I don’t believe in free will

Will you choose your next thought? No! To do that would be as Sam Harris says, “To think of it before you thought of it.” Your thoughts are a string of reactions. Your mind leads you to one thought and then to another. If a watermelon pops into your head, you don’t get to say, “But see! I chose to think of watermelon!” You didn’t choose for a watermelon to pop into your head, it just did!

Some think that conscious contemplation is a process you do control. When you picture the options in your mind, which one to act upon is your choice they say. I disagree, because you’ll act upon whichever choice your brain likes the most. Do you ‘choose’ how much you happen to be inclined to pick one choice over another?

When presented with choice A or B, which one you eventually land on—even after consciously contemplating which choice you want to make—is the will of your condition. You do not choose whether you want A or B, but you will act upon whichever outcome—positive or negative for the self—your neurophysiology happens to prefer.

You do not choose what you want, and what you want will dictate your next choice. A failure to recognize this in your own experience does not negate the reality of the system. The idea of free will may have meaning in a court of law or in casual conversation found in day to day life, but it is meaningless when viewed deterministically.

 

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  15 comments for “I don’t believe in free will

  1. July 27, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Thoughts are potentials, action is choice, choice is freewill.

  2. July 27, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Again I love the issue you’ve raised but I must say that your assumptions are very risky. It is simplistic to define free will in the manner that implies our decision process is based on what our brain preempts. Of course you will chose whatever option that suits you but what of selfless acts that, although appease ones consciousness, don’t always appease the desires of hose who commit selfless acts. Some are difficult to achieve because they go against the natural selfishness that Richard Dawkins mentions in his book the Selfish Gene.
    I think there’s a good case to be made to show that ones subconscious works a lot quicker that ones consciousness, and also that ones subconscious responds to environmental and outside stimuli, yet to suggest that all our thoughts and decisions exist in the constraints of subconscious presentation is a very unsafe assumption.

    • July 28, 2014 at 12:10 am

      I wouldn’t say it’s an assumption, and I think the philosophy of determinism offers up many humanitarian thoughts. Be kind, because people can’t help but do what they do. Condemn the action, not the person

      • July 28, 2014 at 12:14 am

        But they can. People are in control of their actions otherwise the entire justice system would collapse. There are choices I make which are poor choices. I may continue to behave in ways that I wish I didn’t, and a possibly struggle may ensue to stop myself behaving in ways I don’t approve of. I am a smoker and I have been trying to quit. Just because I struggle to quit doesn’t negate my responsibilities over my own actions. The impulsive nature of my subconscious can be rationalised and reflected upon, interrupting impulsivity. I know there’s a physical argument about the application of free will but how on earth can one make the assumption that we are not in control of our actions when every aspect of our daily lives – collectively and individually prove otherwise?

      • July 28, 2014 at 12:17 am

        You mentioned the justice system. I have a post on this very subject

        https://reagentpost.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/determinism-and-the-criminal-justice-system/

      • July 28, 2014 at 12:18 am

        Oh nice. I’ll take a look.

        Cheers

      • July 28, 2014 at 12:34 am

        Thank you very much for reading and commenting!

        I approach the free will question in a philosophical way. In casual conversation and a court of law I would preserve the concept of free will, just not in a philosophical sense. Free will is a concept, I just think it’s definition misrepresents its concept

      • July 28, 2014 at 12:36 am

        Yea to be honest I think it is a semantical difference that we face. Maybe I don’t understand what you mean by the term ‘free will’. Either way I’m enjoying the mental challenge.

  3. July 27, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    I truly love thoughts and discussions on determinism. It gets almost every mind buzzing, no matter their predispositions and beliefs.

    I am divided between empirical philosophy and pragmatism. Pragmatically, belief in free will is useful. As you said, it drives our legal system and is (it appears) a necessary assumption in discussion of ethics. How else can there be right or wrong if one is simply mechanically acting on how they were programmed?

    Realistically, we are mere machines. Hardwired by nature and nurture to act and think based upon these programmings.

    Love it all. Always a good thought path.

    Furthermore, thank you for the recent follow. I don’t often return the favor, but this post immediately connects with me. I would love you read your thoughts on any of my musings whenever something strikes you! Other’s thoughts, after all, is what fosters the pursuit of wisdom.

    Good luck on your collegiate endevors as well! I’m in the stretch of attempting to complete my undergraduate in Philosophy myself.

    Cheers!

  4. July 28, 2014 at 1:53 am

    Another day….. another rebuttal of determinism theory 🙂

    “…When presented with choice A or B, which one you eventually land on—even after consciously contemplating which choice you want to make—is the will of your condition. You do not choose whether you want A or B, but you will act upon whichever outcome—positive or negative for the self—your neurophysiology happens to prefer….”

    You are claiming these statements to be objectively true.

    Which is to say, you are claiming your statements are true regardless of what your (or my, or anybody else’s) neurophysiology prefers.

    That is an example of making a choice AKA expressing free will.

    IOW you have invalidated your own claims.

    • July 28, 2014 at 2:33 am

      You claim that it is objectively true that we have free will. This is something your neurophysiology dictates that you cannot help. You can’t help but think we have free will, you could never choose to think otherwise.

      I’m not here to play word games, take the metaphysics elsewhere

      • July 28, 2014 at 7:24 am

        “….You claim that it is objectively true that we have free will. This is something your neurophysiology dictates that you cannot help. ..”

        So when *I* claim free will is objectively true that is just my neurophysiology, but when *you* claim determinism is objectively true that is something more…. namely, it is the objective truth?

        Do you not see a problem with this inconsistency?

        Here are two choices available to us:

        A – I am right and you are wrong
        B – You are right and I am wrong

        And here is what you say about them:

        “…You do not choose whether you want A or B, but you will act upon whichever outcome—positive or negative for the self—your neurophysiology happens to prefer…”

        But you are claiming B is objectively true, are you not?

        To claim B is objectively true means to claim it is something *more* than just what your neurophysiology happens to prefer. You are claiming B is true regardless of what your neurophysiology happens to prefer. That is what ‘objective truth’ means.

        This is not word games. An objective truth means a truth which exists beyond the subjective state (beyond the neurophysiological state) of the human being claiming that truth.

        On the one hand you claim the choice A or B is just a matter of what your neurophysiology happens to prefer. But on the other hand you claim your choice of B is more than that – it is the objective truth, irrespective of your own neurophysiology.

        Do not you see the rather glaring contradiction in what you are claiming?

      • July 28, 2014 at 5:29 pm

        I claim no objective truth. I claim reasonable conclusions based off of what I have so far experienced.

        I’m done with the word games.

        “That’s like a cat saying I’m not a cat!!! lololol”

        This isn’t philosophy, this is semantics that are the likes of bill o reilly. Your casuist arguments are a waste of my time. You just repeat yourself over and over. This is a post concerned with philosophy not linguistics

      • July 28, 2014 at 11:16 pm

        “….This is a post concerned with philosophy not linguistics….”

        Philosophy is utterly dependent on clear and consistent definitions. Philosophy without clear and consistent definitions is just dogma. Philosophy without language at all is just meditation 🙂

        “…I claim no objective truth…”

        You’ve claimed several objective truths throughout your post and these comments. Here is one of them.

        “You do not choose whether you want A or B, but you will act upon whichever outcome—positive or negative for the self—your neurophysiology happens to prefer.”

        If you’re just voicing a subjective opinion or ‘feeling’ then what you’re doing is not philosophy, it’s just casually chatting / blogging.

        I’m sorry, I don’t mean to pee on your campfire but this issue is a glaring logical contradiction right at the heart of your claim.

        The determinist position denies the possibility of choosing A or B. You said so yourself. You said however we treat A or B is just the result of a neurophysiological process which we have no control over.

        This means, as a determinist, all you can ever say is “My neurophysiology compels me to say A is true and B is false and I have no control over this”

        That is very different to saying “A is true and B is false”.

        Being a determinist means more than just saying “I believe in determinism”. To be a determinist requires you give up preferring, arguing, choosing and making claims of objective truth……. just as being an atheist requires you to stop praying to god ….or being a vegetarian requires you to stop eating meat.

        You want to make claims of objective truth about determinism (and probably lots of other subjects too) and so you completely abandon the core principles of determinism to do so.

        This is called having you cake and eating it. Sorry but it is the opposite of philosophy.

      • July 28, 2014 at 11:55 pm

        I’m tired of arguing about magic. You may think you understand the concept of determinism but you have only shown yourself to be scientifically illiterate, poorly read on philosophy, and a smart ass.

        You have said incredibly stupid things like “there are no laws of nature”. How is someone even supposed to respond to that? It’s a word trap for pseudo critical thinkers to trip up the logic. You have too many nonsense statements to list.

        I’ve said over and over I claim no objective truth and that I am simply sharing my interpretation of reality supported by my evidence. Despite this you still misquote me and go off on these rants of babble that have nothing to do with what I said.

        Your inability to read definitions and even get the linguistic part of your word play correct is nothing but frustrating. I have literally copied and pasted definitions from dictionaries to disprove your claims and you completely ignore them and go on with your nonsense. If you emphasize the linguistics so much you should be good at it… you are simply not. Not joking, I accuse you of not being able to read the definition of a word and apply it to the english language. I’ve never argued with anyone who makes up their own language, it took me awhile to realize that’s what you are doing.

        Thank you for the effort but until you learn to properly debate, with ears open and not just your mouth, I will not respond to anymore comments.

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