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Overview:
If neurons are made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which obey the known laws of physics, then in what sense can we say that “we” make our own choices? If the universe is deterministic, then our actions are determined as well. Or if it’s prone to random quantum indeterminism, that’s not something “we” can take credit for. Either way “free will” would seem to be a naive illusion. But even if absolute free will doesn’t exist, there may be a practical form of free will that is real and defensible, a version that was sculpted by evolution, both genetic and cultural, to give us the ability to honestly take responsibility for our actions, and hold other people responsible as well. What choice do we have, other than to act like we really can make “choices” that matter? Free will, we’re determined to have it.

lyrics

Lyrics

Daniel Dennett:
Many people think the implications of this are dreadful
We don’t really have “free will”, and nothing really matters

Listen to this lyric, it isn’t freestyle, it’s written
I wrote it of my own free will, it was my decision
Every intimate constituent part of it was deliberate
I considered how to script it and how to stand and deliver it
Forethought, but that doesn't mean nothin’ comes before thought
Take to look at the source of your thoughts, you might find the door's blocked
If every decision is made in a part of my brain that's invisible to me
That's “will”, but with a subliminal origin, I'm not thinkin' it's too “free”
But if not me, who was it that chose to bust the rhyme?
And if the clock was reset, I bet I could not have done otherwise
If every molecule and brain state was in the same place
The same thing would happen, so what sense does blame make?
Or praise make? I’m trainin’ to bring nothin’ but my game face
Even if the outcome of the race goes back to big bang days
In a deterministic universe that obeys the laws of physics
It takes a magic wand to make a truly uncaused decision
So there’s no such thing as absolute responsibility
And the more we discover, the more we degrade culpability
Every brain tumour found in someone who shoots up a playground
Tells us that we’re nothin’ but brain tumours all the way down

I can’t stop, I won’t stop livin’
Makin’ decisions as if I can pivot
I can’t stop, wont stop sellin’ mad “isms”
Natural, rational, and compatiblism
I can’t stop attraction and avoidance
Trapped with no choice but to make choices
I can’t stop, whatever happens
Free will, I’m determined to have it

Daniel Dennett:
People are surprisingly good
At distracting themselves
From ominous prospects
But don’t give up hope
Quantum physics to the rescue!

But wait, what if a random quantum fluctuation
Breaks up the universe’s basic deterministic nature
A swerve we can surf, a wave-particle duality
That puts a human agent back in the chain of causality
Don’t waste my time with that quantum tomfoolery
If a swerve is truly random, it’s got nothin’ to do with me!
I want free will that puts me back in the drivers seat
And makes me the author of the rhymes I recite on beats
I spent a lot of time trainin’ my brain to rhyme
At the drop of a dime; that’s a kind of freedom I can claim as mine
Freedom isn’t a metaphysical state at the level of atoms
It’s a collection of talents that each of us can develop and manage
Freedom evolves, evolution gave us the building blocks
Absolute freedom? Maybe not, but more than a digger wasp
And more than prefrontal cortex lesion patients living today
I’ll take the freedom I’ve got over the non-freedom of Phineas Gage
Freedom is having a brain that can reject options
Detect imposters and dodge sucker punches like boxers

Freedom is having a brain that can navigate obstacles

In a continuous exploration of the adjacent possible

A brain that’s free enough to identify goals and pursue them

And recognize the reasons why, even if it’s prone to illusions

Freedom, it’s what you have to skip a song or rewind it

And it’s yours to lose, if you lack the will to find it



I can’t stop, I won’t stop livin’

Makin’ decisions as if I can pivot
can’t stop, wont stop sellin’ mad “isms”

Natural, rational, and compatiblism

I can’t stop attraction and avoidance

Trapped with no choice but to make choices

I can’t stop, whatever happens

Free will, I’m determined to have it


Daniel Dennett:

Free will is like the air we breath

We count on it, but it is neither a 

Metaphysical background condition

Nor a fundamental physical condition

It evolved, and is still evolving

credits

from The Rap Guide to Consciousness, released October 13, 2017
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Production and Mix by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall
Guitar by John Ellis
Cuts by Mr. Simmonds

Further reading:
www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-marionettes-lament
soundcloud.com/samharrisorg/free-will-revisited-a-conversation-with-daniel-dennett
www.theguardian.com/science/2013/may/22/daniel-dennett-aristotle-flaming-idiot

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Baba Brinkman New York, New York

Canadian hip-hop with an intellectual bent, nothing but sexy beats and sumptuous brain food.

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