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free will

skindeep's picture

keeping in tune with the idea of free will - how much agency do we have over our choices, thoughts and interactions? do we have any? we want to believe we do, so that we can say we've done things, and so that we and the people around us can be held accountable. but, lets examine that - growing up in a culture which had a strict set of rules and codes for behavior, i learned to obey a lot of them, and defy a lot of them - but a lot of who i am is my reaction to those norms. and a lot of my reaction is based on how people reacted to my reaction.

for example, i smoke cigarettes. in my culture, it is considered wrong or trashy for a girl to smoke. people in my family agree with this notion. but there are a lot of kids in our generation who are slowly defying that. i still smoke cigarettes which is probably influenced by the fact that i found support in the act in my friends, and by the fact that as a kid in high school going against society was something i enjoyed doing. but nonetheless, theres a good chance i would never have tried a cigarette if so many of my guy friends werent smoking. and i might not have continued if everyone stopped associating with me once they found out. or i would have continued in hiding. but i do smoke, and i 'smoke like a boy' - which brings me to a probably better example - gender norms. every society and culture has its own breed of gender norms, and every year kids are raised to abide within those norms.

how much of it is hard-wired into us? do we grow up believing we choose the clothes we wear when really a sense of dressing is something inherently taught to us before we realised we were learning? how many other actions and interactions are like this?

what if, when it comes down to it, we have the notion of free will, hence satisfying us, but no real sense of free will at all?


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