Bad actors in crime dramas, after they discover, “You can’t prove that,” doesn’t apply to Dick Wolf, invariably claim, “I had no choice.”
“We always have a choice,” I say to the screen, “The problem is, it’s often a grim one.”
But do we have choices? I’ve tended to accept the wisdom of Isaac Bashevis Singer when he proposes, “We must believe in free will — we have no other choice.”
We use choice to represent a decision, but the root meaning of decide is to cut off. The root meaning of choice is to taste.
These ancient meanings offer clues to inform our advanced metacognitive hypotheses. Maybe there is nothing new under the sun.
We’re not in control of what we experience as tasty. Lead tastes sweet to most. Aspirin is bitter.
We taste taste all kinds information. We sample the flavors of thoughts, ideas, opinions, attitudes, emotions. We find sweet, salty, sour, bitter here as well.
Our individual tastes, for flavors: for information, are inherent. For good and ill, they move us toward the preferent.
At the same time, we can develop our tastes. A sign of maturity in some cultures is the wisdom to eat bitter when needful -- expressed in much of China as 吃苦
The admonition to eat bitter informs us that, while we have tastes that can direct our movement, we can, at times, dynamically steer: we can self direct. Bitter won’t start to taste sweet, but we can learn to experience it as interesting and useful.
Instead of, “what choice do I have?” may I suggest the question is, “What moves us?”
Do we have free will? It depends. Can we find the steering wheel?