What is "Free Will"? Is it merely an illusion? If so, it is a convenient one, at least in terms of social good. When individuals through some causal chain are rewarded for their nice acts and punished for their naughty ones, following a model that says that they "choose" to do what they do, then perhaps the net amount of nice acts can increase, and societies can function more smoothly.

But even one who believes in thorough-going materialism, in rigid cause and effect at the particle physics level, can hold that we do have free will --- that treating our own selves and the selves of others as responding to choices made without total restraint is a reasonable metaphor in real life. And perhaps, via strange loops between levels of meaning (as Douglas Hofstadter alludes to in his preface to the 1999 edition of Gödel, Escher, Bach) mental patterns can break "free" of microscopic causality? Worth pondering....

Sunday, April 11, 1999 at 14:28:56 (EDT) = 1999-04-11

TopicLife - TopicPhilosophy

(correlates: MostImportant, NoGlory, Worth of a State, ...)