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I was thinking of Daniel Dennett's concept of free will, in which he argues that our choices are the result of complex computations that take into account our desires, beliefs, and goals, as well as the external world. I realized that the nature of these computations would not be modeled by what physicists call a time evolution equation but, rather, an equation of state.*

*To elaborate a bit more: Consider the ideal gas law - PV = NRT. I understand the relationship between pressure and, let's say, temperature. Notice that I do not know the time evolution of the system. However, I can say, "If I increase the pressure, the temperature will change." Regardless of whether a time evolution equation for "me" + "gas in a box" exists (or whether the degree of freedom of "if" exists), I can perform this computation.

From an evolutionary perspective, what I find even more interesting is that as an evolutionary strategy perhaps us humans have learned to think of the universe in multiple ways (which is actually the dominant strategy) of freewill comes more naturally.

Surely, someone has thought about this in the sense: There are different computations an organism can do to think of the universe; what is the evolutionary dominant one? What is the phase space of possible computations an organism can do to think of?

**Note: When I say "as an equation of state" I'm not thinking the mind is actually putting in numbers but rather it is doing an activity which can be mapped to that. Consider this example: I am asked the time signature of a pop song. I can do so by merely headbanging and instinctively knowing it's 4/4 or I can count. Both activities can be mapped to same output and inputs.

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  • If someone can recommend me a reading resource that would be great Oct 27, 2023 at 6:33
  • I think that both you and Daniel Dennett are wrong about "computation". The human mind is not a digital computer that deals with numerical values. Mental processes cannot be described by equations, there are no parameters to put in an equation. Oct 27, 2023 at 6:50
  • @PerttiRuismäki umm ... When I say "as an equation of state" I'm not thinking the mind is actually putting in numbers but rather it is doing an activity which can be mapped to that. Consider this example: I am asked the time signature of a pop song. I can do so by merely headbanging and instinctively knowing it's 4/4 or I can count. Both activities can be mapped to same output and inputs. Oct 27, 2023 at 6:54
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    @Futilitarian "Persuasive" is in the eye of the beholder, but he defends macroscopic indeterminism and top-down causation, so willusionists will definitely not embrace that.
    – Conifold
    Oct 27, 2023 at 9:45

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