Free Will

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Richard Sylvester

Free Will

Post by Richard Sylvester » Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:25 pm

Are you saying there's no free will?

I am saying that there's no person. So how can there be free will?

But I've got free will. I can walk home the usual way tonight or I can choose a different way. I feel I've got a choice.

Yes, of course you feel you've got a choice, because there's a person there.

So if there's no person, there's no free will?

There's the appearance there of a person who is making a choice. A thought comes up when you're walking home "I could go left here." Another thought comes up "I could go right here." A third thought comes up "I'm choosing left." It seems as if there's a choice. But these are just thoughts arising for nobody. The apparent choice as you go home and feel you can turn left or right has no reality whatever.

Interestingly there have even been scientific experiments recently that suggest that free will is an illusion. It has been shown that about a third of a second before a conscious intention to perform an action arises, the parts of the brain that are involved in that action activate. So about a third of a second before you have the thought "I shall turn left here", your brain is activating to turn left. Only after that do you have the conscious thought. This has staggering implications but it tends to be ignored because it conflicts with our paradigms about what it is to be a person.

We know there's intelligence but where does it come from?

Ultimately all you can say is it's a wonderful mystery. Thoughts arise from nothing. But the sense that there's a choice will very much be there as long as there's a person. Most of us will strongly resist the idea that there is no choice. We will often become angry at the suggestion because we feel that without choice so many things about being a person go out of the window.

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Tdarcos
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Post by Tdarcos » Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:11 pm

It is arguable that free will is an illusion but the fact remains we have no choice but to presume otherwise.

All human societies and all personal improvement are based on the idea that human beings are individuals who have agency. To argue otherwise makes the concept of "responsibility" a ridiculous nullility; you can't punish someone for something which they had no possibility to stop or prevent.

To otherwise argue human beings are effectively robots having zero agency is to argue for people not to even bother to do anything because no matter what they attempt or refrain their life will be exactly the same and everything will go on exactly the same way, no matter what they do.
"Shirt them a-tear up, trousers is gone/don't want to end up like Bonnie and Clyde."
-Desmond Dekker, The Israelites

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Post by pinback » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:31 pm

Tdarcos wrote:It is arguable that free will is an illusion but the fact remains we have no choice but to presume otherwise.
We have no choice to presume otherwise or not.
All human societies and all personal improvement are based on the idea that human beings are individuals who have agency. To argue otherwise makes the concept of "responsibility" a ridiculous nullility; you can't punish someone for something which they had no possibility to stop or prevent.
There is no one who could choose to punish someone for something or not. Punishment happens or it doesn't, just as the act being punished happens or it doesn't.
To otherwise argue human beings are effectively robots having zero agency is to argue for people not to even bother to do anything
There is no one who could choose to bother to do anything or not. You have never made a choice in your entire life, and yet everything has happened.
because no matter what they attempt or refrain their life will be exactly the same and everything will go on exactly the same way, no matter what they do.
Everything is always exactly as it is. I can't argue with that.
Above all else... We shall go on... And continue!

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