Saturday, November 05, 2016

Football Counter-Programming 2016--Week 10

We are in the second half of the counter-programming season and that means that I am sometimes as a loss for what to write each weekend. So, this week, I turned to social media to get some ideas.
And you guys didn't disappoint.
One of my friends suggested that I explain the GDP of Denmark. And while I did not choose that particular suggestion for this week's post, I am looking into it.

I also got some other suggestions over on Facebook and I will look into those for future weeks and give them due consideration. But . . . as remarkable as this might seem, I decided to tackle the suggestion of my friend Dean. Since he frequently Guest Blogs for me on WWYG?! I guess I have a soft spot for his suggestion. Sadly, his suggestion was not an easy one.
The last time I tried tackling philosophy topics in any serious way was back in my Georgia Southern days. I found the topic frustrating and difficult to follow. So much of it seemed  like a great deal of rhetorical word play and hypotheticals. But I do appreciate the topics being discussed and I do think the themes are often fascinating. But I am nowhere near an expert and will not be able today to really dig into this topic with much depth and foresight.

First, I did a bit of research. I happened to know that my (second) favorite online educational resource--Crash Course--has a great deal of videos on Philosophy. So, I went to see if they had a video on the Mind/Body problem that Dean brought up. And, not surprisingly, they did:

Now, the question here is can you separate the mind from the body. Is the mind distinct from the physicality of yourself  and if that is true, then what does that mean? And when we are talking about "mind" here, I think we are talking about personality. And so we are also talking about what is more important--our physical selves, those limited parts of us that are driven by genetics. Or the ephemeral parts of us that we imagine and suppose it us. And it is also asking . . . can we overcome our physicality? Can we be more than we are?

I think we can. And this leads into another part of Dean's question above--the vexing question of Free Will. If we can be more than we are, if we can overcome the limitations of our physical selves . . . are we choosing to do that or was that choice always Determined and we are working within the plan for us that is the sum or previous choices, causes and effects, as well as our biological experiences?

For me, these philosophical questions are inescapable from religious influences. Not every philosophical questions needs a religious answer, maybe, but religion is always a part of the equation for me. I am a spiritual person and I do believe in the idea of free will. I do not think that God set everything in motion and simply watches from above, letting it all play out as was ordained.

As with most things in life--be it politics or religion or life or whatever--we need to seek a middle ground. I think that our biology (our physical selves) play a very significant role in our lifestyles, our social outlooks, our opportunities. I am a white male with a tinge of physical handicap stemming from the circumstances of my birth. As such, I am extremely privileged in a great many ways and I do have some limitations in other areas of life. And yet, I have NEVER believed, nor have I ever been told that I am hampered from doing almost anything that I choose to do in life. I have been privileged to know people in my life with far greater handicaps than mine and I know they face limitations I never will. Yet within the sphere of our own biological realities, we can make choices.

The choices we choose to make are also influenced by our non-biological experiences (our Nurture). I was taught to believe in myself and to work hard. I was never put down or made to feel less than anyone else. I was surrounded--and am surrounded--by comfort, success, and all the necessary ingredients for good living. There have been no psychological or social impediments placed upon my or taught to me. And so, I act accordingly, identifying what I want and working to achieve it--never doubting that it can be possible for me to achieve. Had I been nurtured differently, my menu of choices in life would likely have been narrowed or directed toward different paths. But I would still be selecting and choosing those pathways for myself.

So, where is all this word salad getting me? I fear (and am sure) that I've not really answering Dean's question, What to do about the choices between Free Will and Determinism? I guess . . . I want to say that we have determinations placed upon us by our biology and our experiences. But we are free to adjust those outcomes (to the best of our ability and desire) on our own. I do not think that I am incapable of making choices, but I recognize that the choices I make are shaped by a lot of factors that I don't appreciate--or that it takes a harder/broader view of the world to factor in accurately. As Dean would say, that makes me a Soft Determinist.

And what about the other question--what about the Mind/Body issue? Are we bound by our physicality or are we MORE? I think, in this case, we are more than a unique collection of atoms within a water sack. Why are we more than this? Now we are edging into religion. And maybe that is a topic for a different day.

But, what do you think about these questions? Watch the videos and see if Hank's words make more sense to you than they did to me. Leave a comment and explain what you like or don't like about these issues. And give me heck for evading the questions.

And finally, remember . . .  few outside linemen take philosophy courses. But the one's that do can still knock you on your butt if you don't spend enough time in the weight room.

See you next week.

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