Principle of Choice: we always have choice

My definition of intelligence: the skill to make good choices.

I read the occasional blog that claims we have no freewill, and the funny thing is these blogs come from both the scientific and religious sides.  To have no freewill is to have no choice; but this makes no sense for if I punched a policeman on the nose, and claimed I had no freewill, thus it is not my fault, this argument won’t get far in a court of law. Without choice, there would be no internet, no civilisation, no blog. If there was no freewill to make choice, we would be dumb creatures quickly destroyed by the haphazard strife of the universe.

Intelligence

Choice is a skill that benefits survival in a species; intelligence in my opinion is the skill to make better choices, it gives us more options.  Authority (politician, priest and corporate) works hard to take choice away from the individual; to make the individual do what the authority wants them to do.  Those who give away choice to an external authority, to do their thinking for them, become stupid; the Darwin Awards was invented to reward the worst of the stupid.

The acorn

An acorn has the potential to be an oak tree.  An acorn has inherent intelligence to make a series of choices based upon knowledge that it has at its disposal from within its DNA and from its environment.  Contrary to what some may think, I consider acorns to be intelligent, and expressing choice.  The acorn has to navigate against obstacles in order to become an oak tree; it has to fight for limited resources against rivals; it has to mediate the strife with other objects in its environment, who also follow their own design. Though acorns are dealt a hand of cards based on where they start life, they will play that hand with intelligence, to make choices that use their limited resources to best advantage on their journey to become an oak tree.  Any organic life form that makes bad choices undermines its ability to survive and reproduce.

The human body

The human body without us thinking about it is making constant intelligent choices, maintaining all our life processes, without which we would be unable to survive.  When we run, our body makes a series of choices to make sure nothing in our body fails, thus meeting our needs. It amazes me that a human being takes actions that directly conflicts with the intelligent activity of the body: smoking, alcohol, drugs, obesity, stress.

Genetics

I shall be controversial to suggest, contrary to established ideas of genetics, that genes are intelligent.  The genes are making intelligent choices to change their patterns in concordance with the environment.  Science appears to suggest that DNA indulges in random dice throwing, which I consider ridiculous, for randomness is highly inefficient in an environment of finite resources, and nature is too finely balanced between species to be random.  In a constant environment the intelligent choices may be too small to see, but if a vast change in the environment happens, there is that strong possibility that species will en-mass suddenly change with it. Intelligent choice in genes may account for the observation of so-called mass extinctions, and major missing gaps in the fossil record.

We have choice

We have the gift of choice; the moment we give choice away to others, we become enslaved, stupid, and irresponsible.  To become empowered, to take back control in our lives, we must regain choice.  In the Garden of Eden a choice was offered, to bite the apple; we could remain amongst the beasts of the field, or take a leap forward in human development by biting the apple.  There is an illusion being pandered by authority that we have no choice, but then there comes along opportunities in life to make the choice: red or blue pill?

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28 responses to “Principle of Choice: we always have choice

  1. First, the idea that an acorn is intelligent and has what you call “choice” is ridiculous. The acorn has no control over where its parent tree sprouts; it has no control over the wind which will knock it from its branch; it has no control over the soil content of the area on which it lands; it has no control over the precipitation of the time period during which it falls. So what choice does it have?
    Second, it’s presumptuous and self-righteous of you to believe that genes make intelligent choices. While some medical issues are caused by behavior and environment, some are simple inherited genetic traits. To blame someone born with MS, or even someone’s parent, is thoughtless and cruel. I am all about making healthy choices, but I’m also about accepting that some things in life, including the genetic hand we’re dealt, are out of our control. Most credible studies these days agree that who we are is neither entirely nurture or entirely nurture; rather, it is our genes interacting with our environment. But no GxE proponent would completely discount genetics as a determining factor in many different areas of life.
    Third, I’m not even sure what you mean about species being finely balanced, so it’s hard to argue with your point there, but I will take issue with your suggestion that species suddenly change with a change in the environment. This contradicts scientifically accepted notions of evolution. Some species go extinct because they lack the ability to adapt to change. But if a giant meteor hits the earth and throws up so much dust that it blocks out the sun for a number of years, a plant, who cannot move its roots on its own accord, will most likely die. To say that our environment is constant is wrong. We are not a closed system because we get constant energy from the sun. And to suggest that the species who exist now are successful or the most intelligent is to buy into the blindness of hindsight. We will eventually go extinct along with the dodo and countless other species when the sun finally shuts down.
    The choice made in the Garden of Eden was a choice to know the difference between good and evil; the sin was to want to be as knowing as a god. To deny the knowledge we have attained over the course of four point seven billion years of adaptation and to say that we are entirely in control of our lives is a short-sighted sin.

    • In the post I said the acorn is dealt a hand of cards, which is all those elements you mentioned. For some acorns the hand of cards is harsh, for others it is an easy ride, but they all will start making intelligent choices towards that aim of becoming oak trees.

      • Again: what choices do they make? Intelligence suggests at least some degree of consciousness (or at the very least a brain).
        And as to all my other objections?

    • Hi J, In reply to your other points:

      2. I agree with Heraclitus: “strife is justice”. Strife is going to have an impact on the eventual hand of cards dealt with to the organism. I consider that the process of growth towards the full realisation of a mature reproductive organism is going to be subject to many obstacles from strife, and even though the “agency” in the organism is making intelligent choices to attempt to overcome those obstacles it may not succeed, and thus the outcome is disabilities. I give an example of cleft palate, which is a problem in the “fish” stage of the embryo, everything runs according to a tight schedule, and if there is some interference in the process then deadlines are missed and cleft palate arises.

      3. As in point two, the strife of Heraclitus is going to impact how species develop, and if some live or die. But within every organism there is the intelligent agency that is constantly making choices that allows the organism to navigate strife, to survive, to adapt, to evolve. I give an example of clever orchids who are tricking bees into thinking they are female bees, which causes the bees to mate with the orchids, which pollinates them.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8632814.stm

      Not only did the orchids evolve in the above story rapidly, they are changing due to interactions with their environment. The orchids are not random, they are showing a degree of mind blowing intelligent choices. Just observe the natural world, this intelligence is everywhere.

      The story of the Garden of Eden is a complicated one, which will require a post in its own right.

      • It’s problematic that you’re using a philosopher who was alive prior to any comprehensive knowledge of genetics. Again: to attribute certain genetic defects in an organism to a lack in will or agency or whatever you wish to call it is not only non-scientific; it’s downright mean.
        Also, you’re mistaking evolution and adaptation for intelligence. Natural selection favors the organism whose adaptations best allow it to reproduce. In the case of the orchids, the ones with the ability to perform this “trick” will produce more offspring; thus, the prevalency of these types of orchids will increase while the others will be seen less because they do not possess as much genetic fitness. There is no intelligence in evolution. Humans, because we are self-conscious beings, make unnatural adaptations; this does not happen in nature though. We make conscious choices, most notably our use of tools. Other animals, aside from higher primates, do not often use tools.

  2. Apology: “nurture or entirely nurture”: the latter was supposed to say “nature.”

  3. Not everyone has choice. the irresponsible actions of many are beyond they’re control.Their weaknesses and emotions overwhelm them, and they have no insight into their problems and no ideas on how to solve them. Most unfortunately, they will typically have a lot of children and then continue the cycle.

    • Hi James, everyone has choice, but many gave that choice away to another authority and end in that situation as you describe. Thanks for your comment.

      • What choice does an impoverished child born into an abusive home have? Are you really insensitive enough to suggest that it’s the child’s fault? That he has some choice in the matter? Yes, he was “dealt a bad hand,” as you might say, but autonomy does not exist when one is a newborn. In fact, it takes many years to develop self-determination.

      • Hi J, children before the age of 18 are dealt a hand of cards, to which they indeed have little control over. After age 18 the human being is expected to take responsibility, to play with the hand they have been delivered, and through life move to a better position.

      • I have seen firsthand what happens when many of these irresponsible oeople are forced off of drugs and alcohol. They remain standing still. They say they are going to do things they never do, like lose weight, get educated, but I always knew it wasn’t going to happen. What you see is what you get with a lot of people. Change is a really hard thing, a painful thing.Many people in the gutter always say they are going to make changes, but never do, and never will, no matter what. They just can’t. They have no freewill, they are at the mercy of life, their emotions, and they’re environment. They will always fail at every one of life’s challenges because they are just not capable. They have no insight into how to change. The decisions they make have no power to back them up. I’ve talked with more than one who believe they are cursed. They have no understanding of the disasters they bring on themselves. These people are forever lost. Ideas and creativity don’t flow through everyone…

      • Agreed, though always there is the possibility of hope, all they have to do is to take back control of their ability to make choices.

        Change means something must die to make room for the new, and thus change can be painful.

      • It takes a strength to change the outcome, to flow against the current. These people never had the ability to make those choices to begin with, they were born without it. this is the reason I feel no animosity towards the underclass in this city like everyone else does. People say to them get a job, go to school, stop breeding, but they can’t, they are made up entirely of instinct and emotion. Though they try to come off as tough and dangerous, they are all just weak and helpless.

      • You will be amazed how many people are asleep, not just the “underclass”, but also the rulers.

      • Definitely true that some people are just being held back from carrying out choices, as I used to be long ago. All sorts of things can get in the way, and many people have the capability to salvage themselves, and whether they do or not, that capability was always there. But many have no capability at all.

  4. AJ,

    This argument of course is, and has been an ongoing philosophical argument for hundreds of years. Essentially, cutting to the chase, the “Determinist” argument boils down to “antecedent” causation. I don’t hold to the argument myself, but it does take some thought to take a position against it.

    jog on
    duc

    • Hi ducati998, thanks for your comment. I knew this post would be one of those controversial ones, but it is close to my heart.

      • AJ,

        If you accept antecedent causation, then, the state of the universe at any given point, determines in every detail what it [universe] will be like at any future moment.

        If this is true, then how can man be held morally responsible?

        jog on
        duc

      • Hi duc, I am favorable to the Norse idea of Wyrd, which has three threads determining what the moment will be: what has happened; what is happening; what is meant to happen. One of these threads is fixed, one can be changed, one may be possible to change.

      • AJ,

        That as maybe, but it doesn’t refute the argument with logic. That’s the issue. As I said, I’m not in the “Determinist” [hard] camp, nor the Soft camp, but, to refute their argument discursively, isn’t that straightforward.

        jog on
        duc

  5. My my. What an opinionated debate has gone on.

    I believe that all is unfolding as it should. If the acorn becomes the oak, it’s just as it should be. If my child is born with a deformity, it’s as it should be. Once we can accept everything in life, wether good or bad, things will begin too look up.

    And everyone has an opinion, there is no right or wrong.

    • Ha ha, yes, this blog appears to have caused strong opinions, and as you say all opinions are valid.

      • AJ,

        Nonsense. While I agree that under natural law property rights, every individual is entitled to hold, and even to promulgate their individual opinion[s] that clearly does not support the assertion that they hold any validity.

        jog on
        duc

      • Hello Ducati998,
        Valid to who? You? Me? The person who holds that view? Who is the authority to hold that an opinion is valid, but the person who holds that opinion? An opinion is as it says an opinion, it does not have to be true or not, it is an opinion that is valid to that person who holds it. If other people agree with that opinion or not is another issue.

      • AJ,

        This is where we part ways. Let me provide an example.

        Today there are numerous “opinions” on how the financial crisis originated, and even more on how it should be managed. All are opinions of individuals, and all are entitled to hold them, and promulgate them to whomever will listen.

        Are they all valid? Observe the definition: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/valid?s=t

        Logic . (of an argument) so constructed that if the premises are jointly asserted, the conclusion cannot be denied without contradiction.

        Now clearly, not all “opinions” are valid. Within economics, the correct theory is derived from a priori deduction, not empirical data. Thus any “opinion” that posits as a valid argument, an argument evidenced empirically, is open to refutation immediately.

        jog on
        duc

  6. This is a great topic. Just be reading the comments I can start my on philosophy. 😀

    About the genes: I THINK as it is inly an opinion that the body as it adapts to new conditions changes the genes so I think genes themselves are not intelligent but hold intelligence that when in a new “casing”/body can manifest and become more.

    About choices – I would bring up a model that looks at the universe’s every point in a binary system. All probability is 50% it either happens or not. A cloud/cluster of these 50% probabilities create the probabilities both higher and lower than 50%.

    Standing at any given point in space and time a higher intelligence makes us see upcoming coordinates. So we can make a choice with regard to how we want to affect our universe in order to reach our goal.

    I THINK that when someone argues against free will it comes from some sort of fear that is subconscious. I say this because if you live knowing and believing in destiny then when you fall down you can accept your faith and say that this was meant to be. So every mistake is justified.

    BUT if you have free will then your failure occurred because you were not intelligent enough to for-see upcoming events.

    IN MY OPINION what is “meant to be” is because something more intelligent has arranged it so solidly that we can not do anything against it because our standpoint is fixed. When you fall off a cliff and in free fall your position is fixed as you can not do anything against falling.

    This higher intelligence could be God or an enemy, you never know and that is a debate I do not like to engage in.

    • Hi rhaunim, thanks for your input. I am going to do a review of this blog a few months from now, and do an update. The opinions expressed have been insightful, diverse and interesting.

    • R,

      Waffle.

      Read Aristotle’s thinking: matter + teleology = form.

      jog on
      duc

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