...to refute. Before I even heard of Sam Harris—sharp guy, reminds me of myself—I questioned “free will” from a hypothetical standpoint. Think about this: If you, reader, were given the same genetic coding, environment, parents, siblings, upbringing, etc., as myself, writer, would you have the ability—the “free will”—to make a different decision on anything, at any point in my life, that I have made? Of course not because I have made those decisions and you are hypothetically me right now! If there were free will you would be able to have those same pre-requisites of being me (dna, parents, etc.) and still be able to make different choices.
Free will also assumes you have enough information to make any choice that you want. You and I know for a fact that a kid in poverty doesn’t have the free will to make the same decisions as a wealthy grown man.
Have I made an error in reasoning? Please enlighten me. Truth means more to me than being right.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong on what you believe. Just keep going! No one can ever play your role just as you do.
All organisms are reactionary by their biological nature, that in and of itself eliminates free will. One has a multitude of possible choices of reaction but, one cannot choose to NOT react, for a considered inaction is also a reaction to ones environment, Each reaction in turn is conditioned by a biological experience, which in turn programs the emotions tied to experience and said reaction, such that in future not only the experience but also the preconditioned emotion determines future reaction and on to endless complexity, leading to complete bewilderment, The only truth is experience, and its is true to its conditioned biology. If you choose not to trust this, you forfeit your ability to function in the world. If you had the ability to determine your experiences and your emotions regarding them ahead of time, you might have an argument for free will.
Free Will, is omitted in a deterministic reality. There is still back and forth about this, but many scientist regard reality as probabilistic and statistical; also deterministic systems can not learn. Many humans would make the claim they have learned as they have gotten older.
For biology to proved evidence of no free-will may be misleading due to biology not incorporating a probabilistic and statistical reality.
Also, biology assumes reality is a closed system where only internal means can affect change. There is evidence in modern physics that reality is a open system or a subset in a superset of probabilistic and statistical reality. This would explain many problems in physics such dark matter (in other words nonphysical influence), dark energy (in other words nonphysical influence). And entanglement (nonphysical influence). Wave function collapsing (nonphysical influence). Also why four forces don’t unify (not derived from internal subset causality).
The way this shakes out, has impact on cogitative science. The experiments that disprove free-will with brain scanning, assume Newtonian causality. Also, remember in a free-will experiment, a scientist would wave a laser light in a pattern and the subject would respond if he liked it or disliked it. The subjects brain responded even before he could even see the laser light. This is begging for a bigger understanding than to still hold classical causality as undeniable. A probabilistic and statistical reality, would turn biology and neuroscience and astrology on its head.
Also it goes unnoticed, or automatically assumed that we are solly are intellect. Arguments could be made that choices are not made in the intellect. That the intellect may serve other purpose as a feedback or such. Science is still in its classical stage, under the same concepts as from Ctesibius and Hero in BC era, further completed by Newton 1800 years latter due to dark age.
Also personal experience is probably as scientific of an analysis that can be preformed on this concept at this time. If you can decide to do an experiment and be angry for a month and say the word pumpkin every time you touch something, then be aware of how daily life functioned. Then for a jolly for a month and say the word unicorn every smile every time you move, then be aware of how daily life functions.
*What to keep in mind
>life should not be different or respond to the attitude you choose (suppose to be vice versa)
>If you do accomplish this, why did these patterns on your computer screen make you do something dominantly unique when you see similar input at a scale of million times more frequent per day? Why don’t other impute trigger such dramatic reputions and oddities? Why would you deterministically do something that does not promote biological evolution and survival?
>How come you can stick to a decision that is not compulsive in nature by applying effort (energy)? While you can forgo a decision that is very compulsive that takes effort to not do?
>What is the deterministic force that determines the next action? How does the above two questions fit in to that determinacy force? What is the force newtonian physics? Hasn’t that been proved not fundamental? How does Newtonian physics explain biological changes that are claimed to be deterministic? Shouldn’t all choices be solly dependent on biology?
>How does doing the above experiment advance biology?
>Are inputs sole criteria for certain choices? What if a person is put in a deprivations tank? Shouldn’t all biological systems with no more external influence do the same thing?
>If a person is put in a all white prison cell with no differing external reality. What is driving his thoughts deterministically?
>How can a deterministic system damage it self purposely?
I think a much bigger perspective is needed, and I think it will come from Modern science in the future investigating probabilistic and statistical reality. Im not cut to shave a swastika in my head just yet. (thats a joke).
Here’s the problem: We are letting this be too simple.
First, this discussion is conflating two issues: Destiny and Free Will.
The concept of destiny is not only “I had no choice” but it INCLUDES “There was only ever one choice”.
These are separate claims. Does Harris not mention this in his book?
Once you realize these are separate claims two things become apparent 1) you may have not had a choice (lack of free will)... but having the chance all over again (or someone else in the exact biocultural circumstance as you, or your exact biobehavioral clone) may have made a different choice. I wonder if this is part of what Feather is talking about when he mentions statistical probability. If it is then im down with that part of his contention, because within any given neural architecture there are more possible combinations for firings than there are atoms in the known universe. That is… variability should be high and permits an element of “surprise” in what notions trigger what responses.
Meditate deeply and watch the way your consciousness bounces around strangely associating nearly random memories with sights or sounds… understand that you are much more complicated than your conscious narrative.
There are quite a few evolutionary neurologists that hold the theory that human intelligence is largely borne from creativity at the cost of raw processing power (watch a chimp navigate memorized number chains only visible for parts of a second, outpreforming humans by 5x over). That creativity could very well come from a special type of “insanity” in the human brain that permits linking between thoughts and memories that are more remote than other creatures are capable of. Our propensity for language acts as a power check on creativity though, bearing our social norms down on our insanities - ensuring that only those crazy notions that are somehow useful pass muster.
At any given point of instinctive response or intuition or “choice making” there could have been MANY other outcomes. To deny this requires the claim that LITERALLY nothing in the universe has variability or uncertainty and that randomness does not exist.
Keep in mind (pun intended) that your brain evolved specifically to abhor randomness nearly as strongly as it abhors a vacuum of meaning - it will do nearly anything it needs to, to ensure you feel there is order in the universe even if that means neutering your own free will. In the end that free-will could just be the error in your ability to translate, mimic, or replicate learned information or the uncertainty that engages certain particularly pluripotent neuronal networks determining a difficult choice.
Despite that I am critical of our popular notion of free will… perhaps we are hasty in disposing of it so readily. Think really hard about the last terribly difficult decision you made. The stakes were high, the options diverse, and each was nearly equal in potential benefit or lack of harm…. your stress levels were elevated… right? Why? IF there is truly a Destiny OR a complete lack of free-will,... then to what advantage do lineages generate such stress systems, evolutionarily? To what advantage is a problem solving neocortex in the first place if outcomes are predetermined? We might be oversimplifying much in our denial of free will afterall.
The problem with the free will discussion is this…
To me, it makes perfect sense that free will is an illusion. The problem is that that ends the conversation. There’s nowhere else to go. That essentially means that every one of us is just riding a roller coaster that for all practical purposes is predetermined, since—given the technology—a person’s life could be mapped out from beginning to end in detail, assuming that the laws of physics hold true.
I find that it is better to approach the matter from a practical perspective, and treat free will as if it is legitimate, since this is what we experience subjectively.