Re: PHIL: Memes & Free Will?

Freespeak (
Sat, 07 Mar 1998 22:52:17 -0700

At 03:55 AM 3/8/98 UT, "Christopher Fedeli"
<> wrote:
>James Daugherty ( wrote:
>>As Gurdjieff pointed-out, most individuals fail to be individuals. They
>>are cells in social organisms controlled by the collective's memetic
>>field....similar to the Borg.
>My question is this - which individuals do not fail to be individuals? It
>seems that all of us, populace and cognoscenti alike, are subject to the
>set of principles that govern our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.
If "principles" "govern," what kind of creatures are they
and how do they "govern?" Are they volitional entities
with "invisable hands" that push around your "attitudes,
beliefs and behaviors?"

>My point - we can not exercise control over which memes take to our mind.
>Whichever story I wind up buying on this or any other issue will have been
>determined by the shape of my mind at the time I first consider it, which
>determined by the last million things I heard, etc, etc.
Maybe free will is an emergent property. Maybe when
a neural system achieves complexity beyond a certain
threshhold, free will occurs or comes into being.

>Don't believe me? I've noticed a strong tendency for all memetically minded
>thinkers to keep clinging to some notion of the metaphysical "I". How can
>accept that all of our traits came to be the way that they are by the
>evolution of genes and memes, and yet still think that somewhere 'in
there' is
>a "me" who is capable of exercising some control over the process?
Maybe the notion of "useful fiction" -- cf. Bentham
('The Theory of Fictions'), Nietzsche, and Vaihinger
('The Philosophy of As-If') -- can help here. In the
same way that we say, "It rains," knowing full well
that there is no "it" that rains, some of us say,
"I do this and that," while realizing that in reality
there's no "I." (The grammatical structure of English
also results in some statements that reflect reality

>To take a famous example, Richard Dawkins argues that humans can "rebel
>against the tyranny of the selfish replicators." He gives the example that
>every time we use contraception, we are rebelling against the tyranny of
>who want us to procreate. But who is really rebelling in this example? To
>me, this seems like an case of the meme for contraception winning a big
>victory in the battle for survival against certain genes. But to
>a magical "self" that lurks around in our brains, deciding which memes and
>which genes will exercise influence over our behaviors at which time is a
>that no reflective thinker could suffer.
>Will anyone argue differently?
I agree that there is no magical "self" or "I" in reality.
However, in the same way that I can load a program called
"I" into a computer, some complex brain circuitry could
evolve and call itself "I." And at some point this
circuitry could achieve sufficient complexity to
spontaneously produce the epiphenomenon of free will
or volition.

Frederick Mann
"The [one] who knows what freedom is will find a way to be free."
-- Robert LeFevre
"We are free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it."
-- William Faulkner
"The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."
-- Steve Biko
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