 2019 - 4:58am

    #11

    LesPhelps

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 487

    2+

    And Then There Is Space-Time To Consider

    Relativity sees space and time as two components, or dimensions of the same thing.  Scientific corroboration of relativity is unambiguous.

    Is time indeed unfolding, or has the future “already happened” and we just haven’t “experienced” it yet?  Are we like the needle on a turntable set in the groove of a vinyl record?

    Science has demonstrated repeatedly, that the universe is far stranger than we can see or imagine.  Relativity, is relativity benign.😂  Quantum physics gets truly bizarre.

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  • Mon, Jul 15, 2019 - 6:50am

    #12

    newsbuoy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 10 2013

    Posts: 169

    Free Will Exercise

    Stop doing this.

    [FAIL]

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  • Mon, Jul 15, 2019 - 6:51am

    #13

    newsbuoy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 10 2013

    Posts: 169

    Fee Will Exercise (Number 2)

    Stop doing that.

    [FAIL]

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  • Mon, Jul 15, 2019 - 6:56am

    #14

    newsbuoy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 10 2013

    Posts: 169

    Free Will Exercise Results

    Congratulations!

    You have successfully completed the Free Will examination. You will survive another day to explore new worlds, where no Man has gone before.

    Please complete the exit link below:

    freewill astrology.com

    .

    .

    Why are you still there?

     

     

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  • Mon, Jul 15, 2019 - 7:06am

    #15

    newsbuoy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 10 2013

    Posts: 169

    Not to be too flippant about this important subject

    I’ve recommended Prof. Guarnaschelli’s talks in the past and continue to find these valuable. This only perhaps relevant to the issue of “free will”.

    https://youtu.be/DAXpMKdlwKQ

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  • Mon, Jul 15, 2019 - 8:03am

    Reply to #8

    suziegruber

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 03 2008

    Posts: 136

    Chris,
    First of all, ewww, wolf spiders are creepy and no wonder you had that reaction.

    Regarding the topic at hand, when you talk about preferences for temperature and humidity, I hear you naming that the conditions we as humans need for basic survival are indeed hard-wired.  I can’t do anything about my inability to live for very long without water.

    The spider case is more interesting.  I suggest that what happened there is a shock trauma where your sympathetic nervous system took over and you were able to flee the spiders.  Yes, it takes seconds for the stress system to activate and substantially longer after the threat is over for us to return to our baseline state.  I actually think it’s theoretically possible for you to work with this experience with Somatic Experiencing and get to a place where you are more at choice about those little hairy things and it’s an interesting question about how far we can take presence.

    For me, nothing relational is hard-wired.  For example, a lot of people think that things like being a loner or being an introvert are hard-wired into our biology.  I actually challenge that notion because often those are things we have come to believe about ourselves due to early experiences.  I think the question of whether or not to address such things depends on what we most want for ourselves.  If we tend towards being a loner and it’s interfering with our desire to be in an intimate relationship, then there’s an opportunity to get curious about it.  If we are content with who we are, so be it.

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  • Mon, Jul 15, 2019 - 2:36pm

    #16

    newsbuoy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 10 2013

    Posts: 169

    It's the Limit That Gives You the Opportunity To Be Human

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=I-Ll8SCNZ4E

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  • Mon, Jul 15, 2019 - 6:06pm

    #17

    AKGrannyWGrit

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 06 2011

    Posts: 471

    4+

    Granny Rant!!!

    In a recent article Chris talked about the song “I sold my soul to the company store” people who worked for a company also used the company store and housing and ultimately ended up deeply in debt to the company. Eventually they were slaves. Often people had few to no other choices. The practice was immoral.

    Fast forward to today.  Very small cottage crafters, artists and makers found an outlet for their wares in Etsy.  Hand-crafted, unique, and creative items.  Well Etsy has decided the sellers should offer “free” shipping on anything over about $30.  But it’s okay because they can ROLL the shipping costs into their product price!  (free my ass) If they “choose” not to participate they will be excluded from the optimal searches. (buried). Also the makers business names have somehow disappeared in the searches.  Just the commodities show up.

    This “coercion” is appalling to many of the makers.  I find the the greed, apathy and lack of morals by Etsy disgusting!!!!

    I hope someone will come on and explain to me and you how Etsy isn’t screwing the backbone of its site and I am mistaken.  Please explain how those with paper thin margins aren’t being screwed! And, burying them from searches because the don’t choose to comply is moral.

    I for one, plan to boycott Etsy!  No doubt the lawyers are saying “well it’s their choice” yep and we the customers can take our business elsewhere!

    Pissed Off Granny

     

     

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  • Tue, Jul 16, 2019 - 12:54am

    #18
    ezlxq1949

    ezlxq1949

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 29 2009

    Posts: 257

    1+

    Wolf spiders are great!

    According to the Queensland Museum, two Wolf spider species are known to be predators of cane toads. Lycosa lapidosa will take small toads and frogs while L. obscuroides has been noted biting and killing a large toad within one hour.

    Source

    Cane toads are an introduced feral pest, poisonous, highly destructive to our wildlife. Governments won’t fund research into their control. Go wolf spiders!

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  • Tue, Jul 16, 2019 - 4:19am

    Reply to #18

    Locksmithuk

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 19 2011

    Posts: 108

    Cane toads

    Agreed about the wolf spiders…. not everyone is up for cane toad cricket anyway.

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  • Tue, Jul 16, 2019 - 4:49am

    Reply to #1

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3227

    the deified Julius

    The sense I got from my readings suggested that the deified emperors (Divus) were more like Heroes than actual Gods (Deus) in the pantheon.  It felt more like: “hey, this guy kicked ass, you should remember him”, rather than elevating him to Godlike status.  I’m not an expert in the field, that’s just how things felt when I read the material.

    Amusingly, Catholics do something similar too.  They call it “sainthood”, but consider: the organization in charge confers a status of “eternal respect” for someone who has passed away.  This shouldn’t surprise anyone, given how closely tied the Church was to the Roman state.  Change the name, but the process remains the same.

    We celebrate Washington’s Birthday for much the same reason.  He is – basically – Deified George, and we also have Deified Abe.  Minus the animal sacrifices, of course.  We just get a holiday.  Martin Luther King has also, more recently, been deified in much the same way.

    I will agree that requiring someone else to sacrifice an animal to your Hero does seem kinda lame, and in violation of the Republic’s basic tenet of not unduly disturbing the natives over something that’s basically unimportant – one of the critical principles and why the Republic did so very well.  I guess the emperors just got too powerful, and too full of themselves.  Another vote in favor of the Republicans.

    I like our approach better; everyone gets Washington’s Birthday as a holiday (or, in today’s world, “President’s day”), but there’s no need for any sort of required animal sacrifice.  🙂

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  • Tue, Jul 16, 2019 - 3:46pm

    #19
    ezlxq1949

    ezlxq1949

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 29 2009

    Posts: 257

    2+

    Not everyone gets the public holidays

    Dave wrote,

    I like our approach better; everyone gets Washington’s Birthday as a holiday (or, in today’s world, “President’s day”), but there’s no need for any sort of required animal sacrifice.

    I’ve watched over the decades in Oz as commercialism has grown and grown. Used to be that apart from essential services (e.g. electricity) everyone got a public holiday. Public. Holiday. Holiday for the Public. But now only some of the public get the holiday. Shop assistants and shop owners certainly don’t. Public holidays really should be labelled shopping holidays. A form of human sacrifice perhaps.

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  • Tue, Jul 16, 2019 - 5:50pm

    #20
    ezlxq1949

    ezlxq1949

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 29 2009

    Posts: 257

    2+

    Sundays were "public holidays"

    Forgot to mention that when I were a lad, there was almost no trading on a Sunday, little worship of Mammon. A very few shops were permitted to trade, mostly cafés and milkbars. Every Sunday was in effect a public holiday. Add in the regular public holidays and people got a fair amount of time off. Some compensation I suppose for the rather onerous working conditions.

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  • Tue, Jul 16, 2019 - 11:54pm

    Reply to #20

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3227

    public holidays

    That’s a really good point.  Way back when (the 70s?), Sunday really was an enforced holiday – it was against the law to open your shop and sell things on Sunday, which meant employees really all did get a day off.  Straight out of the bible, that was:

    Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.

    Even the cattle got a day off.  And the servants too.  God (or whoever wrote this bit – take your pick) wasn’t kidding around.  “No loopholes.”  Sunday is a holiday.

    Thinking about it – this was probably a good thing.  An ancient bit of labor market reform.  I don’t think we’re better off having “outgrown” it.  Probably the retail lobby at work.

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  • Fri, Jul 19, 2019 - 2:36am

    Reply to #20
    efarmer.ny

    efarmer.ny

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jan 07 2012

    Posts: 12

    1+

    Even Further Back

    Even the cattle got a day off.  And the servants too.  God (or whoever wrote this bit – take your pick) wasn’t kidding around.  “No loopholes.”  Sunday is a holiday.

    According to the creation narrative that precedes your quote, even “God” got a day off, so to speak. Yes, the sabbath was indeed a holyday.

    And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

    Genesis 2:2-3

    Speaking of “God,” this came through my news channels today:

    Survey of subjective “God encounter experiences”: Comparisons among naturally occurring experiences and those occasioned by the classic psychedelics psilocybin, LSD, ayahuasca, or DMT (April 23, 2019)

    Newsy Summary  Study

    And, just to clarify from our earlier conversation. You said

    I get the sense that this subject matter is not so interesting to you, since you’ve delegated all this detail to your higher power.  That works for you.

    I am vague about my specific beliefs because I don’t want to violate the community standards. But I can safely say that I while I don’t believe in free will, I do believe that we are free moral agents. There is a difference there for me.

    And actually, I find the intersection of matter and spirit, decision and determinism utterly fascinating.

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  • Fri, Jul 19, 2019 - 7:06am

    #21

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 877

    2+

    E-farmer, Dave--religious beliefs

    I acknowledge that efarmer may well be trying to keep to community standards; and as such, cannot speak on the topic of religion. As such, it is wrong and unfair for others to speak to it.

    But that, issues of religion are issues of belief — they cut to the core of who we are, what we are, and are foundational to our daily decisions and the rest of our dialogue.  In that sense, the community standards are going to limit the effectiveness of discussion; management here has decided that the benefit (less depth in discussion, more depth in discussion) vs cost (possible complete derailment of the website) is not justified.

    Not arguing with that. But for myself, I can say that my beliefs are not where they were twenty years ago, nor are they where I’d like them to be.  And if there was anyone who could lead me out of the tunnel where I am, to where my views were good, and rational, and appropriate, and above all consistent with truth, yet also I was at peace with it… I wouldn’t be disappointed.

    I have tried to discuss with others, who were willing, both officially religious and not, and so far have no good answers.

    So to that extent, I could wish there was a way, on our personal info page, we could post about who we are, what we are… and control the top level (the declaration), and then open up to discussion any aspect below…  and others could discuss… all on private channel, with announcements to only the two people — the person whose page it was, and the commenter.

    aaaahh… wishlist.

     

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  • Fri, Jul 19, 2019 - 8:08am

    #22
    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 17 2017

    Posts: 113

    1+

    The frog and the scorpion

    The Scorpion and the Frog

    One day, a scorpion looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a journey through the forests and hills. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river.

    The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion stopped to reconsider the situation. He couldn’t see any way across. So he ran upriver and then checked downriver, all the while thinking that he might have to turn back.

    Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. He decided to ask the frog for help getting across the stream.

    “Hellooo Mr. Frog!” called the scorpion across the water, “Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?”

    “Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know that if I try to help you, you wont try to kill me?” asked the frog hesitantly.

    “Because,” the scorpion replied, “If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim!”

    Now this seemed to make sense to the frog. But he asked. “What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!”

    “This is true,” agreed the scorpion, “But then I wouldn’t be able to get to the other side of the river!”

    “Alright then…how do I know you wont just wait till we get to the other side and THEN kill me?” said the frog.

    “Ahh…,” crooned the scorpion, “Because you see, once you’ve taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?!”

    So the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river. He swam over to the bank and settled himself near the mud to pick up his passenger. The scorpion crawled onto the frog’s back, his sharp claws prickling into the frog’s soft hide, and the frog slid into the river. The muddy water swirled around them, but the frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown. He kicked strongly through the first half of the stream, his flippers paddling wildly against the current.

    Halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger from the frog’s back. A deadening numbness began to creep into his limbs.

    “You fool!” croaked the frog, “Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?”

    The scorpion shrugged, and did a little jig on the drownings frog’s back.

    “I could not help myself. It is my nature.”

    Then they both sank into the muddy waters of the swiftly flowing river.

    Self destruction – “Its my Nature”, said the Scorpion…

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  • Fri, Jul 19, 2019 - 9:39am

    Reply to #21

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3227

    2+

    moral agency

    efarmer-

    Sure I understand about “moral agency.”  My question is, as always: who constructs the moral regime in which one gets to have “agency”, and what’s in it for them?  🙂

    Related: who wrote the Patriot Act, and why?  What was in it for them?

    I’m glad we can both be fascinated by the discussion!

    MR-

    It sounds like you are definitely searching for the path.  Maybe I’m just an optimist, but I think if you search hard enough, you will find it – or something approximating it.  I saw my Mom do this for her entire life.  I do believe she found what she needed in her last years.  She seemed to be much more at peace anyway.

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