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I have read many contemporary philosophers and the mainstream view seems to be that real free will is an illusion in the sense that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon which is only set on top of the deeper levels of our brain to make us feel as if we are in control - but basically we are zombies who only tell themselves that they actively did something after it was subconsciously already decided for them what to do.

I have one big problem with this view: if it were really the case that all of this is a one way street in the sense that the deeper levels completely determine what we feel to be our conscious decisions and our consciousness is diligently spinning this story of itself being in control like when watching a movie and being so immersed in it that one thinks one is the hero one thing would not be possible:

One would not be able to write down the following sentence:
"I am a conscious being with a true first person perspective"

When you think about it, it would not work because the layers who supposedly decide what to do (and write) would not have this conscious experience and would therefore never initiate the writing of this sentence like you would never be able to really change the plot of the movie you are watching - no matter how much you think you are the hero.

My question
Would this line of thought count as a counterargument against the mainstream view of free will and bottom-up causation? And has this idea been uttered by other thinkers before (and if yes is there a technical name for this potential counterargument)?

Edit
In a comment from @Conifold the undoubtedly important experiments by Libet were brought up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Libet#Implications_of_Libet%27s_experiments
I think my answer could be important for understanding the context of my question:
"I know those experiments pretty well but I would argue that initiating moving your hand can indeed be done by any robot but initiating writing a sentence about your consciousness which turns out to be true is more plausibly attributed to the consciousness itself than to deeper levels which aren't conscious."

13 Answers 13

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I think your argument does work, but only with a few refinements. It certainly isn't impossible to have an epiphenomenal experience like the one you mention. Just imagine a movie where the hero says "I am a conscious being with a true first person perspective." If you are really so caught up in the movie that you think it is you yourself saying it, you could still be deceived in this case.

However, the real force of this argument is this: It becomes so complex and implausible to explain the apparent behavior without recourse to consciousness that believing that consciousness is something real that we just don't yet fully understand becomes the simpler option. A lot of the seeming explanations for epiphenomenalism may seem to eliminate the need for real conscious free will, but in actuality, they just displace it away from the querent.

For example, could reality be a movie, or a simulation? In that case, who has designed the simulation, or created the movie? The artfulness of it comes from somewhere. If it isn't created by the seeming protagonists, then it must be from the creator --the world becomes an entertainment created by God (or something standing in the place of God vis-avis our reality). Or, for a more grounded example, is a chatbot conscious? It can simulate conversation, but only because it has been programmed. Its seeming consciousness is parasitic on the consciousness of its creators, as well as the existence of other (seemingly) conscious beings who it can imitate. The artfulness and intentionality of human activity in the world must come from somewhere. If it does not originate with us, then from where does it originate?

Note: I've written on this subject on my blog --you might find this of interest: http://yes.kitoba.com/?s=epiphenomen

  • I do not see how recourse to consciousness helps explain the apparent behavior any better than its absence: "X behaves like me, I have the feels, therefore X does" is not an explanation of behavior. Indeed, the popularity of epiphenomenalism and philosophical zombies is partly due to inability to spell out what consciousness is supposed to contribute exactly, aside from qualia. And consciousness is neither necessary nor sufficient for free will, which makes the OP "argument" particularly quaint. – Conifold Apr 22 '18 at 1:33
  • The artfulness of it comes from somewhere.... creator Insects are extremely artful. Are they programmed by some creator's consciousness (if to assume no God exist)? Wouldn't it be simpler to say that their "art" is due to our, their observers and interpreter, consciousness? – ttnphns Apr 24 '18 at 9:27
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    @ttnphns - I think you're just reiterating my point... or are you defending my argument against Conifold? Either way I'm a little confused. – Chris Sunami Apr 24 '18 at 13:15
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I have read many contemporary philosophers and the mainstream view seems to be that real free will is an illusion in the sense that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon which is only set on top of the deeper levels of our brain to make us feel as if we are in control - but basically we are zombies who only tell themselves that they actively did something after it was subconsciously already decided for them what to do.

First just a terminological point: "Zombie" has a particular meaning in philosophy of mind, which is a being that behaves just like a normal person but who has no internal experiences. But you need to separate being conscious from having contra-causal free will. I don't think most philosophers who are hard determinists deny that people are conscious. The point is, even though we don't have that sort* of free will, we're not philosophical zombies. Somebody is "home*--just not in control.

[*We do have "compatibilist free will", though perhaps that's not satisfying for you]

When you think about it, it would not work because the layers who supposedly decide what to do (and write) would not have this conscious experience and would therefore never initiate the writing of this sentence...

Why do non-conscious parts of the brain need to only express what they have actually experienced? Why can't they simply generate false reports?

In fact, we have ample evidence that people consciously report about that which they have never really experienced:

  • People have been shown to commonly have false memories of their own conscious experiences of the past, meaning they claim they experienced things that they never did--but they are not lying, they actually believe these erroneous accounts. Keep in mind, this is not merely forgetting details and leaving them out of descriptions: It's putting new details in, ones that never happened.

  • Hypnosis may also provide evidence of the mind being programmed to report and/or respond to situations that never occur.

  • Less directly: Dreams and hallucinations are "consciously" experienced events that never occurred in the real world. It's not quite as strong evidence against your point, but probably merits inclusion here.

Couldn't it be the case that "code" gets incorporated into the brain somehow that causes it to express statements that have no basis in reality?

For example, maybe people who generate sentences affirming their conscious agency have a tendency to do this around other people, and that doing that has some social fitness advantage, such that the person is rewarded and thus his neural networks are tweaked such that he is likely to do it again. Conversely, those who utter statements denying their free will or things like that perhaps tend to get socially disincentivized from continuing with that (something I have experienced firsthand).

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – user2953 Apr 17 '18 at 7:37
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consciousness is an emergent phenomenon which is only set on top of the deeper levels of our brain to make us feel as if we are in control

I think this description by the mainstream (I would say "pop") is naive. In particular, there are two major problems with it:

  • From a systems point of view, we cannot operate the way we do unless intentions are directing our actions; the environment's too complex, and we're too good at compensating for it, in specific ways that would suggest that the intentions direct our behavior
  • We don't always feel like we are in control; e.g., if I get up to walk, but my leg doesn't respond because I put it to sleep, I'm much more likely to say "whoops! My leg's not doing what I meant for it to do" than to confabulate "I meant to almost topple to the ground".

Sense of control as a gratuitous illusion to placate the conscious mind makes no sense (it fails to account for ability to manipulate our environments as we do, and for the fact that we don't in fact always seem to be in control). Sense of control as an actual sensation of intention does; in particular, models exist whereby at the low level an intention drives an action via a schema, and this action has a predicted result. The environment is monitored during the action by senses; if the predicted result is close, we sense control and may compensate for small errors. If it's too far off, we sense lack of control.

So I'm going to start off by claiming that what you're calling the mainstream view has problems at other levels; what's really happening in the phenomenology of action is a bit more complex. Sense of control isn't primarily a fabrication to placate the conscious mind.

if it were really the case that all of this is a one way street in the sense that the deeper levels completely determine what we feel to be our conscious decisions and our consciousness is diligently spinning this story of itself being in control

...let's pause here. We feel as if these are our decisions; and as if we are in control. I think adding the word "consciousness" to this adds theoretical baggage... the theory that everything that is us is conscious. This is part of where you're going awry. For example, by the above model, if intentions are generated unconsciously, we could still become aware of those intentions. And if our sense of control is a perception of attaining intentions, we can consciously experience this as control without it being a superfluous sensation. In such a case, the intentions genuinely won't be "consciously made", but our conscious experience of it won't be illusory either; it would be a genuine percept of attaining a real intention. In other words, "something" does indeed have the intention, and the sense of control is indeed about "something" related to attaining the intention; it's just that this "something" isn't a conscious process, but rather is merely a thing that at some point is experienced consciously.

When you think about it, it would not work because the layers who supposedly decide what to do (and write) would not have this conscious experience and would therefore never initiate the writing of this sentence

I think you're making a mistake here. What you mean by "have" is just enough of a semantic muddle to mess you up. Certainly something has a conscious experience. What you're requiring for the formation of the sentence to be a true statement has a weaker criteria than you're imagining though; it merely requires that the fact that you have a conscious experience play a causal role in forming the sentence in a semantically relevant way. That requirement is not sufficient to establish that the process itself must be a "conscious" one; only that the conscious experience feed information (by causal linkage) to the thing that forms the sentence.

The argument that the process doesn't "have" the experience if it's not conscious is unconvincing; if by "have" you mean it does not actually contain the experience, it's irrelevant so long as the act of experiencing can feed information to the unconscious process. If by "have" you mean it doesn't have causal access to the conscious experience then you're begging the question. Either way, you haven't sufficiently argued in a convincing way that the processes involved in forming true statements about your having conscious experiences must be conscious processes.

IOW, it's perfectly reasonable to require the statement to be causally related to having the conscious experience. But this says nothing about the process itself by which the sentence is formed being conscious.

Would this line of thought count as a counterargument against the mainstream view of free will and bottom-up causation?

To make this a solid argument you need to tie in the missing step; you would need to show that the process that forms the sentence is conscious. At best all you've convincingly argued for is that it is caused by conscious experience in a semantically relevant way.

  • A comment on the weak leg example; as I see it. Initially I'm under the project, intension, to get up and proceed to my table and am expecting the motion accompanied with certain tensions in my muscles. Then I'm finding my leg doesn't obey me so I'm beginning to lean down to the floor. At first, the thought "I'm toppling" receives its meaning from my initial project to move and is perceived as an obstacle (it therefore still serves that project). – ttnphns Apr 17 '18 at 18:35
  • (cont.) Then may happen to find myself ovethrown to the floor, lying there. This is the crucial point of re-choice, and I might agree (select) with the new opportunity to be in the project of a "cripple" where lying helpless is ok. In this project, toppling was what "I've meant", backwards. – ttnphns Apr 17 '18 at 18:35
  • I won't analyze your answer, the more so as I'm 75% agree with you. Especially with the notion that we actually don't have control over how our conscious intentions come to us (we don't manufacture them). There is, in my view, some inappropriateness in your arguments when you come to say about "process of generating" an intention. Processes can be a subject of reconstructions, schemes (about conscious or unconscious dynamics). Living consciousness does not experience processes, it is pure opening, pointilistic appearances. Can you ever experience the very flow of your thinking?, I bet, no. – ttnphns Apr 17 '18 at 20:01
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Your argument is not really an argument for free will, but rather a probabilistic argument in favor of the potential existence of a feedback loop from consciousness (a.k.a. awareness, a.k.a. qualia) back to the deeper (unconscious) layers of the brain, which by no means needs to be "free".

It can be viewed as a probabilistic argument in the sense that intuitively it is much more plausible for a brain to state the sentence "I am a conscious, I am aware, I have first person experience, Cogito ergo sum" as a result of some kind of feedback received from consciousness than it being the result of random false reports made up by the unconscious layers of the brain for no reason. In fact, even if we generously grant a reasonable probability for these false first person experience reports to happen by pure chance, the probability of all people reporting false first person experiences all the time by random chance is still incredibly low, which leads to the conclusion that it's much more likely that these reports are due to the presence of some sort of feedback loop from consciousness back to the brain. Somebody might try to counterargument by claiming that these false reports are so prevalent across the board because they are ingrained in our genetic code as they provide us with an evolutive advantage. Well, if somebody presents such an argument, then they would have the burden of proof as to showing what survival advantages, if any, qualia can provide in order for natural selection to have preserved this supposed "qualia gene" with no feedback loop whatsoever. A task pretty difficult, because if there is no feedback loop, you can just throw qualia away and would still retain all your survival capabilities, which means you get no evolutive advantages ouf out it.

But back to the free will part, even if there is a feedback loop from consciousness back to the brain, you still haven't proved at all that these messages or reports from consciousness to brain are produced freely. In fact, you haven't even defined the word free at all. What do you mean by free? Randomness? If your decisions are chaotic, random, would you call that "free will"? At least I don't think so. If you make a good decision, you were lucky. If you make a bad decision, you were unlucky. Maybe the next time your brain's random decision generator will output a good decision for you, if you are lucky enough. I don't think you would call that "free will". And of course, if your decisions are a result of deterministic rules, then for sure that's not free will either. A mixture of randomness and determinism, perhaps? I cannot see how a smoothie of randomness and determinism can produce free will, but feel free (no pun intended) to enlighten me in the comments if that's the case.

So please define what you mean by free will and show how a possible feedback loop from consciousness to the brain can prove its existence.

  • Thank you for your answer. When you say "feedback loop" are you implying that there is at least some top-down causation from the upper conscious layer involved? – vonjd Apr 18 '18 at 6:14
  • Correct, which creates a loop: bottom -> top -> bottom (a loop / cycle). But that doesn't imply at all that the process is "free", whatever that means. – xwb Apr 18 '18 at 15:47
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I'll try!

Free will is when you, the YOU that isn't anything else and isn't any property or sum of your parts... free will is when you are the cause of your actions.

We believe that you cause your actions because of moral praise and blame. If you did it, and it was great, then you should get some praise for that. If you did it and it was bad, then you should be blamed for that.

But if you didn't do it, that is, if your doing it was not caused by YOU, then why would anybody blame you for what happened, or praise you either?

Just for fun, here are some people who had/have free will:

Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Chris Hitchens, Jane Goodall, Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, Copernicus, Leonardo da Vinci, Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs, Pol Pot, Ghengis Khan, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, and Harvey Weinstein.

  • They did not have free will, they were conditioned into their behaviour by their environments. – Callum Bradbury Apr 17 '18 at 14:13
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    Were they conditioned properly? – elliot svensson Apr 17 '18 at 17:34
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    I'm sure you are conditioned to believe I am wrong, but that is irrelevant. – Callum Bradbury Apr 17 '18 at 19:38
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    How were you conditioned regarding the notion of free will? – elliot svensson Apr 17 '18 at 19:43
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    If you look at my answers to other questions regarding the subject you will find your answer there, but this is not the place to rehash them as I am conditioned to move away from a comment section once this site hints that the conversation should be moved to chat - truly these chains are everywhere, but it is what it is. – Callum Bradbury Apr 17 '18 at 19:49
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[This answer was written sooner as a reaction to the discussion broke in comments to @Chelonian's answer, than as a focused answer to the OP question. So it may look off-topic. Yet I've decided after some hesitation not to remove my response. As a particular, phenomenologic p.o.v. (seeing mind-body dilemma as a false one), it could be of some interest, and to me it is certainly not off-topic]

When I'm jerking back my arm from this boiling water in front of me, I automatically take my that action upon myself. Not I started the movement (but subcortex and muscles) but everything looks like (and not the other way) just 1/10 sec later as if it was me who thought out / decided to withdraw. Such is the property of pre-reflective consciousness (but not of my Ego, mind) - to "ascribe" everything to oneself; and that consciousness is anonymous, faceless.

But where is freedom here? So far we see only responsibility, or taking any "guilt" upon oneself. The freedom is in that the meaning of the situation, - including of my action, for the start of which I wasn't responsible objectively, - wasn't determined by anything (while the jerk was determined at its start), it was a random selection by spontaneous consciousness of one possibility out of some possibilities. Might I have not withdraw my arm? I wasn't in the power to at the beginning of the movement, right; but I might have quickly catch it, deciding to endure, or, 2 sec later might have return the arm back in the boiling stream. Also, I might have scream as I were jerking it or might have simply open wide my eyes. A continuation, development ot the primary bodily reaction was tied with and correlative to the meaning; but the latter was applied by my consciousness freely by selecting from a number of possibilities (of being me-in-the-here-world) implied in and admissible by the circumstance.

What does it mean that was "free"? It means it was in the regime of dissociation from the givenneses provided to consciousness, i.e. in the mode of their annihilation. The hot stream, and the pain, were highly appreciated - exactly in order them not to meddle in the sudden decision. Consciousness feels that it doesn't base itself on anything when it chooses.

May there be that this "freedom of choice in void" is just an epiphenomenon, consciousness' illusion, and really that some data, stalking unobserved, have determined my choice over the meaning and the action? Yes, that may be, but I'll never know that myself. Other people might tell me this later, or I myself might say it in explanation to myself, - but it never will be evidence (like the sense of freedom was) and never become credible enough: it will be a matter of trust (like all theories of objective reality are).


In what way can the above text seemingly unrelated to the OP's question be relevant nevertheless?

"I know those experiments pretty well but I would argue that initiating moving your hand can indeed be done by any robot but initiating writing a sentence about your consciousness which turns out to be true is more plausibly attributed to the consciousness itself than to deeper levels which aren't conscious."

But I've argued (from a perspective close to be Sartrian, as I hope) that even in experiments of automatic reactions such as ticks or reflexes or robot-induced moves - we remain fully free. Therefore contrasting simple automatisms with "writing a sentence" about subjective experience, i.e. the complexity, is not a way to prove qualia of consciousness or disprove determinism. The "more plausibly attributed" argument is not, to me, a right way to defend against @Chelonian's arguments.

Just consciousness with its freedom and mechanics with its determinism are two nonintersecting domains, neither of the two can penetrate the other to strike. They also are on different levels: I agree with those saying consciousness is an ontologic concept (i.e. it exists before [individual] world is possible), while mechanics (in wide sense of the word) is ontic: it needs entities already existing, and it implies there is "reality" totally independent of consciousness (so it is another reality than that consciousness could inhabit).

In my comments to @Chelonian's answer (all comments therein are found now in chat) I've expressed the opinion that a brain (neurons) or a computer can never (or at least in our age having our baggage of outlooks and ways to formulate thought) be conscious, even if it is much more clever than man at tasks and learning; because computer cannot conceive of, say, 2<>2 (break of self-identity of an entity) whereas man's consiousness does it every minute.


"I am a conscious being with a true first person perspective"

According to Sartre (see "The Transcendence of Ego") cartesian cogito ergo sum is a performative fallacy: who thinks this thought (active, pre-reflective consiousness, me) is not whom the thought is ascribed to (I, an inert reflective object). From this particular point of view, having "first-person perspective" designates not the consciousness but one of objects of the world, and it could be removed from the phrase as redundant. Then you are left with "I am a conscious being" which sounds similar to "cogito ergo sum". And that will suffice.

When you are writing down that phrase you actually don't have the first person perspective because your consciousness is busy with writing a sentence. But you remain conscious (and free). You're keeping a dim purpose what you are writing for, and your movements and auxiliary thoughts serve that goal. Consciousness understands itself and what it is doing, even though there isn't any Ego currenlty here or Ego is seen in the past as if remembered other man. Because positional consciousness of an object or one's activity is at the same time non-positional consciousness of the self. That primordial self-consciousness (which is difficult to catch) - without being an object to oneself - is a primary evidence and needs not be proven, especially by subconscious "spooks" or neurons as "spooks".

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    This post is in desperate need of tidying. Please try to narrow it down to the content necessary to answer the question in the OP. – Philip Klöcking Apr 17 '18 at 14:49
  • @Philip, you possibly (possibly) are right, still, I'm leaving it as it is for now. Perhaps the OP poster comes too, to say in which ways they might be dissatisfied with the present. – ttnphns Apr 17 '18 at 16:43
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The question is whether the observed reliability of the content of our cognitive faculties is likely to be true given a belief that this content is only the result of some neural process of the brain, in other words, given a belief in semantic epiphenomenalism which would justify determinism.

If one can show that the content of our cognitive faculties are more likely true than they should be assuming semantic epiphenomenalism that would provide empirical evidence against such epiphenomenalism.

Here are the specific questions:

Would this line of thought count as a counterargument against the mainstream view of free will and bottom-up causation? And has this idea been uttered by other thinkers before (and if yes is there a technical name for this potential counterargument)?

This is a counterargument against the mainstream view of free will and bottom-up causation. Alvin Plantinga provided a version in 1993 and more recently (2011) in Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism (WTCRL). Plantinga’s argument, however, goes beyond free will to include naturalism. It is popular enough to have a name: the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism or EAAN. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_argument_against_naturalism

Others besides Plantinga have raised similar concerns about the reliability of our cognitive functions given theories of how they arise. Plantinga mentions Nietzsche, Darwin, Patricia Churchland, Thomas Nagel and Barry Stroud. (WTCRL, pages 314-316)

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Confusion I have spent my life writing and designing computer systems. What you become aware of is the concept of processes which do the grunt work and produce a result, but are triggered by subtle high level processes.

If you ever have learnt to drive a car, how is it you do 5 or 10 things at the same time with no trouble. Because we program ourselves and run the program to achieve the objective while doing something else.

It is only the controller who knows the sense of control in the midst of all this activity. And the one decision to turn right is just a small item, yet that is free will at work which then creates this massive flow of dependent activities.

We know we have free will, but it is bound inbetween all these other systems and processes which we can influence but which can also take over, like addictive behaviour. And we know it is free will with rewards, because do the "right" thing and boy do we feel good. Now if there was no free will, there would be no point to offer a reward, because simply the choices would not be choices.

One could argue relative free will is not free will because it is bound, but this is the nature of existance bounded by physical limitations with a defined objective of survival. In a rapidly changing environment, which means the ability to choose is key to the chances of staying alive where a determinist outcome would never adjust to new situations and mean we would not survive.

The counter argument to this is determinism within genes, as shown in snakes, 15 offspring, 1 climbs a tree, the others do not. Fire comes, the one survives. But this only works in simple binary style situations. Many layered challenges require much more layered inter-plays and free will thrown into the mix.

And because one has free will, one must have guilt and betrayal, to bind benefit and loss, so in general the exercising of free will is limited and consequential. It is this that many hate, because they want to avoid guilt and responsibility, and not accept the tensions in life this brings.

Medics know when inhibitions are removed, and impulses rule someones interactions, they truly lose the ability to know what is appropriate and what is not, and can no longer balance reward and punishment dilemmas. I think this demonstrates how fantastic our brains are wired to provide us with the opportunity to choose and discover different strategies.

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I am addressing the question in a rather indirect way as I believe there's no resolute direct answer.

For example: the assumed clearest evidence of any type on this topic is Libet's experiment. Nevertheless, I would agree with the criticisms on it and his own view rather than with a variety of bestowed conclusions. Libet "believes subjects still have a "conscious veto", since the readiness potential does not invariably lead to an action"(Wikipedia)

My answer is freewill has too many different versions of definition, each with its own ground and purpose. Besides it requires insights from Neurology and psychiatry which have not reached maturity sufficiently enough to have a resolute thesis. Philosophy appears to be the only way for thought experiments but you can't set aside theological sides of it.

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I disagree with the notion that all decisions are made at the subconscious level and justified at the conscious level in all cases - certainly it will be true for some, but if that was true for all situations the conscious level would have no reason to exist. I would posit that the conscious level is what separates us from the other animals - we do not only act subconsciously, but do indeed act consciously - allowing us to perform such acts as writing out "I am a conscious being with a true first person perspective".

That doesn't mean, however, that we have true free will. I don't subscribe to the bottom up causational rationale, but rather would say that the conscious mind is as deterministic as the subconscious mind, but observes itself in the process. Like a machine that is designed to look for ways to improve itself - it is still a machine.

My answer therefore is that this is a potential rebuttal of bottom up, but not of determinism in general, and is more of a question regarding consciousness than free will.

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Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't understand how, in a universe without free will, an individual couldn't write the sentence in your example.

Which isn't to say I'm part of the mainstream. I would certainly prefer to believe that free will exists. My personal feeling is that the question is simply too complex to know if a reliable answer to the puzzle has been found; the jury's still out for me.

Unfortunately, your example doesn't work for me, though, like I said, I could be missing something. Kudos for the effort.

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Free Will is not accurate not even in the bible.

The term free will comes from the bible. The snake tempted Eve to bite from the apple of knowledge which God had forbidden both Adam and Eve to eat from. If God is all knowing and all wise and created him and her with all their imperfections and God itself its able to travel in time then God knew they both would bite from the apple of knowledge. After this the good Lord banned them from heaven and made them feel guilty because they had "free will" and they wanted some "knowledge".

Free will is an illusion some people would argue it's more probabilistic than deterministic because you never know what thoughts are going to pop up in your conscious mind and you don't have control over your subconscios mind.

Psychology and emotional education influence your morality and your emotional responses therefore there is no exactly "free will". Otherwise social services wouldn't take your children away from you if you were a very bad parent.

Free will it's just a corny idea that needs to be replaced. The fact that you are conscious doesn't mean that you have free will.

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One would not be able to write down the following sentence: "I am a conscious being with a true first person perspective"

When you think about it, it would not work because the layers who supposedly decide what to do (and write) would not have this conscious experience and would therefore never initiate the writing of this sentence...

Just because those layers would not have this conscious experience does not mean that they would never initiate such writings. Those layers being in actual control constantly have to nurse the fragile ego of the layers who believe they are in control. Manipulating those layers to re-affirm they are in control by encouraging those layers to say/write such stuff is consistent. It's all part of keeping the illusion up. Those lower layers don't even need to understand those words, it is sufficient for them to recognize that such words make the conscious layers all happy about their seeming independence, and hapiness is good.

If your are just the hero of a movie, you still say what the script tells you, so if the script tells you to yell "I have free will", that's what you'll do.

You can never do any action that proves you are not just a movie hero, because really all actions you can do could have been written for you.

Similarly, it is not possible for you to watch a movie in a cinema with the action hero in the movie doing anything that would make you believe this is not just a hero in a movie. Movies like "Deadpool" have the action hero talk to the audience and reflect about themselves just being movie heroes, but this still does not make them anything else than movie characters.

  • If the conscious self cannot change anything anyway why should those deeper layers feel the need to keep it happy? There doesn't seem to be any selection pressure whatsoever. – vonjd Apr 17 '18 at 15:23
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    The consciousness provides some useful services to the lower layers, so it's a symbiosis. The lower layers also want to be happy, but require analytical results from consciousness to achieve it in a complex world. – tkruse Apr 18 '18 at 0:49
  • Thank you for your answer, I didn't downvote you btw. – vonjd Apr 18 '18 at 8:12

protected by Philip Klöcking Apr 19 '18 at 14:34

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