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# Free Will. Do You Have a Choice?

Christopher Hitchens once averred that you don't.  Religionists claim that it is divinely endowed. Others claim that all are freelancers subject to subornation by others. Your thoughts?

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### Replies to This Discussion

So True Mathew, this was something Matt also pointed out.

We may very put ourselves under the Delusion that we are breaking the Illusion of Free Will, when, in fact, we are only furthering the illusion.

Through deep self assessment we negotiate or think that we are altering all our selection criteria and thus producing what we consider as a more up-to-date, rational set of criteria, when in fact, we may actually be reinforcing our original subconscious criteria, that we had been utilizing while making the adjustments.  Thus furthering the illusion.

What a mess!    I think I'd better give up on considering this any further, before my brain begins to explode.  LOL!

:-D~   Oops, Too L8!   z'prl=43;;lgt\to [t l=\tl=9ttoo rortrglgltr$%^#$%#

As even Plato understood, there is a difference between the rational part of the mind and the emotional part (frontal cortex and limbic system).  The evolution of the frontal cortex "determines" that there is the possibility of free will, but our reason is too often misled by our emotions, which are in turn misled by the misperceptions and illogic of our "reason."  I agree with GOD'aye that we can change ourselves to some extent by consciously examining all of this, but it puts shackles on the legs of our freedom.

Free what?

Only the absence of free will can explain the abysmal logic of the willers.

You may have hit upon something without even intending it. Free logic? Apples and oranges. Everyone is trying to solidify a flow here. Anyone consider that while this can be done, it really might not be to the point here?

With mobility and complexity of thought trying to navigate through options, puzzles, barriers and mysteries, maybe binary thinking...stop and go solutions, don't really apply. How about a form of meteorology of the consciousness, where the creative minds weave through the currents and prevailing winds.

Once we have the mechanics down, we still have the discussion of manipulation of thought,by self or other. As we pass from taking into account of the past, form our thoughts in the present (nano seconds don't count, we can't compete with the speed of light), with an eye to impact the future, decisions are made and deeds performed. Of course it has to be determined in the range of human behaviour, but it is my contention that that is such a large vessel that limitations really aren't much of a factor.

I have to go now because my dogs are impugning on my free will by demanding an appropriate amount of supper be delivered at the appropriate time!

Christopher, the dogs infringe and interfere whereas I impugn your logic.

The issue is not complicated. Embarassingly simple to analyze is free will. Consciousness, sense of self, impetus for our thoughts, feelings and sensations is not well understood.

When responding to a post it is helpful to use the name of person who posted.

True Glen, yet we may be in the era of Consciousness explained.

The likes of Robert Sapolsky, V.S. Ramachandran, Oliver Sacks and Sam Harris along with their research teams are getting fairly close to understanding the structures and methods of consciousness.

We may see it solved within the next 50 years or sooner.

It's all about how the structures of the brain communicate organize and iterate information and ideas.  Once this is solved, we may see consciousness in  our iPads and smart phones.

Excuse me Glen, I feel you detect a rudeness or impoliteness to my comment. No, that will be coming a little later in this comment. My tone was not intended to be argumentative. As a matter of fact, after the first couple of sentences, I was not even addressing any of your comments on this thread at all. It is my fault for not making this clear, and having read over what I wrote I see my mistake. Please accept my apologies

I don't even dispute your proposal of the impossibility of true free will. I simply do not know. I might lean slightly away from your view. You obviously feel you have found a facile path to that conclusion. I've got some confusion on this point. I'm curious and like to look under rocks. My dad used to say," Good listening is done with your ears open and your mouth shut." I didn't always take his advice. You can't learn anything until you open your yap to ask the question then be prepared to ask another and another. AHA, I just got it now, It was a diplomatic way to tell me to shut up.

"Consciousness, sense of self, impetus for our thoughts,feelings and sensations is (sic) not well understood."

Okay. No argument there. I in no way am a proponent that there is any possible chance of a physical separation between body and mind (or "soul" as a theist would call it}. In that sense your self is "slave" to your physical existence. There is no chance of liberation,  as your mind is extinguished along with the rest of you when you die. Sometimes your mind is extinguished first, as is what happened to my wife.

Why I tend toward "the free will does exist" side of the debate is I do not consider the mind's constraint to the body and the body's constraint by its environment to be an impediment to what the mind can conceive and and where it can "go". It would take 4 light years to travel to Alpha Centauri, but the mind can be there in an instant. Fine, the "there"is an illusion, but maybe that mind could work on a way to get its or someone else's body there and back, Hey, what's 8 years to the advancement of space travel, even if you'd be the same age as your grandkid when you got back? To me there comes a point where what drives you leaves off (but never leaves) and you take over the wheel. When you are doing the steering on the level of human thought and action that,to me, is something I would tend to call free will. Even though there is no distinction between the driver and the wheel.

Glen, I totally agree with you that the theist concept of a independence of body and soul is a concept they came up with, and way, way before the monotheisms hit the scene.

"You" are a single, complete, indivisible unit (surgery and transplants not withstanding), But we humans are capable of complex thought and uniquely capable of theoretical conceptualizing. My personal definition of free will is our ability as a species to act with aforethought and talent and imagination  based on our thoughts no matter their origin, or how many layers removed from the original or primal.

"the dogs infringe and interfere, whereas I impugn your logic".

Impugn away, sir! "my dogs" statement was merely gentle humour. They never impugn, impose, or infringe. They interfere and interrupt, but that's more than okay by me.

Now here comes the rude part I promised:  I don't know why you take umbrage to me calling you mister (considered polite in some circles) or not addressing you by name. What's the matter? This petulance over form I do not understand. Or why you take it upon yourself to school me on this point. Hypocritical upon reading your comments through this thread, Glen. Perhaps I rub you the wrong way? Can't please everybody.

To GOD'aye, You replied smartly to Glen whilst I was writing my comment giving the appearance I was writing to your comment. If i had typed with alacrity mine would have appeared above yours. To that I apologize.

Sorry Christopher, I guess my reply was too brief.

Though on the concepts of Consciousness and complex thought.

I like V.S. Ramachandran's theory that our ability of complex/abstract though stems from swinging on branches (accurate multi-dimensional movement) combined with the mutation of our IPL into the formation of two gyri, with one gyrus giving us the ability to interpret complex concepts like metaphors and the other giving us the capable of three dimensional mapping/mathematical computation and visioning.

These assist and build on the abilities of other structures like the temporal lobes and the limbic system which enables us to iteratively examine our own dimensions and concepts.

He states that through humans, the universe now has the capability of examining itself.

It's our development of descriptive language that enabled us to communicate concepts and ideas, that without such language, we could not.

It is language that truly separates us from the other primates.

We could not even conceive scientific investigation without the ability to describe in depth what we are investigating, how?, Why? , scope and what we hope to achieve.

None of this would ever be possible without language and the mutation of the IPL that facilitated this ability.

This is known, because damage to these gyri destroys the ability to either interpret metaphors or perform vector mathematics while not affecting other abilities.

Good day, GOD,aye,

My semantics must expose me, to be kind to myself, poorly placed to make any assertions on the subject.

I seek to query and understand how we utilize the talent that evolutionary advantages have allowed us. And us alone.

I need to be enlightened how we reconcile the autonomy we have achieved as individuals in the realm of thought with the solidarity to our own species. A characteristic we share with other creatures.

The electro-mechanical intricacies of how this comes about is way beyond my pay grade. Perhaps I lack formation in my mathematical/mapping gyrus. I'll have to settle for a more socratean approach.

I thought the examination of free will (or not) might help me understand why I feel so lucky and grateful (most days) that the accident of birth (yes, Dr. Dawkins, I know it's not an accident) placed me in the uber-senscient species.To which I apologize to my other uber-senscient brethren!

To this end I launched this post.

The religious try to tell us that this is perfectly and exquisitely explained through their theology. No it's not. Like we in the production industry like to say: Chicken shit in -> chicken shit out. You can not derive much of anything from a false premise.

From GOD'aye's to today's news it is his will be done....

The following is copied from another discussion on free will. It's in response to a post titled, "Play clearly demonstrates free will".

----------------

Hard determinists will (wrongly) claim that if something serves a purpose, there is a reason (cause) and is thus deterministic. Play, for instance, could be (and probably is) instinctive in immature mammals and is thus a genetically preprogrammed activity; causally deterministic. The problem with this is that, while play may be an instinctive impulse in the young, that doesn't mean it can't also be engaged in voluntarily -- much the same way that sex is an instinctive impulse but can also be engaged in voluntarily. Such tendencies, to simplify by claiming one cause or kind is the only possible cause or kind, seems to surface a lot with hard determinists. They apparently like neat packages. And false dichotomies.

One reason hard determinists manufacture false dichotomies is because they fail to recognize causal distinctions between inanimate objects and (intelligent) animate beings. Inanimate objects can be analyzed and understood through their physical properties. They are amenable to material reductionism. They can be broken down to their elements and compounds which, in turn, can be reliably recombined to produce specific results or products. Although animate beings are also physical entities, they are of a different category: they're biological beings. They are not amenable to material reductionsim because, unlike inanimate objects, they DO things. Not only do they do things . . . their constituent parts also do things: like replicate, respirate, digest, communicate, defend themselves, etc. Inanimate objects exist. Animate beings live. It's the difference between linear causality and reciprocal causality.

By applying the physics of the inanimate realm to the biology of the animate realm, hard determinists are completely missing the mark. The differences are so obvious that I can only surmise they ignore them out of sheer dogmatic stubbornness.

Once you acknowledge the differences, you can then see the potentials offered by biology: potentials from evolution, emergent phenomena, feedback systems, etc. that involve interaction (not mere physical reaction) with causality: reciprocal causation instead of mere linear causation.

Animate beings are agents. They DO things. They evolve specialties: abilities and competencies that enable them to survive and reproduce. And it's all about causality -- abilities and competencies evolve to interact with causality. The reason for this is that causality is consistent and persistent. It provides something we can count on not changing, ever.

Linear causality, cause and effect: it's binary. It doesn't get much simpler. Linear causality is the 'machine language' of physical laws. If you want to interact with the world, you have to speak the language. Mother nature is fluent in causality. The biological dialect of causality is evolution. All of life is evolved to interact with causality. Lifeforms exhibit varying degrees of reciprocal causation. Humans are the evolutionary pinnacle of life on Earth in terms of our expertise with reciprocal causation.

Free will? Not a big deal for us. We routinely manipulate events and stamp our own intents on the future. Like the biblical God in the Lord's prayer, our will be done on Earth [if not] as it is in heaven. It's part of our human intelligence . . . part of what makes us human.

Christopher, I disagree with your analysis of free will.

You seem like a nice guy. The comment about using names was for general consumption. When these blogs get legs it gets confusing without names. The mister comment was simply a playful jab against being formal.

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