The question of whether there is free will has been taking the scientific world by storm lately. There are heated debates across a wide spectrum, from neuroscientists to philosophers. I will address these heated debates in the second part of the article. But we can clearly say that the discussion of whether there is free will is a matter of life and death for people who search and search for what they are in the universe, and people can never escape from it.
The subject of our place in the universe and why we exist is a great quest that begins with witnessing life first and then death, which is the biggest source of anxiety. Maybe this question, this search is at the root of all religions and beliefs. In other words, almost all religions and beliefs claim to answer this fundamental question. All religions and beliefs play hopscotch and explain in the “unknown” cluster of humanity. Science, on the other hand, does not like much outside of “provable” facts.
Since the inside of the human brain and how it works remained outside the scope of science for a long time, especially spiritual teachings were the sole rulers of this field. Another “I” in our brain, that is, the soul, was making all the decisions and initiating all the movements.
As neuroscience began to study and reveal the brain’s tiniest convolutions, the electrical flow in them, alarm signals began to sound for spiritistic teachings. Because despite all efforts, the “spirit” we were looking for could not be reached yet.
First, the behavioral changes that occur when parts of the brain are damaged shook spiritual teaching. So, if it was a hide-and-seek player named soul who took the decisions and started the actions, why would a damage in only some parts of the brain affect the decisions and actions while the soul was not harmed (that is, it was not dead yet)? Or, did a damage to some parts of the brain also affect the soul? This problem was the first sign of the door to spiritual teaching. “You can get out of here now,” he said briefly and politely.
But the real debate was just getting started. Because even the brains that show the soul the exit door and tell it to get out of our conscious world claim that we make decisions about our actions with our brain and with a consciousness, and the assumption of “free will” was sleeping soundly under the cover of immunity.
Finally, Benjamin Libet (1916-2007), who worked on consciousness studies in 1983; He decided to do what would later be called the Libet experiment.
The essence of the experiment was to investigate when a person made a decision about a simple action such as moving a finger. He wanted to not only look at the individual’s statement with the help of a set of tools attached to his brain, but also to document and confirm this with proven data. Hey there! This experiment would spark that ultimate debate and start slapping “free will” out of the velvet pouch in which it was sleeping soundly. Wake up, wake up, wake up!
Benjamin Libet’s experiment, of course, came as a complete shock. Such a hot topic caught the attention of almost everyone. Even the spiritism, which was just kicked out, listened to this issue in case a defense argument might emerge.
First, skeptical objections were raised. The experiment was repeated in different ways in different parts of the world. Finally, it was repeated many times with more modern equipment such as MRI, where the brain signals could be monitored more easily. Each review also lengthened the time between the moment the person thought they had made a decision and the moment the decision took place in the brain.
Sir, this is the essence of the issue that we have told so far in a story way. You might think you made the decision to do the X move here and now, but your brain decided it seconds before you made that decision (5 – 6 seconds in some experiments). Well, what does it mean if the decision to make a move is made in the brain earlier than you think and you are not aware of it?
This indicates that he is living in an “illusion” for sure. The illusion of free will. In other words, the illusion of “I did it, I did it, I decided, I said it, and now I did it”.
There are many theories on this subject, but probably because it is important for a person to say “I did it”, to direct his behavior, to feel special and to gain a character, offline “evolution” played a little trick on us and our brains essentially made a decision, an action. It has evolved to perceive and think it as given by the individual at the time.
This little trick of evolution was deciphered when the tool came to work and the hand boasted, and when the tools were greatly improved.
The Libet experiment and dozens of other experiments, which are derivatives, do not alone constitute proof that there is no free will, but they “absolutely” prove the wrongness of the assumption that we are in the illusion of free will, that we have now decided what we do.
That is, the belief that we decide something now is definitively false. We all naturally think so, and we have evolved to think so. We all live in an illusion of free will, whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not.
Our next article title in the Is There Free Will series will be “The Great Rush and the Quantum Savior”.
Ali Aksoy – 24.10.2019
(Translated with google translate)
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