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 How Free is Your Will

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C1
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PostSubject: How Free is Your Will   Mon 30 May 2011, 2:57 pm

Part 4: “How Free is Your Will”

http://thebeautifulbrain.com/2010/07/ledoux-amygdaloids-free-will/



July 15, 2010 by Joseph LeDoux



Are we free to choose? Is all behavior determined? Do you have to be

conscious of a decision in order for it to be considered volitional?

Are we better off with or without free will? These are some of the

issues touched on in my song, “How Free Is Your Will.” Note that there

are no question marks in the song. I just decided to leave them out. No

particular reason. I just freely chose to do that (or at least I

believe I did).[1] <#_ftn1>



The problem of free will is closely tied up with the problems of

consciousness and personal responsibility, which are themselves knotted

together. You have to be aware of what you are doing (conscious) in

order to be responsible for your actions. Christian theology says that

humans but not other animals can gain or lose access to the Kingdom of

Heaven by their actions. Rene Descartes, a devout Catholic and one of

the founders of modern philosophy, brought consciousness in when he said

that only humans are responsible for actions because they have

consciousness. Other animals, in his opinion, are reflex machines. They

are pulled this way and that by their circumstances and are not free to

choose right from wrong. And since they cannot choose, they cannot gain

or lose heaven by their actions.



For Descartes, the terms consciousness and mind were equivalent. If it

is not conscious, it is not mental in Descartes’s scheme. But things

have gotten a little more complicated in modern times, with the

emergence of the idea that the mind has conscious and unconscious

aspects. Are we responsible for actions produced by unconscious

processes in our brain? I’ll talk about this in a later post when I

consider the song Crime of Passion. For now, I simply want to explore

the nature of free will.



Free will is a really hard problem for a dualist, one who believes that

consciousness (mind, soul) is distinct from the brain. How can an

immaterial thought, a thing of consciousness, cause neurons to fire in

such a way as to produce willful actions? This is the problem of

“downward causation.” The flip side of this question is the problem of

“qualia.” How can the material brain create a mental experience, such

as the feeling of pain or the serenity of the red glow of a beautiful

sunset? While these issues are not so easy for materialist-inclined

brain researchers either, at least we have the advantage of being able

to work within one realm, the material realm, rather than having to try

to forge a relation between two realms (material and mental).



“How Free is Your Will” by The Amygdaloids

http://thebeautifulbrain.com/2010/07/ledoux-amygdaloids-free-will/2/



How free is your will



Do you have control



Are you in charge



Who’s running your soul



How free is your will



Are you automatized



Just a bundle of habits



Is your freedom disguised



How free is your will



Do you make up your mind



Do you decide



Or are your choices blind



How free is your will



Perhaps an illusion



A mystery



Convenient delusion



How free is your will



Once you decide



Are you compelled



Do you have to abide



How free is your will



Can you change your mind



Reverse direction



Leave a choice behind



How free is your will



Well of dignity



Fountain of pride



Sea of grandiosity



How free is your will



The stuff of lore



The source of evil



The reason for war



How free is your will



A truth to behold



The secret of peace



A story to be told



How free is your will



The way to stand tall



The basis of good



The hope for us all



Free will



A truth to behold



The secret of peace



A story to be told



Free will



The way to stand tall



The basis of good



The hope for us all





Let’s go back to the song. Each of the first ten verses repeats a

question in its first line: “how free is your will.” The refrain of

these verses then elaborates on the question. For example, the first

verse goes: “How free is your will, do you have control, are you in

charge, who’s running your soul.” The music under the verses is a very

simple two-chord vamp that goes back and forth between A and G. There’s

a fun little instrumental movement that breaks up the repetitiveness of

the chords and lyrics every now and then.



After verse ten, there’s a longer instrumental segment that ends with

the vamp flipping for the last two verses. This change of the chord

sequence, which now goes from G to A, adds a burst of forward momentum

since the chord interval, instead of going from high to low pitch, as at

the beginning, now goes from low to high pitch. Corresponding with this

is a change in the first line of the last two verses. Instead of asking

“how free is your will,” they exclaim, “free will.” The refrains, which

are the same as from the previous two verses, now become demonstrative

conclusions under the influence of the forward moving sound.



The song ends on an instrumental chords sequence that I have no clue

about. I wrote the song with willful intention all the way through,

until I reached the end. At that point the song took over. The chords

just emerged from my fingers (in other words, unconscious processes in

my brain took over and allowed this set of chord changes to unfold). I

was surprised by these chords, since the sequence was more a more

intricate and complex than what I typically write. I scrambled for a

pen to make some notes as I didn’t have confidence that I could recreate

the sequence spontaneously.



When we use the term “I” we are usually referring to our conscious mind.

So can “I” take credit for that chord sequence? Did I willfully produce

it? I think this problem, like some other issues in philosophy, is

about how the words are used. Of course I wrote the song and came up

with the chords. I just didn’t do it completely consciously. The fact

is, though, I didn’t do it completely unconsciously either. As the

sequence began to unfold, the music being made was feeding into

consciousness and creating qualia that allowed some good ole downward

causation to help refine the efforts of my unconscious mind. So, like

many things we do in life, it was a collaboration between conscious and

unconscious processes. It’s hard to separate them sometimes. Since

introspection alone can’t give us all the answers, we need scientists to

do experiments and figure out how they work the various processes above

and below the surface. Don’t worry, even if we figure this stuff out,

your will is going to be as free, or determined, as it is today. We may

just know a little more about what that means.

_________________
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David Thoreau (1817-1862)
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PostSubject: Re: How Free is Your Will   Tue 31 May 2011, 4:21 pm

C1 wrote:
“How Free Is Your Will.” Note that there

are no question marks in the song.
LeDoux knows exactly what he is doing by not putting question marks in his song. He knows the answers to these questions, and I guess uses his music as either: (1) an outlet for his guilt; or (2) a way to mock the public.

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PostSubject: Re: How Free is Your Will   Thu 02 Jun 2011, 10:11 pm

The guy's *very inscrutable*, yup....Yawn. Lol.
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