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Old 08-07-2019, 12:02 PM
you with the face is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Laurel, MD
Posts: 12,528
Every time I bathe my 10-month old, I can appreciate how much control my subconscious mind has over my actions.

My daughter is a chub of wriggly energy. When she's in the bathtub, she gets excited and wants to grab all the toys and all the soap bubbles. She normally can sit up just fine, but because she's so top heavy, you can never be sure that she won't topple over. I don't trust her not to drown herself the second I turn my back on her.

When I sit by the tub watching her play, sometimes my arms will shoot out to catch her when she falls. Before it registers in my mind that she's even lost her balance, my hands have already grabbed her. It's like an alien is literally controlling my body. It has happened enough times that I've stopped being startled by it and I just embrace it for what it is: my subconsciousness insists on taking the wheel when my baby is in the bathtub. Probably because it knows my conscious mind is too slow to react to subtle signs she's teetering towards death.

But here's the thing: my subconsciousness takes the wheel in situations like this one, but I'm wise enough to know that doesn't mean it's influence is limited to just those times. Isn't it quite likely it is almost always behind the wheel and I'm simply unaware of it because the actions its driving aren't as obvious as alien arms moving without my control? Most of these "actions" aren't going to be actions at all. They are going to be thoughts, feelings, and impulsive gestures. My conscious mind might take the credit for all of this stuff, but like any executive writing up his/her performance report at the end of the year, it's really the subconscious machinery that is doing the work.

Eve was tempted by the snake into eating the apple. Believers in free will focus on this simple action (taking the apple and eating it) when judging her for choosing wrongly. But given the nature of her brain, personality, and the sum total of knowledge that she had at the point this whole scene went down, could she control whether she would be curious about the apple? Could she control the persuasive effect the snake's words had on her? Could she will herself not to be hungry at the exact moment she saw the apple? Could she will herself not to find the apple visually pleasing? If her subconscious mind compelled her to impulsively reach up and grab the thing because of all these drivers in the background that she has no control over--the same way mine commands me to grab my bathing daughter--is this "free will"?

Last edited by you with the face; 08-07-2019 at 12:03 PM.