Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Considering (what's left of) "Free Will": Towards a Moral Meaning in a Corrupt World

If willpower is intelligible at all, it is at least the capacity of an agent to make decisions in its own interest. If that is a capacity that is to be effectual in practice, then it must have traction in reality by having sufficient access to needed data which bears true, relevant, and significant evidence about the impacts of the agent's various options and their ramifications.  It must not be unduly restricted in the gathering of that data, nor in the opportunities by which it may properly consider that information so as to conceive its meaning for itself.  Then the agent must have no improper impediments upon its ability to act upon all of that empirical and logical information after it has reached a proper appraisal of the values at stake and what must best be done to ensure their pursuit.  

Here the terms "life", "liberty", and "the pursuit of happiness" all happen to have a very fitting analogy in the processes of decision-making by a human agent.  This is exactly what a person is entitled to have in a true and just society.  They are not free to trample upon anyone else's rights in this same regard, as this freedom is self-limiting in nature, and cannot extend to a point where its own actions set a precedent for its own loss of freedom.  That would be self-defeating. This is the way it "ought" to be in an ideal world.  In the world in which we exist, that is the way it tends to be barring too great of a distortion in the initial conditions of the set of all agents who are involved in this "game of co-free agency". 

It is not a mystery to anyone that it is undesirable if these conditions are absent, and it is not baffling that anyone would object if they were.  It isn't a stretch of the mind to understand that if someone conspired to deprive another of their freedom, that this prospective victim would take defensive measures as needed to preserve it. These facts are not going to be argued here.  Something a little subtler will be exposited instead.

That human cognition seeks to obtain information about its decision-making conditions is really nothing controversial, and is an extension of the sense-hunger and perceptual framing which are a built-in aspect of how nervous systems are structured to work.  They automatically need to gather information in order to function at all, and they must make some sense out of their bounty in ways which correspond to the needs and the objectives of the being which operates with that nervous system. It is a symbiosis which precedes any conscious sense of what are the principles of system-feasibility which underlie it's efficent function.  It might even be argued that this would have to be the case in order for consciousness itself to arise within the context of such a system, as the higher the modes of consciousness which are manifest in a being, the further removed it is from being immediately engrossed in the collection of data and in the consideration of its perspective of interpretation.

That is done rather automatically in its basic form.  The higher reaches of consciousness play beyond the boundaries of such forms, but do not go beyond them in a way which undercuts their own valid role in the processes in which they are a part, not if they are functional and at least benign processes of consciousness, which we would say is consciousness properly speaking. Otherwise we speak of various degrees and kinds of delusion which display, in psychological terms, a parallel to the way that dysfunction in bodily systems is a distortion of what would otherwise have been called a proper function, but is instead called "dys"function simply because it is too much, too little, or otherwise a displacement of what is self-sustaining, or at all sustainable in the system in which this function is rooted.

But excesses and deficiencies in function are not properly said to be rooted merely in the innate features of the specimen which displays them.  They are also said to be sourced in the environment of that entity, which is not necessarily conditioned so as to facilitate the specimen's optimal functioning at all in the first place. As suggested in prior essays, that is a "given" in nature, up to a point. Even the vicissitudes of human societies can be understood as "naturally" including some tolerable "turbulence" in regards to the fit of people with one another in the forms through which they seek stable association in groups.

What is not well-tolerated is when any individual or group seeks to develop a means to make these conditions more tolerable for his own psychobiological functioning when this is done at the expense of anyone else's in a way that is explicitly a deprivation of the freedom of will which is meant by having the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. At the very least, he cannot deprive another of such freedom and expect to be immune to consequences which can be abstractly stated as being a manifestation of a law of human nature in dealing with how people treat one another. If you deprive a person of his own due, how can you expect him to lack the basic sense that even a dog has? He'll strive to prevent you, and he'll retaliate if necessary.  He'll expect compensation as well, and you'll ought to feel blessed if he accepts a rational and orderly procedure for its being given to him.

No one has a right to deprive another of their freedom in this regard, and no one has a right to expect to be shielded from the repercussions of such a grievous attack upon another's sacred right. Ignorance of how sacred it is, or being indifferent or oblivious to the fact that another person consider's it such, is not an acceptable excuse for acting in such a manner, and properly is not tolerated in good societies.  Good people don't accept this being done to them, just as they do not seek to do it others.

For the hard-headed, unsouled folk out there, this is the basic reason why you don't poison others and steal their property.  It will probably not go unnoticed, and many others will take offense. You don't do it because there will be repercussions which make it not in your interest. You don't do it because you will be found out and dealt with.  Good people, you don't do it because it offends your conscience. That covers everyone involved in this situation, both the evil and the Good.

But as we can plainly see, there is something missing in the former, which is naturally present in the latter.  Why it is missing, how it came to be so, in what aspects and to what degree, is varied to an extent, but always ends up being an issue with which we have to contend when it reaches a point of manifesting as a deficit in ethical behavior, especially when it has substantive impact on the freedoms of others. That it is missing is what is beyond dispute. The problem is when such types of people discover a method by which to conduct their improper actions in a way that allows them to feed parasitically off of Good people in society so that they can consistently and with as sense that it will be worth it to them to attempt it, because they are sure that they can avoid the due consequences of such actions.  Everyone knows that this is what every criminal's fondest wish is. Let's not dispute the point.

Some people just want to take without really giving in return, and they know that in order to do this in a reliable and stable way they must find a way to convince people that this is not what they are doing!  Witness the birth of the "long con".  See its horrible form issue forth from the lacuna in the minds of those who can't wrap their poor sappy heads around the notion of exchanging energy in a way that is meaningful and beneficial for all parties involved.  Such people are the ones who show common thieves how to do it right! And they are actually in control of human societies everywhere in the world.  Everywhere.  There is no place where they are not sitting on the throne, in the office, or otherwise at the helm, "in the big chair".  

History is the story of how this happened.  Read it and weep, or whatever else comes naturally to you.  But remember, though written by such fiends, it is presented in the careful hand of the "decent scholar" who is "a gentleman".  It will not seek to expose the facts of its subject according to the hideous truth which properly lies at their basis for being, but it will try to show you a version of "what happened" which makes it seem as though this wasn't all some long range, large scale rape of human dignity which is maintained and controlled by organized criminal organizations operating through the front of pretending to be "authorities", "dignities", "pieties", "excellencies" and other such laughable pretenses.  In short, these dishonorable cretins will always be presented as the veritable "font of honor" which carries through history a heritage of virtue which is the backbone of civilization while everyone else "just" kept the roads cobbled, "just" kept growing food and preparing meals, "merely" performed the duties of defense and law enforcement, "only" built structures and "coincidentally" developed science and technology.  They're just along for the ride and are allowed, if they are lucky, to have some ray of honor from "Their Majesties" to fall upon their dirty faces.

Of course, even with this sickly absurd rendering of the course of human events, we are still struck by the open and plentiful admissions to the heinous actions taken by people who claim to be, or act on the behest of, these "Great Persons". I mean, it is really amazing to witness the frank admissions to every foulness that a person can be capable of being and doing, yet find that somehow it always ends up that criminals are really great people if they happen to be entitled to that pretense. How this came to be bestowed upon them is a subject in its own right, and is shortly encompassed under the heading of the arts of deception and coercion which are properly the arts of charlatans and highwaymen.

Leaving trickery and thuggery of the more obvious kind, however glamorized, to the side for this discussion is imperative if we are to discuss the modern monstrosity which is the culmination of their organized development as a parasitic and also predatory "Happy Hunting Grounds", by which we mean the so-called "modern, civilized world".  In doing this we will have more time to consider the various dimensions of their current methodologies for maintaining and reinforcing their already well-accomplished goal, which in however many forms can be summed up as the "art and science of mastering the minds of others".  In this context we will reconsider the notion of what freedom of will is supposed to be, and yet how it has been subverted.  We'll examine the nature of the process by which it was subverted in each case, showing how it has been made to become a systematic expansion of previous conditions of enslavement which have been extended and elaborated to include more ample and diverse forms of the same old routines of coercion and deception.

In every case we'll see that the fundamental trick is to deprive the agents who are to be enslaved, but to make it seem as though they've not been deprived.  They are deprived of data about conditions in which they are making decisions. They are miseducated about the nature of how to properly understand and evaluate the data that they have.  They are forcibly guided down the paths of the decisions which they are expected to make, and which always end up maintaining and reinforcing their state of enslaving, mind-benumbing deprivation of their capacity of free will and attendant higher function of consciousness by which it properly operates.

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