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JeffPT



    Posts: 1992
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This isn't freedom of will, 3sigma.  Randomness is not freedom.

I think freedom of will means that my will is not under the control of another will. I think the applicable meaning of freedom is the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants or, more specifically, the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity. You and your fellow protagonists apparently have a very different idea of freedom of will. Perhaps you could give me the meaning of freedom you are using when you say we don’t have freedom of will.

Have we not done this already a bunch of times? 

Maybe an analogy will help...

Alright, you're lost in the woods.  There are 2 paths up ahead of you and you don't know which one will get you out, so you are faced with a 'choice'.  Now... your brain, being the information processing juggernaut that it is, receives information about the world around you (sight, smell, taste, touch, hear), and that information is then sent to the brain in the form of electrical signals.  For the sake of argument, I'm going to seriously oversimplify this and say it fires nerves 1 through 150.  It doesn't matter how many it fires or which ones are fired, but let's just say it fires a specific amount.  Once those nerves fire, a chain reaction of signals is sent around the brain and millions of nerves fire; some to the emotional centers, the decision making centers, the frontal cortex, etc, but all following natural processes of stimulus and response.  Everything about your history adds in to it including things like how hungry you are, how long it is before dark, whether or not you're going to be in trouble, but each nerve input boils down to fire or no fire.  Go or no go.  Completely natural; cause and effect.   

So nerves 1 to 150 fire to the other centers, activating more nerves and we eventually get an output that is completely individual to you (say it eventually fires nerves 250 to 400 which leads to going left), but no more or less than that because when nerves 1 to 150 fire, the eventual outcome could only be 250 to 400 due to the natural cascade of stimulus and response.  If nerve 151 fired (another neural input of some kind), then you might get a different outcome, but for nerves 1 to 150, only nerves 250 to 400 will be your end result.   

What (I think) everyone is saying is that when we talk about free will, we mean the ability to impact our own response to nerves 1 to 150 firing to the brain, and go right instead of left.  When we say we have no free will, what we mean is that those first nerves that sent information to our brain (1 to 150) will ALWAYS output 250 to 400, and thus we had no 'choice' but to turn left.  All things being equal, if the universe rewound to that exact spot in time, and everything played out such that nerves 1 to 150 fired, the subsequent neuronal cascade would always give you the firing of nerves 250 to 400, and thus we never had a choice in it at all.  We just do what our brains tell us to do and we'd go left every time.  Cause and effect, stimulus and response, go and no go. 

Where do you see a possibility for 'us' to impact the natural cascade of neural activity and make an alternate decision?  You could say 'well, what if I thought about this other time when I went left and I should have gone right'... and I respond by saying no matter what happened, at that very moment in time, if nerves 1 to 150 fired, either it would activate that memory, or it wouldn't, but it would do it every time you rewound the situation back due to the cause and effect nature of the system.  You don't have control over the activation of that memory.  A nerve fires and it either makes the next one fire or it doesn't.  In order for us to have free will, there HAS to be some sort of mechanism by which we can have nerves 1 to 150 fire, and cascade out nerves 500 to 550.  I just can't see one, and thus it just makes more logical sense to say we don't have free will.  I could be wrong about it, but the theory that we have no free will is only problematic from an emotional standpoint.  It fits with all the facts. 
Changed Change Reason Date
lotanddaughters What Graybeard said February 01, 2013, 02:20:15 PM
Graybeard This sort of explanation cannot be repeated too often February 01, 2013, 07:11:53 AM