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Subliminal: The link Between the Unconscious Mind and Behavior
Leonard Mlodinow has taken on a tough sales job. In his new book, the physicist and author is essentially telling people that their behavior is not as manageable as they might think it is, that much of what they say, do and feel is not only beyond their control, but beyond their awareness.

"People are willing to accept that the unconscious has an influence," said Mlodinow who will appear at Bookshop Santa Cruz next Wednesday. "Sometimes they resist. Though it's a little harder to accept when they are confronted by just how much influence the unconscious has."

"The subliminal is anything that goes on below the threshold of your conscious mind," he said. "There are things that are going on that you are not aware of.
Meg Tufano's profile photoLeland LeCuyer's profile photoJonathan Langdale's profile photoDavid Amerland's profile photo
+Jonathan Langdale +Leland LeCuyer First of all, the word "subliminal" was invented by Nietzsche, not Freud. (Nietzsche's idea was that things that were considered by culture/masses as base could be seen as sublime.) (Hence, "sublime-inal.") Second, the idea of our behavior as being "beyond our control" is an idea that makes sense to me, but one that always has that tiny element in it that––even if unproven––makes me think that we have some kind of assent. Maybe not complete comprehension of what we are agreeing to, but there is something in an action that has some kind of moral geography to it. I say this all the time (do not mean to bore anyone), but every action in every second of the day seems to have some kind of moral decision to it! Do I pretend that I do not notice that my husband's shirt needs a button? Or do I find a button and sew it on? (I'm picking a tiny action to make, I hope, a larger point.) And so, is my behavior "manageable?" ;') Well, at least it is thoughtful. Turns out Leonard Mlodinow is not on G+. Maybe someone could alert him that there is a good discussion going on here (24/7). ;')
Why doesn't your husband notice that a button is missing, +Meg Tufano? Does it matter that it's missing? Does it matter that he doesn't notice? That he doesn't care? Or does he? Why does a shirt "need" a button? Does it cease to be a shirt without one? Does it fail to fulfill its "proper function"? (Oops! How did Aristotle get into this?)

Nietzsche is the quintessential moral geographer; the solitary man who questioned the moral validity of everything, including morality itself; the man who, in his solitude, refused to settle for anything less than the truth, even if the truth is that there is no truth.

Nietzsche remains forever a tragic character, tragic in no small part because of his isolation. Meg, you know the reason why you would sew a button on your husband's shirt is not because it needs a button but because sewing a button is a gesture of affection, a sign of the fact that you not only notice but that you also care. When you ignore the button, you pass on the opportunity to demonstrate how precious your husband is to you — whether he notices or fails to notice the button or the fact that you care. And that he has the presence to notice — or remains so caught up in himself and his everyday concerns not to notice — sends a signal to you too about his appreciation of you.

Every act tells a story. Sometimes the story is as heroic as it is tragic.

Tragic Nietzsche chose to live under such a severe uncompromising, discipline of self-inspection that he could never bear to allow anyone to draw near enough to himself to sew a button for him or for he to sew a button for anyone else. The absence of someone to care and to care for, perhaps, deprived him of what he sought most — though he feared that the comfort of the presence of a caring someone might bring to a conclusion his pursuit. This self-denial too was a heroic act of love as much as a journey of discovery, a quest to map the geography of morals.
There is only selfishness. Giving blood feels good. You'd have to do something you disagree with for moral reasons, like killing your kid to save 10,000,000 people in a way where neither you nor anyone else would know the reason for morality to hold.

As long as the environment is out if our control, we have no choice. If we were a God with control of the environment at any point in time with no environment of our own and no prior history, that would be the only true free-will.
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