Animate things are animated by motives, by desire. We inherit motives genetically and socially. They are the puppet -strings. We are their puppets. As long as you live your will is determined by them. What you experience as ‘free-will’ is merely the freedom to act upon these desires, these motives. Schopenhauer put is best when he said while we may at times be free to act on our motives and desires, we are never free to chose them.
You can use meditation and other forms of self-hypnosis to free your mind of conscious desires and motives, but that is merely existing rather than living. It is a rejection of desire and life, rather than an affirmation of it.
What you feel to be ‘choice’ is merely the dominant motive or desire among competing motives or desires. You feel you have made a decision, but decisions are merely the product of a process. It is impossible to make an arbitrary decision.
You may rationalise your behaviour after the event, but all behaviour is emotionally motivated. All behaviour has the attempted satisfaction of some desire as its motive. If you can find any behaviour without motive you will have found free will. That is the definition of free will. That is what free will would be, if it existed.
Even the belief that you ‘decide’ to move your finger, ‘at will’, was made milliseconds before you felt you ‘decided’. This is scientific fact.
Reason is the desire to enjoy enduring satisfaction of desires. It is not the opposite of emotion. It is, as Hume puts it, ‘the quieter emotion’.
Take all of your motives and desires and mentally place them at a distance. They are the self. The absence of the self, the sum total of our desires, is ‘thanatos’, ‘calm’, or ‘nirvana’. Without them you have no motive, no desire, no self, no dis-satisfaction or suffering.
You also have no access to pleasure. For most people the costs of life far outweigh the benefits. For most people the only way to affirm life is to positively focus on the glass being 5% full.
Socrates was among the first to define death as the philosopher’s ultimate goal. Only when we are free from the limits of our perception can we hope to see the ultimate reality. Chasing after satisfaction always leads to dis-satisfaction. This is why the ‘quiet’ emotion of reason was valued above ‘pleasure’ per se.
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. ” Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5) William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
Buddha, Socrates, Schopenhauer, and many of the philosophers we respect today, found NO compelling arguments for affirming life.
And those others, born to lives of at least relative priveledge and satisfaction, paid for by others sweat, toil, suffering and exploitation, had every motivation to avoid confronting the issue. For them the glass was always more than half full.
My Eden Protocols, however, seek to produce a world and lives worthy of being affirmed by everyone.
Remember the world we have inherited is the product of interactions, and only persists as long as it is constantly re-produced. This defines our response-ability.
©Copyright 2009Markus Heinrich Rehbach All Rights Reserved