Monday, July 9, 2012

The Path Never Taken

The question of choice comes into play only when there is what we may call ‘Will’. To say the least it is invariably taken for granted because to an extent that no one can deny it, freewill exists. We can discuss in length about the role of determinism to subjugate freewill but even this in objective reality at least is an exercise of freewill. Instead of pursuing a circular argument let us open our eyes to the process of ‘becoming’ and ‘doing’. As ‘becoming’ and ‘doing’ are possible only with existence and traceable only to the actions of the doer, the one who does is held accountable for them. But if freewill is itself subject to a form of determinism called predetermined ‘tendency’ then it is negated and the individual cannot be held accountable. As a consequence there is no actor as action assumes significance only when it is recognized as being done by somebody. Choice is possible only when its precursor is singled out as being done by somebody who before chose to do it when he could have done something else. 

However, it is equally important to recognize that actions are not isolated within a framework of limits and as such have their cause traceable to someone outside the ‘doer’. This leads to the question of ‘constructed paths’. It does not follow that individual freewill alone exists.  This does not mean that determinism existed prior to the individual for it could also imply that determinism is the result of ‘one action’. For example; in Chess one move can decide the result of the game. This means that determinism follows freewill in such a context. If we for one moment shift our attention from the one who chooses to the one chosen we may be able to throw more light on the subject in the end. 

But this will not be possible till we understand the path that is less taken or the choice that was never made. In the path less taken the individual makes a decision to not follow the herd instinct. He chooses to take a path less ‘tried out’. He may at some point go through feelings of regret that influence his ability to link the action to himself, ‘the doer’. Choices can be made only when they are available. He could only make a limited set of choices. This mistake is a perspective born out of feelings of regret. If more choices are available it is difficult to predict what the outcome will be. If one chooses to pursue trading as a career option then he could have chosen this either as an initiative or as a reaction.    If he feels happy about his decision because it has given him the much needed stability from the perspective of his career then he has no motivation to associate the decision to opt for trading with some force outside him. This is simply because the decision took off favourably. If the same individual chooses to pursue ‘Visual Communication’ because it sounds unconventional then he may be mistaken as he cannot choose it just because it sounds unconventional. He must have some aptitude for it to make some sense. 

Let us suppose that his actual talent lies in an interdisciplinary subject in the humanities and not in visual communication. But such an interdisciplinary option does not exist. He then feels forced to pursue ‘Visual Communication’ because he has to opt for some unconventional career. He restricts his choices but largely the choices that he can make have to be within the framework. He will not know the fruits of his choice till he pursues it with full rigour. The path less taken has benefits as long as it is an informed choice. If it is made just to be different then the path less taken may not yield favourable results. If on the other hand you have some talent in an unconventional subject then one of the biggest benefits that you could get is a unique identity. The choices that you make first will take you to a framework where there will also always be a limited set of choices only. If you want to break free from all frameworks you need to construct your own path which may well be a path that was never taken. This is psychologically a path of no return.             

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