On Will

The sun, the sailing and the beauty of Greece warmed my heart and gave inspiration to finalize an article “On Will”. I collected my previous articles on free will, the origins of Cause and on Quantum Mechanics, added concepts and forged a more complete article outlining a theory that hopefully will spark some interest in others.

The article is published on my www.isene.com

Let me know what you think.
Or better, apply your sharp critical skills and try hacking it to pieces.

6 thoughts on “On Will

  1. Ah. Now this is fine indeed!

    Perhaps there is a layer that lies both inside and outside of the realm of physical and metaphysical. For purposes of discussion, I will refer to it as an abstraction layer. Consider the concept of a “straight” “line.” This is commonly thought to be a series of points that align without deviation from one point to another forming a perfectly aligned and polarized path between two points. Quantum physics suggests that this is not physically possible as the points themselves are potential points, not permanently placed at all. The line itself is an abstraction and does not actually exist. It only exists as an abstraction imposed on the physical particles.

    The consensus may very well be in the realm of abstraction then and not in the physical realm at all. A possibility is that an abstraction is offered or positioned, if you will. It can then be observed by others, altered by others, added to by others, and so on, always at the abstraction layer, gaining mass as it is contributed to. Note that it is contributed to. It does not contribute (cause) but is produced by contribution to it (effect.)

    Free will may be the ability to act freely from the abstraction layer and produce results that align to that layer.

    Efforts to nullify, reduce or negate abstraction layers that have formed into distinctive and identified physical layers may be heavily resisted by participants in those abstractions. The nullification efforts then would serve to “harden” or give even greater “meaning” to what has already been contributed to until a critical mass is achieved. At that point the “new” abstraction takes form and the entire process repeats. It would cause considerable lag in the appearance of new forms and that lag would appear to support the abstraction (idea) that there is no free will.

    Perhaps a part of the answer lies in the question, to participate or not participate. And that very question implies free will.

    Great article Geir. Happy to have you posting again! Very happy.

    1. Very interesting. I’ll have to chew on this idea of abstraction layers…

      Thanks for great constructive feed-back.

      I’m very happy to have you posting your comments here.

  2. We do not possess free will.
    There is no reason for living.

    This is not glum, it is not a relief – its just how it is.

    I hereby put forward a brief critique to your “On will”. It is not intended to counter-argue all your arguments, nor is it intended to provide an impenetrable argument against free will.

    Before I start the critique – let me compliment you on a well written and significant (although slightly flawed, as I will soon enough point out 🙂 contribution to this discussion.

    First: the use of the words “determinism” and “predetermined” are common pitfall amongst free will advocates. You quote Stephen Hawking: “If you know the state of the universe at any given time and all the laws that govern it, you can calculate all consecutive events.” IF being the key word. I do not believe in free will. I do not believe all my actions can be predicted from before the time I was borne. I believe Heisenbergs uncertainty principle eliminates predictability. I lean towards mechanism (as in “governed by the laws of physics” not “predicted by the laws of physics”) – and in times of doubt, anthropic mechanism.

    Second: You claim lack of free will leaves us with no accountability and human systems of law and order are mere illusions. Another pitfall of free will advocates; Lack of free will does not mean lack of reason. The analitycal ability to reason, think forward and predict consequences poses a worthy defense of the legal system. We (as humans) put forward a standard on what is and what is not acceptable behaviour and the consequences of not complying. Everyone thus acts accordingly, knowingly complying by or knowingly not complying. Our ability to reason (not free will) will drive more people to comply than to non-compy, thus achieving the primary goal of the law. Further, those not complying will experience the consequence so next time around, their reasoning may stronger direct them towards correct behaviour.
    All this reason is performed by neural networks in the brain, purely by physics.
    Did the murderer have a choice? No, from a free will standpoint he did not. Was he capable of reasoning and as such should have avoided murder? Yes, however his reasoning system was not trained well enough.
    I can heartily agree that our system of punishment is far from optimal in achieving its goals – but lack of free will does not undermine the concept of punishment and our legal system.

    Similar arguments can be made for “drive for happiness” and “attaining one’s goals”. It is driven from reason, the ability to predict outcomes – still purely physics.

    Third: You claim lack of free will leaves no wrongness or rightness. No! There is moral! The capability of reason and the ability to predict consequences of one actions is the base on which moral is built. Moral is among the most exquisite capabilities developed through evolution – from the time when we were amoebas, purely acting on physical stimulus – to the sophistication of human beings where moral improves a groups ability to survive and thrive.

    However – all these three arguments are (I am sure) well known to you.
    Thus – I will now address your arguments for free will:

    You argue that in the physical universe one can prove laws within the realm of the physical universe (and as such not prove the presence of free will).
    You also argue that free will exists (existing in a realm outside the physical universe).
    By logic – should we then not be able to prove the existence of free will in this non-physical realm?
    From an Aristotelian logics point of view, do you not present a paradox? You put forward a “belief system” where those not allready buying into your belief system by definition cannot understand your belief system. Certainly a neat debate trick, but paradoxical of nature and hardly an “argument” – rather “belief” (or, some may argue, religion).

    Rather than dissecting your elaborate, and must I say intellectually challenging (compliment!), argument on free will – I will look at the broader consequence of your argument.

    You argue that free will exists outside the physical realm – and that free will is the cause – space, matter and time is effect. This description of free will shares many characteristics with what others call God. This argument aside, with sophisticated subtlety, you really pose the question “Does free will exist?”, rather than the question most commonly associated with free will discussions which is “Do human beings possess free will?”.

    This may seem like semantic pedantry – but really, you flip the proverbial chess board mid-game. In the part of your argument on the physical world, you argue – implicitly it may seem – based on the assumption that the one possessing free will is the human being. Then this point of argument is moved to the non-physical realm of free will, with free will being the subject of possession – rather than the human being as the subject of possession.

    Let me clarify:
    If we take the physical worlds view of a human being into account (which is the understanding I base my reasoning on, meaning its physical presence, flesh, brain etc) – my belief is that this human, physical body, cannot possess free will. From this point of view, obvious questions would be “How did humans get free will?” “Do animals have it?” “Plants?” ” These questions, it seems, are irrelevant in your belief system – because the human body (or animal, or plant) do not possess free will – free will possess (cause effect on) them.

    By my above logic – and I consciously pose this as a question – it seems you agree?
    No physical body of a human being possesses free will!

    (This being correct, a relevant question to pose then is; Why did free will find it so interesting to control (cause effect) on these blobs of flesh called human beings?)

    I restate my initial claims – with emphasis that I state these in the physical universe, with the physical manifestation of the human body as the subject of possession:

    We (the human being, flesh and bones) do not possess free will.
    There is no reason for living (for the human being of flesh and bones).

    The remaining question, which seems to be the one you aim to answer is:
    Does free will exist?

    To this I will say:
    Interesting question!

    And leave the challenge of finding an answer for a later flight over the North Sea!

    1. 🙂

      Thanks for defending your views.

      Yes, we do agree that anything physical cannot possess free will.

      I would also say that there is no inherent value in one arrangement of matter as opposed to another arrangement of matter. And if you agree with this, then morals and consequences are irrelevant as physical rearrangements are themselves irrelevant.

      More on a later flight, as you say.

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