Neuroscience vs Free Will

Study perception to reveal insights into free will

Professor V. S. Ramachandran's wonderful Reith Lectures – like his equally wonderful book Phantoms in the Brain, co-authored with Sandra Blakeslee – gave many telling examples, from clinical and experimental neuroscience, showing how the brain functions as a `committee' of multifarious parts. Then, in the final lecture broadcast on 30 April 2003, Ramachandran returned to the problem of why, despite that multifariousness, every normal human being seems to have a strong sense of his or her unique “self” – an entity, as he put it, that

1.    has continuity in time,
2.    has unity and coherence (not a committee but a single entity),
3.    is (a) embodied, and (b), I would add, well-oriented in its surroundings (e.g., we are normally clear whether we are inside a room or on a mountaintop) and
4.    is an agent with free will.

Ramachandran then pointed out that these properties

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