I have a scientific mindset and I generally don’t assert things so brazenly, but what follows will be assertive statements, not just believe what I’m about to say, but as a convenient way of putting it all out there for people to try pick apart if they so choose. I know the language of data and stats, causation is not correlation, r value coefficient of determination, p value of under .05, rigorous scientific experiments and empirical observations. I don’t know how the following can logically be false, though I’m not trying to convince anyone either.
Free will is an illusion. I don’t know why people want so hard to believe in it. I don’t know why they need to believe in God either, and those are related. I say I don’t know, even though I once believed in those things, even though in stress I want to believe in god. I actually am more likely to believe in a god or higher powers than in free will.
There is no free will. Everything is fated, down to how you wipe your nose. Everything has been set up already. It just has yet to unfold. We don’t know what will be, but we can be assured that whatever comes was meant to be.
Human action is real and it can change the course of things. Human desire is real. It’s just that man doesn’t choose his own desires, let alone his powers to accomplish them. You just have to keep going upstream.
A lot of action takes place at the level of biochemistry. That’s kind of why I’m writing this. We are biochemical machines. We are. Our biochemistry can make us miserable or it can make us happy, it can make us sick or it can make us healthy. I love the work of Robert Lustig, M.D. He’s kind of my hero. Check him out if you get the chance. It’s still worth while learning. That doesn’t give you any free will, but it gives your system (i.e. you) more knowledge, more degrees of freedom, if you will, to be able to take a better course. Of course all this was already set. You will still have intentions and desires. You will still act on them and identify with them. It’s just that you didn’t choose them. There are still wills. My brother thought if there’s no free will, we should all just become slaves to the nwo. No there are still multiple wills battling it out. I’m not saying whether or not you should fight. That is part of life too, but knowing there is no free will can help you let go of an excess sense of responsibility.
The term sense of responsibility is an overloaded one. It can mean multiple things. It was very healing in Good Will Hunting for doctor played by Robin Williams to keep telling the character played by Matt Damon that “it’s not your fault”. This is what I mean by being able to give up a sense of responsibility, because indeed, nothing was your fault. That’s not at all to say the criminal justice system should be abolished. We do have a sense of responsibility in another sense, but in some sense we are all innocents and losing a sense of innocence, I mean a believe in our own original and perpetual innocence is challenging. This has been hard for me. I feel like I’m innocent, that I never mean to hurt anybody, but yet as a man with desires I’m a risk to others and those I love. We all need this belief in our innocence for true total health I feel like, and realizing there is no free will can help that.
This is very much about brain healing.
Is this buddhist? I never saw myself as a buddhist. I’m not trying to follow any path.
I find realizing that there’s no free will and discussing that fact to be relaxing. In fact, one of the most relaxing things ever, which is why I’m doing it. I don’t mean to preach. I’m very much a student of life, a scholar of things, because that is my interest. I am learning data science and computer algorithms. I love history, languages, skills. I bow to the masters. If I speak assertively here, it’s because what I say is right. At the very least, worthy of a spokesman, a devil’s advocate. Ah, that’s interesting, even among the non religious, they still find devils out and about. They have a hard time letting go of the notion of free will. Then again, there’s a lot to parse, to specify, and the devil is in the details. Let’s explore those details.
There’s still Consciousness! There’s still existence. There’s still you. You are still alive, and you can feel alive, and you can feel free for that matter, and it’s good to feel that way. There are still positive affects and states like happiness, and negative affects and states like depression. I almost put pleasure as a positive. Pleasure is a trap. Everyone knows that. There’s a pleasure sweet spot, because there’s a dopamine sweet spot. Too much is bad and leads to depression and addiction, and too little is bad, it leads to lethargy and listlessness and depression. That’s just how the brain is configured. The neurons have to down-regulate themselves so they don’t die from overstimulation. Serotonin is different, but I haven’t gotten that far in the book. I find it interesting though how things are set up in biology, and in biology inside anatomy and physiology, and in anatomy and sub-anatomy, even in geometry. Geometrical-determinism. I’m just saying you drill down far enough, you often come to the simplest elements giving birth to complex elements. Not necessarily and it doesn’t have to be the case. I’m not wedded to that idea, I just enjoy seeing it.
Speaking of brain, what’s interesting is that whether you’re born in country or city can determine your amygdala size. I haven’t studied this but Robert Sapolinski said it, so I’m sure it’s true. If our physical brain state is determined by something non-physical, indirectly physical but more sensorious, how much of our brains and personality can be shaped.
Let’s say we are hardened up, grown up and insular, and won’t change based on culture, but we find ourselves in a new culture. The results we get from life might change, because they are largely a function of culture and environment. The communists were right and the capitalists always downplayed the role of environment. The communists used their knowledge to create the police state and in the liberal left, the nanny state. I don’t know which is worse. If you’re going to spit at me don’t tell me it’s raining. I don’t know why but many capitalists are god believers. I find nothing wrong in religion or believing in god, provided it is a good one. I consider myself a cultural christian, like people are cultural jews. I also consider myself a cultural pagan, so I can be an agnostic, atheist, christian and pagan all at once. Because I make the rules. It actually makes sense from a cultural perspective. If they didn’t want me taking that label (and I do go to church sometimes, for the community, music, sermons etc because connecting is very important* to me**), then they shouldn’t have overtaken europe by the sword years ago in the middle ages. I just am. I just see value in religion even though I don’t believe in any dogma. Lustig says that the connection/community aspect of religion gives serotonin and the dogma gives the dopamine. I get the dopamine from the coffee, when they serve it good, and maybe from an interesting sermon, but I don’t go for the dopamine.
If there is no free will, then what should we do, become listless? Actually I realized this automatically when I started thinking about it and talking about it but to me it was not depressing or anxiety begetting but the opposite, it was relaxing. It was burden lifting. I feel two things in life- burden and isolation. I don’t have a heavy actual burden. I wish I did. I might feel I was contributing and discharging responsibilities, that I was connected too. I suffer from lack of burden, but I suffer from burden of proof, if I want connection. I can connect on the surface but I can’t go deep. By deep I don’t mean verbal. I mean intimate and familial, not like I want. I just feel like there’s a lot resistance, walking on eggshells. I like to be around people, in the center of relationships, part of relationships but I feel a burden of expectations in getting there that I don’t seem to be meeting. So poor me. I didn’t chose to make my mistakes in life and they were destined. It’s easy to accept there is no free will. It’s much harder to accept the potentiality of certain fates- doom in other words. Doom. Paradoxically it is peasurable and relaxing when you can actually face it, face your fears. I think I avoid that, the idea that an empty future is possible. I want to think positively but that only prolonges the subconscious frustration.
BTW Americans are long on positivity, can do it attitude, and god. I’m fine with all these things. I have some patriotism. You don’t have to question too much. Just enjoy patriotism. I do. But at the end of the day, that attitude might help them build businesses and get things done, which is why it’s good, but for the losers, they can realize it’s just fate playing tricks on you. I don’t consider myself a loser. Actually I don’t know. I just used that word because I felt like it.
All feelings and states are in your head. They are all biochemical. Actually many are in your gut too. Neurotransmitters and neurons are just as much in your gut as your head. What’s strange is that certain things trigger release of certain transmitters, that totally change our mood and state, but we can’t control them like we can our voluntary muscles. We are passive captors. All we can try do is achieve the circumstances that produce their release, and do this in a wise way that doesn’t put us into a place of addiction.
We have a lot of fuses sticking out, we have to take care not to get lit. Sometiems it can’t be helped.
The brain is what makes us do. The hormones are what make our brains do. The environment makes our hormones do. There can be other paths, other arrows on this flow chart but that’s the backbone of it. We are slaves to our environment, and biology and history, and the laws of physics. We are still people, with unique personalities, with consciousness, with sets of desires that can be activated or deactivated. We are not automata. We are robots in a sense but we are more than robots in another sense. I know robots don’t have consciousness. The fact that our desires can be turned on or off should be the coup de grace of the idea we have free will since we didn’t freely choose to will what we do in fact will, but I get that not everyone wants to go deep.
The entry point for this conversation is not for me to stand on a pulpit and get into idle philosophical chit chat. I have better things to do. The entry point that I connect to this topic is handling stress and outcome and from a personal health point of view.
I have often studied great works from great people in sciences or arts. Often I know just enough to be in awe and I’m not at their level, and that’s fine, but these same people, I can often take their work and go farther with it in terms of conclusions. This has been commonly done. People who work on hormones or the sciences might still believe in free will. Granted they have jobs and roles in society that they have to keep. Neither of us has free will but they might also lack a degree of freedom outside that, to say and do as they will.
Jeff Bezos has no more free will than you or I, but he has a much greater “dynamic range” (stole that term from sound engineering). That’s why you should still learn things and get rich and grow, because it opens up possibilities. You can do more and know more and make better choices. Your brain is going to still make the choice for you, and your consciousness will be attendant to it but it will be able to pick from a wider array of options. BTW people think they have free will because of how close in time consciousness is to the act of making a choice. In reality your brain made the choice and then gave you the illusion or consciousness of having made it. Maybe your consciousness is even an instrument in carrying it out. It probably is, but the choice was fixed. Anyone who even believes in the subconscious and how vast it is computing things has to realize that if there is free will, that it can only be as big as the conscious mind, which may be between .1-10% of all the “mind”, whatever they pick for a number. I just argue that whatever they pick, also that conscious mind is not free. It just thinks it is, in most people, but I think that’s just for historical reasons, like belief in god or anything. I don’t think this necessarily has to be.
I am a desirist. I made that word up as an opposite to a renunciate. It’s fine if you renounce but I think desiring things is good- wealth, property, lands, estates, businesses, and then family, connection, legacy, and good things for your parent culture or the world. It’s good to desire material things and they have their place, but I don’t think they are the main ticket to happiness. My catholic friends are not rich but they have 8 well mannered kids and each other and good spirits. To me that’s better than being a billionaire. To me they’re richer than Gates and Bezos. I support desire. Obviously I don’t support anything out of control, and too much desire out of control in an unhealthy manner is not what I’m about. You should renounce desire for ‘excess’ but a little excess here and there isn’t bad, so you should really just renounce excessive excessiveness. I am a man of the world or I approve of such men- with a twist (and I never understood both extremes. They always felt off and try-hardish). It’s probably not healthy to be too attached to your desires, to have all your emotions invested in their realization. It’s not necessary to renounce them per se, but if you can cut the attachment, you can still enjoy fine things. Whatever works.
Knowledge is power. What’s more powerful than knowledge is connection. Choice impacting knowledge (aka ‘intel’) is the most importnat type of knowledge for power’s sake. I’m all for people striving, if they want.
What happens, what comes about- nobody can say. It’s like a game. There can be blood. Sometimes its crazy to think how things turned out, who is in control and what people believe based on top down narratives and signals- and we live in a signal space ever increasing. There’s an ever present set of signals to everyone in their respective bubbles based on their newsfeeds and other places, not to mention the zeitgist of a given bubble or culture which can manifest in even more subtle ways- by a person’s opening up or closing down or body language based on multiple layers of indirection. This is all programming. It’s the result of programming but it’s programming itself, on a biological neurological level of hormone release. The zeitgeist of a time, a given time’s values and mores and beliefs and sense of identity can manifest in the signaling send out in media but also in the body language of strangers on the street in response to stimuli, in response to your own. It can be very coersive. It is programming, on a neurological level. I don’t love believers, hardcore believers, but the religious don’t scare me. They’re kind of already quarantined. Believers in secular things scare me more. Who is watching them? People with hardcore ideas. People can believe what they want- I only like two things: when people in general are down to earth, and then secondly, when they are aspirational, if they want to be. When people become “believers”, they are often no longer down to earth (unreachable as a “person” as opposed to an “agent”, and they even lose their aspirations as an individual. That’s all I really prefer). Some of the most religious are the most down to earth too- because they’re religion is not telling them to be crazy or renounce, but to care and connect with each other, in society and have families, explicitly prescribing it. They can have all the heavenly dogma they want, they are down to earth, paradoxically, more than many secularists, and connected with history and tradition. [Tradition btw can be challenged and changed, especially wiht the use of reason, cautiously, but I question changing tradition of thousands of years willy nilly on hunches or new dogmas. Are we that smart?]
It’s not just a personal war for good hormones for good moods and states, but a war for good hormones from good healthy sources (non addictive non unhealthy sources). It is a challenge. Our youth is a time for great growth and opportunity. I’m in my late thirties. I have numerous options and avenues available for growth and living, maybe more than my ancestors throughout history, but had I been given certain guidance and direction when younger, I would have realized so much more of my potential. I was a lost soul. Same can be said for us all. It just goes to show, this is one manifestation of lack of free will or empowered will. I guess that’s the twin concept. Let me clarify on that and then I’ll close. There’s straight will. I say we all have wills, intentions and desires as well as aversions and desires against things. We’re good there. Also, obviously those who believe in free will don’t believe we’re all powerful to carry out those wills, so they don’t believe in the completely empowered human will, although you might be surprised in new age circles- people believing they can “manifest” if they say the right words. Thoughts do shape our minds and brains, visions do inspire us to action, so there’s truth in that. All wills are somewhat empowered, or what would be the point. I believe people feel they have free wills, but it is all simulus-response, however complex of an s-r function is required to output final result would have to be. That’s fine. I just believe we neither have free nor empowered wills. We don’t even have power over our own reactions much of the time, our own state. Some people have more power than others, but often times their powers over negative reactions are just based on support they have in life that acts as buffers. Take away their support, their family, their platform, and you might take away their state control power. In the bible they took everything away from job, but even though that’s fiction, I will say the devil or rather god went to the extreme with him, and that extreme could produce the same result as just doing nothing, versus constant erosion. So we people have neither free wills nor the power over even ourselves, nor the power over our culture. There have been powerful people in my family line. I think in my parents generation they started to fall under culture and become ‘normies’ to the culture, and it is continuing on. It is against my will that this is happening but I’m being put under but that’s not because I’m a believer but because you can’t beat a culure. I just mean what is distinct about us, individual and “free” is being eroded. Monoculture versus our original family culture. It’s a zeitgeist thing. I know there was Sparta in the past, and other police states or religious states like under Calvin, but I think not only will there always be zeitgeists but the strength of zeitgeists are increasing, or trending up, a meta-zeitgeist. Speaking of geists, we may have a soul, we may not. For all intents and purposes, we do, because we have consciousness. Perhaps we have a moral soul, but a soul non-the-less, given what you would consider a soul’s good working definition, and that soul can have degrees of freedom of movement (choice), like a gimbal but it can’t move itself. It can move itself but not its own desire to move itself. You might have to go upstream a bit but you will get there, to the point of realization. And what’s the point of getting there? What’s the payoff. I don’t know- I just found it relaxing and hormonally comforting, taking a burden off me, and I also think this is a dogma that can be queried with profit, and burst or prodded. I won’t argue with people in person. I’d rather connect than argue. I’ll even relate and mirror them, celebrate or sing with them or cry wtih them because that’s good and fun for me, sometimes maybe even fight for them but not about anything stupid or silly and never get in stupid arguments just because they don’t agree with me.
Free will is a persistent illusion. I don’t know why. It might be pernicious or it might not. I think that depends. It has proven to be persistent. You are still alive, you are still a person, you still have consciousness. There is just something controlling you- fate perhaps, and that’s not a bad thing. There’s a thought. My personal controller. Why not though? It doesn’t have to be a spouse, the government, or something you despise. It can be your own nature and the laws of physics, chemistry and biology inside a system.
- In Lustig’s view, the four keys to happiness are Connect, Contribute, Cook and Cope (with stress). This is in his book “Hacking of the American Mind”
** it’s important to me. Connection is necessary for me, for optimal mental well-being. I agree with Marshall Rosenberg of Non Violent Communication, that all humans everywhere have the same exact needs because we have the same biology. We just have different methods, strategies and forms of meeting those needs, kind of like love languages. This is not just semantics. I think we’re all special in a sense, but nobody is special in a different sense.