Member 15
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Contributor to project:
Joakim Dahlqvist (M, 45)
Milan, IT
Immortal since Jan 26, 2007
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"Whatever you think I am, that is what I am not"
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    Free Will is Not an Illusion
    Raymond Tallis
    Free will is not an illusion

    The Enlightenment idea of conscious, freely acting individuals is worth defending against those who would reduce freedom to neuroscience

    "Collectivism sounds close to cultural determinism, which is no great advance on biological or material determinism. This is where biology, or our bodies anyway, come to the rescue. Yes, we are distanced from nature by the culture we have in common. But we are distanced from culture by our bodies. Our bodies have a unique trajectory through the material world and the cultural spaces we have collectively created. By this double distancing, we are free – to be temporally deep, elaborated selves that so many in the humanities insincerely deny exist, and to be those independent points of departure, that Lucien Goldmann spoke of. We are equipped therefore to act to liberate ourselves from the yoke of nature and the tyranny of custom, practice, and despots; and, even, from the unintended consequences of our best intentions."

    Read full speech

    Thu, Sep 27, 2007  Permanent link

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    folkert     Mon, Oct 1, 2007  Permanent link
    Cool speech. What I got out of it is something along the lines of that free will is possible in the same way consciousness can arise from unrelated mechanistic activity in the brain. That even though the entire nature of reality appears to be causal, our free will is part of a larger, emergent system that comes out of the unrelated causal nature of the world, simply too complex to explain without metaphors, similar to how we also cannot predict a phenomenon like consciousness from simply observing the brain.

    Things that stuck out:
    We obey nature (...) in such a manner as to command it...

    and, poetically:
    uniquely in us, nature opens her eyes and sees that she exists; and, one might add, the laws that connect her events with one another.
    joakim     Tue, Oct 2, 2007  Permanent link
    I think the important emphasis of the speech is a rejection of the trendy claim made by neuroscientists and sci-fi philosophy gurus that, in short, "the game is up" on free will; that evidence and experiments can emprically show free will as an illusory construction. These are simply sensationalist and reduce human activity to bare processing (a metaphor in-itself). They also constain their though to an extremely naive and reductive notion of the concept of free will.

    It is important as such ideas form the stories we tell about ourselves and thus have the power constrain our imagination and limit possibilities. Challenging them will open up new ways of thinking of human activity and agency.