I quite early stumbled upon the question of free will and whether I was an agent with the ability to decide the course of my own life. Initially, and instinctively, I felt that there was some truth to the idea that I am actually not in control, that there is something else that governs. But also, this idea was somewhat painful to consider and evaluate, the fact that I do not even control the outcome of my own life, and the implications it brought to surface considering moral aspects and the meaning of life. If I am not the narrator of my life, then what is?
I went on as nothing had changed, but as time went by, the question started to drill slowly into the depths of my brain. I could not escape the logic, from seeing patterns suddenly unfold from my every day life, patterns that indicated that there was evident correlations between this question and life itself. There was no turning back from this and now I had to redefine how I perceived reality, as I had done many times before from not being able to escape questions like this one.
Since the brain is divided into conscious parts and unconscious parts, it is what allows the logical fallacy of free will to occur from the very beginning. When sudden danger appears, we act immediately with either a flight or fight response with the output of instructions from the unconscious and more primitive parts of our brain. We rarely have any control over these actions and we might feel that something takes over our body in order to handle the situation at hand.
No free will what so ever
But when we take very day decisions, like choosing where to go for a vacation, we can all sit nice and quietly, contemplating over what would be most fun or most giving. We are then engaging the conscious parts of our brain, being able to look at several alternatives simultaneously, accounting from past experience and the information we have at our disposal, and most of all, being consciously aware during the process.
Same here, your only being aware of what you end up choosing which is pre-determined or at least random from the beginning
Let’s say you chose to go to Rome? Now explain to me how that decision was made. From the very thought process down to the chain of command, the sequence of links, the bio-chemical algorithms, the very network of cells that made this entire process possible from the very beginning. You simply cannot, but you might refute with, well I have been there before so I know that it’s a nice choice, or you’ve had friends telling you of what a nice place Italy is, or even that out of the alternatives you where considering from, Rome “felt” as the best one. I think you can see that your choice was already made, based on many factors, such as past life experience, your current mood, marketing strategies from travelling agents in TV or newspapers, your personality, your genes, the state of Italy. Did you decide the outcome of all these factors as well, just as your alternative?
We are all just as autonomous as the very cells that makes us up, nothing in-between gives us the ability of free will, and why it actually is not such a bad thing
It took sometime for me to accept and truly process this, but in the end, it has only made my life richer. If I cannot determine the outcome of my life, why should I be worried? If my brain just takes decisions at random or in a deterministic nature, won’t data, information, knowledge and wisdom better them? And will not false realities, or the fact that I might be delusional in some sense, not be worth to figure out? To be open-minded of what I don’t know, to minimize the risk of taking inaccurate decisions that might decrease the quality of my life?
And since where are all rational agents of various levels, and that life in some sense is just a happening, deterministic/random or both, that life is just a question of probability/improbability, an ever flowing river of events, won’t acceptance, thankfulness, and an ever-embracing mind be something that could be of use to foster?
By reflecting deeply about life, by going to the bottom of these question, no matter the pain, we can make our life’s richer, rather than fleeing from them and live with false pretences. Because if you haven’t even processed the idea on how decisions and behaviour arise, especially your own, how conscious are you really?