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August 13, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Mulled Whine With H.G. Beattie

Free Will! (Kate’S Too Clingy)

We have established that I lack the social ‘fear of missing out’ and am thus unlikely to leave the house just because you ask me to. Unfortunately, I also lack academic FOMO and complete the requisite reading less often than would be ideal. In studying for a recent test, I couldn’t put down the course reader.

I was sopping (figuratively, you pervert) with regret, thinking “SATAN! With this in mind, the lecture would have been transcendental. O, to be less of a daft bint”. The material in question regarded the mental element of crime and whether criminals really ‘choose’ to offend. Did I prefer a dualist framework, distinguishing my material body from my non-material mind and allowing me the free will to act as I please? Or was the notion of an ‘uncaused event’ laughable: was determinism ushering me into its folded cloak? (My current mental picture is of Dudley Dursley about to get the Dementor’s Kiss, just in case you needed one more reason to date me.)

The reading was intended to beg the question of whether we are justified in criminally sanctioning people whose actions are the sum of antecedent conditions for which they are not responsible. Fuck, I don’t know. I’m not a policy wonk. Moreover, I don’t have enough of a word count to preface everything with “I am not necessarily saying that [X]”, so in the interest of not looking like a bigot you should run a bath and have a think about that one alone.

I mentioned this reading to a pal of mine and was loaned a small book called Free Will by a guy called Sam Harris. I’d never heard of him. Ask your boyfriend about him. Your boyfriend reads Hitchens and indulges you in post-coital banter about the Four Horsemen, right? No? Find someone who does.

Being less than versed in anything philosophical required me to read each page of this polemic three times before I could discern what was going on. (I know, I know, I’m really fucking relatable.) Essentially, the more we find out about science, the more encroached upon is our belief in free will. It’s a myth. You don’t have any choice as to your actions.

So, with free will debunked, what is one to do? It is easy to sit around feeling sorry for oneself. One is by all accounts a miserable character. And it isn’t even one’s choice. HENCE! The only sufficient refuge will be denial. Of the five stages of grief, denial has the popular vote, because it’s the stage where he still loves you. Put that shit on my epitaph.

Being in denial is relaxing. Me, for example—I paid for my last haircut, thus I am financially independent. I have a sneaking suspicion I am also the only person to whom whiny but ultimately hopeful indie girl-pop first heard on Grey’s Anatomy applies so exquisitely. My constant shoulder bag lends me the swag of a white Diana Ross. My mother’s genes allow me the face of a young Meg Ryan (although the limits of denial preclude me from forgetting that those same genes gave me Baby Spice’s thighs.) Wait. No. This is about you, I promise. Go forth and bullshit.

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