You are not your thoughts

Living with depression, you hear this phrase a lot. Most of us accept it, perhaps after some hesitation. I want to break it down.

The fact that I have thoughts means that I am separate from my thoughts. To observe thoughts, whatever makes me me is separate from whatever makes these thoughts. I think a good analogy is looking at your reflection in the mirror. You can see your reflection, but it’s not exactly you. It’s an image of you.

thought thought

My thoughts are not part of the physical world. They exist only in my mind. While something may exist in my mind and the physical world, it is only necessary that they exist in my mind.

If thoughts exist, but not in the natural world, thoughts are evidence of the supernatural world. Not to mention, after we have a thought, we have the ability to act on the thought or not. This is the power of the will. To essentially say ‘no’ to a thought. That would make will power the ability to say ‘no.’ And I think that is a pretty good definition.

But if we have the power to say ‘no’ to a thought, we are not machines at all. The world cannot be deterministic because we have the ability not to act on a given thought. If we can say no, we are free. And if we are free, determinism is false.

Thus, because the mind produces thoughts and we can decline to act on them, both naturalism and determinism are false.