History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Horgan on free will/WEIT blog

June 13th, 2011 · 3 Comments

I will link to WEIT blog first, on Horgan, to make one observation: Coyne praises Horgan’s defense of free will and then says that it fails.

It is important to know that all defenses of free will are likely to fail, but so are its refutations. The issue is best studied via Kant where the issue of free will is addressed in much more cogent terms as something that we must consider, but whose existence is problematical.
In any case, Horgan’s defense is courageous in the current culture of gestapo science/scientism and a reminder that reductionist science is totally off the wall on the subject of man.

Coyne’s post is filled with its own fallacies, ad infinitum:

…First of all, Horgan has just spent the first half of his short article showing evidence that does contradict free will, including research demonstrating that our decisions appear to be made before we’re conscious of having made them. There’s also this interesting tidbit, of which I was unaware..

That our decisions are made before we are conscious of having made them can be taken the opposite way: as evidence of the existence of ‘will’ factor involved in decision before that ‘decision’ enters the causal stream as a ‘choice made’. The catch to Coyne’s statement here, one of them, is the term ‘conscious’. As readers here know, there is a difference between concious, self-conscious (in a yogic sense) and the will factor which is often confused with subjective states claiming ‘will’. True will is often an unconscious act, because ‘self-conscious’, etc…
So the question remains entirely up in the air. But I think that causal neuroscience is never going to get the issue straight.

These arguments are not conclusive (they are a bit rushed here), but they are a reminder to be wary of the sloppy thinking of cult members of the science club: they are very careless.

In any case, the question of consciousness, self-consciousness, the will, and these in relation to a vague entity, the ‘unconscious’, create endless confusion. Self-conscious action as a vehicle of the ‘will’ often gives the appearance of spring from the ‘unconscious’: ordinary consciousness is a very narrow range, and isn’t tuned to detect its own acts of will. We often fuss over our will, and our decisions, but just as often, if we watch carefully, we sense a decision emerging from the unconscious. A frustrating state of affairs.

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