"I think therefore I am." Descarte's most basic tenet of free will. But how "free" is it?The more I study this and make observations of the people around me, the more I am convinced that free will is nothing more than an illusion.


"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke.


Now let me rephrase Clarke's third law in context of this discussion:


"Any sufficiently complex memoryplex is indistinguishable from free will."


Note the phrase memoryplex, not memeplex. I'm referring here to our collective memories from the earliest retained memory right up to this instant. That instant has now passed (a few milliseconds ago) and as you continue to read, those instants are similarly passing into your collective memoryplex.


If our decisions are based on what we know (assuming that we're not mentally ill) and what we know is the memories we have formed, then free will simply isn't.


I've thought about this for some time now and I'm only summarising here, but if this is correct, it has frightening implications. For instance, what you've just read, based on what you already know, has influenced you - and you have no choice in what you're about to do: reply, ignore, digest, etc... everything is based on your experience to date plus this last few dozen words of argument.


So how "free" is your will?

Tags: free will

Views: 217

Replies to This Discussion

I don't see that as a lack of free will.  Perhaps a constraint on where I can go with my free will, but still providing me hundreds of thousands of options as to what I'm going to do in the next day.
I agree. I have thought about this for a long time and have read much about it. I am a chemist and I base my belief on the chemistry involved. Everything that happens in our bodies and brains is caused by chemical reactions. If you know the conditions under which these chemical reactions occur, you can predict the outcome with 100% accuracy. If that is true then everything we do or think is theoretically 100% predictable. When we make decisions it is really an illusion because the decision is controlled by what has happened in the past and our genetic inheritance, all of which has been controlled by predictable chemical reactions.If an identical situation where we had to make a decision could be repeated, we would always make the same decision. Hence no free will.

This was posted in the Philosophy section a bit back. Could be helpful.


No problem. I figured there was good info in it and why rehash something that has been debated before. That and you never know if something someone else wrote will spark some new thought.

Honestly though did I have a choice....??!!!

No, you didn't (have a choice).

lol, holy crap this is hilarious. took me a few moments to figure out the joke, but then once i got it... hilarity ensued

Yeah, it works on at least two levels - absolutely priceless.

Who ever said loss of free will couldn't be laughed at?
There happens to be a whole group here on Nexus which devoted itself to the principle that free will DNE (does not exist). Maybe you could share this discussion there?

A group, eh?...




The other part of this is even more scary - if free will/free choice is an illusions (as it most certainly is) - then any idea we have about being special gets tossed in with that.

I am a machine.

I have hard time believing that my decision to go back to school was not an act of free will.
your "hard time believing" is undoubtedly due to the lifetime you have been told your choices were entirely up to you to make. of course your decisions were determined. you already had the desire to learn, to improve yourself, to acheive something with your life, to succeed, to make your life better. going back to school was attractive to you for all these reasons and probably more, while not going back to school meant that you would have to give up some of your dreams and let them die. you were born with the motivation to be "spirited", to want to do and be as fully as possible, and this means forcing (or "willing") your way ahead through life and its obstacles. you obviously didn't want to just let life pass you by. sounds like a highly-adapted trait to me.


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