Thursday, February 5, 2009

'Fluence

I want you to try a couple of exercises to determine who you are. Write down your most precious positions that you take on subjects that are important to you.

Now, ask yourself why you take that position. When you realize that you 'take a stand' on a subject, it is because someone influenced you to take that POV, try to ask THEM why they feel that way.

oneblood says, "I kind of treated the will to choose like it was a lark, a given, natural, like there was no system in place to maintain the pre-existing construct."

I think that most people treat the 'will to choose' exactly like that, something that is just 'there' and not part of their training, the sum of all the influences of their upbringing.

I think that this is odd if you have ever dealt with children because as a guardian you automatically try to steer the young ones away from bad influences, and there ARE bad influences, it must be admitted.

I don't think that there are trivial choices inasmuchas one has to choose based on experience. What I mean is that you have to recognise that a choice IS trivial THEN go ahead and pick 'the one on the right' or whatever.

I think that this 'choosing', which we feel is automatic, is ripe for manipulation by influencers.

e.g. I'm trying to influence you right now! You have 'on the fly' choices to make. Your mind is busy 'doing what it does'.

Your mind is doing what it does based on your experiences, your influences right up to this moment, but it is evolving. I'm not saying that you are necessarilly progressing in any way, perhaps you are just a tiny bit surer of what you have always thought.

" Long-term memories, .. are maintained by...stable and permanent changes in neural connections widely spread throughout the brain.

These memories are generally about what someone said or wrote, how they said it or wrote it and how we felt about it at the time.

Come on, 'fess up to yourself here! When you were a kid, who were the important influences in your life? Did they bribe you to agree with them or did they cow you into 'going along' with them? Probably a mixture, right? Did they sandbag you, promising things that they had no intention of delivering? Did they gaslight you, persuading you that their POV had to be the only sane one, otherwise the world, your world would become a madhouse!(They would MAKE your world a madhouse, punishing you for not knowing things that you have no experience of, for example, or playing drill sergeant, "Everything you do and say is wrong!(until you can automatically repeat my POV, then you're cool!)

Child abuse or discipline. It's an invisible line, isn't it.

Point is, when do we get handed this miraculous 'free-will'? When can we say, "Well, I certainly believe that of my own free choice!"?

32 comments:

oneblood said...

Pboy,

Thank you for responding with a post. Well done to boot.

Harvey was able to explain his understanding of the biology in a way I could take in. His answer to my question is below with my reply.

-----------------------------------

Pboy:

Most physicians (and I number myself among them) have at best a rudimentary understanding of brain chemistry, although there are physiologists who are begining to understand.
My personal read on all of this is that all organisms are born with certain inbred mental mechanisms (at least those who have evolved a brain) without which their species cannot survive. Another way to look at this is to see these mechanisms as having evolved via natural selection. In any event, most (but not all) newborns have these capabilities at birth. Thererafter, life experience, parental teaching, and internal thought processes of necessity lead to varying degrees of maturation or further development of these capacities in the individual. Those "new" intellectual developments that allow some advantage to those individuals that happen to develop them may, over time, become ingrained in the species, so that future newborns will be "born" with them in place.
Some of this must, according to our present understanding, occur because of chemical changes in our brains. As to where "free will" enters into this, I haven't a clue, but it seems to me that it must be one of the "basic" capabilities we are born with. That said, I imagine each individual "develops" that basic capability throughout his/her life and that it is highly dependent upon and influenced by his/her life experience/learning.

-----------------------------------

oneblood said...

Thanks Harvey!

Very kind of you to elucidate. What I take from what you're saying is that the "shapes" of our neural pathways must be stable (in one sense only) for our survival. Which makes sense as to their, how would you call it, a 'reactive rigidity' to change.

So it seems that essential + non-essential environmental happenings/beliefs would kind of form into "one" if you will.

Does this seem like a logical conclusion to you?

Stacy said...

Interesting.

"... the sum of all the influences of their upbringing."

I might add - education and "IQ".

This is a really deep question you have. Too many different directions it can take.

Physical, spiritual, intellectual, ...

oneblood said...

"They would MAKE your world a madhouse, punishing you for not knowing things that you have no experience of, for example, or playing drill sergeant, "Everything you do and say is wrong!(until you can automatically repeat my POV, then you're cool!)"

-----------------------------------

The folks were/are not exclusivists when it comes to metaphysics. Whether there is no god or it's actually Krishna is not as important as Jesus' ethics in the sermon on the mount. To them these are sublime and perfect.

That seems a reasonable way to live. Whether it's metaphysically correct or not doesn't affect how they treat others.

It's essentially the "All roads lead to God" attitude plus Jesus:
My dad considers himself a Christian Buddhist. The order seems important to him, thusly he couldn't be a Buddhist Christian.

And what am I?

Big surprise, a "Heterodox Christian." Just like mom and dad.

Where do my views differ? They differ a great deal, but in total it doesn't matter.

Parents say 5 + 5 = 10

Oneblood says -10 + 20 = 10

When I examine my beliefs I still come to the same conclusions but their lack of originality bothers me.

pboyfloyd said...

Well, stacy, I'd say that education is 'performed' by people, teachers, the people who wrote the texts, the parents and other family members.

I think that I.Q. MUST be affected by the social status of the parents who, if poor, might imagine that it is up to the state to 'learn' the kids and if well-off might show their kids the 'tricks' of I.Q. tests knowing that it might influence(there's that word again) the schools which would accept their 'smarty' little darling.

I think that jocks are influenced by coaches into bullying the non-jocks and are protected from punishment for bullying.

"He's just a little over-exuberance! Blacking that dweebs eye was a' accident! The dweeb is pro'lly "GAY" anyways! I can't lose my best (insert sport position here)!"

pboyfloyd said...

Hmmm.. oneblood, seems we're jumping between generalities and particulars here.

I think that the notion of free-will is not only concerned with how someone came to be religious.

But since we're here, and you feel that you WERE influenced by others to come to the same conclusion as your parents, do you have any memory of who THAT was?

Stacy said...

I'm not disagreeing w/you on anything pboy - I just think, the question would be easier to ponder if it were more specific.

Similar to oneblood, I thought to myself, is answering a math problem [mine was 2+2] subjective?

Does free will mean ignoring the correct answer just because you want to? Or is it just stupidity?

Where is the line drawn?

Stacy said...

Ooooh! I AM disagreeing w/you on something ...

" I think that jocks are influenced by coaches into bullying the non-jocks and are protected from punishment for bullying.

This feels like a personal attack! (although i'm sure it isn't)

My husband coaches HS football and LaCross and teaches biology and earth science.He is quite brilliant. My son plays both of these sports as well as volleyball and swimming. He is also quite brilliant. I expect him to be the future interstellar czar. I consider them both jocks.
If I felt that either of them were guilty of such things - there would be hell to pay.

I must say that this is not the first time I have had to defend jocks on the blogs that I so enjoy. I wonder where these influences have come from?

Harvey said...

In respomse to Oneblood's last question.......
"Harvey said...
Quite a reasonable way to put things. We seem to be born with a basic brain "map", with all the essential "continents" already laid out. The eventual placement of "country borders, major cities and towns and the highways" connecting them are "filled in" beginning after birth and proceeding from then until we die, influenced by our physical and mental experiences thereafter. Thus our excercise of "free will". for example, might be seen as a roughed in "continent"; what we are taught and experience as we mature eventually fills in the details and determines just how "free" our eventual concept of the exercise of free will becomes.

February 5, 2009 7:32 PM"

Since it appears that ALL of our eventual adult concepts, mental mechanisms, likes and dislikes, etc.... are a combination of "Nature plus Nurture", that is, that we are born with certain potential biological pathways necessary to species survival, ("Nature") all of which are influenced by our subsequent life experiences, formal teaching, parental guidance, etc. (Nurture).... it seems obviuos to me that EVERYTHING is subject to "Fluence".
"I think that most people treat the 'will to choose' exactly like that, something that is just 'there' and not part of their training, the sum of all the influences of their upbringing."
Whether most people feel this way or not, believing that ANY decision in life is somehow arrived at other than as the result of all experiences that have gone before is simply incorrect.

oneblood said...

Another good call pboy,

You're right. I was thinking about religion when pondering your latest.

Why my emotional disposition is this way or that seemed exclusive to why I liked ice cream or Jesus. But in a way it's not. Reading through Descartes' little thought experiment again and thinking how I would go about my own, and considering your position of the 'mind model' I had a mini-epiphany about deliberate choice. When I thought it had been supermarket choice. It's as natural as strolling down the aisle and selecting Captain Crunch or broccoli or whatever.

I had fallen for the ad campaign. Freewill is not an illusion. "FREEEEEE WIILLLL!!! Get it right now! It's shiny, accessible, and available!" That is an illusion.

I just discount the circularity in utter determinism. My position is still in the middle but the shift is good.

Since you were wondering, I was aknowledging the validity of your assertion by talking about my parents.

pboyfloyd said...

LOL, Stacy. How could what I said be a personal attack unless I 'psychically' know all about you and your family?

I don't think that coaches DELIBERATELY teach their players to be bullies but they have to instill 'winning spirit' and be their defense against getting thrown off the team, right?

You don't throw the star(fill in the blank) off the team for getting caught practicing a little 'team spirit' on the geeks, am I right?

Kids can be cruel and faculty can sure 'look the other way' when it comes to their teams.

No matter what I say, it seems that, in this case, for the defense of your family members you'll be "a tiny bit surer of what you have always thought."

I don't imagine that jocks have bullied kids for generations without their parents, coaches and other staff not having the attitude that their 'boys' don't 'really' hurt anyone if some 'geek' fails to show them the 'respect' that the wonderful darlings deserve, right?

I mean to everyone else that loves sports, the geeks might as well come from another planet, right, and if the boys rough-house them, just a little bit, it's good for their solidarity, comradeship etc.

Everyone knows that the jocks bully each other, you know, to toughen each other up! It's 'natural'.

Like they're being big brothers to the geeks, farting in their faces, setting them right by example and all that, right?

Y'see what I'm doing here? You can be furious at me for daring to suggest that you and your family are humans beings or admit that we don't have as much free will as we like to imagine.

pboyfloyd said...

Yea, Harvey, you say, "..believing that ANY decision in life is somehow arrived at other than as the result of all experiences that have gone before is simply incorrect."

I agree, but I think that is what makes this a good discussion.

It's not asking anyone to abandon their cherished ideas or worldviews, it's is asking them to examine how they think that they came to have them.
..........................

Oneblood, can you think of a basic difference between you and your parents religious POVs and how you came to think differently?

........................

Stacy, I'm not talking about 'choosing to say 1+1 = 3' (actually that's the name of a hair-care product!), part of what I'm getting at is,why do people think that their choices are free when propagandists, for example, can use rhetoric, charged words, glittering generalities etc. and have people wrapped around their fingers IF they have a 'good feeling' about the speaker?

oneblood said...

Parents: pro-status quo, pro-hardcore capitalism, apathetic about the environment, pro-choice, support gay rights but believe that you're either born gay or not, pro-religious liberty but atheism is "a little too much for us thank you." and most importantly the dominant culture is everything.

I disagree with all that, some completely, others in part.

oneblood said...

How I came to choose to believe other ideas was through science, the bible, philosophy and talking to people I disagreed with.

I didn't know about Judaism so I went to synagogue off and on for a couple years.

I wanted to know about jihad so I asked a couple Muslims. That's how I got my first Koran etc.

You get the idea.

I think the biggest difference between me and them in acquiring the knowledge to make different choices was being unafraid to ask questions about anything that compelled me.

pboyfloyd said...

oneblood, you say, "How I came to choose to believe other ideas.."

What a convoluted way of putting it, don't you think?

Seems that the topic is controlling your choice of words you are using to respond.

I think that you're dodging the question a bit by 'underlining' that it was 'of course' your choice.

".. was through science, the bible, philosophy and talking to people I disagreed with."

Oh yea? That is one GIANT paintbrush you're using there, big broad strokes.(I guess you, what, 'made your point with the, "I chose", starter there?

Are you saying that the differences just kind of crept up on you through differing influences then?

All I was askin' is if you can remember a particular 'mentor' that imprressed you, that perhaps started you on this crusade of finding your ability to choose.

Doesn't have to be an 'in person' person, a book is someone's thoughts and ideas too.

Stacy said...

pboy-I know it wasn't a personal attack ... that's why I said
"it feels like a personal attack (although I'm sure it isn't)).

"You don't throw the star(fill in the blank) off the team for getting caught practicing a little 'team spirit' on the geeks ..."

Yes, you do.

"Kids can be cruel and faculty can sure 'look the other way' when it comes to their teams."

I suppose this is possible but I've never seen it, other than in movies. I was a "geek" in HS. I remember being scared to talk to jocks and/or cheerleaders, but I was never bullied by any of them.

Jocks are encouraged, and generally able ,to get their aggressions out on the opposing teams and at practice.

Jocks, IMO, generally feel pretty good about themselves.It's been my experience that bullies are generally kids that have a low self esteem. That bully may or may not be a jock but I think it's pretty unfair to label jocks as bullies. Sports are credited with keeping a lot of kids OUT of trouble.

I even think our president was a jock. I have a hard time imagining him as a bully.

"Y'see what I'm doing here? You can be furious at me for daring to suggest that you and your family are humans beings or admit that we don't have as much free will as we like to imagine."

I'm not furious with you and I never disagreed with you on this point. I just wanted a more specific scenario.

oneblood said...

pboy,

I guess I didn't understand what you were getting at. But you took more out of it than I was actually saying.

If phraseology is the problem i will attempt to correct it.

My FREEWILL!! mentors were my parents.

However my freewill mentors have been a combination of those previously mentioned things.

If that's still too broad a stroke, I don't know what else you're looking for.

oneblood said...

The first concepts of the supermarket freewill, were ingrained through my father's rage-a-holic yet apathetic parenting.

He would appear from his cave to scream at me, eat, or try to get my mom in bed.

Assuming that her son was the problem even though she was being yelled at and occasionally roughed up, she would try and have bonding time with him by discussing "my" problems. It became a relational thing for them. He wouldn't be angry at her, just me, and so they would talk. Other than that he didn't treat her well at all.

What all that was leading up to, was escape through art, music, etc. Mentally running away from that jerk into the arms of Romanticism: There are no rules! You can do whatever you want! Everything's open!

Instead of guessing at my dad's arbitrary and unspoken rules (the better to catch you with) it seemed a relief to have none, with all choices before me, even if it was an illusion.

pboyfloyd said...

oneblood, that was such a cool story. My heart goes out to the young protagonist. Epic stories are written of such quests for knowledge.

Reminds me of that saying about accepting the things you can't change and changing the things that you can.

Seems to me that there was a 'crossroads' in your life and you listened to the negativity, turned tables on that and propelled yourself forward!

A kind of influence that I hadn't been considering, except to imagine that they'd be entirely detrimental.
...........................

Stacy, I said, "I think that jocks are influenced by coaches into bullying the non-jocks..."

Yea, you are right here, I ought to have said, 'some jocks', some 'coaches/staff' and 'some geeks', if anything at all about that, right?
(I think that my point was that coaches ARE major influences on jocks' lives anyway.)

Can you think of a major influence in your life? I don't mean 'the hubby and kids' thing at all. I mean how you came to the point where you felt that you were free to make free choices. If you believe that you can and do, that is.

Was there someone in your life who tried to tell you that you couldn't 'be' the you that you wanted to be, and you 'showed' them!?

Stacy said...

" Was there someone in your life who tried to tell you that you couldn't 'be' the you that you wanted to be, and you 'showed' them!? "

Actually ... I can't think of a thing - though it could be my drain bamage.

One thing that stands out in my mind that came from my upbringing, is that I played, and still play, 'the devil's advocate' in nearly every situation I can think of. It's a gift - and a curse. ;-)

I get that from my mother.

I am also skeptical - not cynical -of nearly everything.

I get that from my father.

pboyfloyd said...

Mom and dad were major influences in your life? (Who woulda thunk it?)

That is so cool though.

Just reading Evangelical Realism and HE is talking about skepticism NOT meaning 'anti-God' as 'they' try to paint it, but meaning 'anti-gullible'.

'Course I'm supposing that theists can't face being thought of as gullible, I imagine that I'd feel the same way!(he he)

Sounds like you had 'way cool' parents.

pboyfloyd said...

http://news.aol.com/newsbloggers/2008/09/27/obama-and-the-reagan-doctrine/209#c16958577

My 'history' blanked itself out. So I'm putting this link here.

Stacy said...

Still do. :-)

oneblood said...

I got creeped out just going there. I'll try one more time.

oneblood said...

I won't go back. I won't go back. I won't go back.

I do miss Ryan a bit though. I forgot about him.

I hope Botts is holding up.

pboyfloyd said...

Botts is very good about it. Says his wife is falling apart a bit. She loved her ma-in-law.

GearHedEd said...

pboy,

Just saw your post on Pliny's blog.
I'm sorta chipping away at the book still, but mostly trying to decide which parts to stick where in the narrative order. I don't want to give anything away too soon in the book, so's I can keep the interest of the readers. Like I said somewhere else, I'm a shitty author, but I'm determined to finish this one.

pboyfloyd said...

Sounds like your putting some thought into it.

That's a good thing! LOL

GearHedEd said...

The last coupla weeks, my daughter 16 yrs old) and her friends have been invading my house to play D&D. ("My dag's a Dungeon Master! How cool is that?!!") So I haven't been getting as much done as I'd like...

GearHedEd said...

"...DAD's a Dungeon Master..."

pboyfloyd said...

Yea, that is pretty fuckin' cool!

Sydney said...

I think that I.Q. MUST be affected by the social status of the parents who, if poor, might imagine that it is up to the state to 'learn' the kids and if well-off might show their kids the 'tricks' of I.Q. tests knowing that it might influence(there's that word again) the schools which would accept their 'smarty' little darling.
------------
I think its genetic. Its influenced by upraising, but the key components of IQ are genetic. And even in one family, not every child gets exactly the same mix, although they have the same influences, barring some things such as birth order and number of siblings, which probably does play some role in development.

But native IQ without stimulation and personal development withers - look at the situation with the orphans in Romania many years ago. Conversely, parents can help children reach a potential higher than someone with more "native" IQ, who isn't as well stimulated. But at the root, you still have genetics.

Sydney said...

But back to the original blog. I think its a sad thing to hold any position so solidified that you can't see the truth in the things you experience. And yes, troublesome, because that truth is shaped by your earlier prejudices, however they came about, and whatever they may be. But as imperfect as that entire system is, your own experience should bring you to a constant search for a better or more perfect truth or understanding of how things are and how they should be. And I'm not speaking in a moralistic way here, quite the opposite. Experience should be constantly stripping away the trivial and unimportant. The petty. And that's about as serious as you'll see me get on a blog. ;)