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> He repeated Kornhuber and Deecke’s experiment, but asked his participants to watch a clocklike apparatus so that they could remember the moment they made a decision. The results showed that while the Bereitschaftspotential started to rise about 500 milliseconds before the participants performed an action, they reported their decision to take that action only about 150 milliseconds beforehand. “The brain evidently ‘decides’ to initiate the act” before a person is even aware that decision has taken place, Libet concluded.

I don't get how people came to the original position. Why is this surprising? A simple model would be that the decision causes both the awareness and the action. Like when your program decides to move the robot arm and logs it, the log arrives before the movement, but one is not the cause of the other.

Also there's a fair chance that whatever is taking in the external clock is adding lag. So your eyes might have been in front of a clock that said a certain time, but due to processing in wetware your awareness circuit has an old value.

Also it seems like a leap to say this is connected to free will. Whatever is causing the decision, how does the timing mean anything? It's only acausal if you thought that awareness is what causes movement.






“It’s only acausal if you thought that awareness is what causes movement”

Exactly, people believed that the thoughts they are aware of when making a decision to move were actually how they decided to move.


Yes, I think the confusion of thoughts with the mind seems to be at the root of much of the controversy surrounding free will. Narrativized thought is not necessary for action although it often accompanies it. Too often we mistake the verbal part of our mind for our whole mind, it is only a part though it happens to be the loudest!

Free will is the non-religious version of believing in souls.

When you examine what people actually mean when they use the term “free will” in the vernacular, they essentially mean something which affects the mind, but which is not the mind. It’s incoherent in light of the fact that the “it” that they’re referring to ceases to exist once the brain in question ceases to function.




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