I seem to be coming up with all sorts of thinking and ways of expressing my disagreement with the philosophical idea that free will is highly unlikely, if not impossible, and is only a self perceived illusion.
At the Mind Hacks blog, one such discussion is taking place. I responded to a particularly dogmatic ‘free will denialist’ thus:
Mason Kelsey said:
Once again, any first year philosophy undergraduate knows you cannot prove a negative, that is you cannot prove something doesn’t exist, if it doesn’t exist.
Wrong. Fail. You’re saying that I cannot prove that, for instance, that our eyes don’t emit light if they don’t emit light? Or because you can’t prove our thoughts don’t exist, therefore they don’t exist?
You are nothing but a fallacy. You equate generalities with specifics. You are saying that if something doesn’t exist, it can’t be proved so.
Some negatives are unprovable, and from that you get all negatives are unprovable.
Mason Kelsey also said:
Requiring a complete understanding of consciousness in order to debunk free will is like requiring a chemist to have a complete understanding of molecular orbital theory in order to debunk phlogiston.
But you do need and understanding of the chemistry – These are often divided into bonding orbitals, anti-bonding orbitals, and non-bonding orbitals. A molecular orbital is merely a Schrödinger orbital that includes several, but often only two nuclei. If this orbital is of type in which the electron(s) in the orbital have a higher probability of being between nuclei than elsewhere, the orbital will be a bonding orbita – to show how burning occurs, and you do indeed need quantum mechanics to calculate why these reactions are exothermic.
To restate your analogy correctly, you actually do have to understand the intermediary process between air + fuel, and combustion. You have to have precise measurements of the originating constituents, then the sequence of exothermic chemical reactions between a fuel and an oxidant accompanied by the production of heat and conversion of chemical species, and then a minutely detailed analysis of the products.
All you have, Brian, as a starting principle, is a general macroscopic approximation of the brain, and you have zero measurement or even an wild guess as to the resulting product, cognition.
Our mind is completely beyond explanation given your general parameters, yet you are 100% confident that an apparent property(free will) of the product(mind) is inconsistent.
I got news for you: the product itself(mind) is inconsistent with your starting conditions, so unless you have the slightest idea, or even then wildest and most capricious guess, as to what our mind is, then you can hardly claim to know that part of the product(mind) is an invalid illusion(e.g. that free will is false).
Tell me where this illusion is, what is its functionality and purpose?
Why is it necessary? I mean, your whole process of step by step transformation, from physically describable system(brain) -> unknown phenomenal manifestation(mind), breaks down/fails. You don’t know what our mind is, let alone if it is an artifact or not.
You are assuming an entirely presumptuous position by positing a direct cause-effect relationship when you don’t know what the effect is, certainly not in the same manner as your causative agent.
Your theory is inconsistent because you cannot equivalently describe both sides of the equation.
You see, this is a proper analogy: 1 + 1(brain) = մեկ գումարած մեկ(mind). The product is gibberish in terms of the initial statement – a mathematical relationship.
If your complete understanding of reality can be described with just english and math (and that’s not far from the truth), then you don’t know if ‘մեկ գումարած մեկ’ makes sense, let alone if it is true or not.
I leave it you to find out if it is true, but keep in mind you know that both sides of the equations are similar in ways that our physical brains and our awareness of cognition are not. Basically, if instead of using ‘մեկ գումարած մեկ’ for the answer, and instead tried to explain what I am seeing inside my head for an answer(the color reddish ultraviolet, combined with a strange smell), that would be more completely analogous with your physics leading to phenomena description of the cause and effect relationship between our brains and our cognitive process.
Here’s a thought: What if there is no Higgs particle? That would mean that the Standard Model(key word: model) of reality/nature is at least badly incorrect, if not completely wrong.
And then we’ll revisit the ‘brain/illusion of will’ duality you expound.
I don’t have the patience to go through every incongruency you express, so let’s just stick with one simple question: what are qualia composed of?
Everything else is a red herring, a false equivalence, bullshit