Do I have Free will?
When Mansur Al-Hajaj was confronted with any question he used to answer in his typical fashion with the words “Yes and No’’, that is exactly what I am going to do here tackle the question of free will with the answer “Yes and No”.
Now we know first of all from the study of Freud, Jung and other psychoanalysts that a lot of what drives us is unconscious behaviour, there are certain behaviours or desires that you develop as an infant and those remain as strong now as they were back then. The only thing is that you remain unaware of them, the fact is that a lot of your motivations and basic drives comes from this unconscious realms and I can give you a good example the brain is divided into three parts the lizard brain, the primate brain and the modern brain: the cortex falls in modern category, the hippocampus the primate and the amygdala the lizard (the lizard is the most primitive followed by the primate and the modern human mostly thinks with the modern part of the brain).
But what if you pit each parts of this brain against each other? Ever tried dieting and wondered why it is so hard it is because your primate is pitted against your modern man: the primate is programmed for finding food, water, sex, the most basic things. It is there to keep you alive and when pitted against the modern part of the brain, the modern brain doesn’t stand a chance try going hungry for a couple of days and then see how rationale you can be. The only reason we don’t behave like apes is because we are not forced to do so and the primate within us remains content to not bother as long as we get the necessary tools for survival. One reason for this also is that we are exploratory animals and so it is necessary for the primate to explore and the best suited for that job is the modern part of the brain. So no matter how much control you think you have in the end it comes down that you are driven by things that are beyond your control.
But that is what the psychoanalysts say what do the philosophers have to say about free will? Martin Heiddeger says that we are born with things beyond our control: we don’t choose the culture we are born in, we don’t choose our height, we don’t choose the colour of our skin, our eyes, our parents, the time, the year we will be born come to think of it we don’t have a choice in a lot of things when we are born. Yet, most of our needs and behaviours are directed towards serving those things which we had no control of in the first place think of it like this you go to buy a pair of jeans what length jeans you will buy is already determined by your height (assuming you are a sane person and will buy jeans that will fit you), your height something you had no control over in the first place.
Heiddeger was a Phenomenologist who they are is not important their idea was that your conciseness isn’t something that is like an empty vessel filled in by information, they believed that when you engage in an action lets say looking at a rock what happens is that your conciousness engages the object meaning it analyses the object and interprets meaning out of it and like the rock the whole world is engaged this way by our consciousness and we loose our free will partly because of the information we get. This based on the fact that we decide to act based on the information we get and those information bound our decision making process, now magnify the impact of this phenomena everything the society, culture our religions, pretty much almost everything around you takes your ability to make a decision and hence free will is lost. Or is it though?
“Let there be light” this is an example of God’s power that is he has an active imagination he can create things just by uttering them, if you are an atheist note that I am not asserting that God exists just saying that the idea of God this is the power that is ascribed to him. Immanuel Kant in his critique of pure reason (don’t try to read it) said that humans actually share this ability with God: we can actually create reality for ourselves given the fact that we have sufficient authority and acceptance of that authority. For instance if Donald Trump goes more nuts than he is usually and declares war in some poor country and lets call that country X: Donald Trump given the authority and acceptance of his authority has created reality which is war for the people in that country and for his own country as well both countries will be in a state of war and every person will be acting out the life in a state of war. Which is interesting to think that when a teacher dismisses class she has created reality for her students. The proponents of free will come armed with this argument saying that we come armed with such a powerful weapon: speech, that we can change reality itself. Also the idea that humans are the only species on this planet that can think about the future and plan the future, we are perhaps the only creature that bargain with the idea of future. Why have such a tool if it is useless to us? And they put forward another compelling argument which is if humans cease to exist meaning all consciousness ceases to exist then time, causality and perhaps reality itself ceases to exist after all what is reality if there is no measure for it, consciousness seems to be a powerful measure for time, causality and reality their existence depends upon our consciousness and hence can be bend to our will if that is true then we truly have free will.
Now closing my argument if you don’t find solace in any argument find solace in a saying by Marcus Aurelius now I am paraphrasing it and it goes like this Free will is like a dog being dragged by a cart wheel: the dog has the choice to either run happily with the cartwheel or be dragged by it.