Wednesday, February 28, 2007

blogging = danger zone

this is a seriously addictive form of procrastination, though I am trying to view blogging in a positive way, as well. After all, not only am I spewing about real life, but I can spew about those topics that just make your brain hurt. Like free-will versus determinism.

My seminar in learning and cognition was "supposed" to focus on social cognition tonight, but, based on one of the readings, and a very good (almost sneaky) question on part of a classmate, we got onto the topic of free-will versus determinism. Do humans have free-will - do we have choice? More importantly, do all humans have free-will in all situations? or is every action, every reaction, every "choice" in, actuallity, caused by something else? For example, do you choose which shoe to put on first in the morning? Or do you put the right one first, because it was closest, or because of habit? Did I choose to start practicing mindfulness? I did I start with the meditation, etc. because of internal and external influential factors? Isn't the traditional study of psychology generally based on determinism - or at least a free-will-bordering-on-determinism stance (see below)? Studying behaviors in order to find patterns, and analyze other people and situations in terms of these observed patterns of behavior? Doesn't that assume there is a cause for these behaviors that just may be common to the general population?

Really, I think it's easier to make a solid argument for determinism. But, as Dr. Woody described it, there is a range of free-will - a continuum. You either subscribe to determinism or you don't, but if you support free-will, you can do this in varying degrees. Maybe some things are the direct result of something else, but maybe there are some choices, too... And, really, what is more appealing to mankind. Generally, people equate a lack of free-will with a lack of control over one's life. Um, depressing?

And then you add those additional considerations, such as mindfulness, or social influences, or environment and concrete variables (such as money - can you choose to buy those Nikes without money? Can you choose to participate in a group therapy program as part of rehab if none are offered?)

Yup...Karen's mind-boggler of the day. Free-will, or determinism?

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