Free Will...got any?

#1
Is there anything in science to say what 'Free Will' actually is? I have been troubled by the concept of 'free will' because it seems to me as though it does not exist at all. The implications of this are enormous. What can we do that cannot be determined as a part of a chain reaction...like basic chemistry? I have no idea why I am curious about this nor do I know when I am next going to fart.

Sexuality?.... No choices there...even when we make love (it's intercourse lads) with the opposite sex it's only an act of procreation...something to complete the cycle of cell division and growth...right? Why do we like it? Deep stuff or deep throat...if you get my drift.

Bodily functions?....No choice there...when you are hungry or thirsty, breathing, body temperature...what's all that about? Most of the time we just go with the flow...it's when we try to resist the natural urges that we get into trouble. Try holding your breath... (Disclaimer: It's your choice)

This state of affairs appears to be uncontrolled and random...with variations at every level. We can't choose what nature gives us because we are an explosion of life and have this in common with every organism, plant and creature on the planet. A tree looks very much like the mushroom cloud from an atomic bomb...there are probably clues in this.

Yes...it's fcukin amazing that your mind is just part of the process... My dog has a mind too so we are nothing special. What becomes really disturbing is the realisation that nothing really matters.

On that cheerful note I'll go back to sleep....not that I have any choice in the matter.
 
#2
Well they say the universe on exists if you are here to witness it.

On another note are you on about that what ever happens in the future is already written and we will always have to do it? Or that we are just so insignificant nothing really matters?
 
#3
Well they say the universe on exists if you are here to witness it.

On another note are you on about that what ever happens in the future is already written and we will always have to do it? Or that we are just so insignificant nothing really matters?
We can be pretty sure that the universe existed before this planet and life on it formed so being around to witness it is meaningless...sorry. In the future when the Earth is dead...the universe will continue regardlessly towards it's own ending.

'Fate' or as you say a future "already written" for us is not really what 'free will' is about... If you mean that the day of your death and the manner of dying has already been pre-determined or that your unborn grandchild is already destined to become the Prime Minister...no, I don't thinks so. There are a massive range of conditions that ensure uncertainty, however there are the physical forces driving us without any choice... like a burning flame, a mindless reaction takes place.

A good challenge is probably to identify a single action that you can make by using 'free will'... :)
 
#4
Is there anything in science to say what 'Free Will' actually is? I have been troubled by the concept of 'free will' because it seems to me as though it does not exist at all. The implications of this are enormous. What can we do that cannot be determined as a part of a chain reaction...like basic chemistry? I have no idea why I am curious about this nor do I know when I am next going to fart.

Sexuality?.... No choices there...even when we make love (it's intercourse lads) with the opposite sex it's only an act of procreation...something to complete the cycle of cell division and growth...right? Why do we like it? Deep stuff or deep throat...if you get my drift.

Bodily functions?....No choice there...when you are hungry or thirsty, breathing, body temperature...what's all that about? Most of the time we just go with the flow...it's when we try to resist the natural urges that we get into trouble. Try holding your breath... (Disclaimer: It's your choice)

This state of affairs appears to be uncontrolled and random...with variations at every level. We can't choose what nature gives us because we are an explosion of life and have this in common with every organism, plant and creature on the planet. A tree looks very much like the mushroom cloud from an atomic bomb...there are probably clues in this.

Yes...it's fcukin amazing that your mind is just part of the process... My dog has a mind too so we are nothing special. What becomes really disturbing is the realisation that nothing really matters.

On that cheerful note I'll go back to sleep....not that I have any choice in the matter.
With the probable exclusion of breathing you are able to exercise your (free) will over any and all "natural" functions to at least some extent and even breathing can be controlled for a while.

Of course you may damage yourself doing it but then that is your own free choice.
 
#5
With the probable exclusion of breathing you are able to exercise your (free) will over any and all "natural" functions to at least some extent and even breathing can be controlled for a while.

Of course you may damage yourself doing it but then that is your own free choice.
Free will is probably an illusion… If you choose to resist the relentless will of nature over which you have little or no control it is not really ‘free’ will. There are agents at work and usually underlying reasons that you can’t grasp…You may call it choice but decisions that you make involve the cooperation of physical mechanisms that are able to act spontaneously and alone. You can’t do anything without them… The external influences that you feel you may have used are just stimuli and the mind is part of the process….it’s a group decision and the group are in charge. Don’t be fooled.

A little test….sit in a chair (ask them nicely otherwise you will be sat on the floor) Now lay your arm on the rest and see how long you can keep it still…the first hour is the worst. Eventually your body will take over and the arm will move…you will have no choice at all.

Most of the time you are just ambling along through life unaware that you are actually a passenger… often colliding with objects and ideologies like a marble falling through a lattice of nails. Your ‘free’ will is in fact the will of nature…
 
#6
I might not be able to sit perfectly still for hours but there are people who can do it.
They can impose their will on themselves despite internal/external influences.

If I decide to "resist the relentless will of nature over which you have little or no control " then surely that is exactly the definition of exerciseing my own free will?

If not then I have no idea what you are on
 
#7
I might not be able to sit perfectly still for hours but there are people who can do it.
They can impose their will on themselves despite internal/external influences.

If I decide to "resist the relentless will of nature over which you have little or no control " then surely that is exactly the definition of exerciseing my own free will?

If not then I have no idea what you are on
I'm not so sure....Determinists believe the universe is fully governed by causal laws resulting in only one possible state at any point in time....Hard Determinists reject free will.

A good read in Wiki.... :)
 

terroratthepicnic

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#9
We can be pretty sure that the universe existed before this planet and life on it formed so being around to witness it is meaningless...sorry. In the future when the Earth is dead...the universe will continue regardlessly towards it's own ending.

'Fate' or as you say a future "already written" for us is not really what 'free will' is about... If you mean that the day of your death and the manner of dying has already been pre-determined or that your unborn grandchild is already destined to become the Prime Minister...no, I don't thinks so. There are a massive range of conditions that ensure uncertainty, however there are the physical forces driving us without any choice... like a burning flame, a mindless reaction takes place.

A good challenge is probably to identify a single action that you can make by using 'free will'... :)
Walking. I choose to walk, my body can't walk for me. I choose to put one foot infront of the other, other forces don't do it for me. If I choose to put a foot infront of the other at a quicker pace, I choose to run, my legs will not ever run for me.

Therefore the action of walking is free will as no external force(s) makes me do it.
Although I cannot choose to stop my heart or breathing for any long periods at will. I do have the choice of whether I want to do this perminantly. That is free will. The fact my heart is pumping and I am breathing means I have the ability to exercise free will. Stop either of the 2 and I no longer exist, therefore free will doesn't matter.
 
#11
Goodness me, we used to have conversations like this ,aged 19, at early o'clock on Sunday mornings after the pubs had shut!

Our eventual conclusion was that if you could factor in EVERY circumstance right across the world, you might be able to predict what a person would do, Of course then the chaos theory kicks in and you're back where you started from.

I would say that since people quite often do the unexpected, an element of free will must exist.

Next question, nature or nurture? Discuss.
 
#12
I have loads of free will, but not over everything - which seems to be fair enough.

I do not have any control over a lot of things, mostly set by nature, ie ageing, becoming ill, walking past a pork pie without wanting to eat it and legion similar things.

But I can decide whether or not to go to the pub tonight, lead a moral life or amuse myself by torturing the cat.

Where there is a will, there is a way, but yes, the really big natural things like dropping dead when you don't expect to are beyond our control and, therefore, our will.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#13
Free Will?

I thought the first film was OK but all the subsequent sequels and spin offs were pretty gash. They were really kicking the arse out of it by the time they made the 4th one.

 
#14
Walking. I choose to walk, my body can't walk for me. I choose to put one foot infront of the other, other forces don't do it for me. If I choose to put a foot infront of the other at a quicker pace, I choose to run, my legs will not ever run for me.

Therefore the action of walking is free will as no external force(s) makes me do it.
Although I cannot choose to stop my heart or breathing for any long periods at will. I do have the choice of whether I want to do this perminantly. That is free will. The fact my heart is pumping and I am breathing means I have the ability to exercise free will. Stop either of the 2 and I no longer exist, therefore free will doesn't matter.
Every action, in fact everything that moves, wind, blood cells, bees wings, comets, the Earths rotation, can be traced directly back to the big bang. So walking to the pub for a pint because something tells you that it's what you want is just part of the chain reaction... Like a random molecule, what ever you do depends on circumstances beyond your control...

If you say bollocks, I'll stay home and watch the X-Factor...you have the illusion that it's free will, failing to realise that underlying physical and psychological conditions are telling you what to do. You in turn comply... but the word 'you' is a misleading term. Like data written to a hard drive... 'you' is just the memory kicking in following a CPU function, perhaps being told later that a pint would have been better... :)
 
#16
Every action, in fact everything that moves, wind, blood cells, bees wings, comets, the Earths rotation, can be traced directly back to the big bang.
No it can't. We know that almost all of it came from there (some of it will have come from virtual particle promotion - whether by Hawking radiation or other effects - the recent Fermi GST announcement of thunderstorms as an electron / positron source was interesting) but we cannot trace any of it, directly or otherwise, through its journey from start to present. We may be able to make some educated guesses (anything heavier than lithium was once part of a star, anything heavier than iron is probably a supernova remnant) but no tracing.

you have the illusion that it's free will, failing to realise that underlying physical and psychological conditions are telling you what to do. You in turn comply... but the word 'you' is a misleading term. Like data written to a hard drive... 'you' is just the memory kicking in following a CPU function, perhaps being told later that a pint would have been better... :)
What a disappointingly dull view of human life. You'd think you were a Presbyterian.

We all get hints and pointers - from genetic 'programming', from cultural conditioning, from hormonal and pheromonal exposure, from our body's physical limitations (Micawber's pies and your inability to throttle yourself). However, I'll assert that we can divert from any pre-planned route through life - and even CPUs do unexpected / non-deterministic things from time to time.

Frankly, we don't understand the science behind intelligence yet (I'll just wait for excog's ZX-81, shall I?) - you seem just to be making random assertions for the pleasure of trolling.

By the way - random molecules generally move non-deterministically. Einstein wrote a nice paper on the subject in 1905 before he started on some less important stuff.
 
#18
if sexual intercourse is an act of procreation, what then is ****?
Erm...cracking good fun?

Free will means that you have the perception there is an option to do whatever you want to do, regardless of any imperatives - social or biological - that may be in place. Schopenhauer said “a human can very well do what he wants, but cannot will what he wants.” This implies that free will if not exactly an illusion is perhaps not as concrete or decisive as some thinkers would have us believe.

There is also a tendency to confuse free will with immoral actions! See my first response above...
 
#19
Every action, in fact everything that moves, wind, blood cells, bees wings, comets, the Earths rotation, can be traced directly back to the big bang. So walking to the pub for a pint because something tells you that it's what you want is just part of the chain reaction... Like a random molecule, what ever you do depends on circumstances beyond your control...

If you say bollocks, I'll stay home and watch the X-Factor...you have the illusion that it's free will, failing to realise that underlying physical and psychological conditions are telling you what to do. You in turn comply... but the word 'you' is a misleading term. Like data written to a hard drive... 'you' is just the memory kicking in following a CPU function, perhaps being told later that a pint would have been better... :)
I think that idea was comprehensively and amusingly put to bed by Voltaire's Candide and Dr Johnson's Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia a few hundred years ago.
 

terroratthepicnic

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#20
Every action, in fact everything that moves, wind, blood cells, bees wings, comets, the Earths rotation, can be traced directly back to the big bang. So walking to the pub for a pint because something tells you that it's what you want is just part of the chain reaction... Like a random molecule, what ever you do depends on circumstances beyond your control...

If you say bollocks, I'll stay home and watch the X-Factor...you have the illusion that it's free will, failing to realise that underlying physical and psychological conditions are telling you what to do. You in turn comply... but the word 'you' is a misleading term. Like data written to a hard drive... 'you' is just the memory kicking in following a CPU function, perhaps being told later that a pint would have been better... :)
Different forces, force these to move. The earth moves due to gravitational pull of the sun. The wind moves due to heat rising from the ground and the effects of the earths movement and the movement of the moon. Comets move due to inploding stars (again gravity) bees wings probably due to a sense of duty (whether they choose when to flap is an argument that cannot be written here) and blood cells due to the motion of the heart (life force, nature).

You asked to 'identify a single action that you can make using free will'...
So I did. Regardless of why or where I walk (pub, kitchen or to move from danger), I still chose to walk, I could have stayed where I was, but didn't. The big bang, gravity, matter or antimatter and everything inbetween or on the edges didn't make my feet move. I did. Therefore it's free will.
 

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