This past weekend, I finally got around to reading, Christof Koch’s Finding Free Will: Physics and neurobiology can help us understand whether we choose our own destiny. By the time I arrived at the last sentence not only had he introduced several works, I’d not yet caught sight of, but this short work, also, brought the likes of Roberto Assagioli and V. S. Ramachadran back to mind.
Importantly, I had not associated Edward Lorenz’s “butterfly effect” with the range and diversity of human. But, Koch behavior joined the butterfly effect, which Ray Bradbury had suggested in “A Sound of Thunder“, to the diversity of anyone’s behaviors across time and situation. Repeatedly my clients, friends and family have credited me with things, both good and bad, in their lives growing out of things I had done that were outside of my awareness in the first place. For instance, this morning the owner/barista of my favorite coffee shop gave me a gift card for a few drinks. By her report it was paid up by someone who rarely comes in but sees me there in the early morning almost every day of the week as he or she walks by to catch a light rail train.
Seemingly, Koch merges the idea of chaos into those effects reported by people having spots in their posterior parietal cortex stimulated. Bear in mind that I do know what it’s like having electrodes buried under the skull. Think about having your neurosurgeon prompt particular locations just behind your forehead into gear so that you feel the desire to move a limb without moving the limb itself. Decidedly different from having that limb moving after your neurosurgeon’s popped your top to directly touch the limbic part of your cortex causing a leg to move without a thought, of any kind, happening in your awareness. Are we not, then catching sight of physical aspects of conscious before it fully emerges?
V. S. Ramachadran’s work of merging visual perception with our sensory selves to successfully alter people’s sense of their bodies drops another hint in this issue (“Reflections on the Mind”, Scientific American: Mind, (2011) 22:3). Being able to look at the reflection of one hand replacing sight of the other, we are discovering a true ability to change perceptions of that real but unseen hand. Along with other work in this area Ramachandran is beginning to redefine a supposed security of perception and human behavior.
More than likely a few are wondering whether I was having a brain “fart” after finding Roberto Assagioli beside Ramachandran. Where, in the proverbial hell, did I find any justification for shoving the founder of Psychosynthesis in beside the other? Well, it was Roberto who introduced me to the active question of how is that we are able to coalesce the plethora of human “potentials” into that thing we call self. What I label potentials were in Roberto’s eyes those clusterings of abilities each human has.
While I was never a fan of Psychosynthesis, itself, it was though where I found the question needing my attention. Important to me was discovering Assagioli’s image of self being a tribe rather than that proverbial individual put me on a road, back in the 80’s which re-emerged in the 2000’s, with neuropsychology. I know there are many more branches to this issue, but for me this is what directly influenced my perceptions. By accepting his tribal images of each person’s clusterings of potentials I began seeing self, including my own, in fashions making it easier to try and not step on Bradbury’s butterfly.
Learning to positively accept a forgetfulness inflicted on me by surgery means only to encourage and work within the cooperation and conflicts within my tribe(s). Subtle facets of me being extracted over a decade ago had to be taken over by a smaller tribe. Trust me, as friends and family know too well all of my tribe was pissy for a few years making many of them drenched in my verbal and behavior urine and having to deal with a man who couldn’t, for those years, manage much of life. It takes time to reassign duties.
None of what I’ve said in the past couple of paragraphs matches well with what Christof Koch addressed in his article. Yet, think about what I’ve said and the second part of the article’s title. Having dealt with subtle, unless you watched my neurosurgeon extract portions of my left hemisphere, is suggestive of exactly what Koch wrote about. Regrouping a shrunken tribe of aspects of that thing called my “mind” does not violate physics nor neurobiology. For that matter, my words comfortably fit to neuropsychology in my deliberately taking hold of what I had learned and practiced in a third person sense in group and individual counseling to myself.
So then, use my personal example to undertake similar endeavors within yourselves. Keep in mind that you can take that last sentence both pointing at you and the people around you or to the tribe of neurological, psychological and psychosocial abilities nested within you.