Celestial Weasel (celestialweasel) wrote,
Celestial Weasel

I spit on your narrative

The following is cut because it is willfully obscure and philosophical (not particularly in a good way)

Thanks to ninebelow for the original LJ post of the following quote by Susan Blackmore from here.

"It is possible to live happily and morally without believing in free will. As Samuel Johnson said "All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience is for it." With recent developments in neuroscience and theories of consciousness, theory is even more against it than it was in his time, more than 200 years ago. So I long ago set about systematically changing the experience. I now have no feeling of acting with free will, although the feeling took many years to ebb away.

But what happens? People say I'm lying! They say it's impossible and so I must be deluding myself to preserve my theory. And what can I do or say to challenge them? I have no idea — other than to suggest that other people try the exercise, demanding as it is.

When the feeling is gone, decisions just happen with no sense of anyone making them, but then a new question arises — will the decisions be morally acceptable? Here I have made a great leap of faith (or the memes and genes and world have done so). It seems that when people throw out the illusion of an inner self who acts, as many mystics and Buddhist practitioners have done, they generally do behave in ways that we think of as moral or good. So perhaps giving up free will is not as dangerous as it sounds — but this too I cannot prove.

As for giving up the sense of an inner conscious self altogether — this is very much harder. I just keep on seeming to exist. But though I cannot prove it — I think it is true that I don't."

Now, apart from this being rather mind-boggling, I wouldn't bring this to your attention apart from

a) I vaguely wondered if, when I posted it, one of my friends would say something on the lines of 'oh, I did that myself years ago, I long ago reached the state where 'decisions just happen with no sense of anyone making them, '. Or possibly 'that Blackmore is a wuss, not only did I reach THAT state years ago, I have convinced myself that I don't exist'.
So, does this apply to any of you?

b) Her partner is the TV historian Adam Hart-Davis. One cannot help think that this is a rather bizarre combination of interests - I cannot but wonder what their breakfast conversations are like e.g.
A 'I'm doing a program about the Stuarts, about how Charles I thought he was God and could get away with anything'
S 'Huh! I spit on your narrative. Charles' thoughts and your thoughts about them are just illusions. There was no 'Charles' to think this and there is no 'Adam' to think about what Charles 'thought'.

c) this sort of thing makes me want to find and take up some really bizarre and obscure yet semi-defensible position in retaliation (something dualist, perhaps). Any suggestions?
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