I watched Dan Ariely, behavioral economist and the author of Predictably Irrational, TED talk: “Are we in control of our own decisions?”. It triggered a huge amount of my discussions with people. Mine definition on our control over decision was so radical that most just could not accept it. I spoke in favor that “our free will (and decision-making) is not only created by our conscious mind” but also by our unconscious. Bottom line is whether it was ‘I’ that decided and no ‘someone else’! I strongly prop as a true that ‘I am’ conscious and unconscious part and my gens and cultural impact of environment and more together in all I do, think, decide.
Most people, due to their “background noise” (see my TEDx talk) generated by the philosophy of René Descartes (1596) believe that only conscious mind is a seat for our “free will” decision. It is due to Descartes who clearly identified that the mental and the physical—or mind and body or mind and brain—are, in some sense, radically different kinds of thing. Therefore, only the mind ‘holds’ consciousness and self-awareness. It was supported by theology to impose believes that Good and Evil—or God and the Devil are independent against more pragmatic views of Blaise Pascal (1623). Pascal’s development of probability theory and his ‘Wager’ were more systematical approaches and therefore closer to pluralism, which is the view that there are many kinds or categories. This last idea is also much more in accordance with Far East ‘Yin and Yang’ principle. The principle where there is always something Good in Evil and some Evil in Good.
Back now to my understanding of “free will”. According to David Hume, the question of the nature of free will is “the most contentious question of metaphysics.” Minimally, to frame “free will” would be in the ability of agents to have the capacity to choose his or her course of action unconstrained by certain factors. But animals seem to satisfy this criterion too, and we typically think that only persons, and not animals, have “free will.”
But why should anybody care whether or not one have a “free will” (to decide)? As primates we like to think that our “free will” is necessary for the performance of free actions and is connected in requirement for moral responsibility. It is based in all legal and business and other systems we are using.
So in all discussions I had most were certain that we have “free will”, though what exactly this amounts to was much less certain. All described it as conscious forming of an idea or action by our mind. But whenever you or I decide something or get a thought it is not formed only in our conscious mind. Just test this: do you know how do you form an idea, a thought, a memory that pops up or …? Is it because of your conscious mind decided or is it because of genetics or previous experiences you are or you are not aware? Is it shaped by environment you have or still live in? Has an eruption on our Sun caused through magnetic waves a distortion that made a different thought?
To me it looks that we are not “alone” and all in our Universe is somehow connected and entangle, therefore whenever I decided something I do, I decided with all I am connected to. Does this make “free will” to disappear? No, I think not. Just a process is a little bit more complicated to come to conclusion. And finally I decided to write this blog and not the computer on which I wrote it although we are connected through keyboard …
As well in leadership process “free will” should be seen by great leaders as being aware of both conscious–unconscious and emotions (see post: Leadership and emotions) to lead people. If you think that only rational or conscious mind will gain you trust or followers – you are deadly wrong. We people are accustomed to sense it all.