Do a Toy have Free Will?
Being conscious is awareness, to be able to perform actions and think thoughts, process life and death and be a part of everything — and the latter is no matter what. We can’t stop ourselves from being there, being now, even if our thoughts most of the time unnecessary travels to the past and the future. It takes energy, but also triggers the imagination. To envision the future basically uses the same parts of the brain that tries to puzzle together the past, and that’s closely related to imagination. It says something about our existence and in many ways how we see reality.
If we manage to look beyond our own view on consciousness and realize that awareness works in so many different ways, a new world opens up to us. A plant is alive and well, grows and dies, evolves and feeds and kills — and it has a consciousness of its own, just very different from the one of a human. I once had a colleague who obviously was annoyed at me for being such a huge fan of cats (I love them!) and told me that they only go by instincts. When the cat sleeps on top of me it’s only to gain warmth and when it rubs its head against mine it’s just to “own” me, because the glands in its mouth marks me and so on. If you look at that behaviour from the perspective of a human it’s not wrong of course, but from the perspective of a cat it IS about love, family and care. They just show it differently, but it’s all the same. Just like language, just because a word sounds different in Japanese doesn’t mean it less powerful. It’s subjective — depending on who’s manifesting the feeling and who receives it.
Where is the consciousness? Is it our brain or is it on the outside, based on all our experiences? I tend to go with the latter, as our environment — including ideas, other humans, language, art, news and many other things — makes us what we are, at least as a frame for other people to percieve. That’s why it’s good to go empty sometimes, clear out all the noise and information and connect to the self that’s not depending on what others might bring. But do dead things also have a consciousness? Can they be conscious? Hear me out.
Look at children, look at them play. They create a whole universe which is real, at least in their view. The reason is that they haven’t been taught the materialistic view yet, that what they’re doing is just make believe. For them is real, it’s a world where they are gods. When a kid picks up a toy, like a doll, they become the externalized consciousness of that “dead” object. Through will and imagination they give the toy power to perform actions, to think thoughts — to live and die. That’s the reality of the toy, just like our reality depends on what is around us to feel rewarding (at least in the modern, “civilized” society). Every time that doll( (or any other kind of object) is picked up it becomes alive and starts to “think”. The child manifests its will on a piece of wood or plastic and merges with it.
On a more sinister note, doesn’t that mean we — humans — are toys? Who is our child-god? What would happen if that child got tired and forgot about us? Is our reality to be marionettes in someone else’s game? When the brain sends a signal to move a finger it’s already been decided, relatively long before we think that thought. Who’s pulling those strings, who are we attached to? Do we really have free will?
In my belief we have free will as long we’re aware of it. I can’t answer if someone is pulling the strings, but I’m always ready to cut them when I feel it’s necessary. It’s possible, just set your mind to it. Dare to go against your instinct, take another path and say a different word. Just by breaking those unwritten rules you can control your fate and slide up the walls of the reality tunnel even further.
(Photo by Grzegorz Fitał)