Free Will

I started listening to a recording of a lecture from 1968 this evening. For some reason, the machine will not let me copy that specific video. Perhaps as well since it is an hour and half long. I finished up listening to the whole thing.

Paraphrasing and shortening enormously, you might reasonably ask why a plant is considered to be ‘alive’. Except for tree-huggers, no one thinks that trees etc have ‘sensations’ in the sense of sensory perception. They can see nothing, hear nothing, have no pain nerves or, indeed, even the most rudimentary of brains. But they have a genetic plan which drives them to grow. He gives an example of a plant which was growing towards the sun but a rock rolled over it and flattened it (without killing it). The plant will continue to grow and gradually will orient itself towards the sun again. The critical idea is that the plant can do nothing else. It is ‘programmed’ and to that extent can be considered to be ‘alive’.

Animals are far more complex, of course. They are conscious. They know what is going on around them and, as we know, can be taught to respond to instructions. But they have a huge drawback. They cannot direct their consciousness. They cannot actually think. 

Humans have this capacity to direct their consciousness or even avoid directing their consciousness. That is really weird since it implies a higher level of control. I can sit on the couch and ponder a problem which needs a solution, or I can decide to put it off until tomorrow. We do it all the time. Be that as it may, when we do get round to seriously confronting the problem, we then focus our consciousness upon it. If we get to that state of focused consciousness, we can even ‘take a break’ and think about other things, and then come back to it.

ALL humans have this ability. It is ‘built in’ (assuming normal brain and mind functioning). But it is also possible for a person to avoid using the ability to think. See first sentence in para above. In that case, they are at the mercy of their emotions. Their emotions are their only guide. The lecturer gives an example of a youth who has never known anything but gang culture and who kills someone. As he is dragged off to jail for life, he will be screaming, “I could not help it!!”

There are MASSIVE implications, and that lecture dates from 1968!

But there is a bit more to it. A human cannot help but think. It is built in. He cannot only be an emotional cyborg. It is easy to see how a criminal can spend his time thinking about how to break into a bank successfully.

But we also have ‘deviants’ thinking about how to deter smokers with bans, PP and taxes. It is the same thing. They use their minds to think about how to torture smokers. They do so of their own free will. It is deliberate. The likes of ASH ET AL are not emotionally driven crims. They think hard before inflicting the torture.


3 Responses to “Free Will”

  1. Rose Says:

    It sounds to me like you wasted an hour and a half of your life.
    That is very primative thinking on plants, if fact the first demonstrations of sensory capability in plants came out when I was in Grammar School. A geranium with a sensor attached to a leaf if I remember correctly, it reacted when they poured boiling water down the laboratory sink and killed the bacteria.

    Things have moved on a lot since then.

    Mown grass smell sends SOS for help in resisting insect attacks

    “The smell of cut grass in recent years has been identified as the plant’s way of signalling distress, but new research says the aroma also summons beneficial insects to the rescue.

    “When there is need for protection, the plant signals the environment via the emission of volatile organic compounds, which are recognized as a feeding queue for parasitic wasps to come to the plant that is being eaten and lay eggs in the pest insect,” said Dr. Michael Kolomiets, Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant pathologist in College Station.”

    Plant Distress Signals

    “Do plants actually know when they’re being eaten? A new study shows that plants can actually send out distress signals to other uninjured leaves when they are being attacked of eaten. The response is so fast that within seconds of the attack, the signal has already reached the other leaves, thereby prompting them to begin anticipatory defense responses.

    In a video, blazes of fluorescent light can be seen issuing from the parts of a leaf being munched on by a caterpillar and travels over to the other uneaten leaves within seconds. The light is a chemical and electrical signal that prompts the other leaves to prepare for an attack.

    In animals, nerve cells communicate with the help of glutamate. This happens when an excited nerve cell releases glutamate and triggers a wave of calcium ions from one nerve cell to another in a form of long-distance communication relay.

    Evidently, a similar mechanism occurs when plants are under threat. When the leaf is wounded, it triggers the release of glutamate, which in turn activates a wave of calcium that travels from the local wound to other uninjured leaves as a sort of distress signal. Within minutes, researchers observed that the defense-related hormones were already spiked in distant leaves”

    Just because you can’t tune into your plants method of communication, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

    Tobacco leaves emit warning chemicals that summon predators when mixed with caterpillar spit

    “When hornworm caterpillars eat tobacco plants, they doom themselves with their own spit. As they chew away, a chemical in their saliva reacts with airborne substances that are released by the beleaguered plants. This chemical reaction sends out a distress signal that is heard and answered by the predatory big-eyed bug. The bug eats hornworm caterpillars. Drawn by the chemical SOS of plants under distress, it finds plenty to devour.

    Many plants release airborne chemicals to defend themselves against very hungry caterpillars. These “plant volatiles” spread far and wide, summoning reinforcements to the plant’s defence. Some attract predators like the big-eyed bug; others call upon parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside the caterpillars, which are soon devoured from the inside out.

    Silke Allmann and Ian Baldwin from the Max Planck Institute studied a particular group of SOS chemicals called ‘green leaf volatiles’ (or GLVs), which are released almost immediately from wounded leaves.”
    https: //

    It’s all go out there.

    • Elizabeth Says:

      I was thinking the same, Rose. Plant roots have neurons at the tip. I read a study on Dodder plants “choosing” their hosts. Also, plants use the “internet” of fungus mycelium underground through which they communicate over vast distances. Fascinating stuff.

    • junican Says:

      No, Rose. The whole point is consciousness. It is not about automated emissions of smells which attract insects etc. Are plants conscious? You can believe that they are if you wish. But you have a hell of a job to describe such consciousness without locating a brain. But it goes further.
      We say that our pet cats and dogs are conscious. Why? Because they have memory and can decide to avoid painful events. Also, they have emotions. They can be sad or happy. Also, they can decide go around obstacles.
      But the massively important thing is that THEY CANNOT DIRECT THEIR CONSCIOUSNESS!

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