What Is a Decision?


Is a decision something we think about, plan, or predict? Or, is it the thing we actually do? I take the latter approach. A decision is something we do, something our body chooses to do, which can only occur in real time as physical movement. But what is a choice? It’s the same thing as a decision. How do we know what we do in real time? There is only one way to know: seeing it, feeling it through touch and weight, remembering it (or reliably being told if the others are not options). We see that we are doing our physical action, which means we just did it. Because time never stops moving, the moment we begin doing something, that part of the action/activity is over, history. Therefore, what we do is what we did.

This is the perspective my work takes. It changes everything our mind generally perceives as decision-making. It doesn’t matter what kind of plans or predictions we make about anything, even the most important things. Decisions and choices are actions, and actions occur in real time by our body. When can we know of an action? When it has already begun, which is when that part of it, if it is not the whole of what we are calling our action, is over. That means we cannot take it back.

Thus, a decision does not come to fruition, is not finalized until it is act-ualized. The reality that we cannot take back our actions once they have occurred can land in the opinions of being good news or bad news, depending on what the action was. The flip side of not being able to take something we have done back is that we do not have to figure out how to do the things we do. All our mental planning, what we generally refer to as decision-making, is fine. It is natural. It is what our brain does. It is how we mentally operate. However, this has nothing to do with what we end up doing. What we do is what our body does in the spaces it occupies. I am not inferring that on a brain level our mental processes have nothing to do with our actions. Again, our mental processes are normal; we can leave them alone (not that we have a choice about that anyway). What I am saying is that in terms of believing the messages (appearing in our thoughts) that tell us what we are going to do, there is no way to know that any of them will materialize as actions.

How, then, can we ever know what we are going to do? We cannot. That is a myth. However, we will for sure do things. We do things every millisecond of our life because we are always in action. We cannot interfere with this reality if we are alive. In fact, we cannot mess with this phenomenon once we have been conceived. From the inception of a zygote (the union of the sperm and the egg) that being is “of existence.” (This statement does not line up with any discussion on abortion, etc.) My point is that even if that body does not make it to birth, it was still something that was in action for the time it was in existence. We are all in existence until we perish. And, in truth, once we stop being alive, we are still in some form of material existence, and action, which is at base molecular, atomic, sub-atomic, etc. Action, what a material body does in real time, is different than mental planning (from where we stand). Material bodies are automatically in action once they come into existence (and how do we even delineate the beginning of that?). Therefore, as living beings there is nothing to do than see what we do, view our path. Finally, we don’t need to know what we do to be doing it. Regardless of where our focus ever is, we are still always in our physical action. All our thoughts and actions occur involuntarily via our organ processes, brains included.

I appreciate neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland’s statement in her book, Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain: “You do not need to know that you have a brain for the brain to operate very efficiently in getting you around the planet and seeing to your well-being. You do not have to stoke up and direct your brain; it stokes up on its own and directs you.”

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