FAQ
It is currently Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:48 am


Author Message
iNow
Post  Post subject: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:11 am
User avatar
Original Member
Original Member

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:40 pm
Posts: 5728
Location: Iowa

Offline
In reviewing the neuroscience of this issue, it appears decisions are made prior to entering our conscious awareness. This implies to me that we don't have free will.

What do you think?

Wiki has a good primer with lots of references: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurosc ... _free_will

_________________
iNow

"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan


Top
geordief
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:42 am

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:45 pm
Posts: 276

Offline
iNow wrote:
In reviewing the neuroscience of this issue, it appears decisions are made prior to entering our conscious awareness. This implies to me that we don't have free will.

What do you think?

Wiki has a good primer with lots of references: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurosc ... _free_will

One thing for sure,we have at least the illusion of free will.

I think it may not matter if our decision making is done at an unconscious level-or at a seemingly earlier time.

If it were otherwise and our decisions were performed consciously and one at a time it would be a nightmare I guess.

Is it our unconscious activity that keeps us able to function at all?

The idea of completely free will implies some kind of social atomisation that I am very uncomfortable with anyway.

Freewill ,for me is a very fuzzy concept even if the individual may (perhaps rarely) convince him or herself that they are entirely masters of their own destiny.


Top
Lynx_Fox
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 3:30 am

Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2015 5:17 am
Posts: 251
Location: US Pacific NorthWest

Offline
geordief wrote:
The idea of completely free will implies some kind of social atomisation that I am very uncomfortable with anyway.

Freewill ,for me is a very fuzzy concept even if the individual may (perhaps rarely) convince him or herself that they are entirely masters of their own destiny.


This gets to the gist of my problem with the concept. I don't think it matters one whit whether the decision is mostly made by the unconscious brain--because clearly it's the person's brain...not some separate entity. If the unconscious made the decision and the conscious brain was aware of it...it was entirely that persons decision regardless. They had freewill.


Top
geordief
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:56 am

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:45 pm
Posts: 276

Offline
Lynx_Fox wrote:
geordief wrote:
The idea of completely free will implies some kind of social atomisation that I am very uncomfortable with anyway.

Freewill ,for me is a very fuzzy concept even if the individual may (perhaps rarely) convince him or herself that they are entirely masters of their own destiny.


This gets to the gist of my problem with the concept. I don't think it matters one whit whether the decision is mostly made by the unconscious brain--because clearly it's the person's brain...not some separate entity. If the unconscious made the decision and the conscious brain was aware of it...it was entirely that persons decision regardless. They had freewill.

Is this inclination to believe in a strong form of free will (perhaps not as widespread among the public as all that...) an example of believing that which we wish to be true rather than that which is more empirically the case?

I think there are criminals who "go to the trouble" of murdering people simply for the motivation that it is shows that they exist(and carry out the act in some kind of an existential way (Brady of the Moors Murders in the UK if I remember and understood correctly)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moors_murders

Of course an interest or an upbringing in one of the religions can also bring this question to the fore.


Top
Pong
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:11 am
Original Member
Original Member

Joined: Sat May 28, 2016 2:53 am
Posts: 232

Offline
Lynx_Fox wrote:
it's the person's brain...not some separate entity.

That POV simplifies ethics: You accuse me of sneezing: I must admit "I" sneezed, not "my body" sneezed, I'm responsible. Currently a popular defense is to invoke chemical imbalance or whatever, basically shifting blame to a clinical condition of the brain.


Thanks for the link and invitation to blab, iNow.

What I think (my pet theory) is that with experience what was conscious becomes unconscious. Automatic I mean. Consciousness is constantly laying down fresh unconsciousness and moving on. It's practically defined as "that which is not yet resolved". The implication is terrible! Because consciousness can't help remove itself from what we call "mindfulness" - being alert to the present. The robotic side grows. Can you remember when you were fully conscious (mindful) of walking or washing your hands? Or reading words? Or formulating a response? I vaguely recall, myself as a child arranging thoughts into sentences. It took extraordinary focus, not that I was shy. Just I had no practiced robot performing it for me while my conscious mind wandered on a higher plane.

Now where did I put my glasses?

Oh, yeah, the Terrible Implication. That in a brain of limited volume, this automatic product of conscious thought must reduce the range of consciousness. Ultimately I would be all robot. I'd appear alert and responsive. I could tell jokes. And I wouldn't even know my conscious mind is completely absent.

So my pet theory hopes to expand our understanding of learning and senility. I want to see tests done on children, adults, seniors. If I'm right we'll find many seniors score well in performance, though they're demonstrably unconscious of doing the tests... and so: they won't recall what they did in the tests.


Top
geordief
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:58 am

Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:45 pm
Posts: 276

Offline
Pong wrote:
Lynx_Fox wrote:
it's the person's brain...not some separate entity.

That POV simplifies ethics: You accuse me of sneezing: I must admit "I" sneezed, not "my body" sneezed, I'm responsible. Currently a popular defense is to invoke chemical imbalance or whatever, basically shifting blame to a clinical condition of the brain.


Thanks for the link and invitation to blab, iNow.

What I think (my pet theory) is that with experience what was conscious becomes unconscious. Automatic I mean. Consciousness is constantly laying down fresh unconsciousness and moving on. It's practically defined as "that which is not yet resolved". The implication is terrible! Because consciousness can't help remove itself from what we call "mindfulness" - being alert to the present. The robotic side grows. Can you remember when you were fully conscious (mindful) of walking or washing your hands? Or reading words? Or formulating a response? I vaguely recall, myself as a child arranging thoughts into sentences. It took extraordinary focus, not that I was shy. Just I had no practiced robot performing it for me while my conscious mind wandered on a higher plane.

Now where did I put my glasses?

Oh, yeah, the Terrible Implication. That in a brain of limited volume, this automatic product of conscious thought must reduce the range of consciousness. Ultimately I would be all robot. I'd appear alert and responsive. I could tell jokes. And I wouldn't even know my conscious mind is completely absent.

So my pet theory hopes to expand our understanding of learning and senility. I want to see tests done on children, adults, seniors. If I'm right we'll find many seniors score well in performance, though they're demonstrably unconscious of doing the tests... and so: they won't recall what they did in the tests.

Tests for conscious activity sounds like an interesting area of research (probably ongoing as we speak)

I wonder if the term "quantum of consciousness" might have a meaning.What might be the smallest timeframes might a positive result for conscious activity apply to?

Would it be the same for all minds (unlikely on the face of it) and would it have a linear relation to physical reaction speeds which diminish as we get older?

Does "consciousness" in this sense slow down as the body a a whole begins to fail.Does it burn more brightly as a response to the right kind of stress?


Top
iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:42 pm
User avatar
Original Member
Original Member

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:40 pm
Posts: 5728
Location: Iowa

Offline
geordief wrote:
One thing for sure,we have at least the illusion of free will.

This is essentially where I land with it, too. The decision seems to happen chemically at an unconscious level. Then, when that "choice" enters our awareness, we start rationalizing why we made it, even though conscious decision making wasn't really responsible.

Freewill is a postdictive illusion as far as I can tell.

A problem here, however, is how quickly our words become ambiguous when describing what's happening. After all, what is consciousness, what is awareness, what is the unconscious? There are multiple paths leading to miscommunication of concepts.

_________________
iNow

"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan


Top
marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:03 pm
User avatar

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:35 pm
Posts: 4881
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Offline
iNow wrote:
In reviewing the neuroscience of this issue, it appears decisions are made prior to entering our conscious awareness. This implies to me that we don't have free will.


still, when you say "decisions are made", who do you think is making those decisions ? if it's not in the conscious part of your brain, the decision is still made by something inside your head, and presumably that's still you - just because the conscious is not aware of the choice to take a certain decision, that's still a long way from stating that everything you do is predetermined

after all, does the part of your brain that made the decision before the conscious part of the brain became aware of it not have a freedom of choice ?

come to think of it, is there really a seat of consciousness in the brain that's separate from the part where the decision was made ?

_________________
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
"Someone is WRONG on the internet" (xkcd)


Top
iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:33 pm
User avatar
Original Member
Original Member

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:40 pm
Posts: 5728
Location: Iowa

Offline
Some part of "us" is making the decision, but my concept of "me" involves consciousness. If it's pre-conscious, then it's not "me" doing it... it's my biological machinery...outside my control... even though our limited language still calls that "me."

_________________
iNow

"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan


Top
Pong
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:52 pm
Original Member
Original Member

Joined: Sat May 28, 2016 2:53 am
Posts: 232

Offline
iNow wrote:
Some part of "us" is making the decision, but my concept of "me" involves consciousness. If it's pre-conscious, then it's not "me" doing it... it's my biological machinery...outside my control... even though our limited language still calls that "me."

So, accused of sneezing, you'd plead it was the biological machinery made you do it.


I think that free will, and consciousness, are overrated. I'm comfortable on the attitude that my present is an irresistible culmination of past conditions. But then, where is "me"? I just take it all - greedily - as myself (and I'm responsible for it). So in Pong's world, the soul/spirit/self goes beyond the cranium and even lasts beyond mortal life, in every thing and every entity I've affected in the empirical world. Learned last year that's basically the animist concept of spirit. When an animist arranges flowers a little spirit is born in the arrangement; destroy the arrangement, destroy the spirit.

Said before, I think most of what we colloquially call unconsciousness is former consciousness, calcified. So it's "me" because I set it up. For social convenience we pretend that's confined within the body/brain. But if I set an alarm clock for myself, it's the same thing.


Top
wegs
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:38 pm
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:48 am
Posts: 77

Offline
I've been going back and forth with this one, is free will just an illusion or do we really have choices? I think that to the best of our ability to cognitively understand our choices, then yes, we have choices. But, are our choices based upon pre-determined occurrences, and our choices are really the only options we would ever choose? I don't know. If you have two kids who grew up in the identical household, and one becomes a criminal and the other becomes an upstanding citizen of his community, how could choice not be involved? If everything is predetermined, why wouldn't both kids' lives turn out somewhat the same? :?:


Top
marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:14 pm
User avatar

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:35 pm
Posts: 4881
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Offline
well, i have a son and a daughter, born 2 years apart, but have very little in common

they're both doing well for themselves, so not exactly criminal versus upstanding citizen, but you would be hard pressed to find two more different personalities

_________________
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
"Someone is WRONG on the internet" (xkcd)


Top
iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Do we have free will?  |  Posted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:50 am
User avatar
Original Member
Original Member

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:40 pm
Posts: 5728
Location: Iowa

Offline
Every thought we have...every movement we make...every dream, every idea, every memory, every response to the cosmos and people around us... is a chemical reaction in our brain.

That chemical reaction tends to occur BEFORE conscious awareness.

There are differing thoughts on this subject. My view is that freewill is an illusion; a story we tell ourselves to make sense of the chemical impulses.

Also, chemistry is subject to quantum randomness. For most of our experience at the macro level, QM effects can largely be ignored, but over decades I suspect certain patterns of variability repeat (which cells fire when two are close together, which myelin sheath carries the signal, which potassium ion triggers the action potential, etc)

_________________
iNow

"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan


Top
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Print view

Who is online
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
Jump to:   
cron

Delete all board cookies | The team | All times are UTC


This free forum is proudly hosted by ProphpBB | phpBB software | Report Abuse | Privacy