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September 28, 2022


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I guess, that like many beliefs that attempt to elevate us humans creatures to be more special than other forms of life, they generally have their foundations in religious thinking. Free will is one and joins the ranks of the self phenomenon and the mind as being something separate from and beyond the merely physical. Books from the likes of Bruce Hood and Sam Harris made good philosophical sense regarding the illusory nature of free will and now its good to see how physicist Sabine Hossenfelder explains the incompatibility of free will and physics.

As a layman, I've long since questioned the assumption of separating our mental processes from the physical, understanding the cognitive faculties as dependent on and complimentary to the human mind/body marvel as one interrelated natural phenomenon.

I can though see how, paradoxically perhaps, we can make choices. Free will requires a non-material entity free from the physical – which is unnatural and unnecessary – whereas to make choices simply requires an organism with a brain infused with information that makes decisions as situations arise in its environment.

Of course, making choices can be confused with having free will, but as the self is a construct derived from a lifetimes experience and information, there is no such self, no soul or separate entity to take executive decisions that lie outside our normal, natural mind/bodies ability which evolution has armed us with, to enable us to respond to situations based on sound, physical evidence that a brain/body is admirably capable of assessing.

As Covid infection have started to rise again here in the UK, I'm reminded of how, during the height of the pandemic most people adhered to the rules as they unfolded. It was pretty awful as people had to forego visiting elderly parents in care homes, dying relatives in hospitals, weddings and other gatherings cancelled and so on. Yet, some people slipped the rules – they were sadly, people in power, actually people who made the rules.

It is noticeable that the mentality of some rich and powerful people is quite different from the average 'less powerful' working persons. This seems to reflect how both groups have a very different sense of values and morals dictating how they responds to circumstances.

This reflects the free will question. The choices of the elite group are made, not from free will but from either the behavioural conditioning received through childhood or that their brains are 'wired' in such a way that their attitude to what is right and fair is different from the average person group who has been instilled with another set of values.

Free will doesn't seem to be needed as both groups choices are adequately accounted for by looking at their conditioned (including educational) upbringing. We can see that when it comes to making decisions, it is either the conditioned (or perhaps sociopathic?) brain that provides a course of action by looking at the actions of some of societies leaders and their associates.

But there, no judgement intended here, just an observation on the way in which differently constructed minds interact with their environment. Perhaps interestingly, at our present stage of evolution, we still need both.

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