How much of a "free will" do people really have? Are we free to make decisions without being influenced by outside or physical and mental constraints? We may have a limited "free will" but we also have all these animal instincts and inherited genes, along with sex hormones surging through our body that makes us act the way we do. In addition to this we have the storytellers constantly feeding us information, some good and some bad. The stories we hear throughout our life, from the time we learn the words and language of our parents and culture to the end of our existence we our constantly being bombarded by things we hear or see.
The culture we grow up in, listening to our parents, our friends, peers, teachers, government, authors, the media, songwriters, neighbors, rabbis, priests, mullahs, philosophers, etc., all become a part of our self. All these influences create the overall path which we follow throughout our lives. Just imagine yourself , how differently you would think if you lived among the Inca civilization when they were sacrificing people by the thousands, or in Germany under Hitler, or the Mongols in the 12th century, or if you were born very rich or very poor, etc.
On a personal basis each of us is unique - no one has exactly the same influences or genes acting on our psyche - whether it be mental or physical we are constantly being influenced by the physical forces within us or the forces that surround us.
"Human Nature" with its unique imaginative capability makes it possible for our storytellers (all the above mentioned storytellers who we come into contact with throughout our lives) to get right into our minds, greatly influencing our, thoughts, knowledge and emotions. They can instill their ideas and thoughts in our minds whether it be to promote their knowledge, fears, predjudices, love, anger or hate. Their stories may be true or fantasies or plain outright lies.
Other animals are not effected by these stories, we could talk all day long to our pets and they really wouldn't be emotionally effected one way or the other. (Although the tone of our voice and some certain sounds or words could make them happy or feel guilty.) Our human imagination on the other hand gives the storytellers great influence over our thoughts, emotions and actions.
When 'Human Nature' with its powerful creative imagination is added to "Animal Nature", life becomes much more complex than the animals whose survival concerns are fairly simple. Animals are only concerned with their survival and procreation.
Examples of the basic animal concerns are:
* Physical nutrition - The constant need to obtain nutrition to satisfy their hunger. Where is their next meal or water hole?
* Domination - to be dominant over their territory - they (the wolves, etc.) mark off the boundaries with sprits of urine.
* Procreation - The need to reproduce. Males must always either have to defend their dominant position in their group or get up the courage to fight the dominant male so that they will be in a position to mate with the females.
* Survival - The need to defend themselves and surive in their environment. Animal instincts must always be on the alert for danger.
People (the imaginative animals) also have these same basic animal concerns but when 'Human Imagination' is added, everything becomes extremely complex.
** Physical nutrition PLUS - Human Imagination - led to the invention of: weapons for hunting, agriculture, ranching, husbandry, breeding, etc. which have continually been refined ever since humans became imaginative.
** Domination PLUS - Human Imagination - this is a big one for humans, to be dominant over one's territory. It has led to over 40,000 years of warfare. The first victims may have been the Neanderthals who modern man wiped out completely - after that there was constant tribal warfare which eventually progressed into the global warfare of today. Who knows were this will lead but it doesn't look good.
** Procreation PLUS Human Imagination - led to all sorts of social codes and laws, to protect and shelter one's mates and offspring, - marriage, housing, tribal codes, morals, religions, etc., (and some men still fight physically over a mate).
** Survival PLUS - Human Imagination - led to the creation of all sorts of weapons to defend against the wild animals which wasn't that much of a problem. Defending against and dominating other men, insects and "micro organisms" on the other hand was a really big problem which has not yet been solved and may never be solved. It led to nuclear & biological weapons, all sorts of complex medicines. We are also even worried about warding off rogue asteroids, global warming or cooling, etc. Whether we survive or how long we can survive is still an open question. We are using our 'Human Imagination' at a frantic pace - with new challenges always coming up. Animals never worried about any of these "human" concerns, they either met their simple challenges or died trying.
Mankind is endowed with "human imagination" - it has made our lives much more complicated (and much more interesting!). We are stuck with it whether we want it or not. It made mankind the 'imaginative animals'. The "Homo Imaginative Sapiens" species.
Taking into account all the animal and human factors that are ingrained in our psyche and constantly influence us, I would say we have a limited amount of "free will" indeed. Chemical dependancy further reduces a person's "Free Will" to the point where it is virtually non existent.
Don Hamilton 11/3/2003
ISBN 09649265-1-2, 210 pages, Tradepaperback with drawings.
The power to become aware of the wonders of the nature!
An eagle may have much keener eyes then ours but it cannot 'see' the things that we can!"
Donald L Hamilton