The Illusion of Free Will?

For all other chat which isn't directly related to lucid dreaming and the world of sleep and dreams.

Do you think we have free will?

No
14
50%
Yes
12
43%
Don't know
2
7%
 
Total votes: 28

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Karin
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Joined: 13 May 2014 22:59

Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Karin » 03 Aug 2014 21:56

Summerlander, for example:

In a non-lucid recurrent nightmare, I keep running away from a monster, screaming and frightened. These are conditioned behaviors: I am not really exercising free-will when I run away, I can't help it because I am so afraid. However, if I become lucid in the dream, I can CHOOSE to REACT DIFFERENTLY: instead of running away screaming (which I can still choose if I want), I can also choose to go against the conditioning and instead of running away, I can face the monster and hug it. To me, this is exercising free will instead of conditioned reaction: I could choose to keep running away, or to face the monster.

Another example, in a recurrent nightmare I keep strangling that elderly lady because I hate her. I can't help it because I am so enraged, and after she's dead, I feel so guilty. If I could become lucid in the dream, I might choose differently, and hug her in spite of my rage, instead of killing her (or talk to her and ask her why I hate her so much, etc...).

To extend the analogy: in real life, every choice I make is conditioned by my brain chemistry (e.g. if my neurotransmitters are low I'll be depressed and react negatively to everything), and/or by social conditioning, how I was raised, things I believe in, etc... So even though it feels like I am exercising free will when I choose to react one way or another, in fact I react out of conditioned response based on my brain chemistry and my mind programming (brain wiring, whatever). Now in my hypothesis, if there is an unconscious source of us, beyond the brain and the mind, let's call it soul/spirit, that is outside of matter and thus not subject to brain wiring and mind conditioning constraints, and if that soul/spirit 'becomes lucid' in real life, the human being might take decisions from that part of himself that is beyond the brain and mind, from the soul/spirit part (which normally we are unconscious of, just like a DC normally has no clue it is being dreamed by a real self), and in this way it is BYPASSING all the conditioning, brain wiring, brain chemistry, etc...

For example: someone might get out of the vicious cycle of depression, by recognizing at a higher level that there are unconscious thoughts that keep perpetuating: I hate myself so much, I'll never get better, everything hurts, etc... and then being able to exercise free will and CHOOSE to short-circuit these thoughts and CHOOSE to give myself a chance, and love myself no matter what, and allow myself to know that can get better. And see what happens.

In other words: What is free will? Maybe the ability to make a choice from a perspective beyond the conditionings?

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HAGART
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby HAGART » 04 Aug 2014 03:32

There's certainly WILL POWER, and it's a powerful thing to improve ones life, but it's not free will. If you take a step back and look at this question, one can see that every single choice you ever made was predictable given the myriad of variables.

I was daydreaming of a bumble bee today, and what choices it makes when deciding on a flower to land on or whether to zig left or zag right. It too makes choices, and can be predicted. Although a much simpler life form than us, it is still extremely complicated. They certainly seem robotic don't they in their behavior? We are no different, just more complex, and can't see the forest for the trees. You would have to literally think faster than your own thoughts to recognize it, which is a paradox.

Speaking of dreams I had a lucid one this morning. I saw a wall with shelves and many odd items on it, like a phone, fax machine, printer, and electronics like that all with a similar theme. I chose to look around and see what else was there, but I found nothing so I looked back. Now it was completely different! (Common for lucid dreams). Now it was filled with different food items, corn, raisins, apples, a package of cheese etc. (Still all with a common theme coincidentally, which is interesting for another topic).

I chose to turn my head and look elsewhere and back again, but I had no choice whatsoever what changed and filled those shelves so quickly. My sense of self identity and self awareness (lucid dreaming is like becoming self aware) made decisions, which I still think are coming subliminally under the radar so to speak, but after that experience it further reinforces my belief that our subconscious self is like a program with it's own agenda running in the background of our self aware selves.

Does your subconscious have free will? If not, why do you think 'you', a concept created by it, has free will either?

This can drive people nuts if they think about it too much. I don't live my life thinking I'm a robot, but only think about it from time to time when a question like this is posed and I'm in the mood. If we indeed have no free will, then just buckle up and enjoy the ride of life and feel confident about every decision you ever made without second guessing and putting yourself down! You can even change the program with positive thinking and make it a habit. Some good can come from this way of thinking, and improve everyone's lives :D

But that takes WILL POWER, not free will.
If we all lucid dreamed this world would be a better place.

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Summerlander
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 04 Aug 2014 10:54

Hagart makes a good point, Karin, and indeed will power does not require free will. You either have will power or you don't and when you get it you don't pick when. :|

Lucidity is still a condition whilst dreaming which influences how the dreamer feels and subsequently behaves. There are occasions where the dreamer continues to run from the monster despite realising the true nature of what is perceived. In such DILDs, running away isn't much of a choice. It can even be argued that when one runs feeling threatened, one has no choice. (Or the individual feels like there is no choice but to run! Take your pick if you want to play with semantics.) However you describe it, it is still a conditioned behaviour stimulated by an extant irrational fear which can also exist in waking states and exert constraining power. In most oneiric cases, however, such fear which urges the dreamer to run is most prevalent before lucidity and during its incipience. With practice we may be able to mitigate the emergence of irrational fear in lucid dreams, and practice takes repetition! (Some oneironauts nail it quite quickly.)

The main point I'm making is that all behaviours are permissible insofar as the compatibility of the causal brain states manifests at the right time - something the sense of self does not control - in order to obtain a positive sensation and a strong illusion of free will. In other words, all behaviours are conditioned by feelings that can be described by the following adjectives which you cannot help but have (some desired, some unwanted): afraid; brave; happy; sad; angry; excited; euphoric etc.

The unknown can often incite fear in people. So can false belief, eg. you believe the dream to be really happening. But if you see through the illusion, then the reason for the illusion-based fear is likely to vanish because you have now stumbled upon a new perspective of clarity, i.e. you know you are dreaming and this causes you to feel playful. Knowledge influences behaviour and clarity is not control, it may only be conducive to the reinforcement of the illusion of such. Having attained lucidity in a dream, what you do next is then influenced by unconscious urges - just like any other state of consciousness - whether or not you happen to recall your plan of action that you devised before bedtime. All the scenarios presented here, so far, lack liberty propre. They merely spell out conditioned behaviours devoid of free will. The concept of free will can't even be defined coherently because it is so absurd.

If ordinary dreaming means NOT breathing, then lucid dreaming is breathing, and the latter, as you know, is a necessity (for there is only so far a person can inhale before feeling compelled to exhale). If you become lucid, turn around, and embrace the monstrous pursuer, it is only because the dream figure is observed in a different light which encourages a friendly approach. (Other areas of the brain are triggered.) But having done so, you may ask yourself why you didn't transform the monster into a delicious chocolate fountain. The answer is as follows: it didn't occur to you at the time. This reality is the source of quotidian exclamations such as, "Why didn't I do that," "I regret what I did," "I wish I had acted differently," "I lost a perfect opportunity."

The perceived freedom to ask a dream character why you feel hatred towards it (see, you don't even know where this comes from!) is an action which is also conditioned by a state of curiosity and concern preceded by a recurrent, stimulating nightmare of the non-lucid realm and of which you absolutely had no control over. This also reminds me: to say that dream characters don't have a clue about their origin (dreamed by us) is to imply that they are sentient beings, too. There is no evidence for this and observations that such mental forms transmute into inanimate objects strongly suggest the opposite. The dream world is merely representative of the mind and its information content. It is more likely that "dream matter" emulates things real and imagined.

Now, about your Cartesian hypothesis, Karin...

Sorry to break it to you but it has already been considered earlier in this thread. I did say that even the concept of a soul cannot salvage and coherently preserve free will. Presumably, a soul would also be swayed by feelings and thought processes whose origins would remain obscure and would beg the question of a metaphysical mechanism behind it. In other words, a soul would still perceive environmental events, feel something at the exposure, and subsequently act in influence. Anyway, I disbelieve in souls for the same reasons as Spinoza, Hobbes, Hume, and, ironically, the compatibilist Daniel Dennett. (One of the things I agree with Dennett is his view on consciousness derived from cognitive science.) But I won't go into my reasons rigorously so as to prevent divagation. I will only recommend Susan Blackmore's thesis on consciousness.

I wish to ram this home, though. Your hypothesis violates everything that has been observed so far in the field of neuroscience. Brain functionality, whether one likes it or not, dictates a person's conduct besides the presence or absence of consciousness and self-awareness. To reiterate, free choice is an illusion. You might egg yourself on to adopt a particular code of conduct "no matter what," but this is nothing but conditioned planning (whose success is measured by the strength of the urge and degree of motivation - do you feel motivated?) after having been exposed to unsatisfactory outcomes of the former behaviour that you were so accustomed to. Even resolutions based on learned lessons in life translate as conditioned behaviour, conduct influenced by memories and the mnemonic impact upon the rest of the cerebral cortices responsible for emotional states and caused intentionalities. Again, I pose the libertarian the question: Where is free will? 8-)
"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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nawick
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby nawick » 08 Aug 2014 01:09

Yes you have free will, but you also have roughly 7.2 billion others with free will so your free will is outnumbered. Just because something is ineffectual doesn't preclude it's existence.
"If you believe that you can or if you believe that you can't - you are right." - Henry Ford.

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Summerlander
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Joined: 22 Sep 2011 19:52

Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 08 Aug 2014 21:10

In the case of free will, if it's ineffectual, as you say, then it is not free. It is simply will determined by prior causation as well as present environmental influence. Therefore, the freedom part is automatically precluded and the term loses its definition (which wasn't coherent in the first place). But the reasons why free will is an illusion aren't the ones you mentioned. If you review this thread, you will find a number of irrefutable arguments against free will, and why determinism is true, which I will not bother to mention again to avoid being repetitive - but I will recommend this seminar which just about covers the essence of the argument:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FanhvXO9Pk

Here's a little something from biology I would like to point out in addition. Free will is in violation of the blind mechanism behind genes and their effects. Free will cannot withstand the reality of phenotypes in living things. The fact that our DNA, which carries "instructions" for how an organism should develop (that we are mostly unaware of as we go about our day-to-day lives) and play their role in evolution beyond our control, is another demonstration of free will not fitting in. If free will could be demonstrated, Darwinism wouldn't even take off.

Our molecules are simply arranged in more complicated patterns than non-living things - but rest assured that we had non-living simple beginnings, too! We may be warm, we may appear to possess some sort of "living spark" inside us, we may display erratic behaviour, we may even feel capricious at times, we may be very different from rocks - but, in reality, we are simply bundles of complex matter set in motion by natural selection. We - with our cellular factories containing proteins, amino acids, chromosomes, genes, and all - are really analogous to digital machines with sets of instructions that we did not select. The relationship between RNA and DNA inside cells and how they effect the rest of the organism really isn't that much different from that of a computer. We are dictated by our insides as well as impacted upon by the external world.

Free will is a persistent myth. 8-)
"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Jack Reacher
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Location: New Zealand

Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Jack Reacher » 10 Aug 2014 11:44

Maybe I cannot tell you what my exact next thought is, but I can at least describe it within boundaries or confidence.

In fact, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I will either be alive tomorrow, or dead.
"There is theoretical abstraction, and then there is true abstraction."

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Summerlander
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Joined: 22 Sep 2011 19:52

Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 10 Aug 2014 21:02

That is a very weak argument. First, how can you describe your next thought if you don't know what it is? Second, stating the obvious, or tautologies, isn't a sign of free will. They are either obviously true, or ambiguously true in your example, whether you like it or not. The puppet can be aware of what's obvious, and even if the puppet wasn't aware of such one moment, but became aware of the objective truisms the next, he still wouldn't have free will. It just dawned on him. It happened upon him. It was suddenly brought to his attention whether he welcomed the realisation or not. 8-)
"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Z0rb
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Joined: 20 Mar 2016 18:45

Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Z0rb » 22 Mar 2016 00:54

Summerlander: Do you think that we really have Free Will in Lucid Dreaming?
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Enra Traz
Posts: 313
Joined: 28 Nov 2014 10:55

Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Enra Traz » 22 Mar 2016 05:47

It's already been answered and the answer is 'no'. Lucid dreaming is merely a different state from ordinary dreaming which begets different urges. It's the same as not having free will while you're awake. :-D

[ Post made via Android ] Image

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Z0rb
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Z0rb » 22 Mar 2016 20:46

I know, I noticed,Enra Traz. But since the thread is old, I returned to ask.The brain is not something binary, it is not an operating system that works based on programs to respond automatically to certain commands, it does not have scripts or addons. The brain is not limited, contrary to what one might imagine. However, it is true that much of what we see is just a real illusion, meaning that what we see is false generated by our unconscious, and here we question some of our actions as human beings. We are also influenced by humanity in all aspects from religion, politics, numerology, astrology, etc..etc ... but among the many details of our brain, there is one that gives us the freedom to be totally free, is the simulation of the future and to be to simulate the future we are creating a reality in our minds, the mere fact that imagination / creativity is already something that frees us from the mental prison, something that we can call individual freedom or free will.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


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