If the divergence caused by an act of free will cannot be sustained temporally, then would a material-deterministic universe self-correct? Or am I just changing the frame of reference here to account for free will?

Also, if consciousness directs free will, then is consciousness a derived property above-and-beyond matter which material-determinism can never account for?

  • Welcome to philosophySE. Do you mean "conscience" or "consciousness"? Neither materialism nor dualism adequately address consciousness.
    – MmmHmm
    Mar 7, 2017 at 5:15
  • @Mr.Kennedy Sorry about that. I did mean consciousness. But are there any good explanations or resources about the topic. I mean something like "laws of physics not being the only true laws of nature". Mar 7, 2017 at 5:57
  • No need to apologize - you are doing fine :) Please review my edit to your question. Does this better express what you are wondering about? If not, you can "rollback" my edit. You might also like this brief interview with Professor John R. Searle regarding free will.. Also, the formatting sucks, but this is Searle's article on Free Will as a problem in Neurobiology
    – MmmHmm
    Mar 7, 2017 at 7:07
  • what do you mean by "self-correct"?
    – viuser
    Mar 7, 2017 at 7:50
  • @wolf-revo-cats -- lets say from the big bang to ,say, the big crunch. Most things in between wouldnt change the final outcome. So what if a deterministic model could just ignore all divergences small enough and still reach a point that could be determined using the material-determinism. And that happens only because the "effects" of all 'non-caluculable events' (eg. free will) are negligible. Am i making sense to you here? Mar 7, 2017 at 8:12

1 Answer 1


David Chalmers offers the beginnings of a theory about consciousness/experience as a fundamental component of the universe.

"I suggest that a theory of consciousness should take experience as fundamental. We know that a theory of consciousness requires the addition of something fundamental to our ontology, as everything in physical theory is compatible with the absence of consciousness. We might add some entirely new nonphysical feature from which experience can be derived, but it is hard to see what such a feature would be like. More likely, we will take experience itself as a fundamental feature of the world, alongside mass, charge, and space-time." Chalmers - The Character of Consciousness

Of course that doesn't mean that there isn't some sort of material-determinism still in play, but perhaps the properties of such a fundamental feature would not be subject to our standard model of physics.

  • But why would a fundamental entity like mass and charge have same properties across scale and play a part at every scale, but experience doesn't? And what about the fact that we can imagine a coherent universe without experience (according to our standard model of physics) and then reach experience slowly, via life? Or is that a wrong assumption to make? Mar 9, 2017 at 5:10
  • You're right Ravi, under this theory we can imagine a coherent universe without the need for experience at all. Chalmers discusses this, asking why is it that all the responses to stimuli that go on in the human brain that form our actions are observable from within. i.e. why doesn't it all go on in the dark? why do we actually experience the screen in front of us right now rather than just reacting to it.
    – Matt-T
    Mar 9, 2017 at 14:28
  • However, experience does exist, I can be fairly certain of at least one person (myself) who is an experiencing entity. So unless this is a delusion on my part (there are plenty who say it is), then the standard model of physics fails to account for consciousness which means it either isn't there or there is more going on than we think. Chalmers can explain this far better than I can: ted.com/talks/david_chalmers_how_do_you_explain_consciousness
    – Matt-T
    Mar 9, 2017 at 14:31
  • As far as I understand, I would like to put consciousness in a the category of a 'consequence' not a 'phenomenon' in itself. It seems too much like a 'noise' from all the information processing that goes on inside the brain. Like a heating iron rod vibrates its atoms till a certain value of heating and then starts releasing its energy in the form of light (by glowing). Consciousness can also be thought to be the later (glowing) stage of a process parallel to the analogy. Mar 10, 2017 at 11:56
  • I quite like that idea Ravi, I seem to find myself thinking that consciousness is either as you say a consequence, perhaps even an illusion, or that it really is something special and fundamental about the universe.
    – Matt-T
    Mar 10, 2017 at 14:47

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