Mind and Body Contemplations, Philosophy Viewpoints

Philosophy of The Life Instinct: Chapter 8.4 Free Will

Free Will is the ability to choose between alternative actions.  It needs the identification of the choices, through instinct or thought.  

Do self-awareness and Free Will go hand-in-hand?  Is it something exceptional needing us to be ethical and moral or just something expedient for The Life Instinct?  Or is the question moot as ethics and morality themselves are expediencies for The Life Instinct?

Is the Life Instinct itself an act of will, albeit thoughtless?  The difference between a rock that does not resist smashing or try to reproduce itself and a life form is that the life form does both.  But are these choices of the life form, or is it just an automatic mode of existence for it? If they are automated and not thought out, can they be called willed actions?  No. However, neither can we say that such activities are those of a machine for the physical laws of nature do not support the reduction in entropy entailed in the actions resulting in the creation, growth and preservation of life forms.  Surely something is happening there that is not Free Will, but neither is it the opposite of Free Will. We could term it the Will to Life.

Humans exhibit the highest form of Free Will and within humans more do so than others, depending on their brains and external circumstances.  So Free Will is a capability that varies in its strength through the continuum of minds from amoebae to humans.  

The instincts could be – fight or flee.  These two instincts are a part of The Life Instinct and will always be there. Basic Thought that can generate more choices developed at some point in evolution, perhaps in sharks.  Advanced Thought then developed that can produce significantly more options and opportunities. For instance, based on understanding how things happen, we also deduce how they may not occur, or how to prevent unwanted outcomes.  The extent of this ability depends upon the evolutionary state of the species.  

There is the ‘willed’ action.  If we don’t execute it, can we say that we have exercised free will?  Yes, because it merely means that we changed the final decision. What we finally do is what we ultimately decide.  Not executing any of the possible actions is also an alternative. The brain identifies a set comprising of Do-Nothing, Do-One-Of-These-Possible-Actions and Do-One-Of-These-Impossible-Actions.  It performs one out of Do-Nothing and Possible actions.

There are two ways we can look at Free Will.  Either it exists, or it is an illusion.

Possibility 1 – Free Will is an Illusion

Is Free Will just a set of rules? Do we experience the world and do the rules determine our actions? Is it just so many rules it appears to be a decision? Or is it true that we could have done either of two things? Stars cannot decide to form; differently, molecules cannot choose to go in a different direction. What is the role of probability and chance in free will? And in the formation of the universe. And in the smallest to the most massive changes happening through the cosmos.

Science And Free Will

Now one of the big problems I have had is with the reconciliation of physics, chemistry and electronics with the concept of Free Will.  How can we have Free Will if the universe follows physical laws?  It should be impossible.  Everything should be determined and predictable and out of our control, including what happens in our brains.  All thoughts and mental states should be predetermined and out of our control.

However, the state I create when I meditate is not something that would happen just on its own as I go about my day’s activities.  I am a limited and isolated entity and, as far as I can see, nothing outside me is making me do it.  I am taking the time out to kneel, close my eyes and create the state.  Assuming the isolation to be true for the sake of this argument, it is then something I make happen, consciously.  If I can control this small thing in my brain, I can control more. I make things happen through my will.  So, I do have free will.

What we think is ‘Free’ is quite constrained.  It works within the narrow ambit of our life form, our abilities and the tiny part of the universe we inhabit.   It indeed serves the cause of The Life Instinct and nothing else. To that extent, it is purpose-built and not applicable more widely.  For example, if 

The working out of the possibilities of action is not as mysterious.  It needs only the memory of past event sequences, pattern matching and probability and prediction.  These are analytical functions that the brain can provide at a mechanical level, once sufficiently developed.  

The brain selects the action based on the probability of success for The Life Instinct.  The mind is a probability engine. That is all it is. It is conscious; it can think, analyse and generate a list of possible alternate scenarios, assign a ranking to them and select the top one for execution.  Even if we decide by flipping a coin, it is a choice within the engine and falls inside its framework.

Insofar as Physics follows the rules of maths and maths is logical within our world, Free Will follows the laws of Physics.  

Does this explain what appears to be exceptional or counter-intuitive actions that we observe in several cases? For example, what about suicide?  Surely that is so much against The Life Instinct that it must be indeed an act of free will? It is only a sign of a malfunctioning brain.

So what about feelings and emotions?  If we are only sophisticated machines, why do we need feeling for The Life Instinct?  We need emotions for various purposes and explore this in the next chapter, where we will see that it is the outcome of The Life Instinct and not original in any way.  It is not evidence for the existence of a genuinely free will.

So, Free Will is not free.  It may seem we have the freedom to choose, but it is only the outcome of a collection of patterns, rules, analytical algorithms, scenario generation, ranking system and execution.  

More developed minds appear to be taking more deliberate decisions, but they are only more sophisticated decision-making engines, with no strange angle to them. 

Why are we not an army of robots then?  How come there is so much variety in our lives?  How come there are so many different outcomes? Some are happy, some sad, some a success and some a failure.  We recognise bad decisions and good ones and indifferent ones. Surely this variety needs the messiness of Free Will?

It is only due to the different experiences of different beings as they were born in separate places and took different paths through space and time.  That is the source of the variation, not Free Will.

Then what about self-control and morality?  What about good and evil? Is everything out of our control?  In this view, that is the case.  

No.  It is not that we are not making decisions.  It is that we are making them without violating the laws of physics.  It is also that the choices are not being made by an ‘I’ separate from my brain.  My brain is making them. ‘I’ am a construct of the mind and do not have an independent existence that controls the decisions of the brain.  I am a subset of my brain. I am not outside it nor bigger than it. The ‘I’ I feel is only a useful construct of The Life Instinct. If I equate my self with my brain, then I can say that I am making the decisions.  Otherwise, I can say that my mind gives rise to the ‘I’ but also makes the decisions separately from the ‘I’. In other words, it gives rise to consciousness, thought and choice. The first does not control the last but is necessary for it.

Maybe it should be Consciousness, Thought, (Free Willed) Choice, Action.  

Free Will And The Uncertainty Principle, Quantum Coupling And Other (Noumenal) Dimensions

Two individuals who are identical in their space-time paths and histories can still make different decisions under the same circumstances.  They could have identical consciousnesses but slightly different thoughts due to the probabilistic nature of the positions of the sub-atomic particles that constitute their brains.  Some neural circuits and their electron flows could be different between their brains. This difference can make their minds identify different possible actions for the same situation and different rankings for their alignment to The Life Instinct.  Thus, they can end up acting differently under the same circumstances. 

They are still following the laws of Quantum Physics.  So, it is deterministic within the limits of the probabilities of the Uncertainty Principle (or the wave-particle nature of matter).   Once there was the Big Bang, it set off a chain of events leading to everything that is happening in the universe as far as we know. That is not to say that the state at every instant in time was predictable.  The unpredictability comes from the way particles and waves behave. However, there is nothing that controls or affects the probability. It is nature.  

What if it was possible Changing the probability or affecting it in a particular direction may be possible?)

Quantum Mechanics can calculate the probability of the positions of particles.  If we apply this and compute the likelihood of the various possible outcomes of a situation, we could use it to determine if Free Will exists.  If it does exist, it should skew the results away from the probabilities.

Free Will And Religion

I meditate every morning for a while.  I try to be in the moment, listen to the sounds I can hear and not think of anything.  I focus on the dark space within my closed eyes and imagine I am in a large, featureless room, either filled with white light or nothing at all.

I get a sort of ‘lifting’ feeling once I get into it.  There is a tension in the upper part of my brain, not of a bad kind though.  For many seconds to a couple of minutes, I can pretty much not think of anything, except about not thinking of anything, which sort of doesn’t count. 

However, I don’t know from where it comes.  I cannot explain it.  I must take it on faith.  Wait a minute, there’s something else like that, that I am expected to take on faith, God!

So rational me, who cannot believe in Free Will or God, ends up with having to think of the possibility of both every morning.

There are differences between the two.  I need not believe in God.  I need not have faith in God.  I can very well think there is no God or have no faith in God as I don’t depend on the concept.  I don’t suffer if I don’t believe it, and it is not what teaches me a safe way to live or be happy.  Just simple concepts such as the survival of the species provide sufficient moral, ethical and behavioural guidelines, policies and principles.  However, Free Will is essential to this.  To follow them, I need to be able to make choices, to decide, to be free to do things as per my choices and decisions.  So, morality and ethics require Free Will.  I cannot be a proper sentient and conscious life form without Free Will.  Unless I am a nihilist, I must believe in Free Will.  I must have faith in Free Will.  All atheist, agnostic, pro-life persons must believe there is Free Will, without any proof or known origin.  Plus, I can’t bar Free Will, it is staring me in the face every morning, which is where all this started.

So, there are two vital things people take on faith.  Most take both God and Free Will on faith, even if unconsciously.  Some take only God on faith and live their lives as if dictated by Him.  Some take only Free Will on faith, even if without thinking, and live their lives by some moral code.

However, I notice there are only two such things!  Why?  How?  The rational part of me immediately questions the chance that they are just coincidental.  Isn’t it much more probable they have a cause-effect relationship or that they are two aspects of the same thing?  Can this even be thought out rationally?  The moment I believed blindly in Free Will, I gave up the power of rationality, the physical universe and its mechanistic laws to explain everything.  Is this sufficient cause to withdraw from the thinking and turn agnostic from an atheist?  In other words, if I can have blind faith in Free Will, can I question blind faith in God?

That’s all fine, but I do want to inquire further.  Let’s see the cause and effect between the two.  Maybe God creates Free Will.  Perhaps morality and free will are an interdependent set of attributes created by God for us and in us.   God believers would, of course, say this.

To think Free Will creates God is nonsensical, as it does not explain anything or help in any way.

To think God and Free Will are the same has some merit.  Where you notice morality, you see God.  Where you notice morality, you see Free Will.  Where you see God, you see morals, where you see God, you see Free Will.  God does not have to follow natural laws.  Free Will means not being bound by certain laws, as far as we can see.  

If I admit God, I don’t have to admit Free Will.  

Now there are two ways I can think of to reconcile this problem. I can say that Free Will and God are both out of the material and hence rational sphere.  Both exist outside laws, and we need to accept them on faith.  From that non-physical dimension, maybe God descends into us, and Free Will falls into us.  Perhaps they are the same thing.  They could be two manifestations of the one thing.

For sentient, conscious living things to be different from just matter, free will seems the most critical attribute.  Perhaps the supreme quality. Only the instinct to survive or reproduce is not sufficient to distinguish life.  We could program a robot with these.  So, in the absence of anything else equally powerful, let us say Free Will is the essence of an advanced life form like us.  Humanity is equal to Free Will.

Now, for advanced life forms, the concept of God is that of the being who created us and sustains us, for a reason.  The reason is either external to our existence or intrinsic.  If it is external, we could have Free Will and God, existing independently of each other.

However, if the reason God created us (via the universe and galaxies and planetary systems and single-cell forms and evolution of course)

Therefore, if Free Will is the supreme attribute for advanced life forms, and God is the supreme being for the same life forms, he must surely be the same for all practical purposes.

Despite attempting to not think of anything during meditation, I get some of my most original thoughts when I am meditating.  Like this one!

Free Will makes us our own Gods and Devils.

If God decided to create the world he (or she) exercised a decision, he acted out of his free will.  Some may say this is the essential difference between God and all creation, including life. In this manner, having free will is a unique characteristic of God. If we do have it, we are then Gods, at least our Gods.  But this has too positive a meaning. After all, God is supposed to be good. So let us posit that there is an antithesis of God, perhaps created by God himself, called the Devil. Let us further assert that the Devil also has free will, else he would hardly be necessary or sufficient to explain all the bad things that happen in creation.  So, if we have free will, we are either Gods or Devils or a bit of both.

If this seems too anthropomorphic, it isn’t.  It applies equally to any other sentient beings in the universe.  And it is not to be taken too seriously as the need for the concepts of God and the Devil may have been outgrown by more advanced life forms or was never invented by them.  It is perhaps a concept limited to human philosophy and metaphysics.

But this idea may be useful.  It may free us from the tyranny of institutional religions.  It may make us take more responsibility for our actions.

Free Will Is Only For learning.

We have seen that we need consciousness and thought to make decisions, and we need a certain level of intelligence or intellect. Intellect comprises observation, memory, thought, pattern recognition, rationality and rules. But exactly how do intelligence and Free Will relate to each other?

With the increasing complexity of the sense organs, especially the eyes, taste, feeling and hearing, the parts of the brain that process the information to make sense of them and make them useful for taking the appropriate action would have also grown larger and more complex. But this did not necessarily lead to consciousness as it is most likely a purely physical capability. So, we would posit that awareness and thought are not for direct processing of more voluminous and complex sense-data but for something beyond that, and something fundamentally different.

It is more difficult to distinguish the other two possibilities – intelligence as a learning mechanism and as a control mechanism. Do we think before we act, at any time? Or does it only seem like that? For non-autonomic activities, soon there could be scientific experiments that reveal the difference between neurons firing reactions directly to mouth, hands and legs after the brain receives information of an external event versus commands sent after the interposition of thought between the sensed event and the action. Until then, we can only surmise.

Being able to control the action dynamically is more complicated. It is also intimately intertwined with the ability to decide by selecting between different actions – having a free will. The reality could be that we can only carry out automatic operations and that we try to give reasons afterwards for what happened or what we did.

As per physical laws, the ability to decide should not even exist. So there is every likelihood that this sequence of event-thought-decision-action is not real. It may appear like that, but it could be just a case of the former chain: event-action-memory-learning.

To save free will, we may argue that as some brains learn better than others, for which there is a lot of evidence, there could be a higher level of free will that we apply to learn better. In that case, the sequence becomes: event-action-memory-learning-*thought*-event-*better-action*-learning, and so on. So, we could decide to learn poorly or better, learn one thing or another. Even if we cannot intercede at the time of the event and action, we are interceding in future actions over a longer period.

Of course, this only pushes the free will problem to a different temporal context but does not solve it.

Two primary systems rely on the concept of freedom to choose our actions – religion and philosophy. The latter may have branches that do not propagate free will, but most of it does so. Both religion and philosophy provide us with ethical and moral rules for life. In other words, they expect us to make choices in life that make us better individuals and members of society. And this serves the Life Instinct as the context is the survival of the species and its continuous strengthening.

So then, is religion one of evolution’s teaching systems? Are rationality and philosophy the same too? Are they all training systems to help us survive better while making it seem like we are deciding things in real-time, that we are choosing to be good, while all the while, they are only conditioning the brain with better rules?

So, that leaves us with the conclusion that we are only a learning machine. It appears to us like we are deciding, but we are not. We are not choosing the action during any event. We may do something different the next time if we learn it is better. Else we may repeat the same step for the same type of event.

It solves the problem of there being no physical basis for free will. Although it may appear to be an extreme conclusion, it is not necessarily a cynical view. It is just the way it is. Whether it is for better or worse is another matter.

But, if free will is learning, why does it not operate only for the big things that matter for our life. Why does it seem like it is available at a micro-level in tiny activities of our day which should not have a significant bearing on our overall survivability or reproduction? For example, how come I end up being able to do my meditation at around 8 am every morning? If free will was only for big things, this should not have been my observation bur instead it should have happened with greater variation, assuming meditation is good for me. Even within my meditation, I observe that when I try, I can pull myself back from wandering thoughts to a more or less blank mind. How is this tiny freedom and power important for learning, to be disguised as free will, in the service of the Life Instinct?

However, this is not a large enough quandary to dismiss the idea. So, let us continue with the premise.

We have a large and complex framework of consciousness, thought, rationality and deciding built on what is essentially a computer.

Why all this then? Why has this complicated illusion evolved? Why does nature need to fool us into this state of mind? Is it because it reinforces the learning capacity of what we think is free will?

Is this illusion the real difference between a more straightforward computer and our brain? What if we program this feeling of awareness and freedom of decision into a computer? Or into a robot? Will it then be indistinguishable from humans as far as its intellectual makeup goes?

To completely resemble humans, or to be human, it would need to be programmed with emotions and instincts too. But it is simpler to program emotions into the machine. Fight or flight, jealousy, competition, greed, etc. are well-defined states. So are rationality, ethics and morality. Once you put these in, all that is left is to add awareness of self, and it fundamentally becomes human.

Awareness is not so hard either. I think, therefore I am. I have a material body; therefore, I am. I consume, excrete and reproduce; therefore, I am. So, we can build this into the waking state of the machine, and it will be human to all purposes.

Implications for the Humanities

If we don’t have Free Will or the ability to choose our actions, we cannot affect the path of The Life Instinct either.  It will also remove the bases of morality and ethics. It could worsen the conditions for human life and ultimately make it extinct.  Therefore, it may be expedient to acknowledge that it may be an illusion but live as if it is real.  

It can then be called a sort of blind acceptance.  A faith, even. Why then would we not believe in other unproven or unknowable entities such as God?  It would only be rational and expedient to believe in them, too, as long as they allow for human responsibility. This responsibility is like a Free Will, even if it is not as self-aware in our minds as that of atheist rationalists.

Young children, adolescents and teenagers can be brutal. It is because they haven’t had the time for their learning to reach higher levels. Without it, they are incapable of sophisticated ethical and moral thinking. It is not their fault. As they encounter religion or fundamental philosophical insights, without using any labels, they become less selfish, insensitive and parochial. Of course, many think children are the epitome of innocence. What they are thinking of is babied and toddlers who have not formed a sense of individual self. They are extensions of their mothers and are emotionally uncomplicated, even while they are physical pains for the parents. And we are naturally built to love them so that they will survive this most dangerous period of their lives.

The concepts of what happens after death, reward and punishment in an after-life and such beliefs could differ between religions and strengthen the actions during life to different extents. In this aspect, the atheistic and rationalist minority may be weaker in their exercise of some of the behaviours that are good for The Life Instinct. If there is no fear of an Almighty or retribution nor the desire for reward, it is only the most strong-willed of us who can still reach heights of good behaviour, for ourselves and society.

Possibility 2 – Free Will Is Real

We have seen how one view can be that the laws of physics preclude Free Will from being real and we are living life under the illusion of having a choice.

If that is so, there is no fundamental difference between life forms and inert matter.  Both follow the laws of physics. The superficial difference is that life forms change their size, state and composition as time passes, before turning back into simple inert matter.

What a wasteful creation of such complexity!  Why would nature lead to this? These are metaphysical questions we have decided not to deal with here.

Free Will is a part of the Force of Life.

In an earlier chapter, we considered whether Life is a fundamental force of nature. Therefore, as the will is a part of life, we can consider its existence as a part of such a fundamental force. We will work on the premise that in some mysterious way we can indeed make decisions and carry them out, either within or outside the physical laws we know and their determinism, both Newtonian or Quantum Mechanical. 

We can consider two alternatives here. The first is that physical rules do not apply to our decision making. While it would be profoundly disturbing to our rationality, it would place us outside the realms of ordinary matter. If we grant that such a mysterious capability would go hand in hand with some absolute meaning for our existence, we could indeed be different and carry an exclusive responsibility to ourselves and the universe.

The other possibility is that there are physical laws of our universe that we do not know yet that would support what we think of as free will. In particular, as it applies to the life forms on earth (even if only the more advanced ones), we could call it a part of the fundamental laws of the Force of Life. It would be a revelation of the highest magnitude to discover these laws, whether fully comprehensible to us or not. It would, at one fell stroke, elevate the power of our science and mind and make us take full and final responsibility for our thoughts and actions.

Meanwhile, we can continue living with the belief that we do have the freedom to choose, even if we don’t understand why. It is no more gullible than believing in God.  It is consistent with morality and theology, although the reasoning and sources of the definitions of good and evil are very different for the primary alternative system – the atheist, rationalist, materialistic and deterministic philosophy.

Religious or purely spiritual belief defines good in terms of either God’s will or through the laying down of practical rules for social and interpersonal behaviour. Rationality defines good strictly in terms of the latter. Where they are in accord, which appears to be in most cases, we need to recognise that we may have been smart enough to work out what works, even if we cloaked it in the mystery of the supernatural. Either way, religious belief and healthy atheism both support The Life Instinct, and the fact that religious practices evolved with us and have not been weeded out by natural selection is a powerful indicator of their utility.

Free Will is one of the most challenging things to imagine and comprehend objectively.  How does the animal mind stand outside the laws of physics and effect an action that either breaks one or more of the three Newtonian Laws or skews the probabilities of the positions of wave particles?  Is it some entity outside our brain that controls our brain? If so, the infinite regression problem occurs here too, like with the idea of a God or Creator. If it happens inside our mind, is there a master area in it that controls the rest, a superconscious, thoughtful and acting ‘brain of the brain’?  Or is it the entire brain that works on itself? Or is the cortex the master? Did CTF develop hand in hand with the emergence and enlargement of the PFC?

If this is happening, we may not be equipped intellectually and scientifically to understand and explain this yet.  So, should we accept it on faith that the intensity with which we feel we can control ourselves is proof enough that choice exists?  Also, therefore assume the responsibility to exercise it? Should we accept that we cannot sacrifice moral and ethical responsibilities cannot be sacrificed on the altar of determinism?

If we are not satisfied with How can we bend the physical laws of the universe?  Are physical laws not applicable to us? Why? How?

If we do have Free Will and the ability to choose our actions, we can also affect the paths of The Life Instinct.  

The ability to enhance the Upper Mind Functions and exercise more Free Will is the highest capability, the highest freedom.

It is the highest capacity as it is most likely the path that can make us most fit to survive and thrive in the world. It is the highest freedom as it does not need anything external such as religion, cult or teachers to show us the right path to maximum personal and societal happiness. Both of these, the capacity and the freedom, provide the maximum support for The Life Instinct.

The other view could be that Free Will is a part of the Life Force, a real, physical fifth or sixth fundamental force known to us. It, of course, would remove all the difficulties above, and we could study and use it like we do gravity, electromagnetism and the two nuclear forces.

Implications for The Humanities

If we are indeed free to decide our actions and attitudes, it can either be considered unimportant or taken as a serious responsibility. The Life Instinct would have us use it to be healthier and happier and make those groups we believe in more successful too. The size and makeup of the latter depend on the state of the psychology of the individual. Some may use their free will only for themselves, other for their family, and yet others for the whole world, including all the life in it.

But is having and using free will always a good thing? Individuals have been deciding, inventing and advocating many things over millennia. Have these choices always been good for the species? If we look at the decisions made by a Hitler or a Genghis Khan or many modern-day despots and dictators, have they had a net positive impact on the survival of the species? What about the decisions that are taken by individuals and organisations to create and use plastic? Or the thousands of other choices that are probably destroying the habitability of the planet itself for us? Are these not acts of free will? Is it some collective unconscious decision making, not personal choices? If we set aside that notion, it appears that Free Will could be just as bad as it is good, maybe worse.

Perhaps it is better to have less choice. Maybe the species has grown too intelligent and controlling. Less intelligent creatures such as tigers, horses and plants that do not have advanced brains, cognition and choice as we do, could be better at sustaining life all forms of life, in a delicate balance.

Free Will Finale

If free will is only a disguised learning system, can we control what and how fast we learn or are we at the mercy of some external power that decides this for each of us? And is that Nature? Or a God? Perhaps they are the same, just two names for the one omnipotent and truly independent being. And whether we are a part of this reality or separate falls on the cusp of philosophy and theology. It is not a subject for this book.

Either way, are our lives then predestined? But then who controls the controller? From where did it come? From nothing? To what end? None? Why should there be a purpose? Maybe there isn’t one. Or there is, but it is beyond our comprehension. And we just have to go with how it is.

Breaking Free of Predestination

Assuming we have understood the true nature of the free will, does it break us out? Does it allow us to rebel against the illusion, see how we are not free but are being controlled, and refuse to be a part of it? If it is a mechanism for learning, can we stop being taught, or learn something different? If the learning improves our future actions, can we try to demonstrate our freedom by doing something other than what we would have done, or by doing nothing at all?

The one example that comes to mind is of those people who commit suicide. Now, we could assume that this is nature’s way, and therefore free will’s way, to weed out the weak, by making them learn that they should not continue with their lives and should terminate it themselves. But in many cases, the suicides are committed by those who appear to be fit in body, if not in mind. So is the fitness of mind so vital to the Life Instinct that it used the illusion of free will to make such people kill off these sub-standard minds by killing themselves? It seems rather far fetched. Suicide could be an aberration rather than part of the grand plan of life. There could be exceptions and imperfections even in a system created by nature or God.

Taking the opposite view, that those who commit suicide saw through the falsehood of the apparent freedom and killed themselves to give one back to the Life Instinct, is an even more fantastic idea. As far as I know, there is no evidence that anyone broadcast this before they went ahead and killed themselves.

What about sages and religious leaders who willingly terminated their own lives, in one way of the other. Were they not among the most intelligent and sane people to have lived? Did they not give notice that they were about to end their lives? Perhaps some did, and others accounts are spurious. If some did achieve this, did they do it through deep thought or sudden insight? And is that insight and the decision to teach new ways of living before deliberately dying what is called Nirvana or Moksha.

So, if we have to be either mentally ill or a saint to break the illusion of choice, it would be on the margins and not accessible to any average person.

And if it were that easy to see through it, then many would have become free as billions of people had an intelligence like ours over the generations. And we would have known.

Personally, having thought about this for a long time and deeply, having come to the provisional conclusion that free will is a delusion, it hasn’t made me feel any more free or different. I have not developed perfect self-control, wanted to rebel against nature, altered what seemed a predestined action, considered suicide or become detached from life’s pleasures. Sure, I sometimes feel like life is too long and have developed tiny bits of patience and perspective with age and reading. Still, all this is relatively common in the population. They are not signs of being out of the stream of the Life Instinct and its agent, the appearance of freedom of choice.

The Only Way Out

Oh, what a con it is if nature has led us to believe we are free and if we are only automatons after all. There would be no accountability to anything, no responsibility.

And as to the soul, without the freedom of the will it would be a vapour, a phantom, an impression, nothing more. It would be only the name for the awareness of self that is integral to free will and would be occurring in all similar life forms, possibly millions of times in the universe without any reality or transcendence.

Life is about things happening to us. We can only go with the flow. It’s one thing after another. We can observe but not change anything.

Unless the Life Instinct is a fundamental and separate force of nature that stands by itself, there is no free will. Free will may indeed exist as per other laws, not those of the physics we know and study today. As this is only a hypothesis at this point, we cannot assume it to be true if we follow rationality.

Either way, the idea appears valid that it bestows learning, and that is a part of our life. So, we should behave as if it is real. It is what the Life Instinct requires, and it is best to follow it.

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