Archive for December, 2008

More on will

Posted in Life, Philosophy, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 17, 2008 by Josh Wittner

As I follow further the thoughts on will I realize that even the feeling of consciousness is incorporated by the brain in creating will. There is no part of me that is not of the brain. No part of me that is not used by my brain to create will. And along with this, the perception of being me.

The concept of ‘the freedom of the will’ has been refuted many times, but the ones that only touch the surface concern the perceiver’s freedom to manipulate or create will, and I wish to expunge also the other forms of which it could be thought that will comes about by some process which is in any way free.  I, being only a perception can exert no will, and my brain, being locked into the physical world, and by disallowing (should we?) actual randomness and not the perception of randomness, can follow only one course of willing. It would be more accurate to call it ‘the freedom from will’ and that freedom can exist only so long as the human brain does not understand itself well enough to predict precisely what it will next will.

Oh what a prison that would be, to know what the future holds for you, and that you are entirely the cause of it, and that you will forever be unable to change it. A safer question for ones sanity would be to ask: is it possible for the consciousness to understand itself well enough to truly know what it will next will? Or should we dare to run into the gaping jaws and hope that we are not swallowed?

It seems as if the best hope we have for any form of freedom concerning will is if there is somehow a true randomness buried in the heart of the universe.

The Adding Machine

Posted in Entertainment with tags , on December 12, 2008 by Josh Wittner

The Adding Machine is a play that is currently going on (until this coming Sunday) at the ACT theatre in downtown Seattle (7th and Union). Jason, John, and myself went and caught it last night, it was totally fucking rad and if you can make it before Sunday you should go see it too. Tickets are $25 on the web, but if you show up just 30 minutes before the show you can get rush tickets for only $15 (assuming they are available).

The show is presented by the New Century Theatre Company which has set for itself the honorable goal of reviving good theatre in Seattle, where we have apparently been enduring mostly bad theatre for a long time.

I don’t often go to plays, but I’ve been to maybe 4 or 5 and this was definitely the best. I’m looking forward to what NCTC is putting on next and will definitely give it a shot.

This review in the Stranger blog is what inspired my viewing.


Posted in Life, Philosophy with tags , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by Josh Wittner

The searching for a soul, whatever meaning you may put on that word, is essentially a search for the ‘essence’ that lies directly beneath one’s will. What is the thing that causes the will? I think, and as far as I have seen it is true that, the cause is the current state, chemical and physical, of our brains combined with time and some velocity of change in this chemical and physical state. There is nothing below my will except for my brain. To suppose that there were is to predict that the thing we refer to as the ‘mind’, or as I have called the ‘essence’ can exist, or that is to say cause will, separately from the activity of the brain, but this has never been witnessed and the hypothesis seems both unfruitful and unnecessary.

If this is true, as I believe it is true, then I think that I am incapable of understanding something for which I profess belief. This consciousness is a prison, where I must observe at all times the outcomes of actions caused by a will that is at the same time wholly my responsibility and completely beyond my control.

Even the act of thinking is resultant of a will to think the thought, and I am responsible for my thoughts even as I have no control over them. Even the ‘me’ that is imprisoned is wholly of the brain, and likewise the perception of being apart from it. The feeling of consciousness is a byproduct of the feedback loop of sense and will and the part of consciousness for which I have no word, but the thing that is consciousness that imparts upon us the feeling of consciousness but is not the feeling.

What a complicated, monstrous, and awesome thing it is to be.


Posted in Life, Philosophy with tags , , , , , on December 10, 2008 by Josh Wittner

To change anything one needs time, and to exist: space.

I was thinking about the complexity of the human brain when I thought this to myself.  I was thinking that part of what makes the human brain so complex is that it is so malleable. While we are alive it is ever changing and those changes manifest themselves in our behavior. As they are tied only to time, the number of changes our brain can make is limited only by time. Some things though, like memory, require space to exist and by this we are limited ever more greatly than we are by time.

It seems to me the bottleneck of the individual human experience would be easily dealt with if it were space, how cruel it is that it will be instead be time that ceases it. The jury is still out on which will be to blame for humanity as a whole.

In reference to the above quote also, I was thinking this:

How easy it is to accept the latter, and how difficult the former. Seems patience is unlikely to be a virtue, though accepting it as necessary perhaps is. For we do not wait for things to exist only for them to come into existence. That is, only for change do we wait.

The other morning I awoke to a flurry of thoughts which ended on this:

We should all at least seek to see other people through that haze of confusion where we reconcile the disparity between our dreams and our lives.

I had been dreaming and when I awoke and opened my eyes, my confusion at the change in my apparent state of existence was so strong that I noticed it enough to reflect on it. I was striving, urgently, desperately, to understand what was happening, and not until I let go of trying to view my situation objectively, as though I had actually been transformed and transported from one reality to another, but tried to understand it subjectively as a person experiencing this change of state which my brain wished to refute did everything come back into focus. I had to accept that one reality was falsely perceived and accept this new reality as truth.

Only later when I was looking out the window, morning coffee in hand, did I realize that while in this mindset I had to will myself into subjective experience and I thought that if I could will myself into the subjective experience of others then I could truly understand them.

The aphorism is also made stronger for me in that this haze of confusion between dream state and waking state is not wholly dissimilar to the haze of confusion I feel when trying to figure out the course to attaining dreams, as in wishes, and simultaneously taking full credit for my failure to have already attained them or for having not dreamt of them yet.

Tonight I was thinking:

Of all the ideas we lay our critical eye upon, it should fall most critically and most harshly on those we hold closest to ourselves. And not at all on those which we do not yet understand.

The same is as true of people as it is of ideas, and especially of friends. For should we not keep closest those who accept us as we are where they do not understand us yet have the will to make us our best where they do? Friendship seems to me a great and wonderful paradox.

The first part occurred to me when assessing for the first time some things I have held to be true and thinking that this internal criticism is vastly important for my personal growth. The second came in response when thinking about those whose criticism of me is most needed and most easily accepted.