We do exercise our free will within a limited decision space, and this is why it might seem, that there is no free will at all. Each IOUC has its personal limitations. I think in a beginning one has to become aware of these limitations, accept them, and after that there is a new learning curve and an opportunity to expend a personal decision space.
This is how I see it as well.
As far as I can tell, this issue is not solved.
Tom insists that it must exist to make his TOE work, but that is not reasonable proof that it does exist.
From here, it looks like in order to move foreward, we HAVE to believe (in the worst sense of the word) and have faith (in the best sense of the word) in the idea, even though it approaches logical absurdity....
Remember, 'you', in so much as you exist as a human being, do so as a thin film, the interface between your genes and your environment.
Yet to disbelieve in free-will is to select suicide by nihilism.
So, I believe in free-will because I absolutely must... I have no real choice in the matter, ironically enough, save maybe to ignore the issue completely.
PS, of course I'd be delighted to be refute here. Have at it!
Consider this. It is my take... maybe useful, maybe not. I don't think we have
to believe anything. In fact we really can't
believe anything if growth is our goal. This stumped me after first reading MBT. Tom says not to "believe", and yet presents this amazingly solid model of reality based on his own experiences. I could not wrap my head around the idea of how to move forward without believing something. To try to be more loving, I must first believe
that my existence is related in some way to becoming more loving. To sit down and meditate, I must first believe
that it is useful. To try and visit NPMR via a lucid dream, I must first believe
that NPMR exists. Tom also mentioned objective results through subjective experience. For the longest time, I just did not understand what that meant. The conclusion and understanding that I came to after working with these ideas is this:
The only thing that I can say with any level of certainty is that I think and that I exist (thank you Descartes). Of course I can only prove this to myself. Pretty much everything outside of this remains uncertain to some degree or another. There is no way around it. We do not have to put something in a category of "I beleive X" or "I do not believe X". Both of these are belief traps. Growth then stops, or is at least greatly slowed. I realize you probably already know this, but I'm just stating it to help clarify what I'm trying to say. The solution is that we can move forward by holding (very lightly) probable truths
. So, in the case of free will. I might say that I currently find it most likely that we have free will (in the best capacity that I can define it from this perspective). However, I have to hold this probable truth lightly and fully consider and accept that it may be completely wrong. Things may become more or less probable as our experience increases and as we gain understanding at the being level. Uncertainty will remain though. This is an amazing process and is directly related to letting go of fear. I can say that I hold the probable truth that we are here to grow toward love, evolve, etc. However, I can only say this based on my experiences and current level of understanding. Therefor I must stop and fully consider what it would mean if this probable truth (evolving toward love) is completely wrong. There are plenty of other scary and much more yucky possibilities to consider. I must
stop and look these other possibilities in the eye, fully acknowledge them, set them down, and move forward.... setting my probable truths as the beacon to lead my way. By believing
something, we avoid this process of having to face these fears. This is probably why belief is so popular with us human folk :P
As I understand the idea of open-minded skepticism, it is not a state that we use to find proof. It is a constant state
of being where there is no proof, only probable truths. So we can even assign percentages to our probable truths I suppose if it is helpful. One thing might be 60% true, while another thing might be 90% true. There is always that other percentage though (however small or large) that we must allow to exist. In this way, we remain in a state that allows for the change that is caused by growth. As Robert Bruce said in the recent exchange with Tom, this is to "remain in the question".
A search for proof
that free-will exists will lead in circles or to a belief. A search for proof in any regard will end at the same. The difference is that we should find objective results to form probable truths
as apposed to seeking objective proof to make something either true of false.
In short, we can move forward base on the probable truths that we have formed through our subjective experiences and from our current level of understanding. We have to hold these probable truths lightly and must fully consider what it would mean if they are wrong. We face those fears and move on. Proof is directly associated with belief. Something is proven so that it can be believed, or dis-proven so that it can be dis-believed. In this way, the open-minded skeptic cannot prove or dis-prove any of these issues. This is the uncertain nature of our existence. All of this of course is based on our own personal and subjective experience.
I hope this doesn't come across the wrong way. I used lots of "we must" and "we should". Those could probably be replaced with "I" or "Justin". So take that part lightly. Anyway, I say all of this with a great deal of humility and only because it seems that (from this perspective) it might be useful.