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Otto Paans and Boukje Ehle:

"According to TTS, thought-shapers shape human thinking in various ways, some of which are mechanical and constrictive others of which are organic and generative. Due to their shaping activity, thought-shapers partially (but not wholly) causally determine, effectively direct, guide, influence, and orient the emergence of thoughts. If they did not, TTS would have no real-world impact whatsoever (Hanna and Paans, 2021). The constrictive character of mechanist thought-shapers stems from the fact that an idealized model or point of reference is used to specify, interpret and perceptually color various context-sensitive datums, even when there is no justification for doing so. By contrast, generative thought-shapers function in an opposite manner: [B]y “installing” human thinking in inherently re-configurable and re-patternable “grooves, ”self-consciously unlock, liberate, and sustain creative and productive human thinking. A characteristic feature of generative thought-shapers is that they possess not only effective, true, flexible application to a proper domain of content, but also effective, true, flexible re-application or repurposing ,across several or even unrestrictedly many different domains of content, yet without being infinitely malleable, ambiguous, or vague (Hanna and Paans, 2021, p. 24).

Thought-shapers pre-self-consciously shape thoughts and therefore they also pre-self-consciously shape intentions, desires, beliefs and volitions. But desires can become effective and turn into actions. So, we can say that thought-shapers at some point develop or extend into their action-oriented counterparts that translate desires into real physical actions. We call these action-oriented counterparts action-shapers. Likewise, we call the context-specific operating environment of an action-shaper the action-space. Referring back to the example of Green and Black, even though he’s a human intentional agent with source-incompatibilist free will, Green nevertheless spontaneously effectively desires, chooses, and acts according to some action-shaper within an action-space that partially (but not wholly) causally determines, forms, and normatively guides his arm-raising act. The “partially-but-not-wholly” clause is important. Not all actions are linearly partially caused by action-shapers, just as not all thoughts are linearly partially caused by thought-shapers. Similarly, actions are not completely causally determined by action-shapers, just as thoughts are not completely causally determined by thought-shapers. If we were to hold that view, we would be thrown back into a kind of bleak, deterministic, and mechanistic picture about human agency. Thought-shapers primarily exercise their influence through our capacity for imagination (Hanna and Paans, 2021). By contrast, action-shapers exert their influence primarily via desires, affects or emotions. This is not to say that thought-shapers and action-shapers function in isolation, as naturally, their effects revert into one another. And just as thought-shapers might be closely bound up with passions or emotions, so action-shapers might well involve mental imagery. So, the primary modes of exerting influence differ for both thought-shapers and action-shapers but are not mutually exclusive. A far better way of thinking about both thought- shapers and action-shapers is to regard them as exerting a salient yet non-deterministic influence throughout our representational capacities involved in our self-image and our perception of the world, exercised via the imagination or desires, intentions and affects. In the cases of bad thought-shaping and bad action-shaping, we might imagine them as being like the archetypical malevolent advisor who whispers half-truths and suggestions into a king’s ear. At no point does the advisor literally tell the king what to do, but he definitely directs the course of action that the king will take, without, however, taking away the king’s capacity for free choice. In the cases of good thought-shaping and good action-shaping, we can imagine them as being like the equally archetypal benevolent advisor who offers constructive advice to the king. In an analogous manner, action-shapers do not remove one’s capacity for freely choosing to perform an action or abstaining from doing so, but instead they act as diffuse yet salient causal influences, motivators, detractors, moderating or aggravating forces on the translation from desire into action. A person’s action space is the array of possible actions he or she can perform at T1, given the influential presence of various contextual conditions and weak yet salient causal forces, such as thought-shapers or action-shapers, in play at T1. If we return to the example of Black and Green, we can imagine that Green finds himself originally in a very broad action space. He can lift his arm if he desires to do so, without any constraint. But if Black starts to tamper with Green’s ability to translate desires into actions, or if Black manipulates Green’s preferences to choose option A over option B in similar circumstances, then we can see that the action space of Green is narrowed down, possibly for the worse. And, if we imagine an extreme case, then we can even imagine that Green’s action space is narrowed down to the degree that he has one and only one choice in that context. We must add one important qualifier. As defined above, thought-shapers and action-shapers alike influence the orientation of beliefs, desires and intentions. So, while Green might believe that he cannot raise his arm, he might be actually able to perform that act anyway. But because he does not believe that he can, he abstains from trying. So, while the action-space from Green’s own point of view seems very constrained, objectively it might be much broader than he imagines. Although there are certainly cases where a narrow action-space can be bad, it is worth noting that the opposite is also true: in some cases, a certain focus or single-mindedness can be intensely rewarding, for instance in engaging in creative work. Alternatively, someone who witnesses a swimmer drowning, and chooses to risk his own life by jumping in the water and saving the swimmer might well say that he felt that he “had no other choice, ”although formally he could have walked away. In such cases, the narrowing down of the action-space is a positive feature. Thought-shapers and action-shapers mutually influence each other."


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