Thursday, January 05, 2006

Free will..... or the lack of it

What do you mean when you say that you have free will? That you did something out of your own volition. Are we capable of independent thought?

From childhood we are influenced by a number of factors. By our parents, by our friends, by our sphere of such influencers. All the decisions we take all through our life are influenced by these influencers.

So the question is: How much of the decisions we make, are our own? How much is free will? Or is there any? Does the concept of free will only exist in our minds so that we can feel good about ourselves? Do we have any individuality of our own? Or are we a sum of individualities we have learned through our lives, each of such individualities also a sum of some other individualities, ours being one of them.

Why do most people in the world follow the religion of their parents? Why are people willing to follow the leaders of their nations, ready to kill other people to defend their "country"? Why do we take similar decisions that our influencers took and then say that it was "my own" decision? Think about all the beliefs you have ever held in life. Aren't these beliefs that of your influencers rather then your own? Where is your free will? How much difference really exist between you and the people you call 'blind followers'?


Sailesh Ganesh said...

Well it is true, we are not truly independent. Just the other day, I was telling soc that everyone in this world follows everyone else. I doubt if he got it though :-)

Free will does not really exist. All the human laws prove as a deterrant to absolute free will. We do have partial free will, but even that is influenced by others. People are always worried by the consequences of their actions, so that free will is only an illusion.

Will things change if there were no laws and we were perfectly free to do whatever we choose? I think not. We would still end up getting influenced by others and toe a confirmist attitude.

It would be interesting to see what happens if a few babies were placed in total isolation and left to grow by themselves. Would their thoughts be developed enough for them to make use of free will? What I think would happen is that the babies would learn from others around them (animals, plants, weather, etc.) and confirm to that behaviour. Free will, in that case, would be suppressed by environment!

I suspect that free will is an illusion even in evolutionary terms. You have to do what you have to do to survive, and that in itself will produce a confirmist attitude.

Nandan said...

Good one. God's Debris seems to have arrived. :-)

Nikhil said...

Bhai.... I guess lack of free will implies that human brains are programmable, only their complexity being a hindrance. Prepare yourself for a scary future. I guess we are already some way there anyways.

Wow Nandan. Didn't know you had 4 blogs. And a marathi one in them. Too amazing!!! Will definitely subscribe to them. & Thanks for the reco man. If you know any other such books, let me know. Or else you can sign-on at this cool site: where you enter the books you have read & share it with friends. My id there is nikhilbd. I am still working on my book list. Bhai, u can check it out too.

PS said...

God's debris was a mad book. Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) being the author, and the font size being so large, I got lured into reading it. But regretted it :)

It basically shows that with good argumentative skills, one can make up any theory, and then convince anyone of it. and its contrary too.

Nikhil said...

It basically shows that with good argumentative skills, one can make up any theory, and then convince anyone of it. and its contrary too.
- Doesn't that make you question everything you are convinced of?? Isn't this the basis of creative thinking?

Krishnan said...

I guess everyone is influenced early in life. Free-will demands unbiases decisions and it's difficult to be completely unbiased and hence difficult to be free-willed. Unless if we define free-will as "man-maani". But then that would be categorized as "ziddi".

Aysha said...

There is a thin line between influence and free will :)