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Free Will?

There have been a number of studies recently about a human being’s so called “Free Will”. In other words, to what degree are you able to control what you do, how you feel or what you say?

It is a very interesting debate and one that I have been following for years. I mean, I am a logical and rational human being (I think) and therefore I should be in control of my actions and take responsibility for them. But now our decisions, and how we reach them, is being questioned by the neurologists as well as an increasing number of psychologists. Is it a purely mechanistic process? Or is our feeling of self-control merely an illusion created by our brains?

The book “MY BRAIN MADE ME DO IT: THE RISE OF NEUROSCIENCE AND THE THREAT TO MORAL RESPONSIBILITY' by author Eliezer J. Sternberg tries to make sense of all the studies, the proof that maybe there is more to our decision making then just us “steering” our brains towards a choice.

In my mind, this whole direction is a huge can of worms. Can you imagine, a thief standing in front of the judge clarifying that he really couldn’t help breaking in and stealing a zillion in jewellery, it wasn't his intention, it's all the fault of a little particle of some amino acid that triggered his brain into doing it?? Or take the example of Marc Dreier, the lawyer who set up a huge scam a la Madoff… US$700 million in fake promissory notes later, he admitted that it was all a fraud. But what if the judge would have listened to his story that he felt compelled to keep this scam going. That his brain told him he could pull it off. That he got so into the scheme that he literally believed that it was alright to continue his incredibly insolent scam, putting thousands of people on the poverty line. If the judge had gone with the theory now rapidly gaining ground that it actually may be neurologically predetermined that some of us will pull the rest the wool over the rest of the community's eyes believing they are not doing anything wrong, the whole world and our moral framework would be up-ended. Is that person then no longer responsible for his or her actions? Do we get pleas that will free them from serving a sentence as they stand up in court and plead insanity … or better in this case 'neuro-sanctity'? The sense that we actually control our own destiny would rapidly change to agree with the fatalists of our time, like Sartre and Camus, claiming that an individual is not at all in control and can only make certain moves that lead to a usually pretty nasty ending.

For one, I like to continue to believe that I do make rational decisions, that I can control my brain and that Good & Bad are choices I make as an individual within the moral framework of society. I like to believe that I can clear the path to a better future for myself and those around me. Since I opted to work for myself and create a company on which others also rely, it is important that I feel I have that responsibility firmly on my shoulders…

Did I actually have anything to do with our success? Or will time overtake me and show that everything that I created, or did was merely a turn of events that I had no influence over? Or is this all just my brain determining my path, already setting me up for my next steps without me actually having a say!? And by the way, have you noticed how my blog is peppered with “I think” or “in my mind” or “I believe”… but who’s to know if that is real…or my brain is just tricking me…..


Sendan Sendan Says:
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 12:04 AM
Posts like this brtgeihn up my day. Thanks for taking the time.

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