Free will (was: Re: Mind control 1965)

Max More (
Mon, 19 Oct 1998 08:26:16 -0700

At 07:45 AM 10/19/98 -0500, Scott Badger wrote:

>Gazzanaga surmised that the brain is not just made of two compartments,
>left and right, it's made of large numbers of subsystems all with their own
>responsibilities. Many or perhaps all of the subsystems just do what they
>do, but there is a particular subsystem somewhere on the left side that is
>responsible for watching the actions taken by the other subsystems. That
>particular subsystem has the task of translating it all into a cohesive
>that explains everything in context. So do we have free will?
I think that
>Gazzanaga would say that's pretty much an illusion.

How does that show that free will is an illusion? I think it shows that we do not have good introspective access to our internal processes. To understand what's happening in our minds, we need science and technology, not just introspection. But I don't see that Gazzaniga's results indicate that we have no free will, if this term is used in some realistic way. By "realistic" I mean in a sense like self-control rather than in a non-causal way. I can't point to any work on free will that I find satisfactory, but probably the best is Daniel Dennett's "Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting." Dennett takes a naturalistic approach to the subject.


Max More, Ph.D. (soon also: <>)
Consulting services on the impact of advanced technologies President, Extropy Institute:,