Category Archives: Blogging

Dodging Moral Responsibility?

David Hume said the nature of free will is the “most contentious question of metaphysics.”  I laud him for taking the matter so seriously, but what is it with my friends arguing free will to the bitter end lately?  Everything seems to be an indication to them that free will doesn’t exist to them…literature, movies, art, historical figures (although rarely personal experience).  I don’t understand this.  What is ironic, however, is that these same friends tend to fully support war as a means of perpetuating social “liberty”…the clear political antithesis of determinism.  That’s what drives me nuts about this argument, is that no one lives it out, and people who try to end up breeding enemies by the dozen because their actions can come across as irresponsible or harmful.  I love blogs because no one reads mine, so I don’t always feel the need to argue my claims before reflecting on them, and I’m free to blather and wander off the point as much as I want without having to provide a sound case.  This is one of those times.

Free will arguments are too loopy for me to follow.  I won’t try today…this is merely a chance to blow off steam from having to defend free will to people when I don’t even know what the hell I’m talking about.  There are incompatibilists, like Kant was, who argue that determinism indicates there is no free will.  There are compatibilists, like Hume was, who argue that determinism follows free will.  I’ve never seriously considered the arguments, so I don’t know where I stand, but it doesn’t greatly interest me.  I mostly only care about it to the extent of knowing that some people argue against free will as a way to dodge blame by remorselessly excusing a personal action or that of another.  Arguing against free will is a way to get around moral responsibility.  The topic has a place in philosophical debate, but it can become destructive when it’s tangibly carried out as the logical outcome of incompatibility.  If no one is a free agent, no one is morally responsible for his or her actions.  This seems dodgy to seriously commit to, since the consequences of living out such a philosophy could be messy.  Moral responsibility is an important component of moral human action (duh).  One of my friends, B-, justifies his destructiveness on the basis of determinism, and consequently, the world is a much darker place because of him.  If there is no free will, then what precisely is the external influence that is directing him? 

I can’t figure out why some people question free will so seriously when it seems to remain solely a speculative conjecture rather than an issue that affects which path they take (or are determined to take) in life.  Most people’s actions are rarely hindered, constrained, or forced, and yet they question free will so boldly.  Surely experience can contribute to philosophy alongside abstract theory…?  However, the few areas that seem to personally challenge free will for me probably have no place in a philosophical consideration.  If questioning free will doesn’t change how most people live their lives (this even seems to be as true of theological determinism as it is of logical determinism), then why the obsessive pursuit to find an answer and excuse personal actions under the umbrella of determinism? 

The most tangible opposition I see to free will is addiction.  There is clearly some determinism in nature, as with genes (although most genetic traits assume an on/off state according to environmental influences reaching all the way back to gestation).  With addiction, it truly seems at times like there is zero control over behavior, and that the inability for restraint far surpasses a matter of willpower.  That’s the embodiment of addiction…people can’t stop, no matter how destructive and catastrophic the consequences become.  In fact, the part of the brain responsible for the chemistry of addiction (a primitive little part located high up on the brainstem) is not under voluntary control…hence the extreme difficulty in reprogramming addictive behavior.  Aside from the question of addiction in a free will argument, little things give me trouble on occasion, like waking up from a nightmare when my frontal lobes haven’t turned back on yet…things like what if a person is drugged or tied, what of free will then?  These thoughts give me no trouble when I’m fully awake (unless I’m drugged or tied– kidding, sort of), because I understand them in the context of another person’s free will action.  It’s mostly the question of addiction that gives me trouble around the clock.  Oh, mental illness is another area that raises questions for me…it tends to be brushed aside or explained off in society, but I think people suffering from mental illnesses have quite as much of a right to be taken seriously with regard to philosophy as people who are not.  When my friend T- committed suicide, based on his comments and behavior leading up to that point, I don’t think he felt that he had any free will in the matter.  Those around him would certainly have liked an opportunity to try to persuade him otherwise, but only he really knew how unbearable things got for him.

Most of the time I view the contemplation of free will more like a dental procedure.  I dislike because I don’t want to lose that urgent sense of moral accountability for my behavior.  My behavior is already poor enough as it is; I don’t need others attempting to let me off the hook.

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Filed under Blogging, Drugs, My Life

Hillary Clinton

I’m one of those stereotypical people who doesn’t like a single candidate who’s running.  However, all other political matters aside, I think the very fact that a female is running (not the first time it’s happened) is an achievement.  I’m not exploring any political views regarding Hillary, because I don’t know myself.  Nonetheless, she fascinates me as a female candidate and serious contender. 

What about Bill?

Bill has been one of Hillary’s strongest assets.  However, lately he’s become so visible and vocal that he threatens to overshadow her.  The past couple of weeks have been especially bad with regard to Bill’s marketed publicity.  The race has a long way to go, and the couple is starting to make the impression (intentionally or otherwise) that it would be an equal or almost equal power duo in the White House.  Obviously, two sets of shoes cannot fill a job for one.  Hillary could wind up looking like she’s incompetent to lead without her husband “manning” the puppet strings.  (Sorry.  That was a horrid pun, for which I apologize to the Clintons and anyone reading.)  This fact exposes a challenge at the heart of Hillary’s campaign.  The attitude that a woman cannot or should not be President is fantastically transparent in its sexism.  This is an attitude that even now faces a potentially rich breeding ground.  I have encountered it all around me in the wake of Hillary’s campaign. 

Plenty of Americans sport the “Why an American President Must Categorically Have Male Genetalia” attitude.  If the Clintons’ roles were reversed (pretending for a moment that he didn’t serve two terms) and it was a potential First Lady making such a strong mark on her husband’s campaign, America would probably delight in such remarkable activism on the part of a First Lady.  Or maybe not; I’m not sure.  Granted, First Ladies can be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Regardless, I hope we’ve come a long way since First Ladies were mere fixtures and icons of grace. 

As it stands, Bill can help Hillary tremendously, but she carries the tremendous weight of demonstrating her power, independence, intelligence, and leadership qualities as a female.  A sad state of affairs.

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Filed under Beautiful People, Beautiful World, Blogging

Blogging Kind of Sucks

I was so excited to start this silly blog.  I feel like I rarely experience anything completely brand spanking new anymore. I often hear about how cool it is to have a personal online journal.  Besides, bona fide spiral-bound paper journals never receive a proper showing of privacy (which at nine years old was a hard lesson for me). 

There is absolutely nothing personal about this thing.  I knew this going in, of course.  I just didn’t expect to be so wary.  If I write anything remotely personal, it’s a public window into the private recesses of my thoughts.  I can’t write about anything unreservedly or with substance.

I see this as an indication that I lead a secretive life.  It’s split and dissected and lopped every which way depending on the setting and characters.  Family, friends, work, school, religion, getting fucked up.  Expectations and omissions are a part of every circle.  They almost become a game, which is interesting.  At work, many people walk into the office and formulate an instant and complete notion of the person they see in front of them.  Through words or behavior, they reveal their perception within seconds.  She’s skinny…stereotypical secretary with the starched shirt and tight bun…aww, she’s shy, she must be nice…quietly devoted employee who eats, sleeps, and breathes to write letters and file papers all day long…etc.  The refreshing client is the one who sits down and, rather than making small chit chat, begins a meaningful conversation.  There must be people who remain consistent in every setting, but I don’t know.  Of the people I know, my sister would seem the closest.  Once in a blue moon though, she reveals a vulnerable or irrational side that blindsides anyone in her proximity. 

There must be a strong evolutionary advantage in being able to think so quickly on one’s toes.  Scan a situation, process, analyze, spit out a course of action.  All within a fraction of a second!  Quick recognition, classification, and judgment are advantageous traits.  Humans are extraordinarily adaptive, but the irony is that this allows us to be extraordinarily narrow-minded.  I get tired living in this world that rewards conformity and ostracizes genuine authenticity, which is often less than glittering.  The concept of questioning one’s surroundings or challenging a norm is praised.  The actual application of said concept is not.  Masks and mirrors allow us to get by in a world that routinely shuns any showing of realism.  To me, the sloppy, unraveled, plain facets of life are perfection.  We all get reduced to the same common denominator eventually.  The ones who’ve spent a lifetime (me?) building up a bullet-proof facade are going to have a hard time of things.

I guess that’s why the sixties seem so appealing.  It seems like a brief flash where people were allowed to dissent, protest, call down institutions, dress oddly, or smell bad without threat of social hanging & quartering.  Then again, my parents say prejudice and inequality were rampant.  People were fighting it though, you know?  They weren’t fighting it neatly and according to proper social conventions, like now.  They were fighting it with grit and tenacity.  They were determined to make a difference.  It seems for every two steps forward, we take at least one back.  Rrg.

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Filed under Beautiful World, Blogging, My Life

Platte Canyon Remembered

platte-vanyon.jpg 

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Platte Canyon high school shooting where a man who had taken female students hostage in a classroom shot and killed Emily Keyes before killing himself.  It’s important to remember this day, and especially to keep Emily and her family in our prayers. 

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Filed under Beautiful World, Blogging

Anonymity in an Overcrowded World

I started this blog on an inadveretent impulse.  I dove into the project with starry-eyed gusto.

The brick wall came when I tried to come up with a creative user name.  Every single one I typed in was taken.  I even tossed harebrained ideas into the mix.  Bummer, since I had some names I really wanted too, like Doppelganger.  Without really thinking,  I started throwing in completely unoriginal ideas like my own name, and before I knew it, I threw in something lackluster that was accepted.  Dammit!

Sometimes the world feels so small.  Sometimes it feels so big that I can’t come up with an original idea to save my life.

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YouTube: Screaming Funny

These guys put videos on YouTube (username: waverlyflams).  For instance…

My side hurts from laughing. 

Plus now I want Ben & Jerry’s.

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First Baby Blog Steps

Entry #2. 

“Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in the mind” ~Jack Kerouac

Here’s what I know about my blog:

  • My blog is existential.  Its existence precedes its essence. 
  • I do not ask for any readers, but I do appreciate any feedback, especially of a constructive nature.
  • I hate the word ‘blog’.  I feel like Im trying to use a buzz word I don’t fully understand.
  • I will occasionally commit typos such as “Im” rather than “I’m” [see above].  In these blunders, I ask for your forgiveness and tolerance.
  • I am immeasurably inspired by such writers as Hunter S. Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut, William S. Burroughs, Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Antoine de Saint Exupery, Langston Hughes, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway.  Sadly, reading them hasn’t helped my writing any, and my prediction is that this blog will likely show more inflections of primitive thought (gruff, huff, huff, hmph).

Onward! 

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Filed under Blogging, Literature