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I went to a neurosurgeon today to get my results of an MRI I had done on my neck and lower back. I have a compression injury at C2,C3 from a long time ago. MRI came back good, nothing major is wrong, just a few bulges here and there but nothing that warrants medical intervention.

After talking to the doctor, he brought up Ayn Rand. He was a witness of mine not too long ago. After his depo was over, I stayed and spoke with him regarding my neck, etc. So I had known him previously. We started to talk about Ayn Rand. He just recently started reading her books. He made the statement that Ayn Rand was a wonderful writer but not a very good philosopher. He started to talk about his beliefs and that life was too complicated to figure out. Talked about controlling behavior, that all of our actions are due to our childhood experiences, reflexes, genes, etc. and that this is basically how humans are. When he brought up genes regarding these issues, that told me that he truly believes that we are powerless to stop it.

Since it is ingrained into our DNA, we are forever destined to be ruled by our emotions and chemical responses in the body and to just face the fact that we can’t change anything and man is too complex of a creature to change. So I listened to him. When it was my turn to talk, I would start to express my views of it and instantly he would cut me off and kept talking about his view of it. But he made many interesting statements. This is not his exact words but basically his words. There are some people that you cannot rationalize with. He is too seduced by his own house of cards to listen to someone else’s view. This is one of his statements which floored me that a neurosurgeon of all people would say this.

He said that most people make unconscious decisions in their daily life.

Wow….that’s interesting. I started to say something and he just did not want to hear it. To my understanding of the term unconscious and the definition of it is that when you are unconscious, you are either dead or knocked out and not aware of your surroundings.

So here is the definition

Unconscious. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000

...Lacking awareness and the capacity for sensory perception; not conscious. 2. Temporarily lacking consciousness. 3. Occurring in the absence of conscious awareness.

Have you ever once seen an unconscious person make a decision? I know I sure haven't. That’s like the walking dead or passed out people deciding to get in their cars to drive to the store. Or the walking dead or passed out people deciding to nuke another country or to invade another country with unjustified force. You know, since I don’t like your religion or view of life, I’m going to hit you over the head for it. Force is to be used against another in self defense only. I have some good stories to tell you regarding the use of force against another when it is unjustified. Unfortunately once again, I have many up close and personal experiences with this.

I've seen people that are conscious of very little and are the ultimate I'm Ruled By My Emotions and I'm border line a savage animal make decisions but never an unconscious person make a decision.

That statement of his above is similar to someone saying, I am conscious of nothing. Well, if you are conscious of nothing, you have to be conscious of something.

Am I right or am I missing something here? LOL....Wow, the neurosurgeon that is very prominent and is well known in his field that says people make unconscious decisions in their every day life.

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That neurosurgeon is quite right: every day we make thousands of unconscious decisions. "Unconscious" doesn't mean here "lacking awareness and the capacity of sensory perception", but "occurring in the absence of conscious awareness". In other words: we're not unconscious, but many decisions we make are not the the result of conscious deliberation. If we would do have to deliberate consciously every decision we make, nothing would get done, we just don't have the time for it!

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Thank you, Dragonfly. I must be a total reject then. Because in everything I do in my daily life, there is a purpose for it and a goal and I'm always aware of my actions and why I'm doing them. Every action I make is working towards a goal I set. I'm trying to think of something that I did today that I was completely unaware of. Honestly, I'm thinking of it right now. Honestly, I can't think of anything that I did today where I was unaware of my actions.

I was even thinking of putting socks on and my shoes and if I was unaware of that decision. And honestly, no, I wasn't. My purpose of putting socks and shoes on was to protect my feet. Maybe I'm just weird and definitely not like other people because honestly I'm aware of what I do every single day and every single action I have on a daily basis is Identified and what that PURPOSE is and WHY I'm doing it and WHAT the goal is. And I'm always thinking of something. There is not a day that goes by that I'm sitting stagnant and my mind is blank. Even watching TV, I'm watching it and understanding it but at the same time able to think about something else.

I think I'm just a reject.......LOL Or just a very hardcore Objectivist. There are reasons for everything and everybody is aware of their actions and WHY but most people choose not to acknowledge it or identify it. They don't think in terms of Law of Identity or Law of Casaulity. In order to reach what Ayn Rand called Atlantis, every single action and emotion

we experience on a daily basis has to be IDENTIFIED (Law of Identity) and given a reason as to WHY we do it (Law of Causality)

Honestly, while writing this post, I'm still trying to think of something I did while awake today that I wasn't aware of what I was doing and I still can't think of one action I did today where I wasn't aware of it. I will probably continue to think about this for the rest of the day in an attempt to verify that we make unconscious decisions every day and are unaware of our actions. I'm still unable to find a decision I made to today that I was unaware of and was unaware of the goal of that action.

But thank you Dragonfly, you made me think even more and will probably think about this for the remainder of the night. I thoroughly enjoy thinking so thank you. //;-))

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Dragonfly, I don't want you to think I said anything to be mean. Honestly, you truly made me think about it. I've been thinking of your post and retracing my day and looking for anything that would confirm and give me evidence that I make unconscious decisions while I'm out and about in my daily life. But honestly, the way I am and yes, I've been meticulous about this today and retracing it and analyzing and so far I haven't found anything. I know how I am and I'm constantly aware of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. I've been doing this for so long now that it comes very natural to me. I guess part of that process. At first, you have to stay on it. But after a while, you enjoy it so much and it truly does become very natural for you to do it.

So truly you did make me think about it and I appreciate that. =D> =D> I'm always looking for evidence that contradicts what I know. If I find it, then I'll fix the contradiction. I appreciated that so thank you. And I guess I am truly a reject from everybody else......LOL :lol:

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He's some kind of determinist/evolutionary psych guy and he probably doesn't even know that.

One does not exclude the other. This is where I tend to take Objectivism to task.

Something is always running in the background. Or else your dead.

I've said it before, I'll use it here again- do the experiment:

Sit quietly and empty the mind. Just try to be aware of the body and the surroundings. See how long you can go before having an association, before the voice starts up. I know very few people that can do this even for one minute.

But even in that under one minute, you can see what that is there, what is beneath what I'd call the monkey-mind.

The thing with guys like that is, in my opinion, they are just feeling sorry for themselves. Wah wah wah, I'm on a genetic instinctual subconscious treadmill to hell. Ptui! Gotta integrate, man...

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The thing with guys like that is, in my opinion, they are just feeling sorry for themselves. Wah wah wah, I'm on a genetic instinctual subconscious treadmill to hell. Ptui! Gotta integrate, man...

Speak for yourself, you mystical armchair psychologizer.

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Uh, yes, I was talking about the witch doctor. No need to resort to spraypainting the locker room, Dragonfly. See, I'd have to retaliate.. being a UU guy, that would mean doing something lame. We're the ones that light those burning question marks in people's front lawns.

What psychologize? The doc put it all out on the table. It's a pretty common mindset. I can sympathize, but jeez, suck it up and be a man. Fatalists aren't real men, they're just not.

Yes, that means I'm saying that practicing determinists, be they psychological, evolutionary, or whatever other flipping varieties are out there are sissies. Nancy-boys. Actually, according to their paradigm (which becomes the only important paradigm in that it is exempt from itself) they can't even be "practicing," they are being "practiced" or somehow being executed like so much uinversal Playdough<tm>. I can understand when someone first arrives at the importance of looking at evolutionary integration on any axis, but to say it can't be holistically built on is like saying evolution just stops, and while that may not be "evasion," it is definitely mental laziness. More to point on the operational level, I can't see how a committed determinist (wait...dang it, you can't say that either...well, anyway, you all know who you are, you just can't do anything about it...) represents anything on the trade/value-for-value level. They're just some kind of automated cosmic middlemen.

You can see why I just keep coming back to the conclusion that they are sissies. They need to watch more kung fu movies. They need to feel the pain of the streets.

Determinism, to me, equals fatalism. That is maybe the only honest thing that can be done with it. Or, you can feel sorry for being propelled through life like some cosmically-driven puppet. Or, you can use it as a dandy excuse for when you get caught doing something nasty...

Now, let's all get back to seeing how long we can sit feeling our pores breathe without having an associative thought.

rde

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Here we go: determinism battle 3 jillion. Talk about talking at cross (pun intended) purposes.

Back up to Dragonfly's initial comment:

That neurosurgeon is quite right: every day we make thousands of unconscious decisions. "Unconscious" doesn't mean here "lacking awareness and the capacity of sensory perception", but "occurring in the absence of conscious awareness". In other words: we're not unconscious, but many decisions we make are not the the result of conscious deliberation. If we would do have to deliberate consciously every decision we make, nothing would get done, we just don't have the time for it!

The definition Dragonfly is accepting from the dictionary cited has an ambiguity problem because of the word "absence" ("occurring in the absence of conscious awareness"). That would better be said "occurring outside of conscious awareness." In other words, the point isn't that one isn't aware, in the sense of being awake and having various goals of which one is aware, but instead that one isn't aware of all the subdetails. Consider the shoelace-tying example. Yes, you're aware that you're tying your shoelaces, but break the activity down into its myriad subcomponents. You don't consciously decide exactly how to move your fingers through all the steps of making a loop in one shoelace, then twisting the other around the first, etc., and how to coordinate all the muscles in your body (so as to bend just thus far, move your arms just to the right angle, etc.) Or in typing an email: you aren't consciously deciding on all the motions, on what words are going to occur to you, etc., etc., etc.

As to whether your doctor is a determinist, Angie, it sounds as if he is. But I don't think he meant what you're interpreting him to mean by the word "unconscious."

Ellen

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Hi, Ellen. I agree but the act of tying a shoe was learned on my part when I was a very small child; right? If I didn't learn it beforehand, I never would know how to do it in the first place.

Observing the information through the senses, especially sight, acquiring information and learning it and then integrating it is the heirarchy of knowledge. Everything we do in our daily lives from tying our shoes to learning what one plus one is all due to conscious awareness and not unconscious decisions.

When you start with one action and learn why you do it and what the purose is and what the goal is, the more you understand. The more you are able to apply what you just learned into other areas of your life and then it builds from there, all the way to tying my shoes. So everything I do in my daily life is due to conscious awareness and the heirarchy of knowledge.

//;-))

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Ellen,

Yes, indeed, along the same lines as MSK's words about you, you're always good for the civilized, sensible approach. "Outside of consciousness" is spot-on.

I'm just grinding up trouble, as is the way of my people.

I don't debate with pure determinists anymore, because I think they fall into two categories: wankers, and Nancy-boys. I'm not being mean, they're just sissies. Determinism is the ultimate free-pass to the park. No different than a Taggart or a Toohey, just a little better articulated, and a little more intellectually masturbatory. Things just happen. Oh, there's a shared category, too- the ones that, er, determine (well, they and only they get to do that because its their goddamn paradigm and theyll cry if they want to) that I need to read more books about determinism. Sounds amazingly like....well, anyway moving on... and I don't do that because for one, I think that I don't have time to read things built on any next great paradigm, most of which have the particular feature of excepting themselves from everything else. These big paradigms are stupid, they suck, and have nothing to do with where the term came from. They are dog and pony shows.

If you actually buy into determinism, especially philosophical and psychological determinism, you are either a booby, or you just like going around to cocktail parties and effing with people's heads, and there's better ways to do that, trust me.

Now, this skull cracker, I doubt he's a studied determinist, in terms of reading determinist philosophical work. He came to it out of his scientific background, which is even more goddamn aggravating, if you think on it.

Where do they think their abstracts come from? Hmmmm?

Again, though- you either have to be completely into depression, or into scaring people for determinism to be for you. But you don't have a choice anyway, so eff it.

rde

Me: Like you, only better.

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Rich:

Ellen,

Yes, indeed, along the same lines as MSK's words about you, you're always good for the civilized, sensible approach.

Thanks for the description; and thanks also to MSK. But the "always" isn't true. Just ask Roger. Or, rather, don't ask Roger. ;-) I've been known to become wound up in various shouting matches over the years, especially back in the good old days of Old Atlantis, especially when confronted by the likes of Ellen Moore, Jason Alexander, "Humanity's Ultimate Challenge" Everrett Allie, and some others. But these days, for one thing, I haven't the stamina.

Ellen

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Wait....forgot about this one that I didn't put in the last post.

With the exception of the blood flowing through my veins, into my arteries and then through the chambers of my heart and out again. And with the exception of the air that I inhale through my mouth or nose into my lungs, through the bronchial tubes and exhaled out. With the exception of the kidneys and liver that filter the toxins from my body then pass through the uereters into the bladder and then passed out of the body through the urethra. You get the idea. These are functions of my body that I do not have a conscious awareness of in turn I'm unable to make conscious decisions for these functions to happen in my body.

:D

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I don't debate with pure determinists anymore, because I think they fall into two categories: wankers, and Nancy-boys. I'm not being mean, they're just sissies. Determinism is the ultimate free-pass to the park. No different than a Taggart or a Toohey, just a little better articulated, and a little more intellectually masturbatory.

Thank you for all these kind compliments. This is no doubt another example of the civilized, sensible Objectivist approach that prefers to attack people instead of ideas. I think you should feel at home at Solo-Passion.

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Hey Angie, all,

The shoelace thing isn't really the issue, is it? Certainly concious choices can become automatic with practice--that's not what's got the Doctor feeling so poorly and behaving so uncivil.

Here's an example that most people come up against if they live long enough and are paying attention: the repeating partner thing; most of us have had a lousy relationship in our lives, gotten shut of it and have begun dating someone who on the face of it looked totally different from our ex--different looks, different taste in clothes, different values, different everything--only to discover somewhere down the line that this new model's got the same maddening habits, the same trust issues, the same controlling weirdness as our ex did! Some of us have had a string of partners that seem to have the same effed up programming (you know who you are). In such cases, we think we're making conscious choices to dump an ex, pick someone different, etc. Turns out, however, that our subconscious (boo!) is zeroing in on these folks, one after another, right under our rational noses! (Achoo!)

Repetition compulsion, I think it's called. There are lessons to be learned from these folks, generally lessons about our subconscious compulsive selves. As long as we continue to blame the repetition on our partners, the same issues will continue to manifest with each new person we invite into our lives. Until we take responsability for the craziness we keep subconsciously pulling toward us, we're stuck.

I'm betting the Doctor in question has run affowl of the repetition compulsion and given up on getting to know himself. He's got some integrating to do, but it doesn't sound like he's gonna be doing it any time soon. Luckily, his subconscious will keep turning up the vollume until he can see his part in it, see the free will he's got at his disposal and use it. :D/

-Kevin

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Hi, Kevin. That's an interesting one because I just tore apart my marriage and discovered went wrong which was very interesting for me to look at. Aside from the controlling behavior, possessiveness, differences in value, materialism, etc., the relationship was doomed before it got out of the starting gate.

This was an interesting one for me to discover and a little disturbing and I agree with what Ayn Rand said regarding this. When I read it at first, I didn't agree with it but now I do because I now understand it. A friend asked me to read a book about the Myth of Monogamy which highly offended me but is very accurate on how relationships work under the philosophy where man holds that pain and destruction as his only means of existence. No. There was no infidelity in my marriage but asked me to read it and wanted to know what I thought which, yes, I tore the book apart and found contradictions, etc. Since I was already in the process of analyzing my relationship, this book brought all the other issues to the forefront.

What I realized and finally understood why Ayn Rand said this is the partner you keep at home is the one you hate the most but all others outside of that partner is the one who reflects the deepest vision of himself and are the ones you are the most attracted to. Have you ever wondered why in the beginning of the relationship everything is so wonderful, sex is great and new, etc., but as time goes on, you begin to lose interest and you start to fall into the same routine, sex is not as enjoyable as before nor as frequent, and yes, has a lot to do with what we value and the components of destruction within the relationship.

There are many components of destruction....the big one is guilt, fear, shame, contradictions, religion, force, possessiveness, controlling behavior, mind games that people play, materialism, sacrifice, etc. There are so many it's difficult to count them all. These all play into the demise of the relationship. It's not just infidelity that is the homewrecker.

Anyone that lives under the code that pain and destuction is his constant state of existence ultimately will not survive. He is continously working for his own destruction and this goes for relationships too. You get two people that are working towards their own destruction, there is only one outcome, death of the relationship. I'll write more about this one I'm sure.

Also the mind very much affects what you are capable of feeling and not feeling as well as what you value will influence the outcome of your health and overall well being...I'm living proof of that and what I valued then literally almost killed me. Which this is another interesting topic to get into.

More later on these I'm sure.

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Oh no, not the freewill/determinism debate again erupting into a flame war! Not here, take it out to the parking lot.

The answer lies at neither extreme and your mileage may vary.

Kat

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Hello, All!

It was brought to my attention that it was possible for readers to interpret my previous postings as attacks on our associate Dragonfly.

I believe this came due to the sequence, as MSK pointed out earlier in the thread.

So, to be clear: I had no debate nor issue with Dragonfly. I was simply brought into the frame of mind to say a few things about determinists, because lately they have been annoying me like fruit flys.

rde

No harm/No foul

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I do want to clarify something re: what I said above with my marriage. I'm still not lookig for someone to date or meet up with, etc. At least not for a long time. I want my freedom to do what I want, when I went, etc.

I'm just looking for friendly conversation regarding this philosophy, family, past situations, etc.

:D

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Ask another neuroscientist. Don't take one neuroscientist's word for it; this one (in my opinion) got his mind in a rut towards a deterministic line of thinking. Also, consider that he may have done research that convinced him of something. What is his background? In addition, what other fields does he look into?

In a broader sense, what is consciousness? It seems like "conscious" in this thread talks as if it's a monolithic structure, where you either have it or not. In that case, I would suggest Oliver Sack's book "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" (really, a man did that) which I learned about in neuroscience class. Or, Antonio Damasio's book "The Feeling of What Happens" talks about consciousness as well.

Consciousness isn't just off/on. Its many layered and integrated; in some ways, when we dream, we are still "conscious". Yet, some would say that's unconsciousness. Or, when I was waking up from anesthesia, I was conscious at times and could hear and know where my body was... but to others, I was passed out. What you guys are talking about is what is the higher levels of conscousness.. the decision making part. We're so used to this part on a daily second-to-second basis (for some) that it's hard to imagine life without it. But consciousness is more complicated (small epileptic seizures-- mentally unconscious, but still able to move around in an environment like normal), and more astute neuroscientists have understood the nonlinear dynamic systems part of the deal.

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Consciousness, yes.

This is where things start to take off in terms of debate, at least if you're me.

It depends on how many levels you acknowledge to exist. My last one, for instance, Objectivism does not acknowledge because they think it can't be demonstrated as a proof, although they are wrong in that.

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By the way, I'm not at either extreme. I've been "called" both determinist and indeterminist. Basically, I'm neither, or both. I've integrated them during my studies.

For me, what other people are trying to prove is up to them. I'm still going to learn my thing, and do my research, regardless of who do/don't want to see the results. And I'll drag a hairy topic, like consciousness into the research setting. It's just that fascinating.

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  • 3 months later...

oh, boy does psychology suffer from tools fraught with ancient smudge...

one of these days i need to rewrite the dictionary to make it self consistent...

for now i'll borrow from computer science and hope for the best:

at all times we are awake, we are conscious. the main loop running is 'what is it?' repeated endlessly.

numerous activities and responses are negotiated and completed on a SUBVERBAL level, via the default chordate associative memory.

this is what is meant when uses the words 'unconscious behaviour'

even gazing at your navel, your mind is asking constantly 'what is it?' for consciousness is, indeed, identification. 'what is it?' is the way we ask that question with words.

once one has aquired the association of sounds with words, then further develops a habit of speech to the point where one is capable of definitions, however vague, one achieves a qualitatively distinct state because with the cognitive tools which are words we are able to program ourselves (and each other). we talk to ourselves, which ruminations become a real part of our experience, i.e., a rehearsal and reiforcement of a habit.

when we are chatting ourselves about whatever it is we are doing, that's what is meant by 'conscious behaviour'

i like to think of skinner's book on associative conditioning as the technical reference manual and intro to objectivist epistemology as the user manual for H. sapiens.

btw- cna posts i've found utterly charming. i'm so glad you found the right tools and are able to use them so deftly! just out of curiosity, are you able to see things separate from what they were and what they will be? if the question is meaningless, then i have my answer- thanks. :)

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