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Thread: The Problem with Conscousness

  1. #1 The Problem with Conscousness 
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    I've just listened to this programme ….

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04368f7

    … and it seems to me that there is no problem with consciousness. There is a view that we cannot have a brain that works by cause and effect and yet also have free will. No, you cannot have free will if you are something separate from your brain, and separate from those causes and effects that make the brain's decisions, but why do we have to be separate from our brain?

    What if we ARE our brain? We ARE those causes and effects? Then there is no problem with causes and effects and free will existing together because we are ONE and the SAME. Free will does not have to be explained as an illusion. If we ARE the causes and effects that happen in the brain then whatever those causes and effects produce are automatically what WE want to do without any feeling of being forced because we are ONE and the SAME.

    Rich


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    I'm afraid the problem cant be solved with a few words in capital letters Rich. Your answer doesnt explain how human brains produce a human level of consciousness and dogs brains produce a dog level of consciousness and donkeys brains etc etc..

    What do you mean by 'separate from those causes and effects that makes the brains decisions'? Nothing makes the brains decisions - the brain is a cluster of cells that have no awareness of each other and communicate via chemical and electrical signals. The brain doesnt make decisions it reacts to sensory input.

    You are as much your brain as you are your heart or your lungs - you are whatever your environment has calibrated your nervous system to be and whatever you tell yourself you are.


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    Rich, I am unsure if you are agreeing or disagreeing with what was said in the BBC story. Please clarify.

    Edit:
    I wonder if you agree with what Dr Susan Blackmore wrote on her blog about it.
    http://blog.oup.com/2014/04/a-questi...consciousness/
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    I'm afraid the problem cant be solved with a few words in capital letters Rich.

    Oh I don't know. I reckon a good dosage of capital letters is just what this world needs.

    I don't understand the relevance of the level of consciousness of human, dog, donkey etc.. That's just due to different brain structure, different knowledge of their surroundings, different senses giving information to the brain. The problem I am referring to is a brain that works by cause and effect and the feeling we have of free will. If every 'want' we have is created by the action of cause and effect, should we not feel forced into doing things instead of wanting to do them?

    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    What do you meanby 'separate from those causes and effects that makes the brains decisions'? Nothing makes the brains decisions - the brain is a cluster of cells that have no awareness of each other and communicate via chemical and electrical signals.The brain doesnt make decisions it reacts to sensory input.


    But is not a shortened way of saying that that the brain works by cause and effect, or is a collection of cause and effects?
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickArcher View Post
    … and it seems to me that there is no problem with consciousness.
    Then you've apparently not understood the problem.

    There is a view that we cannot have a brain that works by cause and effect and yet also have free will.
    Who says we do have free will?

    No, you cannot have free will if you are something separate from your brain
    Uh, what?

    What if we ARE our brain? We ARE those causes and effects? Then there is no problem with causes and effects and free will existing together because we are ONE and the SAME. Free will does not have to be explained as an illusion. If we ARE the causes and effects that happen in the brain then whatever those causes and effects produce are automatically what WE want to do without any feeling of being forced because we are ONE and the SAME.
    Not so.
    Since any output is the result of an input - i.e. effect follows cause - and each "cause" is the result of a preceding "effect" then anything we come up with has to be purely based on prior inputs.
    Ergo: "free will" is nothing more than "reaction to preceding stimuli". (Albeit possibly nested "infinitely" deep).
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    Dan, where did your post come from? I didn't see it yesterday. Or perhaps I should say I wasn't conscious of it yesterday.

    The way I was interpreting the BBC programme was that there was difficulty in marrying the fact that the brain works by cause and effect but yet we feel as though we have free will. How can an automatic prossess produce a feeling of free will? And my answer is that an automatic process can produce a feeling of a free will if you are those automatic processess.

    I've had a read of your link and this seems to be what Susan Blackmore is questioning aswell, quote:-

    "We now know that decisions are initiated in part of the frontal lobe, actions are controlled by areas as far apart as the motor cortex, premotor cortex and cerebellum, visual information is processed in multiple parallel pathways at different speeds without ever constructing a picture-like representation that could correspond to ‘the picture I see in front of my eyes’. The brain manages all these amazing tasks in multiple parallel processes. So what need is there for ‘me’? And what need is there for subjective experience? So what is it and why do we have it?"

    Am I understanding her question correctly here? As I stated above she is basically asking how can automatic processes produce an effect we experience as free will? Or to put it another way, where do I come in? What's the point in me when the brain seems to be getting on with everything pretty fine without me. My suggestion as an answer is given above and in my first post. What we experience as 'me' actually is those automatic processes.

    The fact that we are not always conscious of everything that is happening around us, as she mentions at the beginning of that link, such as the bird song, the drill in the distance, is just a matter of focus, just like a camera. What we are all experiencing is what it feels like to be a collection of neurons and synapses all working together to produce an overall effect which is what we call ME … YOU.

    This way of thinking raises a question about consciousness in computers. If what we are experiencing is what is produced when a collection of causes and effects get together then does it not follow that computers also may have a form of consciousness, and the feeling that they are doing exactly what they want to do? After all, they have no knowledge of us do they?

    The question that Susan is basically trying to understand I think is at what point does a collection of cause and effects produce consciousness. Well I don't think it's a black and white answer were you can draw a line and state that above this line consciousness exists, below it it does not. I think it's a gradual effect depending on the degree of complication. The more complicated and numerous the cause and effects the more complicated and informed is the state of consciousness.


    [QUOTE=Dywyddyr;567374]
    Quote Originally Posted by RickArcher View Post
    What if we ARE our brain? We ARE those causes and effects? Then there is no problem with causes and effects and free will existing together because we are ONE and the SAME. Free will does not have to be explained as an illusion. If we ARE the causes and effects that happen in the brain then whatever those causes and effects produce are automatically what WE want to do without any feeling of being forced because we are ONE and the SAME.
    Not so.
    Since any out put is the result of an input - i.e. effect follows cause - and each "cause" is the result of a preceding "effect" then anything we come up with has to be purely based on prior inputs.
    Ergo: "free will" is nothing more than "reaction to preceding stimuli". (Albeit possibly nested "infinitely" deep).


    You've lost me there Dywyddyr. You are describing the process of cause and effect and then your last sentence seems to be saying what I am saying. We are those cause and effects. This is what it feels like to be them.
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    No it doesnt follow that computers have a form of consciousness. The central nervous system may be a collection of working neurons from whose combined actions consciousness arises as an emergent property but that doesnt mean that you can take a collection of connections and make them complicated and expect an emergent property from it. For a start computers do not have a centralised 'control room' such as the brain or a specific purpose ie movement or taking information from the environment in order to maintain an internal homeostatic system such as body temperature or blood flow. Computers are programmed by humans and used by humans and the traffic on it in no way reflects a purposeful self organising system like the central nervous system.

    Despite agreeing with other parts of what you say you still have not solved the hard problem of consciousness just by saying WE are the complicated processes of the nervous system - the hard problem is why do we experience our lives in the way we do? Why do the majority of us imagine there is some sort of 'me' essence that connects our lives from beginning to end like the words running through a stick of rock? Why do we seem to need to experience this continuity and is it even right to assume that its an emergent property of the brain? Could it be that we talk our consciousness into being and the reason for infant amnesia is because they have no words to make their experiences concrete and apply them to themselves because they have no concept of self to hang their experiences on to? (Julian Baggini TED Talk).
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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    I would like to understand what you mean with free will?
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    Ah. OK rich. You seem to be thinking that somehow conciousness flashes into existence once a certain number of cause and effect events are happening per second. Kind of like an of/on switch. There are different levels of conciousness though and it is the memory loops that seem to matter more than the processing.

    Douglas Hofstadter refers to it as being a strange loop. I would be a bit cautious about Hofstadter's writing though because he relies a lot on computer science analogies and I don't believe the brain is very dependent on binary logic.
    Strange loop - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    One of his points is the sense of self is through our memories of our actions. It is the memory that give us our sense of continuity and identity.
    (He also strongly stresses that strange loops work through different levels of programs and give solutions to problems that can not be solved with a single level of programming language, but maybe I am making things too complicated here.)
    Last edited by dan hunter; May 18th, 2014 at 09:23 AM.
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    Consciousness and free will are not the same thing. The only thing they have in common is the troublesome lack of clear, precise definitions that people agree on.
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    Maybe consciousness or free will is the ultimate expresion of quantumn uncertainty merged with chaos theory.

    Why yes, I would like some dressing with my word salad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    Consciousness and free will are not the same thing. The only thing they have in common is the troublesome lack of clear, precise definitions that people agree on.
    Is a "sense of identity" the same as consciousness?

    Actually I am not sure that "Consciousness and free will" are not the same either.
    As you say they are hard to define so maybe there is no actual difference under the surface..

    If you were to take 2 sentient creatures and say this one has free will and this one operates on a purely deterministic basis what differences would you observe?

    Another argument :If we have no free will then does free will exist nowhere in the observable universe?
    If so the lack of it becomes a trivial observation....

    My personal bias is that free will and determinism are entwined with the determinism aspect so impossible to calculate accurately that it could be called determinism in name only.

    It is a bit like the questions regarding a craft moving at the speed of light -it is all talk and no practice.

    I cannot back up my "argument" clearly but it seems like this is a discussion where everyone feels like they have an opinion because it is so intimate a question.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Is a "sense of identity" the same as consciousness?

    Actually I am not sure that "Consciousness and free will" are not the same either.
    Neuroscientist Patricia Churchland aptly describes the logical conundrum involved with the concept of free will: "A rigid philosophical tradition claims that no choice is free unless it is uncaused; that is, unless the "will" is exercised independently of all causal influences - in a causal vacuum." Free will begs the question - free from what? Do you wish (or would you even be able) to make choices free from genetic influences, physiological need, past learning and experience, environmental cues, the influence of culture, family, or social relationships?

    Appealing to some kind of spirit or nonphysical dualism doesn't solve the problem either - on what basis does the self decide to act?

    Yet even if our actions are determined by a combination of factors, even if they could be accurately predicted, that doesn't mean consciousness - awareness and self awareness, feelings and the experience of qualia (the redness of an apple, the softness of velvet, pain and pleasure) doesn't exist.
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    Consciousness as a State of Matter
    Max Tegmark
    Dept. of Physics & MIT Kavli Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139
    (Dated: January 8, 2014)
    [1401.1219] Consciousness as a State of Matter
    ...consciousness is the way information feels when being processed in certain complex ways [1, 2], i.e., that it corresponds to certain complex patterns in spacetime that obey the same laws of physics as other complex systems, with no “secret sauce” required.


    Consciousness as Integrated Information: a Provisional Manifesto
    Giulio Tononi⇓
    The Biological Bulletin
    http://www.biolbull.org/content/215/3/216.full
    Abstract

    The integrated information theory (IIT) starts from phenomenology and makes use of thought experiments to claim that consciousness is integrated information. Specifically: (i) the quantity of consciousness corresponds to the amount of integrated information generated by a complex of elements; (ii) the quality of experience is specified by the set of informational relationships generated within that complex. Integrated information (Φ) is defined as the amount of information generated by a complex of elements, above and beyond the information generated by its parts. Qualia space (Q) is a space where each axis represents a possible state of the complex, each point is a probability distribution of its states, and arrows between points represent the informational relationships among its elements generated by causal mechanisms (connections). Together, the set of informational relationships within a complex constitute a shape in Q that completely and univocally specifies a particular experience. Several observations concerning the neural substrate of consciousness fall naturally into place within the IIT framework. Among them are the association of consciousness with certain neural systems rather than with others; the fact that neural processes underlying consciousness can influence or be influenced by neural processes that remain unconscious; the reduction of consciousness during dreamless sleep and generalized seizures; and the distinct role of different cortical architectures in affecting the quality of experience. Equating consciousness with integrated information carries several implications for our view of nature.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Is a "sense of identity" the same as consciousness?

    Actually I am not sure that "Consciousness and free will" are not the same either.
    Neuroscientist Patricia Churchland aptly describes the logical conundrum involved with the concept of free will: "A rigid philosophical tradition claims that no choice is free unless it is uncaused; that is, unless the "will" is exercised independently of all causal influences - in a causal vacuum." Free will begs the question - free from what? Do you wish (or would you even be able) to make choices free from genetic influences, physiological need, past learning and experience, environmental cues, the influence of culture, family, or social relationships?

    Appealing to some kind of spirit or nonphysical dualism doesn't solve the problem either - on what basis does the self decide to act?

    Yet even if our actions are determined by a combination of factors, even if they could be accurately predicted, that doesn't mean consciousness - awareness and self awareness, feelings and the experience of qualia (the redness of an apple, the softness of velvet, pain and pleasure) doesn't exist.
    Yes that seems reasonable to me .I hadn't quite thought of it quite like that .So perhaps free will is overhyped and devoutly not to be wished for after all.

    It would be interesting to track down the first instance known of when the concept was used and the context in which it was used.

    Perhaps ,being cynical it was used by someone who was trying to drum up support for his army of "free thinkers" against some oppressive enemy force (maybe the Catholic Church? )

    I don't remember it being used in Pericles' speech although that was a great speech opposing the freedom of Athens against the dictatorship of Sparta.

    EDIT: without rereading the speech this person seems to think Pericles is saying something close to that
    http://svhs-west-civ-spring13.blogsp...-pericles.html

    quote "Pericles highlights the individual’s status in democracy, that he has free will to go about his pursuits. However, when called upon by the state, he willingly defends her to keep her free"
    Last edited by geordief; May 19th, 2014 at 06:44 AM.
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    Never saw any conflict between determinism and free will since our consciousness with input from our subconscious are all of one organ and clearly still "us," and thus the decisions maker.
    --
    I agree Geordief, the Greeks had quite a bit to say about the concepts.
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    Well the Greeks did curse us with the concept of determinism, but it took the Catholics to make it into an enforcible law.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Never saw any conflict between determinism and free will since our consciousness with input from our subconscious are all of one organ and clearly still "us," and thus the decisions maker.
    --
    I agree Geordief, the Greeks had quite a bit to say about the concepts.
    When free will is used in the form you are using it, I do not understand what you mean. As I see it free will is multidimensional, how do you grasp the concept of free will, first of all free of what? how do you define consciousness when it is always adding and subtracting, and appears as a moving target?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    When free will is used in the form you are using it, I do not understand what you mean.
    I'm using it the same way as all Western law. In other words unless there is some overwelming compelling external force, such as a gun to one's head, people...or more specifically, people's brains, are free to make their own decision. Practical, pragmatic, and without unnecessary mumbo jumbo.

    As I see it free will is multidimensional, how do you grasp the concept of free will, first of all free of what?
    Yes, it's four dimensional like the rest of the physical universe as best we can confirm.

    how do you define consciousness when it is always adding and subtracting, and appears as a moving target?
    The same as most people, being awake (easily measurable in humans, cats and most complex animals) and aware of one's surroundings and internal thoughts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    When free will is used in the form you are using it, I do not understand what you mean.
    I'm using it the same way as all Western law. In other words unless there is some overwelming compelling external force, such as a gun to one's head, people...or more specifically, people's brains, are free to make their own decision. Practical, pragmatic, and without unnecessary mumbo jumbo.

    As I see it free will is multidimensional, how do you grasp the concept of free will, first of all free of what?
    Yes, it's four dimensional like the rest of the physical universe as best we can confirm.

    how do you define consciousness when it is always adding and subtracting, and appears as a moving target?
    The same as most people, being awake (easily measurable in humans, cats and most complex animals) and aware of one's surroundings and internal thoughts.
    What is the obstacle internally that makes you not free? Even if you have a gun to your head what makes you not free to make your own choices. can a gun stop you from making a choice? You may decide you want to preserve your free will and decide to die.

    I still would like to hear what do you want to be free from to have free will?
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    [QUOTE=Stargate;568408]
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I still would like to hear what do you want to be free from to have free will?
    Already answered...overarching and compelling reasons towards one decision that most people wouldn't' make--self preservation completely overwhelms most people's thinking and forces them into whatever they think will keep them alive. It's more a practical consideration of human behavior and our concept of justice, than a difference in our brain's internal workings.
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    [QUOTE=Lynx_Fox;568413]
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I still would like to hear what do you want to be free from to have free will?
    Already answered...overarching and compelling reasons towards one decision that most people wouldn't' make--self preservation completely overwhelms most people's thinking and forces them into whatever they think will keep them alive. It's more a practical consideration of human behavior and our concept of justice, than a difference in our brain's internal workings.
    To respond to your post I would have to bring spirit into the equation, and I am sure you will not agree with me. However for me there is a part of me that can utilize free will, and a part of me that cannot. In one instance I do not have to be free from anything so I have free will. On the other level I am bound by parameters that are tied to or connect to other things that hinders my free will. As you can see from what I said free will is not static.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    To respond to your post I would have to bring spirit into the equation, and I am sure you will not agree with me.
    Because you are trying to insert your superstition. It has no place here.
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    [QUOTE=Stargate;568417]
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I still would like to hear what do you want to be free from to have free will?
    Already answered...overarching and compelling reasons towards one decision that most people wouldn't' make--self preservation completely overwhelms most people's thinking and forces them into whatever they think will keep them alive. It's more a practical consideration of human behavior and our concept of justice, than a difference in our brain's internal workings.
    To respond to your post I would have to bring spirit into the equation, and I am sure you will not agree with me. However for me there is a part of me that can utilize free will, and a part of me that cannot. In one instance I do not have to be free from anything so I have free will. On the other level I am bound by parameters that are tied to or connect to other things that hinders my free will. As you can see from what I said free will is not static.

    If a spirit exists, then wouldn't the spirit's brain be the part we're discussing? Why would the spirit's brain have free will if the body's brain doesn't?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    Maybe consciousness or free will is the ultimate expresion of quantumn uncertainty merged with chaos theory.

    Why yes, I would like some dressing with my word salad.
    Maybe I'm just hearing the part of this salad that I want to hear, but that seems to contain a working answer to the problem.

    One of the premises of our question is, in fact, quite false. At the quantum level, there is no determinism. A single photon traveling through a double slit apparatus, for example, chooses its path from available options in a way that appears to be entirely random.

    The brain is based on quantum effects, therefore there is no requirement for the brain to be deterministic. (Perhaps some effects are more deterministic than others.)

    A computer, on the other hand, is designed in a way to purposefully reduce those effects. The "one's and zero's" nature of a computer means that we are always summing a large number of quantum effects into a lump together before they are evaluated. The apparent determinism we see in the macro world is present because what we are witnessing is the summing of a lot of quantum effects. So, computers are deterministic for the same reason the macro world in general is deterministic.

    The human brain, however, may not have that effect designed into it. (It's not designed exactly like a typical computer.)
    Last edited by kojax; May 19th, 2014 at 12:15 PM.
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    [QUOTE=kojax;568465]
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I still would like to hear what do you want to be free from to have free will?
    Already answered...overarching and compelling reasons towards one decision that most people wouldn't' make--self preservation completely overwhelms most people's thinking and forces them into whatever they think will keep them alive. It's more a practical consideration of human behavior and our concept of justice, than a difference in our brain's internal workings.
    To respond to your post I would have to bring spirit into the equation, and I am sure you will not agree with me. However for me there is a part of me that can utilize free will, and a part of me that cannot. In one instance I do not have to be free from anything so I have free will. On the other level I am bound by parameters that are tied to or connect to other things that hinders my free will. As you can see from what I said free will is not static.

    If a spirit exists, then wouldn't the spirit's brain be the part we're discussing? Why would the spirit's brain have free will if the body's brain doesn't?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    Maybe consciousness or free will is the ultimate expresion of quantumn uncertainty merged with chaos theory.

    Why yes, I would like some dressing with my word salad.
    Maybe I'm just hearing the part of this salad that I want to hear, but that seems to contain a working answer to the problem.

    At the quantum level, the universe is not deterministic. (Meaning that one of the premises of our question is, in fact, quite false.) A single photon traveling through a double slit apparatus has no predetermined course that it must travel. In experiments where they are sent through one by one, the photons choose their destination from the available options in a way that matches true randomness.

    The brain is based on quantum effects. I'm sure that some of them are more deterministic than others, but there are probably a lot of effects that are not deterministic.

    A computer, on the other hand, is designed in a way to purposefully reduce those effects. The "one's and zero's" nature of a computer means that we are always summing a large number of quantum effects into a lump together before they are evaluated. The apparent determinism we see in the macro world is present because what we are witnessing is the summing of a lot of quantum effects. So, computers are deterministic for the same reason the macro world in general is deterministic.

    The human brain, however, may not have that trait.
    Well I would like to discuss the spirit brain, maybe not on this forum, that makes my argument weak because of the limitations.
    I am actually saying there are two parts, one free and the other not free. The spirit free and the physical not free.

    I like the second part of your reply, or at least most of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    The brain is based on quantum effects, therefore there is no requirement for the brain to be deterministic. (Perhaps some effects are more deterministic than others.)

    A computer, on the other hand, is designed in a way to purposefully reduce those effects.
    There's little evidence that brain's decision making is significantly effected by quantum effects; nerve action potentials, at the root of signalling are much larger scale.

    And quantum effects don't get you free will, they get you completely uncontrollable chaos, the very opposite of free will. Brains and computers signaling both tend to minimize quantum effects.
    --

    Stargate, There's also zero evidence for a "spirit brain," it's simple nonsense that have no business being in this part of the forum. Either try to stick to science or find another forum.
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    Spirit brain is what you get when you finish off a 5th of vodka.
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    Its the way nature is!
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    To another universe, where the rules are simpler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    There's also zero evidence for a "spirit brain," it's simple nonsense that have no business being in this part of the forum.
    On the contrary -it adds to the gaiety of the discussion
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    The brain is based on quantum effects, therefore there is no requirement for the brain to be deterministic. (Perhaps some effects are more deterministic than others.)

    A computer, on the other hand, is designed in a way to purposefully reduce those effects.
    There's little evidence that brain's decision making is significantly effected by quantum effects; nerve action potentials, at the root of signalling are much larger scale.

    And quantum effects don't get you free will, they get you completely uncontrollable chaos, the very opposite of free will. Brains and computers signaling both tend to minimize quantum effects.
    --

    Stargate, There's also zero evidence for a "spirit brain," it's simple nonsense that have no business being in this part of the forum. Either try to stick to science or find another forum.
    I know there is no place for that on this forum, I said I cannot explain some of the things I say if I do not use spirit. I did not use spirit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    To respond to your post I would have to bring spirit into the equation
    Which would be a pretty good indication that your response would be flawed.
    So don't bother.
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    [QUOTE=kojax;568465]
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I still would like to hear what do you want to be free from to have free will?
    Already answered...overarching and compelling reasons towards one decision that most people wouldn't' make--self preservation completely overwhelms most people's thinking and forces them into whatever they think will keep them alive. It's more a practical consideration of human behavior and our concept of justice, than a difference in our brain's internal workings.
    To respond to your post I would have to bring spirit into the equation, and I am sure you will not agree with me. However for me there is a part of me that can utilize free will, and a part of me that cannot. In one instance I do not have to be free from anything so I have free will. On the other level I am bound by parameters that are tied to or connect to other things that hinders my free will. As you can see from what I said free will is not static.

    If a spirit exists, then wouldn't the spirit's brain be the part we're discussing? Why would the spirit's brain have free will if the body's brain doesn't?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    Maybe consciousness or free will is the ultimate expresion of quantumn uncertainty merged with chaos theory.

    Why yes, I would like some dressing with my word salad.
    Maybe I'm just hearing the part of this salad that I want to hear, but that seems to contain a working answer to the problem.

    One of the premises of our question is, in fact, quite false. At the quantum level, there is no determinism. A single photon traveling through a double slit apparatus, for example, chooses its path from available options in a way that appears to be entirely random.

    The brain is based on quantum effects, therefore there is no requirement for the brain to be deterministic. (Perhaps some effects are more deterministic than others.)

    A computer, on the other hand, is designed in a way to purposefully reduce those effects. The "one's and zero's" nature of a computer means that we are always summing a large number of quantum effects into a lump together before they are evaluated. The apparent determinism we see in the macro world is present because what we are witnessing is the summing of a lot of quantum effects. So, computers are deterministic for the same reason the macro world in general is deterministic.

    The human brain, however, may not have that effect designed into it. (It's not designed exactly like a typical computer.)
    There are a lot of interesting theories about possible quantum effects in the brain (Henry Stapp, Penrose and Hameroff and others.) I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there are quantum effects in the brain, as they are popping up in other biological systems like photosynthesis and sensory systems, but it I'm inclined to think it might be a more of mechanism to facilitate processing, rather than explanation of consciousness itself. Stapp is particularly keen to use quantum mind theory to restore free will and social responsibility.

    Using quantum mechanics as explanation for consciousness presents problems. Speculative applications of see it as a bridge to a mystical realm. More conservative applications describe something like a conscious agency that selects yes/no superpositioned options in order to exercise free will. But that model doesn’t seem to explain the richness or creativity of mental experience, or qualia or feelings, any better than conventional neuroscience does. That lack of explanatory power is precisely what critics of materialism or determinism always complain about. Quantum mind theory just passes the buck by invoking an immaterial homunculus -the conscious agency - whose workings, desires, motivations, etc are equally, if not more, unexplained.


    And that’s not even getting into the physics issues, like conservation of energy if the conscious agency uses something like the Zeno effect to stack the deck, or why the outside conscious agency does not have its own wavefunction.Or whether Quantum mechanics even requires consciousness, or the observer can be any detector or macroscopic interference.


    In what I’ve read so far, the best that proponents of quantum mind theory can do is find the point of unknown causality in QM (the outcome of decoherence) and say the (unspecified) magic happens there.
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    Back to an earlier view of the problem of conciousness. Julian Jaynes thought that it was a result of us having a split brain.

    Bicameralism (psychology) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Julian Jaynes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    If any of you guys have access to it, I'd recommend reading 'The Neural Basis of Free Will' by Peter Tse definitely addresses the problems we're having. I've read a bit of it and found it very informative, though at the moment, I can't clearly recall anything that's pertinent as it's been a while.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    Consciousness as a State of Matter
    Max Tegmark
    Dept. of Physics & MIT Kavli Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139
    (Dated: January 8, 2014)
    [1401.1219] Consciousness as a State of Matter
    ...consciousness is the way information feels when being processed in certain complex ways [1, 2], i.e., that it corresponds to certain complex patterns in spacetime that obey the same laws of physics as other complex systems, with no “secret sauce” required.


    Consciousness as Integrated Information: a Provisional Manifesto
    Giulio Tononi⇓
    The Biological Bulletin
    Consciousness as Integrated Information: a Provisional Manifesto
    Abstract

    The integrated information theory (IIT) starts from phenomenology and makes use of thought experiments to claim that consciousness is integrated information. Specifically: (i) the quantity of consciousness corresponds to the amount of integrated information generated by a complex of elements; (ii) the quality of experience is specified by the set of informational relationships generated within that complex. Integrated information (Φ) is defined as the amount of information generated by a complex of elements, above and beyond the information generated by its parts. Qualia space (Q) is a space where each axis represents a possible state of the complex, each point is a probability distribution of its states, and arrows between points represent the informational relationships among its elements generated by causal mechanisms (connections). Together, the set of informational relationships within a complex constitute a shape in Q that completely and univocally specifies a particular experience. Several observations concerning the neural substrate of consciousness fall naturally into place within the IIT framework. Among them are the association of consciousness with certain neural systems rather than with others; the fact that neural processes underlying consciousness can influence or be influenced by neural processes that remain unconscious; the reduction of consciousness during dreamless sleep and generalized seizures; and the distinct role of different cortical architectures in affecting the quality of experience. Equating consciousness with integrated information carries several implications for our view of nature.
    I have heard of Tononi. Here are two articles that are a little more layman friendly, regarding consciousness and integrated information (Don't be put off by the "panpychism" reference in the article. He isn't using it in a New Agey sense. )
    A "Complex" Theory of Consciousness - Scientific American

    I don't know if this theory explains everything, but once nice aspect compared to others, is the possibility of a way to measure consciousness, besides the current medical assessments. Or a way to explain quantitatively differences in consciousness between, say, a frog, and a person.

    http://www.klab.caltech.edu/koch/CR/...s-Meter-13.pdf
    Last edited by DianeG; May 20th, 2014 at 11:06 PM. Reason: typo
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    I don't have free will, but there is a sale on with a good discount.
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    The real problem of consciousness, as they are properly called the ''Hard Problems'' because it's really a group of problems rather than just one. Scientists at first appeared on the right track questioning phenomenon like qualia: But the question was flawed I believed simply because perception of color, size, substance would most likely be a learning experience from birth... no doubt written into genes.

    Charmers Formulation, is something I'd like to call a revolutionary hypothesis for it's time, because it appears to predate Tegamark in the theory that consciousness appears more than what it is physically measurable

    In Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness, Chalmers wrote:[3]
    It is undeniable that some organisms are subjects of experience. But the question of how it is that these systems are subjects of experience is perplexing. Why is it that when our cognitive systems engage in visual and auditory information-processing, we have visual or auditory experience: the quality of deep blue, the sensation of middle C? How can we explain why there is something it is like to entertain a mental image, or to experience an emotion? It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does.''
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    I don't have free will, but there is a sale on with a good discount.

    Who discounted the sale and who said they had a choice? :P
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChessLoneDome View Post
    The real problem of consciousness, as they are properly called the ''Hard Problems'' because it's really a group of problems rather than just one. Scientists at first appeared on the right track questioning phenomenon like qualia: But the question was flawed I believed simply because perception of color, size, substance would most likely be a learning experience from birth... no doubt written into genes.

    Charmers Formulation, is something I'd like to call a revolutionary hypothesis for it's time, because it appears to predate Tegamark in the theory that consciousness appears more than what it is physically measurable

    In Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness, Chalmers wrote:[3]
    It is undeniable that some organisms are subjects of experience. But the question of how it is that these systems are subjects of experience is perplexing. Why is it that when our cognitive systems engage in visual and auditory information-processing, we have visual or auditory experience: the quality of deep blue, the sensation of middle C? How can we explain why there is something it is like to entertain a mental image, or to experience an emotion? It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does.''
    I agree with Chalmer's basic conception of the "hard problem," but I'm not sure I agree with his conclusion, which is that consciousness is ultimately some non physical property that will never be explained by conventional science. Much of his argument rests on the idea of the philosophical zombie - that someone could look and act like us in every way, but not really be conscious, so consciousness must be something more, something non-physical. Perhaps, but like with perpetual motion machines, one propose any scenario one likes - it doesn't mean that thing really can exist, that a philosophical zombie really would be like us in every other way. I'm not saying a computer couldn't duplicate human behavior well enough to fool someone in a Turing test, but for humans, consciousness may be necessary for how we do things - and not an "add-on" or an epiphenomenon. Philosophers lament that we'll never understand consciousness without some radical paradigm shift in our understanding of the universe, but neuroscientists continue to chip away at the hard problem by studying the easy ones.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    neuroscientists continue to chip away at the hard problem by studying the easy ones.
    I like that idea but surely what we consider consciousness is the very essence of what is subjective as opposed to objective.

    And objectivity is ,in contrast practically the very essence of the scientific method making the scientific method quite useless here. .

    I have no objections and would applaud each increment of knowledge around the subject and the phenomenon but can you honestly believe that ,if anyone was to say they had identified "consciousness" that there would ever be a consensus that he or she was correct.


    There would always be a fly in the ointment. The subject would never be laid to rest.

    Of course it is good and vital to have questions that do not permit of an answer.


    That may be ,in a circular way why we will probably never accept an answer that doesn't suit us either.
    Last edited by geordief; May 25th, 2014 at 02:55 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RickArcher View Post
    …and it seems to me that there is no problem with consciousness.
    Then you've apparently not understood the problem.
    Well, perhaps so. I thought the problem was the apparent paradox between an automatic system and free will.

    [QUOTE=Dywyddyr;567374]
    Quote Originally Posted by RickArcher View Post
    Who says we do have free will?
    We say?


    Lucy, #7 - you do surpise me when you state "computers do not have a centralised 'control room' such as the brain…". I thought the CPU served that funtion. Then you go on to say "…or a specific purpose ie movement or taking information from the environment in order to maintain an internal homeostatic system such as body temperature or blood flow. Computers are programmed by humans and used by humans and the traffic on it in no way reflects a purposeful self organising system like the central nervous system."

    Well, could you not say that we have been programmed by nature? And used by nature? Just as nature gives us our needs and wants, so do we give computers their needs and wants. Computers do not know that something else i.e. us humans, are giving them their wants, they have no conception of us, they have no senses, all they know is they suddenly have a 'want' to do something (or do they feel forced?). How that 'something' appears to them is anyone's guess, but to us it is opening up Word or Photoshop and using it.


    I presume you need senses in order to be conscious? Is that right? Consciousness is being aware of your surroundings and reacting to them. So, when we give computers senses and the ability to react to them, and perhaps a reason to react to them, would they not have consciousness, and free will? If not, why not?

    It would of course be a completely different kind of consciousness to ours. We are made from different materials, we have to have food and water to keep going, our brains are wired differently, we don't work as consistently as a computer, we can't access all our knowledge in one go, we have that chemical synapse bit that is not consistent, therefore, whereas a computer will always give you the same answer to the same question, we will give a different answer depending on how much of our memory we can access at any given time (and many other reasons as well). All these differences, and more, mean that they would have a different kind of consciousness to us but I don't see anything in those differences that tells me they could not have consciousness, or free will.

    If a computer is not thinking, then what is it doing? And as far as I know it could be thinking what it wants to think (controlled by us), just as we think what we want to think (controlled by nature). The thing is, for a computer without senses, what is it like? What would we be like if we lost all our senses? Would that be the same as dreams?


    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    Despite agreeing with other parts of what you say you still have not solved the hard problem of consciousness just by saying WE are the complicated processes of the nervous system -


    Well I don't know, you see, if you actually ARE the processes involved then cannot the other feelings you mention follow? The 'me' feeling will inevitibly follow if you actually are the automatic processes of the brain and body. I don't see the continuity feeling as anything unusual about our experience. We have memory, continuity I think follows such an ability. Evolution has given us memory so that we can learn from past experiences, otherwise we die.

    Interesting what you say about language and perhaps that is the reason we do not have baby memories, but as to whether language affects our sense of self I have doubts. That implies that any animal that does not have a language has no sense of self. Mmmm, don't know about that.

    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    Ah. OK rich. You seem to be thinking that somehow conciousness flashes into existence once a certain number of cause and effect events are happening per second. Kind of like an of/on switch. There are different levels of conciousness though and it is the memory loops that seem to matter more than the processing.
    I'm puzzled you think that. Here's a quote from my previous post:-


    Quote Originally Posted by RickArcher View Post
    The question that Susan is basically trying to understand I think is at what point does a collection of cause and effects produce consciousness. Well I don't think it's a black and white answer were you can draw a line and state that above this line consciousness exists, below it it does not. I think it's a gradual effect depending on the degree of complication. The more complicated and numerous the cause and effects the more complicated and informed is the state of consciousness.


    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    Consciousness as a State of Matter
    Max Tegmark
    Dept. of Physics & MIT Kavli Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139
    (Dated: January 8, 2014)
    [1401.1219] Consciousness as a State of Matter
    ...consciousness is the way information feels when being processed in certain complex ways ……


    That's it, that's what I am trying to say. We actually are the processes involved. The fact that those process are governed by the laws of physical, biological and chemical cause and effect does not push free will out of the picture if you are those cause and effects.

    Thanks for all the responses folks, my head is spinning. I'm in the middle of a course assessment at the moment so can't put much time to this, but I'm reading, enjoying, and being mighty confused by the responses (of course). It also takes ages for me to respond because whenever I place text in this forum I have to edit it all because it joins up some words. Why does it do that?
    Rich
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickArcher View Post

    I'm puzzled you think that. Here's a quote from my previous post:-
    OK, I must have misread or missed it for some reason.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    neuroscientists continue to chip away at the hard problem by studying the easy ones.
    I like that idea but surely what we consider consciousness is the very essence of what is subjective as opposed to objective.

    And objectivity is ,in contrast practically the very essence of the scientific method making the scientific method quite useless here. .
    The subjectivity has traditionally been the big stumbling block, and a big reason why philosophers have said it will never be explained by science. (For example Thomas Nagel in his famous essay "What is like to be a bat.")

    But even there I think we are making headway. Although we can't share first hand someone else's subjective experience of consciousness, at least we are finding ways to measure or veriify aspects of it with things like fMRI, PET scans.

    And even before this technology became wide spread, neuroscientists like VS Ramachandran came up with some ingenious experiements to investigate peoples experience of consciousness and qualia. You might like this article by him
    Three Laws of Qualia

    What Neurology Tells Us about the Biological
    Functions of Consciousness, Qualia and the Self

    http://www.ignaciodarnaude.com/espir...ess,Qualia.pdf
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    If something can be physically measured, it can be investigated by science. Given that all signs point to consciousness arising from physical processes, I don't see how anyone could think the scientific method is useless for examining it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curiosity View Post
    If something can be physically measured, it can be investigated by science. Given that all signs point to consciousness arising from physical processes, I don't see how anyone could think the scientific method is useless for examining it.
    Well since I said it I will explain what I meant.

    I am sure we can and should investigate what we perceive as consciousness (and its manifestations) but I would be very doubtful indeed if there could ever come a time when we could sit back and say "well that's it then" and move onto the next area of research.

    I expect there will always be loose ends and that quite likely the "ends" will always be longer (and growing longer) than the rope itself.

    And I do think there are other areas of investigation (all areas apart from areas where the mind of the researcher is part of the area being investigated) where you expect to be able to say that the job is now finished and all the necessary conclusions have been drawn.

    I am just saying ,yes you can and should investigate according to the scientific method but not to expect (or even wish for) total success .
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    And even before this technology became wide spread, neuroscientists like VS Ramachandran came up with some ingenious experiements to investigate peoples experience of consciousness and qualia. You might like this article by him
    Three Laws of Qualia

    What Neurology Tells Us about the Biological
    Functions of Consciousness, Qualia and the Self

    http://www.ignaciodarnaude.com/espir...ess,Qualia.pdf
    thanks but I will have to pass on that as it seems too complicated and hard going for me. I will try to look at it some time but I don't have the time or energy (or maybe even concentration abilities) at the moment.

    I realize that devalues the opinions I expressed if I can't be bothered to back them up by reading and going through what looks like serious research....
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    And even before this technology became wide spread, neuroscientists like VS Ramachandran came up with some ingenious experiements to investigate peoples experience of consciousness and qualia. You might like this article by him
    Three Laws of Qualia

    What Neurology Tells Us about the Biological
    Functions of Consciousness, Qualia and the Self

    http://www.ignaciodarnaude.com/espir...ess,Qualia.pdf
    thanks but I will have to pass on that as it seems too complicated and hard going for me. I will try to look at it some time but I don't have the time or energy (or maybe even concentration abilities) at the moment.

    I realize that devalues the opinions I expressed if I can't be bothered to back them up by reading and going through what looks like serious research....
    No that's quite all right. I just toss stuff like that out there, things I stumbled on in the past because of articles or books other people have mentioned to me. Sometimes I follow up and sometimes I just make a mental note of it.

    I like Ramachandran's articles and books ("The Tell-tale Brain") He's an engaging writer for both the scientist and non-scientist. He's not quite as cynical or narrow in interpretation as people like Daniel Dennett or Richard Dawkins or Patricia Churchland, who do tend to describe humans as mere biological machines. Ramachandran doesn't shy away from talking about consciousness or will (free or not) or even art, but at the same time, he's very logical and ultimately it's all about the experimental evidence.
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    Neuroscience is a tough field :P pretty complicated stuff, which is one of the reasons I'm pursuing it. Seems like constantly interesting and difficult stuff to learn more about, and to me, is one of the most fascinating things to study in the universe so far.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Never saw anyc onflict between determinism and free will since our consciousness with input from our subconscious are all of one organ and clearly still "us,"and thus the decisions maker.


    Just noticed this - yes, I think this is what I am saying. There is only a conflict between determinism and free will if you separate yourself from the cause and effect system which is your brain i.e. a soul, spirit. In fact it may be wrong to say the phrase 'your brain' because that implies the brain is a possession of yours. It is not, it is actually you.

    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    Yet even if our actions are determined by a combination of factors, even if they could be accurately predicted, that doesn't mean consciousness - awareness and self awareness, feelings and the experience of qualia (the redness of an apple, the softness of velvet, pain and pleasure) doesn't exist.


    I agree, and the same applies to free will (if they are separate). The fact that if someone, or some computer, had the ability to examine all the billions (and I mean actual billion i.e. a million million) of causes and effects that go into making every decision you make, then your decisions could be predicted, does not alter free will at all because all those billions of causes and effects actually are you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stargate View Post
    As I see it free will is multidimensional, how do you grasp the concept of free will, first of all free of what? how do you define consciousness when it is always adding and subtracting, and appears as a moving target?


    Mmmm, I don't see that free will has to have anything to do with dimensions. This business of what free will is free from I think is a bit of a red herring. This is referring to what causes us to have to make decisions in the first place. For instance, the fact that I may have to make a decision on whether to get some bread today if I've run out because my body wants bread therefore I am being forced to make such a decision I don't think is a part of the determinism / free will debate. What is part of the debate I think is how I make that decision. Do I feel my decision to get or not get bread is actually my decision, or do I feel as if on 'automatic' as I walk into town like a zombie and buy some bread.

    Free will is the choice to choose a path, the fact that we are forced to choose paths doesn't have anything to do with free will. Even if you think there is only one path available we still have free will because actually I don't think you can have less than two choices, there is always the choice not to take that one path, and perhaps die as a result. I don't think there can ever be less than two choices in life. One where we live, one where we die (unless of course you are being held captive, but that is not relevant to this debate).

    Crumbs, well that's set me up for the day. Right, now shall I continue writing up my course assignment? Or shall I just say 'Sod it' and fail the course? Mmmm, decisions decisions. Forced upon me. Why can't I be free from all these decisions? And therefore have free will?
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