free will and zeno's arrow

March 19, 2021
Listening to Sam Harris' final thoughts on free will. I agree most of us have an illusory sense of "self", but the idea that there's no free will... I mean he talks about "involuntarily action or a reflex" vs doing things "voluntarily". But how do we have a sense of "voluntarily" or "choice" without free will?

The arguments against free will feels both Inarguably True yet Absolutely Incorrect in the same way Zeno's paradox of the arrow (The arrow can never hit a target because it must travel halfway to its destination, then the next halfway again, then again, ad infinitum) feels technically true yet wrong. And for similar reasons - if every "choice" is made for us by this long chain of things outside of us - either a series of dominoes falling (like Newton) or dice rolling (like Quantum mechanics) stretching back to the origin of the Universe... like the arrow's flight, each step back to the past becomes incrementally less significant. If you understand infinitudes, you have a clear understanding of Zeno's paradox, you know that summing 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 [...] = 2. I think a similar conceptual leap is needed to reconcile a facile "so free will does not exist!" with our intuition that we have will power we can apply or not to the situations we find ourselves in.

We are part of the mechanism that is taking input and making output, even if we are sometimes fooled by how deliberate we are on it. Even if it's a subconscious reckoning that our narrative self claims credit for - will retroactively slap a logical framework on - it's not entirely wrong to do so, because that subconsciousness is a part of our selves as much as conscious part. (Like my coworker Scott Albertine said: "Consciousness is what running the algorithm feels like from the inside.")
Love the retrofuture/Zeerust! Especially the animation at the beginning section.

(via McGST)