Is Free Will an Illusion?

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jackson
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Is Free Will an Illusion?

Post by jackson » Wed May 09, 2012 2:46 am

Hi everyone,
I just read a really interesting article on how free will is an illusion and am interested in your thoughts on it so thought I'd share it : http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sap ... on-so-what . Do you agree with the article, disagree? Looking forward to your replies!
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

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Polar Bear
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Re: Is Free Will an Illusion?

Post by Polar Bear » Wed May 09, 2012 2:53 am

bleh
Last edited by Polar Bear on Thu May 10, 2012 6:05 am, edited 3 times in total.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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Kim OHara
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Re: Is Free Will an Illusion?

Post by Kim OHara » Wed May 09, 2012 5:09 am

jackson wrote:Hi everyone,
I just read a really interesting article on how free will is an illusion and am interested in your thoughts on it so thought I'd share it : http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sap ... on-so-what . Do you agree with the article, disagree? Looking forward to your replies!
Hi, Jackson,
I like that fact that it is clear and straightforward and I like the conclusions, but I think it's a bit simplistic. (On the other hand, it's got to be simplistic at that length.)
I would rather say, "We have far less free will than we think we have," than, "We have no free will." There is also the problem of what "free will" actually means, and (even more) the problem of whether the "self" that is supposedly making decisions exists in the way we think it does. But I haven't got time just now to venture into that trackless wilderness. :tongue:

:namaste:
Kim

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Jason
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Re: Is Free Will an Illusion?

Post by Jason » Wed May 09, 2012 6:28 am

It's an interesting question; and the more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to agree with the idea that free will is ultimately an illusion. I think the idea of having free will can be useful in the conventional sense, but I'm skeptical about the existence of something we can point to and say, "This is the aspect of myself that can make independent decisions." From the Buddhist point of view, our decision-making ability is as conditioned as the choices available to use, so how can one truly say that they have a will which is free in any meaningful sense? Free of what to do what? (Here are some recent thoughts I had on the subject, if anyone's interested: "free will revisited: conventional vs. ultimate vs. pragmatic.")
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Moggalana
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Re: Is Free Will an Illusion?

Post by Moggalana » Wed May 09, 2012 7:26 am

It really is in interesting question and one that puzzles me a lot. There is a lot of disagreement about free will and I think one of the reasons for this are the different definitions of free will. So, when reading arguments about free will I try to first get what the author means with free will.

I agree with Jason. We may have choice but that choice is also conditioned and part of an infinite causal chain. I always liked Schopenhauer's saying: "Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills."

Sam Harris' take on free will is also interesting. Here is one lecture that basically covers all the arguments of his latest book Free Will.

Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.

jackson
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Re: Is Free Will an Illusion?

Post by jackson » Thu May 10, 2012 6:58 am

Thank you all of you for taking the time to respond, :anjali:
I enjoyed the Sam Harris video quite a bit and am thinking of getting his book, and I also enjoyed reading Jason's blog post for a Buddhist perspective on the matter. I find it to be a fascinating topic, and in relation to practice see how determinism could be compatible with perception of anatta. I also like the notion that it could lead to a more compassionate society and a less guilty conscience. I'm reminded of a talk Ajahn Munindo gave where he quoted Krishnamurti as saying "enlightenment is an accident". I've pondered over that line from time to time, perhaps he was referring to the fact that enlightenment can't be willed, or am I way off base?
Anyway, thanks for the great links!
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

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