Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

More on 'Still Lost'

Expand Messages
  • Charles Vermont
    Tom, now I have read your post of 15th September yet again, I have some tentative thoughts on the issues you raised. If it looks as though I am trying to
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 19, 1999
    • 0 Attachment
      Tom, now I have read your post of 15th September yet again, I have some tentative thoughts on the issues you raised. If it looks as though I am trying to side-step one or more of them then please let me know. Above all I am grateful for you taking the time to critique my theories since this has meant I have had to really question many of my opinions and they have changed as a result. Thank you.

      Responsibility

      I realise now that simply to say 'If human's are free to choose then they are responsible for their choices' begs a big question. What is responsibility? I believe you identified the source of the answer when you wrote:

      >How does this manifest itself externally to the individual because surely that's the only thing that's relevant?<

      The only way I can tell whether other people take responsibility for their choices is through my personal experience of their words and actions. So if a man tells me that he is determined to run a marathon in under 4 hours and then does no training, I suspect he has not really made a choice - he is merely talking a good game. When a friend agrees to have a medical operation and then suffers complications, if she blames her discomfort on her doctor then unless the doctor has been negligent she is not, in my opinion, taking responsibility for her original choice - the doctor could not force her to sign the consent form.

      As for words by themselves, how many times have you heard a statement along the lines of "You can't expect people to act in the best interests of society so we need more law enforcement". Whenever I hear someone use this form of words I wonder why they don't say "I don't expect people to act in the best interests of society so we need more law enforcement". Surely they cannot speak for all of us until they have our agreement?

      So I try to show that I take responsibility for my choices through my actions and the words I use. I attempt to embrace Sartre's 'Nothingness' and avoid 'Bad Faith'. In Heideggar's terms, I try to make sure that my choices are 'authentic'.

      Freedom of Choice

      I believe you really hit the nail on the head here. You wrote:

      >Surely there can be no such thing as total freedom unless you are an omnipotent being?<

      A key point for me about freedom of choice is that it is a freedom to try and do something, not a freedom to succeed every time. I might choose to try, for instance, to grow to 100 feet tall. My friends and acquaintances would know this was a genuine choice since I would always be boring them with details of my researches into growth hormones and they could see the test tubes in my kitchen (and smell them). They would probably tell me not to bother since I had no chance, in their opinion, of success. I would reply 'It's my dream.' Either way, what is important is my freedom of choice to try. Only an omnipotent being would always be guaranteed success.

      The Freedom of Others

      This is the area where you have most stimulated me into revising my ideas. You wrote, inter alia:

      >The point I'm making is that you are claiming to dismiss absolute principals and yet inflicting extremely harsh notions of responsibility of human beings by assigning all humans certain immovable characteristics. Mutual choice and acknowledgement of the freedom of others is surely only a fraction of any moral philosophy as it cannot be logically assumed that these characteristics are inherent in all human beings.<

      I agree with you. In my last post I was imposing my views of freedom of choice on other people and ignoring the possibility that:

      a.. Some people are in a physical and/or mental state where they cannot reciprocate freedom of choice.
      b.. Other people may well have freedom of choice, but they may choose to believe their choices are only limited
      Therefore my notion that I can have reciprocal relationships with all other people is fatally flawed since there will be those who are unwilling or unable to 'give choice' to me.

      The only way I can think of overcoming this problem is to go back to relying on my personal experience. Another person may look like a fully functioning adult and may sound like a fully functioning adult, but my experience of his/her words and actions may lead me to the conclusion that s/he will not or cannot take responsibility for his/her freedom of choice. Perhaps I will start off from the working assumption that s/he has that freedom, but I may well change that view later. With 6 month old babies, boys kept in cupboards and schizophrenics I may start off from the opposite view point, but in all instances I will change my original position, if necessary, in the light of my experience.

      I agree with you that with my previous position I was >inflicting extremely harsh notions of responsibility of human beings by assigning all humans certain immovable characteristics<. I believe the above means I can treat all human beings as individuals. I also believe it is a great deal more respectful since I am not imposing my notions of freedom of choice on people who choose to try and deny that they have it. Do you agree?

      I think this also dictates my approach to apes, Pentium computers and Data the android from 'The Next Generation'. I take them as I find them. However, your Data example particularly interests me - to all intents and purposes he is just like a very capable human except he has no emotions (except in the episodes where he does have them). In my experience, taking into account another person's feelings is a key factor in whether we can achieve an intimate relationship since I know of nothing more personal and unique than emotions.


      Tom and the rest of the list, I would welcome further comment on the above - I have had a most interesting time since first reading Tom's post and would enjoy repeating the experience.

      Charles Vermont
      London, England
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.