The Human Brain Is Incapable Of Volition Or Free Will

Discussion in 'Alternative Theories' started by Steve Klinko, May 10, 2021.

  1. Steve Klinko Registered Senior Member

    When the topic of Volition is discussed the Libet Experiment will always need to be addressed. Libet first conducted this Experiment 50 years ago and other researchers have conducted many more variations of it in the following years. The Philosophical implications of the Experiment have been hotly debated ever since. It seemed like there was Measurable Brain Activity (the Readiness Potential) 200 or more mSec before the subject even knew they wanted to move their finger. At first, the conclusion was that Free Will is not a Conscious Choice, but is embedded in the deterministic Physics of the Neurons. Many other researchers have debunked this result for various technical reasons.

    I think there may have been a more fundamental flaw in the Experiment, due to a basic Brain Operation that was not taken into account at that time. The basic unaccounted for Operation was that a Brain can execute a Program, which can perform at Sub-Conscious Levels. A Brain Program, as we will call it, is not anything like a Computer Program in how it is stored or how it is executed. A Brain Program must be stored in the Neural Plasticity of the Brain, similar to how the Information of Knowledge is stored. Anytime we are learning some new sequence of movements we will need to be slow and deliberate, because we have to think about each movement. After a while we won't need to think as much about each step, and after a longer time we might be able to perform that sequence without much thought at all. Our Brains can be configured to execute Movement Sequences or other Activities using a Brain Program. This is how we can drive for a time period and then think back realizing we were not aware of driving over that time period. This is how Musicians play their instruments while playing memorized music. Musicians certainly cannot think about each note, when they are playing a fast Sequence. Playing Music is obviously accomplished, in part, by executing Brain Programs.

    Libet did not take into account that the subjects were executing a Brain Program while at the same time deciding when to move their fingers. This particular Brain Program is related to what I will call the Pounce Program that seems to become a Brain Program early in the life of Humans and Animals. An Animal will creep up to it's prey and when within striking distance still wait for the right moment to Pounce. The Animal is executing a Brain Program that is generating the urge to, Go Pounce Now, over and over again. The Program gives the Animal the urge to Pounce, but the Animal can resist the urge until the right moment. That moment will be a Conscious Decision of Volition to Pounce. The Pounce Moment will be driven by all kinds of Sensory input factors, but especially the Visual Experience for movement of the Prey. Humans have incorporated such Pounce Programs too. These Programs probably developed through early childhood game playing. Now think about your Experiences when you have Fly Swatter in hand and are ready to Swat (Pounce) a Fly. We can call this Brain Program the Swat Program. You will feel internal Urges to Swat, which you hold back until you make a Conscious Decision to Swat. So if a Readiness Potential was Measured during this Swatting activity, there would certainly be Readiness Potential increases before the Conscious Volition to actually Swat. But this is only because the Swat Program was running in your Brain generating these Readiness Potentials.

    Now back to the Libet Experiment. It is probably easy for the Brain to adapt the Swat Program for other activities that are similar to Swatting. Randomly deciding when to move your finger, as in the Libet Experiment, probably used the Swat Program right from the start. In fact, the subjects commented that they felt an Urge to move their fingers and were able to hold the Urge off until they actually wanted to move their fingers. The Readiness Potential was being generated by a Brain Program and not by Volition or Free Will. This is the basic flaw in the Experiment. The Experiment was Measuring the Readiness Potential generated by a Brain Program. It had little to do with Volition or Free Will. Libet was aware that the subjects were getting Urges to move their fingers before they actually moved them, but he did not recognize that they were in fact executing Brain Programs. I think that Brain Programs will always interfere with any kind of Experiment like this, because we probably use Brain Programs for most of the things we do. It was actually never reasonable to expect that mSec timed Random Finger Movements have anything to do with Volition or Free Will. These kinds of Experiments are obviously more in the category of Neuro-Mechanistic timing studies.

    Volition is always linked to Free Will in Philosophical discussions. I will attempt to uncouple Volition from Free Will, and develop a way of thinking about the concept of Volition that does not have the Philosophical baggage of Free Will, although I will make a quick comment at the end about Free Will. With the Perspective of the Inter Mind Model (IMM), we can ask the question: Is Volition a process in the Conscious Mind (CM) or is it simply Neural Activity of the right kind in the Physical Mind (PM)?

    If an Animal is going to Seek out the Good and Avoid the Bad, as described in a previous section, then the Animal is going to have to generate Movement Commands to its Muscles to Move toward the Good and away from the Bad. But the Good and the Bad are Conscious Experiences in the CM, so the Desire and the Volition to Seek and Avoid must originate in the CM. The PM does not Experience the Good or the Bad, so it is not Coherent to think that the Desire or the Volition to Seek and Avoid are rooted in the PM. The Desire and the Volition to Seek and Avoid must Logically originate in the CM. The CM will Experience Desire to move toward the Good or away from the Bad. It is more proper to say that these are Conscious Desires and Conscious Volitions. The Inter Mind will Detect these Conscious Desires and, through Conscious Volition, will generate the appropriate movements or execute the appropriate Brain Program to satisfy the Conscious Desires.

    We can also explore a higher level Conscious Desire that only a Human Mind could have. Let's consider the Desire for Knowledge. This Desire is clearly a Conscious Experience in the Conscious Mind. This Conscious Desire will be satisfied over the time period of a Human Lifetime. It is a slow acting Conscious Desire that gets fulfilled by incremental acts of Conscious Volition to get the new Knowledge. It is easy to understand that Conscious Volition will always be the mechanism for satisfying Conscious Desires, even higher level Conscious Desires.

    We might expect that there will be some Neural Activity associated with these Conscious Desires. That Neural Activity will be the Neural Correlates of the Conscious Desires. But Neural Activity is not a Consciously Experienced Desire. The Experience of a Desire must be in the Conscious Mind. So if there is Neural Activity in the Brain, but there is no Experienced Conscious Desire, then there is no Desire at all.

    The Human Brain cannot Desire anything, because the Human Brain is a Physical thing, and Desire happens as a Conscious Experience in a CM. Since the Human Brain cannot have Desires we can conclude that it has no Volition capability to satisfy Desires. Clearly, Volition is a purely Conscious Phenomenon that has to flow from the CM back through the Inter Mind and to the PM. We can abstract this further and say, that since the Human Brain cannot exercise Volition, that it also has no Free Will. If there is any Free Will, it is in the CM and not in the PM. Since we know that Computers have no Connections to an Inter Mind or to a CM, it is obvious that there are no Volition inputs to Computers as they are constructed today. Without Consciousness there is no Volition. This statement must still apply even if you Believe that Consciousness "Is In The Neurons" or "Emerges From The Neurons", because there has to be some implementation of the functionality of Consciousness, somewhere, somehow.
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  3. river

    Highlighted 1

    Learning can be fast . In reading and experience . And applied very quickly .

    Highlighted , last .

    Of course , the body is necessary for Conscience to not only exist ( manifest ) but as well to evolve .

    The Physical ( Periodic Table ) Universe is NOT to be equated with LIFE . They are not the same energy forms .
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  5. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I tend to agree with that. An image of a Praying Mantis calculating the exact moment to strike comes to mind. This is an insect which obviously is making a conscious decision when to strike. You can see the insect measuring the distance and angle of attack.
    Compare this with the subconscious response system of homeostasis, which is practically autonomous, but is responsible for keeping all bodily function in balance, a purely electro-chemical control system, which remains active even when the subject is under anesthesia and unable to make any decision at all.
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  7. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Yet another stupid thread claiming that our brains are not where consciousness comes from but instead it is some sort of magical mystery. [yawn]
    exchemist likes this.
  8. Steve Klinko Registered Senior Member

    Not Magical but definitely a Mystery. Don't fall asleep. Wake up, get some Coffee, and think more Deeply.
  9. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Pffffttttt, you are so deep and wise.

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  10. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Well, if you're asserting that any private manifestations associated with the mechanistic version of personal "desires" don't have influence on instruments, then that's a given. No radical addition, novelty, or new properties are detectable with with respect to neural correlates or the matter and electrochemical activity constituting them. Even if unique patterns are discerned in the dynamic configurations, the capacity for structural organization is not a new ability or characteristic of matter. Nothing "extra" has emerged, as far as detection/confirmation or returned causal influence of a proposed _X_ novelty goes.

    Similarly, a potential descriptive analysis or causal relationships map of what's transpiring (as abstracted explanation rather than pointing to the source object itself) is even more distantly removed. Since it lacks even those external appearances of brain tissue that are different from the how perceptual and thought areas of that brain exhibit to themselves internally.

    Actually, no cataloguing of ALL causal contributions transpiring in a brain for a specific duration is even possible, so as to discount the possibility of "unknown" loose ends or influences. Not even a significant fraction. But the pre-conditional operating dogma is that "in theory" everything could be accounted for in terms of detectable items (the universe, if not the skull/body specifically, is a closed system). So there is no worry of the dogma being challenged if one utilizes what falls out of it, the methodology entails it as a "just so" fact.

    The asymmetry of epiphenomenalism can be recruited to render moot the lack of reciprocation from "phenomenal experience" as new, emergent properties or a new capacity for "hidden" manifestation. The difficulty afterwards, however, is accounting for the remarkably sustained coincidence of people reporting that they have experiences which truly are the case, which accordingly their brains should be ignorant of due to the one-way causality.

    Thus, the apparent remedy would be simply eliminating the experiences and proclaiming that the neural correlates of consciousness correspond to lies or fictions about phenomenal presentations (instead of a literal, emergent novelty). Evolution instilled in us an inherent imperative to pretend.

    But then the problem of people conforming to astounding, consensus-like agreement with respect to their fictional, private manifestations arises...

    Russelian monism could arguably address both the exhibited content of perceptions/thoughts and the differences between outer and inner appearances, but it's an ontological orientation. Something like Integrated Information Theory caters to the belief that the related family of philosophical ideas can be converted into mathematical expression for science. But it's questionable that IIT has even partially succeeded.

    I've come to consider the label of "Free Will" to be hopelessly terminal because of the history of philosophical baggage (like incompatibilism and the errant idea of dependency on randomness) that this or that joker will inevitably try to drag it back to the river and drown it in (either intentionally or unintentionally). While unsuited for your apparent "dualism" here, I shift focus to autonomy (of the body) and the dependency of both decision-making and impulsive whims on the workings of the body (i.e., how impossible the non-sentient environment in general would be at outputting such itself as well as deliberately playing puppet-master).

    Regarding the aforementioned experiment, the "Libet interpretation" of it has more or less been dashed against the rocks. Though due to the vintage era that many thinkers and researchers might still be wandering around in without updated awareness, I can see still playing about with the relic for the sake of whatever illustrative purposes.

    For decades, a landmark brain study fed speculation about whether we control our own actions. It seems to have made a classic mistake.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
  11. Steve Klinko Registered Senior Member

    Thank You for this very well written reply. I believe I agree with what you say. IIT seems to be a way of categorizing Conscious Experience, but it is unable to answer the questions that I always have. No supposed theory of Consciousness that I have ever heard of can Explain things like the Experience of Redness, the Standard A Tone, the Salty Taste, the Smell of Bleach, or the Touch of a rough surface. I start by thinking about the Experiences themselves. I then realize that Science does not know what these Experience are. I don't know what these Experiences are, even though I Experience them. It is hopeless to try to Explain how Neurons are producing these Experiences that are not known in the first place. What is Redness? When we can answer that question, I think we will know how the Neurons produce it. But we need to know what Redness is first.
  12. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    It is a sensory interpretation of a specific wavelength, but is not a fixed or invariable interpretation.
    In most common color blindness the brain's interpretation of green and red may well become mixed up.

    Physiology of color perception[edit]

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    Normalized response spectra of human cones, to monochromatic spectral stimuli, with wavelength given in nanometers.

    Color in the human brain[edit]

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    Visual pathways in the human brain. The ventral stream (purple) is important in color recognition. The dorsal stream (green) is also shown. They originate from a common source in the visual cortex.

    Types of Colour Blindness

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    Normal vision .................................................Tritanopia

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    Protanopia ......................................................Deuteranopia
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    My thoughts exactly.
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    The first part is useful but why include all this guff about colour blindness?
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I try to present variations on a theme.

    Color blindness is a completely involuntary deficit. It does not render the individual incapable in general, but certainly in certain occupations like painting , color design, etc.

    Primarily I wanted to demonstrate the emotional impact of the realization that one has missed half of reality his/her entire life.

    I know, it is a habit of mine that while writing these ideas present themselves as somehow relevant and I post it.

    Forgive my enthusiasm when a subject really interests me, I tend to get verbose..........

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  16. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    I find color perception very interesting too.

    I don't think it's right to say that color blind people are missing any part of reality, they just experience it differently. Like humans, bees have trichromatic vision. However, they can't see red. Their "primary colors" are blue, green and UV. Which of us (humans or bees) are missing half of reality?
  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    To each it's own. I am not comparing humans to bees or vice versa.

    True, it was a strong statement. But I am very empathic and when I see a 50 yr, 6'3", 280 lb, obvious manly guy using the color filtering glasses, break out in tears from the realization of what the world really looks like to most of us humans, my eyes tear up with the same emotional experience and I can imagine what he must feel like.

    When he asks; "this is what the world looks like all the time?", it tells me he has discovered the experiential richness colors add to our existence. And we often take for granted!

    I understand that many animals ( especially insects) have differently evolved vision to survive in their environment, But then they also do not look at a Van Gogh or a Rembrandt or a magnificent sunset/sunrise with their arm around their loved one.

    Nature selected colors as an essential and necessary part of our existence on earth! If it did not help the survival and growth of all flowering plants there would be no colored flowers.

    Unlike humans, many insects have symbiotic relationships with flowers of specific kinds and colors. We can learn from that.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2021
  18. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Actually humans have a very strong symbiotic relationship with flowers. Many humans grow and care for flowers, the flowers thrive and the humans well being is increased.
  19. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Yes, humans grow and care for flowers. As evidenced by the great Tulip Mania in Holland, where people paid thousands of guilders for diseased tulips because they had such pretty variegated color and you could become rich by cultivating a few tulips.

    A tulip, known as "the Viceroy" (viseroij), displayed in the 1637 Dutch catalog Verzameling van een Meenigte Tulipaanen. Its bulb was offered for sale for between 3,000 and 4,200 guilders (florins) depending on weight (gewooge). A skilled craftsworker at the time earned about 300 guilders a year.[1]

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    Anonymous 17th-century watercolor of the Semper Augustus, famous for being the most expensive tulip sold during the tulip mania.

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    The Tulip Folly, by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1882. A nobleman guards an exceptional bloom as soldiers trample flowerbeds in a vain attempt to stabilize the tulip market by limiting the supply.

    Basket of goods allegedly exchanged for a single bulb of the Viceroy[50]
    Two lasts of wheat 448ƒ
    Four lasts of ry 558ƒ
    Four fat oxen 480ƒ
    Eight fat swine 240ƒ
    Twelve fat sheep 120ƒ
    Two hogsheads of wine 70ƒ
    Four tuns of beer 32ƒ
    Two tuns of butter 192ƒ
    1,000 lbs. of cheese 120ƒ
    A complete bed 100ƒ
    A suit of clothes 80ƒ
    A silver drinking cup 60ƒ
    Total ................2500ƒ

    This had nothing to do with symbiosis. This was just plain greed as humans are wont to be.

    Humans don't live in symbiosis with anything. We use it, spoil it, and discard it as polluting waste.
    We don't even live in symbiosis with the earth's ecology itself. Have you watched any weather forecasts lately? We might just symbiose ourselves into extinction.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2021
  20. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Don't get distracted by focusing too much on the specific content of "experience", which seems to be the myopic trademark of qualophiles.

    Experiences are manifestations (whether visual or auditory exhibitions, or the presented impressions of the tactile, olfactory, and gustatory modes). Non-consciousness, as applicable to a dead body or the state of a rock, is the absence of all manifestations -- not even a display and conceptual identification of nothingness and silence is applicable.

    This is the primary issue, since no capacity for manifestation is attributed to matter (or at best, it's a brute add-on to brain tissue, that doesn't fall out of the physical and chemical properties that preceded it).

    Most items claimed to be instances of emergence are public -- they are new activities slash structures or patterns that can be observed or detected by observation or instruments. Still composed of atoms, particles, fields (i.e., they don't float on their own).

    But conscious experiences themselves are not public. There may be neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs) that can be discerned in the skull, but the private manifestations reported by an individual are not overtly "there" for scrutiny and verification [see footnote]. Accordingly, they are not confirmed -- hypothetical robot scientists (potentially lacking a phenomenal aspect to their awareness that's purely expressed as body behavior) would probably consider our claim of having experiences to be a traditional or religious-like belief of humans.

    So that's arguably the second issue: the presentations of consciousness cannot even be determined to be the case in terms of residing in public space, directly available to the "many" of scientific investigation. An emergent novelty that is private might as well be a report about divine revelation. Multiple believers can share a consensus about each individual privately intuiting God, but that's still suspect BS.

    Even if a (magically?) emergent hidden subjectivity and its manifestations are dogmatically accepted, there's a third issue: Why are neural correlates for personal experiences radically different in terms of appearance from the latter? Figuratively speaking, how could a roads and highways map of North America resemble just THAT on the "outside", but look like a pasture occupied by cattle on the "inside"?

    Back in the old days when the guts of televisions were composed of bulky vacuum tubes and easily accessible other electronic components not yet reduced to microscopic size... A technician might tinker around behind the screen with that stuff and cause a variety of abnormalities to appear on the screen and emanate from the speaker. Blatantly demonstrating the correlation between the two technological areas that were distinct both in terms of appearance and spatial location.

    The problem with the brain scenario (which needs to be remedied rather than reflexively thrown away) is that only the metaphoric television chassis is objectively available. The metaphoric screen, speaker, tactile VR suit, etc (or what they convey) are missing as far as detecting them in the public arena goes.

    A routine(?) assertion that physical operations are emergently producing something immaterial that can't be directly detected (akin to epiphenomenalism), might be fine if one doesn't mind going over the cliff of inconsistency with respect to everything else one usually believes. Otherwise, it's probably a good idea for the physicalist to slap one's self back into the world of consequences with respect to what one proposes. Not directly stating an apparent consequence of a proposal or trying to remain ignorant of it does not really offer exoneration.

    Analogy-wise, any non-curious person can bluntly declare that the sun is the source of light and heat. But deeply articulating it as the result of fusion was a deeper answer to pursue than that dumbass level of ruminant-contented understanding.

    - - - footnote - - -

    And nothing radically new has arisen with respect to the NCCs. Their electrochemical activity might feature unusual configurations different from other brain processes, but conforming to patterns is already a characteristic of either neural or computer operations not associated with consciousness. Plus, how inconsistently insane would it be (in the context of natural science) to propose that certain procedures (either mechanical, electrical, or chemical) can conjure a hidden or subjective _X_ novelty via their performance?
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Of course they do. One fundamental example is wave function in a field.

    The wave-function as a multi-field


    Emergence: A unifying theme for 21st century science

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    Flocking, the collective motion of many birds in flight, is an emergent behavior arising from individuals following simple rules without central coordination or leadership.

    Emergence as a unifying paradigm

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    Nanowires, like these grown by depositing atoms on a silicon crystal, are among new manmade materials with emergent properties. (U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology)

    Wetness is an emergent property of non-wet particles.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2021
  22. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Agreed. Many flowers are grown for food (figs, artichokes etc) and the flowers of many more species are cared for in order to harvest the fruits that subsequently form. So these profit from a symbiotic relationship with Man.
  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    And human chemicals and insecticides are rendering the honey bee, the natural pollinator of flowering plants, vulnerable to disease.

    In China many orchards now have to be hand dusted because the honey bee has disappeared. It takes humans weeks to pollinate an orchard where bees can do this is a few days. Not a very symbiotic relationship, IMO.

    Humans do not live in symbiosis with nature. We try to shape nature for our convenience often in direct contradiction to what took natural selection 3 billion years to establish as a successful recycling of resources.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2021

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