Free Will and Humanism

Free will is a central concept to Humanism. The idea of human agency - we have the ability to chose our actions is what makes our moral responsibility possible.

The problem is - free will may not be an actual thing. It feels like it's a thing, but it may not be. But then again, it may be. Basically - the science on this topic is mixed at best.

Here is a quote I came across that I really like that helps us understand the problem of free will.

"If by 'free will' you mean the freedom to do what you desire, then yes, humans have free will. But if by 'free will' you mean the freedom to choose what to desire, then no, humans have no free will. ... Ultimately we should realize that we do not control our desires, or even our reactions to these desires. We don't have free will, but we can be a bit more free from the tyranny of our will." - Yuval Noah Harari
The problem is that we are conditioned by the conditions in which we are conditioned.  Or in plain English - the rewards and reinforcements we receive as a result of our behavior conditions our future behavior in response to certain stimulus and as a result - our responses to our conditions are not always in our control. 

And this is true. I teach behavioral psychology as a tool for training bullies to stop. There is a reason the early philosophic and psychological humanists - didn't like behaviorist. Behaviorists were telling us - some of our behavior - is beyond our control. 

The thing is - just because we are conditioned - doesn't mean we can't chose.  Understanding how we are conditioned and why we are responding a certain way to certain things, can help free us from the tyranny of our will.

In addition to teaching people how to make behavior stop.  I also use behavioral psychology to help people understand our own responses to other people - so that we can choose to over-ride our instincts and chose a different action.  And this is not just doable. Learning how to do it - is liberating.

You don't have to be a victim of your impulses.  You can recognize your impulses for what they are - and over-ride your instincts and chose a different course of action.   Yes, it's difficult to do. Yes, it takes self awarness. But that's the entire point of being self aware - is so you can choose your actions.

Understanding the science of what you are up against and why free will is so hard to accomplish - helps.

If you want to learn this - visit sign up for any of my courses

And if you want to geek out on a deep philosophic discussion on why determinists are wrong because you can make choices even if your atoms don't - check out this link:

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