The unsolvability of the mind-body problem liberates the will

Abstract

The mind-body problem is analyzed in a physicalist perspective. By combining the concepts of emergence and algorithmic information theory in a thought experiment employing a basic nonlinear process, it is argued that epistemically strongly emergent properties may develop in a physical system. A comparison with the significantly more complex neural network of the brain shows that also consciousness is epistemically emergent in a strong sense. Thus reductionist understanding of consciousness appears not possible; the mind-body problem does not have a reductionist solution. The ontologically emergent character of consciousness is then identified from a combinatorial analysis relating to system limits set by quantum mechanics, implying that consciousness is fundamentally irreducible to low-level phenomena. In the perspective of a modified definition of free will, the character of the physical interactions of the brain's neural system is subsequently studied. As an ontologically open system, it is asserted that its future states are undeterminable in principle. We argue that this leads to freedom of the will.

Author's Profile

Jan Scheffel
KTH Royal Institute Of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

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2016-08-15

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