A Call To The Humanities To Reclaim Its Concious Self
- Written by Shaun Johnston Shaun Johnston
- Published: January 16, 2014 January 16, 2014
In an answer to this year's EDGE question comes an authoritative call for the abandonment of the term "free will." This call comes from Jerry Coyne, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago; Author, Why Evolution Is True.
"Among virtually all scientists, dualism is dead. Our thoughts and actions are the outputs of a computer made of meat—our brain—a computer that must obey the laws of physics. Our choices, therefore, must also obey those laws.... scientific experience... shows no evidence for a mind separate from the physical brain.... In short, the traditional notion of free will... is dead on arrival.... When pressed, nearly all scientists and most philosophers admit this. Determinism and materialism, they agree, win the day.... So why does the term "free will" still hang around when science has destroyed its conventional meaning?"
No if ands of buts here. He places me, as a dualist, outside the pale of scientific discussion.
"The illusion of agency [free will] is so powerful that even strong incompatibilists like myself will always act as if we had choices, even though we know that we don't. We have no choice in this matter. But we can at least ponder why evolution might have bequeathed us such a powerful illusion."
To me, this sounds like someone with a limited grasp on reality. How can we ponder anything about evolution if we have no choice in the matter? Does he realize how little sense he makes?