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Moving beyond Biological Evolution

During our small discussion groups on Thursday, we focused on free will and Jillian brought up a question -- What percentage of free will does an individual have?  Throughout our discussion, one view was that only infants have free will because they have not experienced any influences of others and have not had their own personal experiences that define and characaterize their furute choices.  However, as the child grown older, their choices become patterend and are a refelction of their past experiences and previous choices.  The alternative view that was proposed was that just because people choose the same pattern of decisions, does not mean that they have less free will than someone who chooses different choices each time.  The conclusion that I believe we reached was that there are constraints and limitations on the options of choices that we have to make, but the fact that we have the ability to make those choices gives us an amount of free will.


I somewhat agree with this idea, that our choices are influenced by some part by our past experiences however I also believe that we have the option to make our own choices regardless of our past.  This reminds me of the converstaion with Professor Grobstein a few weeks ago, where we talked about what we as humans are now is a result of our ancestry.  I had some confusion understanding this concept then, but when paralleling it with the concept of free will I seem to be understanding it more.  With our ancestry, we inherit genes and biological tendencies from our parents.  These genes contain traits and inherent qualities that define an individual and ultimately influence the person that they develop into.  Therefore, we can call ancestry a sort of past experience that influences the way that people make desicions and how they act upon their free will and make choices.


Another topic that we touched upon in our small groups was that of morality.  We decided that morality was a trait that was selected for during natural selection so as to help people to get along in a society.  In my cultural anthropology class, we are also discussing morality and reciprocity and if an individual can be completely altruistic when helping out someone in need.  I feel as though, the romantic view of altruism is that an individual can be completely selfless and give another something they need without feeling any need for anything in return.  I do not feel as though this is the case in society today.  Even if the individual has the best intentions in mind, there is almost always a good and satisfying feeling that is associated with doing something good for someone else.  This good feeling is in fact a sentiment that the altruistic individual strives to feel.  Just a idea to think about...


Also, when I was writing my paper (On the Evolution of Ballet), I came across this website which was pretty interesting.  The Paris Opera Ballet  performed a ballet Genus which was influenced by Darwin's Origin of Species. The article describes how the dancers movements are a result of the choreographer's view and understanding of the story.



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