The Armstrong Family Circus

published and designed by Wiseacre Design Studio

Maineville • Ohio • USA

Hosted in the United States by Eleven2, Inc.

So I was thinking about ... choice

Saturday April 25th 2009

by Paul Armstrong

in the heart of paper vines


Choice is a big deal to we humans because it coincides with our natural desire for freedom, but choice isn't nearly as vast and "free" as we really think, or at the very least, isn't as simple as we make it out to be. The appearance of having an endless bounty of choices and freedoms is really a limited path wherein to take action.


Everything you do in life can be broken down into two variables: choose to do something or choose to do nothing. Every choice has (situational) limitations. In life we are presented with a few realistic and plausible options to any moment a decision needs to be made. As humans we desire the freedom to do "whatever" we desire - but that freedom is neither limitless nor free.


Freedom means "the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action". Unfortunately it is impossible to act without an internal inclination (a constraint) because one will always do that which he intends to do. Aside from external forces, when your physical being does something of its own conscious desire, it does so because you intended that action. You can never do that which goes against your strongest inclination at that moment. Even if we could randomly desire something outside our inclinations the reasonable options of any choice has boundries (to paraphrase Jonathan Edwards in "The Freedom of the Will").


When you're driving a car you do not have limitless choices. You can move forward or backward, stop or left and right. Within each of those choices you have a few of realistic options (again, depending on your physical sistuation). You can't drive up or down. You can't disappear. Turning left or right will most like turn you into a field or ravine or woods or into oncoming traffic, and thus is no choice at all. While your ultimate choice not predetermined, your reasonable actions are predefined to a certain outcome (motivated by your strongest inclination and a healthy dose of self-preservation).


Perhaps our desire for the (appearance of) boundless freedoms and choices coincides with our desire to escape the personal responsiblity for our actions. But everything we do we do because we ultimately wanted to.




Comments for "So I was thinking about ... choice"

When you really get down to it, choice is an illusion. But we need that illusion because we need to make decisions. Without it, decisions would not get made.

Every step in time we are presented with a very limited choice; built upon the previous choices. When you wake up you can really do a few things. Wake up, go back to sleep, kill yourself or just lie there awake. And so forth and so on. But the idea of actually having "true" unlimited choices would bring us to halt. Say you could wake up and change your gender, your language, your house, your time period, etc. We'd not be able to "do" anything. I know you're more studied on this, philosophically; I just began pondering this after a few glasses of scotch

Comments are turned off for "So I was thinking about ... choice"