- Education and Science
Free - Will, Is It an Illusion?
Continued from Rational Science Vol. IV, Chapter 10, Free Will - What Is It?
There are those that argue against free will. For instance, in his latest book Sam Harris talks about "event-casual state," and the "illusion of free will."
I argue that since everything is connected to everything else, everything is influenced by everything else to some degree. However, since matter and motion is eternal, there was no first cause, and because man can move on his own against gravity, there is free will. One simply chooses from the available options.
I choose to eat cereal for breakfast. I choose from the available sources.
Many of my neurons fire without any conscious choice of my own, however, I can activate certain portions of my brain by directing my thought.
I guess the whole argument centers around not only what is the difference between the brain and the mind, but which directs which?
This first part is very simple. The mind is a product of the brain's activity (neurons firing).
But conscious thought (free will; selecting from choices) is possible via directing the firing of these neurons. This is achieved through a feedback loop between different portions of the brain and the firing neurons.
That is to say, the chemical/electrical action of the neurons is activated by ion channels, gates, ion transporters, potassium/sodium pumps, epithelial cells, membranes, etc., which is beyond conscious control directly, but the interaction between neurons at the higher level of 'consciousness' is directed from within that higher level. In other words, firing neurons directly interacting with firing neurons. This later part is the clue to "which directs which." It is not one directing the other at the higher levels of neuronal activity it is interaction between neurons and interactions between neural networks.
Before I am accused of saying that concepts interact, let me be clear, by "neural networks" I am referring to groups of neurons acting together.
There are various levels of control of this interaction which are referred to as "states of consciousness." Wide awake to fully asleep, drug induced, hyper awareness, etc.
MonkEmind was playing cards with three of his friends. They decided to play a quick game of high card.
He shuffled the Ace, King, Queen and Jack repeatedly and then placed one card in front of himself and each of his friends.
The assumption was that whoever had the Ace won.
MonkEmind said he didn't have a clue who had the Ace. The Prophet said, “Of course I have it.” The Mystic said, “Using the Secret Power of Attraction, of course I have drawn the Ace unto myself.” The Mathematician laughed and said, “Based on my probability calculations, I know that it is I who has the Ace in front of me.” They laid down their bets.
Assuming the Ace now lay before only one of the four players, there was quite a lot of anxious anticipation among the men.
For, if The Prophet was wrong, he must be stoned. If the Mystic had not drawn unto him the card he'd not only loose his bet, book sales on The Law of Attraction would plummet. Of course, The Mathematician was world reknown for his ability to cast spells and incantations with his mathemagic and many theories would have to be discarded if before him was not found the Ace of Spades. MonkEmind merely shrugged because after all it was only a game.
The MonkE understood that as long as he was shuffling the cards (moving against gravity) he alone had influence upon the Ace. Once the cards had been shuffled and placed on the table, that influence was lost. The Prophet could not possibly know where the Ace lay, because one can never know anything in advance. There are only possibilities and at least for a while it was possible that any one of the four could have the card placed before them. The Mystic's mental fascination over the card was powerless against the pull of ropes and there was no chance that the card was before the Mathemagician because MonkEmind used slight of hand and had placed the Ace of Spades before himself. It was only a game. But there WAS money involved.