Has it been my birthday or something else’s?

It is my 81st birthday today.  As befits such a day I have been reflecting on my life with all its mistakes and follies, but can only conclude that I’ve been in the same boat as everybody else.  My life has been a playing out of the personality that I happened to have at puberty — a product of what genes I was born with and subsequently weakened or strengthened by the adult world which conditioned me as a child.

Many of the decisions I have taken since puberty have been attempts to modify my basic personality at crucial junctures in my life.  Some of these have succeeded and some have failed, though which is which I cannot say myself, not being able — as Robbie Burns has said — to see myself as others see me.

Modern neurophysiology tells us, however, that all conscious decisions are preceded by a preparatory unconscious powering-up of neurons in our frontal lobes. Their electrical potential can be clearly seen and measured before our ‘free’ decision is taken.  Presumably, in the case of some decisions, they may all have been dependent on one electron, whether it assists the power surge or diminishes it.

If so, then where does the electron come from?  If you believe in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics then the electron has come from nowhere and everywhere. It is only its probability of acting at the decision point that’s important. If, however, you believe in the Bohm-de Broglie interpretation then the electron was guided to add to, or detract from the power surge by a pilot wave coming from a deeper quantum field.

Until the problem of quantum physics is resolved — if it ever will — then I really won’t know whether my 81 years have been truly mine or not.

6 thoughts on “Has it been my birthday or something else’s?

  1. Happy Birthday, Keith! No matter who/what owns those 81 years, I’m glad you’re here! You’ve shared so much with so many. Here’s hoping you have a wonderful day with lots of friends, family, and goodies. Cheers,

    1. A saying I like is “the older you get, the more you become yourself” Keith, I think you started off well and seem to be getting better with age. Keep aging and keep posting.

  2. We experience existential angst, the burden of consciously struggling to make decisions, thinking we are free. Yet it is the cumulative past, including multigenerational inputs, chemicals in father’s sperm, bacteria in the birth canal, prions, and who knows what else that affects our physical selves. This conundrum is part of the human burden of reflexive self-consciousness, abetted by complex language. In any case, it merits celebration that we endure as long as the pleasures outweigh the pains. With this philosophical sound bite, I wish you well, and look forward to your continued insights.

    All the best, Keith!

  3. Well! Happy birthday, old friend. I see you as smart, giving, dedicated, integrating, generous, curious, and contributing.

    There you have it, from 9,000 feet altitude.

    May your years be ones of joy. Thank you for your being and essence.


  4. Belated happy birthday wishes, Keith. May the universe continue to conspire to bring you joy and fulfillment, and your wisdom to us all.

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