Do we have free will?

Matthew Taylor of the RSA sometimes writes about cultural theory and when he does it’s always worth reflecting on. At the very end of 2009 he was looking at the idea of free will:

Faced with a social choice we can do what we want or feels right for us (individualistic impulse), do what the group expects/needs (egalitarian impulse), do what we have been told (hierarchical impulse) or ‘decide’ it’s not worth making a choice (fatalistic impulse). Is it credible and useful to think of the everyday experience of free will as the process of switching between these alternative responses?

The problem with free will is that we only have it until we walk out of the door in the morning and maybe not even that long. Every time we make a choice we are interacting with institutional forces and established practices which have a strong shaping power over our lives.

Let’s say I decide to go to the city by train this morning, but like Frank Sinatra I’m going to do it my way. Although the timetable says the trains leave on the hour, I’m going to catch the one that leaves at twenty past the hour: I’m a free person and can do what I like, no? Continue reading

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Avatar and Cultural Theory

Is there a Four Cultures take on that movie everyone except me seems to have seen? If so, please let me know your thoughts by commenting on this post.

For inspiration you could look at what the anthropology website Savage Minds had to say about it, or you could read about the four cultures of science fiction and a cultural theory interpretation of Star Wars.

And maybe I’ll get round to seeing it, although for truly amazing 3d effects I find it cost-effective to hold my hand at arm’s length in front of my face and turn it slowly. Call me old fashioned. I’m holding out for 5d cinema.