- Education and Science
Words we just have to stop using.
Words we just have to stop using.
To me, meaning is important when it comes to words.
I’ve written before on context, so I’m not worried about using the same word for different things. But it does bother me when the use of specific words are misleading. It gives people a skewed idea about the subject we are trying to learn more about.
I often hear and see people using the word accident in completely inappropriate ways. What bothers me most is when scientists and philosophers use it to describe natural processes. Often they do it to bring home the idea that it wasn’t something created by a god or conscious being. But it defeats the purpose. The religious see it as depressing and even as a joke.
How can this amazingly complex universe be an accident?
it’s misleading. We live in a cause and effect universe, shown to be so by science. How can anything be an accident?
We can use the word accident in the context of a subjective being, in that an accident means unintended consequences of an intentional act.
You have a car accident. You didn’t intend to do that, but you lost control and stuff happened.
Sure, But none of it was an objective accident. It happened as it had to according to cause and effect. There’s really no such thing as an accident in nature.
Same as random. No pattern, no cause. In nature, in a cause and effect universe there is no such thing as an accident, a random event, or a causeless event. Nothing just happens, even if no conscious intent is used. The universe is order. Not Newtonian clock work order, but a much more complex order. Never the less: order.
We can argue as to why everything is as it is, but we need to stop using these words in the context of nature. They don’t reflect reality.
In relation to humans, we need to stop using the word selfless as well. There is no such thing as a selfless act. I’ve written extensively about this. We do things because we want to. Yes, people give of themselves to others, but they have reasons for doing so. They want to. It makes them feel good, they couldn’t live with themselves if they didn’t. Their religion tells them it’s the right thing to do. And so many more.
It doesn’t matter that we have reasons for doing nice things for others. If we don’t, we don’t do it. Simple as that.
You can’t separate your actions from self and self interest. The reason we do anything is self interest, even if we give up our life for some one.
Lot’s of possibility for positive, kind, and good acts. But no such thing as a selfless one.
No such thing as nothing.
That may sound strange but it’s obvious. Nothing at all can’t be something. Nothing can’t exist. It can’t be a state. Nothing, in it’s objective context is nothing at all.
This is why I object to people saying the universe came from nothing, when they mean quantum fluctuation. There is no such thing as empty space. Only apparently empty space. Space is teaming with quantum activity.
You still can’t get something from absolutely nothing at all. And something has to be the default state because had absolutely nothing been the state of affairs ever, nothing could now exist.
No such thing as “free” will.
We have plenty of will. We also have genetic predispositions and environmental conditioning. These two aspects of our lives give us our personalities as one is played against and modifies the other.
Will is not a thing separate from everything else. It’s not a great mystery. It’s a manifestation of your unique conditioning.
We do things because we want to. Of course. We do what we like to avoid what we don’t like. But we don’t choose our likes and dislikes. We just like things or dislike them.
So we have lots of will. But free has nothing to do with it.
All things are governed by the way they work. Without some mechanism by which governs and facilitates how will works, you couldn’t have a will at all. Same is true for anything. Why would will be different?
Free, in front of the word will translates to free conditioning. An oxymoron if ever there was one.
Does that mean we aren’t responsible for our acts? Hardly. We have a mechanism for learning. We can alter our conditioning. We have a capacity to reason. We know the rules of morality and our culture. We’ve been taught them from birth. We have the ability to debate ourselves and deliberate before a choice.
We are unique individuals with unique personalities, unique wills. Separate from everyone else’s. Unique likes and dislikes due to our unique predispositions and conditioning.
Unless someone holds a gun to our heads we do, in that context make independent individual choices because we want to. We think they will give us a good outcome, or the best of what we consider bad outcomes.
So there is no difference between will and free will. We lose nothing by knowing much of what we want and like isn’t chosen by our conscious side, but by history, and our predispositions and learned alterations to it. We have to have some framework in which to make choices, and that would be true even if we did have souls.
Is everything predetermined? Yes. But people like that idea. It gives them a sense of purpose. How many times do we hear about fate? Couples like to think their meeting and relationship was meant to be. And in the sense that in a cause and effect universe we could say the Big Bang and exactly how it happened created a chain of cause and effect which led to this and every previous moment everywhere at the same time. And we might also say everything happening everywhere creates every now for everything. They may have a point.
And that brings us back to: there’s no such thing as an accident.
So is there no indeterminacy? Sure. We can’t determine a lot of things. We can’t forecast the future with any certainty because we can’t know all the variables. We don’t know exactly why we make the choices we ultimately make or all the history behind them, and we can’t be certain what chains of cause and effect will be will be created by our choices. We just know we have to make choices. We have no choice, and even not making one is the same as making one.
So the most intelligent species in the world sees nothing but indeterminacy. But that doesn’t mean things aren’t predetermined. It just looks like utter chaos to us.
Do we change the world with what we do and say? Of course. It couldn’t be any other way. All things are connected in many ways. No man is an island. No woman either. Nothing is unconnected. Specially not islands that are connected by land under the sea and to the sea itself.
But if there is no god, it’s not predetermined by a consciousness, so nothing knows how everything will turn out. It may be predetermined but not determined by any conscious intent, and therefore not preplanned or preordained.
That’s worth something. Only our consciousness is intentionally determining the future, even if our choices are determined by our overall conditioning/will. Which after all is us, all living things, even though consciousness has little to do with it.
We are obviously individuals. Unique individuals with unique personalities, unique needs, unique conditioning, and therefore unique wills. And together we create the next moment and the future.
But consciousness is but a small part of it. Most of our lives are guided by the unconscious. And I’ll leave it there for now.
The point is, it would be nice to get rid of some of these outdated concepts that just muddy the water and give people the wrong idea.