Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Free Will, Or Free Won't...

Q: Do you Think before you act or do you act and then think Oh! My God what have you done???

Hmm if some study has to be believed, you dont need to harp about it so much. Much as people wonder about the anatomy of our consicous & subconcious mind, more complex it proves to be...

I was just awestruck by this remarkable study about the timing of human conscious awareness, by some Benjamin Libet, an American Scientist in 1970's. He carried out several experiments & one corollary of it was that our responsive time (or say the reaction time) shud be less than about half a second in any case, if it assumed that we "Think", or are consciously aware before we act.

That may seem true, for a 500 ms reaction time would mean u simply can't drive a Michael Schumacher...or wield the willow against Brett Lee...like Sachin's hook short for a six.

Precisely, Libet found out the latency involved during an electric signal issued by the brain to perform an action, followed by the person becoming actaully aware of his action - a good 500 millisec. He then propounded that the mind subconcioulsy processes information and takes decisions before we can rationaly become aware of the same. Bingo.

That brings Free Will into picture...about which a great many chimerical accounts have been given.
In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell aptly argues about the distinctive patterns that experts can discern, on the basis of their umpteen experiences, and hence are comfortable to take snappy decisions within the blink of an eye.
Stephen Hawking paints the picture of Determinism...and raises the Question 'Is Everything Pre Destined'...and concludes smartly with a wisecrack: Yes...But It might not well be...because we could never know what we have determined.

Anyway...i guess free-will could just be the delusion of being in control of what we do, or maybe Spirituality may let us know about our subconscious decision maker. Let's figure it out!

4 comments:

Cyzak said...

Buddy that was a real eye opener.. Dont know much abt philosophy but yaar this study was at an individualistic level and but In my opinion many wars have been fought to gain that very right of free will... so if we look at the level at which our society works.. we might come across examples when the society has taken steps to which sufficient thought was given.. I mean to say that free will might be a delusion for an individual because most of his decisions are taken by society for him but for society there need to be a free will

Aparna.G said...

Aww! No, common now - the only faith I have left is, of belief in creating my own destiny, and believe me, its true! Its the power of the sunconscious mind- IT WORKS!!

Destiny, well, I think, it can be changed!!

A S H I S H said...

@ Cyzak
Hmm quite right maybe that's the righteous way a social order could exist in...and we need to protect individual rights for an egalitarian society...You know scientfic outlook is different from that of a Social Outlook.

Thanx for coming...Please keep visiting.

A S H I S H said...

@ Aparna
That's the point is!!...that our conscious mind may just be a mere delusion...and we should be able to connect to our subconscious mind...and then our destiny is in our hand...and that's all spirituality calls for.
Maybe that's where Science and Religion would atleast agree.