Re: ODP: Free will/consciousness/ineffabili

From: rwas <>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 18:48:13 -0600

Brent Meeker wrote:

> Hello Charles
> On 23-Oct-01, Charles Goodwin wrote:
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: Brent Meeker []
> >> Sent: Wednesday, 24 October 2001 12:06 p.m.
> >> To: Charles Goodwin
> >> Cc:
> >> Subject: RE: ODP: Free will/consciousness/ineffabili
> >>
> >> My intuition doesn't tell me whether or not I would have a 'feeling'
> >> of
> >> free will if I were aware of my subconscious decision processes; but
> >> it's
> >> pretty clear that I could be completely un-conscious and still
> >> behave with
> >> 'free will'; whatever it is.
> >
> > My suggestion is that it's lack of knowledge of these subconscious
> > processes which gives you a feeling of free will. If you don't know
> > what a feeling of free will means (hence the quotes?) I'd suggest it's
> > the feeling that you reached a decision uninfluenced by anything
> > external to yourself.
> You're right, I don't think I know what 'free will' feels like. Do you?
> Have you ever had a feeling of no-free will? The only think like that
> I can think of is having a cramp, or a tremor or a tick. I suppose Dr.
> Strangelove must have had a feeling like that as his right hand tried
> to strangle him. I can't agree that it's a feeling that I reached a
> decision uninfluenced by anything external to me. Would that mean
> putting on a sweater when I'm cold, or because I like the way it looks
> wouldn't be free will.
> Suppose your consciousness were delayed even more than in the Grey
> Walter carousel experiment (more than you now compensate for). Suppose
> there were a 3sec delay instead of 0.30sec. I think you'd feel
> out-of-control; even though nothing had changed about your decision
> processes.
> However if you could follow all the subconscious
> > processes (you couldn't of course, by definition your consciousness
> > isn't aware of them)

This discussion appears to not take in account all the observables of

If one assumes facilities of observation and self observation support
then if someone closes their eyes, does that mean their that part of their
that was associated with interpreting visual input has now become part of
subconscious? If one plugs their ears, are they less conscious than before?
If one
shuts off their symbolic reasoning facility are they less conscious still?

I'd argue they have just changed the manner in which consciousness can


> then you'd see that what felt like an
> > 'uninfluenced' decision was actually the result of past numerous
> > influences, which had caused your brain to have a particular
> > configuration.
> >
> > Yes, presumably you *could* be unconscious and have free will, in the
> > sense that your actions couldn't be predicted accurately by some other
> > agent. (Try to swat a fly and you will see what I mean!)
> >
> >> What if your subconscious decision processes became known to you
> >> *after* you had made your decision and 'felt' that free will. Would
> >> you feel something different then?

I assert that you cannot detect freewill with a consciousness constrained
temporal thinking and expression.

> >
> > I don't see what you mean. You'd probably feel different from how you
> > felt when you made your decision whether you became aware of the
> > subconscious processes or not.
> It's just a thought experiment. I imagine that I'm in some amazing
> brain scanner that is connected to a computer that has analyzed all my
> past decisions, so that when I make a decision (like putting on my
> sweater) the computer immediately displays a list of the reasons and
> how they contributed to my decision.

I suspect such a machine would reveal that thoughts look like a picture
being moved behind a plate with holes drilled in it, where each hole is
representative of a neuron.

Robert W.

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Received on Thu Oct 25 2001 - 17:38:26 PDT

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