Free Will, Fate, and Fiction

13 Aug

I was thinking about what to write about on my blog today when I came across an article on the BBC website, titled ‘What can a brain scan tell us about free will?’ I find matters of free will and fate absolutely fascinating, which I guess is interesting considering I’m not a religious person. I suppose this kind of subject doesn’t have to be a religious thing–possibly it’s more about philosophy than religion. As one of the main themes in Red Threads, fate certainly isn’t a religious thing.

Our brains are complicated things. The idea of free will–choosing what you do and when you do it–is something we don’t ever really think about on a daily basis. We just get on with life, just do it.

But what if our behaviour could be manipulated or altered somehow? This has been noted amongst people suffering from brain tumours, where the tumour creates pressure in certain areas of the brain and actually changes the way a person acts. As the author of the aforementioned BBC article asks, does this finding mean that certain deviant or criminal behaviour may eventually be explained by chemical or hormonal imbalances in the body?

Could this be taken a step further to mean that a brain might be stimulated somehow to make a person act in a certain way? This wouldn’t be impossible in fiction, but could it actually become reality at some point? I think I might be straying into mind control territory here, but it seems like a rather morbid possibility for the future.

Of course, the implications of this are that our lives might turn out to be less free than we first thought.

And if we really are free to do as we please, why do we sometimes decide to do things that aren’t the best choices? Like deciding to open that share-size chocolate bar when you’re home alone watching films, when really you know you should go for a run… I guess it depends how badly you want both things, and often the desire for chocolate wins out over the desire to stay (or get) fit!

I know this post is a little deep for a Tuesday afternoon, but you can blame the BBC for its thought-provoking article. (Also, I loved philosophy when I was at school, so I’ve always asked awkward questions!)

It could just be my overactive imagination, but there’s got to be a story idea there somewhere, right? Since there are no truly original ideas, there must be books along these lines that already exist, so let me know if you have any recommendations!

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2 Responses to “Free Will, Fate, and Fiction”

  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh August 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    Fascinating stuff. Now throw in how much external forces and experiences influence our behavior and it really becomes confusing.

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