Free Will: Egnor shows neurological proof (Introduction)

by dhw, Friday, November 20, 2020, 11:44 (9 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: A brain under seizure cannot function properly during the time of the seizure. Therefore the soul cannot think during the seizure with the brain basically inoperative for the time the seizure lasts.

dhw: I don’t understand your “therefore”, if you believe that the soul does the thinking, and only uses the brain for information and for implementation of its thoughts. If it is able to think during an NDE, when the brain “cannot function properly” and is “basically inoperative”, why is it unable to think during a temporary seizure?

DAVID: In Grand Mal seizure the person becomes unconscious from the wave of electricity that covers the brain.

Egnor refers to patients who are conscious, can experience all kinds of thoughts, but: “There are no seizures that invoke abstract thought or abstract decisions—there are no free will seizures.” My question is why are there no abstract thoughts and abstract decisions if the soul and not the incapacitated brain is the source of abstract thought and abstract decisions?

dhw: The dualist’s soul creates thought by using the information provided by the brain, and it implements its thoughts by using the brain to give them material expression. There is no other way we could live our material life in the material world. But the dualist’s brain does not think. The “classical” definition of dualism is “the theory that mind and matter are two distinct things” (Oxford Companion to Philosophy). In dualism, the mind = the soul, and does all the thinking. Matter does not think. Yes or no?


So do you see my point now? If the soul does the thinking, it should still be able to think abstract thoughts and take decisions (even if it can’t implement them physically). If it can’t, the malfunctioning of the brain indicates that the brain is the source of abstract thoughts and decisions. This, of course, is contradicted by NDEs, in which the unconscious patient is still able to think and even to take decisions (usually overturned, because the patient’s soul is told to go back into the body).

Dhw: There is no disagreement between us, except that you choose the second option, whereas I recognize the validity of both arguments. It all depends on what you think you are free from.

DAVID: I think your point: 'we are never free from influences beyond our control' is an over-blown view of what influences us. They are background issues we can overcome or ignore.

I don’t know how you can claim that 40% of you is inbuilt but it doesn’t influence your decisions. However, we are going round in circles, as usual. The determinist says we are never free from influences beyond our control, so we don’t have free will. You disagree. Your basic argument is that those influences do not change the fact that it is our unique self that makes the decisions, so we do have free will. That is the second option, and I’m sure you will agree that your concept frees us from all constraints other than those of the situation and our own limitations. I really can’t see any disagreement between us.

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