Are your desires your own? - Page 2 - Politics | PoFo

Wandering the information superhighway, he came upon the last refuge of civilization, PoFo, the only forum on the internet ...

For the discussion of Philosophy. Discuss thought from Socrates to the Enlightenment and beyond!

Moderator: PoFo Agora Mods

Forum rules: No one line posts please. Religious topics may be debated in this forum, but those of religious belief who specifically wish to avoid threads being derailed by atheist arguments might prefer to use the Spirituality forum.
A good summary for explaining the denial of the metaphysical free will and how man can come under the illusion that he simply wills things because he is conscious of something. That because one thinks of something that it is the cause of one's actions.
We learned in Part I that the universe is fully determined and that there is no free will. Spinoza now states this point explicitly, arguing that since the mind is a mode of thinking, it cannot determine itself freely (P48). This means that there is no absolute faculty of willing, that is, no part of the mind which acts autonomously from other parts of the mind. When Spinoza argues that there is no free will, he means that no part of the mind can be the absolute causal origin of an effect. Every part of the mind is determined by other modes of thinking.

Our inadequate knowledge of ourselves, of the necessity of our actions and of the causes that determine us mean that we imagine ourselves to be free. Because we act without knowing the causes of our actions, we imagine our volitions to be their cause. Spinoza illustrates this nicely in Letter 58. He asks his reader to imagine a stone which is pushed to roll down a hill; like the stone, our physical actions are physically determined. Next, he goes on,

Conceive, if you please, that while continuing in motion the stone thinks, and knows that it is striving, as far as it can, to continue in motion. Now this stone, since it is conscious only of its striving and is not at all indifferent, will surely think it is completely free, and that it continues in motion for no other reason than it so wishes. This, then, is that human freedom which all men boast of possessing, and which consists solely in this, that men are conscious of their desire and unaware of the causes by which they are determined. (CW 909, translation modifi ed)

We cannot appeal to the difference between human beings and stones in order to claim that we are free, even if the stone is not. Stones too have minds and desires (albeit very simple ones), and Spinoza utterly denies that our minds are any more free than that of the stone. There are neither freely caused bodily actions nor freely caused thoughts.

Volitions are nothing other than modes of thinking, or ideas, that are part of the mind (P49C Dem.), and thus they must be fully determined; but we imagine that they issue from a faculty which can cause action by itself. The will is therefore not an independent faculty which freely chooses the ideas of the intellect to which it assents (as Descartes believed). Rather, ‘the will and the intellect are one and the same’ (P49C). When we seem to ‘will’ something, we are really just affirming a true idea or denying a false one; something that we are determined to do by the nature of true ideas (P48S, P49S). True ideas include knowledge of their truth, and thus cause us both to affirm them and to deny the truth of the false ones.

And an interesting paradox of free will is that a thing is willed/decided much earlier than when it's actually performed. The decision to do something of one's own choosing occurs much earlier than the execution of the task.
Which I have found a wonderful quoteto help exemplify this point.
Most of the time man does not do what he wills, but what he has willed. Through his decisions, he always gives himself only a certain direction, in which he then moves until the next moment of reflection. We do not will continuously, we only will intermittently, piece by piece. We thus save ourselves from willing: principle of the economy of the will.
he first element of Vygotsky’s theory of self-control is that “in voluntary action, we must differentiate two apparatus that are relatively independent of each other.”
(1) “a conditioned reflex is constructed” – an internal change in the subject’s nervous system, and then at a later time:
(2) “the actuating apparatus, that is, the functioning of the cerebral connection already formed in this way,” when the subject acts.

If we were to consider how an athlete or artist or mathematician achieves a particular feat, there are two phases: first a protracted process of training their bodies to respond to artificial stimuli in certain complex ways, and secondly the performance of the feat by the activation of the self-constructed bodily apparatus. In this second phase, the various forms of action have been mastered and are executed with conscious control, but without conscious direction of the individual reactions. ('Consciousness’ includes those processes which, while not part of conscious awareness, can move into conscious awareness in response to events.)

So we must first know how to do a thing, have knowledge/mastered the action consciously before we can then consciously use such a means.
So in training our bodies to do certain actions, we create an apparatus that is like a conditioned reflex as discovered by Pavlov. Then we can have that same reflex activated in the appropriate circumstances.
Then the issue becomes to the decision making process and how we can decide between different acting apparatus, how to act.
A second important distinction Vygotsky makes is that between motives and stimuli.

(1) A stimulus triggers a conditioned reflex which has been trained and is part of (2) an elaborate system of interconnected stimuli and reflexes which constitute the internal form of a motive. Every form of action is directed and organized by some motive, and when conflicting motives arise, these apparatuses can be combined in complex ways to resolve the conflict.

When a subject is faced with a conflict of motives (e.g., needing to get out of bed but still wanting to rest), the subject will voluntarily introduce an artificial stimulus which they use to resolve the conflict (an alarm clock or telling themselves “I will get up on the count of 3, ...”).

These artificial stimuli which the subject uses to train and control their response to stimuli are provided by their social and cultural surroundings. Adults purposely direct the actions of infants in their care and in doing so introduce these stimuli. Later, children appropriate these same stimuli to “command” themselves. By school age, a child is able to exercise what must be recognized as free will and a significant level of control of their own behavior, while remaining culturally and socially dependent on the conditions of their existence, beyond their control.

“Freedom of will is not freedom from motives.” Yes, though the ability to educate one’s own motives is crucial to the attainment of a genuinely free will, something which may or may not be attained to some degree in the course of an adult life.

And this is the really interesting part of how man can mediate his own actions such that he isn't purely externally determined but can use artefacts to mediate his decisions.
The classic example Vygotsky's uses is in regards to being in a room without a determined purpose and thus subject to the external environment and having to decide between conflicting motives, to say or to go.
As his experiments have shown, human behavior that does not have a specific intention is subject to the power of the situation. Every thing requires some kind of action, elicits, excites, actualizes some kind of reaction. The typical behavior of a person waiting in an empty room with nothing to do is characterized mainly by the fact that he is at the mercy of the environment. Intention is also based on creating an action in response to a direct need of things or, as Lewin says, coming out of the surrounding field. The intention to mail the letter creates a situation in which the first mailbox acquires the capability of determining our behavior, but in addition, with intention, an essential change in the person’s behavior occurs. The person, using the power of things or stimuli, controls his own behavior through them, grouping them, putting them together, sorting them. In other words, the great uniqueness of the will consists of man having no power over his own behavior other than the power that things have over his behavior. But man subjects to himself the power of things over behavior, makes them serve his own purposes and controls that power as he wants. He changes the environment with his external activity and in this way affects his own behavior, subjecting it to his own authority.

That in Lewin’s experiments we are actually speaking of such control of oneself through stimuli is easy to see from his example. The subject is asked to wait for a long time and to no purpose in an empty room. She vacillates – to leave or to continue waiting, a conflict of motives occurs. She looks at her watch; this only reinforces one of the motives, specifically, it is time to go, it is already late. Until now the subject was exclusively at the mercy of the motives, but now she begins to control her own behavior. The watch instantly constituted a stimulus that acquires the significance of an auxiliary motive. The subject decides “When the hands of the watch reach a certain position, I will get up and leave.” Consequently, she closes a conditioned connection between the position of the hands and her leaving; she decides to leave through the hands of the watch and she acts in response to external stimuli, in other words, she introduces an auxiliary motive similar to the dice or the count “one, two, three” for getting up. In this example, it is very easy to see how a change in the functional role of the stimulus, its conversion to an auxiliary motive, occurs.

So here the woman uses the watch to mediate her decision to then actually leave.
This I think relates quite well to Marx's ontological relation between man and (humanized/artificial) nature where we we control our selves through the environment which we shape to our needs.
In other words: nature determines (causes, affects) man, who in turn determines (works upon) nature. Thus man is indirectly self-determining, mediated by nature. This reciprocal determination of man and nature is what Marx means by “praxis".

And this is pivotla to Vygotsky's emphasis on the mediation of our own activity via artefacts such as signs and other objects.
Human behaviour according to Vygotsky is neither controlled nor directed by immediate means based on pure acts of will, but is moved indirectly through the use of signs and tools. The modification of the world by human activity creates an artificiality (or ‘artefactuality’) of conditions. Within such artificial and man-made conditions volition can be directed/mediated (caused), but in these circumstances the cause of an action arises through man’s own creations/artefacts and not merely in response to external determinations. The ‘ability to conform to the dictates of no particular situation, but to any’ (Bakhurst, 1991, p.251) provides for human beings the possibility of a universality not available to animals which do no more than respond directly to environmental determinations i.e. without conscious mediation or reflection. What is significant in the analysis of these issues in Vygotsky’s work, is the symbiotic relation between the development of consciousness and scientific concepts, the ability to operate actively on matter rather than being its passive subject.
We can only achieve freedom by altering our position in relation to external determinations or as Vygotsky put it, by creating extrinsic stimuli.

The point then is that we aren't simply subject to the external world but because we have shaped the external world with prior human activity, we can use the world to mediate ourselves towards specific ends.
A rather interesting point of how the intellect is implicated in the will can be see in examples where there are distortions of a person's ability to control/direct themselves.
In cases of amnesic aphasia, in which there is a dissociation from the capacity for concept formation, impairing the use of language as a means of communication, the will also regress to its lower state, because there is no symbolic formation of the action, affecting the possibility of structuring intentions and making decisions based on the will. This fact shows another important characteristic of the will as a higher psychological function: it is possible to associate it with the symbolic formation of thinking and to perceive that the volitional action begins even before its execution (Vygotsky, 1931/2006a).

The cases of aphasia also highlight the importance of mediation structures for the expression of the will. Goldstein (1950) describes the case of a patient who could not obey a command to ‘close his eyes’, but when asked to simulate how his eyes stayed when he slept was then able to close them. Referring to this report, Vygotsky (1932/2003) infers that when the patient pretends to be asleep, the closing of the eyes does not result from an action of control of his own body, but is only a reflex action. This example corroborates Vygotsky’s idea that the will directed to an end is not regulated by a simple relationship between a stimulus and a response, but is necessarily permeated by auxiliary stimuli/means that form the signs and are fundamental to controlling volitional acts.

In the above, the emphasis on the sign, which becomes internalize and part of consciousness, is that we can mediate things like emotions and our will by the intellect which uses signs to guide certain concepts which aren't just ideas in one's head but about modes of action.

The existence of some sense of a free will (self determination, not free from influence) can be seen in the case where one isn't simply driven by impulse of pleasure or pain which is sufficiently explained in a behaviorist stimulus-response conditioning framework. Such that we don't follow the path of least resistance necessarily.

Another substantial psychological change in the process of selection is that here we have an explanation of the basic problem of voluntary action which was left essentially unresolved on the basis of empirical psychology. We have in mind the well-known illusion that always arises with a voluntary act and consists in that the voluntary act is directed as if along a line of greatest resistance. We select what is more difficult and call only such a choice voluntary.

William James recognized this problem as being unsolvable on the basis of a scientific deterministic view of the will and had to admit the intrusion of spiritual force, the voluntary “yes, let it be!” “Yes, let it be” (“fiat” – the word with which God created the world). Selection of the word itself is very indicative. If we conceal the philosophy of this term, we can easily see that, in essence, hidden behind it is the following idea. To explain the voluntary act, for example, the fact that a person on the operating table represses cries of pain and stretches out to the surgeon the affected member despite a direct impulse that would make him pull his arm away and scream, science cannot say anything else except that here we have a repetition of an act like the creation of the world, but of course on a microscopic scale. This means that explaining a voluntary act led the scientist standing on empirical ground to a purely biblical teaching on the creation of the world.

The relevance of the auxiliary motifs in this process is also evident for Vygotsky when investigating situations that the individual would usually avoid, but in which the construction of a meaning or purpose linked to his volitional act increases or supports his choice. For example, people persist in a hunger strike or endure intense pain due to the establishment of an auxiliary motive (e.g. an ideological project or a religious promise) that gives meaning to that decision (Vygotsky, 1931/1995c).

And I think a strong point in Spinoza's rejection of a pure will, and in emphasizing the unity of adequate ideas in guiding the will (along with affect) is that the will is guided by the necessity of the situation. When one understands something, they might be propelled to a certain outcome but they still must decide. Two people may perform exactly same actions but the quality of their actions may differ where one is free whilst the other was not because the quality of the action isn't determined in performing some behaviour. I think I'm getting closer to how freedom relates to necessity, where in recognizing/understanding something, we can guide it to our chosen ends rather than be guided by it.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing that the psychologist can now say about will is the following: will develops and is the product of the cultural development of the child. Self-control and the principles and means of this control do not differ basically from control over the environment. Man is part of nature, his behavior is a natural process, and controlling it forms like all control of nature, according to Bacon’s principle that “nature is overcome by subjection.” Not in vain does Bacon place control of nature and control of intellect in one order; he says that the bare hand and the mind taken in themselves do not mean much – the deed is done with tools and auxiliary means.

But no one expressed with such clarity the general idea that freedom of will is derived from and develops in the process of the historical development of humanity as did Engels. He says: “Not in the imaginary independence of laws of nature does freedom lie, but in recognizing these laws and, based on this, knowing the possibilities of systematically making the laws of nature work toward certain goals. This refers both to laws of external nature and to laws that govern the bodily and mental existence of man himself – that there are two classes of laws that can be separated from each other is the most important thing in our concept which is by no means far from reality. Consequently, freedom of will means nothing other than the ability to make a decision with knowledge of the matter” (Marx and Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 20, p. 116). In other words, Engels places in one order the control of nature and control of self. Freedom of will with respect to one and the other is, for him as for Hegel, understanding necessity.

Engels says: “Consequently, freedom is based on recognizing the needs of nature (Naturnotwendigheiten), control of ourselves and of external nature; for this reason, it is an indispensable product of historical development. The first humans coming out of the animal kingdom were in all essentials as lacking in freedom as the animals; but each step forward on the path of culture was a step toward freedom” (ibid.).

In this, will doesn't contradict any laws of nature, the will isn't some spiritual force independent of nature, our self mastery is akin to our mastery of natural forces themselves and relates well to the sense that in working with the nature of things actually gives us great control, limited but control still.
One of its central ideas is that of wu-wei, (‘doing nothing’), a kind of behaviour which involves the acceptance of what is inevitable or unavoidable in our experience; thereby reducing the friction and drag caused by obstinate commitment to a single preferred course of action or outcome. Some of the best examples of wu-wei are to be found in the know-how of craftsmen.
In this way, the most efficient and effective way of overcoming problems or adversity is by noncontention or yielding, which is not the same as submission or capitulation, but involves exercising control through using the power of one’s opponent to overbalance him, exemplified in some Chinese martial arts.

To be a cause of ourselves is to understand the causes of things on ourselves properly, to have adequate ideas of the world and our place within it that we can make a conscious rather than arbitrary decision. One in which we use artefacts to mediate our decisions to certain ends.

Which all of which has touched little on the importance of emotions as an active force, feedback and sign of the pursuit of certain motives/ends.
I guess it is a defense against arbitrariness and pre-determination that one has a reason for why they do something, and it is reasoning that allows the rational part to be a determination aspect of our decision making. Although I am confused by Spinoza's parrallism in regards to the mind not causing action as followed into Lev Vygotsky, but I think it's based in distinction of what thinking is, in that how do we decide and determine ourselves if the mind cannot cause material effects, how does knowing why of something change things?
“Every event that occurs in the world has antecedently sufficient causes,” (p. 151) but we have an intuitively compelling experience of human freedom; this freedom is experienced in the gap between the conditions which had given us reasons on which to act, and the actual execution of a decision made on those reasons. And we know that it is precisely the ability to make such decisions rationally, and to act on reasons, rather than acting either randomly or in a way which is pre-determined, which makes our species so successful.

The problem of psychological freedom is posed thus: “Are our psychological states, in the forms of our beliefs and desires, hopes and fears, as well as our awareness of our obligations and commitments, etc., causally sufficient to determine all of our decisions and actions?” (p. 156) A drug addict and the subject of a posthypnotic suggestion are taken as exceptions that prove the rule. In general, if I do something, it is genuinely because I decided to do it, and Searle concludes that psychological freedom is not an illusion, but seems to be real.
What is it to understand any given piece of behaviour as a human action? Consider the following example. If my head nods, it may be a sign of assent to a question or it may be a nervous tick. To explain the nod as a way of saying ' Yes' to a question is to give it a role in the context of human action. To explain the nod as a nervous tick is to assert that the nod was not an action but something that happened to me. To understand the nod as a nervous tick we turn to the neurophysiologist for a causal explanation. To understand it as a sign of assent is to move in a different direction. It is to ask for a statement of the purpose that my saying ' Yes' served; it is to ask for reasons, not for causes and it is to ask for reasons which point | to a recognisable want or need served by my action. This reference to purpose is important. When social anthropologists come across some unintelligible mode of behaviour, obedience to a primitive taboo, for example, they look for some as yet unnoticed purpose, some want or need to which such obedience ministers; and if they find none they look for some past want or need which the practice once served, even though now it is nothing but a useless survival. That is to say, we make both individual deeds and social practices intelligible as human actions by showing how they connect with characteristically human desires, needs and the like. Where we cannot do this, we treat the unintelligible piece of behaviour as a symptom, a survival or superstition.
To be educated is also a process of which becoming free is intrinsically a part, for to be educated is not to ‘know’ a range of positions and perspectives but to understand the reasons for holding particular beliefs and rejecting others. Pippin continues:

[I] imagine all of us playing a version of the game where we try to name an idea crucial to our understanding of ourselves and of the modern world, and which has played a critical role in some of our decisions, some of the policies we have formulated, and many of the judgments and even condemnations we have formulated about others, but which we have no clue how to define and, no matter how much we have relied on it, no clue at all how to defend the idea from objections. Examples come easily to mind to all of us. What, after all, is a "right"? (Pippin, R. 2000)]

In such a scenario we would not be familiar with the reasons for our actions and judgments and therefore we would be subject to them rather than in control of them: ‘[A] better form of self-understanding might make it possible to say that you led a life more "your own."’ (Pippin, R. 2000.)

And my reasons for doing something are in the satisfaction of some need, I do things with intent/purpose, an end in mind.

And I may distinguish between the purpose of an action from the intention it serves, the point of it all, greater than the series of actions to the specific end.
To understand how a social practice, made up of millions of individual actions, can be ‘self-conscious’ entails the distinction Hegel makes between the general and the universal. In general, not all the individual actions in a social practice are motivated by the exact same purpose or intention, not every action implies exactly the same object.

For example, the aim of a capitalist firm is to expand its capital, but to do so it pursues various subsidiary aims (services) and provides wages to its employees. Thus there will be a variety of concepts of what, say, James Hardy Ltd., is aiming at, but an analysis will show that it is neither the provision of building material nor the welfare of its employees, but the accumulation of capital which is its aim, its intention. (Hegel distinguishes between ‘purposes’ such as asbestos production or wage-earning) and ‘intentions’ which provides the motivation for the diverse purposes (Hegel 1821, §§ 114-128).

So, a ‘collective subject’ is not a group of people but a social practice. An entire community is seen then as an aggregate of social practices. A social practices is an aggregate of purposive actions, united by their sharing of a common intention or motivation.

The purpose of my individual action is part of a larger activity driven towards some larger intent.
So that while every action of which an activity is composed is directed at and realises some immediate goal, the goal is not the motive of the action. The motive for each action comes from the activity of which it is a part, and is realised only through a number of actions. The motive (or object) of an activity, the human social need which it meets, is definitive of the activity, and this is the distinction between an action and an activity. Leontyev says that:

“... The main thing that distinguishes one activity from another, however, is the difference of their objects. It is exactly the object of an activity that gives it a determined direction. ... The main thing is that behind activity there should always be a need, that it should always answer one need or another” (Leontyev 1978).

Activity is composed of actions and nothing other than actions, but “one and the same motive may generate various goals and hence various actions” whilst “one and the same action may realize various activities” (2009, p. 401), so an activity is not simply a set of actions. Leontyev sums this up by saying that Actions are not ‘additive’ and ‘activity’ is a molar unit, whilst Action is the main, or molecular, unit of human life.

The study of actions and their goals, on one hand, and activities and their motives, on the other, “deals not with different processes but rather with different planes of abstraction” (2009, p. 401)
I think I'm clarifying for myself how actions can't be causal as this is what is incompatible with the idea of our self determination.
Desires do not cause our actions, because then we are purely subject to the external influences and can't be said to be agent except in the narrow sense in structuralism as a carrier of some 'disease'.
In the 1960s, Louis Althusser gave a different slant to the meaning of “agency.” For Althusser, human beings were “agents” of change in just the same way that they are carriers of a disease, i.e., he negated the subjective aspect of agency, leaving change purely as a result of structure, with no place for indivudals.

This is the necessary consequence of the likes of Spinoza in which everything is determined by a material necessity and couldn't be otherwise. And this is a contradictory aspect in Vygotsky (as expressed by Andy Blunden) that to attempt to find establish the explanatory psychology in beteen a causal or purely descriptive one.
And the idea of causality is one that doesn't actually in itself make things intelligible as the highest point it can reach is that of infinite regression or reciprocity where effects are the causes of themselves.
Hegel showed that causality is extremely limited in its explanatory capacity, because the invocation of causation leads to an infinite regress. Efficient causes are always of interest, but a phenomenon is only understood when it is grasped as a cause of itself (a causa sui), that is, the relevant process is seen to create and recreate the conditions for its own existence. But even then, explanation often takes the form of Reciprocity of cause and effect. Hegel (1831) grants that “to make the manners of the Spartans the cause of their constitution and their constitution conversely the cause of their manners, may no doubt be in a way correct,” but still explains nothing. But Reciprocity is as far as Causality can go. The understanding of a process as a cause sui means grasping it as a concept and usually incorporates an investigation of its origins and development. Vygotsky has pioneered such an approach to Psychology.

Because actions are mediated by consciousness, an action can't be said to be caused as this is still confining ones self to a view of the person as an object adherent only to laws of physiology.
Words like causality and freedom are meaningful not simply as descriptive of the world, but particularly as tools for our own action: how do we understand the world and how do we change it? How do I understand my own actions? I can understand the rash on my skin as the effect of psoriasis, but if I claim that my opinions or my actions are effects of external or prior causes rather than free acts of my own volition, then I commit a performative contradiction. To take another persons’ consciousness to be the effect of causes, is to regard them as an object to be controlled and manipulated, and not as a rational being. My doctor or psychologist may with good reason regard my actions in this way, as the effect of external causes, but if I am brought before a judge for a crime, I can be committed to prison or a psychiatric ward according to whether I am regarded as a rational human being morally responsible for my action or not. Even when, as a result of reflection, I want to change my own behavior, I do not regard my behavior as caused by external forces – I take moral responsibility for it. If I become aware of how my opinions, actions or habits have been formed by external factors, then I can decide to change them or not. Analysis of consciousness by causality leads, at best, to an infinite regress.
Nonetheless, in describing and explaining social processes or psychological processes, one cannot avoid the language of concepts. Likewise, one cannot avoid the language of actors using artifacts, people anticipating events, thinking about their reactions, forming concepts of their objects and having feelings. None of these forms of expression contradict the causal substance of human activity. But for example, an impending event cannot cause me to prepare for it, the sight of a juicy steak cannot cause me to steal it: consciousness always mediates between stimulus and response. And consciousness needs to be described and explained in its own terms.

As such, when the substance fo one's view is inclusive of actions/activity, it doesn't confine itself to a view of reality reduced to matter and motion. Which is why natural science and the underpining philosophy can't be simply transcribed to a science of psychology, it deals with a fundamentally specific conception of it's objects of study which we're qualitatively distinct from.
Activity is purposive movement of any kind, in particular, human actions. Activity differs from ‘praxis’ because there is no implication that Activity is guided by Theory, only that it is motivated and at least potentially self-conscious (i.e., excluding autonomous physiological processes in the body). Socialists take activity as the basic substance of our philosophy, rather than matter and motion, which are the substances of a mechanical or natural-scientific view of the world.

What is getting to me though is that even in criticizing causality, it is hard to get away from illusions such as thinking that conscious thought causes actions even whilst modern science shows that this isn't the case, consciousness is arrive at after the fact even if quite quickly.
But then I am wondering exactly the relevance to 'true ideas' in terms of activity that knows its object (as opposed to learnt phrases independent of the object), where we train our body within conditions not of our choosing.
Where we do have self-control, we can simply do things, we can walk because we've learnt how to guide our bodies, we can do fine dexterous tasks like play an instrument. Although this doesn't resolve the issue of free will from cultural determinism it is self evident the experience of a psychological free will which is quite real, which from lev Vygotsky's approach makes intelligible how the self is like a very elaborate series of self constructed and conditioned apparatus of behaviour.
For which we must decide on a mode of action and one we have relatively mastered (have self control of), rather than it be the case that our actions are simply structural. Just as we may be subject to ideas we don't understand and thus can be self determining/free, similarly any desire without a reason as to why we perform an action of our own will makes us seem determined by things like peer influence and makes it hard to think of that action as truly our own.
I believe that Desires are determined by the combination of nature and nurture.

Examples of nature include genetics, eugenics, and pollution (lead poisoning can make people violent and crazy). Examples of nurture include the environment one was raised and conditioned in, the religious related values one was brought up and manipulated with, and the economics one is living in.

I am a person of destiny. Everyone's life is a fixed destiny, and that destiny determines what one's desires are.

Having real consciousness cannot be changed by one's environment, since real consciousness is not a material manner, but rather an "idea" to those who lack real consciousness.
Wellsy wrote:What is getting to me though is that even in criticizing causality, it is hard to get away from illusions such as thinking that conscious thought causes actions even whilst modern science shows that this isn't the case, consciousness is arrive at after the fact even if quite quickly.
But then I am wondering exactly the relevance to 'true ideas' in terms of activity that knows its object (as opposed to learnt phrases independent of the object), where we train our body within conditions not of our choosing.
Where we do have self-control, we can simply do things, we can walk because we've learnt how to guide our bodies, we can do fine dexterous tasks like play an instrument. Although this doesn't resolve the issue of free will from cultural determinism it is self evident the experience of a psychological free will which is quite real, which from lev Vygotsky's approach makes intelligible how the self is like a very elaborate series of self constructed and conditioned apparatus of behaviour.

I now understand Andy Blunden's summary of the contradictory character of Vygotsky's work on the free will as compatible with biology.
Where he asserts that thought doesn't cause action, but doesn't adopt the natural science position where consciousness is merely an epiphenomenon of our biology. Rather consciousness mediates actions and this is also inferred in his continuation of Hegel's point of freedom as the recognition of necessity, understanding the situation. The idea that thought doesn't cause actions is based in problematic abstractions found in natural science as it exists today.
Where Vygotsky's philosophy as a Marxist uses activity as a fundamental concept from which things are abstracted from, their unity within it, rather than posed against one another. Such that the ontological distinction between and mind and matter, isn't an issue when the subject object relation in relation to culture better situates means of understand human actions rather than the motion matter of mechanical materialism in natural science, which is incompatible to with the idea of free will.
Blunden is apt to criticize his effort for the concept of causality to explain consciousness because whilst consciousness has a material basis it can't be considered strictly determined. Causality at best ends up at an infinite regress as found in the notion of reciprocity in which causes are effects and vice versa, such that there is a cycle in which the process is one of self-cause.
But intelligible and scientific explanations aren't causal ones, rather notions that make things such as evolution intelligible such as natural selection aren't causal.
Rather, our decisions are governed by a logical necessity as opposed to a causal necessity, although the logical conclusion points to a certain end, we do not absolutely have to it by a causal necessity.
People “making their own history” means people, in whatever social position they occupy, taking action for reasons which are generally well-founded given the circumstances they find themselves in. The conditions in which you find yourself may mean that there is only one rational thing to do, but you still have to choose to do that, you don’t have to. A defence of free will must also respond to the fact that one’s needs and desires and the concepts by means of which one grasps them are among that which is given and transmitted from the past, but this still does not mean that human action is caused. It is merely subject to constraints.
The difference between logical necessity and causal necessity
The sociologist Anthony Giddens claimed that the predictability manifested in social life is largely ‘made to happen’ by strategically placed social actors, not in spite of them or ‘behind their backs’. Far from people being driven to do what they do by remote or invisible ‘structural forces’, Giddens showed that “all explanations will involve at least implicit references both to the purposive, reasoning behavior of agents and to its intersection with constraining and enabling features of the social and material contexts” (1984, p. 179). Giddens’ research shows that individuals are generally well aware of the possible consequences of their actions, and are experts in the often lamentable situations in which they find themselves. Sociologists use Game Theory to study the various traps which confront people when are deemed to act as isolated individuals and they do gain certain insights into social problems. However, human society is not an aggregate of isolated atoms, and all manner of collective action from neighborhood solidarity to government action create and change the arrangements within which such ‘rational actors’ act. The situations in which the individuals make their decisions are the products of policy of strategic institutions. The rationality at work in the creation of institutions and customs is not a ‘univocal’ reason, but reflects a diversity of social interests and identities.

Any given social arrangement has an inherent ‘logic’ which constrain the actions of all the particular actors; no-one ‘forces’ any actor to act in a certain way (indeed they would not be actors at all if they were forced), but the social arrangements constrain them in what can be called ‘logical necessity’: “You don’t have to do X, but look at your options. You’d be well advised to do X.” But it does not stop there; people endeavor to change arrangements which do not suit them. Responses to institutional arrangements are a kind of practical critique of the concept on which the institution was based. Institutional arrangements will be changed in response to such critique and the changes decided upon by rational deliberations, however imperfect, will respond to the practical critique explicitly in the form of thinking and argument. Institutional change in modern societies is not like crowd behavior, but takes place according to what is found to be necessary in the circumstances. Institutions try to do what they have to do according to their concept, rather than simply striving to maintain a status quo.

The only senses in which causal necessity can make sense in this context are (1) genuinely rare, unpredictable and unmanageable natural disasters, and (2) actions by individual and corporate actors which are senseless and delusional and which have extensive consequences. Such events could be deemed to be the cause of their results and do undermine the teleological character of history. But insofar as all corporate actors only do as they must, we can describe social history as the unfolding of ‘logical necessity’ inherent in the concepts of the various institutions and the relations between them. The question remains: how to theorize this ‘logical necessity’?

The bolded part that notes 'But it does not stop there; people endeavor to change arrangements which do not suit them.' is integral to the free will less it be confined to choosing between various options, forgetting that man changes the circumstances in which he may decide between various options.
The narrow view of free will, associated with this stage in the development of the idea, is that of making a decision between this or that option, but misses the question of where the options come from and the supposedly free will was left only the task of figuring out which of the given options is the better. So Free Will turns out to be an illusion, but only because of the limited terms, that is of decision theory, in which it is conceived.

But of course freedom is to be found in changing the actual circumstances/arrangements in which we make our choices.
This is what Lenin’s obsessive tirades against “formal” freedom are about, therein resides their “rational kernel” which is worth saving today: when he emphasizes that there is no “pure” democracy, that we should always ask who does a freedom under consideration serve, which is its role in the class struggle, his point is precisely to maintain the possibility of the TRUE radical choice. This is what the distinction between “formal” and “actual” freedom ultimately amounts to: “formal” freedom is the freedom of choice WITHIN the coordinates of the existing power relations, while “actual” freedom designates the site of an intervention which undermines these very coordinates.
Been trying to think how our desires need to be ranked against one another bot just rationally but practically such that we are habitually able to make the ‘right’ decision rather than be arbitrarily subject to something we may desire in the immediate.

This comes to focus in my work with inmates with addiction in that I don’t think I can erase their desire for a drug but i can minimize it and have them seek to affirm other things as valuable. So that they can make decisions towards one end instead of towards drug use. Because when they’re tempted by it, I suspect it really is the case that they choose to pursue it because they desire it. But due to consequences regret it and are unsure of how to change their decision making process. In part because they often rely directly on the will and get worn out trying to be sober based onl on their will to resist rather than strategies to minimize their temptation to things that they in a sense don’t want. And cultivating not wanting it is also tied to challenging their beliefs and reasoning for use.

Specifically, behaviors that are routinely selected and performed to fulfill a certain motivation or to achieve a particular goal acquire instrumentality and become strongly associated with the goal (Aarts, Verplanken, & van Knippenberg, 1998; Bargh, 1990; Ouellette & Wood, 1998; Vohs & Baumeister, 2007; Zhang, Fishbach, & Kruglanski, 2007). This process is reminiscent of Pavlovian conditioning and instrumental learning (see Rescorla & Holland, 1982, for a review), but it specifies the mechanism. In other words, the cognitive association between the representation of the goal and the representation of the behavior enacted repeatedly to achieve the goal is strengthened over time. Such strengthening of the association between a goal and a means facilitates a process of emotional transfer. More specifically, the motivational value (desirability) of the goal is transferred to the objects or activities that are strongly associated with the goal and are deemed instrumental to goal attainment. This process of emotional transfer from goals to means is known as means valuation and has been widely supported by recent self-regulation research (Brendl & Higgins, 1996; Brendl, Markman, & Messner, 2003; Ferguson & Bargh, 2004; Fishbach & Ferguson, 2007; Fishbach et al., 2004; Lewin, 1935; Markman, Brendl, & Kim, 2007). For instance, in one study, thirsty participants evaluated items more positively that could satisfy thirst directly (e.g., water and juice) but not items that were only moderately instrumental to the thirst-quenching goal (e.g., coffee and beer; Ferguson & Bargh, 2004).

It is thus possible that, just like the jogger who starts jogging to lose weight but becomes a regular runner who continues to run long after the weight loss goal was achieved because jogging became desirable in itself, the drinker who started drinking to socialize may continue to drink even outside the socializing contexts because drinking became valuable. In addition to its capacity to fulfill other important goals, substance use may be particularly effective in acquiring positive affect because of the initial pharmacological effects of drugs.

Consider the example of a highly intelligent seven-year-old child whom I wish to teach to play chess, although the child has no particular desire to learn the game. The child does however have a very strong desire for candy and little chance of obtaining it. I therefore tell the child that if the child will play chess with me once a week I will give the child 50 cents worth of candy; moreover I tell the child that I will always play in such a way that it will be difficult, but not impossible, for the child to win and that, if the child wins, the child will receive an extra 50 cents worth of candy. Thus motivated the child plays and plays to win. Notice however that, so long as it is the candy alone which provides the child with a good reason for playing chess, the child has no reason not to cheat and every reason to cheat, provided he or she can do so successfully. But, so we may hope, there will come a time when the child will find in those goods specific to chess, in the achievement of a certain highly particular kind of analytical skill, strategic imagination and competitive intensity, a new set of reasons, reasons now not just for winning on a particular occasion, but for trying to excel in whatever way the game of chess demands. Now if the child cheats, he or she will be defeating not me, but himself or herself.

The process of Means and Ends is a process of the manifestation of Means in the form of the Realised End, and the contradiction between Abstract End and Realised End transforming the conception of Means and Ends, much like the continual adaption of species in a changing environment of which the species is itself a part. The adequate Means becomes itself an End, the discovery of which itself entails certain Means; on the other hand, an adequate conception of the End is a powerful Means in its own right.

We can discipline ourselves to desire a certain means as an end in itself sometime after it began as a means to another end.
This can be done in ways that might seem problematic even, such as using drugs to feel more confident and then ending up addicting to the state it creates.
Or to seek money not just as a means but as something pleasurable to have. Repeating the cycle over and over in desiring the thing.

How does this transition occur? Presumably there is some pleasure derived from the means for it to become an end in itself. The affect that arises in achieving our desired end becomes associated with the means itself?

Or the means is pleasurable in itself and in experiencing it regularily we just so happen to make it a desired end also.
How does one go from a party whip disciplining solidarity among workers in a union to an ethic one embodies in their actions, as a moral virtue?

If we can condition and thus choose our desires then they can be our own, but we inherit many desires unconsciously through our formative years. Some are in need of radical change.
I'm not sure.

But at the same time I don't know how wise it would be to talk about my desires online where nothing never gets really erased where they could be used against me in the future.
But very surfacial, my desires are much larger than the ones my parents and my social cycle could ever expect or want about me.
Thus I think no, but I'm not sure.
Wellsy wrote:Been trying to think how our desires need to be ranked against one another bot just rationally but practically such that we are habitually able to make the ‘right’ decision rather than be arbitrarily subject to something we may desire in the immediate.

This comes to focus in my work with inmates with addiction in that I don’t think I can erase their desire for a drug but i can minimize it and have them seek to affirm other things as valuable. So that they can make decisions towards one end instead of towards drug use. Because when they’re tempted by it, I suspect it really is the case that they choose to pursue it because they desire it. But due to consequences regret it and are unsure of how to change their decision making process. In part because they often rely directly on the will and get worn out trying to be sober based onl on their will to resist rather than strategies to minimize their temptation to things that they in a sense don’t want. And cultivating not wanting it is also tied to challenging their beliefs and reasoning for use.

Your duty towards the inmates who are addicted to a drug is substituting it with something that gives them pleasure. Endorphins, dopamine in their heads without a narcotic or illicit drug. One of these is yoga, another is running for periods of time, others are breathing and cardio exercises and others are certain foods, and activities that are all good subs for drugs. Yoga is very good. It calms people down. Also arts, crafts and creative skills and it has to be custom to each person.

Have you checked out this prison program from Germany?

Most of my desires are not my own. My mother wanted me to succeed in life and she influenced me to want to achieve that aim. She wants me to settle down and I share that desire. It is like I need someone to get old with. However, if I cannot find a good guy, I should still be capable of supporting myself. She does not want me to settle. My sense of morality is from my mother.

My strongest want is to be left alone, to be free of obligations. "Man is born free but everywhere in chains" - Rousseau. I love my family but at times I want to be irresponsible and run away. I want to change my identity and remake myself. I would like to live on a deserted island or be in a land where I can be different. I can be free to put my needs first, to be selfish and make all my own decisions. There are times when I feel misunderstood or I feel like a prisoner of my circumstances. What if I had more control over my life? What if no one depended on me for strength or help? I like being needed though.

Sure but if you are objective lets compare Joe Bi[…]

Good, let's ban FaceBook and Twitter next. They […]

Oh, all ye silly fools! The river doesn't change.[…]

What a stupid response, just wasting space on PoF[…]