Do we have control over our actions?

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Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 03:22 am
A nameless member stated that we have no control over our actions, and that if we think that we do then it is our Ego talking.

To me this is a rediculous question and a rediculous answer. If we cannot be accountable for our actions, then we cannot hold anyone responsible for anything.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 07:20 am
@Binyamin Tsadik,
An existential approach would suggest that the use of "all" and "every" when applied to actions is not done so correctly. In everyday life, for example, there are actions over which a Self has no control (e.g. instinctive behavior, actions contrary to the laws of nature), has some control (e.g. habits, opinions), and actions over which one has complete control.

An existential approach would also suggest that the Self is able to create projects, both by himself and in conjunction with others, and that which projects are undertaken can be a matter of deliberation and choice. One decides to build a house, for example. [Even if our future homeowner has no choice, to grant this for arguments' sake, about whether to build this house, would one also argue that he had no choice about the color of the siding, or the light fixtures over the mirror? ]
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 08:14 am
@Binyamin Tsadik,
Binyamin Tsadik wrote:
If we cannot be accountable for our actions, then we cannot hold anyone responsible for anything.


An idea is not made ridiculous because its logical consequences are not what we would wish them to be.

Perhaps we need to rethink our understanding of moral accountability, punishment, reward, and justice.

Also, there is a difference between control and ultimate control. In a deterministic causal chain, we can "control" our actions while still being a determined link in the chain.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 08:52 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
This kinda seems like a question of free will?
 
William
 
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 09:43 am
@Binyamin Tsadik,
Binyamin Tsadik wrote:
A nameless member stated that we have no control over our actions, and that if we think that we do then it is our Ego talking.

To me this is a rediculous question and a rediculous answer. If we cannot be accountable for our actions, then we cannot hold anyone responsible for anything.


Without the context with which you are making your assumptions it is impossible to accurately comment on what you are efforting to put forth. In the context you have provided which is exclusively in defense of what you yourself believe, is precisely a matter of ego as you wish to defend your belief based on little information using only "sound bites" as your only justification. Give us a little more to work with.

Thanks,
William
 
Grimlock
 
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 10:31 am
@Binyamin Tsadik,
Binyamin Tsadik wrote:
To me this is a rediculous question and a rediculous answer. If we cannot be accountable for our actions, then we cannot hold anyone responsible for anything.


It is not a ridiculous question, and cannot really be proven either way. I do consider the "absolute no" answer ridiculous, though - not because it is patently false, but because it is a capitulation.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 10:36 am
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
This kinda seems like a question of free will?


It could also be taken into a discussion on identity and mind.

Is there an "I" that actually controls our actions?

Does the "I" merely observe actions and associate itself with them post hoc?
 
Binyamin Tsadik
 
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 03:49 pm
@William,
William wrote:
Without the context with which you are making your assumptions it is impossible to accurately comment on what you are efforting to put forth. In the context you have provided which is exclusively in defense of what you yourself believe, is precisely a matter of ego as you wish to defend your belief based on little information using only "sound bites" as your only justification. Give us a little more to work with.

Thanks,
William


It's a simple question that does not require context. The fact that I am putting it up for discussion means that I am not egotistical but open to hear from others on the idea rather than just assuming I am right and ignoring the rest of you.
But We are not here to accuse one another of being egotistical are we william?

The question is: Do we have control over our actions?
(I said that we do, and this nameless person said that I was egotistical for saying that I have control over anything.)
 
nameless
 
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 06:08 pm
@Binyamin Tsadik,
Binyamin Tsadik;25807 wrote:
Do we have control over our actions?

That depends on Perspective. It is like asking, "is Jesus 'real'?" It depends who you ask.

Quote:
A nameless member stated that we have no control over our actions, and that if we think that we do then it is our Ego talking.

Obviously a wise and handsome fellow!
I'd agree with him, adding that when you use the terms "me", "mine", "I", the "self" of "selfish', the "self" of which there is 'less' in 'selfless', etc... that is the ego refering to itself (self image).

Quote:
To me this is a rediculous question and a rediculous answer.

Again, a matter of perspective.

Quote:
If we cannot be accountable for our actions, then we cannot hold anyone responsible for anything.

So, you are seeking to validate your self-righteously judgemental thoughts and behaviors by creating a 'criminal' to shift the pointing finger of guilt?
If the nameless one were here, I'd buy him a beer, and not judge him in the least.
Peace
*__-
 
William
 
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 07:06 pm
@Binyamin Tsadik,
Binyamin Tsadik wrote:
A nameless member stated that we have no control over our actions, and that if we think that we do then it is our Ego talking.

To me this is a rediculous question and a rediculous answer. If we cannot be accountable for our actions, then we cannot hold anyone responsible for anything.


If the person did say we are not responsible for our actions period, I would need to know the rationale behind making the statement as I would agree as a carte blanche statement, it makes no sense. Furthermore I would like to add millions of people make decisions every single day they are not accountable for they are motivated by extenuating circumstances beyond their control that lead to actions they would not "normally make". Such as a young teenager, in a state of desperation, coaxed to put a needle in their arm convinced by another it will make them feel better. Read "LES MISERABLES". That is a prime example of what I am talking about. Talk about a great read. One of my all time favorites.

William
 
Diana Grace
 
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 10:28 pm
@Binyamin Tsadik,
I hope you won't mind that I change the question a bit in this that I have to add. We should more properly want to have control of our reactions. It is very important because our reactions attune us to Spirit. The following is from "The Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East".
"The vast sea of God's creative, unlimited, moving space is crystal clear; yet it is completely full of vibrating, emanating energy; and that emanating energy is known as aqueous substance in which all substance or elements are in soluble form or suspended in harmonious relation, ready to respond to the call of the vibratory rate that will allow them to coalesce into form. When the proper vibratory influence is set up through the thoughts of the human unit, co-operating with the whole, the elements, having no other course, rush in and fill the mould set by the desire. This is absolute law and none can stay its true course.

"Listen. An organ is playing in very low bass notes. Now let us first lower these notes so that they are no longer audible to us. The feeling or emotion of the sound we have experienced still lingers, does it not? The vibration is going on just the same, although it is inaudible. Now let us carry these notes up and up through the scale until they are so high that they are again inaudible. The feeling or emotion still lingers; the higher vibration is going on just the same. We know that neither of the influences ever ceases although out of range of our physical ear.

"This is what we designate as Spirit. When the physical loses control, Spirit takes control; and that control is much more definite, as it has a much wider range of vibration than the mere physical and is much more susceptible to the control of thought-influences or vibrations, since thought is much closer allied to and co-ordinated with Spirit.

"The physical is limited to the body and does not extend from or away from it. The physical is limited, too, entirely to the actions of the body but not to its reactions. When it comes to body reactions we are Spirit, if we define it as Spirit; thus you can see how the physical body is limited.

"Spirit not only penetrates every atom of the so-called physical, it also interpenetrates the minutest part of all substance, whether it be solid or gaseous. In fact, it is the force in which the mould is wrought that substance takes its various patterns from. In no other way can substance take its various forms. Man is the only projector and co-ordinator of these various patterns that substance assumes.

What I take from having read this is that our actions can be purposeful or they can be a poor reaction to something that someone says or does, so that if we do not see our connection with Spirit to be what it can be, we will be constantly reacting just like we act. That would just keep it at the level of the physical and put us in the place of simply being an effect, trying to effect another effect.

I think that should we begin to know that our reactions are our true power, for if it is indeed true that our reactions are more closely aligned with Spirit, and that Spirit interpenetrates all substance, what a wider range we are capable of being ONE with.
I just think we would get more free were we to be more aware of our reactions, to one another, to what is going on in this world, to everything, our own selves even.

 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 11:15 pm
@Diana Grace,
Diana Grace;25985 wrote:
"The physical is limited to the body and does not extend from or away from it. The physical is limited, too, entirely to the actions of the body but not to its reactions. When it comes to body reactions we are Spirit, if we define it as Spirit; thus you can see how the physical body is limited.


One could also take this completely out of the world of spirituality and drop it into the world of quantum mechanics, bio-electrics, and simple body chemistry. Where does that take the world of free will and responsibility?

I have no idea, myself. Just throwin' it into the stewpot to see what bubbles up.

Could be the Jose Cuervo talking.

Tock
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 01:16 am
@TickTockMan,
Hmmm,

A host of influences bombard our minds, prodding, pushing us towards <this> or <that>. There are preferences, values, insecurities, physical needs, physical wants, ideals of good or bad, senses of obligations, bias and prejudice, circumstances that suggest or insist; there are events to react to, compassion, selfishness, influences of faulty perception, miscommunication, perceived importance, goals, fears, reels of tape running in our heads from childhood and many, many more influences.

With all these influences upon us, I think it safe to say that although our actions may indeed be the mind's end-result of an equation taking into account all influences and simply reacting, there is still the inner individual who says 'yes' or 'no'. We may not use this trump authority very often, but I believe it exists. Why?

Because people are inherently fickle and impossible to predict. One might postulate that were all 'Bill's' variables known we might be able to know in advance whether or not he'll pick the steak or the fish. But whether you believe in the will of the individual, principles of chaos, the rebel mind that decides to go against all he knows 'just because he feels like it' or the young mind who wants to assert against all she knows, etc., I think it reasonable to assert that yes, there is free will - despite all the taskmasters at work in our minds and our environment.

I don't *know* this exists. I can't put it in a bottle and proudly hold it up to you and say "See?! Toldya". The idea we do not have free will is, to me, counterintuitive - and this I believe is for a reason. Its not so much the ego kicking and screaming in a grocery-store tantrum, "Yes I do! Yes I do!", it's the mind that knows, even if it doesn't know *how* it knows.

I hope this makes sense, it sure did when it occurred to me.


-----
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 02:58 am
@William,
William wrote:
Read "LES MISERABLES". That is a prime example of what I am talking about. Talk about a great read. One of my all time favorites.


Completely agree! Timeless, moving and thoroughly enjoyable, it has the potential to move entire systems of compassion and perspective. Nice call!
 
ariciunervos
 
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 08:54 am
@Khethil,
Good post Khethil !

Khethil wrote:

With all these influences upon us, I think it safe to say that although our actions may indeed be the mind's end-result of an equation taking into account all influences and simply reacting, there is still the inner individual who says 'yes' or 'no'. We may not use this trump authority very often, but I believe it exists.


Is this "inner individual" the human rational intellect ?

Khethil wrote:
[...]
whether you believe in the will of the individual, principles of chaos, the rebel mind that decides to go against all he knows 'just because he feels like it' or the young mind who wants to assert against all she knows, etc., I think it reasonable to assert that yes, there is free will - despite all the taskmasters at work in our minds and our environment.


I think this free will is not as free as we like to think it is. I'll take a somewhat more materialistic and rationalistic approach to the matter.

Khethil wrote:

A host of influences bombard our minds, prodding, pushing us towards <this> or <that>. There are preferences, values, insecurities, physical needs, physical wants, ideals of good or bad, senses of obligations, bias and prejudice, circumstances that suggest or insist; there are events to react to, compassion, selfishness, influences of faulty perception, miscommunication, perceived importance, goals, fears, reels of tape running in our heads from childhood and many, many more influences.


Let's imagine two human beings and subject them to one of these influences, a sort of imaginary experiment. Let's pick "influences of faulty perceptions" which I'd like to rename to "false beliefs based on direct perception". On to our lab rats ! Two human subjects, regular Joes, both as ordinary as you can find, from different families also as ordinary as you can find, from different countries. They have nothing in common but their age and their capacity to engage in rational and abstract thought, like any 'normal' human being. Let's name them S1 and S2. Too impersonal ? OK let's name them ... Jack and Jill :a-ok:

Time to apply the influence to our subjects! One day at school, during lunch break, our subjects trip and fall down, spreading the contents of their food trays all over the floor. An outburst of laughter follows from the other present children, along with a lot of finger pointing and name calling, all directed at our subjects. Kids can be very mean! Repeat the experiment for a few years, multiple times per year, using the same subjects, but each time modify the source of the influence. Have their trusted peers, maybe parents, siblings, teachers, close friends, call them not so nice things like useless, worthless, stupid, retard and the like.

What are the outcomes ? Let's see. Years have passed. Jack has a stable job, a wife he gets along with nicely :poke-eye:, well, as nicely as possible, he keeps in touch with his parents. A normal life by society's definition. On the other side Jill, can't hold her job or maintain long social relationships, she is depressed, crying herself to sleep at night, she is paranoid, maybe suicidal, she keeps telling herself she is stupid, worthless, that her life has no meaning, and so on. People will think Jill had a hard life. A life of constant struggle, filled with emotional frustrations, that she was in some way abused in her childhood or something along these lines, a life that has led Jill to her current "mental condition". In the past, people with this kind of suicidal "mental condition" got locked away in "mental institutions" in order to keep themselves safe from self induced harm.

So what's the deal ? We have two individuals capable of rational thought (i.e. Khethil's "inner man" who says yes or no). One of them, Jack, rationalised all those insults and got over them but the other, Jill, took them as personal beliefs. Where is the 'yes' or 'no' in Jill's case ? I'm pretty sure deep down she yearns for, she wills for a "normal" life. So where's the free will ? Along all these years of experimenting, what is it exactly that has pushed our test subject's mind (in other aspects capable of rational and coherent thought) to its condition ? And more so why can't rationalizing all those false beliefs it holds lead to a cure ? (e.g. Someone says to Jill `- You are a kitchen knife because I say so !` And Jill's "inner (wo)man" says ` - Yes I am! Oh wait...:sarcastic:` or some other kind of therapy or some Freudian crap). So what's the deal ?

Until this point I've only talked about mental, abstract concepts (which Khethil listed above as "influences"), minds, rational thought, intellect, etc. All that stuff that's "in your head". But what is it that's truly there ? Waaait for it ... Waaaaait for iiit ! It's... the... ...braaaain (ta-daaa!) :whoa-dude: In all seriousness now, it is clear that our test subject is afflicted by a disease, and diseases affect organs, not abstract concepts such as "minds", and this is exactly why rationalizing the problem does not work. Wishing cancer to disappear doesn't really do anything.

So what we have here is a brain disease imposing, at critical times, on someone's free will. Malfuctioning neurotransmitters, blocked transmitter pathways, lack or abundance of a transmitter substance, these alterations of a human brain's inner workings are responsible for affecting mood, perception, cognition, emotion, etc. If you treat Jill's depression with ionized lithium molecules her brain resumes its normal functionality. She now can exercise her free will and rational intellect !

What I'm saying is, neurochemistry is pretty naughty. It can control a lot of things which you are inclined to call your "personality" or "self". Ever grabbed your chin while recalling a past event, asking yourself something like "Hmm, now why did I do that ?" or saying "I wasn't myself back then." You were exercising your 'free will' right ? But you are still wondering. Neurochemistry is an evil beast, i tell you!

Do you have a sense of humour ? Do you laugh at jokes ? What if I modify just the exact bit in the structure of your brain's right frontal lobe. Goodbye jokes, you won't laugh at a joke ever again. You will hear them, you will understand them but you won't see the 'funny' part. Are you a generally upbeat and joyous person ? How about a modification of the serotonin levels that will turn you into a 24/7 aggressive PMS-ing machine. How about pleasure ? You know, when you look at a beautiful painting or listening to beautiful music. Lower the dopamine levels and now everything feels like a rainy Monday morning in London. People will hate you at parties. Changing sexual orientation ? Yep ! If I remember correctly it was an experiment, done in England I believe, which consisted of applying shocks to the pleasure center in a homosexual's man brain while he was watching heterosexual pornographic material. How about tolerance to authority or respecting society's rules of good conduct ? A touch here and there in your brain's frontal lobe and you'll be beating on policemen in no time.

Bottom line is, it's free will in its TRUE sense ONLY if you have a perfectly working brain, both structurally intact and neurochemically balanced. And there are a lot of things that can upset the balance, stuff in the air, in your diet, most of them in your brain itself. And I don't even want to mention undetectable growths or hereditary issues.

Thanks for reading Smile
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 10:01 am
@ariciunervos,
ariciunervos wrote:
Good post Khethil


Thanks, this feels like one of my more 'iffy' stances. But I thought it nice to jump in nonetheless.

ariciunervos wrote:
Is this "inner individual" the human rational intellect ?


The context in which I mean this would define it as the 'irrational', the whimsical, the impulsive part of us that enables us to exercise free will despite whatever the other influences say.

ariciunervos wrote:
I think this free will is not as free as we like to think it is. I'll take a somewhat more materialistic and rationalistic approach to the matter.


Cool

ariciunervos wrote:
... So what's the deal ? We have two individuals capable of rational thought (i.e. Khethil's "inner man" who says yes or no). One of them, Jack, rationalised all those insults and got over them but the other, Jill, took them as personal beliefs. Where is the 'yes' or 'no' in Jill's case ?


Nice illustration. One person made a conscious decision to resolve a painful event while for the other, that same event led them down a painful road. Ok, I follow you.

My first reaction is to say; That one exercised their free will while the other did not doesn't preclude the existence of this 'free will' of which I speak. But, that being said, I take your point well - Where is Jill's free will? I suppose my answer would be, "I don't know". Whether or not circumstances, in all cases *allow* the inner-person to exercise this is open for debate. Often times emotions short-circuit the rational thought process [1] and blind us to alternatives. For what its worth, I'd also add that there've been many bad decisions I've made where it hadn't even occured to me that a choice existed! Does that mean this choice (this free will) doesn't exist? No, I dont' think so, but it is a large factor. In this point you make, I have no answer. Very good food for thought, I'm going to have to put it in the hopper.

ariciunervos wrote:
... Bottom line is, it's free will in its TRUE sense ONLY if you have a perfectly working brain, both structurally intact and neurochemically balanced.


Yes, I can see your point and you're quite right. Physical health and balance of the material in our skulls have a HUGE effect on our actions and most-certainly our exercise of free-will. It can blind us, enlighten us or send us raging without a rational decision even being made. This physical aspect of the free-will question is pertinent. Nice write-up and thanks.



----------
[1] Much like we see here on the forum all the time :p
 
Justin
 
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 10:26 am
@Binyamin Tsadik,
Isn't it funny how the original question leads into so many areas of philosophy.

Binyamin Tsadik wrote:
A nameless member stated that we have no control over our actions, and that if we think that we do then it is our Ego talking.

Well, once again this leads back to the perception of the individual and his or her perception is based on who they are. Who they are is who they believe they are and they can be none other than the who they perceive themselves to be.

So if someone says they believe this notion, (whether we agree with it or not) their belief becomes their reality. Their thoughts and perceptions manifest themselves into their reality. There are no two realities exactly alike as they differ based on the experienced reality of those experiencing it. This is why we argue, fuss and fight. LOL. ... back to the topic....

... I personally would disagree with the notion that we have no control. I prefer to believe that we have more control than we realize and the ceiling of that control is set by our own thinking. We'll unfold in our lives to the strength of our desire. I believe the complete opposite. We have complete control and we're only fooling ourselves. This is what we've created and we will continue to create each day in our lives in perfect harmony with our thoughts that manifest them. We'll attract those things into our lives that we think about or fear the most... or give the most energy to. We have created the world we live in today. We have created our autonomous realities with our thoughts which are based on our unique and individual experiences.

If we believe that we are not in control, then our belief takes us further away from ourselves... in which lies the open casket of truth... dead and in a casket because we seek elsewhere. Looking for answers everywhere but within oneself.

We are in complete control of everything we do to the extent of our believing we are. Likewise, we are also in complete control of taking this control away from ourselves as our thoughts manifest our realities and everything we create. Our own thinking hold us in bondage or allow us to soar. Therefore, I'm interested in understanding how one could believe any different... although there are.

This is why we are all here. Each of us have come from different places and each of us have evolved within our own realities which brings us to the here and now.
Binyamin Tsadik wrote:
To me this is a rediculous question and a rediculous answer. If we cannot be accountable for our actions, then we cannot hold anyone responsible for anything.

While your perception says this is ridiculous, it differs for others. I would also think it's sort of ridiculous to think this way but that is my perception based solely on my evolving through this life. Each of us is different yet, we very well could be all the same. Our separation from divinity may only be the separation we create with our thoughts that separate ourselves from who we are. We mustn't forget that everything in the physical world that man has created, has been created by first a thought. Let's stop there.

Anyway, no notion is ridiculous because... it may actually be a mere reflection of our own thoughts and it's something for each of us to learn and grow from.
 
ariciunervos
 
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 10:55 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
The context in which I mean this would define it as the 'irrational', the whimsical, the impulsive part of us that enables us to exercise free will despite whatever the other influences say.

Spontaneous action you mean ? Apparently taken without prior thought ? Or thought about subconsciously :poke-eye:


Khethil wrote:
My first reaction is to say; That one exercised their free will while the other did not doesn't preclude the existence of this 'free will' of which I speak.

Free will is an attribute of everything that has a brain, unless you want to consider something like a "divine plan", an already beaten path we follow willy nilly. I was going on more about what influences our actions and how.

Khethil wrote:

Whether or not circumstances, in all cases *allow* the inner-person to exercise this is open for debate. Often times emotions short-circuit the rational thought process [1] and blind us to alternatives.

Inner person ? What's that ?

Is will still free if you will something but a brain malfunction prevents it ? What about willpower ?

Just throwing more on the table without thinking much about it Smile
 
ariciunervos
 
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 11:15 am
@Binyamin Tsadik,
Binyamin Tsadik wrote:
If we cannot be accountable for our actions, then we cannot hold anyone responsible for anything.

The twinkie defense -

The expression derives from the 1979 trial of Dan White, a former San Francisco, California (U.S.) Supervisor who assassinated Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978. At the trial, noted psychiatrist Martin Blinder testified that White had been depressed at the time of the crime, and pointed to several factors indicating White's depression: he had quit his job; he shunned his wife; and normally clean-cut, he had become slovenly in appearance. Normally a fitness fanatic and health food advocate, White had also been consuming Twinkies and Coca-Cola. As an incidental note, Blinder mentioned theories that elements of diet could worsen existing mood swings. Another psychiatrist, George Solomon, testified that White had "exploded" and was "sort of on automatic pilot" at the time of the killings. The fact that White had killed Moscone and Milk was not challenged, but in part because of the testimony from Blinder and other psychiatrists, the defense successfully argued for a ruling of diminished capacity. White was thus judged incapable of the premeditation required for a murder conviction, and was convicted of voluntary manslaughter instead. Twinkie defense - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Laughing
 
AtheistDeity
 
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 10:09 am
@Binyamin Tsadik,
Theres no such thing as control.
 
 

 
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