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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Do chemical interactions provide the illusion of free will?

I've known a couple of people in my lifetime who have mental disorders, like borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. Both of them had their disorders controlled to some extent by drugs. When they go off the drugs, chemical imbalances in their brains cause them to experience depression and negative and destructive thought patterns. These thought patterns are controlled by the drugs, apparently bringing a chemical balance back to the brain.

What I've been thinking about today is this.

If negative and destructive thought patterns are controlled by drugs returning a chemical balance to the brain, that means that the thoughts themselves are controlled or influenced by chemicals. This means that balanced or positive thoughts are influenced or controlled by a balanced chemical makeup in the brain.

So where does 'free will' come into this if thoughts are determined by the chemicals in the brain?

What does this mean for 'free will' if our thought patterns are actually affected or controlled by the chemicals in our brains? It sounds to me that free will doesn't actually exist, and is instead an illusion that is created by the interaction of various chemicals and electrical impulses that result in what we call thoughts.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Or chemical interactions pretending to be thoughts? :-)

Posted on 3/09/2006 04:47:00 PM Backlinks


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4 Comments:

Blogger Terrence said...

I think that what is going on it very complex. I don't think that chemicals in the brain control how we thing or our free will, but can effect how we think. I wish I could go into this more but I don't think I could do it justice in a comment.

Terry

3/10/2006 02:10:00 AM  
Blogger Moghal said...

Imagine that free will is a light, shining through a window (the brain) into a room (the world). The chemicals in the brain are curtains, nets and other obstructions that either enhance or occlude the light coming in, depending on the circumstances.

They don't provide the illusion of free will, the provide the possibility that free will is an illusion.

3/10/2006 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger dog1net said...

Alan,
This is something I find myself wrangling over quite a bit, especially considering the kids I work with. I do believe we have free will, that is, we have the ability to make choices. People who are bi-polar, or have other inbalances tend to make choices that are counter-intuitive or unhealthy. Medications do help, but only to a point. Learning about our emotions and how they affect our behavior, especially when we are faced with situations we may not like or find unpleasant,
also needs to considered.
Scot

3/12/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger NightFallTech said...

'Cogito ergo sum', I think therefore i am, but how, and why do i think?.

It seems almost ironic to attempt to use thought to determine its own nature, a form of recursive induction that feels doomed to failure from the outset, yet we feel driven to understand ourselves. Yes, I believe chemicals affect our mood and therefore our responses to stimuli. I believe that a combination of mood (created by chemical reaction), Past experience (creating synaptic connections) and environmental stimuli define our reactions. Do i believe in true free will? I don't know, but i think perhaps in an absolute sense, the answer is no.

3/15/2006 01:15:00 PM  

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