There is good sense in Roger Ames's suggestion that we would be better to talk in terms of human becoming rather than human being. If we are like books that are still being written or plays in mid-performance, then clearly we are still in the process of becoming who we are. But this is not the kind of becoming that ends in being, like the building of a house which ends with a complete construction. Rather, our only being is becoming: when the becoming ends, we end, too. A performance is thus a better metaphor for the human narrative than a novel.
The idea that unconscious biological forces drive our beliefs and actions would seem to pose a real threat to our free will. We like to think that we make choices on the basis of our own conscious deliberations. But isn’t all that thinking things over irrelevant if our final decision was already written in our genetic code? And doesn’t the whole edifice of personal responsibility collapse if we accept that “my genes made me do it”?
Small thoughts about big subjects; big thoughts about small things; seeds of thought, scatttered to either take root or not; plus short links to longer work. Microphilosophy is the website of the writer Julian Baggini.