Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Free won't - part ii

Part 2/3 - Click here for: Part I

Causal implications

This abstraction of our relevant experience can be analysed by our brain and cross referenced with previous experiences and our accumulated values, beliefs and ideas. In that respect, our unique experience of existence determines the possible outcomes of our future and we are aware of thoughts about such decisions, that can affect other people's futures as well as our own. The abstraction of the false self therefore, is updated constantly as new things are experienced. This is indeed what gives our abstraction the dynamic qualities that we perceive as a 'changing self', which enhances the quality of this illusion.

However, these thoughts have no causal properties in of themselves; they are abstract representations of a course of action that has already been decided unconsciously. We need only look at Benjamin Libet's experiments and the ones conducted by his successors. For instance, a clear pattern is emerging that the readiness potential for movement occurs before the subject is conscious of the decision to move. This negates free will or a separate agency to be responsible for these actions. Rather the illusion of separate agency is nothing more than an abstract formed from experience, that is telling the brain via this feedback loop that there is an external causal agent there. If you like, it is merely the running commentary of your internal dialogue which is buttressing the illusion of your existence as an agent of free will.

It is entirely illusory, just look in real life, there is no self there.

Free won't

We can illustrate how free will plays out in the real world using a “what if” scenario. I will have to use an example we can relate to and we are all familiar with. Let's say, for example, you had a choice to go on holiday. What factors would influence you to apparently 'choose' the destination? If I offered you a choice between Tajikistan or Ibiza, which would you choose? This conversation came up as I was chatting about free will with a mate. In my case, I have been to Ibiza and loved it. I have not really heard much about Tajikistan. I am quite open minded (luckily, I have been conditioned that way!) so I would be tempted to go and explore Tajikistan, but in this case, Ibiza is more appealing to me.

So I am in a position to look at what made me have this preference. In this situation, it is simply knowledge. Where lack of knowledge is involved, we can show that free will becomes redundant. I have only an approximate knowledge of where Tajikistan is located; I don't know what the capital is, what the terrain is like, what currency they use, what the weather is like – or, in fact, anything at all. I know merely the name of the place and it is near Kazakhstan. If the thought it was necessary to look arose, so the brain could perform a comparative analysis of the two places; there would have to be something special in the information for the brain to see Tajikistan as a more appealing destination than the party island of Ibiza. This, in turn, may or may not influence the feeling of wanting to go somewhere specifically.

In that respect the feedback loop of knowledge obtained would increase my pool of knowledge and then through the tertiary input of the brain, it would be factored in to making a decision below the level of my awareness.

The truth is, in no way can I decide which place I feel like going to.

You could check out the Wikipedia entry on Tajikistan, if your brain thought it would be of some benefit to increase your knowledge. What I know for sure, is the choice available to me is illusory, in the sense that the choice is an abstract representation, of a decision that has already been made below the level of my awareness. It could be influenced by increasing my knowledge on the other destination but what I would simply be doing, is increasing my knowledge and causing a feedback loop that gives the appearance of free will.

You may be thinking now that you have just chosen Tajikistan. Well if we start to look at why, you may find that you are not the party type, you are adventurous, or you have always been interested in go to Eurasia for instance. You may have decided just to assert your free will and choose Tajikistan as the place you would choose for arguments sake. The thing is, you always believed you had free will but beliefs can literally warp our reality, as we have discussed in other posts.

Literally the product of your experience now, is a belief generating thoughts, trying to assert that you have free will. In actual fact it is just a knee jerk response as a belief has been threatened. We have discussed the dynamics of belief before and we have demonstrated how these fixed positions will cause us to try and defend them, as the brain perceives a threat, when its model of reality is threatened.

If you really had free will, you would not have chosen which one you felt like going to, without actually making a conscious decision to do so. If you really had free will, you would not have automatically thrown up resistance to the challenge, when your free will was called in to question. I can see people now thinking this is crazy and this is all built on a supposition of 'no you' but all I have to say is; if you don't believe me, that's great.

Go and l@@k in real life, the truth is there, look at it and see if you can falsify a theory. Use the falsification principle, be ruthless with honesty; is there a you in real life, could it be true that self is an illusion?

Now the current reader will take the action of not looking at Wikipedia or try and demonstrate their free will by actually going to look, thereby proving to themselves that their experience is purely a given of environmental stimuli and their neurological state. The readers knowledge is simply the product of experience as it continuously plays out.

Maybe you were about to go to Wikipedia, but by using 'free won't' decided not to. Sorry, but Benjamin Libet's successors showed that inhibitory decisions were also made unconsciously. You just witnessed a representation of agency in your awareness, when in reality the decision was arbitrarily delivered based upon the variables of the brain's acquired knowledge. Or even, you have actually been to Tajikistan already. Then, of course, this knowledge has influenced the brain's processing and your current representation of this process, which makes looking at Wikipedia seem a) redundant or b) a reason to reminisce about your time in Tajikistan.

There is no you in real life

Simply put, your internal dialogue is merely a commentary relating to the processing of the brain. It gives the illusion of free will, when, in reality, life lives itself as it always has. There is awareness of thought that says there is a 'you' that is in control and labels these actions that arise as being caused by an entity that you call yourself.

It implies that there is an entity who is running the operations, but when we actually look in real life...

When we actually drop our fa├žade for a minute and look with honesty...

It is plain to see that there is nothing there. 'You' do not exist in any shape or form; you never did and were never necessary for life to happen. Life lives itself - it is only an illusion that creates the belief that you exist as an entity who is responsible for making decisions and thinking. The plane is flying but it is on autopilot, the pilot was never there.

This can be demonstrated on an experiential level. It is nothing more than running commentary abstracted from an individual's unique experience. The thoughts that arise perpetuate the illusion of self through belief and this feedback loop of illusory free will.

Click here for: Part III


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