Thought for the day

I just saw August: Osage County, the brilliant southern gothic comedy/drama by Tracy Letts. It was in turns elegaic, hysterically funny, tragic, manic, thrilling. By the end you really got the sense that human fates are determined by events set into motion long before, sometimes many years before.

As I was watching it, I started to wonder to what extent our sense of free will is an illusion, in the sense that we are formed by events outside of us. Perhaps our very motivations and desires have been set into motion by forces outside our control, and to that extent the very idea of “self” as an independent entity may be an illusion. As Schopenhauer once said: “A man can do whatever he wants, but he cannot want whatever he wants”.

I wonder how you would even get a handle on a question like this. Could you step outside your own values and desires sufficiently to question them, examine them? Would you even want to?

Maybe that’s the thought for the day.

One thought on “Thought for the day”

  1. Isn’t that what society–being in a civilized society does to us from birth and though all the generations? The forces of the group shape and control the group beyond its control?

    Big thoughts….big, big, big….

    I think you can step outside to think of them, but I think it might be a bit “emo”
    as it churns up the human condition as a side effect.

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