Did you know? Free Will is an Illusion

I’ve heard that title mentioned before. It sounds pretty far out, and I’ve always put it down to some hippy smoking a reefer and suddenly feeling enlightened. But I now get it, and I want to tell everyone about it, and by chance it fits with a book that I’ve just read about successful people that also inspired my last blog post. It’s serendipity, everything’s coming together for a reason, and it’s making me feel beautiful. Or should I say that I’ve been designed to feel beautiful by my past unique experiences and I do not actually have a choice about it.

This article explains what is meant by the title Free Will is an Illusion, but the concept, which is actually supported by psychologists and neuroscientists together, states that a person’s thoughts and actions are determined entirely by their genetic and social conditioning.

I will steal the first paragraph of the article to explain what this means. Think of someone that you dislike. Let’s call this person X. Now, imagine that you were born with X’s “genetic material.” That is, imagine that you had X’s looks, body odor, inherent tastes,intelligence, aptitudes, etc. Imagine, further, that you had X’s upbringing and life-experiences as well; so, imagine that you had X’s parents growing up, and that you grew up in the same country, city, and neighborhood in which X grew up, etc.

Would you behave any differently from how X behaves?

Most people realize, perhaps after a moment of startled pause, that the answer to the question is “No.” And this is the point.

All of the choices that we think we make are only based on the person that we are, and we are only that person because of everything that has ever happened to us. When I said that this ties back to the book that I read about successful people, which is called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell incidentally, this was the conclusion that was laid out at the end of the book. Successful people are only successful because of the unique set of opportunities that were presented to them. The choices that they made along the way were only possible because of where they came from.

I used to believe in an adage, “It’s not about where you come from, it’s all about where you’re at,” but actually this is completely wrong. It’s all about where you’re from. I don’t necessarily mean that geographically it is important where you grew up, but the experiences and conditioning that you have received is paramount. Without this you would not be able to make the choices that are in your realm of reality. If you don’t know about something then how can you choose to do it.

If you understand this, then it means that you cannot be adversely affected by external influences i.e. people, or i.e. annoying people, or, should I say, i.e. ignorant people that stick in your mind all day long. These people, let’s call them The Nuisances, have had a completely different set of experiences to you, and they are only acting the way that they do because they do not have the same level of information as you do. By knowing this, and assuming that everybody is only doing the best that they can with the resources that they have, we can allow ourselves to be more tolerant and accepting of others, and treat them with compassion instead. This will then act as a positive influence to The Nuisances for the future.

Our frame of reference can only be a mixture of our inputs, and this is what provides us with our choices. When you have children you give them a choice, “you can either have the apple or the orange,” either way they’re going to have some fruit but they can’t see that they’re being manipulated. It’s the same with us, the choices that we think we have are only the choices that somehow we’ve already created.

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