I like reading two books of different genres in parallel, usually fiction and nonfiction. I read one for awhile and then switch to the other. I like the contrast. I recently read Douglas Hofstadter’s I am a Strange Loop and Scott Adams’ Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain!, the former science and the latter comedy. Instead of contrast, though, I found a unifying theme. Both authors spend considerable time talking about the psychology of consciousness. Hofstadter says we are born without an inner light (a sense of self) and we acquire one through life’s many experiences. Likewise, Adams says we are nothing more than “moist robots.” Both agree that we have no “free will.” Hofstadter says our actions “are the outcomes of physical events inside our heads.” Adams has his Pleasure Unit Theory: “People organize their lives to get their minimum required units of pleasure…” According to Hofstadter and Adams, “will” has nothing to do with our actions. Both authors agree that our brains trick us into believing we have a free will. My brain has done a good job of tricking me. I quit using tobacco a few years ago. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I wish I could claim it was my strong will that enabled me to quit, but it was apparently in my brain’s program. For all I know, I am nothing more than a computer algorithm running in a game console being manipulated by some fat kid with a joystick. If that is the case, I wish the fat kid would give the joystick to a smarter kid.
I highly recommend both books, by the way. Perhaps this commentary will manipulate the physical events inside your brain such that your body will take the actions required for you to read the books. And perhaps your brain will trick you into believing you enjoy them. Mine did.