Freedom or Choice—Can we have Both?

How thinking supplanted instinct

Can humans think instinctively? Freedom of choice is precisely the state of not choosing. What is freedom of choice, when choice is the analyzing act of hesitation while making a decision and ignoring the instinctive action that has the backing of evolution?


While being a decisive person is considered someone who doesn’t stop to decide, a paradox in the definition itself which pauses me to examine. Why do humans approach everything backwards, abandoning instinct when they seem to know better? Thinking and words may have us spellbound.


Your mind, brain, and consciousness (whatever you want to call it) arises or evolves of the very stuff your thoughts are trying to analyze. No wonder it is such an impossible puzzle. And to examine what we consider the world outside ourselves becomes equally as frustrating, because it isn’t outside yourself either, although you’re inside it. Until one can release the duplicity of examining the world as separate and hostile, it will be utterly and increasingly futile to segment the universe, matter, and consciousness into words and formulas. Is there a more wholistic approach?

Snoqualmie Tunnel Hike today–2.3 miles each way, of course


To treat our brain differently from any other organ that functions automatically without thinking, so too, the subconscious mind functions in an amazing way, unless you try to put effort to it—that thinking, the very specific and narrow channel of conscious attention with which we identify ourselves is the most unreliable means of examining anything, because what is, is being analyzed by the most unreliable portion of the human computer.

The scientific and religious approach, from the very beginning assumes we are separate from what we know to be true—that we are stardust, and to examine what you’re made of using what you’re made of, is a daunting task that should cause a laugh with absurdity, but instead causes contention because we fail to scratch beyond the conscious attention. It has to be examined by what we’re not made of—what is not obvious on the surface.

Thinking and what “should be” is a projection of the mind that creates an illusion of separation. Thought takes time; thought is psychological time that distorts the timeless.

But were human”, you say, “we have to live in the world we have, with the tools we have”, you say, but the very art of approach from our infancy is at odds with logic and reason, combatting instinct and the underlying reality we have been trained to ignore in modern life. Laden with changing fact and pointless claims of progress, infighting, outfighting, constantly choosing from two wrong sides of beliefs that have us exactly and forever where we don’t want to be.

But human behavior without the thinking is most often heroic, while at the same time the hero says (s)he just did what anyone would do—yes, if they didn’t stop to think about it first.

And after analyzing all the data, the best inventions come by luck, not the scientific method at all. It is used much less frequently than it is lauded, and often used in backsplaining the discovery that was made by instinctive awareness–or luck.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

43 thoughts on “Freedom or Choice—Can we have Both?”

    1. The tunnel is always a big hit. I take the family every five years or so. And its easy enough for grandma. There are dozens of alpine lakes in the immediate area too. This is where I grew up so it feels pretty good.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. “But human behavior without the thinking is most often heroic, while at the same time the hero says (s)he just did what anyone would do—yes, if they didn’t stop to think about it first.”

    I tend to disagree. Human behavior “without the thinking” is at least as often horrible as it is heroic. I also think heroes think through their actions. Its not just unthinking instinct.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Instinctive behavior, like I said, has the backing of evolution. Not always comfortable, but effective. Does evolution exist or not? Something like 11% strictly deny evolution across all faith bases. Most people can make these common decisions to afford their best chances, all alone with no help at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Instinctive behavior, like I said, has the backing of evolution. Not always comfortable, but effective. Does evolution exist or not? Something like 11% strictly deny evolution across all faith bases. Most people can make these common decisions to afford their best chances, all alone with no help at all.”

        I believe in evolution. Although I don’t define that as some atheists might.

        For humans both instinctive behavior and thoughtful behavior have the backing of evolution don’t they?

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Well it worked so far as you are here. Would humans be around if they only had instincts like animals and couldn’t think? I mean I am just not sure what to make of that let alone have any certainty in answering it.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Dischord will be the forever norm I suppose. This point of view wouldn’t abolish thinking, only put it in its proper role. Whats funny, is after analyzing all the data and considering every angle, most decisions are made on a hunch in the end anyway. All of the variables are impossible to predict with the small portion of conscious attention that we use to identify with the world. While trusting the subconscious, the instinctive side has a remarkable track history.

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            2. I’m not unsympathetic to your view. I think intuition over analysis has some merit especially as to moral issues. The problem is I can also find moral issues where I it seems these unthinking instincts seem to be leading down a wrong path. So I am not ready to say one is clearly superior.

              Johnathan Haidt did some interesting experiments where people gave their view on morality about certain things. And then people tried to justify their views by reason. I am not sure that it really proves one thing or another as far as your thesis here. But it does definitely talk about how intuitions/emotions have a much larger role (than reason) in moral decision than we might normally think. You might find it interesting.

              Click to access emotional_dog_and_rational_tail.pdf

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  2. when you wake up in the morning, do you actually have a thought ‘I’m gonna get up’ or do you just get up automatically?

    when you wash your dishes (which i hope you do!) do you actually have a thought ‘Now i’m gonna raise my right hand, and scrub this plate, and now I’m gonna take this fork, etc etc’. or do you just do it??
    hmmm… so, can we do things without having ‘thoughts’ about them?

    an information signal sends out the hand to move, and so it does. and people think “Oh, i did that!” so you do move your arm, but give wrong attribution to Whom. and the attribution comes from that signal which was just a reaction that noticed the arm was moving. so your mind send another signal and you say “Ahh, I must be also in control of the body since, I can do this”. then your mind says “I am human”. and this is how it functions.

    choices and decisions are thoughts. these occur without your intervention- you neither choose thoughts nor do you think them up.

    the brain alone cannot make a decision such as to drink a cup of tea. the brain has to work in conjunction with the lungs, heart, nervous system and sense organs and the outside world in order to make that decision. it’s a massive interconnected process. how can ‘we’ possibly process all of that when we don’t even grow our own nails, or our hair?

    no, it’s done for us, so to speak. the universe works on its own. all we have to do is watch, let the system do its thing.

    the problem is, we have a deep rooted belief that ‘someone’ is doing all this. that’s the illusion we’re stuck in. so we say ‘I’m doing it’ or ‘god is doing it’.

    but no, it’s just a process, life running on its own. there is nobody.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. when you wake up in the morning, do you actually have a thought ‘I’m gonna get up’ or do you just get up automatically?

      There are usually two thoughts. ”I need to pee .” and …. ”I want coffee”.

      Liked by 2 people

            1. 😏 i’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.

              point is, we attribute actions, thoughts and everything we do to a self that we imagine lives in the body, when in truth, there is no such thing.
              but this is not an elementary concept, and i know it sounds far fetched.

              Liked by 2 people

            2. self that we imagine lives in the body, when in truth, there is no such thing.

              So if there is no such thing as self are we in essence all part of the ”Borg Collective”?

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Hmmmm, I almost agree with you Monica, but I know that my agreement is not complete. When we have the thought I, what all does that involve?
              Part one is the ego, that which we did NOT have at birth (and therefore does not exist in reality). Our ego is something that is taught to us, actually FORCED UPON US, to have to defend ourselves from all the other egos around us. “I” makes the declaration that “I AM NOT YOU, SO THEREFORE I AM I!”
              Part two is mind. I have a mind, even if no one else does. I, the “me-not-you,” is separate from the brain, else how could one separate it from itself? Can my brain contemplate itself as being “apart-from-brain” if it is ONLY BRAIN. That seems to me to be a paradoxymoron. Brain is a fantastic organ, and a great tool, and probably has something to do with my ego, but it has nothing to do with my mind.
              Part three has to do with spirit. I have an “I,” The problem here, of course is language. Humanity is lazy, and English is the laziest language of all. If it needs a new wor d to clarify a new or more precise concept, it recycles words, or, in effect, gives more meanings to an already over-burdened word. (Last time I checked, the simple 3-letter word “run” had 103 different definitions. Talk about lazy!) And this is actually okay for those born in the English language but is a curse for people who learn English as a second, or more, language. Sha’Tara and I butted heads for months until we figured out she only had one definition for the word progress, advancement in industrial or technological process. I so seldom use the word progress in that term. Being a person more concerned with spiritual progress, advancement of consciousness, so-to-speak, we were literally speaking two different languages, and made it impossible to have a meaningful conversation.
              And even as you and I speak right now, I do not know that”we” use a similar, certainly not an exactly the same, definition of spirit. One of many ways I use “spirit” is as the “disembodiment of life.” Another paradoxymoron. (This is the second time I have used paradoxymoron in this comment, yet to the best of my knowledge I have never seen the words combined this way before. Yet, I look in Google, and find all kinds of occurances in present day English.) To continue, life is a force or some kind of totality, undefinible in English, in the context as “that which contains the ability to be born change, grow and die, while embodied in a physical cell or groupng of cells, yet totally separated from any physical being.” Long, confusing, paradoxical yet internally inconsistent (oxymoronic) and in the end probably completely and maddeningly meaningless.”
              I have whined and whined because I cannot find a word in English that can express all that within that word. Yet were I to actually try to coin such a word, for example “wofq,” no other English-speaking person would know what the hell I am talking about! It is just gobbledyguk. English is not a spiritual language, because it is the language of reason. The two cannot co-exist in my mind.
              So, now that I have totally confused anyone who has stayed with me from the start, my spirit has an “I,”! distinct grom the “I.” of ego, distinct from the “I” of mind, yet totally encapsulating all three.
              Maybe, just maybe, it is the “I of the absurd,” or the “absurd I.” Still it is I, and I am all of those “I’s” separately and together!
              I. I AM. I AM I.

              Liked by 1 person

            4. the I you refer to when you say ‘I’ is the same I i refer to when i say ‘I’.
              there is only one I, and infinite manifestations of that. how could there be a separate anything??

              there are many waves on top of the ocean, but the ocean is always one and same.

              Liked by 1 person

            5. Ah, Monica, you change depths within the ocean so often you confuse me. I agree, as far as Life goes there is only one ocean, only one I, ONLY ONE LIFE. But if that were true on this dimension, we could not exist. It is by being separate “I”s” that we learn. How long did Life exist before it came to realize it was alive? And once it did, how long did it take for Life to know everything, because everything was nothing, and it knew nothing.The “only” way to learn anything is through relationships, and the only way Life learned it needed relationships, was because it could not learn anything by itself. You are me, and I am you, and we are all Life together. A singularity, but one with separated parts. We need to be separate in order to know we are together. And Life goes on, as many, and as one.

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            6. consciousness is perfect, complete and absolutely whole. it has nothing to ‘learn’.

              by birth, when consciousness forgets what it is and thinks it is an ‘individual’.

              awakening is coming to that realization that you were never an individual, (being separate is an illusion of mind) you will know that you have always been all life. or pure Being. and that’s the only reason for all this charade

              Liked by 1 person

            7. Well, Monica, I guess it is time to stop trying to find a place of commonality. I tried, but when you say “consciousness has nothing to ‘learn'”, you just showed how small your biggest box really is, no offence meant, just a lot of sadness. I’ve known for a long that I here on this Earth am not an individual. Not just me, but all living beings are connected to every other living being through the One Life. What I see/hear/read you saying is there is a god, except there is no god. What would be the purpose of life if everything that is knowable were already known. We/you/I/Life/ everyone/everything/the Allmind/??? just became useless. Yours is not an open place to me, it is literally a dead end street. I’m sure we will knock heads again as long as we both follow Jim’s blog, but, sorry, I cannot connect with someone whomis perfect when I knowingly am not perfect. But it has been a nice ride, thank you for sharing parts of our journeys up to now.

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            8. LOL! you are hilarious.
              you say in same sentence “all living beings are connected” and “it’s time to stop finding a place of commonality”?

              fortunately, this … how did you call it? “wishy washy Canadian” is unconcerned.

              less judgement, more heart, sir.

              Liked by 1 person

            9. It’s not judgment, Monica, but fact. Your “I” stands on the side of perfection, while my “I” stands on the side of pure Chaos. This does not mean we are unconnected, but I think it does mean we are temporarily disconnected.
              It is all fun wordplay, but it is still playing with words. There is not much else you can do with them when words mean different things to different people.
              Am I am for nothing if I am for having fun

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            10. Again, it is not love. I handle my medical issues as best I can. I live with them 24 hours a day. I think I am pretty upbeat considering that. Chaos for me at home is suddenly finding myself on the floor, my body unable to retain its balance. Chaos is sitting calmly writing to you, then suddely barfing my guts out. Or having a diarrhea attack without warning. I maintain when I can. Chaos surprises me.

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            11. Oh, btw, does commonalty mean connection, or vice versa. They are similar, but they are not the same. Not in my understanding,

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    2. “the problem is, we have a deep rooted belief that ‘someone’ is doing all this. that’s the illusion we’re stuck in. so we say ‘I’m doing it’ or ‘god is doing it’.

      but no, it’s just a process, life running on its own. there is nobody.”

      I agree that rejecting any notion of free will essentially destroys key aspects of our identity.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Only if there is a “me.” And it seems without any sort of free will “I” am nothing at all like “I” think “I” am.

          “Me doing things” is merely me bouncing through the universe like a rock, or a sound wave, or a computer “doing things.” What do you think?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. yes, well said, like a sound wave.

            but the thought that ‘i am doing this and that’ creates karma, almost like a magnet either attracting or repelling things to it. and that keeps us taking birth, and spinning around desire or repulsion. what else is there to the ‘i’, but wanting or not wanting?

            once the idea of ‘me’ melts away, life is free of either pulling or pushing. it just occurs, free of the concept of a separate entity

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  3. “Your mind, brain, and consciousness (whatever you want to call it)….” It?
    And what of learning? You seem to include it as a genetic component of instinct, yet maybe innate, maybe not. (If I understand this.)
    I’ll hang with thinking, instinctively or not. It seems to have gotten me this far.
    For example, I continue to look both ways, even on one-way streets. Consciously instinctive or skeptically thoughtful? 🙂
    For me, the idea of a non-thinking human is as hard to grasp as the concept nothingness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, what of learning? Libraries are full now of books written about books verified with the all powerful footnote. Libraries now grow through mitosis, not experience. What is the teacher?
      I have a christian friend who just did a post on all the fighting, left and right, religious or non, but what surprised him was in spite of all this thinking, in an emergency the most unlikely skeptic or member of the opposition comes to the rescue (the real human side) and his conclusion was we need more emergencies to wake up the masses to who they are. No amount thinking seems to do the trick. Emergencies make christians act like christians are supposed to act, not sermons. I agree, yet, the way we learn is to abandon our own authority that instincts shows to author quite nicely.

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  4. Funny you should choose to post this question today, Jim. Yesterday, a news video came on, about a 16-year-old girl in Ontario, Canada. She was onshore at a lake, just chilling out, when she saw a man slip off a surf paddle board into the water. Her exact words after the fact, “I never even thought about it. I saw a person in trouble, and knowing I could help, I jumped in, and was able to
    to keep him afloat until more help came.” It was only after-the-fact that she realized she could have gotten injured, or even killed, but her action was instant, before she had time to think about it!

    (Okay, other facts have since came out that could give a repuglycan pause or cause to reject this. Number one, she was a Canadian. This kind of heroism is not common for a Canadian. Canadians are wishy washy people. Always “I’m sorry,” types.”Number two, she was studying to become a lifeguard, and she saw the opportunity to make a name for herself. Number three, hell, she probably set the whole thing up. Convinced the handicapped guy, oh, I didn’t mention he was handicapped? No need to, wasn’t essential to the parties involved. What was essential was getting into the water as fast as she did. Anyway, she probably bribed him to make it look like he was in danger when he really wasn’t. BTW, when she was interviewd on TV a few minutes later every hair in her beautiful French braid was dry, and perfectly in place. And, she wasn’t even breathing hard as if she had just hauled a huge overweight whale to shore–we have no idea how much the rescuee weighed: handicapped does not automatically mean overweight! Conflusion, THIS WAS DEFINITELY A SET-UP. ANYONE with a repuglycan BRAIN CAN SEE THAT! Cheeky bitch!

    CHANGE BRAINS HERE, PLEASE.
    If every monetary unit in the world today were to be turned into one currency, say the Canadian Doller (CD) so nobody gets all upset about not using their currency cuz “it’s the most stable in the world,” (which only one can truly be), put into one giant Hookah bowl, (pot’s legal in Canada, y’know) and be redistributed equally beteeen all people in the world, do you realize every person in the world could be a multi-billionaire! Isn’t that an incredible thought.
    There was no decision to write this, I wasn’t even considering such a thought, nor am I a financial genius. Tubularsock said jokingly “Do rich people matter?” I wrote the above right back to him. Where had It come from? Did I steal it off someone else. I have no idea. For me it seemed to be brand new, because it made me stop! go back, read it over and over and over, and finally let my mind be boggled. And it was instant (not counting the calculations, but I didn’t do those until I did them for this comment), no decisions, choices, anything. We would all, not counting children, be more than double billionaires, if I were to be honest about text change, my “automatic math calculator” had made a slight error in the equation. I forgot to change the funds into $CD.” Plus I only used the funds of certified billionaires. Those pesky millionaires, however many of them there are, are worthless, compared to the billionaires.

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