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FREE WILL AND THE REALITY


GISMO5367
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Hi Gismo,

The Free-Will problem is one of my all time favorite subjects!

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First allow me to make a super simple overview to bring everyone else on board.

We humans have a Sense of Agency, that is, we see ourselves as free-will agents, meaning that have freedom to certain things, such as freedom to choose, freedom to think, freedom to act, freedom to do otherwise, etc. (depending on the various definitions that have been proposed).

The classic simplest example is that I have the freedom to decide to raise my left hand, and, provided there are no physical barriers, the will to put my hand in motion to getting it raised.

For most people, this Sense of Agency reflects a very real and trivial human capacity, without any form of conflict or subtleties.  However, as it turns out, the notion of free-will (and the associated sense of agency) is full of conflicts and subtleties. And for many, full of incompatibilities with all the things we know about the world.

So, since antiquity, there is this thing called "The Free Will Problem". Roughly, there are two sides, one claiming that free will is just an illusion, a mere phycological sense (of agency); another claiming that freewill is a real human capacity.  And on both sides there are lots of arguments, and of different types.

The debate is very heated and still ongoing, and I will NOT try to summarize all the different arguments on either side. It is a huge, highly controversial topic, but you can get a very good short summary here: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/, or explore the topic in much more detail from here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/dfwIntroIndex.htm

I will however briefly present a couple of the common arguments against and for free-will.

The common argument against free will goes like this: when I cause, by my will, my hand to be raised, the hand moves and raises. But, we know-or seem to know-all the glory details about how, exactly and down to the biomolecular level, a hand gets raised, and that explanation (of the biomechanical process of a hand moving) is, or seems to be, in direct conflict with the idea of some sort of non-physical, external, causative agent. 

That is, as far as we know, all physical processes have physical causes, and there doesn't seem to be a way to fit an idea of free-will as a physical cause. 

In this view, those against free-will simply reject free-will all together for being contradicted by, incompatible with, the deterministic view of physical reality (which is the predominant view and states that all things happen strictly as dictated by the predetermined and independent laws of physics).  

A contemporary common argument in favor of free-will offers a definition of free-will as being a compatible neurological phenomena, yet to be found, that (physically) causes the actions dictated.

Another common argument in favor offers a compatibilist definition on the basis of the so-called Cartesian Dualism (or a variation of it): that is, the idea that the soul and the body interact but are distinct types of things, with the (deterministic) physical laws governing only the physical body, with the ethereal soul having free-will.

---

I have only glossed over the papers, so I can only comment superficially. 

The first paper directly addresses, and seems to somewhat accept, the so called Libet experiments. These are a series of neurological tests of free-will which claim to have provided evidence indicating that our sense of agency (and free-will) as illusory. There is a good discussion about it here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/libetnew.html.

For a number of reasons that I can't detail here... in my not-so-humble opinion, the Libet experiments have failed to properly address the problem of free-will at its core, and had merely touched on the correlated but different problems of our sense of agency, our conscious awareness of that, and the neural correlates of them.  In my opinion, these experiments do not properly consider the intrinsic fundamental difference between, on the one hand, our actual consciousness, our actual awareness, our actual decisions, and the direct effects of our will, and, on the other hand, the empirical observation of those at  the level of the neural correlates as well as the level of their communicative reporting.

Being these experiments of a neurological nature, the conclusions stand on the a priory proposition that the brain processes are causes rather than effects, which need not be the case (and which I don't think it is).

The papers on the ideomotor theory are interesting.  

Briefly, Ideomotor Phenomena started as an explanation for hypnosis, suggesting that thoughts (or ideas), even those of which we are not consciously aware of, can cause the body to act upon them (without us being a direct cause of it).  The theory was quickly used to explain things such as séance table turnings, ouija board movements, etc.... the theory being the ideas from the unconscious mind can still cause our body to move (hence the ideomotor term).

In the context of free-will, ideomotor theory has been used against it by showing that "is possible for me to move my body yet not volitionally (willing to do it)".

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My own personal take on this heated topic is that we do, in fact, have free will. But... so does everything else, including the zillions of entities that make up my body, including all the way down to, say, a single electron.

This idea isn't new nor mine, is just not that popular yet. There is in fact a Theorem showing that, IF an experimenter on quantum mechanics has free-will as expressed by the freedom to choose an experimental design, then the elementary particles in the experiment also have, necessarily, free-will: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will_theorem.

A model of reality in which everything is a conscious free-will agent, not just us humans, directly dissolves most of the free-will problem.

For instance...

I like to use something I call "The Business Company, Role Playing Game Model of a biological organism" (such as a human being).

Briefly, the model states that, for instance, my body is a hierarchical network of "others" with "me" being just its CEO. That is, unlike the cartesian dualist model in which I am the consciousness and my body is the (unconscious) machine, here, both me and the parts of my body are all conscious.

When I want to raise my hand, my free-will allows me to, volitionally, communicate that down the hierarchy, but that's about it. The hand then moves because, if, and when, every single free-will agent in the networks follows, volitionally as well, the "command" communicated by my as the CEO of my body.

[The Role-Playing Game part refers to the fact that, in this view, everything in the reality is ethereal, everything is a unit of consciousness, and all the non-ethereal "objects" are strictly phenomenological...  they only reside "in the collective heads", so to speak, of those playing the game]

 

There is a LOT more that can be said about this but I wanted to provide a brief overview as well as my own personal take at it.

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Hi Fernando,

Nice to hear from you and thank you very much for your profound and detailed comments. They gave me new ideas for reflection !

 

After reading your text, especially the following your thoughts aroused my interest. (My comments are below):

 

-The Free-Will problem is one of my all time favorite subjects!

-The classic simplest example is that I have the freedom to decide to raise my left hand, and, provided there are no physical barriers, the will to put my hand in motion to getting it raised.

-The common argument against free will goes like this: when I cause, by my will, my hand to be raised, the hand moves and raises. But, we know-or seem to know-all the glory details about how, exactly and down to the biomolecular level, a hand gets raised, and that explanation (of the biomechanical process of a hand moving) is, or seems to be, in direct conflict with the idea of some sort of non-physical, external, causative agent. 

-A contemporary common argument in favor of free-will offers a definition of free-will as being a compatible neurological phenomena, yet to be found, that (physically) causes the actions dictated.

-Another common argument in favor offers a compatibilist definition on the basis of the so-called Cartesian Dualism (or a variation of it): that is, the idea that the soul and the body interact but are distinct types of things, with the (deterministic) physical laws governing only the physical body, with the ethereal soul having free-will.

- the intrinsic fundamental difference between, on the one hand, our actual consciousness, our actual awareness, our actual decisions, and the direct effects of our will, and, on the other hand, the empirical observation of those at  the level of the neural correlates as well as the level of their communicative reporting.

-Being these experiments of a neurological nature, the conclusions stand on the a priory proposition that the brain processes are causes rather than effects, which need not be the case (and which I don't think it is).

- The theory being the ideas from the unconscious mind can still cause our body to move (hence the ideomotor term). In the context of free-will, ideomotor theory has been used against it by showing that "is possible for me to move my body yet not volitionally (willing to do it)".

-My own personal take on this heated topic is that we do, in fact, have free will. But... so does everything else, including the zillions of entities that make up my body, including all the way down to, say, a single electron. A model of reality in which everything is a conscious free-will agent, not just us humans, directly dissolves most of the free-will problem.

 

 

“Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.”

— Marcus Aurelius

 

-       I think the concept ”free will” is in some respects a human-made illusion, as far as our live here on our globe is concerned.: if we look at the course of events from an astronomical point of view, it is predictable when the life cycle of our own sun will end, and when it will become a white dwarf and all life on Earth will also end - no matter what we or any other physical beings and life forms living there behave. All stars like our own center star follow the same formula and the same fate awaits everyone. All minor events in our life are linked to this scenario in one way or another, which we don’t fully understand

-       The concepts fate , destination, will, change and form are linked to the idiom ”time”, which probably also is a human made illusion due to the limitations of our comrehension. When reading the reports of many well known EVP/ITC researchers, it appears that communicators from the other side or our fellow human beings who have moved beyond, do not understand the passage of time. ”Past” , ”present” and ”future” are for them one and the same thing. They are able to answer to our questions before we ask them, see ”the future” and see the result of some ”test” we have planned to do even before the test itself has been started. It has also been witnessed and confirmed, that mortals ( some of us) have a special spiritual gift and ability to predict the future. This strongly violates the laws of free will. Also without the concept of ”time” divination is impossible. However, if we have more detailed information about the cause of events correlated to time, the prediction becomes more precise ( such as modern weather forecasts based on evolving meteorological data. However, chaos theory linked with climate change explains, that in the future surprising and capricious weather conditions will increase and become more difficult to predict

-       Our self – as most people experience and understand it – is aqain an illusion.  Many EVP messages seem to indicate,  that people living in afterlife work and act as a ”team” ( ”we are the living, we are the dead”. Is my father there ? Answer: ”He is always with us”. ”We see and hear everything” etc. Not always direct answers do direct and honest questions and a longer interacticve  discussion is a rare event)  They seem to have some kind of group soul or at least like minded souls seek company with like-minded entities and the boundary fences between these groups are closely guarded.

Please See also :

Michael Newton’s books : The Journey of Souls and The Destiny of Souls

Amazon.com : Newton: The journey of souls

 

 This documentation shows – according to my opinion – that our ”will” is not free, neither here on earth, nor beyond. But the problem is in the concept ”self”. According to the Finnish psychiatrist Reima Kampman, our self is composed of different personalities, who manifest themselves as  as different people, whose characteristics may even be opposite to each other. ( Unfortunately, in this study, these personalities also changed their stories  in later sessions under hypnotic regression.)

 

·         Kampman, Reima 1973: Hypnotically induced multiple personality. An experimental study. Acta Universitates Ouluensis, Series D, Medica No. 6 Psychiatrica No. 3. University of Oulu, Oulu.

Link:

Hypnotically induced multiple personality: An experimental study: International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis: Vol 24, No 3-4 (tandfonline.com)

·         Other references:

Hervey M. Thigpen, Corbett H.; Cleckley (Author): The 3 faces of Eve   

Link:

The 3 Faces of Eve: Thigpen, Corbett H.; Cleckley, Hervey M.: 9780445081376: Amazon.com: Books

 

Bernstein Morey: The Search for Bridey Murphy

Link:

Amazon.com: The Search for Bridey Murphy: 9780385260039: Morey Bernstein: Books

 

Jane Robert’s famous book ”The Seth Material” shows that some  ”spirits” might  be a kind of group beings who may also have the ability to manifest in different dimensions at the same time (Actually ”Seth” manifested during an Ouja session and finally started to dominate Jane Robert’s thought forms which led to a collection of unique documents and books on the ability of spirits to make them perceptile and affect the destiny of an individual’s life.

Link:

Amazon.com : The seth material

 

In summary, I think our body, including our brains and everything linked to their ”material” function is temporary and subject to change. They are deteriorated and destroyed  over time and are left behind at the moment of death. Our self is a different thing than our will and our subliminal self (or selves) are finally responsible for our decisions. Our ”conventional self working and acting  in concrete everyday reality” is only an executor of our subconscious mind /will and its abilities. We should also remember,  that also our physical body is a collection of several different living things:  cells, tissues and ”creatures” + their action ( for example -> effect of white cells and  immunological system on wound healing, bacterial colonisation of our digestive system and even existence of specific bacteria which ”live in our brains” being responsible for their wellfare. All these events start up without our will or decision – by itself.

 

GISMO5367

 

 

 

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This is a really great topic! I also like to look at the theories of destiny and where that plays a role. If you believe in destiny, a predetermined plan of what we're supposed to fulfill with our time here - it's interesting looking at the whole picture. 

From my experience, things generally go very well when I'm on the correct "path". If I alter, get derailed, get caught up in my own stubbornness, etc things generally don't go as well overall. So while I believe there are many factors at play in free-will (our decisions that take us down one path or another), there is a huge influence by what we are meant to be doing as well. 

I also agree that once we have passed on, crossed over to that other side - we act as more of a "one" or team as mentioned vs individual "self". I've thought of this more like - working together in a much more efficient way than we do here. There's no competition once there. There's no self-interest, just a oneness in the greater good. That's my impression any way:) 

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Thank you Marie for your interesting comments. Based on many reports and stories from different lay people (including myself),  it seems,  that (in many cases) life goes more "smoothly" and without any major disasters, if we follow the "right path" and don't violate our ethical code. However, when I explore further people's life stories, I am no longer so sure that the good always gets paid and vice versa: Many" really good and innocent people" might have a spooky fate, only bad luck and indefinite suffering for a lifetime for no particular reason. The "wise" say, that suffering is a teacher, but I don't sign this statement in all life situations.

Electronic voices and direct radio voices seem to confirm  at least five facts (1) we are not free to do whatever we like, neither in this life, nor in afterlife (2) Life in the afterlife/ other dimension is based on group soul principle (3) At that "plane", to which we are transitioned  immediately after leaving our physical body,  emotions are more important than reasoning and common sense (4) all souls there are "equal" (without any competition, egoism or without collecting money and goods or running for fame and glory) (5) Everything related to "the passage of time" and "form" is doomed to disappear later or sooner.

Anabela Cardoso has a chapter worth considering also related to the concept  "free will" in her new book Glimpses of Another world - Impressions and Reflections of an EVP Operator: Link -> 

https://www.amazon.com/Glimpses-Another-World-Impressions-Reflections-ebook/dp/B094T4854M/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Anabela+cardoso&qid=1637615081&sr=8-1

Please see also the attached uploaded file (PDF-document)

GISMO5367

ACARDOSO-FREE WILL-1.pdf

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I love this conversation!

Let me refine in more detail what I think about this, so I can address what the two of you have said.

DISCLAIMER: Everything that follows is in my humble opinion and it contains a lot of descriptions about how things are and work, which, of course, might not be accurate at all. But it is the way I see them.

The fact that our body is a network of "others" has very interesting consequences. For example,  if I, say, cut my finger, it is actually the finger, not me, the one with the injury. Yet, it feels as if I had cut myself. Why is that? Becase we are empathically linked with our body. What those "others", the body, feel... I feel too.

The non-single-self which is covered in so much after-life literature (and which you too mentioned), can in fact be experienced and analyzed here and now. We just need to carefully consider how "we" are, in a way, distinct and separate from our body, yet, we experience it (the body) as our own self. 

Now...

If I feel "myself in pain", when, in reality, those others in my finger are the ones really injured, what about "my" thoughts? Could the thoughts of those others--which are my body--be perceived as my own just as well? I think is only logical to consider that, to some extent, yes, that is indeed the case.

And what about decisions? if I see a girl that I think is super attractive, and "I decide" to ask her out... how much of that decision comes actually from my brain responding to the neurochemistry of infatuation, and how much directly from me (the incarnated spirit)?

From this view, I would agree to a certain extent that our sense of agency, that is, free-will considered at the level of human behavior, is more of a sense than a reality. I would say that we (driving spirits) "have a saying", expressed through our will which is free, on what we humans (as a network) do.

Let me add some details here about this "network of others"...

We are the incarnated, driving spirit and are linked to a biological body. The biological body is a network of others, since even matter, itself, is conscious. But that's not all. We also have something else, which spiritists call "peri-body" (and new age literature calls etheric or vital body). That peri-body parallels the biological body, but is made of hemi-etheric matter, which is, itself, conscious, just as the physical matter is.

And just as the biological body has a special, governing organ: the brain. The hemi-etheric peri-body has a special, governing organ: the mind. The mind is not us, spirits, but is not the brain either, is something else.

Let me come up with another analogy for a human being: a Government. We spirits are like the president. The brain is like the governors, and the mind is like the senate, the ministers and the judges. 

In this analogy, what does the president do? for instance, does he come up, himself, with a new set of laws? or does he come up, at most, with an idea, an intention, which the senate then takes and turns into a new law? and isn't the senate allowed to come up with laws all by itself without even asking the president? 

We, spirits, are the presidents, the CEOs of this complex, hierarchical thing we call a human being. And because of the way we are all empathically and experientially linked, we feel and think as if we are "the" complex (a human being), but we are just a part of it... a driving part of it, but still just a part.

What does free-will has to do with all that?

Imagine a business company that is loosing money, what does it (the company) do? say it lunches a new product. Did the company's CEO lunch it? or was it the company as a whole? And now suppose we trace back the decisions that led to the action of lunching a new product... maybe the CEO is some Elon Musk and its all him, with the rest of the company just following instructions. But maybe, this CEO just told the board of directors, that he just wishes that he could keep that tropical island, and it is the board of directors who came up with a rough plan about doing something bold, and maybe was the upper management layer who turned it into a new product.

As you can see, it follows from these models that we, incarnated spirits, are the drivers, but we are not the only ones that participate in the decision making that lies behind the manifestation of the "system level" actions. In fact, the actual making of any decision can be entirely delegated, with us having no more than an intention.

 

 

 

These ideas, however, don't really solve the free-will problem.

They merely prevent us from looking for a solution in the wrong place. A human being is a complex, multi-agent system. It doesn't itself have free-will since the phenomena of the system results from the combination of all the participating (free) wills.

So, let's try to figure out what free-will could be from the point of view of a single (hypothetical if necessary) free-will agent. 

Suppose I'm playing a chess game, and further suppose for the sake of the argument that I'm not a human but an unlinked, individual spirit, and I choose to win. Can I also choose arbitrarily how to move the pieces? Don't my choices create a hierarchy so that, for example, choosing a goal takes precedence over choosing specific actions? when I choose to win, how free is the choice of individual moves in the chess game?

One of the most popular contemporary free-will definitions says that it is the ability to do otherwise. Choosing my goal of winning over choosing a specific move is still my free choice, and is demonstrated by the fact that I can, in the end, let myself be defeated, just to get away with moving the pieces how I really wanted.

A CEO can put a new product on hold and instruct everyone to do it again as he pleases. And, just as well, the workers, who have their own free-will to manifest, can go on a strike. 

 

Now...

We are drivers, and our free-will can be manifested even within the constrains and influences of external forces. But, are we, somehow, driven as well as drivers?

I can choose to win, and I can alternatively choose to lose. But, it is a statistical fact that most people chose to win. Why is that? and what does it mean for free-will?

We are goal directed. We (freely) choose our goals, and we organize the course of actions that takes us to those goals, even if we have to sacrifice other choices along the way.

But, as it turns out, we are also, and fundamentally in fact, necessity driven.  I choose to eat when I'm hungry, but I don't choose to be hungry. So, from the point of view of the "ability to do otherwise", yes, I have free-will, but my will isn't as free as the way freedom is usually taken to be. That's because my needs dictate what I have to do, and I will follow (sort of quasi-deterministically) this externally imposed course of action, unless I choose to pay the price of doing otherwise.

We can say that we are, at the essence, free-will agents in the sense of having the ability to do otherwise (at a price), but we are also driven and is that which pre-dictates, pre-traces, quasi-deterministically, the paths that we freely choose to follow (or not, manifesting our free will).

 

 

Now...

We are drivers, yes, and it is that the classical way in which we have free will, but we are also driven.

And all things, everything in reality, from me to an electron, has one essential drive: LOVE.

We are not just built with the capacity, or possibility to Love, we are built with the urge to Love. And that drive, to love, is so powerful that it even turns into a negative force when we neglect it. And gets easily confused with the desire to be loved rather than do love.

And we can even say that all necessities (like hunger, or reciprocation) are ultimately manifestations, functional or distorted, of this essential urge, or drive, to love.

 

 

We are given free-will so that we can ultimately choose our intentions, decisions and actions, but we are also given the drive to love. This way, our choices are free (in the sense of doing otherwise, going against that drive to love), but they are not arbitrary, they are not free in the "libertarian" sense. 

There are, then, good and bad choices, and we can, ultimately, pick either one (due to our free-will), but the wrong choice has a penalty whereas the right choice has a reward. God's wisdom is so perfect that we have, in our essence, free-will and the drive to love, but also, the cognitive ability to choose according to that inner drive, to distinguish right from wrong. As an aspect of that cognitive ability, we also have the essential guide of universal wisdom. That essential universal guide is a sort of compass, an innate way to tell right from wrong (which comes from God, the source).

In summary...

As human beings we are participants, at the apex, of a complex hierarchical system of other free-will agents, so that what we do as humans, including what we experience, feel, decide, etc... is not singly sourced in our own (as incarnated spirits) individual free-will. 

And even in the after life, we might decouple from the temporary body, but we'll become a part of another system of free-will agents. Which one depends on a number of things, and it changes as we progress further into the planes of existence... forming larger and larger emphatically-linked, experience sharing networks. So we never actually manifest our individual free-will as if we were (or could be) completely separated, unlinked, such that all of our experiences, feelings, thoughts and actions were entirely and exclusively our own.

But... even an emphatically linked, experience sharing, networked system of free-will agents, acting on a coordinated combination of wills, is not the exact same as a single will. So, there is a level at which my own individual will is freely manifested. 

At that level, our will isn't free in the libertarian sense, since we are driven by Love (which itself manifest as several forms of drives, such as necessity), and we are guided by Universal Wisdom, even if we neglect or distort the love, and/or discredit or ignore the universal wisdom.

---

GISMO:

It seems to me that what I've written above aligns, somewhat, with what you said. Specially on your summary at the end of your latest response.

I haven't mentioned anything about time and it's relation to fee-will because that is a very complex and subtle topic by itself, so it should go on a separate thread.

Likewise, I only touched on the connected nature of our existence by showing how as human beings we experience "those others" (our body) as our own selves. But that is also a complex and subtle topic deserving its own thread.


---

Marie:

Indeed, there is a "destination".

Our essential drive to love, as well as our essential ability to tap into the universal wisdom, provides the basis of our fate. But this also deserves a thread on itself, since there is a lot to cover about our life plan, our eternal plan, fate, destiny etc. 

I see Nature as the best example of a perfectly-plan-driven free-will system and that's one thing to learn about nature (but for that we need to stop seeing nature, even the not-really-inanimated objects, as unconscious preprogrammed machines).

A libertarian view of free-will would support the nihilist conception of an ever doomed world, because if I can choose whatever action, equally, then nothing prevents me from choosing the wrong way for all of eternity. But, fortunately, that's not the case. We might say that our will is only optimally free, but no more.
 

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Definitely I will return later to this topic again . Thank you very much for your comments ! I fully agree Fernando's arguments and I am really pleased when hearing something positive about our destiny as a human race, our chances as spiritual beings as well as  claims that are well founded and promote our common good.

But there is still some kind of conflict between our theories and the latest discoveries in neural sciences. As an example I can give the  "concept of astral projection and astral body" There are neurophysiological very good explanations  as well as energy based or spiritual explanations related to this phenomenon -  also real experimental knowledge - which is  based on ancient and well founded theories related to prana, chi, PSI etc.). All this shows, that we are still very far from the final answer when trying to find the limits of human consciousness.

The following links are attached in order to clarify this difficult topic:

https://archive.org/details/TheSerpentPowerByArthurAvalon/page/n17/mode/2up

https://archive.org/details/1929MuldoonCarringtonTheProjectionOfTheAstralBody/page/n25/mode/2up

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535951/

 

 

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