Monday, February 25, 2008

the voluntary puppet

Do I have free will? If I do it is squandered. After all, what good is free will if I am unable to impede the free flow of thoughts that tumble through my mind uncontrolled? What good is free will if I largely act out of dumb habit and play prescribed roles?

"[T]wo dysfunctional tendencies seem to be intrinsic to the mind. Hyperactivity is characterized by excitation, agitation, and distraction, while an attention deficit is characterized by laxity, dullness, and lethargy. When our minds are subject to these two imbalances, we have little control over what happens in our minds. We may believe in free will, but we can hardly be called 'free' if we can't direct our own attention. No philosopher or cognitive scientist needs to inform us that our behavior isn't always guided by free will—it becomes obvious as soon as we try to hold our attention on a chosen object."

(B. Allan Wallace from The Attention Revolution)

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