Is Free Will an Illusion? Essay

Is Free Will An Illusion Essay

While the free essays can give you inspiration for writing, they cannot be used 'as is' because they will not meet your assignment's requirements. If you are in a time crunch, then you need a custom written term paper on your subject (is free will an illusion )
Here you can hire an independent writer/researcher to custom write you an authentic essay to your specifications that will pass any plagiarism test (e.g. Turnitin). Waste no more time!

Jimmy Meyer Is Free Will an Illusion? Does it really make a difference ;should we be deeply concerned if free will is an illusion? Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d\'Holbach (1723-89) was leading philosopher of the French Enlightenment. His position as an atheist may have been a factor in his developing a deterministic and materialistic ideology. Significantly, this ideology grounded his polemics against organized religion. Science has also been casting suspicion or skepticism on this theory of free will for perhaps a couple of centuries if not more. Cognitive study and enquiry, for example, has demonstrated that our mental faculties create thoughts before we’re even conscious or responsive of them, which implies we make decisions before we’re mindful of them. Free will maybe on the verge of having its autonomous wings clipped. French physicist Pierre Laplace, in the 18th-19th century, said that according to ‘Newtonian mechanics’, the motion of every single particle in the universe can in principle be foretold from the information of its position, motion as well as the forces acting on it. This ‘Newtonian clock’ of our universe which clarified predictability from any agreed upon starting position apparently affords a miniscule scope for individual human autonomy or free will. Max Planck commented ;“The assumption of an absolute determinism is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.” What about free will though? To that question some will say ironically, ‘Of course we have free will we have no choice ;God has ordered it be the case.’ There are others who would deny the existence of free will, arguing that human behavior is ruled by the mental process of the brain, which is itself controlled by an individual’s genetic blueprint constructed upon their life’s experiences and in theory going back as far as the ‘big bang’. So, what is this free will? Let’s say an individual has free will when the same has the ability to select their own course of action. Wait a minute, there is a problem here ;animals seem to fulfill this condition and we normally think that only individuals have free will. Well, let’s then understand free will as the capacity unique to persons that allows them to control their actions. Anyway, let’s try to fix this definitional problem? To understand this phenomena we must first establish a workable definition of free will. If we adopt a position that human actions are actions that have their consequence from our rational capacities, we then might assert that an individual acted freely and is successful in carrying out an unrestricted volition or choice. We may say free will is the ability to make choices without external hindrance or coercion. We might go so far as to say it is the power of acting without the limitation of necessity ;the knack of acting at one\'s own pleasure. But wait, could free will be a misapprehension? Could we be living as if we have free will, however, it be only an illusion? I will argue that free will is an illusion ;however, what we do it still matters for a just compassionate society. If free will is to be understood as an illusion, determinism and materialism must be evident to explain our actions. Leucippus wrote in the 5th century that: “Nothing occurs at random, but everything for a reason and by necessity.” Being such, reason cries aloud that if we are part of the natural world order, our human behavior must by necessity be deterministic as our very make-up is that of stardust from our universe. The two, an illusion and determinism, cannot cohabit the same ‘stuff’ ;it would be a category mistake. Determinism is the notion that every event, as well as every human decision and act, is the predictable and obligatory consequence of antecedent causes and events. It would appear that to deny determinism, a supernatural component is necessary. Determinism as materialism argues that everything in the world, even states of our minds, can in principle be described in terms of one thing: matter in motion. Thoughts can be described as matter in motion inside the physical brain. A perception of the world ascends in a person’s brain when motion in the external world causes motion in the brain, which is then experienced as an external object. The evidence from neuroscience is problematic to the existence of free will. In the early 1980s, Benjamin Libet, a psychologist, had participants sit down and then, at their own preference, move their hand. By tracking their brain activity, he found a marker, that pointed to the fact that he had detected their decision to move their hand prior to their moving it. Even while they appeared to be deliberating as to when to act on their volition he found their decision already had unconsciously been made. He knew before they did when they decided to move their hand. This took the element of free will away from them. It was suddenly predictable and the participants were not even aware of it ;they had decided before they knew they had decided. Libet inferred this to mean that their brain was concocting the decision, chock-filled with events, to move before they were conscious of it ;consequently, he had demonstrated scientifically that free will does not categorically exist. It follows that are decisions are often decided by influences external to our awareness. Consequently, consciousness is actually not in charge of our actions at all. So why do we live as if we have free will? I am sure many of us find the absence of free will deeply disturbing or even disconcerting. The idea or thought that what we are thinking is simply background noise of which we cannot even hear is baffling. The sense of being able to choose one action over another is an indispensable chunk of our being a human being. I would think that for some the belief in free will may bid a sense of personal control that empowers them to comport them self in a manner consistent with their individual values and to give this up is upsetting. Even those of us who do reject free will probably continue to conduct our self as if we have it. We want to act and feel as though we are the genuine authors of our decisions. We want to take credit for our genius and our egocentric position in the universe. We are special, don’t you know? God says so. However, there is a positive side to this position ;we cannot take credit for being a total jerk either. Anyway, that is beside the point. But really, if free will doesn\'t exist, now what? Without free will it might all appear to just be luck. We are not the “I” we thought we were. We’re not the ‘prime mover,’ we are simply a small vessel in the ocean without oars, we are at all what we imagined we would be. Talk about unsettling and discombobulating. We are just matter in motion ;living in a stream of casual events that we have no control over. Whether a conviction in free will lends constructive benefits doubtlessly will be contingent on an individual’s personal predilections and understandings. It could be that the evidence about ‘free will’ will shape or adversely influence their social comportment, sense of personal autonomy and overall welfare. In the end, I think the question of free will is deeply profound and intriguing. Having said that, in pragmatic terms it matters more than we might realize for a just and compassionate society. It will tests assumptions traditionally related to religion about sin and redemption and our judicial conceptions of responsibility and punishment. Mahatma Ghandi is credited with saying: “A nation\'s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” I would revise this slightly by saying ;“Society’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest citizens.” The criminal justice system informed by enhanced neuroscience will certainly be more humane and civilized. Retribution, vengeance and hatred does not make sense with determinism. Certain punishments will still be necessary, but it will mitigate undue and unnecessary harm and suffering? It will undercut the notion of abhorrence and strengthen empathy and compassion. Moral intuitions start to kick in as vengeance disappears and society becomes more balanced with what is pious or moral and away from brutality or inhumanness. I believe that by dissuading a belief in ‘free will’ will diminish people’s propensity to
The rest of the paper is available free of charge to our registered users. The registration process just couldn't be easier. Log in or register now. It is all free!

More College Papers

The Religion of Jimeiricians essay
Jim Meyer Professor Everett World Religion 2012-11-03 The Religion of Jimeiricians Religion is the unconditional foundation of ethics to one that holds that ethics is founded on humanistic traditions acceptable by appeals to reason. Moral values are about the relationship betwe

The God of small things essay
“The commercialism and political colonization in The God of small things” The God of Small Things tells the story of one family in the town of Ayemenem in Kerala. The God of Small Things presents an often mixture of different times, images, stories and sensations from the past blend together wit

Sui Dynasty essay
Sui Wendi was the founder of Sui Dynasty and became the first emperor in 581 CE. He was born in 541 CE. His real name is Yang Jian. The word Wendi means “Literary Emperor”. Emperor Wendi was a Buddhist who had a wealthy scholar’s education and a military training. At the age of 14, he was empl