The War on Free Will: Was Erich Fromm Right?


Since in my teens, I have observed Western thinkers and American as well arguing that free will did not exist and that life had no meaning. What struck me most was not the argument, but the judgment these individuals so often made towards the argument. There was often a sense of glee or elation that towards the claim that there was no meaningful freedom.

From the article:

“Aristotle’s definition of man as a rational animal has recently taken quite a beating.

Part of the attack comes from neuroscience. Pretty, multicolored fMRI maps make clear that our mental lives can be observed in the activity of our neurons, and we’ve made considerable progress in reading someone’s thoughts by looking at those maps. It’s clear, too, that damage to the brain can impair the most-intimate aspects of ourselves, such as the capacity to make moral judgments or to inhibit bad actions. To some scholars, the neural basis of mental life suggests that rational deliberation and free choice are illusions. Because our thoughts and actions are the products of our brains, and because what our brains do is determined by the physical state of the world and the laws of physics—perhaps with a dash of quantum randomness in the mix—there seems to be no room for choice. As the author and neuroscientist Sam Harris has put it, we are “biochemical puppets.”

Click here for entire article.

One Response to “The War on Free Will: Was Erich Fromm Right?”

  1. Assaf Koss says:

    Until we can directly intervene and /make/ a person choose something, not by strong suggestion, but by direct mental means with a machine, there is nothing that suggests that “free choice” is not real.

    None the less, many are attacking this issue from different angles, such as the AI community. There is great debate if whether a sophisticated enough AI should be considered having a “free will.”

    I say, our choices being “free” is as true as saying that each person is an actual “individual”, at all. :-)


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