Its difficult to be both a materialist and believe in free will. The world can not be simultaneously scientifically logical and consistent, and still allow people the free will to control who they become and their own destinies. One will always violate the other. I have found no way to reconcile these two seemingly impossible contradictions in a convincing way within the restrictive bounds of materialism. Consider an advanced computer program, were I to make one, one that exactly emulates a human brain, simulating how each and every neuron and input/output mechanism of the brain and body works and feels from inside a powerful computer. It acts in precisely the same way that a human would. It would have human feelings, thoughts, desires, hopes and dreams just like any of us do. Would this program have free will, or would it just be a carefully designed system of electrons traveling about in a circuit board, ones and zeroes.
There would be no free will in this program, as I created it completely. It has no control in how it acts, thinks, or feels. The program is an extension of the forces that created it and it is in control of no aspect of it’s functioning. Even if new events come along and change the way it functions, it can only be changed by external forces it is not in control of. But we are no different ourselves, forces completely out of our control have all constructed who we are, how we think, and how we act.
From a materialist point a view I am nothing more than a bio-mechanical machine whose sole function is survival and producing new slightly different versions of myself. My body is just an extremely complicated machine. I function using the model of input, processing, and output the same as any computer. One could predict my actions to 100% accuracy in every way, provided enough knowledge about a person and his surroundings is achieved. Every thought and every action that I make could be predicted with perfect accuracy. Not only that, but those who could manage it would know more about why I did what I did than I myself could ever possibly realize. Those with the knowledge could do more than just read my mind or predict my actions though. Given a few expert snips, shocks, or injections and the way I think feel and act could be changed drastically, changing who I am on a fundamental level. How can I possibly believe in free will given these things? Free will must be an illusion.
According to materialism, there should also be no ‘me’ inside my body, experiencing the things as my body does. I am nothing but a soulless bio-mechanical machine. But I must assert that there is a ‘me’ experiencing my life, this is the one and only assumption that I feel that I can make easily and without reluctance. The idea of me myself being conscious and self aware, being able to experience my life from inside of my body, forces me reject materialism as inadequate. Yet I still cannot accept that we have free will.
I am forced to experience the illusion of free will and feel responsibility for a person I had no role in shaping. Being a conscious person without free will is disheartening. Not only do I not have control of my thoughts or actions in this body, I don’t even have the ability to abandon it. I would have bowed out quite a long time ago, in hope of finding oblivion, if it were possible.
Why can I not just let my body think, behave, and act exactly as it would have without me being forced to experience it? Not a person on earth would ever realize that I am gone. Leaving earth without hurting myself or anybody else like a suicide can. But clearly this is not one of my choices. I have no consent to my experience, barring sending a bullet to my own head to escape. That I reflexively think of suicide as being a ‘choice’ seems so terribly absurd given my lack of free will.
The question of whether or not others are also self-aware naturally comes up after you determine that you yourself are self-aware. If you can believe that you are conscious and self aware, it also seems reasonable to also consider that others people would also be conscious and self aware (and stuck in their bodies just as you are). At the end of the day, however, you just can’t prove self-awareness for anybody but yourself. Any arguments they make, no matter how convincing, could not prove such a thing sufficiently. Those arguments are exactly what such a bio-mechanical machine would say, is it not? But in spite of this, based only on faith and practicality, I choose to believe that other people also are as conscious and self aware as I am. Believing otherwise would only serve to warp my state of mind. I can only believe that there must be some other factors in the equation apart from physical reality. More than just souls that are only meant to experience this existence in a passive way. This choice may not be based on provable things, but I don’t think I could bear my existence thinking myself imprisoned without any form of control.
Maybe humanity serves only as a strange sort of movie theater for some powerful and bored group of free willed souls. Bored with complete free will and omnipotence? All you have to do is temporarily wipe your memory to experience a life of mortality, an authentic meaningless experience of drudgery and absurdity. You won’t be able to control your body, but that wont stop you thinking that you can! For some reason I doubt my past self knew what it was getting into. I hope it can manage to get a refund.
Alternatively, what if each of our bodies and minds were a perfect reflection of the soul inhabiting it? Our body would act exactly how we want it to, not because we control it, but because it is based on who we are on a fundamental level. We would not have true control of our body, yet our free will would remain intact. Our mind and body would not be cruely warped by chance, but instead external forces would make us into a replica of our true selves. This world could paradoxically be both internally consistent in its physical rules, and simultaneously not interfere in its inhabitants free will. Only by closely examining the base material that makes up our world could we come to the conclusion that truely controlling our bodies is an illusion. In a way I like this idea the most, it would mean that we would not have to be bitter and regret who we are as a person, and those who have acted wrongly towards us cannot excuse their own actions on others. Despite my absurd and disappointing life, I think I might be able to accept something like that.
Lucid dreaming is possible because you can obtain awareness while you’re dreaming that you’re dreaming. In a sense, this could be described as ‘self-awareness’ because the mind becomes much more grounded in the present moment. I’d argue that normally while dreaming, one is not self-aware, and one is not conscious, as evidenced by one’s inability to differentiate reality from dreaming when the distinction is absurdly obvious. During dreaming the brain, the physical mechanism of consciousness is ‘experiencing’ a self-conjured reality in the form of sensations, emotions, and it may remember these stimuli later in the waking life. Therefore, it is obvious that consciousness constitutes more than merely experience, but also requires mindful awareness of that experience in the present moment. While there may be synapses and interactions constantly happening in my brain, I am not conscious unless I have the awareness that said interactions are occurring. If I am able to intensify my mindful awareness of the distinction between waking-life and dream-life, it will increase the probability of a lucid dream. Therefore, as evident by lucid dreams, could that ‘self-awareness’ which you consider intrinsic in itself be a choice? Is the choice to be self-aware or not the only choice which materialistic agents can make?
Hmm. It’s hard to answer the question of whether or not being self-aware is a choice or not. I have seen theories that some people are just robots without a soul or real self awareness. Maybe they possess a soul but have chosen to give up on self awareness and operate purely based on a mix of what others, their society, and their base instincts tell them to.
Temporarily pushing back self awareness, and the burdens that come with it, with your own actions seems at least partially possible. The most obvious method is simply going to sleep, but it seems like consuming media or doing very strenuous tasks can do something similar for a time. You get pushed into your body and must live in the moment, acting only on the input that you receive from your environment. No real thoughts are necessary or even possible, you simply do the calculations necessary to process the information or do the thing you are doing.
Perhaps simply putting on the mask of a predefined role in ordinary life is how many people do it. They may become self aware only several times a year, the rest of it devoted to truly mindless work, escapism, and routine. After all there is no need to self awareness if what you are supposed to do in all situations are obvious. You can just turn into a robot and walk down all the one way streets without a care in the world. Sure you would have some emotions, but only of predetermined intensity at the expected times. Time goes by faster and faster each year as you give up more of your self awareness to programmed subroutines and mind algorithms that you created many years ago.
If this is what regular people are then I seem to be sorely lacking in a fundamental way.
I have suffered for severe depression for about 5 years. This is probably something innate to my brain/body chemistry also known as FUCKED UP GENES. However I try fruitlessly at all sorts of things to fix it. One time in a bit of desperation I devoted a lot of my willpower to essentially giving up my free will. I tried to not think for myself, but set up a partition in my mind that would adjudicate my time and make me to do things based on what I ‘should’ be doing at any time. Doing this I had hoped to give up control over my own life so that I would not feel the weight of existence and decisions pressing down on me. Naturally this did not work, fracturing my own brain into pieces with willpower and despair alone is likely impossible after all. At least the method as of how I could do it are hidden from me. For some time later I would be fixated on the alluring idea of myself going insane in order to escape the illusion (or maybe the non-illusion) of free will. Maybe using the methods of creating a tulpa could be used to create for yourself a master consciousness that could be used to offload your burdens onto. This thought is both terrifying and tempting. Risking your sanity for true peace. Or would it be oblivion?
Truly, I am really disgusted by this planet and the maggots inhabiting it, these weak, nihilistic people with no honor or pride, who let everything happen to them. These perverted, corrupt and destructive ‘elites’ who fuck children and screw over nations. There is a lot more but I think you know where I am going with this, I have little respect for this planet and I care little if these normalfaggots end up in some institutionalized slavery or if this pathetic rectal end of civilization burns in nuclear fire. Yet, I also know that humanity has a prettier side, cultured, beautiful, intelligent, innovative, creative with a drive and potential that has opened limitless possibilities. Planes, engines, computers, it is really mind boggling to me what the laws of nature allow. I look back in history and I see harder times, a challenge that had to be overcome with strength and determination, societies where virtues like keeping a word, honesty, identity, loyalty and strength had a worth enforced by nature. Today everything is institutionalized, everything is recorded, there are no virtues or values, basic human interactions are dysfunctional and destructive, human behavior is being oppressed, technology has really sucked the life out of its masters. And even though I despise it, I feel a need to improve it because I know that there is better. I don’t want cultured, beautiful, intelligent, innovative and creative humanity to disappear in these rotten end times. I don’t want other, future people like me to suffer because of their forefathers errors. Communists, Bankers, Intellectuals, Fools and all the other blood sucking vampires on this planet, I don’t want them to ruin humanity. I just want this humanity to be annihilated, but it seems that everything is getting worse every day, more degeneracy, less liberty, more control, less freedom. And it makes me really mad and I feel helpless because I seem to be alone, it makes me depressed and resentful, I hate this world and it seems like that killed me a while ago already.
I just do not have the ability to find pleasure at things that I try, playing video games, talking to someone in real life makes me paranoid. I used to find some interest in some things years and years ago but at this time; I just cannot find anything satisfying or something that can alleviate my depression.