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  • Andrew Keller

Is Free Will an Illusion?


Andrew

This is re posted. Every morning


Unknown Speaker

Larry and I dig into a form or idea that has caught


Unknown Speaker

our eye. Our hope is that our chat inspires you to never stop thinking and possibly challenges you in a new way. If you'd like to help support the show, please visit patreon.com slash reposted. Thank you for stopping by.


Larry

Mr. Keller. There's an argument out there that nobody ever truly chooses freely to do anything that we're all puppets of forces beyond our control comes from an article that clockwork universe is freewill and illusion. In the independent, here's your quote. Suppose you find yourself feeling moderately hungry one afternoon, so you walk to the fruit bowl in your kitchen, you see one apple and one banana. As it happens, you choose the banana. But it seems absolutely obvious that you were free to choose the apple or the banana, or both. Instead, that's freewill. You were to rewind the tape of world history to the instant just before you made your decision. With everything in the universe exactly the same, you'd been able to make a different decision. That seems perfectly obvious, right?


Unknown Speaker

It seems that way. Yeah.


Larry

Is there any way this could be different?


Andrew

That you would pick the banana 100% of the time?


Larry

Or that you would use the banana every one in 10 times?


Andrew

I mean, there's, I feel like I could buy into an anecdotal argument about freewill nonexisting. But like, I think there's too, it's too easy to poke holes. And I did a little social experiment on you this morning. We normally record at 9am. And I gave you the option to record early and you took it? And I don't know, do you have the free will to choose that or not?


Larry

Okay, this is great. Which leads into my next quote, there are physiological reasons for you're feeling hungry in the first place. And there are causes in your genes, your upbringing, or your current environment for you choosing to address your hunger with fruit, rather than a box of doughnuts, your preferences for the bandanna over the apple at the moment of suppose Joyce must have been caused by what went before presumably including the patterns of your neurons firing in your brain, which was itself caused. And so back in the unbroken chain to your birth, the meaning of your parents, their burgers, and eventually, the birth of the cosmos. To me, this sounds ridiculous. But there is a point to be made, that there is a chain of events that lead you to exactly where you are. And maybe you're not choosing them. They're already chosen for you by you who you are as a whole.


Unknown Speaker

Okay, are you are you presenting an argument that you don't buy into?


Larry

I'm sort of just saying I read this article is like, you know what? It sounded ridiculous that we don't have free will. But the more we kind of dig into it, you know what? Maybe there is some I don't know if there's some grand we're not playing it some game run by an alien in a different universe. But there is some idea that we already have made our decisions they're already made for us. Yeah, I


Andrew

mean, I think the deck gets stacked to some extent, like you're saying it's like this having this that the second quote you start off with was you, you have physiological reasons for choosing, which maybe I'm splitting hairs a little bit. Like I think, yeah, you have a physiological drop, but I think a lot of its mental. I heard a stat that is unsubstantiated. But 80% of eating is based on boredom, like you people rarely say I physiologically need to eat right now. So I'm going to it's more of like the idea of it or there's emotion tied to it or whatever. So I it's interesting that one thing I thought was really compelling in this thing he sent me against the case of it. It says it would be difficult to hate other people. How can you have How can you hate someone, you don't blame for their actions? Like if you fully buy into the lack of freewill, then nothing can be anyone's fault because it was a foregone conclusion.


Larry

Yeah, that's the that's the reason I feel like I continued down the rabbit hole with this article, because I was like, wow, this is just a mental exercise, who cares? But then it makes this argument and which leads us to people being put in prison, right? If you're raised in a home with a single mom, in a gang, you get molested all of the things that could happen in your life that are pre determined before you even age four, then you're already pre determined, in theory to not be that great of a person and become a criminal, and then you're in jail. And so should we blame people that are raised in a bad system for the product of their environment? That's the whole point of this.


Andrew

Right? Well, I mean, again, I think I'm going to go back to the deck is stacked against you because we do hear instances of people who came from nothing and and overcome, being molested, overcome, watching their parents be murdered. You're more likely to not do that. I mean, I think predestination the first time ever heard it was in the context of religion, which I think is interesting, because there's a sect of Christianity is like, well, there's pre there's predestination, it's like you've already been chosen. And you don't have the choice, which I don't buy into. But


Larry

I think that's another interesting Avenue. There's this point in the article where the author is talking about in the quiet of the morning before his kids wake up, that he's drinking a cup of coffee, and then the intention pops up in his head that he should take a shower. Now, where does that come from? Where does it come from that you're sitting, it's quiet. You know what I got to start the day, I got to get in the shower. We also says like you're agonizing over decision of whether go to a relative's funeral, you're kind of going back and forth on this. And you might go, you might not go. But he's essentially saying these are just decisions that are already made. And you're a sort of a spectator of the decision process in your own brain.


Andrew

Yeah, shower is a really interesting concept that I haven't really ever thought of physiologically we don't need to shower every day. But I think culturally, it's something we do. And I think, I feel like I'm predestined to want to take a shower every day or five days a week, or like, whatever it is, you definitely don't need to. So that's interesting. That is definitely your parents showered every day, their parents like luxury was having a bathroom, or whenever it started. So there are things that you just kind of get pre programmed into you. And I don't think you're predestined. It's just like it would take a large force to get you off that trajectory.


Larry

In sort of that same vein about showers. We are in California now heading into a drought. So maybe you shouldn't shower everyday. But as you said, social forces make us do that also, with watering your lawn. My father in law has a great lawn, it is very green, it is very lush. But as we know where we go and droughts in California, you can't water your lawn all the time. And it turns brown and somehow would say you're sort of being shamed by your neighbors. So freewill is now being shaped sort of by your environment.


Andrew

Yeah, I think maybe it comes down to it. Your freewill is so much in that, like you're willing to go against the grain or like you're willing to make yourself uncomfortable, like, you're going to take the path of least resistance. And that's why it feels like you don't have freewill. When you look at it in the context of eating the banana, or watering your yard or taking a shower. It's like most people don't like being uncomfortable. And we have a groove that was built for us from our ancestors or whatever you want to call it. society that you're going to you're going to fall in that groove. And it's going to take a special force to be like, No, I'm going to turn hard right here as opposed to stay in this nice smooth area.


Larry

Yeah, and just by the way to kind of back that up is that the cold shower thing that you do every day? I really don't like cold water. I've sort of tried to run from it. But in the last year, I've been running on the beach and standing and icing my legs in the ocean and have actually gotten used to the point now like I like standing in cold water in the ocean. But I'm predisposed to not like it.


Andrew

Yeah, because it it's a shock and it's uncomfortable. And then when you do the cold shower after three seconds, it feels fine.


Larry

Can I just take this to one higher level of ridiculousness. There is another theory out there that we are part of some large board game. I'm being serious. That some other being is like playing us as a game. Like we're the we're pawns in a game of somebody else. And there's gazillions of these games going on by a force or alien or whatever you want to call it in a dystopian universe. Do you subscribe to that in any way?


Andrew

I mean, that's the premise of Orson Scott card's book Ender's Game.


Unknown Speaker

Yeah. Yeah.


Andrew

I mean, I've definitely gone down that rabbit hole thinking about it, but it's not something that I think there. whether it's true or not, I think throwing it up to the universe and being like, well, I couldn't make a decision anyway, someone else's controlling me. I think that's a cop out and taking responsibility of whatever you whatever you're doing, just is like a general life. position. I can't say, even if I don't have, if I don't have free will, I'm going to tell myself I do to make myself feel like a more productive human.


Larry

I like how he closes his article. It says in our utter exposure to forces beyond our control, we might all be in the same boat, clinging on for our lives adrift on the storm tossed ocean of luck.


Andrew

Well, if you're Kate Winslet and you want to let jack go, and The ocean boat of life that we're on, reach out, share the show with a friend say Hey, I got this cool podcast called repost it. Check it out. It's on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram Pat repost the podcast. I'm Andrew Keller for the Titanic. So thanks for stopping by.




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