I talked a bit about a flawed idea that says we do not have Free Will, but only a sense of Free Will in a previous post: Free Will or No Control? This theory relies heavily on the observation that conditioning molds our behavior. However, since we do not know much about consciousness or how we develop concepts, declaring we have no Free Will is more of a philosophical opinion than a useful scientific theory. That said, we do know that much of our behavior is conditioned and that the culture we live in helps shape much of that conditioning. So, it is important to understand as much as we can about the role conditioning plays in our decision making process.
I am almost finished with my new post [now up here] on Free Will and it got me to thinking about one of my favorite movies.
In this movie, Captain Reynolds and his crew discover that a scientific experiment was performed on people on an outer planet of their system. They were given a drug designed to tame their passions. But it backfired and the government tried to cover it up.
Overly civilized societies become proud of their accomplishments and sometimes come to think that they can turn their superior engineering techniques on their own population to bring them under complete control. People have been warning about this tendency of civilization since the dawn of time. It can be seen in the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis to H.G. Wells portrayal of a divided humanity in the form of the helpless Eloi and the cannibal Morlocks in his novel, The Time Machine
These stories remind us that we should never accept the idea that we have no Free Will of our own. Otherwise, we risk subjecting ourselves to the rule of those who have no compunction against imposing their own will on us.
You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you’ve all come to the same place, so now I’m asking more of you than I have before — maybe all. Sure as I know anything, I know this: they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people … better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave.
We think, we feel, we desire. These three attributes of our being have been recognized since ancient times. But how much do we control do we really have over our lives? This question has vexed us since the beginning of time.