Free will


I am republishing this post, as a form or blog-recycling – an idea I caught on from Wise Donkey’s blog (click). Coincidentally, tomorrow happens to also be the anniversary of my blog, and the time this post was published for the first time. I have edited the post a bit. This was the first post I had actually published on this blog. 🙂
Following is a blog I had originally posted at yahoo 360:
I was replying to one of the offbeat queries on rxpgonline.com, and the reply turned out so long that I thought, better I convert it into a blog. But again, I am surprised that this world has been a crucible of such great minds at work (thinking being the work of a mind), that ultimately, however much I try, it is not possible to think a thought that has not been thought before! So, many of the opinions that I had developed on my own, I learned, are already established schools in philosophy!
I will not post the query because of reasons related to copyright issues, but the gist of it was “if we decide anything really on our own volition, or are we predetermined to make those decisions”.
Here’s my response:
————-
Let me refine what you have called thoughts and emotions. Fortunately, we as medicos are in better positions to understand that both thoughts and emotions arise out of neurotransmission across synapses through very complex neural networks. What is important here, though is not the complexity of networks, but that the process that gives rise to thoughts and emotions is as simplistic  and physical as action potential giving rise to or inhibiting action potential elsewhere (synaptic inhibition or facilitation).
The feeling we get while we make a choice is that it is “I” who is deciding to do a particular thing, and not opt an alternative choice, and had I wanted, I “could” have made the other choice. The question is: do we really make choices that were not determined by past events? To make this question clear, I would have to give an example:

Think of someone breaking a frame in a game of pool. There are 10 balls that are struck with the cue ball, and immediately at the moment of impact all of them scatter away. To the untrained human eye, this is quite a chaotic event, but everyone would agree that with our modern technology, if the force, spin and direction of the cue ball, the masses of other balls, the properties of the reflecting walls, and the properties of the surface of the pool table would be known, we can definitely predict with amazing degree of accuracy where each ball on the table would end up after a finite amount of time. So in that sense the fate of each ball was predetermined by their mutual positions, the speed and direction with which the cue ball would impact them (force), the properties of the various surfaces and the time of impact. So, if the pool table were a closed system (where no external force could act), we would be the best astrologers! We could foretell everything that the pool balls would ever want to “know” about their future! And, add to it the fact that it is you who would be hitting at those cue balls. So in that sense, you are the one who is determining the fates of those balls. But, the way you are determining their fate is very “physical“. If I were to tell you that try to change the course of the balls only by power of your mind (without actually touching them or using a physical force), and you would know that it would be impossible, unless  and of course you are a firm believer of psychokinesis (click).

Now let us shift the same pool table to within our brain, and think of all the vesicles holding neurotransmitter molecules as those balls. Our emotions, thoughts, memories, all are a result of which neurons “fire” at what time. So, if real free will were to exist, we should be able to “control” (unknowingly) the particular neurons so as to make them release a particular neurotransmitter at a particular point in time in a particular quantity. The issue is can we really do all that with our “will”, which is nothing, but again, a result of activity of the same neurons containing the said neurotransmitters? Well, I am not sure of the answer. Though, going by the physics of it, the answer seems like “no”. No, we cannot make the molecules of neurotransmitters behave the way we want them to. So, each time you are deciding between a yellow dress or a white one, and even if you decide after full five minutes of pondering that you want the yellow one, it could be only because the neuron that was to trigger your decision fired at that moment (after five minutes), because of pre-set conditions, and not because of your thought-processes. So, this sounds very gloomy, indeed, that everything we do is predetermined, and more importantly, out of our control. But, when I gave the example of pool balls, I was talking of classical physics, which holds true only at a very gross level. If somehow, instead of 10 pool balls, 10 neutrons (and not neurons) were to be placed in a frame, and then hit with a “cue neutron”, we will not be able to predict the trajectories of any of the neutrons, forget all the ten neutrons together. There are too many issues. Firstly, quantum physics does not allow any particle to be absolutely still – it has to oscillate with what is called a finite amount of “zero point energy” (the minimum energy that a particle has to possess, which equals hv/2, h=Planck’s constant, and v is the frequency of oscillation of the particle). Secondly, the the Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty, does not allow precise knowledge of positions of the particles and their momentum at the same time. But, what happens in real life is that the “amount of uncertainty” remains constant even with a large assembly of particles, but since the assemblies these particles become are so large that any uncertainty gets buffered by the practical and acceptable approximations of their momentum and position. So, the uncertainty principle somehow does not apply to the day-to-day “bulky” objects and situations. Hence our neurotransmitter molecules, and even more so, the vesicles that hold them, are on the borderline of being big and small enough to obey the uncertainty principle. Their courses and positions are somewhat predictable and yet, somehow unpredictable.
But, what is the implication of this knowledge of uncertainty principle to our discussion? What it implies is that at least the course of the neurotransmitter vesicles in our brains cannot be determined with complete accuracy, and hence, cannot be predicted. And, so the decisions that a person makes are not completely predictable. But, the issue of being “able” to alter the course of or effect the emptying of a particular vesicle in a particular neuron at a given time without a physical force though, remains as it is.
Of course, I know it is very difficult to even digest the possibility: that the emotions that we feel to be so real, or the feeling of “choosing”, which is another name for freedom/liberty, could all be illusory. One of the possibilities of why we feel this illusion could be a specialized center in the brain that “witnesses” all the activities in the neurons. And these activities get registered as thoughts. We witness a live broadcast of our own thoughts (which are not exactly out of volition, but determined by the pre-set conditions), and we get a feeling that we are somehow effecting those thoughts, possibly because the time lag between the moment when a thought “arises” and it is “registered” could be very short.
So, I would recommend that one try while buying a dress, bargaining the price pointing out:

“It’s not me who wants to buy the dress, it’s just the neurons; I’m compelled by their preset conditions,. I cannot help it. So could you please give me a discount, at least if not give it away for free?” 

But, I would warn here that the shopkeeper’s response need not be that philosophical!!!
PS: A very pertinent discussion had also occurred at my other blog, here (click). Also, I request the reader to go through all the comments as they had been quite illuminating.
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28 thoughts on “Free will

  1. Never really thought of it that way, and classy, the way you ended (I’m really not good at being objective about the way someone else writes 🙂 ).
    However, it almost gives room for any person to blame something other than his free will whilst making a decision or having committed a wrongdoing.

  2. Hi!

    This was a virgin post–unconnemted upon(!), and look what you did to it! Well, the post certainly felt nice, and thanks for that!

    I’ve not concluded that free will, completely or partially does not exist. I’ve just pointed out that as far as <>I<> am concerned, I couldn’t think of a mechanism for its genesis. It doesn’t mean some other researcher, presently or in future wouldn’t have answers.

    When you’ll read my post–‘Futuristic!’, you’ll realize that simply knowing the bases of our emotions doesn’t make us emotionally inert. If a psychotic person comes and slaps you, your first reaction is going to be anger–at that point you won’t think of how the person’s mind is diseased and so you shouldn’t get angry. True, greater ramifications are bound to present themselves in field of ethics, morality and penal law with greater exploration in this area. But who knows, with this much knowledge of neurology, we might some day be able to eliminate all sinful tendencies right from the birth of a baby!

    And there’s one more thing that’s at the heart of philosophy/science–exploration, questioning and study don’t end only because they’ll yield more disconcerting questions or unpleasant answers. I hope you get what I mean 🙂 I’ve had this doubt in mind (about free will) for long, and had to pen it down 🙂

    I don’t have any idea of your profession and academic background; do let me know if you find some posts too technical, and I’ll point out the relevant articles from Wikipedia for you.

    TC.

  3. I didn’t get this–“I’m really not good at being objective about the way someone else writes”.

    I just hope you don’t find the issues I’ve touched upon too technical. This real risk of that happening 🙂

    TC.

  4. well, pata kya?
    I always think upon this issue… since I was a kid of 12-13. And obviously freaked out my mum. People aren’t very impressed when a kid talks philosophy. lolz

    “Mum, if we take into account each and every factor that influences us, right from genetics to each and every environmental factor. Like schools we visited people we came across and events that influenced us… Our course of action and our fate can be predicted very very accurately. Our thoughts, our actions, our decisions and our fate and hence, we, are a function of several variables.

    The problem is the factors are infinite, and we lack the intellect to compute the perfect formula. But we do make rough estimations, that may/may not be correct.

    The element of uncertainity is a our flaw.

    Who knows Heisenberg’s uncertainity might be eliminated sometime in future? There must be some factors which we are unaware of.

    So, mum, all in all, you see, We have no control on our lives whatsoever. We needlessly try to control our life and often fail. What will happens just happens.

    Our efforts are also not OUR efforts. But the influences of universe. It’s a conspiracy.. right factors you become laborious, the wrong one you are slack.

    so can I really help it if that guy tops and I perform miserably??”

    Poor mom, she used to feel sooo utterly helpless!!!! lolz

    I didn’t have the callibre to write upon it soo well…

    Well done!

    I will coclude this essay now.

    Ciao

  5. Chiya,

    I’m absolutely confident that your mom must be totally convinced of lack of her free will when she’d have to listen your philosophy! That’s the degree of her helplessness, it looks like. 🙂

    But jokes apart, I’ve been very curious and anxious to know answers to this question.

    You’ve very rightly put the grosser aspects of the doubt–and they’re identical in your as well as my minds. But let’s examine the issue in greater detail, if you don’t mind.

    Think of the very first volitional act on your part. Let’s say, when you were 5, you heard a song that you liked, and when no one else is watching you, you sing the song to yourself. This act is entirely volitional, and there’s no social cue to it. It is not reactionary in the sense that nobody asked you to sing it, or tempted with toffee. No doubt, the motor cortex (precentral) gyrus would send out the appropriate action potentials through appropriate tracts, which would be coordinated by basal ganglia and cerebellum, etc.

    But what part in the brain sent the requisite action potentials to the precentral gyrus? Those action potentials would constitute the executive order to the precentral cortex to initiate movements of your lips, tongue, laryngeal muscles, etc.

    From current knowledge in neurology, those signals come from the prefrontal lobe. But what action potentials made the prefrontal lobe initiate those impulses? The last set of action potentials I mention could be the idea/thought/impulse/desire to sing. From what I’ve read, these action potentials that probably constitue volition are not generated at one or select few neurons, but that event is distributed more diffusely. But yet, that doesn’t answer the question. Would those diffusely distributed neurons have fired exactly the same pattern of action potentials in any given state, or did it require a certain very specific baseline neural activity to precisely generate the pattern of action potentials that made you sing? Why did they not give rise to desire to ask your mom for toffee, instead? Why did they not give rise to impulse to dance, alternatively?

    I think we just feel an illusion of ‘volition’ or ‘free will’. Like, I’d read that the depersonalization that one experiences on taking cannabis is not a true one. The person says exactly what they want to say, but just ‘feel’, that there was no volition involved…

  6. …I think, in our brain there must be a ‘volition feeling center’, which could be exclusively dedicated to making us ‘feel’ that sense of volition. And maybe, in a person who takes cannabis, that center might be getting shut off.

    So well, the way I analyze it, free will seems a neurologically and logically an impossible phenomenon. 😦

    Coming to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, it’s not a technological limitation! Think of the actual way in which you locate anything. You need a fixed point (whose location you’d know), and the distance in three axes of the object from the fixed point. This can also be expressed as angle plus distance of the object (particle) from the point whose location you know. Now to know its location, you’ll require to ‘see’ that particle. What does the process of ‘seeing’ involve? That you send some packet of energy, and then it ‘reflects’ back that pocket of energy (usually a photon, if you’re using electromagnetic radiation, or an electron in an electron microscope or sound waves–though the last would be impractical for a particle). When we talk of ‘reflection’, the particle doesn’t have a surface to speak of, off which the packet of your energy would be reflected. It’ll momentarily absorb that energy, some of it will get converted to KINETIC ENERGY, and then it will release another photon back to return to its original state of lower energy.

    What have you done in the process? You’ve imparted motion to that particle. Since all the sources of energy experience certain degree of ‘dispersion’ that is spreading over in space, it is said that most accurate location can be achieved by targeting a particle with as short wavelength ‘light’ as possible. But shorter the wavelength, greater the energy in your photon, and more would be the degree by which you’ll ‘disturb’ your particle. So, by the time, your photon (released by the target particle) reaches you, its original position would’ve changed by an UNKNOWN distance and angle! Well, that was a very crude explanation of the uncertainty principle. You could get more mathematically accurate descriptions elsewhere :p But I hope I’ve been able to explain how uncertainty principle is not a technological issue.

    So, what this principle only does is to add ‘randomness’ to the whole concept of free will…

  7. …It does not impart any real autonomy (off preset conditions) or or spontaneity to our thoughts or ideas or decisions. So, as I see it, our decisions are totally governed by preset states in our brain, but yet are not totally predictable.

    The only factor that could buffer the uncertainty is that vesicles containing neurotransmitters may escape the uncertainty by mechanism I’ve explained in the post.

    You might find articles on ‘free will’ and ‘determinism’ on Wikipedia interesting.

    Hope you have the patience to read this comment till here!

    Thanks for reading such an insipid post, and commenting your heart out! 😉

    TC.

  8. I guess we do have a free will. Agreed, we don’t decide – okay, neuron number 3 to 10 in my limbic cortex, plz fire some action potentials, let me enjoy this candle light dinner with my girlfriend.

    But, we do enjoy it.

    I guess the analogy will be like assembly language used in old computers – where you had to type in commands with proper syntax. Now a days, games like EndWar even follow voice commands. The computer doesn’t understand what killing a battle tank with your rocket launcher means – it does it’s binary stuff. You get the fun.

    Neurons don’t have choice,feelings,emotion. We do. How they are related? That’s the biggest mystery I would like to see solved in my lifetime…

  9. Thanks for clarfications. 🙂
    Phew! I got most of it!! And it was very interesting i must say. though abhi utna intellect nahin hai ki I would be able to discuss it the way u do.

    singing that particular song at that particular moment, may be the person did that only cuz it made him happy…I think there has to be some subtle stimulus it is responding to. n maybe that response has a rewarding effect.

    does the the pleasure and pain principle and limbic cortex fit the scene somewhere??
    .
    Or was that an act a random firing of neurons. Nothing must be random i guess…. that particular situation at that particular time would have made to fire them. You wouldn’t feel like singing a rap in a funeral.

    I am more in favour of chemical locha than free will…
    Psychiatry ward struck me… some neurons go outta order, and everthing goes in a mess. u function aberrantly u can’t help it.. or in many cases u don’t even realise… u just go outta order.. or outta normal stereotype…

    Leave such a guy alone in room. He starts 2 blabber thing to himself, he breaks into a dance, breaks into a laugh. without anyone prompting them… n he thinks it’s fine[?] what prompts the behaviour.
    … is that the free will or is the volition centre {neurons}going honky dory? connections are wrong, it can’t be programmed the typical way… so it all seems odd..

    See schizophrenia, autism…

    we are more helpless than we think we are… neurology was a long way to go…

    Does Free will exist or is it all chemical locha?
    I will certainly do some reading n thinking on this intriguing topic.m just a beginner 🙂
    TC

  10. Mgeek,

    The candle light dinner is a ‘receptive’ act, as in it is passive. You talk, you eat delicious food–and the appropriate neurons that are supposed to ‘make you feel’ happy are stimulated. And you get that ‘feeling’ of happiness. How those simple action potentials translate into a ‘feeling’ of happiness, and which neurons give rise to the feeling of ‘me’ (ego) are both difficult questions to answer, but that’s not what I wanted to ask!

    I honestly couldn’t understand how to apply your analogies of old languages and voice command-games to this issue.

    What I wanted to ask was this:

    We’ll take the example of your deciding to attend the candle light dinner instead of studying for an upcoming exam.

    Let’s assume there’s a set of neurons that’s eventually going to ‘decide’ whether to study or to go for the dinner.

    How do they decide this? (Remember, I’ll be keeping the analogy very simple here.)

    There’s a neurotransmitter for fear of failing the exam–‘F’ and one representing temptation to enjoy the dinner–‘T’.

    State 1 is such that F is significantly predominating than T, and would make you decide to stay back and study. State 2 such that the reverse is true. State 3 such that both are almost equally effective and you decide to shorten the duration of your dinner (what happens at the dinner is a different matter!) and then study longer than usual in attempt to compensate.

    The issue is this:

    Can your prefrontal lobe decide to go for the dinner in face of state 1 (which was supposed to make you study)? And of course inversely, if you would decide to study in face of state 2? That would constitute genuine free will–being able to override the decisive neural states in our brains.

    An even more important issue–what decides whether the presenting situation will result in state 1, 2 or 3? Is it the predetermined states and tendencies (say genetic as well as past conditioning)?

    I feel, we feel an illusion of free will only because we can ‘see’ overwhelmingly multiple options (consciously as well as subconsciously), but then are actually absolutely bound to make decisions (‘destined to’) based on the existing ‘states’ in the brain.

    And each time we ‘make’ a decision, ‘volition feeling center’ also gets activated, so we ‘feel’ we made the decision.

    Unfortunately, I’m not able to think of a practical ‘experiment’ to prove/disprove free will.

    Thanks a lot for reading and commenting!

    TC.

  11. Chiya,

    Thanks again!

    You may or may not have realized, I was saying exactly the same thing as you! That free will is an illusion, and that each of our decision is actually based of preexisting states in the brain. In a person experiencing psychosis or affective incongruence (feeling things inappropriate for the situation), a particular state predominates–say maniacal one, and that state won’t be ‘sensitive’ to external stimuli. So, it won’t convert to one of melancholy even if someone near and dear dies. The person’s neurons will still remain in a ‘state’ that fire only those action potentials that they, in a normal person would’ve fired in a ‘happy’ situation.

    When we say ‘singing made her happy’, we’re talking of ‘effect’ and not ’cause’ of the decision of singing. Yes, anticipation of happiness on singing can be a ’cause’, but then it again goes against the idea of free will.

    Yes, pleasure and pain principle certainly plays a role. And it might be much more subconscious than we realize, and I think they are what determine the ‘preexisting states’ among neurons (for what I mean by ‘states’ in this context, please see my response above to Mgeek 🙂 ).

    Actually you can sing a rap at a funeral, but you won’t. ‘cuz the state in your brain will make it very unlikely for you to do that. But once in a funeral, only to test your ‘free will’ if you indeed break into a rap, that would be because of your baseline state of ‘misadventure’.

    I think the limbic system, firstly, coordinates with both the prefrontal cortex (the center of memory and emotions) and the automic nervous system to maintain synchronization between the two–like you’d have bradycardia if you’re feeling calm and serene, and that you’ll feel agitated if CO2 concentration rises in the blood (automic sensory function). But limbic system also seems to determine the overall state of your self (for instance–happy v/s sad), but its the prefrontal lobe that detects it and actually makes you ‘feel’ (happy v/s sad).

    Yes, as I already said, I also don’t feel we possess genuine free will. But let’s not call it ‘locha’ (which stands for something gone totally haywire), afterall it’s so very well orchestrated. 🙂 Do you, for instance, remember rapping in a funeral?

    And if you indeed decide to do a rap in a funeral, please, please, at least make a video of it, and send it to me. 😛

    Thanks again!

    TC.

  12. hey ya!
    I did understand that you were saying the same thing. I was just voicing sum ideas that hit my mind.

    Your discussion were interesting 🙂

    hehe, Rapping in a funeral sounds good actually. I will send a video recording to u If I do.!!!

    TC

  13. Forget ‘free will’ of actually deciding between a set of different things. What made you first realize that these set of stimuli over time do actually present a situation for decision making. And suppose we manage to explain the cause of that realization. After that what helps us know what are the options available?

    Once this is explained away, answering what actually ‘decided the final decision’ would perhaps automatically follow. And therein will lie the mystery of ‘free will’.

    Before I plunged into the ugly boring world of ‘services industry’
    IT, making programs that calculate interests and do money laundering (kidding 😉 ) for fat businessmen, I used to wonder in my own way.

    For sake of example, lets take that dinner above.

    If mgeek was a computer instead of a human for which this situation was already anticipated and a code was prewritten, the code would be like this:

    If dinner points > study points
    Dinner
    If study points > dinner points
    Study
    If dinner points = study points
    Dinner + Study (with 50 % duty cycle)

    The once the dinner points and study points are known to mgeek computer, and since mgeek already has these instructions in its mind, it feels totally in control of its ‘life program’ and makes a ‘conscious decision’ (that is, by its free will to decide, if you ‘will’ allow that usage 😉 )

    But then thats the incomplete picture. How the hell did it come to know the points worth of dinner and points worth of study?

    The simplest scenario, would be it already had been programmed that it prompted the user
    “Enter dinner points please!…”
    and after that
    “Enter study points please!…”

    Once it had these answers, it would feel “totally in control of its life, absolutely seeing its ‘path’ with clarity”

    but now suppose mgeek is not computer but human, but scenario is identical. Then ‘user’ would be the God who gives the major inputs to the devout human, but then again the human uses the input by ‘own free will’ (The thougts about the 3 ‘if’ conditions are considered by the human as ‘own free will’)

    So am I saying that there is an ‘apparent’ free will but actually a God being is controlling us? Nope this is just a tease. I’ll develop the scenario further in few days time (develop on your blog post comment I mean. Its already developed in my head)

    But for now, I got to sleep, so that I can continue making the pathetic interest calculating stupid programs at work tomorrow 😛

  14. I think I’ll post above comment and its preface its non preface and its continuation on my blog. Because anyways one fine day I would have written this and other junk on my blog. Why duplicate the effort eh?

    Thanks for being its immediate trigger though!

  15. This is a truly fabulous discussion.
    I believe that ‘free’ will exists within the parameters of each person’s genetic disposition and life experiences (nature and nurture). The broader the experiences, the larger the parameters, the greater the range of ‘freedom’. Theoretically then, in a pathology free brain – we should be able to increase our ‘freedom’ parameters by increasing our experiences (eg by travelling through many countries with diverse cultures) and through increasing our knowledge (eg by researching information about many countries). The free will could then come in terms of how much do you wish to increase the parameters – this cannot be an infinite amount because we die…and also because we come with different intelligences – so that goes back to the issue of genetics AND experiences and opportunities to some extent.
    See – this is why this discussion rocks…the brain questioning itself! This is why I loved Neuroscience – no other organ can think about itself! Fabulous!

  16. @Stupidosaur:

    Thanks for your interesting response. As I’ve already stated on your own blog, a response, I presume, you must’ve read, I won’t repeat it here. Sorry for the delayed response!

    @Sioneve:

    Welcome to the blog!

    You’ve discussed the issue from a broader perspective than I was looking for. 🙂

    But yes, you’ve still expanded my ideas on the human mind, in particular, how new experiences, and being exposed to people making different choices than us (different ‘culture’) increase the free-ness in our taking those decisions that we’d have otherwise not taken!

    But actually, I was interested in your views from a more ‘micro’ level, as in at the level of individual neurons and neurotransmitter vesicles.

    Let’s ultra-simplify things: Suppose, I offer you an ice cream. You’ll accept it if one particular neuron ‘fires’. And you’ll decline it, if that particular neuron does not fire. What will decide whether that neuron will fire or not? Whether impulses convergent on it are cumulatively excitatory or inhibitory, right? Which means, behaviorally, as far as the decision-wise terminal neuron is concerned it does not have an ‘mind of its own’ so to say, and is dependent on pre-determined states of all its presynaptic neurons. Same holds true for all the presynaptic neurons whose action potentials impinge on this terminal neuron, i.e., their behavior would depend on states in the neurons ‘proximal’ (presynaptic) to them!

    Where does this cycle end, or rather, the chain start? That’s the question. And wherever that decision-making would start, would it be dependent on its predetermined states (amount of neurotransmitter in vesicles, availability of ATP, membrane potential), or can it fire ‘randomly’? Certainly, it cannot fire randomly! 😉 And even if it could, it would still throw free will out the window ‘cuz it would be random (state-independent) behavior in a neuron, and not the human mind!

    If the ‘first’ neuron in the chain of decision-making abides by its pre-set states, it’s still not free will!

    Hope, I’ve been able to explain my doubt sufficiently well.

    If you find time, please go through above comments from others. They’ll also provide you a lot to think upon.

    Thanks!

    Take care.

  17. The article, and most of the comments on it were delightful to read. Don’t have much to say on it now. You have already made it so elaborate that there’s little space for any doubt.

    However, one thing I would mention, which you might agree with, is that this truth belongs to that set of truths knowing which is not essential for bringing improvements in life, spiritually. Still, intellectual dissection of things always fun and often brings great insights onto me. So, thanks for giving me it 🙂

  18. You know I started reading but couldn’t hang on to your train of thoughts! Too technical for the dumb me. I wish I was as interested in biology or whatever this is about – molecules and stuff (see I’m that dumb to even not know what science this is) coz. I think I’m losing out on a very interesting discussion!

  19. Darshan,

    I’m not sure if you could get the implication of lack of free will, or you were adding a different perspective to the whole thing. If there is no free will, there is no choice, no decision, there is no control over your thoughts, there is no responsibility. Even the spiritual development you alluded to, would happen if it is destined to happen! So this is one of the most significant facts of my life, at least. 🙂 And not to forget, our harming the environment would not be our responsibility, because those are the only thoughts that can enter our mind! And because nature made us that way. 😉 TC.

    Rakesh,

    Yes Rakesh, I am afraid, you are losing out on something very fundamental to human existence. That is, the degree of true autonomy in the decision we take, the choices we make, the impulses we act upon and the emotions we feel.

    I think you could try reading my response to Darshan on this post (click).

    If you come back to read this comment, and go through the link, and if you still don’t understand, I will try to help you. Thanks!

    writerzblock,

    Welcome! Looking forward to your returning and then commenting something about the post!!! TC.

  20. I would be inclined to agree with MGeek. In all possibility, all our actions/feelings/emotions are predetermined and even predictable, and hence illusory. But this illusion is at the center of our humanity.

    For all practical life purposes, we do have free will.

  21. @ Pankaj:

    Welcome to the blog, and thanks for your comment!

    Yes, you are right, but then you are primarily agreeing with me. 🙂 Not that it matters. I had concluded exactly the same thing that you did. But I did not make a mention about the getting around with lack of free will part. Our social structures will collapse once we acknowledge this lack. And not to mention, so many would lose their desire to live, if the significance of this fact would hit them with full force.

    Take care.

  22. great article & debate – I’ve spent way too much time arguing with the religious on Twitter & relish the opportunities to learn & stretch the mind here.

    I’m just formulating some thoughts & will re-read previous comments to ensure I’m not repeating issues covered but for now just wanted to say thanks!

    Neill

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