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Unread February 15th, 2006, 01:22 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 271
Default A Free Will Challenge

I have been quiet lately but following your interesting posts and trying to digest them. The concepts being discussed require some reflection.

But just to check in with some current observations triggered by your recent comments and copies of some archived posts kindly sent to me by Tom. Thanks . .

. . it seems to me that there is an enigma at work in these discussions that is causing the difficulty. That is that these discussions are all taking place in our wonderous conscious minds. And they are amazing to be able to hold mental images of such abstractions as free will and determinism and compatibilism - and turn them over in our minds and examine them from various angles.

It seems to us that our intellect is in charge of our lives because we live in our conscious minds - and because our ego, which is part of our conscious mind likes to believe that its department runs things. Unhindered by emotion our conscious mind is truly free to wander to the most fanciful places. So it seems to us from what we can observe that we can do whatever we imagine - that we have free will.

But choosing behavior (including choosing what beliefs about the world we accept) is a subconscious function that uses only emotional, not intellectual inputs. (During decision transactions our intellectual conclusions participate by providing an emotional marker proportional to how confident we are that they will succeed.) But emotions from our instincts, dispositions and beliefs are also considered when we make a behavior decision - and they could be stronger.

Understanding this difficulty informs the underlying question as well. Our intellectual mind may imagine that we are free to jump from a tall building if we wish and having a strong belief in God, that He will save us. Our ego will gladly confirm that as an expression of both our faith and our free will. But later we fail to recognize that we did not jump because our emotional decision computer, not our intellect, actually determined our choice.

If confronted with the weakness of our intellect to control our lives our ego sniffs and says, "Yeah, but I could have done it if I really wanted to."

In otherwords, we conjure a belief in free will because our ego loves the idea that our conscious mind is in charge. That feels very good.

But we will choose the behavior that feels best from the alternatives. We have no other choice.

I posed this challenge before and it was unmet so I'll do it again. If anyone doubts this last paragraph, please submit an example of human behavior that violates this principle. If you can I'll agree that we have free will.


Last edited by Margaret McGhee; February 15th, 2006 at 01:48 PM. Reason: Clarification
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