Monday, June 25, 2007

the reasoning behind impulse

(Note: this post isn't funny)

When a certain action elicits a reaction of an instant nature, we view that as a natural reaction, one that cannot be controlled. But, to do this, we must concede that we lack control over our body as a whole. Indeed this is true, but we have a great amount of control- we can force our heart rate higher by exercising, we can slow it down by sleeping. We can breathe fast or slow, we can blink quickly or go to a certain point without blinking. There is very little we can't control, so why do we cede the natural reactions?

Perhaps the most evident argument is that we cannot control this natural reaction because it is unexpected. I agree, it is unexpected, but I disagree, I say it can be controlled, but not instantly, and not without will power. Impulse, reactions, they are the beast in man- they are things we must overcome because we are, indeed above the beast and unwilling to return to the lows, as said John Stuart Mill. Many say that we live in a society in which everyone is allowed to thrive, but truly they are not- we can easily see the swine, who roll in mud because they know no better; even if they did, they do not understand what better truly is. But we can also see the elegant homo sapiens, those who do because they can, and know that they are on a higher plane from which descending would be truly shameful. They have overcome the beast, they no longer cower at the proverbial lightning, indeed they expect it.

I cannot accept that it's impossible to avoid natural reactions because I know of some I can control. I have total control over my entire being in most situations because I strive to be conscious of myself in relation to everything around me. I could simply lay back and take it, reacting as I wish, letting myself be carried by the whims of nature, but I refuse because I am one of mankind. We have stopped reacting to nature, instead we control it, manipulate it, learn its patterns and use them to our advantage. If we then allow certain aspects of nature to overcome us, we have failed to understand the level to which we must rise.

This is not to say impulse is bad, for in our early years, we all have impulse we have not learned to control ourselves, we have not learned enough to react to every situation as would perhaps do us the most good. But, as we grow and learn, we can string together experiences and learn how to react in a new situation by assimilation of past experiences, a balance of what works in one situation and another based on how this situation by which we are faced compares to those previous situations, this is how we grow. This is how we exceed our expectations. We do not have to rely only on our personal experience, that is why we learn history, is to learn and be able to draw on past experience, not simply to know what happened, but to know what will happen. More importantly, we learn it to know how to stop or react to what will happen, we will know what worked, what failed, we will be better than our predecessors, and our progeny will be yet greater.

I have considered it, and I see impulse as simply the beginning- we start by reactions, we control those reactions, we adapt these actions to new situations and thus we survive. In this wise, we are no better than animals, but we are uniquely capable of creating to solve problems as no animal is. We are able to not just use tools, but use the best tools available, we are able to further our understanding through research and simulation, something animals lack. At the base we do share the learning process with animals, but we are humans because we take this learning process and kick it in to overdrive, going beyond what should be capable. That is how humankind wins. We exceed nature's expectations, and in doing that we can learn to control it, use it, and facilitate it for our own uses.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I didn't expect it to be funny. Was mine? It was intended to be.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I linked you. I even gave you your very own super special exclamation point. Want a sneak preview? It looks like this!

I messed up the first time and did this ./ but I'm a really fast learner and I immediately went back and righted my wrongs. I couldn't have Dan The Barely Legal Man running around with an improper exclamation point!

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Oh, and young man, the prophetic words of Janet Jackson keeps springing to my mind. She was the originator of lyrics about exercising restraint and Control.

I guess her personal control doesn't extend to flashing chestage to stadiums full of people, though. She should have titled her song, "Your Control May Vary."