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Free Will vs. Determinism.

Free Will or Determinism?


  • Total voters
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Evee

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I don't go through life trying to find "meaning" in everything. I go through life seeing what is in front of me. Meaning in the way you refer to it is a personal opinion.

The meaning I am referring to is not a personal opinion.

To ask for the deeper meaning of something, is to ask for that which makes something possible. I will provide you with an example:

If one understands the meaning of a kiss, one understands the kiss as a kiss in terms of its purpose: to demonstrate affection.

So affection is not only the meaning of a kiss, it is what makes a kiss possible.

When I say that the meaning of the future is a projection of possibilities, I am saying that possibilities make the future possible.

Free will presupposes an awareness of possibilities, because in order for you to have choices, you must first have an awareness of them.

So if you are not aware of your own possibilities, which is what the future means, then you are not free and are enslaved by what is "actual" (meaningless).

And if you go through life not trying to find meaning in everything, then naturally, you will not lead a meaningful life.
 

Forever

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[MENTION=22109]Evee[/MENTION]
You definitely have my respect over this view you have.
 

Poki

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The meaning I am referring to is not a personal opinion.

To ask for the deeper meaning of something, is to ask for that which makes something possible. I will provide you with an example:

If one understands the meaning of a kiss, one understands the kiss as a kiss in terms of its purpose: to demonstrate affection.

So affection is not only the meaning of a kiss, it is what makes a kiss possible.

When I say that the meaning of the future is a projection of possibilities, I am saying that possibilities make the future possible.

Free will presupposes an awareness of possibilities, because in order for you to have choices, you must first have an awareness of them.

So if you are not aware of your own possibilities, which is what the future means, then you are not free and are enslaved by what is "actual" (meaningless).

And if you go through life not trying to find meaning in everything, then naturally, you will not lead a meaningful life.

But a kiss is not affection to everyone. So it's not an all encompassing meaning. That meaning of a kiss is specific to only certain people.

Finding meaning does not really do anything except find it. The meaning has to exists prior to actually finding it. That's like saying a rose doesn't exists until you find it. A meaningful life exists irregardless of finding it, a meaningful life exists by doing meaningful things, not finding meaningful things. Finding meaning is nothing more then a mental and emotional satisfaction technique. It is one of knowing and can also be one of controlling oneself by direction. Not everyone has to find meaning in life to actually have a meaningful life. One can simply know what matters and not even look for meaning and still lead a meaningfull life. To believe that the meaning of affection applies to everyone is closing yourself off to actually learning everyone and is like putting on blinders. Finding meaning is one way to go through life, it doesn't mean it's the only way to lead a meaningful life.

I personally can put different meanings behind the same action. A kiss can have passion, it can be friendly, it can be hateful...you ask how it's hateful...find someone who a kiss means affection and kiss them without actually being affectionate with them. It becomes a misleading and controlling kiss.

You have alot to learn about life and it actually scares me that you will end up hurt because you have blinders on and are a perfect target for someone who wants to manipulate the and lead you to believe a different meaning then what is reality. To recognize the true meaning of something which is actually situation and individual will help you better find what you want and better find the "meaning" of life you want to live which is subjective. You seem to be stuck in idealism, whilet idealism is awesome to go after, you must be able to learn how to achieve it in reality, not just in your mind and emotions. Because when reality sets in you will fight to get your internal meaning back into place and because of the disconnect it will be a constant life long fight. Simply appeasing the symptoms instead of fixing the problem.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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This video is interesting. I came across it and thought I'd share it to an existing thread. Even though I like the idea of free will, I've always sensed that it is at best highly constrained. Existence feels a lot like observing processes. Also interesting on this topic occurs when you visit a memory care unit where people's ability to form short-term memory is damaged. These individuals will tend to repeat themselves because they don't remember what they just said. It is interesting how often they repeat exactly the same phrase and then occasionally something else. Example:

Sitting at a table for lunch in the memory care of a nursing home, an elderly lady looked out the window and said, "It looks like it's going to rain". Then she said quietly for a few seconds, then said it again, and again. About six times. Then she said "I hope they have chicken today". Then a few moments passed and she returned to the original comment. I thought it was an interesting demonstration of how choice works in the human mind.

 

EcK

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Well, it's a bit pascal wager-y. Basically, if free will doesn't exist it doesn't matter if we 'believe in it' or not. So we might as well - because whether we have free will or not, to believe we do seems like it would lead to a more fulfilling life.

If free will is real it would seem to be pretty limited in scope and power. You just need to see how large groups of people seem to match the same type of statistical rules you'd see for star sizes etc, or how it's near impossible to change people's minds on beliefs that were acquired early in life even with large amounts of evidence, or that experiment where your brain is already getting your motor neurons ready to grab an apple before you ever 'decide' you want the apple, or how dieting - which seems like a super basic application of free will - is so famously difficult for most people.

Furthermore, our universe appears to be mostly deterministic. The only seemingly non-deterministic events (as far as we know) that could give rise to free will are quantum effects and the temperature and sheer density of matter in the brain would make these difficult (but possible). And even then quantum effects can be predicted statistically when larger numbers are involved; only individual effects can't be guessed at [ but then again that matches human beings with individuals being much harder to predict than large groups]

edit: after googling, this seems like a good summary of the key perspectives : Frontiers | How quantum brain biology can rescue conscious free will | Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience - I suggest reading it.
this observation is particularly interesting :
As depicted in Figure 8A, peripheral stimulus, e.g., of the skin of the hand, resulted in an “EP” spike in the somatosensory cortical area for the hand ~30 ms after skin contact, consistent with the time required for a neuronal signal to travel from hand to spinal cord, thalamus, and brain. The stimulus also caused several 100 ms of ongoing cortical activity following the EP. Subjects reported conscious experience of the stimulus (using Libet's rapidly moving clock) near-immediately, e.g., at the time of the EP at 30 ms.

Libet also stimulated the “hand area” of subjects' brain somatosensory cortex directly (Figure 8B). This type of stimulation did not cause an EP spike, but did result in ongoing brain electrical activity. Conscious sensation referred to (“felt in”) the hand occurred, but only after stimulation and ongoing brain activity lasting up to 500 ms (Figure 8B). This requirement of ongoing, prolonged electrical activity (what Libet termed “neuronal adequacy”) to produce conscious experience (“Libet's 500 ms”) was subsequently confirmed by Amassian et al. (1991), Ray et al. (1999), Pollen (2004) and others.

But if hundreds of milliseconds of brain activity are required for neuronal adequacy, how can conscious sensory experience occur at 30 ms? To address this issue, Libet also performed experiments in which stimulation of thalamus resulted in an EP at 30 ms, but only brief ongoing activity, i.e., without neuronal adequacy (Figure 9A). No conscious experience occurred. Libet concluded that for real-time conscious perception (e.g., at the 30 ms EP), two factors were necessary: an EP at 30 ms, and several 100 ms of ongoing cortical activity (neuronal adequacy) after the EP. Somehow, apparently, the brain seems to know what will happen after the EP. Libet concluded the hundreds of milliseconds of ongoing cortical activity (“neuronal adequacy”) is the sine qua non for conscious experience—the NCC, even if it occurs after the conscious experience. To account for his results, he further concluded that subjective information is referred backwards in time from the time of neuronal adequacy to the time of the EP (Figure 9B). Libet's backward time assertion was disbelieved and ridiculed (e.g., Churchland, 1981; Pockett, 2002), but never refuted (Libet, 2002, 2003).
 

EcK

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Well, it's a bit pascal wager-y. Basically, if free will doesn't exist it doesn't matter if we 'believe in it' or not. So we might as well - because whether we have free will or not, to believe we do seems like it would lead to a more fulfilling life.

If free will is real it would seem to be pretty limited in scope and power. You just need to see how large groups of people seem to match the same type of statistical rules you'd see for star sizes etc, or how it's near impossible to change people's minds on beliefs that were acquired early in life even with large amounts of evidence, or that experiment where your brain is already getting your motor neurons ready to grab an apple before you ever 'decide' you want the apple, or how dieting - which seems like a super basic application of free will - is so famously difficult for most people.

Furthermore, our universe appears to be mostly deterministic. The only seemingly non-deterministic events (as far as we know) that could give rise to free will are quantum effects and the temperature and sheer density of matter in the brain would make these difficult (but possible). And even then quantum effects can be predicted statistically when larger numbers are involved; only individual effects can't be guessed at [ but then again that matches human beings with individuals being much harder to predict than large groups]

edit: after googling, this seems like a good summary of the key perspectives : Frontiers | How quantum brain biology can rescue conscious free will | Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience - I suggest reading it.
this observation is particularly interesting :

Just to add a note, free will is either an emergent property from specialized sections of the brain or it's fundamental to the aggregate of individual neurons (for example via quantum effects in micro tubulines) - I think these two types of free wills would appear differently - with one being a literally 'small' free will in the brain and the other being that free will is for example a function of neuronal mass + just how many prerecorded scripts our genes impose on us (instincts etc.) on top of it, limiting it.
 

тень

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No such thing as free will, you are a mass of instinct, and instinct is the base of aspirations. The reason everyone is miserable, is the road to achieving instinctual fulfillment has become needlessly complicated as we competed against each other through our social evolution.
 

Tomb1

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For me, I can reach Free Will through "I choose, therefore I am" and/or "I am, therefore I choose"...as if Choice/Mind/Will/I were a symbiotic prime mover, such that, if there was no free will, humans would exist but inside a vacuum of conscious experience ala night of the living dead.
 

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For me, I can reach Free Will through "I choose, therefore I am" and/or "I am, therefore I choose"...as if Choice/Mind/Will/I were a symbiotic prime mover, such that, if there was no free will, humans would exist but inside a vacuum of conscious experience ala night of the living dead.

Do you choose what foods you like, or does your brain make you crave certain foods because that is what it wants, because what it wants is what helps it function? Choice is an illusion, because it can be traced back to instinct. Everything you do, can be traced back to instinct, even if you are unaware of it. It is why people murder each other, it is why we love our families, and it is why we have dreams and aspirations.

Also, human are animals. We do not exist in vaccums even without free will, we are in the same position as all animals. To think otherwise, is to reject the fact we are animals. Humans are just too arrogant to accept the "monke brain".
 

Siúil a Rúin

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This is also a confession, but sometimes the only way I can feel compassion for some people is to believe they do not possess free will, but instead are the internally trapped observers of the nightmare processes that are their expressed behaviors.
 

ceecee

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This is also a confession, but sometimes the only way I can feel compassion for some people is to believe they do not possess free will, but instead are the internally trapped observers of the nightmare processes that are their expressed behaviors.

Well it's a pretty convenient position, right? If someone claims they have no free will, they are in NO WAY responsible for anything they do or say. It's all just random, floating around like a soap bubble. No choice = no accountability. Responsibility lies solely with the "other".
 

Siúil a Rúin

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Well it's a pretty convenient position, right? If someone claims they have no free will, they are in NO WAY responsible for anything they do or say. It's all just random, floating around like a soap bubble. No choice = no accountability. Responsibility lies solely with the "other".
It is a difficult question philosophically because the nature of the question makes it difficult to find a definitive answer, but this pragmatic, applied problem with rejecting free will entirely is the most foundational argument in favor of it.

I tend to go with the notion that free will is highly constrained, that the cause and effect driving choice is more complex and more invested in the subconscious mind, but that alone doesn't entirely negate it. I was viewing a number of youtube videos where neuroscience researches were showing that conscious choice is determined earlier in the subconscious mind as a reflex to stimuli rather than deliberate judgment. That may indicate that the process of will and choice is not as surface and simple as momentary choice, but you can pan back further. This would be like the addict who knows they won't resist a behavior in a given environment, so they have to avoid the environment. The real choice is made a few steps back. Same would be true of people with psychological triggers who cannot control or choose their response, but they can step back and choose to avoid the scenarios that produce the triggers.

I suspect those sorts of elements play into the complexity of free will.
 

Julius_Van_Der_Beak

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Well it's a pretty convenient position, right? If someone claims they have no free will, they are in NO WAY responsible for anything they do or say. It's all just random, floating around like a soap bubble. No choice = no accountability. Responsibility lies solely with the "other".

More often I see people using free will as a way of victim blaming. "Sucks that they are poor, why didn't they make the choice to work hard and pull themselves up by their bootstraps?" It might seem that free will should be the more humanitarian position, but more often than not it's used as a justification for why people deserve to have bad things happen to them. This contrast is fascinating to me.

When I made this thread part of the impetus was a belief that determinism was actually more moral, due to the prevalence of free-will being used as a device for either victim blame or explain why it's ok to not do anything to solve problems. (Oddly enough I started this thread when I was in peak centrist mode, so it's interesting that I still had these concerns).

But I'm not as much of a hardcore determinist as when I made this thread, which is less for moral reasons and more that I don't consider the concept of free will as ludicrous as I once did. Perhaps this is because I now feel as though I have a a stronger internal locus of control. I suppose that comes with having money. But ironically the fact that my attitude is shaped by the resources I have *is* kind of determinist, isn't it?

I find it's like that now for me... there's an endless circle. When you find a reason why one side of it should be true, it points to another reason that the opposite side is true.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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[MENTION=4660]Julius_Van_Der_Beak[/MENTION]
Your post is very interesting. This thread has put me in thought of the applied question of free will. What do you think are the sociological ramifications for different positions on this philosophy? I know in your post you stated some about how rejecting the assumption of will places the imbalances in society as going beyond will, and therefore not about assigning fault. I could see it helping in this regard, but it also strikes me how it could dismantle every social system we have in place, particularly the legal system.

I see it is one the thing to debate and form the opinion about free will philosophically, but the sociological ramifications of those philosophies could morally justify the position in reverse. Even if we cannot definitively prove whether or not humans have free will, it could make sense to hold a position that provides the most positive sociological outcomes. I hope I have stated this clearly. What do you think?
 

Julius_Van_Der_Beak

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[MENTION=4660]Julius_Van_Der_Beak[/MENTION]
Your post is very interesting. This thread has put me in thought of the applied question of free will. What do you think are the sociological ramifications for different positions on this philosophy? I know in your post you stated some about how rejecting the assumption of will places the imbalances in society as going beyond will, and therefore not about assigning fault. I could see it helping in this regard, but it also strikes me how it could dismantle every social system we have in place, particularly the legal system.

I see it is one the thing to debate and form the opinion about free will philosophically, but the sociological ramifications of those philosophies could morally justify the position in reverse. Even if we cannot definitively prove whether or not humans have free will, it could make sense to hold a position that provides the most positive sociological outcomes. I hope I have stated this clearly. What do you think?

No, that makes sense. If something cannot be proven one way or the other, then what should be chosen is the one with the most positive outcomes. Which one would you suppose that is? To me, free will perhaps implies greater possibilities and potential for change, but determinism implies greater compassion and patience.
 

Vendrah

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More often I see people using free will as a way of victim blaming. "Sucks that they are poor, why didn't they make the choice to work hard and pull themselves up by their bootstraps?" It might seem that free will should be the more humanitarian position, but more often than not it's used as a justification for why people deserve to have bad things happen to them. This contrast is fascinating to me.

When I made this thread part of the impetus was a belief that determinism was actually more moral, due to the prevalence of free-will being used as a device for either victim blame or explain why it's ok to not do anything to solve problems. (Oddly enough I started this thread when I was in peak centrist mode, so it's interesting that I still had these concerns).

But I'm not as much of a hardcore determinist as when I made this thread, which is less for moral reasons and more that I don't consider the concept of free will as ludicrous as I once did. Perhaps this is because I now feel as though I have a a stronger internal locus of control. I suppose that comes with having money. But ironically the fact that my attitude is shaped by the resources I have *is* kind of determinist, isn't it?

I find it's like that now for me... there's an endless circle. When you find a reason why one side of it should be true, it points to another reason that the opposite side is true.

No, that makes sense. If something cannot be proven one way or the other, then what should be chosen is the one with the most positive outcomes. Which one would you suppose that is? To me, free will perhaps implies greater possibilities and potential for change, but determinism implies greater compassion and patience.

Im sorry to point out this just 6 years later, but I think you are mixing things. Not on the first post, but on these both

If people have free will vs determinism is one thing.
If the "life outcomes" depends a person's free will or genetic on luck is another thing, you seem to mix both. What you seem to be presenting here just seems to be the old ideology of the pseudo-meritocracy.

The question about free will vs determinism from the first post and on my interpretation as separate from meritocracy wonders if your life choices, and that is entirely internal, is pre-determined by only your genetics, experiences, etc... in a way that a person with a stupid high knowledge could predict all your choices so your free will is an illusion, and free will would state that is absolutely impossible and there is always room for choice outside the genetic and experiences. That's it in a nutshell, right?

However, that is entirely different from the pseudo-meritocracy ideology or rather "life is fair fallacy" (I don't like the word fallacy here, I'd rather call lie directly). The "life is fair fallacy" is the idea that everything that happens to you is a product of your choices and doings and everything that happens to you is because you deserve it. This goes beyond capitalism actually... From the idea Sucks that they are poor, why didn't they make the choice to work hard and pull themselves up by their bootstraps?" implying that being rich is a matter of working hard and so if the person is poor then they didn't work out because they deserve to be poor is one of the forms. Another one is law of attraction, the person is poor because they attract bad energy to themselves since there is supposed to be an universe harmony where you receive what you attract the most. Karma works in the same way, so the indian explanation is because they did bad things in another life so they deserve to suffer on this one. There is the neolib version where the person is poor because the person does not hold any significant value to the market, which is taken as a fair entity. There is another one that says that with determination, discipline and faith, you can get anywhere you want, with a bunch of coaches and "examples of success" (this one sometimes is used by narcissists who fruitpick surrealistic examples to put other people down). There are older forms that involves more myths, like that kings are descendants of Gods and that a society's arrangement depends on a divine setting where every person gets the position they deserve based on some sort of earlier or after life where some people are descendant of the wise Gods and other's are just mortals. I don't know this in depth... I wouldn't be surprised if there was another form of this for slave, probably there was, not sure.

In the end, the pattern is old but it is repeatable the same. Its the idea that your life outcomes depends a 100% on you and to analyze any outcome or performance while despising completely environment conditions, denying any play on luck or twisting the role of luck ("it depends on luck, but everybody had the opportunity"), whatever that is in the form the law of attraction, from some neolib idea, some twisted religion interpretation of an earlier life, that idea of "intelligent God design" (something like that, where God did created everything so everything is purely fair and if a person is suffering its because God wanted so the person deserve it), etc... That is the fake meritocracy idea or the "life is fair fallacy" (that is entirely different from the meritocracy idea from the Meritocracy Party).

That is NOT free will. Possessing free will does NOT imply that you are immune to luck or environment conditions nor that you have full control of the outcomes. For example, you have free will to determine which numbers you are going to play on the lottery, or if you are going to do some bets on Cassino, or if you are doing bets on sports department, or which horse you are going to bet on a race of horses.. You can choose your numbers and that is free will, if you can choose your outcomes that is an entirely different thing.. You can choose the numbers, but the outcomes of the bet does not depend on you, but rather random things or on the sports teams and the horses.

But getting back on the "life is fair fallacy", I've recently noticed from HEXACO that is quite likely (not certain) that most people, at least on Canada, South Korea and US, does know that is not true (I've found that on real life explaining it is useless, people run just run to anecdotal evidence, pretend you did things you didn't or vice versa, etc...). I say that because of this:
"Honesty-Humility: Persons with very high scores on the Honesty-Humility scale avoid manipulating others for personal gain, feel little temptation to break rules, are uninterested in lavish wealth and luxuries, and feel no special entitlement to elevated social status."
If people normally truly did believe that people on elevated social status, and that includes super rich, politicians, bosses, high rank on the army, the famous, etc... were in fact meritorious and were actually superior, and that people on low social status, and that includes poor people, low rank on army, some low rank jobs, etc... were in fact meritorious and were actually inferior, it would be normal for an honest person to treat the high social status better and more respectful while treating the lower social status worse. However, people who does that (treat people at high status as kings and Gods, or in other words treat them very well; While also treating low status people as rats or in other words treat them bad) tends to be dishonest and to lack sincerity. So from that I can take that it is likely that most people are either egalitarians (don't believe there is such significant difference of superiority or inferiority) or they simply know that people with elevated social status are not to be taken more seriously than an average Joe unless you are forced to. So most people do know that life is unfair or that some people on elevated social status are just walking jokes while some deep intelligent and competent people can be on low social status. That is why explaining won't work on most of the cases, because most people who tell you this ("Sucks that they are poor, why didn't they make the choice to work hard and pull themselves up by their bootstraps?") actually are aware that they are lying and sometimes just uses that to camouflage a lack of empathy or even to pass an impression to be on the line of justice while that is simply lying and being cruel.. Or narcissistic. Simply that..
 

Siúil a Rúin

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No, that makes sense. If something cannot be proven one way or the other, then what should be chosen is the one with the most positive outcomes. Which one would you suppose that is? To me, free will perhaps implies greater possibilities and potential for change, but determinism implies greater compassion and patience.
Your phrasing on this topic is so spot on. It's likely ideal to not take it too far either way. I can see how the complete rejection of free will could lead to nefarious applications in society where individual choice becomes disregarded as having no meaning. U.S. society does take it too far the other way as though it's an even playing field and people with disabilities, poverty, oppression who just need to get their shit together and they can be billionaires too.

I see the most reasonable approach is that individual choice, free will, should be respected and assumed, but also noted that it is highly constrained by environment, genetics, and more complex brain processes where there is more reactionary, reflexive behaviors that are generated primarily from the subconscious mind and imprinted responses. Even for criminal behaviors this might provide more enlightened approaches to rehabilitation, but still hold people accountable. This also gives the individual a clearer sense of their own internal processes realizing that you can't have control over all of your responses in the moment, so your daily, habitual, environmental choices determine more. We can't live carelessly and expect to make the right choices when it counts. It requires a more wholistic approach to determining our own true wills.
 

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It is a difficult question philosophically because the nature of the question makes it difficult to find a definitive answer, but this pragmatic, applied problem with rejecting free will entirely is the most foundational argument in favor of it.

I tend to go with the notion that free will is highly constrained, that the cause and effect driving choice is more complex and more invested in the subconscious mind, but that alone doesn't entirely negate it. I was viewing a number of youtube videos where neuroscience researches were showing that conscious choice is determined earlier in the subconscious mind as a reflex to stimuli rather than deliberate judgment. That may indicate that the process of will and choice is not as surface and simple as momentary choice, but you can pan back further. This would be like the addict who knows they won't resist a behavior in a given environment, so they have to avoid the environment. The real choice is made a few steps back. Same would be true of people with psychological triggers who cannot control or choose their response, but they can step back and choose to avoid the scenarios that produce the triggers.

I suspect those sorts of elements play into the complexity of free will.

I like your idea of "early reflex", and it really puts emphasis on the whole power of the subconscious mind and how it makes decisions before you are even consciously aware of them sometimes. People probably do have a little bit of both free will, and instinct. Free will is indicated by conscious decisions, and instinct sways you subconsciously without you noticing, and its the product of evolution. There are many examples in psychology about how people are easily herded into certain patterns with as little as color. Studying marketing, and you will know what I mean.

Also, where does mental illness play in this? Where does brain chemicals come into play with free will? If your brain can be trained, and programmed by outside forces, (for better or worse) then you probably do not have free will. We are all slaves to dopamine and marketing that slowly molds our likes and dislikes, even if you are aware of it. It is impossible to avoid and not give in.
 

Vendrah

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I like your idea of "early reflex", and it really puts emphasis on the whole power of the subconscious mind and how it makes decisions before you are even consciously aware of them sometimes. People probably do have a little bit of both free will, and instinct. Free will is indicated by conscious decisions, and instinct sways you subconsciously without you noticing, and its the product of evolution. There are many examples in psychology about how people are easily herded into certain patterns with as little as color. Studying marketing, and you will know what I mean.

Also, where does mental illness play in this? Where does brain chemicals come into play with free will? If your brain can be trained, and programmed by outside forces, (for better or worse) then you probably do not have free will. We are all slaves to dopamine and marketing that slowly molds our likes and dislikes, even if you are aware of it. It is impossible to avoid and not give in.

I agree with what I had bolded, even though the last paragraph sort of contradicts it a bit.
We probably have a little bit of both (free will and "instincts" or rather free will and determinism), even though we don't know if to an equal proportion or which one weights more.
 
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