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March 09, 2012


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"Speaking from personal experience, I think"

Oh so your still the thinker then with "your" experience ?...paradox of pardoxs Sammy my boy

IMO, free will is entirely a Christian religious concept. Wasn't it only developed to explain why mankind is evil (we used free will to eat apples)? If you don't believe the garden of eden myth, then you don't need free will. Just go do the dishes and be happy.

Free will is a rhetorical consideration only. No matter what side of the theoretical division you might tend to fall on, decisions and choices are constantly being made by all living organisms with a developed nervous system.

My father was a certified lunatic. I watched him get transported away in a straight jacket many times in the late 1950's and early 1960's. He died in prison, where either he said to himself "fuck this", and jumped to his death; or - someone said "fuck you" and gave him a boost over the railing. The inmate population was even more silent than dear old Dad.

I promised myself that I would never get married and have children, what with the bad genes that my offspring would chance to inherit.

And then, some woman came into my life and imposed her "will" upon me. Long story short: my three sons range in age from 23 to 31.

Reality is characterized by a rigorous inevitability that has nothing whatever to do with choices, decisions, motivations, beliefs, and other cortical effluvia.

Are our actions predetermined or is there some random component (free will) such that our actions cannot be predicted given perfect knowledge of the state of the universe before hand?

Let's assume a deterministic universe. Then one could trace all events back via there cause and effect chain to a single initial starting point (big bang perhaps?). The state of this starting point would determine the entire future of the universe, however this state must necessarily be random, otherwise it would not be the initial state. Effectively this initial random state is free will.

As the universe moves through time deterministicly unfolding, then it is not a stretch to say that it is an expression of the original act of free will. In fact when we consider that our actions are only apparent after they occur (meaning you can't predict them 100% before hand) then this 'act of free will' is still being revealed. So our actions are both free will and determined.

An aside - I think we really have to define what free will means. The best definition I can come up with right now is the subjective feeling of conscious action. In any case to say that free will doesn't exist and is illusory is to redefine free will.

Ps. Stumbled across this blog a week or two ago, really enjoyable to read.

Geo, you seem to assume that the a random quantum event is equivalent to free will. But if there is no conscious intention involved, how can this be called "will"? If neurons fire in my brain randomly, where is my freedom? Sure seems like a better word for that would be "crazy."

Harris, and other neuroscientists I've read, would disagree that a subjective feeling of conscious action is genuine free will. We have lots of subjective feelings that don't reflect objective reality.

Yesterday I discovered that after I was convinced there was no way to get an end clip off of a dishwasher rail that had fallen off. The repairman popped it off in about 10 seconds. Fortunately, the repair visit was covered under warranty. I felt I knew the truth about something, and I was wrong. Same likely is the case with our feeling of free will.

To me, the best definition is something like: given that every brain cell of mine is in the same state, could I have made a different decision? Where would that ability come from? It'd have to be non-physical, because every inner (brain state) and outer (environmental) state would be exactly the same as when I made my original decision.

Glad you're enjoying my blog. I enjoy pondering these Big Questions. Not sure if I'll ever find sure answers, but the search is pleasurable.

Yea I agree. It funny, one of the things I tell people trying to get over a traumatic experience (or the associated guilt) is that if we were to wind back the universe things would play out exactly the same way.

I guess what I was cryptically trying to say is I don't see any difference between free will and determinism. I think the universe is deterministic, but unable to be predicted. The end point in my thinking is that the current state of the universe is the only possible one :)

Anyway, at the moment I have a whole bag of answers to the big questions that seem to make sense to me. But it is not satisfying! I think I'm not seeking enlightenment, but the feeling of revelation and the thrill of something new hehe.

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