How to Solve "Free Will" Puzzles and Overcome Limitations of Platonic Science

This page discusses principles of freedom — and denials of freedom by advocates of "the modern scientific view." This page is part of the larger Quad Nets Project.

Quad Nets are an alternative approach to the question "how do brains work?" — an approach that is based on proposed new technologies (Quad Nets, bursting devices and timing devices) and on a new principle of freedom (Shimmering Sensitivity).

Survey of materials.

My proposed new principles and methods, along with challenges to the modern scientific view, are set forth in an essay, How to solve "free will" puzzles and overcome limitations of platonic science (2016 rev.).

(...) open the essay [a .pdf file, 1.9 MB]

(...) summary of the new, alternative approach as compared to the modern scientific view ("Key to the solution of free-will puzzles")

(...) summary of Shimmering Sensitivity, a new principle of freedom

(...) summary and condensed outline of the essay

(...) about the essay

(...) full-size versions of images in the essay

(...) spiritual part of the essay

Small single-page perspectives:

1.  ...  All About The Yoonieverse (2015)

2.  ...  How Freedom Became the Fable of "Free Will" (2015)

3.  ... Avian metaphors of freedom (2015)

The Quad Nets Project involved development of new technologies (Quad Nets and timing devices ) and supporting principles. Chief pages and references for technological presentations are located at:

(...) Quad Nets: Device Models of Brains — the home page maintains content that was originally published in 2006.

(...) Brain models built from timing devices:  timing devices were originally based on Quad Net devices but have had an independent course of development.

(...) Quad Nets site map:  synopsis of the long-range research program.

Key to the solution of free-will puzzles

Free-will puzzles point to inconsistencies involved in the modern scientific view.
"A scientific realism, based on mechanism, is conjoined with an unwavering belief in the world of men and of the higher animals as being composed of self-determining organisms. This radical inconsistency at the basis of modern thought accounts for much that is half-hearted and wavering in our civilization. It would be going to far to say that it distracts thought. It enfeebles it, by reason of the inconsistency lurking in the background."

Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, 76.

Advocates of the modern scientific view assert:

  1. "the mathematical scheme which governs the structure of the universe" – Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind, 433.

  2. "all things are made of atoms" – Richard P. Feynman, Feynman Lectures on Physics, I-1-2.

    "all ordinary phenomena that happen everywhere in the Universe, so far as we know, can be explained. ... For example, life itself is supposedly understandable in principle from the movements of atoms, and those atoms are made out of neutrons, protons and electrons. I must immediately say that when we state that we understand it in principle, we only mean that we think that, if we could figure everything out, we would find that there is nothing new in physics which needs to be discovered in order to understand the phenomena of life. ... In fact, I can say that in the range of phenomena today, so far as I know there are no phenomena that we are sure cannot be explained this way, or even that there is deep mystery about." Richard P. Feynman, Character of Physical Law, 151.

  3. "all the phenomena of human consciousness are explicable as 'just' the activities of a virtual machine realized in the astronomically adjustable connections of a human brain." It's "obvious and unobjectionable" to say: "Of course we're machines!"
    Daniel C. Dennett, Consciousness Explained, 431.

  4. "According to the modern scientific view, there is simply no room at all for 'freedom of the human will.' Everything that happens in our universe is either completely determined by what's already happened in the past or else depends, in part, on random chance. Everything, including that which happens in our brains, depends on these and only these:

    A set of fixed, deterministic laws. A purely random set of accidents.

    There is no room on either side for any third alternative. Whatever actions we may 'choose,' they cannot make the slightest change in what might otherwise have been–because those rigid, natural laws already caused the states of mind that caused us to decide that way. And if that choice was in part made by chance–it still leaves nothing for us to decide."
    Marvin Minsky, Society of Mind, 30.6 (italics in original).

I suggest that errors in the modern scientific view are shown by construction of an alternative view that incorporates freedom. In the alternative view, Minsky's "rigid natural laws" are revealed as human inventions that have many uses but that are also limited by rigidity and other restrictions that confine forms of knowledge. Rigid forms and related errors lead to free-will puzzles and other inconsistencies in the modern scientific view. An alternative approach proposes principles of freedom that are based on muscular movements and related bodily feelings of actual life and that are embodied in new technologies proposed in my technical designs. The alternative approach aims to mimic quick and fluid movements of flexible animal bodies, such as worms, in contrast to the lumbering and stiff movements of rigid-body robots. I suggest that development of new proposed technologies will provide practical solutions for free-will puzzles.

the modern scientific view

    the alternative view of freedom

set in contexts of space
based on sensory objects
made up of states (persisting unchanged for a time)
developed symbolically through theory or explanation

    set in contexts of time
based on muscular movements
made up of selections (choices, changes, etc.)
developed in action by means of training and practice
operational features of brain models
quantities and mechanisms, bits and commands
counting, arithmetic, algebra, equations
mathematical sets, arrays, operations and functions
networked structures of logical machines

    operational features of brain models
twitches and jumps, pulsestreams, pulse bursts
beats, rhythms, layering, balancing, entraining, interweaving
selections within repeating and variable cycles and waves
interacting assemblies of dissipative devices

general principles of development     general principles of development
Engineered versions of human action and psychology are based on sense-like representations that match up with forms generated by computer programs. All movements are purposefully pre-determined at a central, unitary processor and are further controlled during action by means of "feedback" of sensorial inputs into that processor.

    Engineered versions of human action and psychology are based on interactive coordination involving independent sensory-motor modules and mental control modules. Movements may occur spontaneously or as a result of external triggering of a condition of readiness; movements match up with pulse production processes in device parts and systems, which also have sensorial inputs.

Forms are expressed through sets of equations that state relationships involving variables with numerical values.     Forms are expressed through coalitions of device parts that generate activity patterns related by resemblances.

Rigid forms require or impose "invariants." "Laws of Physics" state invariant mandates and prohibitions. Such Laws are said to state universal principles and to apply to all situations, but, mostly, they apply extraterrestially or in environments that have been modified to conform to their requirements. Successful paradigms and operations lead to exact predictions and to exclusion of alternatives or novelties. An underlying character is fixed in static, symmetrized imagery; changes are generally transient, excluded or suppressed, e.g., changes called "perturbations" or "fluctuations." Such a character is contrary to the ongoing movement, strife and change of actual life.

    In the lives of persons, practical forms are developed in changing situations by combining idealized exemplars, by extending operational ranges of variation and by invention of novelties. Such forms are grounded in muscular movements that appear in specific situations of actual life. Development incorporates patterns learned and practiced in multiple, disparate ways, beginning with repetitive muscular movements of infancy and developing through lifestyle habits at home, language and gesture, imitation, games, sports, school drills, arithmetic operations, work routines, handling of technology, musical performances, traffic patterns and institutional procedures.

The modern scientific view is founded on a belief in the comprehensive power of eternal Laws of Physics that are inherent in the Universe. Such Laws are based on principles of conservation, symmetry, continuity and causation. According to the modern scientific view, we experience changes through mechanisms that follow the Laws. The texture of reality is reducible to distinct mechanisms. Changes may also result from collective randomized accidents that are secondary to controlling Laws     The alternative view of freedom is founded on a belief that changes are the ground of human activity and experience. We are able to create and control some changes through means we invent, including applications of laws. Laws of Physics have useful but limited domains of application. Laws of the State of California apply in different domains of activity, e.g., laws controlling movements of persons by means of traffic signals. Some laws, e.g., traffic laws, are designed to enable persons to exercise freedom.

Shimmering Sensitivity, a new principle of freedom

Images that suggest Shimmering Sensitivity

The images of the Toroidal Quad Net (TQN) are based on designs for new technology that embodies Shimmering Sensitivity, which I suggest is a principle of freedom. It is a principle of action that can only be suggested by static images. The three organized sets of static images provide views of Shimmering Sensitivity from different perspectives. The first set of images shows a simplified mechanical metaphor for a foundational process of cyclical selection. The second set of images shows a critical point process in a magnet, an actual physical process studied in physics and used in commercial technology. The third set of images shows my design for producing a critical moment by means of a proposed process in a TQN. "Critical moments" appear both during operations in proposed device constructions and also as psychological events in the alternative view of freedom. During a critical moment, a device generates multiple possible movements that change into a single actual movement. Exercises of freedom are modeled by such processes, e.g., choosing a meal from a menu in a restaurant by naming desired items to the waiter.

Shimmering Sensitivity is generated during a critical moment produced by a TQN. I further suggest that a "flicker of experience" is generated during such a critical moment. "Experience" is an ordinary or common word – academic investigators often use a technical word, qualia. My preferred technical word is imagery. I use the word "imagery" in a sweeping and inclusive way, drawing in diverse examples of imagery, qualia or experiences of muscular movements, bodily feelings and sensations, responsive emotions, memories, anticipations, goals, smells, tastes, tactile textures, words, ideal geometrical figures and other objects of our awareness, as well as obvious examples of visual patterns and auditory sounds.

Chief targets of my constructions are imagery of color and imagery of "Pythagorean" or musical harmonics, experiences that, in the alternative view, are generated by processes involving balances and selections. In images below, TQN operations suggest "how to" generate a fragmentary unit of imagery (or personal experience or qualia) of color. I foresee a construction path that leads to complex systems in which many "flickers of experience," generated by diverse device parts in diverse ways, arising in momentary coalitions and in cycles and waves, unite in "consciousness" to make up a moving and changing body of imagery that resembles a person's memories and experiences of color and shapes, of harmonics and other sounds, of movements of the person's own body, of bodily feelings related to the movements, of emotions, of sensory perceptions of external events and of mental operations and plans.

    The adjacent image of the "mechanical metaphor" for Shimmering Sensitivity shows one cycle of a repetitive process of cyclical selection. The metaphor involves a ball that moves on a bowl-like surface under the influence of gravity and other mechanical forces. The process goes through a central focal event where an initial undirected form of movement (stabilized inaction) changes into a final directed form of movement or action. At the outset, two distinct final directed forms of movement appear equally possible. A balancing principle controls movement prior to the central event but imbalance thereafter seizes control. Balance is generated and then lost, leading to a selection and to action. Then balance is re-generated for another cycle.

The mechanical metaphor operates with two distinct but combined shifting balances. One kind of balance is based on constraining forces imposed by the bowl-like container on the ball. Constraining forces arise from the gravitational field that is denoted by the long arrow labeled "g." The other kind of balance is based on opposing and balanced (or unbalanced) selective forces or influences that become important at the critical moment. Shifting balances are driven by deformation of the bowl-like container and are tracked by a clock. Before the critical moment, balancing is stable. During the critical moment, stability is being lost but the direction of loss may be reversed by opposing selective influences or forces. After the critical moment, action is unbalanced and loss of balance becomes irreversible.

There are two distinct causes for the selection. The driving cause is the entire cyclical selection process that runs from clock-time (i) to clock-time (vii). The selective cause is based on the selective forces that may be highly variable and that are operative only at the critical moment.

The adjacent set of images shows a critical point process in a magnet. Such a process has actual commercial applications in magneto-optical memory systems.

A magnetic element is hot at the beginning of the process (top of the image) and cool at the end (bottom). A changing temperature T tracks the process. In actual practice, a pin-point laser heats up an element and starts the process, which proceeds as the element cools. A cool magnetic element has either a North polarity or a South polarity, like a digital bit, 1 or 0, shown as red or green in the image. A hot magnetic element has no polarity. As a magnetic element cools, it picks up a polarity from a nearby influence, which may be tiny, and the polarity becomes either North or South. As long as the element stays cool, the polarity is fixed.

In a magnetic critical point process (and generally in critical point processes), the division between "hot" and "cool" is sharp and almost as perfectly defined as a point. The division is called the critical point or the critical temperature, often denoted by TC, as in the image. When a changing temperature crosses the critical point, the change in the form of activity is like crossing from night into day. In a sudden way, what was obscure becomes clear on cooling; or, during a heating process, what was clear becomes obscure.

The "Ising model" investigated by physicists is a mathematical model of critical point magnetism. The model involves a large number of magnetic particles that make up a collective; an investigation tracks how activities of the collective change as temperature changes. At low temperatures, the collective coheres and one polarity or the other establishes a hegemony such that delinquents are suppressed and uniformity is maintained, at least on a large scale. Delinquents appear more frequently at higher temperatures while suppression of delinquents takes the same amount of time. In other words, as temperature rises, delinquents become more numerous and uniformity is progressively eroded until, when the critical temperature is reached, the hegemony is fatally weakened and overthrown. At high temperatures, formlessness prevails.

As the temperature cools from a condition of formlessness, competing coalitions of magnetic particles appear in a germinal way, some germinal coalitions with a North polarity and some with a South polarity. Polarities are symmetrically equal and balanced, unless there is an external influence. An external influence, even a relatively tiny influence, tips the balance and establishes the hegemony of one polarity or the other as the temperature cools, a hegemony that will remain after cooling has run its course and the external influence has been removed.


The images below show a critical moment in a proposed Toroidal Quad Net (TQN) device. The biggest change in developing from a magnetic critical point process to a Quad Net critical moment process is that "quasi-static" magnetic particles of the Ising Model become activated clock elements in the Quad Net Model. Clock elements in a Quad Net are arranged in a square pattern and each clock element can influence four nearest neighboring clock elements. Influences are carried by pulses. A clock element discharges pulses that start (or trigger) clocks in neighboring elements. After being triggered by neighboring pulses and running for a period of time, a clock element discharges a pulse and then rests, before again becoming responsive to neighboring pulses.

In connecting to proposed brain models, a clock element is like a neuron and a pulse is like an "action potential" in neuroscience. Operational controls in such brain models are based on quantities of time and streams of time. As shown in the images, quantities of time called timing intervals (δ and β) are used in an operational way to control changes in activities, like temperature is used in a critical point system. Underlying concepts in new technologies are based on physics models of thermodynamics and materials science rather than physics models of mechanics and computer science. Controlled cyclical operations in proposed brain models resemble the classic Carnot cycle that is used to investigate operations of heat engines, like engines that drive motor vehicles.

Detailed QN Images showing construction of a TQN are available on the opening page of the Quad Net website. The toroidal shape is based on a square piece of proposed "Quad Net material" that resembles wall-paper with a clock-like device element in each cell and interconnections between cells. Quad Net material, as yet only conceptual and imaginary, is easily stretched and twisted and spliced into shapes. Within the material, clock elements discharge pulses across cell boundaries. Clock elements at opposite edges of the square piece of material are spliced "across space" so as to "weave" edges together. Stretching and weaving the QN material to make such connections turns a square piece into a toroidal shape, at least functionally.

A clock element has three conditions, a ready condition shown in a gray or middle colored shade, a responding condition shown in a white or light shade and a refractory condition shown in a black or dark shade. When a clock element is ready, pulses from neighboring elements switch or trigger it to enter into a responding condition. A specific time interval, δ, called the responding period, passes after such triggering; upon the expiration of δ, the clock element discharges a pulse that can influence nearest neighbors, if they are ready. After discharging a pulse, the clock element switches to the refractory condition, in which it remains for another specific interval of time, β, called the refractory period, before it returns to a ready condition. A clock element is unresponsive to pulses from neighboring elements when it is in the responding condition or the refractory condition. A more detailed statement of operations is available as part of the timing devices system; elemental processes operate much the same in timing devices and in the TQN shown in the adjacent image.

    When δ>β, clock elements that discharge pulses will return to a ready condition before the neighbors that have been triggered discharge their responsive pulses. The resulting pulse pattern is a "checkerboard" where elements discharge in an alternating way that has no preferred direction.

When δ<β, clock elements that discharge pulses will be persisting in a refractory condition when neighbors that have been triggered by such pulses discharge responsive pulses. The only sustainable pattern is a wave that has a direction. The image shows operations where the TQN can generate multiple kinds of patterns, each kind has a wave-like character with a fixed direction; and four specific directions are possible. Waves in a particular direction can also vary in intensity.

First suppose that the TQN is completely isolated and has no connections to other devices that are discharging pulses. The process starts with δ>β (checkerboarding); and δ declines in a controlled way that is uniform across the TQN. When δ=β, pulsations will cease and elements will all become ready. None will discharge and silent readiness will occupy the TQN even when δ is very low.

Now suppose that other devices, e.g., sensory devices, are attached to the TQN and that the sensory devices are generating pulses as a result of their activities. Sensory pulses are "tiny influences," like the tiny magnets in the magnetic critical point process shown above. That is, pulses that pass from sensory devices to the TQN are usually incapable of triggering clock elements in the TQN, but at the critical moment, when δ=β, operational values are such that pulses from sensory devices do trigger clock elements in the TQN and select final patterns in the TQN.

Suppose there is a case where, at the critical moment, only one sensory pattern influences the TQN. Such a pulse pattern establishes a hegemonic pattern that occupies the entire TQN through a natural process of entrainment.

In other cases, two or more sensory influences compete in a functional way for control of the TQN. When there is competition, e.g., as shown in the adjacent image, the natural process of entrainment also establishes a hegemonic pattern, at least on some significant occasions, and one final wave pattern occupies the entire TQN. Which final pattern establishes such hegemony depends on the sensory influences and operational processes that are occurring as the device passes through the critical moment. Such a final pattern is maintained for the last part of the cycle; it can act like a sensory input to other TQN's that are passing through critical moments. In sum, the selection just completed influences selections that are coming up.

While β is close to δ, the condition of the TQN is one of Shimmering Sensitivity. Any of the four patterns can occupy or dwell in the TQN; patchy patterns can co-exist; and it is possible for patchy portions of the TQN to switch easily from one pattern to another in fragmentary ways: such activity that is continually switching between possibilities and re-arranging itself is called "Shimmering." In repetitive cycling, a modification in an external influence or in the speed of the process can change the final outcome: this is called "Sensitivity." If external influences and operations are duplicated exactly, on the other hand, the result will also be duplicated. Chance — also known as probability, random variable or stochastic process — is not inherent in new technologies. It can be added and it appears to be well tolerated, at least in certain situations. New technologies are generally tolerant of variations, at least up to a point where tolerance, a form of balancing, is lost.

The process shown in the image above suggests perception of color. Red and green directly compete in a balancing process; yellow and blue also directly compete and balance; and there is an indirect kind of competition and balancing between red-green and blue-yellow. Further constructions suggest that the occupation of a TQN by a hegemonic pulse pattern models the arising of a "flicker of experience" in the mind of a person. In other words, the person is experiencing the activation of the form of the color in the biological equivalent of a device part. In ( ... ) Feelings, Forms and Freedom, contructions are suggested for "consciousness" or imagery of muscular movements and of bodily sensations like hunger and thirst, along with musical imagery that has a parallel path of development.

Suppose that there are several TQN's hooked together, e.g., in the Phase Transfer Controller to be constructed out of Quad Net materials. And suppose that all the TQN's pass through a critical moment together, in a synchronized way. I suggest that a single pervasive condition of Shimmering Sensitivity will dwell in the entire assembly, with capacities for generating and sustaining new pulse patterns according to competing influences from multiple memories and sensory devices. The resulting capacities, I suggest, can resemble those of a living organism interacting with its environment and exercising freedom.

How to solve "free will" puzzles and overcome limitations of platonic science


"Free will" puzzles are failed attempts to make freedom fit into forms of science. The failures seem puzzling because of widespread beliefs that forms of science describe and control everything. Errors in such beliefs are shown by reconstruction of forms of "platonic science" that were invented in ancient Greece and that have developed into modern physics. Like Plato's Ideas, modern Laws of Physics are said to exercise hegemonic control by means of universal and invariant principles. Linear expressions and rigid symmetries are abstracted from geometry and indifference. Processes tied to equilibrium require static surroundings and confine changes to series of increments. Such forms, based on empty space, fail to describe actual material transformations that occur during the making of steel or the production of snowflakes. They also fail to describe muscular movements and related bodily feelings of persons and other animals that have actual life. Limitations of platonic science are overcome by means of new forms with the character of time, beginning with "beats" and saccadic (jumpy) forms. New technologies of action and freedom generate and control such temporal forms in proposed device models of muscles and brains. Development leads to episodic balancing forms, which pass through critical moments of transformation, resembling those that occur when persons exercise freedom, e.g., during a moment of overtaking in a footrace or during a moment of decision by a courtroom jury.

... ) download "How to Solve 'Free Will' Puzzles and Overcome Limitations of Platonic Science (2016 rev.)" (.pdf file, 1.9 MB)

Condensed outline:

  1. Muscular movements of actual life lead to a new approach to freedom and consciousness.

  2. Nietzsche's "will to power" shows the defects of metaphysical constructions that fail to connect to actual life.

  3. In metaphysical constructions that were developed by ancient Greeks as part of "platonic science," an imaginary domain is occupied by mental objects called "Ideas" that are impersonal and eternal, that have the rigid symmetries and continuity of geometrical space and that are supposed to control actual lives of persons.

  4. Modern versions of platonic science construct imaginary domains in which particles, objects, events and changes are controlled by eternal, universal Laws of Physics. Such Laws would impose rigid symmetries of empty space on material bodies; but they fail to describe or control actual transformational changes that occur during a fast quench of red-hot steel or during the growth of crystalline snowflakes in a cloud of water vapor.

  5. Modern cognitive psychology and brain science derogate muscular movements and related bodily feelings of actual life; instead, depersonalized information is supposed to be processed according to forms of computation based on principles of platonic science.

  6. In new constructions, wagging "beats" and other movements of actual life are modeled by a Dogtail built from muscle-like modules. Temporal forms based on such movements include episodic balancing forms that are embodied in new technologies as Shimmering Sensitivity, a principle of freedom, and that also control sports competitions and jury trials. Outcomes of such contests often turn on personal efforts and personal decisions that occur during transformational critical moments.

... ) download "How to Solve 'Free Will' Puzzles and Overcome Limitations of Platonic Science (2016 rev.)" (.pdf file, 1.9 MB)

About the essay:

My aim is to show "how to" accomplish certain purposes rather than to try to provide an "explanation." My view is that human beings are not smart enough to construct satisfactory explanations for important events, but that we can sometimes find practical ways to overcome limitations and errors in our knowledge. For example, medical researchers have prolonged many lives, including mine, with partially understood methods.

In other words, notwithstanding errors and limitations of grandiose cosmologies — e.g., the cosmology of the modern scientific view — I suggest that our intelligence is often sufficient as a practical matter to enable us to reach specific goals. Early developers of steam engines, Joseph Black (1728-1799) and James Watt (1736-1819), explored unmapped territories through experiments and inventions at a time when fashionable forms of science could provide little guidance. Michael Faraday (1791-1867) never learned academic mathematics but younger mathematicians later intepreted his inventions of electrical and magnetic fields, electrical motors, power dynamos and electro-chemistry. Some judges perform similar functions in the domain of institutional operations, crafting opportunistic solutions to disputes that are later developed into governing regulations. See, e.g., Religious Technology Center v. Netcom On-Line Communication Services, Inc., 907 F. Supp. 1361 (N.D. Cal. 1995), a case that originally defined online protections for copyright owners in ways that led to statutory codification by the U.S. Congress. (The case arose when a religious dissenter published "secret" teachings in newsgroups and religious authorities tried to make the online service provider bear the responsibility.)

I suggest that constructions that show "how to" can be more creative than explanations. One of my chief purposes is to show "how to" develop new technologies and to build brain models as tools to investigate and develop freedom. I use the word "freedom" to refer to certain processes through which multiple possible courses of action change into a single actual course of action, e.g., using examples from the psychological domain, choosing a meal from a menu in a restaurant or finding a street address in a city being visited for the first time. A related purpose is to show how the models resolve questions that are raised by "free will puzzles."

["Free will puzzles" are constructed in certain experiments in psychology and neuroscience that are supposedly connected with ancient philosophical questions called "free will." See, e.g., B. Libet, "Do We Have Free Will," Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6, No. 8-9, 1999, 47-57. My view is that "free will" is not a useful concept except as a polemical target. "Free will" is a vain attempt to make personal freedom, expressed through a person's muscular movements, into an impersonal static object in a theory where movements are caused by images.]

The essay combines multiple literary genres and attempts to create impressions of movement rather than stating fixed positions. Passages in the essay take the form of constructions that show "how to" build various kinds of concepts and "how to" put them together to accomplish certain purposes. Models are constructivist in a style suggested by teachings of pioneer child psychologist, Jean Piaget (...). A chief theme of the essay is that activities in different or disparate domains of activity (e.g., music, sports, courtrooms) incorporate common forms of action that are based on muscular movements and that such forms can also be incorporated into novel constructions and new technology. The forms occur in time, in contrast to spatially defined forms of the modern scientific view.

In order to create impressions of movement in the essay, materials from various kinds of human activities are put together in constructions. Constructions compare and contrast forms from diverse areas of experience, e.g., science, music, sports and trials in court. I suggest that such forms, including scientific forms, are products of human activity and intelligence rather than features of a supposed impersonal reality. In support of the suggestion, all kinds of forms are investigated in the essay. Passages resemble pieces of legal briefs, physics lectures, exercise programs, psychological speculations and cultural polemics. During the investigation, forms themselves change, develop and grow. Change, development and growth are chief subjects of the essay and the constructions provide illustrative examples. Compared to a traditional statement of fixed positions, the essay may appear disjointed or meandering.

In other words, the essay is trying to create an impression more like climbing a mountain, where the experience is made up of changing views, than like propounding a theory, where there is a fixed view. I am proposing alternatives to fixed theories of modern science. My rigorous technical designs are set forth on other pages, where they embody developmental principles rather than a fixed theory. In the essay, I challenge fixed theories using multiple tools that work on such theories from multiple directions and with multiple rhetorical styles. After showing limitations of fixed theories and of their domains of application, I propose a basis for a new, alternative approach to questions of freedom. Although the new approach stands with one leg on technical designs, it stands with another leg on ordinary common experience of actual life that is discussed in the essay. The essay also locates the new approach within general contexts of scientific history and philosophy. The essay is written for an open-minded person who has an adventurous attitude about new ideas. Such a person might jump over materials or jump around materials to find what is personally illuminating.

My approach is grounded in activities of common life in modern civilization. In such activities, a person coordinates muscular movements with bodily feelings and sensory perceptions according to forms suited for mental capacities and bodily functions most of us possess. Typically, such forms are provided by culture, technology and government. Entrepreneurs invent and promote new forms. I suggest that a single set of principles is operating while a person is driving a car, exercising in a gym and playing a musical instrument. The general idea is that such diverse activities of actual life are controlled by simple operations of brains that function in closely similar ways in all adults with ordinary intelligence. I suggest that a course of investigation and construction based on such common activities leads to models of brain operations. Methods of construction juxtapose, coordinate and organize muscular movements that make up the substance of human action. I suggest that motor vehicle operators, runners in a race and performing musicians are all exercising freedom through organized muscular movements of actual life.

The essay presents a new view that is alternative to the "modern scientific view" based on physics and embodied in computers. The modern scientific view disregards muscular movements and concentrates on imagery that is grounded in geometrical space and that leads to concepts made up of states. I suggest that the modern scientific view is detached and sedentary. I suggest that, among other errors and limitations, the modern scientific view leads into dead-end mazes of free-will puzzles. In the essay, I aim to show a way out of the dead ends by deconstructing the modern scientific view and by using modified and alternative pieces to propose new technologies grounded in time that have a content of action.

I have pursued my aims and leadings for more than 40 years and have accomplished some of them. In part, the essay refers to technical designs presented in prior projects that modeled "following" and "focusing." Such projects include ( ... ) An Ear for Pythagorean Harmonics (2009-2010) (following) and ( ... ) An Eye for Sharp Contrast (2011) (focusing), which are parts of the larger presentation, ( ... ) Brain Models Built from Timing Devices (2011). I suggest that prior projects provide solid technical foundations for psychological, institutional and speculative constructions of the essay.

Chiefly, the essay develops "balancing" principles. "Balancing" movements can end up in different ways, depending on whether balance is lost and, if so, when and in which direction. Constructions start from idealized kinds of of muscular movements that are observed in college athletes. The chief form under investigation is "episodic balancing," which appears in sports contests and lawsuits in court. The episodic balancing form begins with contestants in a condition of equality, symmetry and balance and leads to loss of balance and loss of symmetry, until an important difference is established at the end, such as the difference between a winner and a loser. Principles of institutional design are investigated through discussion of judicial procedures that "balance" competing economic, health and safety interests of employers, workers and consumers. I suggest that balancing starts with muscular movements and develops from that base to institutional decisions.

... ) download "How to Solve Free-Will Puzzles and Overcome Limitations of Platonic Science (2016 rev.)" (.pdf file, 1.9 MB)

Your comments and suggestions are welcome. Please write to:

Full-size versions of images in the essay

Images that are part of the new approach are reduced from full-size versions in the .pdf version of the essay; full-size versions are available through links on a seperate page ( ... ).

Related Links

(...) Integrity of Freedom:  Actual Selves in a Regime of Authority (Stage One, January 2016).

Integrity of Freedom is the successor project to How to Solve "Free Will" Puzzles and further develops constructions that begin from foundations grounded in muscular movements and bodily feelings of actual life and that build on such foundations a psychology of freedom and suggestions for principles of institutional design.

The free-will puzzles essay focused on one aspect of freedom, namely, the generation and embodiment of freedom in forms of episodic balancing. In the new project, the focus is on another aspect of freedom, namely, its integrating power during successful exercises and performances.

The Introduction to the new project is titled "Integrity of movement in birds, persons and music." One passage refers to the movement of a bird hopping from one branch to another branch in a tree:

I suggest that this movement of a bird requires organized and coordinated movements of many different parts of the bird. There are a great number of movements of separate muscles where each movement must be accurately timed, each with a certain amount of strength. The many muscles of a bird, e.g., about the neck, along with their intricate attachments to the spine, are revealed by dissection of roasted chicken. Individual movements must be integrated to produce "a movement of the entire organism, and of each and all of its parts." (William James, Principles of Psychology (1890), The Production of Movement.) Integration includes both a single generative form that organizes all parts of the integrated movement and also interactive coordination between and among parts according to feelings that arise during the integrated movement. Successful performance of the integrated movement requires unification of form and feelings. The capacity of a bird to perform this integrated movement with easy success seems marvelous to me.

Bursters project.

Principles of action and movement are applied in "Elemental Constructions in Virtual Energy Domains: Forces and Balances, Movements and Measures, Forms and Feelings, Action and Images, Constraints and Freedom" (1st stage, first publication 5/1/15). The technical presentation (...) is available as a .pdf file, 889 kB and is discussed on a web page ( ... ). A second stage now in prepration expands the scope to "Elemental and Material Constructions in Virtual Energy Domains."

Brain Models Built From Timing Devices.

Prior technical designs involved timing devices, which resemble stopwatches and clocks. Timing device designs use interconnected, variable clocks to generate and control pulsing signals that drive muscle-like movements. Designs are developed from first principles. The system of timing devices resembles that of standard electronics components but with new signals, devices and operations.
... ) Opening Page
... ) A Kit of Parts
... ) An Eye for Sharp Contrast
       ( ... ) Eyes That Look at Objects
... ) An Ear for Pythagorean Harmonics
       ( ... ) A Procrustean Group of Harmonies
... ) Fundamentals of Timing Devices
... ) Author & History

History of prior versions

The (...) initial partial draft version of "How to Solve Free-Will Puzzles and Overcome Limitations of Platonic Science" was published at the end of 2011, a .pdf file, 1.4 MB. It lacked the present section 5.

The version published in January of 2013, ( ... ), (a .pdf file, 1.6 MB), was intended to be final. All major constructions and arguments were presented. However, numerous reasons for dis-satisfaction arose, e.g., desires for more complete and accurate statements and desires to correct blunders and mistakes.

A more complete version ( ... ), (a .pdf file, 1.8 MB), was published on December 9, 2013.

A fourth version was published on January 6, 2015, ( ... ), (a .pdf file, 1.9 MB).

The fifth version was published on or about January 28, 2016, ( ... ), (a .pdf file, 1.9 MB).

first published 12/31/11
revised versions 2/22/12, 4/2/12, 6/19/12, 1/31/13, 12/9/13, 1/6/15, 5/1/15, 1/28/16

Copyright © 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 Robert Kovsky