Human Lack of Free Will Demonstrates Universal Consciousness and Intelligence

Free-Will-Consciousness-IntSome claim the universe is neither conscious nor intelligent. However, by making use of the understanding that free will is an illusion, we can demonstrate that the universe must, in fact, be intelligent, and hence, also conscious. Following is the argument, expressed as propositional premises and conclusions.

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Lack of Free Will and Fundamental Moral Responsibility

P1. Lacking free will means our moral acts are not fundamentally morally attributable to us.

P2. This is so because our nature and nurture caused, and fully explain, our moral acts.

P3. But we cannot hold nature and nurture fundamentally morally responsible either because they both have causes that precede them, and these causes can be described generally as the universe causally evolving, and governed by its physical laws.

C: So, unless we were to suggest that there is no such thing as fundamentally attributable morality, we would have to most fundamentally attribute all moral acts to the universe at the Big Bang event, or to whatever caused the Big Bang.

Now let’s apply this reasoned argument to intelligence.

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Lack of Free Will and Universal Intelligence

P1. Lacking free will means our intelligent acts are not fundamentally attributable to us.

P2. This is so because our nature and nurture caused, and fully explain, our intelligent acts.

P3. But we cannot fundamentally attribute these intelligent acts to nature and nurture because they both have causes that precede them, and these causes can be described generally as the universe causally evolving, and governed by its physical laws.

C: So, unless we were to suggest that there is no such thing as a fundamentally attributable intelligent act, we would have to most fundamentally attribute all intelligent acts to the universe at the Big Bang event, or to whatever caused the Big Bang.

Yes, these causal chains may lead us to an infinite regress wherein we may never get to the point where either a moral or intelligent act is most fundamentally caused, but we must nonetheless acknowledge that this eternally regressing universe would be the fundamental cause of the morality and intelligence we, as humans, express.

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6 Responses

  1. Makes sense. I think that we are stuck with an infinite regress so that there is no one event that is fully responsible for anything, but nonetheless, I have reasons for accepting that at the very least, the universe is fully of living things known to be conscious and that living things contain an awareness and memory to adapt to their environment, I would say that intelligence is inevitable.

    And my WordWeb dictionary has a definition for intelligence as: “The ability to comprehend; to understand and profit from experience”. I think that this applies to most living things. I have also considered that panpsychism can’t be disproven by any means. Even matter which we consider dead could be alive in a sense. Either way there is more to it than we can know.

  2. Well, my new friend, I think you are unfortunately wrong on both counts. Existence may have always existed or it may be an uncaused cause. We need not necessarily invoke consciousness to get the ball rolling or to keep it rolling. Morality is not something that exists floating around in the universe waiting to inhabit sentient beings. Things become clearer when, as I do, instead of using the terms moral vs immoral you instead use the terms helpful vs harmful. You can use these terms to assess how one being treats another being. The beings evolve first, we then apply assessments. Intelligence is not something that is bestowed on humans from the top down. Rather, it evolves from the ground up, starting with inorganic, unconscious molecules. The universe has no consciousness (and thus no morality or intelligence) and is therefore totally indifferent to our existence.

    • August, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Intelligence can apparently only manifest after sufficient neural complexity has evolved. So maybe we are the universe’s only way of becoming aware? Still, that doesn’t mean that there was any underlying intention for that to happen.

      • “So maybe we are the universe’s only way of becoming aware?”

        Two problems with this. First, it makes the universe sound intentional in a way that is different than unconscious determinism. Second, no matter how much consciousness, intelligence, or morality we achieve, it doesn’t radiate outward. A rock is just as unconscious no matter how many humans are gathered around it.

        • Intentional or not, determinism still rules. I have a feeling that we will keep having this debate about the intentions of the universe if there is any. I don’t think this would hinder our discussion of the lack of free will as it is ruled out since anything that happens in the universe is still outside of human control whether it is a conscious or unconscious process.

    • Sorry we disagree, August. Consciousness, defined as awareness, when not anthropocentricly reserved for humans, appears to permeate the universe. You might be interested in Galen Strawson’s defense of this position. Morality is a convention related to, as John Locke described, what creates pleasure and pain. Thus it applies to all sentient beings, and, considering that humans do not have a free will, we must both logically and grammatically attribute it to whatever we define as compelling our actions.

      The helpful and harmful you suggest are nothing more than synonyms for good and evil, again as defined by Locke. You also hold a quite anthroprocentric view of intelligence. You probably don’t ascribe intelligence to the universe that gave rise to such complexities as our human anatomy because you can’t identify a mechanism for this intelligence. By that argument, however, we could not have defined any human act as intelligent before the advent of biology and neuroscience. Clearly that criteria is flawed.

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