Free Will

Every once in a while, I come across a blog post, or perhaps a youtube video, claiming to have finally debunked the notion of Free Will, or individualism, or some other “archaic notion” that is much too “dualistic.” They always present it as if it is a new idea, or as if science has suddenly proven that Free Will no longer exists because they used the scientific method to look at a philosophical question.

My real question is, why are humans always so eager to reason themselves out of existence? I do not decry the notion of rational thought here, but rather the urge to find a way to think, or perhaps a better word is “deduce,” our way out of humanity. It is astonishing to me every time I see it, and the funny thing is, these people hold onto it as if it is a new idea. Just look at this youtube video. It nicely summarizes all the arguments, and falls for them without question.

All of the old trappings of these philosophical debates come out in support of determinism. A combination of outside influences from social mores or pressure, to past experiences, to baser instincts all “determine” our actions for us before we ever actually make a choice. Now, neuroscience has joined the debate. Evidence shows that our brains send impulses to our body parts before we actually move them, unconsciously. That our brains, in effect, send the impulses before we make the choice. Therefore, we must again be determined, yes? Now, some determinists use this as “evidence” of the illusion of free will, but just imagine if you had to choose to breathe, or choose to make your brain work. Of course your brain sends out impulses before you make a decision to do something. Of course your brain is working at a faster and more complicated level than you can consciously comprehend. I still don’t see how this proves anything. Let me provide an example. Continue reading