the free will debate

Imagine a future where the entirety of what we comprehend and accept as free will will disappear. Notice the redundancy of will in the previous sentence? Is free will a momentary blip on our psychological radar? Is this possible?

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The Free Will Debate (2020) by Daniel Sanderson - #Googleplanksip
A Message from the Author

I am not an academic. I am not a scientist or researcher. I am an entrepreneur with a busy mind. I love reading and this small book is part of my stoic contribution. I am the registrant of the planksip® trademark and promote a boutique publishing platform for Academic and Intellectuals with the following goal; to make complex subjects more accessible to a wider audience.

Effectively communicating complex concepts requires a certain level of understanding and competency. My voice is relevant and my thirst for knowledge is insatiable! As a boutique publishing platform, planksip® is my passion and this little book is part of my resume and raison d'etre.

Other books or apps outlining my understanding and opinions related to the environment, philosophy, consciousness, artificial intelligence, free will, economics, determinism, and Big Data include:

p.(x)=Big Data (philosophical magnum opus)
The Free Will Debate - included in the p.(x)
Thinking in 50ms Increments - included in the p.(x)
Defining the Euclidean Point - included in the p.(x) and FREE PDF download
The Quote Book - included FREE on the planksip blog.

Will Freeman - literary fiction companion title to the p.(x)
Hell in a Halfway House - expansion into the depths of solitude for the Will Freeman character.

The Gadfly


The free will debate has waged war on the minds of many for more than a millennium. But what is really being said? What advancements and discussions are taking place? This little book hopes to shed some light on this debate from antiquity.

Scholars like Daniel Dennett shed a constant stream of light on the subject with attempts to re-define the very concept of free will. I will attempt to reframe this discussion from the opposite end of the spectrum. I will focus on determinism. What it means, what it does not mean and how we, as a species, are moving towards a more data-driven, deterministic society.

Imagine a world 1,000 years from today. What will the planet be like? Will the human species survive? What type of consciousness is in store for humanity? This book is a supplement to the discussions of free will, consciousness and determinism, althrough the perspective uniquely my own. My position on free will is sometimes ontological yet primarily focused on the practical application to a newly created consciousness and further elaborated on in my fictional title about artificial intelligence; Will Freeman. My theories on consciousness and determinism are sometimes abstract yet (usually) well thought out and researched. To fully appreciate the depth of this discussion we have to start with consciousness. This book is organized into three sections. Section one focuses on the relationship between philosophy and consciousness with several intentional hints towards change. Change is the title of section three. Section two discusses free will and determinism. This book is not intended to be an authoritative reference to the entirety of the discussion, I only offer a new perspective and keep my points simple and therefore the trajectory of this book on the thesis, which is; consciousness is changing, free will is an illusion and determinism is increasing.

As a great man once said, "It's better to learn than teach, it's best to teach what you learn, but it's the ultimate to teach and learn at the same time." A great man did NOT say that. I just made it up. Self deprication aside, this book was written as entertainment and a labor of love, so please treat it as such. Let me relieve the tension by dispelling any and all myths of preconceived ideas or snobbery. Academically, I will most likely falter on these pages, but they are well grounded and carefully thought out. Most importantly the intention is transparent and evolving. Learning for my own edification. Thought leadership is up to you. Apply yourself!

Section 1 - Consciousness. Is Philosophy the answer?

Comparing the timeline of human consciousness to the timeline of an individual human life we can reminisce about humanity's artistic expression in a fond and contemplative mind-space. The caves of Lascaux in southern France represent a wondrous example of our past and benchmark our future through reflective and contemplative reasoning. I take complex algorithms and overlay this very same reflective and contemplative thought process against the power of Big Data analytics. From the patterns of the data, a new paradigm will emerge, shifting and twisting through the "ether" of free will. Focusing on consciousness, the psychology of the self is paramount and the leitmotiv of this book.

How about today? Where are we today in this timeline of self-discovery and expression? In my humble opinion, philosophy shouldn't even attempt to answer this question or any similar question for that matter! The focus of philosophy should[1] be, and is, more on asking the right questions in a logical process or Praxis. Assertions come from the consistency of logic and eliminating incongruencies within thought itself. Manifest, the "body" of knowledge self-replicating. Questions act as a fine tuning instrument for locating the vector of truth. Social structures simultaneously pursue these trajectories and release truth exhaust in the form of history. Older instruments of philosophy are prototypically philosopher dichotomy detectors. They still work as reliable methods of reasoning (even to this day), but they are not the only type of instrument we have at our disposal. Post-modern Derridians seam much more pragmaticly excessive in their approach whereas full on Deconstructionists have more of a modern-Marxist feel in their 'Frankfurt' school of thought. Good versus evil is no longer our only litmus test for truth. I side with the social sciences and the wealth of data we can pull from complex statistical models and big data analytics but I do not ignore the power of history. And so, the symbiotic relationship between philosophy and science is made flesh, kinda.[2]

In a Proustian sense, the effectual nature of truth is often only fully realized only over time. In some cases, truth claims span lives and make music by bending the strings of time. The rhythm of this truth seeking cadence is adaptive and almost evolutionary in its development. Max Planck famously said, "It is not the possession of truth, but the success which attends the seeking after it, that enriches the seeker and brings happiness to him." I make the claim that large swaths of truth are subjective and in a constant state of flux. Any naysayers or Orthodox Truth evangelists should make note that facts are indisputable and should temper this metaphysical manifesto with a reassuring breath of fresh air. There remains a small band of truth that is neither fact nor fiction yet its subjectivity may be contentious and a point of disagreement among readers. I do not discuss these instances as it's not related to the thesis of this small book. The subjectivity of truth does affect consciousness, free will and determinism yet the effects are negligible because we are all under the same spell. This subjectivity is the wellspring of our individuality and creative drive to differentiate.

Starting with awareness of the self and from what we know of Lascaux, individual identity was installed on the human psyche even earlier than 30,000 years ago. With Lascaux, the struggle for self-identity is a familiar recipe taken from a common evolutionary melting pot. This feature dropped into our DNA like a firmware upgrade with a slow, very slow, upload speed. Did it happen exactly 30,000 years ago with the paintings in the cave? Obviously not but Lascaux is the data point and a fascinating data point at that!


What does this hand represent? What emotions does it evoke? We have all seen similar hands in preschool classrooms. We pay fleeting attention to the child's rendition and even less if the child is not a relative. Imagine opening up your mother's keep sake chest (assume she has one) and you see the hand you made from your childhood. YOUR mind created this at five! Your entire conception of reality and the world around you was quite different at the age of five versus forty-five. The reflective nature of my forty-year-old mind reconciles modern conveniences and quality of life with the harsh realities of these ancestors. Despite a seemingly wretched life with horrible conditions by today's standards, our interpretation of their lives is irrelevant to how they lived their lives. Until now.

Once we were aware of our social identity and we projected our individual identity onto the wall of the cave, culture was born, propagated and exploited by future generations. From Lascaux to Plato, the allegory of the case is a place I often return. Technology has descended on our species with unrelenting speed and ferocity penetrating all aspects of our lives. From an evolutionary standpoint, we haven't had a chance to adapt. The Information Age is upon us with augmented realities becoming more complex and common. Parsing the information will be the challenge for human consciousness to overcome. A September 2017 Kickstarter crowd source initiative for planksip® announced a personal listening device that uses complex algorithms to propagate dynamic audible tidbits or "planksips" through a commercially available Bluetooth earpiece. When the algorithms map onto fractal-like replicator the effect is deterministic in nature.

Your mind is connected to your body. Your body is connected to your mind. I inhabit my very own bubble of immediate proximity, uniquely "my space." If your face is closer than six inches to your neighbor's face, you would be in "their space" and vice versa. Permission is a major driver to understanding our concepts of the modern relationship and intimacy. I plan to write more on intimacy at some point in the future. In the meantime, I need you to imagine a sharp, shiny, brass thumbtack sticking into the tip of your finger.


When this thumbtack penetrates your finger, a pain response is generated by your brain, then the pain center, within your brain, activates and dispatches lightning bolts of neuro signals throughout your body. The sensation of pain is innately familiar to both of us. Play the following mental scene in your head; imagine this pointy metal thumbtack entering the tip of your finger, right through the pointing cushion in the center of your fingerprint. It penetrates so deep that you can feel the sensation of the thumbtack scrapping on the pink side of your fingernail. Ewww. For the majority of the human population, a few atypical apathetic nihilist holdouts aside, the very thought will result in hand-shaking twists and silenced expressions of OUCH! Holding a thumbtack in your hand as you read this should heighten this anticipatory response. Now, I described the thumb tack penetrating, "your" finger because as the reader the very thought of having a thumbtack pushed into your finger causes discomfort. Besides, this mental exercise aids in framing my perspective on the mind-body discussion. It's always great to start with what you know, and I know that pokey things hurt.

Section 2 - Free Will & Determinism

We all know the difference between imagination and experience. How about free will and determinism?

To change, and eventually abandon all theories of the flat earth, I mean free will, we have to change the way we use language. The mind-body connection will, as we evolve, never be severed but will fade into the same depths of consciousness where our physiological processes exist. Replacing free will with The FW Module, we can move this layer of consciousness to the backseat. No one likes backseat drivers, however, the FM Module will influence our individual agency and will exist independent of our regulatory systems. Our internal decision-making conversation will change over time in correlation with the evolution of language. Today's languages will someday be that of the Elders and could be as passé as Morris code is to us today. In our future, we understand the antiquated concept of free will in the same way we understand the psychology of 14th Century poetry about Heaven, Hell and the Purgatory between.

The result is an earthy bent heliotropic self in a wondrous state of equilibrium, moving and twisting through the river of life towards eudemonia. I will make the case that the very psychology of humanity is evolving into something more complex and far beyond our individualistic, ego driven mentalities of the 20th and 21st centuries. This eBook can not negate all competing ideas to this thesis, so I must rely on you, the reader to help refine this thinking or to dismiss it entirely.

Imagine a future where the entirety of what we comprehend and accept as free will will disappear. Notice the redundancy of will in the previous sentence? Is free will a momentary blip on our psychological radar? Is this possible? Will we still have conversations with other humans in 2,000 years? How about 200,000 years? Will there be a need to? It's important to think about these questions carefully. The full extent of our uniquely human psychology has been defined only in the last 50,000 years. Some say 5,000 years. Now try and imagine what our species will be like in 2 billion years?? An answer is not the answer. We know the origin and data points along this vector. The trajectory is worth discussing. Stand with me and together we will see further.

Is this a Brave New World? Is this a life worth living? All excellent questions and ideal for an armchair philosopher, such as myself. So sit back and "willfully" accepted what I am teaching you. Better yet, teach me something and engage in whatever forum makes sense. I follow all the contemporary literature on the prevailing thoughts and thinkers in this space. It shouldn't be about discussing what makes a life worth living; the Socratic question could just as easily have been, "What makes life life?".

Section 3 - Change is a Foot

The planksip® device represents a change in consciousness to a... learn more!

  1. Should signifies ethics and ethics are part of any strong philosophical position. Despite the fact that we are introducing a mind body perspective with ethics this eBook only grazes the surface on these two philosophical subjects. For further reading on the philosophy of planksip™ read p(x)=determinism. ↩︎

  2. Lawrence Kraus uttered something about Philosophy being dead or irrelevant. We disagree. ↩︎

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Daniel Sanderson

Published a year ago