Wikipedia on free will

I can’t resist this urge of mine (will?) to post yet another post on free will. I read the Wikipedia article on free will [1] (I know, I should have done a literature study covering the last 2500 or so years before hitting “Publish” but then I’d never get anything published, would I?). Anyway, it looks like the Wikipedia article is pretty well written for most parts. At least it has over 100 references and no requests for cleaning up.

PID controller
This is a controller

The article starts with “The question of free will is whether, and in what sense, rational agents exercise control over their actions and decisions.” I think this sets the whole discussion off on the wrong track. The verb “control” implies that there is something that controls and something that is controlled; a subject and an object. If a person is seen as an indivisible whole, then it’s hard to see how there can be something that controls and something that is controlled.

There are of course several ways to subdivide a person. Freud did this and modern science has told us that we live both with a reptile brain holding our emotions and a more recent cortex doing what we sometimes call rational thinking (although saying that emotions are irrational would be to dismiss millions of years of successful evolution). But I suspect that the article doesn’t refer to any of these subdivisions. What it does refer to I don’t know. Any guesses?


[1] Wikipedia on free will

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