Neuroscience Disproves Free Will
Apparently neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga believes you didn’t freely choose to visit this website.
In his interview at the Scientific American link above, Dr. Gazzaniga waxes philosophical, assuring us “we will get over the idea of free will and and accept we are a special kind of machine, one with a moral agency which comes from living in social groups.”
Oh, postmodernism again.
We thought refuting the obvious had finally gone out of fashion, but like a game of Whack-A-Mole, just when you think you’ve hammered some common sense into it over here, more nonsense pops up over there.
Now comes neuroscience, with the bright idea that everything is an unbroken chain of cause and effect going all the way back to the Big Bang. Someday, when our computers are fast enough to analyze all the data, we’ll all see how meaningless life is. In the meantime, we should just assume it. To do otherwise is tantamount to belief in a flat earth, but as Dr. Gazzaniga so earnestly assures us: “Once we knew the earth was round, the new perspective, made us see how the old questions were silly.”
Funny, that: a postmodernist worried about silly questions.
But seriously, we do wonder if the doctor has come to these conclusions on his own, or if his opinions are really just the synaptic firings of a few brain cells that can’t help doing what they do, like the most recent dominoes to fall in an unbroken line stretching a few trillion years into the past. We wonder this because, if it is the case and Dr. Gazzaniga is correct, then there really is no reason to believe Dr. Gazzaniga’s ideas mean anything at all.
Come now; let us reason together: if ideas are the accidental effect of external causes, then that pretty much disproves the concept of “meaning” as it is generally understood. And if there is no actual meaning, then that would apply to the doctor’s ideas as much as any others.
Or think about it this way: If the doctor’s ideas are correct, then choosing between this idea or that one would have no more meaning than a falling domino, which would mean the doctor’s ideas about our freedom to choose are also meaningless. On the other hand, if his ideas do mean anything, then the fact that they mean something disproves his ideas. See what we mean?
It may be hard for some people to believe, but once upon a time philosophers thought so hard about the meaning of being that they began to wonder if they really did exist. Rene Descartes was forced to contend with such silliness by mentioning, “I think, therefore I am.” You’d think that would have settled matters, but silliness keeps on popping up no matter how many times you hammer it back down, so in the spirit of Descartes we now feel obliged to observe the following (while doing our best to maintain a straight face):
“We choose, therefore we are free to choose.”