April 18, 2008

From Russell Eisenman:

Re: Brain found to prepare decisions in advance (April 15): I see two problems in the study that is said to suggest that we do not have free will.

(1) The task was trivial. Perhaps the brain decides such things before we do and makes us choose. But what about important, real-life decisions, about whether to marry, what job to choose, what graduate school to apply to, etc. ? It could well be that we make these decisions, i.e.that we have free will, at least to some degree.

(2) The fact that the brain registers our decision before we know it does not mean, necessarily, that we did not make the decision. It could be that we make a tentative decision and, before we have fully decided, parts of the brain go to work and that is what the researchers found. For example, if I choose to pick up my watch, the brain may show that before I could tell you, but I, nevertheless, was the one who chose to pick up the watch. My brain did not make me pick up the watch.

I have long thought about the free will vs. determinism issue. Certainly many things seem determined, in that previous factors lead to our choices in many instances. But, are we not the ones who chose? If the result is not as we like, can we not choose differently next time? If so, is this not free will? You can call it determinism if you want, but that misses the fact that it is the person who is making the choice.

My conclusion is that we have a combination of free will and determinism in our life.

Russell Eisenman, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Texas-Pan American
Edinburg, TX


Anonymous Edward N. Haas said...

Not all pre-determination cancels free will. 2 kinds of SELF-predetermination do not. First, I my self-conscious self may determine that, every time my son calls me on the phone, I shall answer and talk to him for as long as he wants. Such self-predetermination does not cancel free will. Then there's the complicated issue of my self as it's known by The Infinitely Informed. That me is the sum total of all the choices I've already made plus all the choices I am making plus all the choices I ever shall make. That version of my self, I call my total, celestial, a-temporal self. For The Infinitely Informed, that sum total of my choices makes me an absolutely and outstandingly unique individual, because my sum total, however similar to some other sum totals, is different enough to make me an absolutely and outstandingly unique individual. Since I most consciously and deliberately choose to love my absolutely and outstandingly unique individuality above all else, I choose to have my celestial self pre-determine all my choices. In fact, I my currently self-conscious self most willingly and deliberately reflect back and choose that, from my conception, I should have instinctively chosen to have all my choices pre-determined by my celestial self. That being the case, my will is free no matter how totally its every choice is pre-determined by my celestial self. It's free because that's the kind of free will I choose to have. For more on this, see my post just above yours. EDWARD N. HAAS

April 18, 2008 12:15 PM  

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