Ever since the late 1980s philosophers and theologians alike have been in a tizzy. That’s because of the work of an American neuroscientist called Benjamin Libet who found a brain signal, the so-called “readiness-potential” which occurred a fraction of a second before any conscious decision took place. It means whatever action we think we are aware of performing has, in fact, already been initiated by the brain a few milliseconds earlier. The awesome implication is that if our decisions are prepared unconsciously by the brain, then our feeling of “being in control” of what we are doing has to be an illusion that only occurs afterwards. Like, suddenly, the whole question of having a free will goes out of the window because it appears something else decides before we do.
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