Monday, June 25, 2007

Freedom of the will

Recent investigations have shown that a person first acts and then has a will to act: the will for an action comes a fraction of a second after the action concerned starts. Does this mean that there is no freedom of the will? That the action causes the will to do this action? No, for the essence of the freedom of the will is not simply that I am free to do now what I want to do now, but freedom of the will means that I am free to make plans for the future and that I can execute them when the time for doing them arrives. That I can plan an action long, if necessary months or years, before it will take place and that I can adopt it to the circumstances. Free will is a long term phenomenon that has nothing to do with momentaneous causation. If that would not be so, a falling tree that suddenly blocks my road would be a clear falsification of the existence of a freedom of the will. Maybe there is no free will, but then it is for other reasons.

1 comment:

charles cawley said...

Freedom of the will

It has long been a belief that freedom of the will is an illusion and that every decision we make is caused by physical laws and the actions of the World as they apply to our bodies. We may believe that our decisions are made freely but, in fact, they are not independent of our experiences, the laws of physics, biology and chemistry. We may think we are taking independent decisions, but in fact we are deluded because our characters which are also pre-determined, appear to conform to the decisions we think we are making.

A common illusion has also created a barrier to solving this problem. It is believed that any freely made decision must have been consciously made and that the evidence or information used should have been consciously discovered. However, consciousness can only consider knowledge, information is what we refer to of concerns that are not the immediate subject of consciousness. Metamorphosis of thought has the capacity to create new ideas and when consciousness is aware of this, they become new ideas and new knowledge.

This new knowledge does not directly come from a chain of causality, it has metamorphosed from other information coming together. In some cases it can come from other information, partly dismantled and re-assembled.

The mind, which covers both the conscious state and the place of information, is what is free, not consciousness. Consciousness is not free, but because it can use genuinely new information and new ideas, created in an undetermined way, its decisions can be free even if its operation is determined.

This is the key to freedom in determination. It depends on the difference between knowledge and information and the different restrictions and freedoms related to these two aspects.