Culture's Dangerous Control and the Beast Inside: the Mystery of Personal Responsibility

Warren Kinston 6. October 2012 10:00

Our cultures are responsible for art, music, religion and even self-sacrifice: are they?  Our brain's wiring determines who we are: does it?  We will understand consciousness by mapping all the connections of the 100 billion nerve cells: will we?  Books and projects of this sort are the current rage.

Personal responsibility

Between biologists of the one sort trapped inside the brain, and biologists of the other sort who think they understand social life, there is scarcely room for a thinking person.  Improving our societies is then impossible.  What a relief not to be responsible for our social ills!  

It is certainly true that everything that we do is influenced: by our genes, by our cultures, by the situations we find ourselves in, by our past experiences, by educational indoctrination and more.  That almost goes without saying.  What must be said, but seems to be forgotten, is that this is looking backwards.  When you make choices, you look forwards.  If you forget that you are a creative person who is responsible for designing at least your own future, then no worthwhile future will emerge.

Each of us is responsible.  Only a person can be responsible.  Only a person can hold a value.  Only a person can create something new where a lack or emptiness previously existed.  Chimps have had greater genetic evolution than we have over the past hundred thousand years or so: but has natural evolution done as much for them as psychosocial evolution has done for homo sapiens?

There is no meaning to the term «responsible» when applied to culture.  Can you adjust its responsibilities?  Can you take culture to court?  Even when we say the responsibility lies with the Board or with the Government, it is always individual people who have to make that responsibility meaningful.  Anaesthetize the people, appoint zombies or elect conformist-sociopaths and responsibility becomes a sham. 

And what about holding the brain responsible?  I can hear the plaintiff: "M'lord, it wasn't me that done it.  It was my brain.  Don't put it away for 20 years.  I don't care for thinking much, but I'm strangely attached to those neurons."

Leonardo da Vinci noticed three classes of people: those who see, those who see when shown, and those who won't see anything that violates the current paradigm whatever that may happen to be.  (I'm not sure that he put it exactly like that.)



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Warren Kinston is the creator of the THEE-Online website as an open forum for the further discovery and development of THEE. He writes this blog as an escape valve for the excitement and frustrations of the work. More info here.

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