Friday, July 22, 2011

Free Will

Recently I came across this interesting research article by Benjamin Libet in Journal of Consciousness Studies (http://www.imprint-academic.com/jcs) captioned "Do we have a Free Will?” Libet, with the help of experiments, shows that our intention to act starts some time before we actually become aware of it. That points towards the fact that humans may not have a free will to act on a stimulus in a particular way.

However, further in the article he infers that after the initial unconscious act (readiness potential, RP) consciousness takes over to decide the next part of the action. He cites 'veto action' which human consciousness might resort to in order to make brain react to a stimulus thereby showing no action at all. In other words something suppressed at will. This, he says, shows that after the intention became aware, consciousness took control of the matter.

In the section 'Determinism and Free will' towards the end of the article Libet, almost conclusively goes in favour of Free Will theory stating that both the deterministic and the non-deterministic theories were flawed, therefore, it was safe to assume that free will existed.

I have the following observations to make:

1) Does Libet's non-determinism mean the same as quantum mechanics indeterminism? To me it appears not. Could it then be possible to apply quantum theories in matters of brain which otherwise appear rather deterministic.

2) If consciousness were to take control after an initial unconscious act (as during RP), does it supersede brain's bio-chemical actions or it acts subservient to its processes. Could the conscious ‘veto action’ have an unconscious origin as suggested by someone else as cited in the article but not acceptable to Libet?

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2 Comments:

At Sunday, July 31, 2011 12:28:00 AM , Blogger Prophet said...

Thus far our current understanding of how quantum physics ends the free will debate. Newtonian Determinism says that the universe is a clock, a gigantic clock that’s wound up in the beginning of time and has been ticking ever since according to Newton’s laws of motion. So what you’re going to eat 10 years from now on January 1st has already been fixed. It’s already known using Newton’s laws of motion. Einstein believed in that. Einstein was a determinist, but he was wrong we cant forget the heisenberg uncertainty principle.

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/04/why-physics-ends-the-free-will-debate/

 
At Tuesday, August 23, 2011 11:02:00 PM , Blogger Herbert Peters said...

What is in my mind at the moment is how suggestion especially hypnotic suggestions influence our perception. During a hypnotism class the teacher while suggesting a big object is being placed, kept a paper weight on the subject who bend his body as if unable to bear it. Then the opposite while suggesting a small object the hypnotist stood on the subject's stomach and he felt nothing. Our concepts influence our perception.
My question is whether there is a lot of deliberate and systematic manipulation of perception and behaviour, especially by religions and advertisers.

 

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