neuroscientific study raised multiple questions in relation to freewill. Benjamin Libet conducted experiments in which
participants were asked to flick a switch and record the actually time when
they had decided to do so (Messer, 2015).
This research found that the readiness potential of brain activity fires
prior to any voluntary muscle movements and was detected prior to when
participants had noted their decision to flick the switch (Libet, 1999).
(go into this study more)
So, this begs the
question? Are we really free to choose
or is it just a neurological delusion that we are free? Research in Quantum
mechanics has found that at the subatomic level, certain phenomena do not
behave in ways that are inline with the theory of determinism (Fields, C,
2015). Areas of Quantum Mechanics
informs us that there are some factors of randomness and therefore we cannot
know with certainty how something will turn out prior to it happening. Not everything appears to be predetermined
although many things in our environment can be predicted. This perspective tends towards preserving the
argument of free will. And what
allowances are made for philosophical questions such as spirit, the self or
higher states of consciousness. Although
scientific frameworks don’t tend to support the existence of such propositions,
yet Psychological theories have been based around the existence of a self to
choose and direct differing parts of consciousness and therefore exercise their
free will. Roberto Assagioli founder of Psychosynthesis
attributes the denial of will and its existence, to scientific research and its
objective quantitative techniques. It
was his belief that everyone could to some extent resist the attractions of the
world by the development of their inner will.
Not only did he believe in free will he placed an emphasis on the
development of this inner state which he also found necessary for happiness,
sanity and dignity of humananity (Assagioli 1972). In
summary to use the words of Assagioli in his book ‘the act of will’, ‘to solve
the problem of the will on theoretical, intellectualistic lines have led not
only to no solution but to contradiction, confusion and bewilderment’
(Assagioli, R, 1973). Like Assagioli
should we be approaching this topic of debate from a different angle, or do we
continue to search for a complete theory that encompasses all human
behaviour. Until such time, questions
such as free will, will continue to be debated.
This essay has explored
differing theoretical frameworks around the existence of free will and has
attempted to point out relevant critiques in each perspective and their
approach. It has looked at several
factors such as behaviours, social interaction, individual agency,
psychosynthesis, quantum mechanics and neurological science that influence
human behaviour in the search for free will.
As investigating free will directly is not without its problems, this
essay also explored the positive outcomes associated with belief in free will
which can be investigated directly. No
one theory is accepted by all school of thoughts as free will is identified and
understood differently by many theorists.
Yet, through this discussion and research over the years, has led to the
uncovering of a large volume of knowledge that has added to the field of
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