Monday, February 21, 2005

Happy Nofreewillaversary!

It has been two years since I began having the realization that there is no free will. As of consequence of this development, and various other happenings, my life is much different than it used to be. I feel that the ‘no free will hypothesis’ explains so much more, both phenomenologically and observationally, than any previous viewpoint I had (or didn’t have). I realized it was my no free will anniversary, but a friend suggested the truncated form and I found it amusing.

Years ago, if someone had told me that I didn’t have free will I would have moved my hand and said, “Of course I do! I just moved my hand!” I see now how confused that response is and how I had never really thought about it.

In philosophy the notion of free will has usually been pitted against determinism, but I should be clear in that it does not matter if the universe is determined or indetermined (as quantum physics currently indicates). Either way there is no free will.

Free will, like any meaningful discussion, definitions are critical for understanding and communicating the various thoughts on the issue that people are likely to have. As I see the term “free will” to rest heavily on the word ‘free’ and connote/imply ‘freedom from something,’ I like to define free will as, “The ability to make a choice independent from one’s physiology.” The word ‘independent’ could just as easily be replaced with the word ‘free.’

Accordingly, using my definition, there is no free will. Indeed, according to my viewpoint, it is somewhat fallacious to separate ‘one’ from ‘one’s physiology,’ when a more accurate statement would be that “You are your physiology.”

As I intended this posting to be more of a brief description of some of my thoughts regarding free will and not a full exploration into the issue, I will just pose some questions to stimulate discussion.

1) How do you define yourself? (Think specifically and physically)
2) Where do your thoughts come from? (Physically/biologically)
3) How have your genetics/environment and the billions of events and non-events affected your life?
4) What would change on a 'human' level if things were indeterministic instead of deterministic?
5) Do you realize the difference between a fixed personal nature and a fixed personal future?
6) The reason we hold people responsible is because they are the prime causal factor in a particular situation. Why would this change?
7) How would you define free will?

Please think and comment away, I’ll share what I think the answers are at a later time. I want to let things swim around for a bit and not bias the path of your thoughts too much.


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