Here’s a fun article from LewRockwell.com: The Disappearance of the Fat Libertarian. The gist: Libertarians (broadly defined) have been strongly influenced by “paleo” web sites like Richard Nikoley’s FreeTheAnimal.com, with the result that folks who once lived on a diet of Doritos and Jolt Cola are now slimmer, trimmer and healthier than they have ever been.
But, but, but — Free will is an illusion! If you’re born to be fat, you can’t do anything about it!This is false, of course. The human mind is free to pursue better outcomes — among those outcomes that are actually subject to change. A favorite dodge of the exponents of the ruling class is to conflate things you cannot change with those you can, thus to convince you that you are a helpless pawn in a game far beyond your control.
If you submit to this nonsense, and many people do, your life will get worse and worse. And if you rebel against this evil game thoughtlessly, without thinking about what you actually can change and how to go about achieving that change, you risk the added misery of failing at something you know in your heart-of-hearts that you should be able to do.
What is necessary, as always, is to correctly identify your true nature as a human being. What we are is everything we are. You can’t control your height, but you can control your weight. Arguing to the contrary — either way — will induce cognitive dissonance in your mind, and trying to shout that dissonance down will be a constant source of misery. The misery won’t go away — and your life will not change, not for the better — until you accept reality as it is.
From Man Alive:
As a sort of pocket-reference to the kinds of bogus arguments made about your mind — claims you will see everywhere if you look for them — take note of these three general categories:
1. “We now know we know nothing!” Either your mind is inherently unreliable or the world outside your mind is fundamentally incomprehensible.
2. “Your good behavior is not to your credit, but at least your bad behavior is not your fault!” The actions you think of as being morally good or evil are either causally unavoidable or are caused by something other than your free will — hormones, brain chemistry, genes, brain defects, drugs, diseases, your upbringing, your environment, your wealth or poverty, memes, etc.
3. “Dancing bears are just like us!” Either animals such as apes or dolphins (or even “artificially intelligent” computer programs) are just as smart as you, or you are just as flailingly ignorant as an animal.
Note that all three of these categories are self-consuming: To uphold them, necessarily, is to deny them. If we know we know nothing, then we must know at least that one something — begging the question of how we can know even that little bit of nonsense. If the human will is not free, I cannot will myself to persuade you of this claim — nor even simply to make it — and you cannot will yourself either to accept or reject it. And if your mind works “just like” an animal’s brain, then you cannot discover anything at all about how your mind works, nor record or communicate your findings. Do you doubt me? If so, please have your pet or your software project write a peer-reviewed paper denouncing my egregious intellectual arrogance. No one believes this hogwash. They just want for you to believe it — or at least not dare to challenge it.
But what about denigrations of your mind that are factually true? For example, can adrenaline in your bloodstream temporarily induce you to act out of proportion to your circumstances? Yes. Can pheromones goad you to dance horizontally with someone you should never even have danced with vertically? Yes. Can you make an error of perception in your apprehension of sense evidence, or can you make an error of knowledge in your reasoning about that evidence? Yes. Can you choose unwisely? Oh, yes! — especially when it comes to choosing whom to listen to about the nature of human nature.
You are most fundamentally a being of rationally-conceptual volitionality, but you are everything you are. Your thinking can be influenced by any number of external and internal factors. And your thinking, no matter how carefully you undertake the responsibility of thinking, can be in error. And, worst news of all, you can deliberately induce errors in your thinking, or pretend to, in order to rationalize saying or doing things that you know in advance are wrong — rationally unjustifiable according to your own standard of morality.
Does any of that make you fundamentally wrong? Impotent? Incompetent? Inept? Clumsy and chaotic? Diabolical? Corrupt? A dancing bear cannot actually dance, but it is beyond all doubt perfect in its expression of bearness. Why is so much of modern philosophy devoted to denouncing you for being so perfect, most of the time, in your expression of your humanity? Why is it always you who is flawed, deformed, bungled and botched? Why is your every glory portrayed as an ugly stain? Why would anyone ever create an artifact of the mind insisting that the universe would be a better place without any artifacts of the mind?
I can answer those questions, but I’m not going to. Not here. Not now. The only benefit to be realized from the study of errors is to learn how to correct them and how not to repeat them. Any sort of argument about what the human mind is not is most likely aimed away from your values, not toward them. Your mind is your sole means of survival, and you achieve your values by training your mind to work better and better, not by devising specious rationales for spitting at your mind, your self and your nature as a human being.
You have a unique, inviolable nature as a type of entity. You have many characteristics in common with other entities, and with other organisms, and for the most part you cannot change those characteristics. But every purposive action you can take is guided by your conceptually-conscious mind — by your free choices — and you can always resolve to choose differently going forward. When you do, your life will change — for the better, if you choose wisely. You know this is so, and, in consequence, if you simultaneously insist to yourself that it is somehow not so, the cognitive dissonance will make you miserable — and progressively less efficacious over time.
But if instead you accept your true nature as a human being for what it is, and then act accordingly, your life will get better and better in every way. No one can absolve you of your sins, since you answer to your self alone. But for the same reason, no one can rob you of your triumphs.