I am trying to find the boundaries of what might be considered free will.

It seems that I am free to bite my arm and eat my own flesh. But I never want to, and I can't seem to make myself want to. Am I genuinely not free to take this action? If this action is constrained, are not all actions similarly constrained, but just less clearly?

I do not seem to be able to will to change the beliefs I hold. My beliefs inform the range of actions I will consider taking, so it seems my free will is constrained by my beliefs, which I did not choose. Perhaps the answer to this is that I can act as if I didn't hold those beliefs?

3 Answers 3


Your beliefs contain intelligence, principally about how to make you an effective replicator of systems similar to you. You as a unit, arose depending on & absolutely requiring a chain of replication that accumulated intelligence. Being you, IS being the culmination of that. You can think of intelligence as a salience landscape, that foregrounds or highlights effective ways to engage, and opportunities for decision making.

The existence of gravity, or electromagnetism, are also constraints. Constraint is another way to say 'in a situation', which implicitly includes your identity in so far as that exists or has continuity.

Free will is a subjective experience, founded in a lack of information of a specific subjective situation. The assumption is that there is objective knowledge, but there isn't, there's only a network of interactions, like Indra's Net. Free will is like an error-correction algorithm, matching desired outcomes to known data, via models - which we call reality, imagining it is external, when really it is an interface, the junction between self & world.


One definition of free will is that you are not externally constrained from pursuing things that you do actually will. Much of your question could be critically seen as saying, “Maybe I dont have free will because I am not free to will things that I dont will.” If you have a will then it wills things. Defining its freedom away by saying it has characteristics and a nature doesn’t seem quite right.

Of course, much of the free will debate centers around whether the will is determined by the environment. People imagine a free will as being causally independent from whoever or whatever created it and conditions it.

The Christian view of free will is whether we are in bondage to sin. If we can’t help but sin but our spirit in the image of God doesn’t will that, then we are slaves to sin and not free.

The superstitious view is that we DO have free will and are causes unto ourselves and are little separate universes, sources, or gods, who stand out from the chain of causality: (With this philosophy, we each exist as a separate self, insulated from the causality of the world, negotiating and battling against it with our OWN power, never explaining where we supposedly got this independence and power. “I am (or am supposed to be) a master of What Is.”)

The scientistic (not scientific) view is that we have DO NOT have free will and are caused by the universe: (With this philosophy, we each exist as a separate self, created (and ordered around) by the universe via our genetics and the history of our environment up until now. “I am a slave or automaton to What Is.”)

The spiritual and scientific view, the truth, is that WE ARE ONE WITH CAUSALITY: (We are part of, and fully united with, a free universe, which is our true Self. Causality runs to, through, between, within, and from each one of us. “I am one with What Is.”). We are freedom itself.


You are free to eat yourself, if you want. There is no-one stopping you.

You cannot choose your beliefs or preferences, but you are free to act according to your beliefs and preferences.

You are free from the wills of others, but you can never be free from yourself.

The only constraint on free will is what you are physically able to do.

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