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The Theory of Free Will - awevsdv - 04-12-2013 11:22 AM

Free will : the idea that everyone is conscious and in total control of a decision.

But wait, isn't everything we say or do controlled by our brains? and isn't our brains just a big pile of electrical and chemical impulses?
So how can total control really exist? We don't have control over our brains impulses, if we did then we could decide our disorders and intelligence levels.
Think about it, everything we do is carried out by our brains, then simultaneously our mind takes these actions and associates them with our ego and conscious , making us think we make our own decisions, then can someone really be blamed for a decision? should'nt it be blamed on their brain structure and previous experiences that gave them these opinions to which their minds operate on?


The Theory of Free Will - thewake - 04-12-2013 01:18 PM



Watch on YouTube


RE: The Theory of Free Will - TheCancer - 04-12-2013 08:44 PM

So electrons are to a degree unpredictable, placing an element of chance into the physical world. Where is there any evidence that we can control electrons or any type of subatomic matter?


RE: The Theory of Free Will - brainiac3397 - 04-12-2013 09:56 PM

Like G-Man tells Freeman. It is just an illusion.


RE: The Theory of Free Will - awevsdv - 04-14-2013 03:54 AM

(04-12-2013 08:44 PM)TheCancer Wrote:  So electrons are to a degree unpredictable, placing an element of chance into the physical world. Where is there any evidence that we can control electrons or any type of subatomic matter?

good point. maybe reality is just a product of chance, I read somewhere that there are an unlimited amount of realities that contain different decisions made, chances takes, etc. and they're all equally real, but as observers, we can only see one.


The Theory of Free Will - SoulRiser - 04-15-2013 12:13 AM

A lot of decisions are made automatically by a person's subconscious mind, before they're even aware of what's going on.

But it is possible to 'train' the subconscious mind to behave more in the way you want it to.

I don't think total control exists, because everything still has to be processed by the brain, and like you said, it's a big grey pile of soft squishy stuff you can't control directly. But it is possible to somewhat change the way it processes stuff, and to intercept the results of its' processing and change it if you don't like what it comes up with. Do that often enough and you can re-train it.

You're not "just" the matter in your brain, there's something else that can override it, and decide whether or not to like what the brain is doing... call that something else whatever you like. I know I don't always like the stuff my brain comes up with, and have to re-train a few things every now and then.

Or maybe that's just my brain disagreeing with itself because it's bored... But wouldn't that be silly? Razz


The Theory of Free Will - brainiac3397 - 04-15-2013 12:29 AM

My brain has a council of 3(there may be a 4th lurking the halls) voices. Yep, they come together to decide future actions and output of behaviors. There have been times where there were disagreements, maybe some shoe tossing and face punching, but all is fine I presume.

Free Will only exists in our conscious mind. Nothing we do is actually an action of freewill but a action taken by your subconscious beforehand(like Soul says). Course, I think I found a slight trick to influence the possible outcome by imagining the event before it occurs and testing out possible outcomes and picking the one I'd rather have occur. Do it enough times and when the event occurs, the way I played it out happens.

Course I need some time to do so. If I try to do it at the heat of the moment, it just becomes a "fantasy" because my subconscious mind continues along the path it chose. Or maybe it's just another illusion by my subconscious mind to make me think I have conscious effect over it. Our minds can be tricky little bastards...


RE: The Theory of Free Will - Sunbourn - 04-15-2013 02:21 AM

(04-15-2013 12:13 AM)SoulRiser Wrote:  A lot of decisions are made automatically by a person's subconscious mind, before they're even aware of what's going on.

But it is possible to 'train' the subconscious mind to behave more in the way you want it to.

I don't think total control exists, because everything still has to be processed by the brain, and like you said, it's a big grey pile of soft squishy stuff you can't control directly. But it is possible to somewhat change the way it processes stuff, and to intercept the results of its' processing and change it if you don't like what it comes up with. Do that often enough and you can re-train it.

You're not "just" the matter in your brain, there's something else that can override it, and decide whether or not to like what the brain is doing... call that something else whatever you like. I know I don't always like the stuff my brain comes up with, and have to re-train a few things every now and then.

Or maybe that's just my brain disagreeing with itself because it's bored... But wouldn't that be silly? Razz
Wouldn't the decision and ability to decide to override the way you process stuff be pre-determined as well by environmental and biological variables, making even the ability to change how you process stimuli fall under the umbrella of false pre-determinism? I think that everything is just the result of the countless variables that came before it, and that free-will is just an illusion we've granted ourselves to make the world seem like a safer and more controllable place. We may tell ourselves that it was our decision, and really it -was- our decision, but the choice we took was already determined by the environmental factors and by our brain matter. Previous variables pre-determined the decision variable which pre-determined many more variables with the aid of the other variables. Everything is just a variable that interacts with the other variables producing the world we live in as we know it.


The Theory of Free Will - SoulRiser - 04-15-2013 06:55 AM

*brainsplodey*

You just made my brain explode, but technically it wasn't your fault, it was pre-determined by environmental factors long before you were even born. So there's no point in blaming you, or thanking you... or thanking anyone for anything ever, actually, since it was bound to happen regardless.

I dunno, I'd like to think life is at least somewhat interactive, otherwise it's basically just like watching a movie unfold from the first-person perspective. That's kinda boring...


The Theory of Free Will - Potato - 04-15-2013 07:03 AM

Quote:You're not "just" the matter in your brain, there's something else that can override it, and decide whether or not to like what the brain is doing... call that something else whatever you like. I know I don't always like the stuff my brain comes up with, and have to re-train a few things every now and then.

Or maybe that's just my brain disagreeing with itself because it's bored... But wouldn't that be silly?

ur brain can be divided into parts. you can "override" parts of your brain with other parts. you are just the processes that happen in your brain, there is just too much evidence to support this view. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/09/22/brain-movies/
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/technology/sci-tech/japan-scientists-can-read-dreams-20130408-2hfp8.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6iHe0ra_UM

Quote:can someone really be blamed for a decision? should'nt it be blamed on their brain structure and previous experiences that gave them these opinions to which their minds operate on?

what's the difference?


The Theory of Free Will - Potato - 04-15-2013 07:30 AM

Quote: So there's no point in blaming you, or thanking you... or thanking anyone for anything ever, actually, since it was bound to happen regardless.

no, making people feel unappreciated deter them from being kind in the future, it's the same result with or with out freewill. we know from overwhelming evidence that the brain and consciousness are identical, and it just doesn't make any difference whether you like to think that our consciousness is a result of what happens in our brains, or the other way around.


RE: The Theory of Free Will - TheCancer - 04-15-2013 08:20 AM

(04-15-2013 02:21 AM)|55555| Wrote:  
(04-15-2013 12:13 AM)SoulRiser Wrote:  A lot of decisions are made automatically by a person's subconscious mind, before they're even aware of what's going on.

But it is possible to 'train' the subconscious mind to behave more in the way you want it to.

I don't think total control exists, because everything still has to be processed by the brain, and like you said, it's a big grey pile of soft squishy stuff you can't control directly. But it is possible to somewhat change the way it processes stuff, and to intercept the results of its' processing and change it if you don't like what it comes up with. Do that often enough and you can re-train it.

You're not "just" the matter in your brain, there's something else that can override it, and decide whether or not to like what the brain is doing... call that something else whatever you like. I know I don't always like the stuff my brain comes up with, and have to re-train a few things every now and then.

Or maybe that's just my brain disagreeing with itself because it's bored... But wouldn't that be silly? Razz
Wouldn't the decision and ability to decide to override the way you process stuff be pre-determined as well by environmental and biological variables, making even the ability to change how you process stimuli fall under the umbrella of false pre-determinism? I think that everything is just the result of the countless variables that came before it, and that free-will is just an illusion we've granted ourselves to make the world seem like a safer and more controllable place. We may tell ourselves that it was our decision, and really it -was- our decision, but the choice we took was already determined by the environmental factors and by our brain matter. Previous variables pre-determined the decision variable which pre-determined many more variables with the aid of the other variables. Everything is just a variable that interacts with the other variables producing the world we live in as we know it.

I completely agree with this.


RE: The Theory of Free Will - awevsdv - 04-15-2013 12:15 PM

(04-15-2013 07:03 AM)Potato Wrote:  
Quote:You're not "just" the matter in your brain, there's something else that can override it, and decide whether or not to like what the brain is doing... call that something else whatever you like. I know I don't always like the stuff my brain comes up with, and have to re-train a few things every now and then.

Or maybe that's just my brain disagreeing with itself because it's bored... But wouldn't that be silly?

ur brain can be divided into parts. you can "override" parts of your brain with other parts. you are just the processes that happen in your brain, there is just too much evidence to support this view. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/09/22/brain-movies/
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/technology/sci-tech/japan-scientists-can-read-dreams-20130408-2hfp8.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6iHe0ra_UM

Quote:can someone really be blamed for a decision? should'nt it be blamed on their brain structure and previous experiences that gave them these opinions to which their minds operate on?

what's the difference?
1st Quote: Good point potato. Turns out, all you are is your brain. that "thing" that can override your brain, IS your brain. its just a different part.

2nd quote: brain structure is the actual pathways that connect the different parts of our brain together and controls how they communicate. so if someone is born mentally retarded, a part of their brain has pathways that aren't working properly with another part, or the brainsection isn't working properly itself, based on how it developed in the womb. Our experiences is what is fed into our brain through the external world. and our experiences can influence the brains decisions. think of our brain structure as our operating system, and think of our experiences as the programs that are put on it, to make it run a certain way. except in real life, we can't choose the programs we put on it, its all just about how we grew up. sometimes we can dismiss programs planted in us, but only because another program was introduced that made the previous program dysfunctional. WE are only computers, and the person who is putting programs onto us is our SURROUNDINGS, and we can't choose those. fate seems real after all.


RE: The Theory of Free Will - Sunbourn - 04-15-2013 11:05 PM

(04-15-2013 12:15 PM)RumbleGerm Wrote:  
(04-15-2013 07:03 AM)Potato Wrote:  
Quote:You're not "just" the matter in your brain, there's something else that can override it, and decide whether or not to like what the brain is doing... call that something else whatever you like. I know I don't always like the stuff my brain comes up with, and have to re-train a few things every now and then.

Or maybe that's just my brain disagreeing with itself because it's bored... But wouldn't that be silly?

ur brain can be divided into parts. you can "override" parts of your brain with other parts. you are just the processes that happen in your brain, there is just too much evidence to support this view. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/09/22/brain-movies/
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/technology/sci-tech/japan-scientists-can-read-dreams-20130408-2hfp8.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6iHe0ra_UM

Quote:can someone really be blamed for a decision? should'nt it be blamed on their brain structure and previous experiences that gave them these opinions to which their minds operate on?

what's the difference?
1st Quote: Good point potato. Turns out, all you are is your brain. that "thing" that can override your brain, IS your brain. its just a different part.

2nd quote: brain structure is the actual pathways that connect the different parts of our brain together and controls how they communicate. so if someone is born mentally retarded, a part of their brain has pathways that aren't working properly with another part, or the brainsection isn't working properly itself, based on how it developed in the womb. Our experiences is what is fed into our brain through the external world. and our experiences can influence the brains decisions. think of our brain structure as our operating system, and think of our experiences as the programs that are put on it, to make it run a certain way. except in real life, we can't choose the programs we put on it, its all just about how we grew up. sometimes we can dismiss programs planted in us, but only because another program was introduced that made the previous program dysfunctional. WE are only computers, and the person who is putting programs onto us is our SURROUNDINGS, and we can't choose those. fate seems real after all.

Well said.


The Theory of Free Will - SoulRiser - 04-16-2013 05:10 AM

Screw that, I'll change my surroundings if I have to then! xD


The Theory of Free Will - brainiac3397 - 04-16-2013 06:41 AM

HAHA! BURN THEM TO THE GROUND!

Wait, I don't believe that's what you meant. But surely a scorched and barren surrounding will really remove the number of choices and outcomes to something simpler.


The Theory of Free Will - xcriteria - 05-28-2013 01:31 PM

I'm going to try to jump into this and see what I can do. Follow along if you so desire.

Here's my take: Free will isn't automatic, nor is it all-or-nothing. Conscious experience in general is generated by the brain. However, as people become more conscious of thought processes themselves, it's possible to become more intentional and exert more conscious control over how one's brain operates and what moves one makes.

There are terms for that increased consciousness -- metacognition, meta-attention, meta-analysis.

Here's a short video from Dan Siegel that hits on people's ability to change, including the impact of cultural evolution (like media, storytelling, theories, worldviews), and conscious intention on how history proceeds:



Watch on YouTube

Now, think about free will from two angles. One way in which we're not free -- we're at least partially dependent on factors outside ego-awareness, is the mind's subconscious processing. As some of those neuroscience experiments have shown, sometimes what seems like "your" choice is actually pre-computed by subconscious neural circuits. That doesn't mean it wasn't your choice, but it does mean that in order to change the choices coming from that part of you, you must learn how they work and get to know your mind and its tendencies.

Then, you have the potential to nudge things or take other steps to override particular circuits.

With that, it's important to keep in mind that the brain is made of a variety of circuits and networks -- not just one. Sometimes one network is basically in control, but sometimes there's conflict between them, and you can nudge things one way or another. It's possible to consciously choose, at times, to active dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and think logically and analytically, while at other times, it's possible to let the more primitive subconscious circuits to take over. Is this always totally conscious or under the control of free will? No. But with practice, it can become more so.

The other major way your mind and reactions can be impacted by forces outside of ego-awareness is the external world. Even reading words can cause semantic priming and impact what neurons get fired. When you look at people, images, words, or listen to things, or feel things, your nervous system is affected by those stimuli -- neurons fire.

You can see this most directly in reflexes. Some things like yawning or laughter can be contagious. You can also look at neuroimaging studies that show how particular brain regions tend to respond to certain types of stimuli. For example, there are particular regions that respond to faces, others light up when moral problems are considered.

This question of how people are influenced by external stimuli takes on a new level of significance when it comes to media, education, and things like cultural rituals. Even more so when it comes to deciding how these things should be designed. This ties back to Dan Siegel's point about cultural evolution. Over time, at least some forms of storytelling has become more sophisticated. And, people can be impacted by the stories they hear. Stories are how our worldviews are formed and they're a key how we can share our views with others.

However, even with stories, it's possible to become more conscious in how we interpret them. That's one reason I link to tvtropes a lot. As they put it,

Analyzing a medium in depth and pulling it apart by the seams teaches you to watch things critically — analyzing every aspect and codifying them inside your mind.

Most tropers, academics, directors or writers who do this start to find new ways to enjoy media. The subtle blends of plots, the new spins on old stories. The rare and welcome times where a plot you weren't expecting appears. But it is never the same.


That same principle applies not just to tropes, but all kinds of new ways to interpret things, from Myers-Briggs to an understanding that learning can take in all kinds of circumstances, not just in a classroom and not just as a little kid.

Why bother thinking about this at all?

In many ways, the idea that we do have some choices in our lives that can impact the future makes life more complicated. It can lead to difficult moral feelings and cognitive dissonance when it comes to deciding what makes sense to do, what's okay to do, and so forth. However, the opposite is often true -- the idea that one has no choice at all can be disturbing.

To some degree, it depends on the person. Some people prefer that things are one way or the other, but the reality is that, to at least some extent, free will or conscious choice is a cognitive ability that can be developed.

What about impact the future in any meaningful way?

Fate, destiny, choosing one's path. Even if you accept that you can learn to be more conscious, make better decisions, and all that, what does that have to do with the significant moments in life, and how your life plays out as a whole?

That's an even bigger question. One way to think about your beliefs in more than a black-and-white manner is to consider tvtrope's Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: How much free will do characters really have?

The relationship between free will and fate is not necessarily constant. It can vary between stories and even inside those stories, although how much this is actual change and how much it is simply the revelation of the true nature of Fate also differs.


That applies not just in stories, but in real situations. At times, one's own mental free will can be nearly zero, while at times, one's physical free will can be nearly zero (for example, if you're chained to a wall.) Other times, I think most people have experience of having a conscious choice sooner or later, as in Two Roads Before You.

That choice (or question) can be illustrated by the thread You can't change anything. Wes concludes, "So try to live your life the best you can and get through your daily troubles. It's easier that way. Lashing out against a wall is useless." That sounds like it makes sense. But maybe there's another way, called improving learning and learning something useful.

So, which road to take? Dig deeper into these questions, or go about thinking what you already thought? Smile