The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Will, Not Necessarily Free: A Materialistic View Of Free Will

The problem with free will is that it does not fit too well with the scientific theories of the universe that have been developing over the last three centuries.

While those theories are fairly accurate in predicting all the natural phenomena we deal with, they don't leave much room for free will. Particles behave the way they behave because of the fundamental laws of nature and because of what the other particles are doing; not because they can decide what to do. Since we are, ultimately, collections of particles, our free will is an embarrassment to Physics.

On the other hand, a simple look at the behavior of even a fly seems to prove that free will is indeed a fact and is pervasive. Free will is a fundamental attribute of life. A robot that moved but only repeating a mechanical sequence of steps would not be considered "alive". Life has very much to do with unpredictability of behavior, not just with behavior. Or, better, behavior is behavior inasmuch as it is unpredictable to a degree; otherwise it is simply "motion".

Whether it is indeed "free" or not, "will" (the apparent ability of an ant to decide in which direction to move) appears to be an inherent feature of life, no matter how primitive life is. A theory of life that does not predict free will is not a good theory of life. Somehow, "free" will must be a product of the chemistry of life, at some very elementary level. In other words, obtaining the right chemical mix in the laboratory would not be enough: that mix must also exhibit the symptoms of free will.

The origin of “free” will, therefore, appears to be life itself.

The universe had a small entropy at the Big Bang moment. Free will is possible only because the past has a low entropy and the future has a high entropy. Life works against this process (it turns high entropy into low entropy) and therefore must be contributing to the increase in entropy in the environment (the overall entropy can never decrease). In a sense, life seems to be the very process that creates, sustains and increases free will.

 


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