Thursday, January 31, 2013

The causal power of belief

I appreciate Bryant's post on free will. Well, it's actually about Occupy Wall Street, but free will comes into it. Using Dennett's Freedom Evolves he notes that if one believes they have it they will get off their asses and do something about a situation. Whereas those that don't believe will just accept their fate, that they are powerless to change anything. There is causal power in the belief. And this is why I get so emotionally involved in the topic, for I see the reductionists as those that just accept defeat, that we are powerless and may as well crawl in a corner and die. But not until after we submit to the powers of corporate capitalism and live out the lives of indentured slaves.

Now Bryant goes on to note that it takes more than this belief, that it requires taking effective action. Hence OWS is not effective, since they aren't disrupting the power lines of corporate capitalism. Just bringing attention to the injustice isn't enough. It would require something like a national strike, where all or at least most business shut down, to motivate the money grubbers. And of course doing something like that would require incredible sacrifice on the part of the slave, since they'd have no money. And to do something like that would of course bring us back to a belief that was strong enough to endure that kind of sacrifice for grand ends. The American revolution required, and delivered, that sort of belief and commitment, and lives were given for that freedom. And that kind of belief, commitment and sacrifice are required again, and it will never come without the causal power of self in coordinated, effective action with many, many other selves.

PS: As previous posts including Damasio prove, the self is not just a belief but a neurobiologically based, real entity.

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