Mind-body L13 E

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What is the main issue described as the 'problem of free will and determinism' in the text?

How does the text describe the way we think of our lives?

What does the text say about everything at every step in the universe?

What is the content difference between the philosophical and scientific approaches to free will, as mentioned in the text?

Which ancient Greek philosophy introduced the concept of randomness in relation to free will?

What did neurologist Grey Walter discover through his experiments involving brain surgery patients and electrodes in their motor cortex?

Which philosophical approach argues that free will and determinism can coexist?

What does quantum mechanics suggest about the universe?

What did Grey Walter's experiment involving the slide projector reveal about the timing of events?

What was the timing difference between the readiness potential in the brain and the subjective intention to move, according to Libet's experiments?

According to Libet, what function did consciousness might have in relation to the chain of events before movement?

What timing range is typically used to determine false starts in races for top-level competitors?

What did the findings from Walter and Libet's experiments suggest about the common picture of free will for instantaneous movements?

What did Libet himself suggest about the conclusion that free will is an illusion?


  • Benjamin Libet conducted experiments to understand the timing of voluntary actions and the moment of conscious decision
  • Subjects were asked to move their hand while observing a revolving spot of light, reporting the position of the light when they decided to move
  • Recorded the timing of the readiness potential in the brain and the moment of hand movement
  • The readiness potential started about 535 milliseconds before movement, while subjective intention to move came about 200 milliseconds before
  • Libet suggested that consciousness might have a "veto function" to interrupt the chain of events before movement
  • Examples given of athletes, like Linford Christie and John Drummond, moving before the starting signal in races
  • False starts in races are now determined with great precision, typically within 125-250 milliseconds for top-level competitors
  • The findings from Walter and Libet's experiments suggest that the common picture of free will may be incorrect for instantaneous movements, but not necessarily for deliberate actions.
  • Questions were raised about the interpretation of these experiments and their implications for free will.
  • Libet himself was uncertain about the conclusion that free will is an illusion, suggesting consciousness might have a role in interventions before movements.
  • Suggested readings were provided for further exploration of the topic.


Explore the classic philosophical problem of free will and its intersection with contemporary scientific research. Delve into the debate surrounding the reality of free will versus the illusion of choice.

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