October 31st, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments
It’s an open secret that an open secret is an oxymoron. ‘tis nobler is unsure whether this old news came from military intelligence or the Italian government for there has been a deafening silence. There are contradictory views on the involvement of paradoxes and contradictions in oxymorons; actually paradoxes lead to contradictions so it might be a case that everything ‘tis nobler writes is false. ‘tis nobler wonders whether you are able to exclude that last assertion from your conclusion; if you cannot do this, it’s rather paradoxical.
Perhaps it’s like concluding that you are not free to do but (and say this in your best Yoda voice) you are free to do not. It would be more realistic if you said ‘free you are to do not’.
Are you free to do not? So it would seem from the evidence (although it is restricted to very simple experimental tasks). This is a very big topic – one that will generate much discussion between neuroscientists, psychologists and philosophers for it is fraught with methodological and conceptual issues – but let’s pick out the very essence of it as it reinforces the fundamental importance of self management.
One fundamental advantage of experiential learning is the shift from conscious or intentional processing of information to subconscious and unintentional (but NOT unintended) operation. There are many, many examples that you could draw on from personal experience in which you are doing things in a sensible, co-ordinated, effective and efficient manner without being fully aware of them – the most ubiquitous example could be driving a car, much of which takes place ‘in the background’ and occasionally from the backseat! Are you exercising free will in these instances?
This may or may not be different from the chain of events that underpin specific and isolated choices, for what affects these discrete choices may still be as complex as any skilled behaviour. Being unaware of ‘what and why’ prior to the conscious act may have little to do with free will and more to do with learned, validated and elegant patterns. Who knows?
But, regardless of the precise mechanism(s), it appears possible to stop this automatic process before the (non-conscious) action is implemented. While the status of a ‘go motion’ remains debatable, a ‘stop motion’ exists. Stop motion is a paradox and yet it is exceedingly clever. It relies on compressing a large number of very subtle changes to produce a fluid pattern, which is not that far away from the goals of experiential learning:
Even on autopilot and not consciously aware of what you are doing, you retain the capacity to stop and change. You should be aware that you have choices, even when you are unaware of their existence.
You have the power to choose to stop. You have the power to choose to change. What will you choose to do?