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My name is Travis Morgan.

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One potential

I often hear people speaking of how they want to be able to reach their “full” potential, as if they were currently operating at some lesser capacity. How I see it is, we are always operating at our full capacity because we only have one potential. Given the nature of causality, the engine of our deterministic environment, ones actions are determined by the conditions of the environment. There are no choices or options, only illusions of choices. There is only one path, one potential. Out of all the seemingly alternative paths or choices we think we see, we are determined by the conditions to only go down one. The other seemingly alternative paths or choices that we did not go down were not really options at all, only further conditions that contributed to determining the path we did take. To speak of “full” potential is to suggest there could have been alternate paths, and choices. But there are not. So, we are always operating at our full potential.

19 Comments

  1. wow. utter disbelief at first. but this sheds some light. i guess somehow we often believe that we can push ourselves a little more towards that something called “full potential” if anything, it’s only an idea of self-improvement. I’d rather like to think that I’m doing my best to live in full potential than saying that I have lived a full potential life simply because I really wouldn’t know if I can be “more” as who I am today.

    Myke’s last blog post..Funny Office Videos: Hilarious!

  2. I understand. Yet it is difficult to be content when, if the situation changed, I could accomplish so much more. So maybe the key is in finding the situations in which I have the most potential.

    Julie’s last blog post..I watered the garden this evening

  3. I think I see where you are going with this – so let’s assume I have a son who isn’t determined or driven – and he sits at home all day, skips school, maybe gets in trouble in the neighborhood —should I conclude that there is no hope for him and write him off since he is living at his maximum potential?

  4. Travis Morgan (Author)

    Hi jadedconformist, I wouldn’t say your son isn’t determined. Apparently, he is currently determined to sit at home all day, skip school, and maybe get in trouble in the neighborhood. Now, his being determined to this behavior will probably determine you to want to do something about it because you have been conditioned to believe that this isn’t his full potential. So his actions that have been determined by an array of accumulated experiences will determine you to do something about it since you to have been conditioned by an array of your own accumulated experiences to find his behavior less then unbecoming. Causality, cause and effect is driving our actions. And since we are determined by this, there could have been no other way, thus, one potential.

  5. “There are no choices or options, only illusions of choices. There is only one path, one potential.”

    Hey, Travis. Can I conclude that you are in a way speaking about fate and destiny – and this is what you’re getting at? That we are basically puppets to what is already predetermined? I’m trying to grasp what you’re saying, and I think I have to make this assumption for what you’re saying to be correct.

    the jadedconformist’s last blog post..Serving Size

  6. Your blog is great, btw Travis.

  7. Travis Morgan (Author)

    the jadedconformist said, “Can I conclude that you are in a way speaking about fate and destiny – and this is what you’re getting at? That we are basically puppets to what is already predetermined?”

    I am a determinist, so yes. I do not think we have free-will. I think causality moves us. Also, I am not one to use the term, “pre-determined” as I think there are too many variables that one would have to know to be able to accurately pre-determine the exact state of a said future. I don’t think the future is set in advance, but I do think that it is determined.

    the jadedconformist said, “Your blog is great, btw Travis.”

    Thanks, your comments are great!

  8. Travis – of course debating whether one has free-will or does not have free-will will not be fruitful when you consider there’s no basis for our arguments. I would simply say that it is an inconvenient thought to feel that things cannot go any other way, yet it could also be comforting to know that if things turn out miserably, I can take comfort in knowing that there’s nothing I could have done to prevent it. When I play a hand in poker – and the dealer is shuffling – I may as well go all-in each time because if I were going to lose all my money anyway, I might as well do it big.

    I don’t think I could ever believe that our actions in the past do not affect us at all. What I will agree with is that our actions cannot take full credit for where we are in our lives. There is that factor of causality and luck, etc – there are many variables. However, I feel our actions are one of many. That’s just an opinion I cannot prove though – but so long as we’re not relying on empirical data (which you might suggest was determined to come out a certain way, regardless of it’s accuracy) so long as we do not have objective, verifiable proof to weight it against, I don’t think I can say you are incorrect. I can only hope that you’re not. ;)

  9. No basis? There is basis, Causality is easily observable, testable, falsifiable, open to the scientific method. Free-will on the other hand practically falls in the same category as “is there a god” arguments. Also, So far, any experiment designed to show violation of causality has failed to do so. Even if you throw in randomness that quantum mechanics suggest happens at a fundamental level, that still does not support the free-will argument. Physicists themselves never denied causality or stated that causality is violated in quantum mechanics or relativity. The deterministic world-view is one in which the universe is no more than a chain of events following one after another according to the law of cause and effect.

    the jadedconformist said, “I would simply say that it is an inconvenient thought to feel that things cannot go any other way, yet it could also be comforting to know that if things turn out miserably, I can take comfort in knowing that there’s nothing I could have done to prevent it.”

    It’s not about what “comforts” us. That is the same reason people tend to believe in god because it provides a level of comfort to them.

    the jadedconformist said, “When I play a hand in poker – and the dealer is shuffling – I may as well go all-in each time because if I were going to lose all my money anyway, I might as well do it big. ”

    But you don’t know you are going to to lose all your money. You don’t know what is going to happen. Just because things are determined, doesn’t mean you are capable of pre-determining exactly what is going to happen. There are too many causal variables for you to determine. What you have described is known as “Defeatism.”

    Even this is an example of causality. You thinking that you are “going to lose all your money anyway” caused you to “might as well do it big.” In this case you were determined to that course of action due to your understanding of determinism.

    the jadedconformist said, “I don’t think I could ever believe that our actions in the past do not affect us at all.”

    I don’t believe that either. Cause and effect again. Obviously our past actions and experiences conditioned us, shaped us, caused us, into what we are today.

    the jadedconformist said, “What I will agree with is that our actions cannot take full credit for where we are in our lives.”

    Yes, because our actions aren’t even our own, they are the result of all the actions\causes that have come before our actions.

    the jadedconformist said,”so long as we’re not relying on empirical data”

    Who is not relying on empirical data? There are massive amounts of empirical evidence that suggests our world is wholly determined by the laws of physics which includes causality.

  10. You said, “But you don’t know you are going to to lose all your money. You don’t know what is going to happen. Just because things are determined, doesn’t mean you are capable of pre-determining exactly what is going to happen. There are too many causal variables for you to determine.”

    I see what you’re saying. I probably should have worded it as, “If there’s a chance that my losing money/or winning money is determined and there’s nothing I can do to change it, I might as well not have second thoughts about the risk of losing my money (since if I lost it all, it is inescapable.)

    Do you recommend reading material to me because maybe we’re not on the same page? I try to keep an open-mind about things but I’d rather question everything I don’t grasp then accept it blindly. Thanks!

    the jadedconformist’s last blog post..McDonald’s Loves Teh Ghey

  11. The jadedconformist said, “If there’s a chance that my losing money/or winning money is determined and there’s nothing I can do to change it, I might as well not have second thoughts about the risk of losing my money ”

    As if you have a choice to have second thoughts about the risk of losing my money! :) Any thoughts you have are also determined by the conditions of the environment.

    I can’t think of any good books off hand on determinism. I’ll get back to you on that.

  12. So what determines the conditions environment to act a certain way? Is it causality as well? If there is a source for that, where is the source for that one, ad infinitum? Does it all lead back to something; some singularity, or even a creator?

    (I wonder if anyone has ever used a determinists argument in court. LOL.)

  13. Yes, It’s a huge complex chain of cause and effects. If you were to try to go down that chain to find the beginning you would be left at the argument of “how did it all start?.” You are either left with an infinite regression, and if you don’t think there can be an infinite regression because it never ends, then you must put in a prime mover, or at least one uncaused cause that started it all. So to trace the cause and effect chain back to the beginning you are left with some options.

    1. There is no real beginning, only an infinite regression.
    2. There is a beginning, something that started it all that had no cause itself.
    a. It was a natural uncaused cause.
    b. It was a supernatural uncaused cause\creator
    c. Some option we haven’t thought of yet.

    I think “b.” is very unlikely because we have no evidence of any supernatural realm, nor creator. Also, a supernatural creator or cause would require more explanation for it’s existence then it would be explaining.

    But that’s a different topic. What ever the prime mover was, things are now in motion. Now it’s just dominoes falling.

    A determinist argument wouldn’t hold up in court to prove yourself innocent for something, because our society, government, laws, etc… are designed as though we have free-will. I have another article I wrote on the relationship between determinism and laws and such, I will post it.

  14. Travis – Thanks for entertaining my questions with in-depth, insightful answers. I’ll definitely do my own studying on these questions. It’s all pretty mind-boggling. I am sure I will have more questions soon that I will be ruminating over.

    jadedconformist’s last blog post..McDonald’s Loves Teh Ghey

  15. cool! thanks jadedconformist! I enjoy discussing this with you.

  16. I concur with you on this point, Morgan. Beautifully summed up, I must say.

    Issehs last blog post..Cry and die, will suicide do?

  17. At the level of physics the certainty of all effects needing a cause has never been shown to be incorrect. The question of ‘prime cause’ can remain open as far as I’m concerned – but a timeless oscillation of bang and crunch will do. Simple minds can ‘believe’ in creation by a god who created godself (pc term) if they want.

    Travis? You do not ‘believe’ in free will? But you use it all the time. In the complex mental world of inputs, learning, processing, deciding, and acting It is not the last cause that produces an inevitable effect – as at the simple physical level – it is a very complex set of stimulae resulting in an action OR the lack of action.

    You control the result to SOME extent by controlling SOME of the mental steps of the process, not all – we are not in complete control of our actions, but sometimes make choices, consciously and unconsciously.

    I know this can’t be proved, nor can it be disproved, but in my humble opinion to claim ‘There are no choices or options, only illusions of choices. There is only one path, one potential.’is sophistry, but fun none the less.

    The crux of you error is the ‘one path, one potential’ bit. At the end we have all taken ONE PATH, but there were countless random inputs, and the path changed countless times. So the path does not stretch in front, just behind. It is NOT determined EXCEPT in individual instances. No result in the future is determined by the present state.

    Choice is certainly illusory sometimes, and absolute ‘potential’ is as unreal as the future itself.

    It’s not whether we have choice or not – its about knowing what choice IS. You should have defined this somewhere Travis, or maybe I missed it. Go well.

  18. Very True, your insight on LIFE is a reflection in your work. Continue forward my friend!

  19. Travis (Author)

    Thanks Anthony.

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