Episode 6: A neuroscientific explanation of free will – with Prof. Daniel Levy
In this episode, philosophy and neuroscience meet to complement each other. Professor Levy drew inspiration and knowledge from his experience in both fields as he created a framework called neural holism. This episode is filled with interesting and thought provoking material so sit down, relax and get ready for a neuroscientific explanation of the concept of free will.
Main topic notes
- How did you come to combine philosophy and neuroscience? [02:24]
- How have our knowledge about the brain evolved throughout time? [04:21]
- Explanation of connectionism [05:52]
- Why is the notion of free will important to us? [09:10]
- Neural holism [12:04]
- The connection between the mind and the brain [15:07]
- What are residual modality driven functions of the brain and primary reactivity? [19:58]
- How to take control of our experience [26:17]
- Can we be controlled by an external force? [31:24]
- Do we have free will? [35:26]
- How neural holism hold the potential to change your view of yourself, other people and responsibility [44:03]
- How our perceptions and experiences creates a difference in reality between people [49:12]
- Understanding psychological dynamics as a basis for conflict resolution [53:00]
- Can we expand our freedom intentionally? [55:43]
Levy, Daniel. (2010). Neural Holism and Free Will. Philosophical Psychology. 16. 205-228. 10.1080/09515080307765.
- A classical philosophical approach to free will states that in order to have free will one must have the ability to have done otherwise than what they did. Professor Levy rejects this approach.
- The concept of neural holism is that the person you are at any given moment is a combination of the genetic temperament you were born with and it’s interactions with all the previous experiences of your life up to that moment.
- In essence, neural holism means that we do not have free will but that that’s ok. It means that we couldn’t have done otherwise in any given moment but in doing as we do we are fully expressing everything that we are.
- The part where we do have freedom is the ability to choose to look at our brain and our reactions, learn from current neuroscience and psychology and use all this information to intentionally move in a different direction for our future selves.
- This view of free will holds the potential to change our view of ourselves, other people and responsibility and create space for more kindness and forgiveness.