: what is the nature of “free will”, and is it ultimately just an illusion? It is an absolutely massive question, with implications that range from philosophy to spirituality, to psychology, art and creativity, neurobiology, evolutionary theory, morality, ethics, and all the way to the very foundations of our legal system. And it is a question that clearly requires an integral perspective in order to even begin to untangle. The debate between free will and determinism is one that has raged in religious, philosophical, and scientific circles for millennia, and has more recently come under fire from modern thinkers like Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris (Sam’s recent appearance on the Star Talk podcast is discussed in this conversation) who tend to frame “free will” as little more than an illusion, noting that recent discoveries in neurobiology seem to indicate that our brains often know what we are going to do before our conscious mind is able to register the decision. Which seems to imply that our very notion of free will is just a phantasmal after-image produced by the chemical soup between our ears. And yet, if you have ever painted a canvas, written a novel, named your child, or engaged in any other creatively intense process, the argument for free will seems self-evident. So what do you think? Are you truly responsible for your own choices, or are you simply following the waves of physical, biological, and/or metaphysical determinism wherever they may take you? Who is more right, Calvin or Hobbes?

ed sacco

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