Here's the way woo-ites (woobies?) might describe it, in order to support their endeavor of Dualism. Free Will exists (as does soul or spirit) independently of the brain, as a supernatural gift. The body is just an earthly temple in which we're temporarily stuck. Our souls/spirits live on after brain death.
if the conscious human mind can be shown to affect even one synaptic connection then it would be difficult to accept Determinism
Woobies might define Determinism as an atheistic idea that no one has choice, free will, soul, spirit, and so on. This is why I don't like accepting some of the prevailing definitions of words. I'd rather meet halfway, and just agree that we have choice, responsibility, and we can each be held accountable for our choices (while considering circumstances in context).
Choice feels like free will to most of us, and I'm ok with that feeling, even if we know intellectually that it's an illusion without supernatural cause.
Meanwhile, even if human consciousness is merely a product or emergent property of synaptic activity, we still have choice in the context of our worldly circumstances. We are not "just" products of our own neural activity or some kind of external spirit: we must also realize our ability to adapt and interact with the reality that feels external to us.
I would say that the vast majority of atheists don't believe in ghosts, spirits, souls, or any of their otherworldly occult kin. I'm not invoking any sort of populist fallacy in saying so. I'm simply saying that that puts the burden on the ghost believer.
Of course we have choices. When I go to pick out socks, knowing I can only buy one package, I'm presented with perhaps 20 or more choices of color and design. I feel free as I make my choice. But feeling free isn't being free. As you seem to concede, we are free as long as we don't really ask very probing questions. Or, as Confucius is reputed to have said, "Man with weak stomach shouldn't disturb beach rubble."
Feeling free confronted with choices isn't actual freedom any more than deja vu is an actual memory, as vivid as it may seem.
Hi. This may or may not matter to you but one thing I think about in terms of that view of the subconscious as a kind of decision machine, is what about moments of indecision, and then there is of course changing your mind. Deciding you might have been happier with a different pair of socks.
What are you suggesting? that indecision proves a lack of causality and thus no free will? What would changing one's mind prove that is evidence for free will. Of course processes are going on in the subconscious whereby it reacts to new information of information it just remembered.
I don't get where you think there's a problem.
Hi all. I became an atheist at ten. When I was a teenager, (Which was, like, 30 years ago!), I came to feel as many on here do that every thought, feeling and perception we have could be quantified and thus in a sense dismissed as an illusion. I understand that point of view, certainly. I think it may be worth pointing out that none of us have empirical evidence of our various positions, and one thing I would say is that to myself at least it is conceivable that the ultimate truth in the matter may actually be beyond human comprehension, regardless of what position we take. The thing I keep bringing up about the chaotic element in nature, as I think it applies to consciousness and the question of free will, is that I think the chaotic is not readily quantified, cause and affect, from point A to point B in a linear sense. In this my personal sense is that I think it allows us far more gray area and more, in the sense of a hinge or a tool, more "play," in terms of thoughts, feelings, and decisions. That's how I feel that the chaotic element makes the reality of free will possible, because our consciousness is not a fully linear easily quantified mechanism, even as an incredibly complex mechanism. Is there reason to question the reductionist take on the nature of consciousness? One example I would give is the connection between so called anti-depressants and suicide. I don't think that we are vending machines meant to produce socially agreeable satisfaction, and that if the machine is not giving what you want you just rock it against the wall with medication, but it seems that that is what our reductionist culture does to excess. As for the subconscious making our decisions for us, I have my doubts that it is that simple and I believe that there is interplay between the subconscious and the conscious, both ways. To the extent that the subconscious facilitates conscious experience, I think of someone driving a car. The car has a motor and a transmission and axles and wheels and so on. The steering wheel and the shifter and the gas pedal and brakes make it a comparatively easy way to travel, even though, like the subconscious, the driver is not manually reaching in to adjust the transmission or apply the brakes or turn the front wheels to change direction. Even so, the person driving decides whether to go to a movie theater or a mall or the grocery store or work or school or to head back home, aided by the controls of the car in doing so. I don't think the person has to walk to have actually traveled or to have decided where to go. Anyway that is how I see it.~Mike.
One word: paragraphing.
Paragraphing is evidence of an organized mind.
As I've said before several times, we don't NEED proof of determinism since it's necessary to assume it. I just find it strange that while people assume determinism (that everything happens as the result of some thing or things preceding it) they then want to pretend it isn't there.
Of course there's interplay between the subconscious and conscious levels of the mind, because the subconscious can't possibly tell the consciousness level what to do without any basis at all. That basis is the world of sensory perception, which is the conscious world. But what are you asserting? that somehow there's no causality involvedl in this interplay? that this fact salvage free will in some way?
BTW, yet again, please define free will so that I can criticize that, if I can, or so that we at least understand what we are talking about. I maintain the entire notion is nonsense and your inability to define it satisfactory will be a major piece of evidence.
Many mental processes are automatic and involve no actual decision-making at all. They obviously HAVE to be beyond one's conscious control. Reflexes are just one example. Yet another nail in the coffin of free will.