"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

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Replies to This Discussion

I didn't see your suggestion as intimidation.

Nor did I (and it was aimed at me) - Wander was simply making an suggestion/observation. I prefer to keep my discussions here among my peers, Wanderer. Those who know me well, know that I start discussions on about things I already have answers to - often from my own research - simply to expand the argument by seeing things from other people's perspectives.

Jolly good.
I am very happy that Wanderer meant no intimidation by the remark I referenced. However, I don't know what you are oriented to Marc - The remark I referenced was not aimed at you it was aimed at Caleb Cochran. Also, do you know where the other group about free will is that Wanderer mentioned in the remark?

Sorry John, I can't recall seeing that name pop up in this thread... I'll have a look.


Edit: ah yes, I inferred that Wanderer was alluding to the discussion thread which I started (and have explained why elsewhere).


I don't recall seeing a group on "free will" as such, my contention is that since every cause must have an effect (even if an effect may be the product of many different variables interacting) then we have no real choice.

I've paraphrased one of my heros in the intro to demonstrate.

I hope you read my "Hi again Wanderer" comment. If you have we can simply agree to disagree.

We can agree to disagree, sure, but you are the only one here arguing against the proposal and as such I think it behooves us to fully explore your objection - particularly as you're so strident about it. You could be right, after all and good scientists follow the evidence not our hearts.


You have suggested my logic is fallacious and made the similar point to Wanderer.


This is quite acceptable in debate, but I expect you back it up with a fact, not a conjecture: specifically, where in nature does a cause not force an effect - this is the linchpin of your argument.

What I'm not getting is how does this spontaneity at the micro level translate into the macro? we're talking of differences in massive orders of magnitude~ not to mention this


> Clearly, what modern science sees as spontaneity and randomness on the macro or micro level might have afforded the existence of entities whose activity is inconsistent with cause and effect (because nothing can stand in the way of spontaneity).


I'm sorry, but how does this make sense? because it happens in the micro, entire entities constructed of this can exist?  is that to suppose that we are these entities being spoken of?  I'm sorry, I must be missing something, because this sounds like pure conjecture.  


on a side note, I'm not sure that quantum physics necessarily correlates with "nature" as in the way our "world" or reality is completely independent of the laws at that level.  it is sub-natural, almost abstract.  If someone is to have me believe that it is part of nature, please demonstrate how the properties and laws at that level are applicable in the Macro.

The group is called "Free WIll DNE" as in "does not exist".
Thanks Wanderer.
I agree, quantum theory has nothing to add to the basic rules of concept formation, reason and logic. One cannot use the scientific method, which is based on things being causal to discredit causality. However, causality and the other above stated cerebral mechanisms depend on causality and as such, randomness cannot exist. Everything is causal, regardless of what our limit of perception cannot tell us about very small things.
Hi again Wanderer:

Firstly, I am happy to hear that you meant no intimidation by the comment I cited. By the way, where is the other discussion on freewill?

Next - Per your response that:

“All due respect to Hawking, physicists often don't make the best philosophers.”

Hawking’s Book (The Grand Design) was not philosophical it was scientific. I, not he was doing the philosophizing based on what he presented as plausible scientific theories in it. Many others of the world’s most prominently known and respected physicists agree that the scientific propositions in GD are plausible.

The propositions involve spontaneity and randomness at the basis of all nature to the extent that entire universes with complete sets of macro laws that are entirely dissimilar to those of other universes may come into existence in an incidental manner. Moreover, for many decades we have been faced with spontaneity and randomness on the micro level to the extent that no credible physicist denies its existence. Clearly, what modern science sees as spontaneity and randomness on the macro or micro level might have afforded the existence of entities whose activity is inconsistent with cause and effect (because nothing can stand in the way of spontaneity). Therefore, in accordance with modern scientific thought entities with freewill could have come into existence spontaneously on a random basis that are independent from cause and effect.

This does not mean as you suggested that such entities would be incoherent from being the product of randomness it means that they could be coherent entities that spontaneously came into existence with the characteristic of being driven by self-determination or as entities that randomly evolved to a state of coherency with self-determination.

Your argument that there is no freewill is entirely founded in the proposition that all of the activity of nature must be the product of cause and effect. Accordingly, as you might be realizing, the problem with your argument is that it collapses on its premise. So far as science can determine not all of the activity of nature is the product of cause and effect and in this nature could have afforded free will.

I don’t see that you have made a solid case. As such, I remain skeptical of your position that there can be no free will here.


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