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Thread: Who is in control here?

  1. #1

    Default Who is in control here?

    Here is a philosophical question for any of the *b/dl folks out there who might be interested...

    Who is really in control? In the morning sometimes I wake up with all kinds of ideas about what I plan on accomplishing that day, and then by the end of the day I often find that somehow things didn't go exactly as planned (or not even close). Many of us have experienced the "binge purge" cycle that comes with having *b/dl tendencies. One day you say to yourself, "enough already, I'm through with this," then the next day you find yourself back at it all over again.

    It sometimes seems almost as if I am a sort of a spectator watching the movie of my life roll on by, with very little influence on what actually happens. Does anyone else ever have this feeling? If so, do you think I may be right, that we really may have less control in our lives than we would would like to imagine that we do?

    Shakespear said that "all the world's a stage, and we are merely players on it." Could we merely be playing out roles that were written beforehand? If so, what is our responsibility for our lives?

  2. #2


    I see you're pondering the concept of fate vs. free will.

    I get the feelings you described fairly often and as such, I understand how one may come to the conclusion that everything in life is destined to happen. However, I'm a firm believer in free will and therefore, I don't believe that all the events of our lives are predetermined. I believe that even if it doesn't feel like it, we all ultimately make our own choices in life and that God, the environment, or any other potential forces out there don't assert power over humans when it comes to decision making.

  3. #3


    I've consciously made some big changes in my life, wondering what would happen next. Most of the time I just walk through life, doing the things I know I have to do in order to survive. We tend to be creatures of habit, but that's largely because we have been nurtured, taught through childhood, and somewhat programed to perform in certain ways. We use logic to chose that which we think will make life successful. It's what makes it seem like we have no control, but we can always chose to do something chaotic. The problem is, we must live with our choices.

  4. #4


    There is a quote from a Moody Blues song that I like, " There you go, man. Keep as cool as you can. Face piles of trials with smiles. It riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave, keep on thinking freely. "
    Last edited by fifigal; 16-May-2010 at 06:47. Reason: Spelling Fix

  5. #5


    If this question is strictly AB related.. Then.. Yeah. Lots of people are. The Binge/Purge cycle is a curse, and it is possible to get over it. Willpower for the win.

    If not strictly AB, then meh. I don't really think about fate vs. free will. I just do whatever I want as if it's free will.

    If it's fate: I can't do anything that I wasn't supposed to do anyway, so whatever.

    If free will: Then... Whatever.

  6. #6


    This is the way I see it (from a layman's point of view):

    The brain controls virtually everything you do - both consciously and unconsciously (such as breathing, making your heart beat, mapping nerve impulses from the ears into a 3D landscape so you can identify the direction and distance of sounds, etc.), so consciousness is a tiny sub-set of your brain's circuitry.

    Your consciousness tries to predict the future and make plans for dealing with it (e.g. no one is likely to visit me tomorrow so I'll clean the house). These predictions are likely to be imperfect or go wrong (someone visits or it will take more than ONE day to clean the house!) so the best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry...

    The brain is also notoriously inaccurate
    when it comes to explaining the flow of consciousness, as it were. The brain craves a single coherent story about itself, and if there are bits of the story missing it will subsequently make them up (a process known as confabulation). This is common in witness statements (where a witness to crime inadvertently provides incorrect information in an attempt to be helpful).

    Not only that, but your consciousness or brain isn't one "decision-making engine" - it's a committee of billions of neurons (a neural network), which are like mini-brains all processing the data that they specialise in. No individual neuron "knows" everything, so neurons may "disagree" leaving it to the overall organisation to resolve such conflictions. In "split-brain" experiments where the corpus callosum has been severed (preventing the brain's left-hemisphere comminicating with the right) the left- and right- hemispheres behave independently and confabulate to create a coherent "story of the self".

    As for the determinism vs. free-will debate, it seems logical to me that my brain is configured in the way that it is due to reasons beyond my control (I did not choose to be born, and subsequently genetics and my envionment have affected the way that my brain has developed). Therefore I choose as I do because of the way that my brain is. I am, essentially, incapable of choosing any other way (compatibilist determinism aka compatibilsm).

    If we are all truly free, then it doesn't make sense to say that someone is "addicted" to anything - surely they are repeatedly making the choice to do whatever it is they are addicted to. However, if we are not free, then it doesn't make sense to punish people for what they have done - how could they have behaved differently? As Mesmerale suggests, the only sensible thing to do seems to be to act as if we really are free, whilst accepting that we may not be.

    Douglas Hoftstadter, in his book "I am a Strange Loop" makes an interesting distinction between low-level physical determinism (the way that atoms adhere to physical laws, for example) and high-level/complex/abstract processes that seem to exhibit a "free-will" of sorts. So, while a small individual particle may be deterministic, a complex arrangements of multiple deterministic particles may seem to transcend determinism.

    Jeez. I can only apologise for the fact that I can't seem to explain this particularly well (I've tried to stick in a few links that might help explain what I'm getting at), but I would really recommend reading up on split-brain experiments, confabulation and checking out "I am a Strange Loop", which is about how consciousness is an emergent feature of complexity and the infinite feedback loop that occurs when the brain analyses itself analysing itself analysing itself... It sounds complicated, but Hoftstadter explains in such a simple, yet eloquent manner that... well... just read his book, all right?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbosan View Post
    Who is really in control?
    In answer to the question, there is no clearly-defined entity in control, just a complex web of deterministic interactions and abstract patterns.

  7. #7


    Personaly If you have soem good will power, you can control your tendencys. Not every one has this control though.

  8. #8

    Default When it comes to *b/dl stuff, there may be more to it than plain will power

    I will say that over the years, I've managed to gain some certain amount of control over my *b/dl tendencies, but I would also have to say that it was not a mere question of how much simple will-power I had. It was more of a question of gaining a better understanding of myself. This is not necessarily an easy thing to accomplish. Much harder than mere will-power. But what the hey, isn't that why we are all here on this third rock from the Sun? Just learning about ourselves? This and will get you just about nothing.

    ---------- Post added at 06:28 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:20 PM ----------

    Last edited by Jimbosan; 16-May-2010 at 23:47. Reason: I give up. There appears to be something wrong with the software. I simply won't post anymore to this thread.

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