Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Freedom of Human Action

Human action has several forms. Involuntary actions exist, such as reflexes and subconscious prompts like the involuntary recall of a memory. In the realm of voluntary action, we’ve established that the primary choices are focus and non-focus (as either drift or evasion). The choice to be completely out of focus prevents a person from carrying out a wealth of other actions that were otherwise possible to them. A mind fully out of focus can merely react passively to whatever stimuli reaches their consciousness. However, the choice to focus opens up endless possibilities, possibilities which can be explored only if the person chooses a goal and directs his mind and body towards its attainment.

I’ll elaborate a bit on the idea that untold amounts of actions, both mental and physical, become available once a person chooses to focus. Mentally, a person can choose what one wants to think about, whether it’s about the next day’s weather forecast, which math problem will be solved first, or what workouts will be included on a weekly fitness schedule. We can think and make decisions regarding our personal lives, social lives, family ties, and careers; in short, we can decide what we want to cognitively deal with. Physically, we control our bodies’ muscles and thus can decide where we want to go and what we want to do, whether it’s going to the movies, cooking a steak dinner, or investing in a promising company. Our control of our respective minds and muscles allows us to tie our thoughts to our bodily actions in order to perform a wide diversity of complicated actions, sometimes only lasting a few seconds (e.g. carrying food to throw it out in a nearby trashcan), sometimes spanning the course of years (e.g. training to compete as an Olympian) or even the majority of one’s life (e.g. a life-long career or raising a family).

I’ll start with the relationship between causality and the primary choices which I discussed in the previous essay. Following that, I’ll show how cause-and-effect operates with our choice to think and what causes can affect our thoughts. After that, the causality involved in human actions will be discussed. The conclusion will focus on this principle as another intuitive induction, and with a word of caution about “living” an unfocused life.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Free Will and the Primary Choice

In my earlier essay about the perceptual level, I mentioned that the sensory and perceptual levels of consciousness are automatic, but the conceptual level is not. Our brains, nervous systems, and minds as well as those of other animals are biologically set to have sensations or perceptions with an environmental stimulus or a change in one’s perceptual field. There is no choice or alternative in the matter. But the same cannot be said for the conceptual level of consciousness.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hobbes and Hume on the Senses: a Response

This essay is a follow-up to “The Perceptual Level as Given.” It will discuss a philosophical school that tried to answer the question of what the mind starts with: the sensualists/empiricists. The bulk of this essay will be an extended presentation of the sensualist approach of consciousness and knowledge as expounded by key sensualists like Hobbes and Hume. That section will be followed by a couple of my own problems with sensualism as they relate to the perceptual level of consciousness. (My issues with the sensualist view of the conceptual level will have to wait until I work through the inductions of concept-formation. I’ve also modernized the words in Hobbes’ and Hume’s quoted statements.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Perceptual Level as Given

One of the questions that philosophy asks is, “what information does the mind start with, what is ‘given’ with regard to our consciousness”? To answer this question, let’s briefly survey the levels of information that the mind deals with from the Objectivist perspective. As this principle sort of encapsulates the Objectivist view of perception, I’ll elaborate on some aspects of perception that I covered in previous essays. After giving this overview, I’ll discuss this principle’s relation to the previous intuitive inductions I’ve written about. The conclusion will discuss some overall lessons to be learned about epistemology from the Objectivist principles about perception that have been explained.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Consciousness as Possessing Identity

My previous essay on sensory qualities indicated that past philosophies generated doubts about the validity of the senses. As would be expected, historically there have been criticisms levied against all of the standard forms of gaining knowledge: perception, as we’ve already seen, but also the conceptual faculty/faculty of reason, and the art of logic. The principle that consciousness has identity gives a general answer to these kinds of criticisms. It also highlights what should be regarded as the proper starting point for an epistemology.