Over the last century, general discourse concerning the topic of ‘free will’ has become increasingly more pronounced in Western culture—a trend that reflects the rapid development of societal complexity during this period: for especially since the postmodern era, the organisational phenomena of bureaucracy, specialisation, and compartmentalisation have intensified the diffusion not only of responsibility but also of knowledge. Concomitantly, scientific theory has supplanted philosophy as the locus of epistemology, producing theoretical phenomena such as relativity and quantum mechanics and instilling them into the foundation of Western ideology. Effectively, such theories have undermined not just traditional knowledge and wisdom but the very basis for their acquisition, i.e. the subjective perception of an objective reality. In concert, postmodern developments have thus created a culture of disintegrating knowledge and implicit indeterminacy, wherein matters both philosophical and practical are deemed – tacitly more so than explicitly – to be fundamentally uncertain. Crucially, this ideological domination includes the dimension of institutional contradiction; as in, for example, the periodical turnover of scientific axioms, many of which are treated as dogma until they have been deemed falsified and replaced by new axiomatic ‘truths’. Within this culture of impenetrable systemisation and philosophical confusion, the question of free will has arisen to prominence: For at least the last half-century, Western culture has been affirming an inherent inability to determine anything at all, let alone an ideology that is clear, consistent, and stable. Adversely, it has instilled a societal paradigm of reactionary measures against the flux of indeterminable existence, which thus represents the postmodern ideology of Western culture—an ideological inversion of Ideology.
An essay on Understanding (or, understanding for an Understanding of UNDERSTANDING)
For the proper philosophical discussion about any particular thing, the identification of the thing itself is more important than the word used to refer to it: A word is merely a tool used to approximate the meaning of a concept, thus enabling an expedient means to refer to that concept in conversation or writing. In a way, this conventional approximation of conceptual meaning highlights the purpose of Philosophy, which I define here as the unmotivated, uncompromised expression of the innate need to Understand. And, Understanding is perhaps the most important concept to philosophise about—which I define here as the pure and thorough attempt to clarify the essence and significance of a thing. Thus for this essay, a cluster of related ‘things’ I consider worthy of discussion are most closely approximated by the word ‘understanding’, with each of these things representing a particular aspect of that concept, thereby being a different sense of its meaning. Hence, I will use the word ‘understanding’ in multiple senses, supported by my definition of each one; and by which I attempt to describe these particular aspects of Mind and Life.
An analysis of a psychology documentary based on the work of Prof Daniel Kahneman (—and not without a touch of sarcasm! 😉 )
The 2013 Horizon Documentary (BBC) How You Really Make Decisions features several psychologists providing their insights on this theme, most prominent of which is Prof Daniel Kahneman, whose best-selling book Thinking, Fast and Slow serves as the basis for the programme.