"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 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.


Lol Thanks Scott~ I got the notification of this thread and I was like "yay, again!"

If a person is a hard determinist, then free will doesn't exist (free will as it is technically defined)

If someone is a soft determinist (not all things are predictable due to quantum mechanics) I think that they need to understand the implications and scope of quantum mechanics a little better.


I've heard debates where the definition of free will is what is argued, while once its agreed upon the debate is settled.  


If someone wants to say they have the illusion of free will, I will concede to that~ however, the notion that we have the ability to make decisions independent of our past and mental programming doesn't stand.  A good example of how this works would be painting the human mind much like a role playing video game, where you come across a situation and have multiple options of what to say or do~ except in this version, there are distinct odds and functions attached to those choices, where it progressively whittles down your "choices" until it reaches what you will actually do.


thats all I've got to say on this.


as for this picture, inappropriate, I know, but it helps me through the day.  besides, I really had no choice in posting it, now did I?


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.

On the surface, yeah, I guess it is scary~ especially after growing up in a world that emphasizes our uniqueness and how "special we are."  I, however, take comfort in knowing I am a machine.  (this is also my statement of comfort from realizing that I don't have a "soul")

  I think it is comforting to realize how fucking lucky I am to be myself.  If my life had developed any other way, I wouldn't be who I am.  I wouldn't know the things I do, have the views I have, or understand the world the way I've come to.  No matter how much I'd like to think that if I'd grown up in the 1700's I'd still be me, just in a different paradigm, everything I know leads me to conclude that I wouldn't; I would just be another person in the ignorant masses, left to my superstitions and stupid beliefs.  I am SO lucky that I've even gotten to this point, where I can accept the world as it is and understand it the same; I feel like I've won the most important lottery that I ever could.  Even though I don't have what would be described as "conscious free will" I am still content with who I am; that I am free from neurological disorder, emotional conflict or some other affliction of the mind (religion too) can at times bring me an overwhelming sense of joy.  

I am me, and the beautiful thing about that is if the world was any other way, I wouldn't be.


[edited for grammar]


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