November 07, 2005
So I have that George Michael song "Freedom 90" in my head, and I have for two or three weeks. Hell, I arranged it for the mandolin and learned the bassline and downloaded the video. Come, you know you like that song, regardless of whether or not you are a reasonable George Michael fan like I am. (Reasonable fan: like the music and think he's a cool being, but I have no posters of the Faith era look, regardless of the fact that I totally wore a cross earring like that in the early 90s because I've always thought he was an awesome guy.) Our philosophy conference was this weekend, and it was a big success. That seems like it's par for the course these days. Carbondalies throw a kick-ass conference. And myriad thanks go to the dudes and dudets who made it happen. Anyway, there was a paper Saturday morning (and I confess to being groggy, foggy and froggy that day) wherein the presenter argued for a notion of moral responsibility without the necessity for free will. There's all this "science" and all these "statistics" that point away from free will. She said that Buddhists don't require it. Etc. Maybe I'm too much of a Sartrean, Jamesian, or maybe my Catholic upbringing in a Catholic city is something I can't get over. But the whole idea that anyone would believe that we don't have free will was completely abhorrent to me. When I see closed-minded people, fundamentalists, evangelicals and moral dinosaurs (yeah, I said it) get all upset and indignant at the idea of gay marriage, inter-racial couples and religious pluralism, I always look down my nose at them. "I'm more enlightened than that," I tell myself. "I would never have a gut reaction to something that is entirely alien to me and say that it's wrong right away and that I am right and that the perpetrator is evil. Not me." But I did it. I had a gut reaction. I got really upset inside. Turns out that I didn't have the intellectual bravery that I thought comes with being a philosopher. For at least a few minutes (or hours) Saturday, I was as bad as the hags that protest gay rights and who protested racial equality decades ago. I was talking to a colleague after a guest lecture Thursday about not being able to turn off being of a philosophical mind-bent. I think it can be a sickness at times, and the inability to turn off the hyper-critical world-view leads to nothing but unhappiness or discomfort very very often. I can't help but approach most things critically, whether it's finding ten things wrong with a particular pencil or feeling nauseous when I see obese mothers buying their already obese 8 year olds $6 coffee ice-creams from Gloria Jeans. These are not sources of pleasure at all. But I turned it off Saturday and thought just like a moronic, unreflective ape of a person who gets upset because someone disagrees with him and is ready to piss his pants. I was told not to feel badly, that "everyone" does that. But that's the worst excuse I have ever heard for doing anything. I was going to blog about free will, and I might work on an essay on it just to make myself feel better. But not here, and not now.