Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Free won't - part iii

Part 3/3 Click here for: part I

We can look at quantum mechanics to shed some light on this. In danger of going in to too much depth, it is important to outline current theory and gain a basic understanding.

The multi-verse theory allows us to instigate free will back in to the equation albeit in an illusory feedback loop, since a reality will exist for every choice made. Since we can already demonstrate that free will is an illusion, we are talking about choices made unconsciously. We are talking about different neurological states and synaptic firings, which cause actions to be taken (or not) on the level of an organism.

If we are talking about a multi-verse, that would have to mean by virtue that another branch of reality co – exists simultaneously. In each parallel universe, every outcome would play out and each 'quantum decoherence' causes a different branch of a reality to start, which would have to contain the Hubble volume (observable universe) and would be a real physical universe like this one. Heavy stuff I know but two things spring to mind. Firstly, it would be closed minded of us to assume that this was the only universe and secondly this accounts for our determined reality, when we take in to account the fact that free will is illusory.

The main problem with this theory, seems to be the fact that if this was the case, then something like the radioactive decay of an atom, could start a different branch of reality and hence every sub atomic interaction, could occur, or not, causing a separate universe. Stephen Hawkings conjectured that the quantum indeterminancy of particles averages out in large numbers of particles and quantum effects do not tend to affect classical mechanics. Hence, here there appears to be a solution to this problem, in the fact that the decoherence is unaffected by macroscopic events.

As any actions are generated from the accumulation of experience or reflex propagated by the environment in an organism, we can see how outcomes of these actions have causal consequences and will perpetuate changes in experience for other people down the line.

So if I had an interaction with someone for instance and we imagine that it was a meaningful conversation about thinking about things in a different way, with their new knowledge from the interaction, their planning faculty would take on board these new variables and factor these into their future decision making processes. In this case, the thought process is free to play out with these changeable variables influencing different outcomes, depending on the acquired knowledge of a particular organism.

Of course, the possibilities of potential outcomes could be seen to be finite but the number would be pushing beyond trillions upon trillions, or infinity minus 11.24, to be precise! This ensures that two people could never have the same experience. In this respect, to have a determined reality, the number of causal interactions from neurons firing in specific sequences and the knock-on effects throughout history, are not even worth contemplating, nor is the number of parallel universes required.

When we go back to Schrödinger’s cat, we can see that mathematically both possibilities of experience exist in this experiment, until we open the box and the wave function collapses. This gives us a paradox in terms of our Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory, since we can demonstrate that both possibilities exist simultaneously. Demonstrating this for the totality of reality would be rather a hard task but what we could conjecture here, is that there are almost infinite opportunities for experience and we are just subject to the experience of the evolution of form as it plays out in the Hubble volume we appear to occupy, whether there are other parallel universes or not.

We can see that life evolves, thought evolves, the earth's geography evolves and the universe is itself in constant flux. Even the molecules and cells we are made of are not the same ones we were born with. In that respect, we know that nothing is static or permanent in nature. It would also be a mere assumption that the universe cannot replicate.

There are many interpretations of quantum theory, I quite like Von Neumann's idea that consciousness is required to collapse the wave function. That ties in nicely to the idea that consciousness is fundamental aspect of reality, although that is out of our scope for now.


Anything like this can never be known to us in the phenomenal world anyway, I was never to keen on the deterministic explanation personally and I was sitting on the fence as a compatibilist for a while but without free will, it is inevitable that determinism would seem to offer the best explanation. It is not a bad thing to discover you have no free will, because the illusion of free will still exists after liberation, it doesn't just disappear!

So nothing is taken away from experience, if anything, experience is enhanced immensely. It may seem strange to say that but there again, believing in no free will through the false self would of course be detrimental to ones outlook on life.

The way I see it currently, life feels as though it is free to play out in its own way, yet 'we' as a causal agent do not exist. The universe contains almost infinite opportunities for experience and our illusory feedback cycle of free will on the level of the organism holds true, in the ability for an organism to experience choice because of its ever changing experience, even though that experience and the consequent choices are determined anyway.

We are merely aware of concepts regarding a choice that has already been made.

The anxiety from our choice, is a result of dissonance. When people say 'follow your heart', or 'go with your gut', it simply means the decision has already been made below your awareness. We are simply aware of the conceptualisations that result from this process and quite often, they are weighing up of the pros or cons. Yet at no point can we decide what our 'gut' or heart 'says'.

The influence that an organism can exert within our conceptual decoherence branch or point in space time is determined by the physical world and the experience we are subject to, which gives an appearance of free will. The quantum decoherence, as a fundamental aspect of reality, would allow this illusion to be possible, in the sense that another decoherence branch could appear when ruminating over some thoughts. Also in our other interpretations, both probabilities can simultaneously exist.

In that respect the compatibilist argument seems to play nicely in to this and proponents of this, will claim there is free will but it seems more likely that after looking at our feedback cycle, that really this free will is illusory and the hard determinist position looks stronger. Simply because when we take our causal self out of the equation, our libetarian free will disappears anyway and it seems that when we talk about compatibilism, we are just being apologists to these libetarians, or as Kant termed compatibilism; “a wretched subterfuge”.

We just have some homo sapiens running more sophisticated software and hardware than the other creatures on this substrate, to boil it down as simply as I can. Quite a reductionist stance to take but there again, we are evolved from animals. We are simply at the mercy of the environment and our acquired tool set of experience to draw from.

Here, our indeterminism enters the fray to makes quite a strong case too. Indeterminism suggests that the quantum world comes about through pure chance and thus there is no determinism or free will. Since there is no free will, we could simply assume there was no determinism either and our variables could be related to the fact that thought is free to play out but there is no one choosing these thoughts. An interesting proposition but that is going to have to be for another article, since we are only skimming the determinist/ free will positions.

Life lives itself

Upon seeing no self, we can verify experientially that self is an illusion and free will to boot. From here we can look at current theory and see how this insight connects up with it and it seems to dovetail nicely here. The exciting thing is, on the level of experience we can validate that self is illusory and this has blown this area wide open, among others. Western philosophers such as Sam Harris, Thomas Metzinger and Julian Baggini have come to the conclusion that self is illusory. RT has found a way to validate this experientially. Upon seeing no self, you are able to witness the self as an illusory feedback cycle that comprises the core mechanism of human suffering. The question is; which quantum decoherence branch do you want to occupy? Sorry I had to drop that in :) On a serious note, you can either be at the whims of your thoughts and emotions, or you can see them for what they really are and look upon them with open eyes.

Simply put, your internal dialogue is merely an abstracted commentary relating to the processing of the brain. It gives the illusion of free will, because it feeds back as a tertiary input to the brain, 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 façade 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.

This has massive implications but testing the hypothesis is pretty simple. Simply do the thought experiments on this blog (go to L@@K first and read the section on honesty and courage before you do the experiments) and then email me about your findings and tell me if there is a 'you'. Then you can take on the task of removing your conditioning of framing the world through the concept of self.

Could it be true that there is no 'you' and 'you' are nothing more than a thought; an illusion?


Post a Comment

Popular Posts