Should We Make Every Choice Scientifically?

Psychology, the science of mental events, has grappled from the start with a critical question of moral neutrality. The science of psychology with its ideal of the impassive observer began as a branch of philosophy in the latter decades of the 19th century. In the United States William James, philosopher and close friend of Charles Peirce, was recognized as an originator of psychology. But philosophy including that of James and Peirce raises questions of value-choices.

Are human thought and behavior best defined from a position of scientific neutrality? It should come as no surprise that psychology took just such a value-neutral turn in 20th century modernity. Continue reading “Should We Make Every Choice Scientifically?”

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Welcome Back, Sin

The age of modernity is ending. For all its trademark confidence, even its name suggesting an endless run, the modern age falters now. Soon it will stagger into the grey mist of history.

What comes next for us? Modernity overreached, and we inherit not confidence, but suspicion. Postmodern is a worthless label, signifying only hiatus and transition.

Can we hope to see a renaissance of human will? If we can somehow join in common purpose, then yes. But what would that involve? Continue reading “Welcome Back, Sin”

Sometimes It’s Better to Be Stupid

Because of the concerted effort of therapists over 2 or 3 generations, scouring and shaping the collective human soul as steadily as ocean waves in ceaseless rows grind the beach sand, certain words and their associated ideas have eroded from recognition as we enter the 21st century.

One of those words is “stupid.” It’s a word that children should never hear, according to my son and daughter-in-law. And I know they are right. Continue reading “Sometimes It’s Better to Be Stupid”

Does Free Will Exist? Summary Q & A

A question-and-answer format may summarize free will most simply. We’ll start with some general questions first and then recall very briefly what has been contributed by specific thinkers over time.

What is free will? Continue reading “Does Free Will Exist? Summary Q & A”

Is Free Will an Illusion? Not by These 5 Rules

“Is free will an illusion?” Four of 6 philosophers surveyed by the online Chronicle of Higher Education in 2012 agreed that free will is an illusion. One said no, and one gave an in-between answer.

The majority answer derives from an arbitrary assumption of objectivity. That assumption, even when recognized as arbitrary, remains difficult to discard.

Not only in 2012, but from the earliest time I can remember thinking about GSOT, the question of free will and its arbitrary answer has provoked in me the long search described in these blogs. Continue reading “Is Free Will an Illusion? Not by These 5 Rules”

Schopenhauer. 2. From Starting Point to One GSOT, or Two?

In a search for GSOT, choosing a starting point is crucial. As we examine the pivotal philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, we need to ask: What was his starting point?

But is it really necessary to get back to a starting point? Can’t we just make decisions as we have done for decades, and our parents and grandparents before? Life is hard enough to figure out. Most of us are no longer teenagers searching for identity, and we don’t have the time to examine the beginnings of traditions and convictions by which we live. Continue reading “Schopenhauer. 2. From Starting Point to One GSOT, or Two?”

Pragmatic Free Will for Individuals and Groups

If 5 rules for GSOT apply, then free will pragmatically works. It sounds right, but does the conclusion follow?

The 5 rules are as follows:

Rule #1.  Every sentence is first-person in its origin.

Rule #2.  The overarching viewpoint is not allowed.

Rule #3.  Unless it makes a difference in somebody’s disposition to act, then it makes no difference.

Rule #4.  Break these rules.

Rule #5.  Get back to the rules. Continue reading “Pragmatic Free Will for Individuals and Groups”