Monday, October 15, 2007

is the concept of free will consistent with scientific psychology?

this is the question my ethics prof gave us to ponder last week. apparently, this is the type of homework assignment you get in grad school. no reading, no writing, just ponder. and be prepared to discuss in class for two hours next monday.

here's what I came up with. human behaviours are executed by the 'self', or by whatever you want to label the billions of electrical impulses buzzing around the brain. a specific behaviour is represented by a specific pattern of electrical activity. that pattern is partially a result of environment and learning - experience, how you've been rewarded or punished in the past, what you've seen others do - and partially the result of your individual brain physiology. there is, therefore, an element unique to you in every behaviour you execute, whether that behaviour be, on the surface, totally voluntary or classically conditioned. free will is the idea that your thoughts and actions are not controlled by anyone but yourself. which is basically what I just said, but in fewer words and without the neurophysiology.

my only problem is this: I think there is someone controlling my brain. directing my impulses. making my neurons fire in such a way that one minute, I am looking at a field of cows, and the next, I've used up yet another roll of film.

I just can't help myself.

do you see the nazguls in this one?

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