Our bodies are affected by circumstance and by what we think and feel. How is this affected by the various types of radiation we detect/perceive/observe (light, infra-red light, UV light, electro-magnetism etc)? After all, sunlight levels affect how happy and sad some of us are right?
Also, how are we affected by temperature, pressure, sound, bio-chemistry, by detection of movement?
As much as we are connected to each other and everything else – from a subjectivist point of view – do we actually have free will?
Consciousness is the result of chemical and electrical reactions in the lump of meat we call a brain, all those billions of neurons and synapses sparking off each other in a network.
We need, and so we feel, we want, we think, we act. Or, we need, we feel, we act.
In evolutionary terms; an amoeba needs and acts. Plankton are the same; move up a level and creatures need, feel and act. Move up a level and animals use tools and hunt strategically; this indicates thought; they need, they feel, they want, they think, they act.
We have self-awareness and we can philosophize, but what of free will?
The decisions we make are as a result of how we feel, our habits, peers, what we ate, how much money we have, what we did last week, how much pressure we’re under etc. All of our needs, feelings, thoughts and actions are affected by each other and everything which has happened up until the moment of that decision; it’s cause and effect pure and simple.
Free will? Everything we’re born into, everything that happens and everything we do is not governed by fate but is a series of cause and effect style reactions running from the Big Bang all the way up to this moment. Nothing is certain, but can be described in terms of probability based on the interpretation of the given circumstances which is itself based on our limited ability to interpret whatever information we happen to perceive with our limited senses.
For example, the world might end. It might end in any number of fantastical ways, and happen instantly; we could all die suddenly and for us the only thing we could look forward to would be for our component quanta to end up commingling with the rest of the universe before a possible Big Crunch, or to be swallowed up with the rest of the universe by one or more other universes drifting by. That could happen any second now.
It hasn’t happened though, and with every second that it doesn’t, we become more and more certain that it won’t and we act accordingly.
You could decide to go and buy some chocolate, your body tells you that it’s hungry and you feel hungry and you think about chocolate. You might though, decide that you’re getting fat and read information about the calories on the wrapper of the chocolate bar, and not buy the bar of chocolate. Your thoughts would override your feelings, and maybe you would buy a banana instead. Whether you buy the chocolate or the banana is moot, but there is a probability attached to both outcomes, and it can be worked out to predict your behaviour provided somebody knows enough about you and can also factor in the temperature of your surroundings, how light it is, how attractive the chocolate bar wrapper is, whether or not you feel comfortable in the shop, the smells in the shop, what you’ve done in the past…the list goes on.
The purpose of consciousness? It was a useful evolutionary reaction to things that had happened beforehand, and it was retained and passed on to us at some point in history.
What makes consciousness, what makes free will, what makes you? A soul? Magic? Magic is a word for describing something when we can’t explain it properly. Consciousness is a collection of reactions in the brain, itself made up of various parts which perform different functions.
Feelings are the result of a subconscious calculation and interpretation of what information various animal bits of your brain have obtained from your five senses (six if you include electro-magnetism as sharks and birds use, and if you assume that perhaps other animals have but don’t use them to the same extent). You feel angry because you feel scared, you are scared because you have a lack of knowledge to control the outcome of events or to plan properly or which causes you to doubt yourself, and that is a normal animal survival trait on this planet. You might feel scared because you walk into a dark room, you turn on the light, you see there is no assailant or large sabre-toothed feline lurking in a corner of the room and then you feel safe again.
Your feelings influence your thoughts and the decisions you make. Dolphins feel hungry, and as a group they stir up mud to cause fish to jump out of the water and into their waiting mouths. They communicate while they’re doing this, and coordinate their activities; they teach their offspring how to do the same. Birds, dolphins, octopi, apes and monkeys use tools to get food, and they select particular sticks and stones to suit their needs, then teach their offspring how to find and use those tools.
We need, feel, and then think strategically to achieve a goal. Impressing the our peers to make sure we’re doing the right thing and earn cool points to increase breeding chances for example, or impressing important people like tribal chiefs or CEO’s in order to remain part of the tribe for the same reasons (securing resources, maintaining networks etc in order to increase chances of finding and attracting the best breeding partners successfully).
What of mankind’s artificial attempts at immortality; the robot?
Where does Google goggles get it’s street view data from?
A robot could process many images and crunch raw data from Google earth and Google goggles, using it at the same time as hardware such as proximity sensors, motion sensors, infra-red and ultraviolet, gyroscope, heat sensors and an accelerometer.
This would be a form of awareness (interior and exterior), in future combined with AI. Now imagine that they have this form: -