The Absurdity of Free Will

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

Free will can exist only if one takes it to mean freedom to enact one’s own will. Otherwise, I have never been able to conceive of a situation where “free will” isn’t a logical impossibility. Even if free will is part of an arbitrary or random process, is that really free will? It has always bothered me that people won’t let go of the conception of free will, but they can’t even begin to explain how it could work

Winring86

What I got from your essay is that you argue Free Will only exists within randomness.I think it would have been helpful to provide the counterargument to what you think Free Will means for those who don’t agree with this definition, in order to follow your argument in a more two-sided fashion.> But in a war nobody wins, and this is most definitely a war. I don’t agree with the sentiment that this is a war at all. And as such it doesn’t seem appropriate IMO. I also read this essay as biased with its amount of adjectives, even if unintended. I appreciate however that you reject the additional abstraction level, though your argument about the “turtle all the way down” in this context is interesting, for the lack of a better word.From that perspective and without attempting to add too much nonsense in your eyes, I would share my view of this dilemma is more associated to our lack of available and definitive knowledge so far. That personally prevents me from rejecting one speculation for another, as I harbor the assumption all speculations originate in something truthful. A pretty absurd topic indeed, I think we have biologically quite a predisposition and what you call randomness seems to me based on the individual choices and experiences (environmental influences) one goes through that define your probability in accordance or against your predisposition of taking a choice. But from my limited knowledge, our choices shape our responses and with that background randomness in that sense, or the lack of quantifiability at birth seems to me could indeed be free will. Thanks for sharing the essay, it was an interesting read!

lkmira

My point on free will is that it really doesn’t matter if it exists. We do the things that we do. It’s the long lasting influence of some moralising ideas that makes a distinction between “will” and “act”. But there’s no such thing if you look at things closely. That means there’s no free will, but also that there is. What matter is actions

fedeb95

I feel like these arguments are really *really* played out. I started reading a lot of this stuff in my very early teens. I wasn’t socially adept, didn’t identify with a lot of my peers, and didn’t identify with adults either, so I immersed myself in existentialist stuff like this. Spent the next decade or so in a “nothing means anything” depression. Didn’t want to work, didn’t want to plan for the future, really just wanted to stop existing. Now I’m almost 30. No savings, no insurance, up to my eyeballs in debt, still fighting depression and trying to dig out of the hole that I dug. These arguments mean absolutely nothing unless you also consider how to apply them to life. Unless you actually go through with calling it quits it doesn’t matter if our actions are free or predetermined, or a result of quantum randomness, if there isn’t a way to apply that to life you end up not getting where you need to be. I enjoy philosophy, but I think a huge problem is thinking too much about existential questions and not enough about how we fit into the real world. So, while I appreciate OP’s viewpoint, I don’t see the actual point of the argument. Edit: Well, that got far more attention than I’m used to. Wasn’t in the greatest mood this morning, which reflected on how I reacted, but that’s my issue. You’ve all done an excellent job at bringing up why this philosophical argument is important and relevant, and shown why I should give it another look. I’ll be bearing your points in mind when reading more about it. I generally take things at face value and have trouble seeing deeper points unless given the nudge in the right direction. This sub has continued it’s trend of helping me to look a little deeper, and generally helping me out. I learned about stoicism here and that alone is worth it. Seeing how determinism vs free will does indeed affect incredibly important and relevant aspects of our world is rather eye opening. I still don’t know if I buy the “free will is an illusion” deal, but please understand my aversion to it is due to personal experience. Most people I’ve met with that view use it as an excuse to behave terribly and generally shift responsibility away from themselves, or to be an elitist prick. Also, for those of you who have expressed concern and offered well wishes: thank you. Know that I am doing better, action is being taken, and I have more good days than bad.

Quaxximus

I’m going to give you a real critique and be honest with you – I think this is a rather shallow attempt for you to stand on a soap box and proclaim your own personal belief in search of validation rather than trying to come to any kind of truthful conclusion. 1. You don’t present the arguments fairly or extensively enough for any reader to walk away having learned anything. 2. You don’t mention any valid criticisms of Libet’s experiment of which I am sure there are many without even the need to search for them based on how the experiment was conducted 3. The turtles-all-the-way-down “problem” as you put it seems to me to be a perfectly valid counter argument but it seems like you present it almost as if its a fallacy. I don’t understand your reasoning behind your belief that souls would necessarily make “random decisions”. You’re taking an abstract concept like a soul and defining it as a blank slate for some reason – how do you make this assumption? If the possibility that we have souls is something you are willing to mention you should discuss more nuanced arguments over their purpose/utility, otherwise you might as well have just said “the ideas of souls are silly religious nonsense with no evidence and aren’t worth thinking about” I’ve been thinking about this stuff since I was a teenager, but this concept has been debated for thousands of years and it’s not going to stop now just because we have computers and can measure some brain activity. It is intellectually dishonest to try to claim that Libet’s experiment even put a dent in the idea of freewill based on a study of brain activity when our collective knowledge of the brain and the ways it functions is still so rudimentary. All things considered, even for a blog essay this comes off as something written by someone that hasn’t taken the time to really consider the implications of determinism or how complex of an issue free will is. And based on your last few lines I don’t think you really understand human nature either.

WaveRising