Mind-body problem and free will

Part 1: Proof of Free Will

Quite some time from now, we will have the computer capacity to calculate the exact position, and momentum of every particle in the brain. We will also be able to calculate every force acting on these particles precisely. At some point, we will also be able to calculate everything in the entire world, and indeed the Universe. For the sake of convenience I shall call the device which shall do this: Pandora's Contraption.

Pandora's Contraption will have the capacity to calculate everything in the history of the Universe by reverse-engineering from its current status. It would then be able to predict the future with absolute certainty by merely calculating its forward position in time based on this data. It would likely need to be a quantum computer, storing its data in units far below the size of an atom. It could also use algorithms so that large amounts of data can be condensed into formulae rather than stored as individual units of data.

For the sake of the narrative, it is being suggested that two scientists, a husband and wife team, Brian and Mindy are selected to give Pandora's Contraption a test run, some time in the late 29th century.

Pandora's Contraption will also have a voice-recognition operating system so that we can simply say: “recreate the court of King Henry VIII so it can be seen what really happened.” Mindy has always wondered about this, and on the first test run, it is concluded that Henry VIII was indeed a barbaric wife-eater.

Brian is less ambitious. He merely asks Pandora's Contraption to look forward to next Saturday so he can see if his cricket team will make it to the grand final of the tournament he is watching. He will then be able to buy tickets in advance, knowing his team will be in the competition’s final, and thus avoid the long queue. Being a good sport, he does not check the result of the final itself, so he can enjoy the game for real in the sunshine at St Georges Park, Port Elizabeth. His team will make the finals, he is told by Pandora's Contraption, and when Mindy reminds him it is also their 200th wedding anniversary on the day of the final, he is in the usual predicament.

Mindy logs-on to Pandora's Contraption a bit later and notices the results of Brian's search. She is not deterred from her anniversary plans. Being an influential and wealthy person, a globally known scientist, and also a woman, she travels to the semi-finals and bribes/threatens the umpire to ensure that Brian's team loses the crucial semi-final game, amidst a controversy of numerous leg-before-wicket decisions from the duck-pond end. The next Saturday, Brian is thwarted as his team is not in the final. So instead he has to spend the entire Saturday smiling at Mindy's friends, sipping tea, eating gluten-free, sugar-free and lactose-free croissants; talking about what a lovely sunny day it is outside.

And this is why it is not possible for the entire Universe to be precisely determined. No fair woman or fair sportsman, or even an omnipotent God would ever accept such a possibility. It just wouldn't be cricket.

That being a fairly complex example, it perhaps may be better to consider Brian and Mindy’s rebellious teenage daughter: Pandora. Being the child of the world’s leading pair of scientists has resulted in Pandora developing an acute anti-social personality due to her feelings of inferiority which come as a result of having such powerful parents. So she uses the contraption subversively. Each evening she asks it what color dress she will be wearing the next day. No matter what color the contraption answers, she simply wears another color.

This thought experiment shows that the Universe is intrinsically indeterminable. Because if I can calculate that X is going to happen with perfect certainty, I could then prevent X from occurring for the sake of simply being subversive. Determinism in any absolute sense is therefore a contradiction.

And of course, no matter how reasonable this thought-experiment is; because the mind is free there will be those who choose to disagree. So to counter that, even if we assume that all is determined, then how would it be possible to even conceive of an indeterminate universe? Unless we are free to do so!

Next Part 2 :-> Proof of The Soul

Jonathan Ainsley Bain
17 March 2013 AD

Ideas in metaphysics and cosmology

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