Saturday, July 27, 2013

Will... Feelings ... be Free?

I just finished re-reading George Orwell's 1984.  I read the book when I was Ellen's age (pre high school) in 1966.  Of course I thought the book was going to be about science fiction (which was the trend in 1966).  Instead it was a political fiction book (with some science fiction overtones) indicting the ugly outcomes of complete totalitarian rule.  I wonder how Ellen will reminisce in 2057 about the movies and books she reads today - Hunger Games; Unwind; etc. 

"They [the Thought Police] could not alter your feelings: for that matter you could not alter them yourself, even if you wanted to. They could  lay bare in the utmost detail everything that you had done or said or thought; but the inner heart, whose workings were mysterious even to yourself remained impregnable."

Yet at the end of the book we discover Winston's hope of free feelings (impregnably etched on the heart) is a false truth - if feelings could not be properly manipulated they would be reprogrammed with adequate (and unique) torture by the Thought Police. 

Instincts are the genesis of feelings and it is our rational nature and experience that provides some measure of"control" over those instincts (we use the term he has a "strong will").   I've always believed you can modify feelings with attitude (a reprogramming of thought and strengthening your "will").  However there is a "kernel" set of code that in unalterable (and hence not free).  It's only state can be either off or on.

That is the real mystery of "free will".

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