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Free Will


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After reading Robert Sapolsky's book 'Behave' and various other articles about the topic of human nature, I find myself torn between two contesting questions; are we the agent of our own actions? Or are our decisions just mere products of our own chemical processes? Is free will an illusion? 

If I decide to slap my wrist to prove that it was my choice to do so, am I really the author of that decision and not influenced by synapses triggered in my brain (e.g. proving myself that I have free will)? If you decide to have coffee this morning instead of tea, what made you choose coffee when you can freely switch to tea anytime you want? Did Charles Whitman shot and killed 16 people out of his own volition and not because of a tumor pressing on his amygdala?

I saw nothing about this subject on here and I want to know what your thoughts about this topic are. I also want to avoid philosophical/scientific jargon so it can be better understood by readers so as to not be confused, although the nature of this topic is naturally confusing.

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To put it simply if you could know the laws of physics perfectly and all information about a system you could describe and predict everything that will happen in that system after a specific moment.

So in my opinion it is a bit of semantics, what you mean by free will. Does knowing what will happen diminish the choices made by a conscious entity in that system? You can't exactly make the choices for them, only influence the choices if you are a part of that system as well.

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The situation at its core is complex. Trying to simplify it will only lead to misunderstanding. Chances are itll be misunderstood either way, but I digress.

All things in this life are (at least) two things. Data, and energy. Laws exist that state you will walk out your door tomorrow morning, but it's up to you as to how, when, and why you do that.

So yes, free will is real. However, its limited. You're going to make choices, that's a definite, whether they're subconscious or conscious is beside the point.

What matters is that you in the end decide how things play out, even if you're only drawing inside the lines, you have the freedom to draw however you like.

I myself live life on an instinctual path. I dont usually think things out too hard (MD as of late is my only exception) because I know that unless I have something valuable to lose I'd rather not gamble and say "everything works out in the end".

These are the questions that can find you bliss or drive you completely mad, so tread carefully. Learn from them but don't let them devour you, because if you let your guard down for even a second, they will.

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Nava, the last sentence in your second paragraph doesn't make any sense. The word darkness is vague, and from the way you used it, I could only think of the Jungian 'shadow' archetype when talking about accepting/supporting that side of our nature, but that's the stuff of depth psychology. However, the first paragraph makes sense. Is it only freedom if it's conscious? It certainly feels like it, but to be honest, I don't have an answer for this because whether we are or not, we cannot say that it isn't influenced by the subconscious or any other events that takes place in our brain.

Imagine these two scenarios Fang;

1. You get out to get to school so you get good grades, work at a financially and intellectually rewarding job so you can live a good life by our society's standards.

2. You get out to get to school so you get good grades, but your friend Alex stopped you and asked you to hit some blunt because it's 4:20pm and it's also legal now in Canada, you then hit some, got late for school but promised to make up for it, which you did, so you can live a good life in the future by our society's standards. 

What is the difference between these two scenarios? Nothing. You're still in your path because you decided to follow it. Why did you follow it when you can choose not to? It sure feels like you're free, yes?

This is what's wrong with compatibilism, it solves the problem of free will by ignoring it. A puppet is free as long as it loves its strings.

You cannot say that the subconscious or the unconscious is besides the point when they are exactly the origin of our choices/intentions. We cannot be conscious of an intent if it doesn't arise in our minds first.

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I personally live closer to my subconscious self than I do my conscious self. I'm a simple man. Work to put food on the table. Work out to maintain some semblance of health. Maim anything that threatens what I love. Return by 10x everything sent my way.

I understand that the sub and conscious mind are where it all lies. Thing is, I've given myself up to my sub self long ago and in that process, became something akin to a wild animal with morals and a frontal lobe for the occasional critical thinking.

I could sit here and worry about what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and when I'll be doing it, but it's so much more satisfying and freeing to just do when action is required and question your reasons long after when the storm has calmed.

And that isnt to say that I disagree with you. Quite on the contrary I completely agree with you. Thing is, you're talking to a puppet that loves his strings. whether they exist or not I'll never know and I personally dont care to.

I know that at my core I'm an empathic creature. I know it takes a lot to get on my bad side so when I lash out I can breathe easy knowing its justified (although I have been wrong in the past due to a flawed perspective, so I do know my fair share of regret). I know I give kindness to the kind and cruelty to the cruel.

They say ignorance is bliss, and I know for a fact I'm both blissful and ignorant. Does it really matter that were puppets with strings, when in the end, only we can pull on them?

Edited by Fang Archbane
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