Saturday, January 13, 2007

Blasting from the past! John Baldessari's Untitled (The Thinker), 1958

Woah. Did everyone read this article in the Times about the lastest thoughts on Free Will?
A bevy of experiments in recent years suggest that the conscious mind is like a monkey riding a tiger of subconscious decisions and actions in progress, frantically making up stories about being in control. -NYT More

Yeah, I'd heard about this but haven't read the article yet. Whoa, indeed, Corny. I don't know what to think--I feel like this is probably true, but I also think it's possible to become more conscious of one's subconscious thingys that are influencing our decisions. Like, isn't that one of the big things we supposedly will hopefully learn here in this go around, how to be more conscious and present, etc? I don't know what I'm saying, but I started out thinking I did.
This artical implies that you can think you are conscious of the decisions you make and think you have free will but in fact it is a delusion. Your body is thinking for you in a way, or something. I buy it. My body is way smarter then my brain.
From the artical:

"a physiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, wired up the brains of volunteers to an electroencephalogram and told the volunteers to make random motions, like pressing a button or flicking a finger, while he noted the time on a clock.

Dr. Libet found that brain signals associated with these actions occurred half a second before the subject was conscious of deciding to make them. The order of brain activities seemed to be perception of motion, and then decision, rather than the other way around."

This is really an amazing article, there are so many ideas packed in, it could really be a book. This one sentence should be a chapter:
"According to deep mathematical principles, they say, even machines can become too complicated to predict their own behavior and would labor under the delusion of free will."

Does that mean we are simpley extremly complcated machines and all the variables that lead you to act a certain way, or say type a certain clumsey sentence, were put into motion when the universe was formed? I say ok to that. I don't mind being a pawn in Fates game, it feels like I'm in control but I'd be ok with it if some other force was.
I mean thats the implication right, that your body is just reacting to stuff and it's all been determined ahead of time, only it doesn't feel that way.
Chaos VS Determinism
Subjective Perception VS Objective Reality. -anon
Well I guess I'm back to whoa. And kind of confused. I gotta go read the article so I'm not just talking out my butt (again,) but it sounds like from what you're saying that theres two things going on here--the subconscious decisions and then the fate thing. Lotta question marks up in here, G-Corn. I'll have to check back later with central command on this.


Confused, Challenged, but Curious in California
I read that quadriplegics have tamped-down emotions and much less fear than you & me, because many emotional reactions originate in the body below the neck. And when you see something scary, like a big scary bear, your adrenaline starts pumping, your heart starts racing, etc., before you're conscious of seeing the bear.

We've been taught that "mind = brain" or the mind is contained in the brain... maybe it's simply not true, and the mind is more integrated with the rest of the body? which could still allow for some measure of free will...

occam's razor gives a smooth shave.
oh god, did I really write that? oy.
occam's razor: when given two equally valid explanations for a phenomenon, one should embrace the less complicated formulation.

Hard to say which is less complicated. How can we think we have free will if our bodys are making decisions for us based on our senses reading of other events (you order chocolate cake for desert because it's on the menu) which are based on yet other events (it's on the menu because the restaurant owner likes chocolate, and so on, because his father had a cocoa farm) right on back to the original event. To me this seems very weird. However what keeps it from being depressing is this, according to Dr Libet who did some of these tests, we have the veto power over our urges, he sees a "limited version of free will in the form of a veto power over what we sense ourselves doing. In effect, the unconscious brain proposes and the mind disposes." but then sums up with "the little free choice we have is such a great gift and is potentially worth so much that for this itself, life is worthwhile living.”
I read that artical about quadriplegics emotions... totally fastinating. This seems releated to the body that thinks: transplant patients who receive an organ from another person's body have reported inheriting everything from the donor's food cravings to memories of the doner.
A recent bbc piece describes snap descisions as being more successful than those one labors over - even important descisions statistically receive better results when not labored over. The machine generally works in our favor?
Outsized machinery: Brazilian deforestation of rain forests. It's now going to be regulated, as if allowing itself just a bit of chocolate cake. The machinations of humanity's fatal flaw? How can personal judgment be transferred globally whist it's controllers are echoes of of labored debate? Are both Bush and deforestation mere golems of collective unconscious?
woah Silent sapien, yer taking it to a whole nuther level. I hate to think we humans are self destructive in some collective unconscious way, rather our leaders are ignorant, (true we elect them but then again do we really?) too many selfish, greedy, short-sighted chodes spoil the soup.
Could anything be more tedious than free will and chocolate cake.... Come on. Give me something fun to read if you're going to try and fuck with my sense of self.
"They have the sense they are free." I also have the sense that I'm bored.
collective self-hatred? that explains a lot, as far as i can comprehend it. wait, isn't that the subject of the first chapter of Sappho was a right on woman?

i generally feel better about snap decisions, sapien. it makes no sense, but it often feels mystically aligned. causes sleeplessness from time to time, but oh well.
Hey drunk n sailor, go shave your belly with a rusty razor...somewhere else.

Gaylord, are you still in the PNW?

I definitely think "body" and "brain" are really the same thing. If only my "brain" weren't so forgetful, I'd be able to esplain how in my anatomy and physiology class from 7 years ago the teacher esplained how all of the cells in the body are physically connected via these cord/stick thingys. Dag, more homework! Must go locate and review notes; will check back with central command at a later time.

over and out.
Thanks capt'n. My goodness do I enjoy the mental image of a sailor shaving crusty haired distended belly with rusty razor? Yes! Nothing boring about that! Sailor, I suspect you are having a bad day maybe Hungry Angry Lonely or Tired? Like the Tee-shirt I got for Hanukah from my little brother says, "Check Yourself". Why he's gave me this message on a tee-shirt is another conversation.

Capt'n, the cell commuication matrix is complex, what with the proteins and hormones and electrical signals all acting as messengers. All I know is these signals seem to defy physics by going faster then the speed of light, right? How else to explain how your body can "know" something before it happens, re: Princeton Eggs
all seamonkey69 got to say about this issue is A: duh, and B: didn't you mean to write "the conscious mind is like SEAMONKEY69 riding a tiger of subconscious decisions and actions in progress, frantically making up stories about being in control." ???

In hideous mood at verk...
I read about that 1/2 second stuff a year or so ago and used to tell my students: "See--get out yer own way once you done set the ball in motion!"

more homicidal mood than hideous, really, at least consciously. technically, down in the mind lab, I could be on the verge of a spree of the blood bath variety. Or perhaps making sweet lebbian love on a cloud! No way to know!
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