TED Conversations

Steve Bruno

Web Project Manager,

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Do you believe we have true freewill?

I am curious to know if you believe we are more than just chemical and physical reactions in our brains.

What do you believe, and does that belief affect how you live and make decisions?

Edit: I have modified the question to allow for a more broad discussion on the general concept of freewill.

There seems to be a lot of confusion around the definition of the term "freewill". I have gathered some definitions from a few sources below to use:

"The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion"
Source: Google dictionary

"Free and independent choice; voluntary decision: You took on the responsibility of your own free will."
Source: Dictionary.com

Lets try to not get too caught up on the semantics. There has been some interesting discussions so far. I would like to summarize the main points on each side of this topic when I have time.

+6
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jun 10 2011: Our ability to predict decisions based on our understanding of neurology doesn't compromise the validity of the decision made. It is simply the understanding of HOW decisions are made. Yes, the conglomeration of our physical endowment with our experiences, temperament, and location in space and time is what influences the makeup of our decision-making system, but the products of that system's process are still decisions nonetheless.

    We are this system that we call our brain and body. If our decisions and actions ARE predetermined by the rules of physical and chemical reality, I personally, cannot deny the fact that i still FEEL in control of my conscious thoughts and actions. I am my system, and you may be your system. And our own particular autonomy is what makes us human, even if different from person to person.
    • thumb
      Jun 10 2011: We are patterned creatures, but we can pick our own patterns?
      • Jun 10 2011: I think so. Possibly the potential to choose and alter our deliberations is ingrained in our biological makeup a priori. Within the objective rules of our physical workings, there lies a subjective factor. Call it the SPIRIT FACTOR hahaha. Terms like neuroplasticity and adaption come to mind when i think of this, and even free will. I think it is because of such a phenomenon as this that we all have varying beliefs and attitudes that make up the whole of a value pluralistic.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.