Consciousness, Free Will, And Purpose In Human Life

891 words - 4 pages

Consciousness, Free Will, and Purpose in Human LifeIn the book Minds, Brains, and Science, author John Searle discusses the ability of humans to provide their own consciousness and free will. He poses the question, "Why exactly is there no room for the freedom of the will on the contemporary scientific view?" (93). In short, his argument is that contemporary science (such as physics) looks at problems from the bottom up. The smallest parts and processes come together to form the larger parts and processes, and it is because of the nature of the smaller parts that we have the larger processes that we can discern, and all of this functions according to laws that govern how these parts and processes interact and cause each other (93). This remains a very neat package until one attempts to consider the idea of free will using the same types of laws and formulas that apply to the contemporary physical sciences. If we consider that our thoughts cause our bodies to move, then we are looking at this particular problem in a manner that is actually inconsistent with the way we explain processes in the physical sciences. If we consider that it was the electrochemical activity in our brains that stimulated both our thoughts concerning movement and the movement itself, this still does not account for our perception that as humans, we can choose to move, or not to move (94). Based on this information, it is not difficult for me to side with Mr. Searle, or even to imagine that any real laws that govern such mental features as consciousness and free will would operate and be stated in ways that do not always run parallel to our accepted contemporary physical laws.Searle also poses the question, "What is it about our experience that makes it impossible for us to abandon the belief in the freedom of the will?" (94). Searle examines this question from the perspective that freedom could indeed be an illusion, and that in the human mind,"...freedom is tied to consciousness" (94). Concerning this, he makes an important point: "The characteristic experience that gives us the conviction of human freedom...is the experience of engaging in voluntary, intentional human actions" (95). If I accept Searle's argument as true, then how can human thought-directed actions (together with all of the choices that we perceive) be explained using laws or rules that leave no room for such choices? I experience and perceive my ability to choose what I will do now, 10 minutes from now, tomorrow, and so on. Based on my experience, together with Mr. Searle's...

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