Scientists are arguing about whether humans possess free will. A recent popular article by Dennis Overbye in the New York Times about this stated the view of cognitive scientists, science philosophers, and bookies (just wanted to see if you were still reading). It said free will is nothing more than an illusion, a monkey riding on a tiger's back.
Well, that conveniently explains the rationale for the phenomenon of spanking the monkey, doesn't it? We can't help it.
What a relief.
Why didn't anyone tell me this? Why didn't anyone tell me this, say, in any year from 1965 onward?
So, all you who foolishly made New Year's resolutions: beware.
I kid, but the article quoted scientists, philosophers, priests, paupers, sex addicts, neurologists, compulsive eaters, alcoholics, physicists, strippers, cab drivers, ballerinas, and talk-show hosts. (I made up most of that list. But interviewing such folks would undoubtedly have made for a much more interesting and less-snoozy piece.)
What about good?
What about evil?
What about dieting? Or cheating? Or heroism? Or being late for work? What about deciding to do the "right" thing? Or not doing the "wrong" thing? Most of the "experts" quoted said it's all an illusion. You think you are making a decision, but your brain has already decided even before you are aware of it.
Will power is only the tensile strength of one's own disposition. One cannot increase it by a single ounce. -- Cesare Pavese (1908-1950) Italian poet, critic, novelist, and translator.
We defy augury. There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'Tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.
-- William Shakespeare (1564-1616) British poet and playwright.
We run the full range here, folks, from the silly to the sublime.
You have no choice.
Or do you?