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Entropy production delusion

It is common in knowledgeable circles to talk about the development of civilization in terms of entropy discussion. The term 'entropy...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Free will

Stephen Hawking, the renowned English scientist, discussed the meaning of life in a TV documentary. He has the view that science holds the key to this question while the Greek, Descartes lay the foundations of rational thought on the issue many centuries ago by separating the operation of the mind from that of the body. The operation of the brain is, like all operations in the body, governed by natural forces. This is an indisputable Hawking argument. These operations are tangible in that they are measurable or otherwise determined to be in existence in all organisms. Conscious thoughts, on the other hand, are deemed intuitively by most people to be intangible. They occur but cannot be measured although they determine the decisions made about what the person does. This exercise of free will is in parallel with the deterministic decisions made by the brain about what should happen in bodily functions.
The operation of the brain can be likened to that of the operation of the processor in a computer. The flow of electricity is the measurable quantity in the computer similar to the flow in the brain, although a lot simpler! However, this measurement of electricity flow does not provide meaning. The output from the program provides the processed information. So the operation of the brain is covered by natural forces but the thoughts are not. So Descartes was right despite many contrary arguments. Hawking quoted a program that seems to simulate how the brain produces coherent thoughts just as computer programs carry out analyses. The fact that the thinking ability of a brain is limited by physical factors such Alzheimer’s disease does not make thinking a tangible quantity.It is like part of the computer processor being damaged.The nature of the thinking is portrayed by the output (spoken or actions) just as the nature of a computer program is conveyed by the results.
There has been appreciable argument about whether people have free will. Clearly people are free to make decisions depending upon the circumstances such as the information available to them, where they are and a range of other factors. But two people in similar circumstances could be free to make contrary decisions. So people do have a degree of free will and contrary arguments by people are examples of their free will ability. Of course, all organisms have a degree of free will. Birds can decide to take off when they feel like it. Whales exercise their free will to surface when they feel the need to have some fresh air. This free will of all organisms creates a degree of uncertainty about what will happen within the limits of the operation of natural forces. People can only make decisions about operations that are physically possible. This duopoly is as manifest as the separation of mind and body. It is a fundamental operational principle even though many people do not understand it.   
Hawking argues that the real world is an impression in the mind. That is surprisingly illogical for a prominent scientist who one expects to make sound statements. What individuals know of the real world is clearly subjective and inherently very limited, even for intellectuals like Hawking. What has happened, is happening and will happen in the future is the holistic, objective world, largely unknown to all individuals, including Hawking and Descartes.  But Descartes did not suffer the delusion of Hawking and many other people. After all, anthropocentrism is rife. The belief that people can now make decisions that will cope with the real world climate change is just one example of the common misunderstanding. All that can be done is make decisions that will constrain damaging physical operations, so delay the impact of catastrophic climate change and the associated events, ocean warming and acidification..
The real physical world has been operating for eons without any impact from the thoughts of people and will continue to do so after the demise of our civilization. Anyone who thinks otherwise is suffering a delusion. Ironically, this delusion is an aspect of their free will.