Monday, October 6, 2014

The strange case of Daniel Dennett and free will

Daniel Dennett is a materialist philosopher who believes that consciousness is an illusion and yet still oddly believes we have free will.  What is that about?

If consciousness was truly non-existent (an illusion) then there would be no-one present to register that fact. Interestingly, Dan Dennett believes that no-one is present to register that fact.  In this regard he is close to the Buddhists, who also believe there is no self, just fleeting sense impressions.  (Strangely, they couple this with a belief in some kind of individual, seemingly non-physical essence, which is then able to reincarnate into another body.)

How Dennett comes up with the idea that this "un-awake" mechanistic being, which he imagines us to be, that runs on predictable physical laws and has no mind, could somehow have free will is beyond me.  I have heard his convoluted arguments for free will but they made no sense to me whatsoever!

(click on cartoon to enlarge) 

I have always thought if you are going to be a materialist and deny the mental element of existence, then  you should at least be consistent and be a determinist, or at least a non-believer in volitionality (free will), as well!  After all, with no consciousness captaining the ship, how can the ship make free will choices of its own?  It makes no sense!  For free will to exist there must be a part of us that is free from a deterministic, mechanical system.  It may be connected to, and able to "drive" such a system, such as a bus driver can drive a bus, but it could not be a mechanical part of the deterministic system itself, as Dennett sees the mind, which he identifies as the brain, and sees as completely mechanical in operation.

Sharka Todd

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