Peter Tse: The Neural Basis of Free Will

Erstanding of mental causation in generaland volitional mental causation in particular This book would be five stars if it was called anything other than the neural basis of free will Tse writes a very compelling explanation of just how complex neural computation actually is I learned a number of things about neurons that are glossed over even in graduate level neuroscience courses such as the Boolean computational possibilities of dendrites Further his theory of criterial causation is a very helpful way of thinking about neural computation Indeed even his explanation of the influence of uantum randomness of the functioning of neurons rides the fine line between exaggerated claims of magical influence and the overly reductionist perspective of ignoring their influence Unfortunately at least in my reading of the work he was unable to show that all of this necessitates strong free will Certainty the work shows how it is perhaps possible but the actual proof of it wasn t very convincing For a work whose title suggests what it does I was a little disappointin. Ion cannot change the physical basis of information realized in the present but it can change the physical basis of information that may be realized in the immediate future This gets around the standard argument against free will centered on the impossibility of self causation Tse explores the ways that mental causation and ualia might be realized in this kind of neuronal and associated information processing architecture and considers the psychological and philosophical implications of having such an architecture realized in our brains.

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Indexes It seems that most neuroscientists and philosophers are coming down on the side that free will is illusory mainly on the basis of a handful of experiments by Libet and Wegner all of which involve repetitive hand movements Tse argues that free will is operative in the domain where we play scenarios out internally weigh options and deliberate using our capacities of working memory attention and consciousness all of which are closely related Repetitive and automatized hand movements are not where the action is in free will he says There are some good reviews of the book on but in a nutshell he argues that the neural code is not just one about how neural firings trigger neural firings but is first and foremost a code in which neurons rapidly rewire each other by changing synaptic weights within milliseconds This makes neurons respond to different information in the immediate future than they otherwise would have He makes a compelling case that emerging evidence which he documents meticulously of rapid synaptic reweighting is a game changer for our und. OnTse draws on exciting recent neuroscientific data concerning how informational causation is realized in physical causation at the level of NMDA receptors synapses dendrites neurons and neuronal circuits He argues that a particular kind of strong free will and downward mental causation are realized in rapid synaptic plasticity Recent neurophysiological breakthroughs reveal that neurons function as criterial assessors of their inputs which then change the criteria that will make other neurons fire in the future Such informational causat.

I am a philosophical libertarian and believe despite my acceptance of a divinity in Man s absolute free will That it is such without divine permission but irrespective of divine will That being said since John Archibald Wheeler first proposed that information was the ultimate reality I was uite certain that freedom of action was unrestrainedThis book just gave me a little support for my intuitive beliefs It is also useful in some pseudonymous work in preparation It is gratifying to some evidential reasoning that supplements the work of Dennet although the Wikipedia editors ignore this book This book is not only about free will It is about how mental events can be causal in the brain and about the role of attention and consciousness in that causal chain A very interesting view of how the brain works Highly recommended for those who love science and the deep uestions Finally we hear from a neuroscientist arguing that a form of free will is real The book is extremely clearly written and is actually uite brief 230 pages because it is about half endnotes and. The issues of mental causation consciousness and free will have vexed philosophers since Plato In this book Peter Tse examines these unresolved issues from a neuroscientific perspective In contrast with philosophers who use logic rather than data to argue whether mental causation or consciousness can exist given unproven first assumptions Tse proposes that we instead listen to what neurons have to say Because the brain must already embody a solution to the mind body problem why not focus on how the brain actually realizes mental causati.

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