Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Free Will

In class today, we got on the topic of free will and why people would make choices that they know will impact them in a negative way in the long run even if it satisfies them for the time being. It reminded me of a book I just finished reading over the break. It is called A Million Little Pieces and it is a memoir about a man's experiences in rehab and how he ended up there. Throughout his journey in rehab, the author, James, denies that addiction is a disease and refuses to put fault on anything besides himself. He admits that his addiction is solely his own fault for making the choices to do what he did each time. Upon being asked how he will remain sober once he leaves, he tells the therapist that he will simply choose not to do the drugs or drink. I felt that the idea of free choice as the underground man describes it is exhibited a lot through the thought process of James Frey.

9 comments:

Belin Manalle said...

I saw a quote today that made me think of our constant debate of free will and this story as well. It is, "I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions." Basically instead of blaming some situation for how you are, blame your own actions regarding the situation. This reminded me of the underground man, but I definitely feel like he thinks that he is a product of his circumstances, as do the people that come into contact with him. However, I believe that he is as miserable as he is because he chose to isolate himself from everyone and be rude and awkward. His abusive childhood and lack of relationships may have had an impact on his decision to do this but in the end it was actually these decisions that caused his life to be the way that it is.

Anonymous said...

When we talked in class about the teenager whose punishments were significantly downplayed because he suffered from "affluenza", it really got me thinking about whether that should be used as a legitimate argument of defense. Just because he did not know any better and was not able to feel guilt for what he had done, doesn't make it right. But, in the same sense, I think you could argue that if he genuinely was raised that way by his parents, it was not solely his own negligence that caused the accident to occur. I feel the same way about the underground man because, although he has actively made these decisions to incriminate himself, his circumstances growing up had a major effect on his attitude towards life as well. What i believe is that this doesn't make either person blameless for the crimes/indecencies they have committed, but i think that it can definitely be a valid argument/reason given for the way each turned out.

----Madison Cummings

Jack Zheng said...

Drug addiction is an interesting comparison to the Underground Man’s situation, and there are a lot of similarities as well as differences here.
I think that the disease aspect of drug addiction and the fact that the Underground Man is basically disabled by his mental conditions are important factors here. When you’re hooked on a substance, it would almost always become impossible to simply choose to not touch the substance with willpower. And in the Underground Man’s case, his mental conditions makes him delusional to believe that he can and should have dominance over everyone he encounters.

Cheyenne Dwyer said...

I honestly have begun to feel slightly scared/disgusted by how I sort of relate to UM and understand why the UM does what he does. I think his craving to do what is harmful to him relates alot with his wanting to feel something. In my experience, there are a few different forms of feeling nothing at all. The first is somewhat like depression, where your soul just feels kind of comatose and you feel like your insides are constantly just like asleep or even dead, hence the more heavier feeling "I feel dead inside." Another is the feeling when it feels like your insides have just been completely taken out- and you feel empty inside. And sometimes that emptiness feels like its being squeezed, like everything around it is pushing into the emptiness, I feel like this is the type of nothingness that UM feels. That feeling makes you want to screw up your life and just be harmful to yourself for whatever reason. I feel that UM is following his impulses to lash out and do what he knows will hurt him because he feels that maybe by doing this the emptiness will be replaced by something else that's easier to deal with, like embarrassment or guilt or anger or sorrow. I think UM is lost, and he's looking in all the wrong places because Mankind's nature when you feel like that is to be destructive. So, I don't think he's a bad guy, I just think he needs a little help. That was long and weird and I'm sorry.

Antonio Imbornone said...

I feel that the underground man has a touchy topic in free will. This comment won't have much todo with cheyenne's originsl post other than the topic of free will. I feel like the UM is very touchy about the subject of free will. He would agree that it exists, for people commit acts that could only be guided by the unjust morals of people. However I think that the UM doesn't like the concept of free will because it allows humans to develop their own corrupted nature

Antonio Imbornone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I definitely think that the UM is trying to fill that emptiness with some other easily identified emotion, such as sadness, embarrassment or anger. All of those emotions are easier to identify and also easier to fix than the emptiness. They also act as distractions, as he can focus his energy on those emotions and the pain and try to target each specific one. I am also think that, although the UM may not think this, this could also be sort of a cry for help by committing all of these harmful acts. He could be hoping that someone will come along and notice he is in pain and try to fix him.

----Madison Cummings

madison kahn said...

In response to Madison's comment about the affluenza teen--- now that we've talked about these few philosopher's ideas this week, if that's what they should be called, the affluenza argument reminds me of one of Mill's ideas. Mill basically said that a person's environment (especially the childhood/upbringing) really influences a person's morals and ability to make wise decisions. This idea is definitely widely accepted in society today. In a way, I think that this concept of Mill's could be seen as supportive of the affluenza argument. Mill would agree with the fact that because the teen was raised without sufficient morals enforced, he is now unable to make good decisions. I think the idea of Mill's (that your upbringing effects who you turn out to be) is completely true, but I still believe that people should be held accountable for their actions, no matter what.

Abbey said...

I definitely agree that free will is a big part of Underground Man's philosophy. In fact, the whole point of his "2 x 2 = 5" deal is supporting the idea that "it is our free will to choose or reject the logical as well as the illogical that makes mankind human." UM says we have the freedom to make decisions for ourselves, whether they're good or bad for us. Our free will, he argues, is really the most important thing we have as humans. UM also argues the relationship between human reason and desire and comes to the conclusion that though he is not completely opposed to reason, desire is oppositional to what reason would dictate. UM doesn't want to live a life based just on reason, which is why he gets a little unique and determines 2x2 is 5 (instead of 4, which is what we are taught to believe as fact and not question).