Brain might not stand in the way of free will

ex-minister
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Brain might not stand in the way of free will

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

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Beyond Saving
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 I might be showing my

 

I might be showing my ignorance here, but I don't get in the slightest how the Libet experiment can be construed as evidence against free will. At best it shows that the decision making process in our brain is not instantaneous- something that a layman like me hardly finds surprising. 

Also, I think it is absurd to ask someone to make a spontaneous movement. As soon as you ask for a spontaneous movement, the movement is by definition not spontaneous to the person moving- they are making an affirmative decision to move. How could they be doing anything but sitting there thinking to themselves, Hmmm, do I want to move yet? When do I want to move? Is this what they would call an urge to move? Should I say something? 

These thoughts are going to go through your head, there is no way they are not. 

 

 

 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


cj
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hmmm

Sort of like a capacitor - stores up energy/potential until - snap!  If you are incapable of storing the energy or have just released it, you do not have a quick response.

Or it could be as Dehaene says in Reading in the Brain, a lot of neurons fire off given a particular stimulus.  And it appears that they gradually (takes a few microseconds) to come to a consensus as to how to interpret or respond to the stimulus.  You perceive the stimulus a long time - oh, many microseconds - before you are conscious of the stimulus.

Maybe.  Perhaps.

We at least have the illusion of free will - which is good enough for me.  I know a number of theories that our will is not so free, constrained by ability, culture, environment, genetics, habit, and so on.  But I can ignore all that and decide to do what I please when I please.  Fortunately, I have been conditioned to desire to do that which is culturally/socially acceptable, so my will feels unimpeded.  Even if it is impeded ----- around in circles we could go.

And I think I will choose to have a cold, hard lemonade with dinner tonight.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

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Beyond Saving wrote: I

Beyond Saving wrote:

 

I might be showing my ignorance here, but I don't get in the slightest how the Libet experiment can be construed as evidence against free will. At best it shows that the decision making process in our brain is not instantaneous- something that a layman like me hardly finds surprising. 

Also, I think it is absurd to ask someone to make a spontaneous movement. As soon as you ask for a spontaneous movement, the movement is by definition not spontaneous to the person moving- they are making an affirmative decision to move. How could they be doing anything but sitting there thinking to themselves, Hmmm, do I want to move yet? When do I want to move? Is this what they would call an urge to move? Should I say something? 

These thoughts are going to go through your head, there is no way they are not. 

 

Yeah - don't think about an elephant.......

 

 

I thought about that as well when I read about both experiments.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


Manageri
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Beyond Saving wrote:I might

Beyond Saving wrote:
I might be showing my ignorance here, but I don't get in the slightest how the Libet experiment can be construed as evidence against free will. At best it shows that the decision making process in our brain is not instantaneous- something that a layman like me hardly finds surprising.

If there's a decision making process going on before your conciousness is aware of it then your conciousness can't be what initiated it, ergo your brain started the process and informed your conciousness about it, not the other way around which is how free will supposedly works.

I take all these experiments with a huge grain of salt though. Neuroscience is still pretty young and extremely complicated so I think the best pieces of evidence against free will are still logical ones.


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I'm of the opinion that the

I'm of the opinion that the unconscious and conscious mind work in concert in a way that does not support either the idea we have libertarian free will or only a illusion of free will.

Your unconscious mind is doing a incredible amount of work in the background, and influences your actions very heavily, but it is shown that your conscious mind can influence straight back.

You don't exactly have free-will to ignore your life experience and your memories, but the idea I have about this is that your 'free will' is more of a flexible decision-making dance between unconscious and conscious mind. You can make conscious effort to change your behaviors. This is something that takes work, because the unconscious mind is tenacious and set in it's ways sometimes.

Of course someone could argue right back that your 'conscious' effort to change your behaviors is just another puppet-dance you are doing to your unconscious mind's wishes. Not sure what we will discover about this in the future. I tend to agree with CJ that whether our free will is actually the libertarian concept of free will is rather irrelevant, as the distinction is fuzzy and the knowledge doesn't really affect our daily lives.

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ThunderJones wrote:I'm of

ThunderJones wrote:

I'm of the opinion that the unconscious and conscious mind work in concert in a way that does not support either the idea we have libertarian free will or only a illusion of free will.

Your unconscious mind is doing a incredible amount of work in the background, and influences your actions very heavily, but it is shown that your conscious mind can influence straight back.

You don't exactly have free-will to ignore your life experience and your memories, but the idea I have about this is that your 'free will' is more of a flexible decision-making dance between unconscious and conscious mind. You can make conscious effort to change your behaviors. This is something that takes work, because the unconscious mind is tenacious and set in it's ways sometimes.

Of course someone could argue right back that your 'conscious' effort to change your behaviors is just another puppet-dance you are doing to your unconscious mind's wishes. Not sure what we will discover about this in the future. I tend to agree with CJ that whether our free will is actually the libertarian concept of free will is rather irrelevant, as the distinction is fuzzy and the knowledge doesn't really affect our daily lives.

 

Does it matter? Whether it is your unconscious mind or your conscious mind, the decision is still being made by you, the only difference is how focused you are on making the decision. People talk as if the unconscious mind is some separate entity from themselves, I think that position is untenable. Especially given how the unconscious mind can be consciously conditioned to react in certain ways. The unconscious mind is simply how we deal with day to day tasks without the burden of having to premeditate every movement since most of our movements are routine. They both serve an important role and both are you. Whether it is the conscious part of your mind or unconscious part of your mind making the decision, you are still exercising free will, as in you COULD have made a different decision. 

Blaming your unconscious mind for making a decision or reacting is the adult equivalent of the child who says after being swatted on their hand "It wasn't that hand, it was my other hand that did it."

The only viable argument against freewill is that in the exact same situation, would your mind come to the same decision every single time because of its chemical make up, previous experiences etc. IOW, is it possible to understand the brain enough that we could collect enough data to accurately predict what decision it will make before the question is even asked. Say for example, the question was "pick blue or red" and it was possible to predict which the brain would choose before the question was asked. If that is possible, that would suggest that all of our decisions are completely based on our physical make up. 

On the other hand, is it that our decisions are truly random and they are completely unpredictable in a mechanical sense (essentially the theory that leads to the idea of infinitely branching timelines due to different decisions). I don't see how either of these experiments provide evidence for either side of that argument. 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


ThunderJones
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Beyond Saving

Beyond Saving wrote:

ThunderJones wrote:

I'm of the opinion that the unconscious and conscious mind work in concert in a way that does not support either the idea we have libertarian free will or only a illusion of free will.

Your unconscious mind is doing a incredible amount of work in the background, and influences your actions very heavily, but it is shown that your conscious mind can influence straight back.

You don't exactly have free-will to ignore your life experience and your memories, but the idea I have about this is that your 'free will' is more of a flexible decision-making dance between unconscious and conscious mind. You can make conscious effort to change your behaviors. This is something that takes work, because the unconscious mind is tenacious and set in it's ways sometimes.

Of course someone could argue right back that your 'conscious' effort to change your behaviors is just another puppet-dance you are doing to your unconscious mind's wishes. Not sure what we will discover about this in the future. I tend to agree with CJ that whether our free will is actually the libertarian concept of free will is rather irrelevant, as the distinction is fuzzy and the knowledge doesn't really affect our daily lives.

 

Does it matter? Whether it is your unconscious mind or your conscious mind, the decision is still being made by you, the only difference is how focused you are on making the decision. People talk as if the unconscious mind is some separate entity from themselves, I think that position is untenable. Especially given how the unconscious mind can be consciously conditioned to react in certain ways. The unconscious mind is simply how we deal with day to day tasks without the burden of having to premeditate every movement since most of our movements are routine. They both serve an important role and both are you. Whether it is the conscious part of your mind or unconscious part of your mind making the decision, you are still exercising free will, as in you COULD have made a different decision. 

Blaming your unconscious mind for making a decision or reacting is the adult equivalent of the child who says after being swatted on their hand "It wasn't that hand, it was my other hand that did it."

The only viable argument against freewill is that in the exact same situation, would your mind come to the same decision every single time because of its chemical make up, previous experiences etc. IOW, is it possible to understand the brain enough that we could collect enough data to accurately predict what decision it will make before the question is even asked. Say for example, the question was "pick blue or red" and it was possible to predict which the brain would choose before the question was asked. If that is possible, that would suggest that all of our decisions are completely based on our physical make up. 

On the other hand, is it that our decisions are truly random and they are completely unpredictable in a mechanical sense (essentially the theory that leads to the idea of infinitely branching timelines due to different decisions). I don't see how either of these experiments provide evidence for either side of that argument. 

I see what you are saying here, and actually I agree with pretty much everything you said, but the idea is that your free-will is your conscious mind and that your unconscious mind is basically greatly constricting the independent decision-making of your conscious mind, and therefore the libertarian free-will doesn't really exist.

Secularist, Atheist, Skeptic, Freethinker


Manageri
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Your actions are either

Your actions are either entirely caused by your characteristics which you are obviously not responsible for, or they come (in part) from some mystical freedom. The question is, how can this freedom possibly make decisions if it has no pre-existing (and hence, unfree) characteristics of its own with which to judge the best course of action? The only way it could be "free" would be for it to have absolutely no biases or impulses whatsoever, in other words it can't have anything that could possibly affect a decision. Asserting free will is saying your decisions come from nowhere, which is clearly absurd.