Single Idea 9276

[catalogued under 16. Persons / F. Free Will / 5. Against Free Will]

Full Idea

We think our actions express our decisions, but in nearly all of our life, willing decides nothing. We cannot wake up or fall asleep, remember or forget our dreams, summon or banish our thoughts, by deciding to do so.

Gist of Idea

The will hardly ever does anything; most of our life just happens to us


John Gray (Straw Dogs [2002], 2.12)

Book Reference

Gray,John: 'Straw Dogs' [Granta 2002], p.69

A Reaction

Gray's point does not rule out occasional total control over mental life, but his point is important. The traditional picture is of a life controlled, so the will is seen as at the centre of a person, but it just isn't the case.