While learning about evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, I got more and more aware of how much people are determined by subconscious instinctive urges and impulses. As a side effect, already for a long time I have been implicitly and slowly discarding the myth of the free will, but postponing to consciously think this through.
Implicitly the entire ERCP blog is based upon the concept of finding a partner, whose fulfilling my own relationship needs is not a decision by an alleged free will of his. Instead I am looking for someone sharing with me the same innate inclinations towards the same behaviors and activities, thus enabling both of us to simultaneously fulfill the own and the partner's needs.
But as often, someone else has expressed my implicit idea already much better than I can. There is an excellent video, in which Sam Harris discards very convincingly the myth of the free will:
Human behavior is very complex. It is too complex to be sufficiently logically explained during social interaction. The mere observable behavior of any human does not reveal all or enough of what contributes to determine it. This makes the attribution of any behavior to a free will a very tempting fallacy. But the mere inability to fully understand the complexity is no justification to accept the myth of the free will as a substitute for the lacking full explanations.
Discarding a tempting fallacy is not enough without some rudimentary alternative. By extreme simplification, all behavior can ultimately and theoretically be explained as serving to either reduce subjectively experienced dishomeostasis or to stimulate the pleasure center of the brain by what is subjectively believed to be appropriate methods.
The limitations of this simplification are due to the complexity of many variables and influences.
The following are some, but certainly not all:
1. Physical Or Cognitive.
Dishomeostasis and stimulated pleasure can either be triggered physically and materially or caused and enabled by faculties of the human cognition.
- Physical dishomeostasis.
- Physical pleasure.
- Intellectual dishomeostasis:
Boredom; the curiosity to know something.
- Intellectual pleasure:
Flow experienced during a creative activity; enjoying an art exhibition.
- Emotional dishomeostasis.
Feeling lonely in need of a mate; feeling betrayed in need of justice.
- Emotional pleasure.
Feeling happy with a partner or by an achievement.
2. Intrinsic Or Extrinsic
Dishomeostasis and stimulated pleasure can be either intrinsically triggered by innate needs originating in the person's brain or extrinsically by influences and impact from the environment.
- Intrinsic dishomeostasis:
- Extrinsic dishomeostasis:
Fear as a reaction to a situation of real danger.
- Intrinsic source of pleasure stimulation:
The joy of finding the solution to a problem or puzzle.
- Extrinsic sources of pleasure stimulation:
The fragrance of a flower; listening to music.
3. Innate Or Acquired
Dishomeostasis and stimulated pleasure can be either experienced by basic human faculties or only experienced by applying learned skills or previously gathered information.
- Spontaneous dishomeostasis:
- Learned dishomeostasis:
Worries about a predicted real hazard, like a flood or a storm.
- Spontaneous pleasure:
Listening to the birds; enjoying the warmth of the sun.
- Learned pleasure:
4. Immediate, Anticipated Or Delayed
Behavior can be either an immediate homeostation or an immediate reaction to noticing a source of pleasure, or there can be a delay, anticipation and preparation. This is enabled by the human memory for past experiences and by the cognitive ability to anticipate future experiences.
- Immediate homeostation:
Eating as soon as hunger is felt.
- Delayed homeostation:
Distributing the consumption of limited supplies over a long time in an emergency situation.
- Anticipated homeostation:
Carrying provision on a hike.
- Immediate pleasure:
Entering a cinema at the moment, when the announced movie stimulates the wish to see it.
- Delayed pleasure:
Rewarding oneself only after having finished a task.
- Anticipated pleasure:
Buying a ticket for a theater play in advance.
5. Reality Or Delusion
Dishomeostasis, anticipation of dishomeostasis, pleasure and anticipation of pleasure are subjective experiences. The perception and expectation of its magnitude is independent of objective evidence of the existence of its cause or the probability of its occurrence.
The subjective belief is enough to determine people's behavior, even when there is no real source or cause at all.
The religious delusion of the existence of deities supplies good examples:
- Delusional dishomeostasis:
Feeling guilt of breaking a religious rule, even though nobody is harmed, like a catholic eating meat on Friday.
- Delusional anticipation of dishomeostasis:
The belief in the purgatory and in hell.
- Delusional pleasure:
- Delusional anticipation of pleasure:
The belief in a heaven, where all suffering is allegedly rewarded with pleasure.
6. Reality Or Manipulation
Anticipation of improbable dishomeostasis and of slight pleasure can be enhanced and magnified by manipulation to appear significant. Dishomeostasis of fear, anxiety and worries can be artificially induced to create markets for profit.
- Artificial dishomeostasis:
Selling safety equipment.
- Artificial anticipation of dishomeostasis:
- Artificial anticipation of pleasure:
Selling products for consumption.
7. Simultaneous And Competing Triggers
Dishomeostasis from more than one deficit can simultaneously exist and several stimuli can compete to have the strongest impact upon the pleasure center.
7.1. When there is full conscious perception of all options, the human cognition allows to choose on a long term basis between possible behaviors as the reaction to the competing urges and the available stimuli.
- The self-control during a diet, when the physical dishomoestasis of being hungry is competing with the mental dishomeostasis of being discontent with being obese.
- The self-control of decisions to spend money or to save it for a purpose. The marshmallow test is a good example.
7.2. Strong dishomeostasis can sometimes hide weaker dishomeostasis temporarily from being noticed.
- A hungry person with limited money buys food and not a book. The dishomeostasis of being bored only reaches the awareness after having eaten.
8. Attribution Of Causes
People often do not understand the real cause of dishomeostasis. Therefore they fail in their attempt to cope with it.
8.1. Own dishomeostasis
Diffuse feelings of dishomeostasis are not understood or attributed to false causes. Sometimes the attempts to cope replace one dishomeostasis with another.
- Overeating, physical addiction to drugs and emotional addiction to gambling are two examples of mislead attempts to cope with some other dishomeostasis like stress or unrecognized relationship problems.
8.2. Other's dishomeostasis
People are often not aware of innate differences. They project, that what is good for them is also good for others. They are oblivious, that what stimulates their own pleasure center sometimes causes others' dishomeostasis.
- People getting pleasure from eating garlic or fish are unaware, that even the smell can cause nausea to others.
- People playing their favorite music are unaware, that it can be annoying noise to others.
8.3. General expectation of dishomeostasis
External influences like social norms and desensitization modify or destroy the general perception, awareness for and recognition of the real and genuine innate dishomeostasis. This distorts the expectations about how others are impacted by the own behavior and of how to best deal with the own dishomeostasis.
- The desensitization by being exposed to too much sex and violence in the media has destroyed the dishomeostasis of feeling empathy and guilt as a deterrent to hurt and abuse others.
- The dishomeostasis of lonely nice guys in need of finding a companion is modified by the social norm of promiscuity. They are manipulated to feel instead the artificial dishomeostasis of wanting to be oversexed studs.
As a consequence of discarding the free will, I do not expect anything from anybody, unless I get it either in return or as a side effect of an interaction, during which my behavior contributes to either the other's homeostation or to the stimulation of his pleasure center. With strangers, this is trial and error based upon the tit-for-tat strategy.
In a relationship, communication revealing the partner's most urgent dishomeostasis and special susceptibility of his pleasure center is very important. Knowing this reciprocally is an important part of knowing the partner and of making a relationship last.
This is a slightly modifeid copy from my ERCP Blog