Thoughts on Free Will

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posted on Jul, 20 2013 @ 05:15 AM
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So the trend in cognitive sciences and evolutionary psychology - in most of the sciences, in short - is to assume that every last shred of what you we call free will is in fact an illusion. I have read many of the books, and I have been exposed to all of the claims, rationales, and examples of how it is that we imagine ourselves to be possessors of a free will. Still, however, I am not completely convinced.

First, let me say that there are without a doubt unconscious processes creeping beneath our thinking the majority of the time. We can't seem to help this. When I look left, its because some "primer" - a sound, a feeling, impelled me to look that direction. It's hard to deny that these processes aren't there when so many interesting books have been written showing us how it is happening; ever heard of the experiment which had two groups of people read a list of words? The first group was show words like "tired", "Florida", and "age", while the other group were given a set of random words. After reading off those words to themselves, participants got up, and headed out the room. This is when the experiment began. The people who read the words like tired, etc, walked out of the room at a slower walking pace than the other group. This told researchers that those words has subconsciously "primed" the readers to act like old people - which words like Florida, tired, age, subliminally intimate.

This was and is an impressive example of subconscious forces compelling our behavior. No one can deny that. But it's seems to be hyperbole and an unnecessary blanket assumption to go the full way and say "free will therefore doesn't exist". It does exist.

The psychologist Daniel Kahnemans awesome book "thinking, fast and slow" introduced many people to the psychological concepts known as "system 1" and "system 2". System 1 is automatic, intuitive, and a fast thinking. It happens when we are embodied. System 2, conversely, is logical, analytical, and slow. It is what I am working with right now as I write this piece.

System 1 is without a doubt always being mediated by unconscious processes. Some emotion flows in, "primes" us, and we carry out the action like automata. I personally don't like the word "automata" - I think it's a rather beautiful process, being caught up in the "flow" of life, - but, to be blunt, that is essentially what is happening when were in a system 1 state of mind. System 2, on the other hand, does afford us a veritable degree of wiggle room, a real separation from whats going on in our unconscious minds.

At this very moment, become aware of yourselves as you read. This ability to be "self aware" seemingly highlights and exposes the mind to the undercurrents of subconscious drives bustling below the surface. I see them, I can sense them. But is that it? Is that all there is to us? Does my "sensing" count for nothing? How am I to understand my ability, at virtually any moment that I choose, to stop myself in my tracks, and freely choose to locate the spotlight of my attention at anything that I want? Am I going to make the unfalsifiable presumption that "some" unconscious process is making me think this way or that way? That I am writing this word - instead of this one, or dat one (yes, I wrote dat, like a Jamaican would say it)?

I think this is a pseudo scientific claim without evidence. It's taking something that happens a lot of the time, and just for the sake of it, out of some personal bias, saying it happens all of the time.

My ability to reflect on my life, to consider my values, to bring into awareness my love for others, happens because I freely chose to think about it. Yesterday, I found myself to be acting a little petulant around my family members. I was just feeling that way. Then, I looked over to my mother, and saw her looking a little insecure. I felt my coldness may have made her feel unhappy in some way: "I think she was trying to connect with me", I think to myself. "I should have been more aware." Out of a sense of deep empathy, I went up to her, kissed her on the cheek, hugged her, and apologized for any coldness. Why did I do that? Initially, when becoming aware of my behavior, I had two pathways before me: to continue lounging in my comfortable sense of taciturn indifference to others, or, to change the course of my behavior. Intensity wise, the former feeling was stronger. Nevertheless, I willfully forced myself to not think about those feelings, but instead, to access more deeply the burbling sense of love that had poked it's head into awareness when I first noticed it.

Before I choose that behavior, a choice had to happen. a) stick with the relatively strong and dominant apathy towards her and others, and continue watching the baseball game b) break the apathy, go to her, and give her a hug. I physically, emotionally, and mentally experienced myself change upon insisting in my mind that I should go to her, give her a hug, and apologize for any coldness. This appeared to be an absolutely genuine experience of free will. Intensity couldn't explain it, since the intensity was so low for getting up compared to the already rooted sense of comfort that I was feeling. Instead, I fanned the flames of the intensity by forcibly thinking about it, holding it in my minds awareness, and going up to her. The primer was put in place freely and deliberately in my subconscious mind after willfully meditating upon it, which means, the system 1/system 2 works both ways. I built the intensity hat came upon me after I decided to think about it. After getting up, I felt the change that occurred; but it occurred BECAUSE of my own freely willed conscious intervention.

Free Will may be in fact a fickle, fragile little thing which for many people exists in a smaller or greater portion depending on their degree of self awareness. Nevertheless, despite it's being the David to our unconscious Goliath's, it can at any time be accessed and exercised without an unconscious "primer" acting as a precursor.

At the end of the day, thought experiments like this wont convince the naysayers, just like stupid experiments like Benjamin Libets free will study don't get us any closer either. As to the latter study, the evidence has paradoxically worked to prove and disprove the existence of Free will. The supporters claimed that the "action potentials" clocked in the brain were the real source of our sense of free will. Yet, the difference was enough for the person to check the urge to act, stop himself, and do something else, leading some researchers to make the counter-intuitive claim: does free will lie somewhere between thought and action?
edit on 20-7-2013 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)




posted on Jul, 20 2013 @ 05:37 AM
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It also depends how you define "Free Will".

If it is defined as any action taken without the influence of external factors, then I would say it is most likely an illusion. Genetics, past experiences, cultural factors and the subconscious would all play some sort of role in all the actions an individual takes.

If it is defined as any conscious action taken using the individual's own inclination, then it could be classified as real.

It's a complex topic with a range of views.



posted on Jul, 20 2013 @ 05:39 AM
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reply to post by Astrocyte
 


You will argue freewill if you believe in the individual. If you think you are an individual separate from everything then you will believe in 'you'. If you believe in 'you' then you will believe in freewill.
When you realize oneness, wholeness, completeness you will laugh at the idea of 'individual freewill'.
What is happening now is just happening. It is all happening as one complete movement.
It is done.



posted on Jul, 20 2013 @ 07:36 AM
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reply to post by Astrocyte
 



So the trend in cognitive sciences and evolutionary psychology - in most of the sciences, in short - is to assume that every last shred of what you we call free will is in fact an illusion. I have read many of the books, and I have been exposed to all of the claims, rationales, and examples of how it is that we imagine ourselves to be possessors of a free will. Still, however, I am not completely convinced.


If you wish an apple to hit the ceiling, can you drop it and make it happen? Why won't it hit the ceiling instead of the floor? Did you choose to drop the apple? What makes your choice conform to a choice you were not intending? Do you make your hair grow? Can you cut it when it gets too long? What makes it grow? Will the sun shine today, even if clouds cover the land? What makes this happen? Will your body die, even if you want to live? What makes it happen?

In all of existence, you do two things that you have control over. You think and move. Other than this, natural law governs it all as action reaction conforming to the choice and program of a governor. Your thoughts are moved toward a higher purpose and your movements are regulated by the laws of motion. You can move one direction, but an unbalanced force moves you another way. When you narrow down this process, you have one way to see it.

In physics, the strong nuclear forces is Proton (+) and Neutron (neutral) in balance. Neutrons have two down quarks and one up. This is the nucleus. Protons are in the center with the neutron and have two up quarks and one down. They follow a law called invariable symmetry. They are always the same no matter where they function in the system. The Electron (-) does not conform to invariable symmetry, and because of this, you have free will to think and move, yet the strong nuclear force will always make you conform to invariable symmetry. Electrons do not follow invariable symmetry, yet they are heeled into submission. The electron borrows from the future and pays back in the past. When an electron changes to a proton, the process is complete (neutron decay).

Free will is allowed as an asymmetry and variable so that what is captured in the end is something new, yet conformed back to symmetry and law. All of this starts with Hydrogen, which has one proton (+) and one electron (-) in balance. Good and Evil is seen by the experience, yet ultimate bliss follows when the negative is heeled. The Strong Force is the key.

Father in Hebrew is Aleph Bet (Alphebet). It is defined by the two letters comprising the word. Aleph is strong and Bet is house. Mother is Aleph Mem (Strong Waters). All combinations in nature need a catalyst. Baptism is your immersion into the waters. Son is Bet Nun. Bet is House and Nun is Seed.

Truth is the word Aleph (Father) Mem (Water) and Tav (Two Crossed Sticks). Father, Mother and Son. You are the Son in a wilderness learning. The prodigal returns. Free will is only free while it learns. Once it has learned, it regains all knowledge and is heeled to the authority of the Strong Force, yet something new from the experience. Look up involution and evolution on Wikipedia.

I used the word heel. If your body breaks, what do you want it to start doing again with regularity? Follow its design. If you heal the body, you are desiring it to regulate its function, which is a function you do not regulate yourself. Heeling is the same, only it is you that is regulated back to a perfect and invariable law of symmetry. That's a good thing and not bad. Once you no longer need this law, it is removed.

Galatians 3

23 Before the coming of this faith,[j] we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

An acorn unfolds the oak tree. The oak tree enfolds the acorn. The Germ of DNA and information are the letters (Father) and you are the word from the germ (Oak Tree). Information can be saved. The process is outlined in the Bible.

edit on 20-7-2013 by EnochWasRight because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 20 2013 @ 07:53 AM
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Well written post....

Freewill works itself out in my paradigm of reality like this....

We are two separate entities; one is animal--comprised and sequestered of this earth. The other
is spiritual (usually described as a soul or life essence).

The animal has no freewill. It reacts to stimulus and responds instinctively. Examples of non-freewill
behavior are the urges to mate, eat, drink, and protect-defend. To a more clinical degree, the
autonomic nervous system is a fine example of this idea in that we generally have no ability
to exercise any freewill over things such as our heart rate, or blood pressure, etc.

Therefore, to me, the animal part of me expresses no freewill. It comes complete with wants, needs
and urges. Without the spiritual essence it cannot express free-will---a walking automaton capable
only of stimulus and response.

Where the two halves meet is in the emotional realm I believe. It is easy to see the emotional
response of the animal to stimulus; the eyes dilate when they sense something pleasing, the
hear-rate increases under stress, etc... But as in the situation you describe with your mother,
the spirit also has access to the animal's emotions and this is where our freewill expresses itself.

You can choose to react to stimulus instinctively or non-instinctively. An example of this is found in the
pun about stress...

Stress---The confusion created when one's mind overrides the body's basic desire to choke the
living daylights out of some jerk who desperately needs it.


In my paradigm of reality, freewill exists as the spirit expressing itself thru the animal...in spite of
the animal.
edit on 20-7-2013 by rival because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 20 2013 @ 08:20 AM
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Free will is determined by accounting for the cost of a decision, all decisions have consequences. Everything amounts to a balance sheet, not a literal paper one, but a lifelong effort to maintain homeostasis.

In the end homeostasis can no longer be maintained regardless of one's choices. If the only thing that matters is maintaining homeostasis, and one has no choice in the end but to die, there really isn't any free will.

There are much deeper phenomenon at play here than simply free will and maintaining balance, I have seen them peeking out but never really could explain what it was I experienced, and what I saw (not literally with my eyes) still baffles me.

Most of these type things that are discussed here regarding the pseudo-mystical, are difficult to discuss because of the limitations of the language we are force to work with.

I once tried to explain these things to myself through religion, but religion failed to provide me a satisfactory sense of free will when, after much contemplation of the texts, it became clear to me that God did not want Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of knowledge and be free to think their own thoughts.

The more I learn, the less I know....This is a strange subject for me, because I see so very few people in this world who have free will but convince themselves that they do somehow.

The balance between having a clear conscience, which is really based on a morals set (which is indoctrination by others, so not really a choice), and maintaining physical homeostasis, which is more a taking in of bits of ones physical environment for nutritional sustenance (not really a choice either) and the space we must occupy for living etc., and not interfering with other people, animals and the environment in their attempts to maintain balance, in the end inhibits free will of one out of consideration for other beings and things.

If one has a conscience anyway... I suppose if one gives up free will out of consideration for other beings and things, that in itself is an act of free will.



posted on Jul, 21 2013 @ 01:41 AM
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reply to post by Astrocyte
 


I wonder how free is our will when it remains within our control?

Are we not limiting our will by the very act of willing? The moment we will something, we narrow the field of possible outcomes, and we become the victim, as it were, of the consequences of our will.

In my opinion, we do not have a "free" will until we set it free, until we surrender our will. Not by force or compulsion, nor by giving it over to another, but by relinquishing it with love and trust, cheerfully and gladly.



posted on Jul, 21 2013 @ 06:36 AM
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reply to post by mysticnoon
 


That is a great post.

It seems to me, though, that the entire notion of "free-will" (beyond some egoic satisfaction) is baseless and futile. But then again, so is the notion of "determinism". Ultimately, we have no clue what is going on. We merely construct narratives to fit our predetermined conclusions. The Cartesian philosopher says, "I have the free-will to determine my life's destiny", and the scientist says, "I am a part within a deterministic universe". But is this "free-will" merely a perceptual error arising from deterministic causation's? And/or, does this "deterministic universe" act upon its own free-will?

Again, we have no clue what is going on. Our best bet is to merely conform to the natural processes that surround us, or as Lao-Tsu would say, to follow 'The Way'.



posted on Jul, 21 2013 @ 06:49 AM
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Originally posted by openlocks
reply to post by mysticnoon
 


That is a great post.

It seems to me, though, that the entire notion of "free-will" (beyond some egoic satisfaction) is baseless and futile. But then again, so is the notion of "determinism". Ultimately, we have no clue what is going on. We merely construct narratives to fit our predetermined conclusions. The Cartesian philosopher says, "I have the free-will to determine my life's destiny", and the scientist says, "I am a part within a deterministic universe". But is this "free-will" merely a perceptual error arising from deterministic causation's? And/or, does this "deterministic universe" act upon its own free-will?

Again, we have no clue what is going on. Our best bet is to merely conform to the natural processes that surround us, or as Lao-Tsu would say, to follow 'The Way'.

Only the belief in a separate self will lead to the conclusion that there is freewill for the individual.
What is appearing now has appeared - it is too late for something to stop it.
This moment is the way - there is no path to it.



posted on Jul, 21 2013 @ 07:32 AM
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It seems that the larger part of free will has to do with how we relate to things.





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