Why I Hate You And You Hate Me by Joseph H. Berke

Why I Hate You and You Hate Me Why I Hate You and You Hate Me: The Interplay of Envy, Greed, Jealousy and Narcissism in Everyday LifeJoseph H. Berke; Karnac Books 2012WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Recently I went searching for a book that would shed some light on envy and greed, and specifically why and how those desires arise.  My intent was to learn more about how these desires come to take such an incredible hold over individuals and dominate societies.  There is a growing narcissism epidemic and in fact it is on track with the obesity epidemic (Jean M. Twenge, W. Keith Campbell (2010). The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement. Atria Books. ).  This is having catastrophic consequences in our society as we deal with critical issues like global warming and income inequality.  I wanted to understand the psychological elements behind the negative drives of our modern culture.

Why I Hate You and You Hate Me is written by a psychoanalyst, Joseph H. Berke.  I didn’t know much about psychoanalysis, but after a little research (and reading of the book) it was apparent that it’s deeply entrenched in phenomenology and doesn’t rely on a quantitative, experimental approach.  The book certainly read this way– the author supports many of his arguments with anecdotal experiences and literary based comparisons.  This does not necessarily invalidate the conclusions or even diminish them, but I think it would be of great value to pair it with a neuroscientific perspective.

Much of the book attempts to illustrate how envy, greed, jealously, and narcissism (from here on out referred to as EGJN) are tied to basic impulses that were denied or otherwise restricted during the early infant and childhood years of life.  From what I gather this is a Freudian approach which makes sense given that he is one of the progenitors of psychoanalysis.

I decided to skim over these sections and focus on information and discussion I found pertinent.  I enjoyed reading some of the theorizing about the genesis of these emotions in infants and children, but my main interest is how they plays out in the modern world.  One such section:

The greed-oriented politician stresses rapid and unrestricted economic growth and development, no matter who or what gets hurt or ruined in the process.  He favours high-profit policies, often associated with free enterprise and capitalism.  Not all capitalists are greedy, but “capitalism” has become synonymous with greed.  A term like “capitalist pig” conveys the contempt and derision of the envious, just like “loony leftist” is a damnation which express the fear of people who want to hang on to their possessions.

Berke goes on to say that envy and greed are rarely separate and a colleague of his even coined the term “grenvy”.  So what we see in politics today and have for some time is unimpeded greed mixed with envy.  But what exactly makes up EGJN?

Envy, greed, and jealousy have three components: perception– an awareness of something provoking an intolerable feeling; feeling– intense displeasure and vexation; and action– forceful attacking, annihilating behaviour.

What we’ve seen in Western culture recently is an exponentially increasing drive for materialistic consumerism.  Value placed on material things and even social status seems to create a ripe environment for EGJN to take hold.  The damning, shaming language used by groups like the Tea Partiers, right-wing “pro lifers”, and leftist environmentalists is a perfect example of action being taken to transfer the “intolerable feelings” to others.  There is an intensity to political arguments that is not often seen in other types of disagreements.

Berke differentiates narcissism from envy.  Those that are envious seek to destroy what they cannot stand to witness.  Narcissists seek to diminish others and inflate themselves.  A narcissist doesn’t necessarily have a drive to destroy those that have things, but those that are envious will many times destroy the person AND the object of desire to completely extinguish the feelings within them.  Envy can also operate as a positive feedback mechanism– if one denies envy it can create rage, which leads to rage at others, which leads to rage at the self, and so on.

Narcissism can also have a dark side.  Berke notes:

This phenomenon has been well noted with many left or right wing political activists who can move from kissing babies to preaching mass murder without blinking an eyelid.

Destructive narcissism, Berke says, is when narcissism and envy converge.

There is also a “grandiose self structure” when referring to such an individual whose main concern in life is to be totally self-sufficient, an island unto himself, the source of his own being.  but this self is also very fragile.  So any suggesstion that another person can offer something useful or needed can send the potential recipient into a torrential rage or depression.

In the closing chapter, Berke recounts this Native American story which I found to be timely given the current state the world finds itself in:

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.  He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.  One is Evil.  It is anger, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.  The other is Good.  It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed the most.”

The book closes out by observing that while these emotions are unpleasant, negative, and can lead to destructive and horrible actions they are ultimately needed.  I believe one needs to acknowledge and accept (both emotionally and intellectually) that we’re all, at times, envious, greedy, jealous, and narcissistic individuals.  Doing so will bring about mindfulness of when these characteristics rear their head, and ultimately will lead to greater understanding and forgiveness of others (and the self).

Consciousness and the Limits of Objectivity by Robert J. Howell

Consciousness and the Limits of Objectivity: The Case for Subjective Physicalism Consciousness and the Limits of Objectivity: The Case for Subjective PhysicalismRobert J. Howell; Oxford University Press 2013WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

This book was clearly written and intended for the student of philosophy college courses as it is a little daunting for someone not immersed in that world to read.  I think I read the word “epistemic” 20 times before understanding what it meant.  I persevered though and was able to glean some useful information and viewpoints that I had not previously considered.

Howell starts out by defining the “hard” problem of consciousness.  There are three camps of explanations:

  • Hardliners — These are your reductive materialists that insist consciousness is entirely physical and phenomenal experience is of no consequence.
  • Epistemicists — Epistemicists believe experience does play a role in knowledge, but consciousness is still entirely physical.
  • Non-physicalists — This includes the viewpoints of dualism, panpsychism, etc.  Consciousness, or at least part of it, is inherently metaphysical.

He goes on to define subjective physicalism:

“…is the view that ontologically the world is entirely physical.  Everything that there is supervenes upon the basic physical particles and properties.  Nevertheless, not every feature of the world can be completely grasped by objective theorizing.”

This is where the limit of objectivity comes into light.  Howell suggests the existence of phenomenal knowledge (the experience of the color red for instance) shows there cannot be a “complete objective picture of the world”.  He’s careful to point out that this does not indicate that there is something non-physical going on, but that experiencing something (subjectively) is sometimes necessary for knowledge to be imparted.

To frame his argument, Howell describes the Knowledge Argument and some of the proposed solutions to it.  In a nutshell, “Mary” has lived in a black and white room all her life.  She has learned all the facts about the color red but has never actually seen it.  She’s also logically infallible.  If Mary leaves the room and sees red for the first time, will she learn something new?

If she does learn something, most will say this is phenomenal knowledge so this must be something non-physical.  After all, if she learned every objective fact about the color red, how could she have learned anything when seeing it for the first time?

Subjective physicalism states that:

“.. the view that the world is fully physical but that there are some states that must be occupied in order to be fully grasped”

In other words, the conscious experiences are entirely physical, but physics has no property to describe them.  This seems to suggest that physics is incomplete, and in a way according to subjective physicalism it is.

The book sort of trails off here.  Subjective physicalism isn’t an answer so much as an approach that needs some blanks filled in.  In essence, if we combine the objective knowledge of physics with the subjective experience of qualia– we have a complete picture of the world.  But there is still quite a large gap in understanding there, and I’m not entirely convinced subjective physicalism, even after reading this book, is the right path to take for an answer.

Consciousness and the Social Brain by Michael Graziano

Consciousness and the Social Brain Consciousness and the Social BrainMichael S. A. Graziano; Oxford University Press 2013WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Part 1: The Theory

I didn’t know much about the author or even what the book was going to be about other than a theory on consciousness.  What I’ve discovered is a refreshing, fascinating take on what consciousness really is and how it could possibly be generated by a material, objective brain.

My viewpoint of consciousness has of course evolved over time as I’ve read more and developed my ideas as I went along.  At first I was convinced there was no way a subjective awareness could arise from objective matter no matter how complex the interactions within the brain were.  There must be “something” else.  I always held the strict reductive materialist view as being too myopic.  These scientists’ mode of investigation always seemed to be suggesting that if all possible neuronal interactions were measured and associated with specific subjective states– we’d finally be able to say: “There!  All that is consciousness!”

But that’s not an explanation of a subjective experience.  That’s simply saying that this interaction or that interaction happens to be occurring during a person’s reported experience and speaks nothing of the root problem: subjective awareness in objective matter.

So, that being said, I’ve liked alternative explanations.  One of my favorites thus far has been panpsychism and specifically David Chalmers theory of how consciousness is a fundamental part of reality.  This to me seemed to logically be the only plausible conclusion that didn’t resort to “magic” of some sort.  Now, that leads to the problem of identifying exactly WHAT it is.  I liken this though superficially to theoretical physics– we can theorize something is there (like a particle) and then go look for it.

So in Consciousness and the Social Brain Graziano takes a different approach.  He first lays out what he considers consciousness and awareness: consciousness encompasses information AND awareness.  In other words, it’s not just a person’s personality or the knowledge they have OR even the ability to be aware of that.  He illustrates it using this graphic:

From https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S38/91/90C37/index.xml?section=featured

From https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S38/91/90C37/index.xml?section=featured

From there, he introduces his theory: awareness is a description.  It’s information.  The brain essentially does what?  It processes information.. when you think of an apple you access a data bank of information (some from memory, some from senses, etc).  Let’s say: “green”, “round”, “stationary”.  You can also say you are viscerally aware of the apple.  It doesn’t even have to be an apple in front of you (which is just visual information)– it can be an apple “in your head”.. something you’re thinking of introspectively.  This process of attention, whether of something visually represented or introspectively, is a rich description of what being aware of the apple is.  So the informational segments of an apple would be: “green”, “round”, “stationary”, “awareness”.  This is the attention schema.

In other words, awareness is a description of not only things like “it’s round” but also the qualia: the greenness, the taste, etc.  From what I understood, Graziano is essentially saying qualia can be information.  I cannot describe green, but I can experience it and be aware of it– this can be a description (information).

Graziano proposes that attention, unlike awareness, is not data.  It is a data-handling method.  Signals compete and are amplified in the brain and this process can be called attention.  When you look at an apple, the signals associated with that apple (including the ones describing awareness of the apple) are amplified and that process is attention.

This is where it gets really interesting: awareness and attention of the awareness is a positive feedback loop.  You can be aware of being aware of the apple.  Through the process of attention, this can strongly amplify the experience of awareness itself.

The attention schema, made up of bound and associated information, is constantly reconfigured and this is what makes up consciousness.  Most theories of consciousness have been concerned about how consciousness is generated from matter.  Graziano flipped that around and asked “How does consciousness exert an effect on the brain?”  Or in other words the traditional question has been “How does objective matter generate subjective awareness?” and Graziano is asking “How does a subjective awareness influence objective matter?”  The very fact that you can verbally report that you are aware seems to prove this latter question.

Graziano goes on to explain his theory in greater detail, and also highlights some of the “errors” that can occur from this type of processing.  Multiple personality disorder, OBEs, group consciousness can all be explained, and even be predicted, by the attention schema theory.

Part 2: Comparisons to Previous Theories and Results

In this section Graziano compares the attention schema theory to both social theories of consciousness and integrated information theories.  He highlights the legitimate shortcomings of these theories and where the attention schema fills in.  In short, consciousness exists even in people that have no or very limited social contact which the social theory of consciousness has a hard time explaining.  As for integrated information, it purports consciousness is emergent.. an epiphenomenon of complex interactions of integrated information.  Why, then, aren’t other complex systems like the Internet conscious?  There is far more information on the Internet than in the human brain and it is all interlinked.  But there is no question about the internet being “conscious”.

Next, Graziano starts to probe where the attention schema might be generated.  This is the weakest area of the theory and his argument is not well substantiated.  He focuses on both the STS (superior temporal sulcus) and the TPJ (temporo-parietal junction) which are indicated in MRI scans of subjects experiencing awareness.  However, they seem to be directly linked to visual awareness.  Patients afflicted with “neglect” which is a syndrome, usually as a result of a stroke, caused by damage to the STS and TPJ.  They are unable to generate awareness of objects almost always in the left visual field.  The problem here is that visual awareness is just ONE type of awareness.  There is no discussion around whether or not their base awareness or consciousness is affected.  In other words, are these people still aware they are aware?  They seem to be, since they can report awareness of objects in the right visual field.  Graziano readily admits there is no explanation as to why it mainly affects the left visual field, but to me this is an indication that this is the wrong place to look.  In other words, it is a highly specified area.

The strongest chapters in the book are the last two.  First, he tackles the question of whether free will exists.  The attention schema theory it turns out does allow for the existence of free will.  Graziano points out:

It has the capacity to shape the processing in the brain and to control behavior.

I do have a problem with this.  If consciousness is, at its basic level, complex interactions of descriptions of information– where does free agency come into play?

He also makes a distinction between two “types” of consciousness.. what he calls type A and type B.  Type A is the consciousness that we generate through awareness and can report that we have it.  Type B is the consciousness we attribute to other people, animals, and even inanimate objects.

In the end, Graziano is essentially saying there is no traditional “consciousness” as many have thought.. in other words, there is a process of awareness but no singular “thing” that can be called consciousness.  He points out that essentially Type A and B consciousness are the same.  They are descriptions.  “Consciousness” is only real because it is a description.  Taken as a whole attention schema theory proposes that humans are data processing machines that include a property we describe and feel as “awareness”.

He explores the evolutionary (is this adaptive?) and spiritual (can consciousness survive after death?) implications.  He also highlights that in theory computers could be programmed with an attention schema and could be considered conscious.

Conclusion

This book was especially exciting for me to read as it is one of the first completely material explanations of consciousness that seemed to be logical.  Sobering, but logical.  Because the book is so well written an amateur like me in these studies can easily pick it up and follow along.

Compression troubles

Bad news. After spending all day checking and rechecking everything, still cannot get the “new” engine to fire. Verified good spark and fuel. Swapped over known good ignition components anyway. Made sure Hondata was getting RPM signal from CKP/TDC sensors.. all other values looked nominal as well. Tried stock ECU again. Set engine to TDC and cam gears were spot on.

So with good spark, fuel, and timing– what else is left? The only thing left to check was compression.

Hooked up the compression gauge to cyl 1, cranked, and got 20psi. Wait that can’t be right! Checked the comp on my green Prelude which came out to 190 on cyl 1. Okay, so gauge is working. Went back and checked the rest of the cylinders:

Cyl 1: 20psi
Cyl 2: <20psi
Cyl 3: 20psi
Cyl 4: 50psi

Well that’s why it isn’t starting  Got back to TDC, took out the schrader valve in the compression tester hose and hooked up shop air to cyl 1. Strong shot of air came out of cyl 3. Installed the spark plugs back in cyls 2-4, and air came out of the throttle body. So either the valves are very bent, or the rings aren’t sealing.

I sent David a quick note and he said there’s no way it should be that low. His last race in the car went fine (he won) and no mechanical issues.

The car has been sitting quite a long time from what I understand (waiting to hear back from him on exactly how long), so a friend suggested it *could* be stuck piston rings.

Next work day I’m going to soak the cylinders with some Marvel Mystery Oil to see if that changes anything.

Hondata S300

The car I bought has a Hondata S300 plug in module which provides a plethora of tuning options as well as datalogging.  The module is housed inside a chassis that includes an OBD1 Prelude ECU:

This is a nice setup because there is no need for an external adapter cable or custom wiring.  It accepts the car’s OBD2 wiring harness and connectors and the wiring conversion is done inside the chassis.

As with most things Honda, it’s been hard to track down the exact differences between the OBD2 Preludes (96 4th gen, 97+, 5th gen), and the OBD1 (92-95, 4th gen).  As far as I know, there are two main differences:

  • Injectors.  The 4th gen uses low impedance “peak and hold” style injectors that utilize a resistor box.  The 5th gen uses a saturated style injector which is high impedance.  Hondata recommends the 5th gen style.
  • Distributor.  The 4th gen uses a distributor that has different connectors and may be internal coil.  Need to verify that last part.

In any event, the current setup on the car should work fine as-is.  The previous owner said a tune for 195whp is currently loaded, but he has a tune that produces 215whp as well.  I’m sure 195whp will be fine for awhile.

What’s interesting is that the S300 output creates an opportunity for data display.  It outputs via USB and it should be relatively simple to hook up a small form factor PC to run the Smanager software.  From there I could output a virtual dash to a LCD display:

Can’t wait to get the car started and the motor transplanted so I can start messing around with the software.

2/9 Updates

IMG_20131216_224606_205

 

Verified that the cooling system (radiator, engine) is intact and holds pressure.  The system was filled with water and then I used a pressure tester to pressurize the system to 16psi (manual states to test between 14-18psi).  It held fine with no leaks.

Next, we drained the old fuel of which there was a little over 5 gallons.  I had to reinstall the oil cooler sandwich adapter as the anchor bolt which the filter screws onto is spaced to account for the stock heat exchanger.  Filter went on and I filled the engine with cheap AutoZone oil.

The previous owner said the car would not start and he thought it was due to the wideband o2 relay being blown.  We tested the relay and it operated normally, as the kill switch seemed to.  The car would crank but not start.  The car has a Hondata ECU (OBD1 ECU), but the PO included the stock OBD2 ECU.  I tried both, but had the same crank + no start result.

We checked:

  • Fuses
  • Main relay / PGM-FI relays
  • ECU wiring ground (as per shop manual)
  • Ignition coil resistance
  • Immobilizer function

All were fine.

We also tried spraying starting fluid through the TB while cranking to no avail.  This led us to believe we have a no-spark situation.  This was the extent of troubleshooting that day.

Items to check next:

  • Pull coil wire / use spark tester
  • Check crankshaft position sensor and camshaft position sensor
  • Check distributor
  • Check ICM

 

Alone Together by Sherry Turkle

Alone together Alone together: why we expect more from technology and less from each otherSherry Turkle; Basic Books 2011WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Robotics

The first section dealing with robotics was fascinating and thought-provoking.  The author concentrates on mainly social, companion robots.  She starts by tracing the development of very simple “robots” like Tamaguchis or Furbies.  The more modern versions of these are being placed in nursing homes to assist staff and help seniors by alleviating depression and increasing their activity.  The author also covers many studies done with young kids, teenagers, and adults interacting with relatively complex AI and life-like robots being developed at places like MIT.

There are several cases where the person interacting with the robot either consciously or unconsciously seems to relate better with the robot than with a person.  Moreover, some vocally prefer the robot.  The gut reaction is that this is troubling– robots do not feel, they do not have an inner life or a subjective consciousness.  Robots do not care or have any preferences, etc.  They are simply going by programming.

This brings to light a larger question, though.  What makes a person different from a robot?  Inevitably we’re taken to the hard problem of consciousness.  If consciousness (meaning subjective experience) is something unique to a biological creature, then the difference is plainly obvious.  But if we are nothing more than biological computers as materialists and reductionists purport, then where’s the difference?  There’s growing evidence that our sense of “self” is an illusion in the sense that there is no “self” entity– it is made up of different functions of our brain which collectively give the experience of a self.  Broken down, it’s really just small biological programs doing their own thing.  And if no free will exists and we’re simply victims of determinism, this makes it even less of a distinction.  A robot is completely trapped by its programming; it cannot deviate.  If we’re to think of humans this way as most neurologists and many philosophers are telling us then I fail to see how interacting with a robot is any different than interacting with a human.  If a robot can precisely emulate what a human is.. their physicality, responses (be it emotional or intellectual), etc– then would we consider the robot to be conscious?  If we are are acutely aware it is programmed.. it is made of wires, microprocessors, capacitors, and resistors– does this make any difference?  In order for there to be one, we must acknowledge there IS something different about a human.  I can’t prove you have a subjective consciousness any more than I can demonstrate it, but we ourselves experience it.

Humans are forever trying to minimize what we perceive as negative.  With robots, we can eliminate the responsibilities and anxieties we feel with human interaction.  We can program robots not to judge and can program them to offer the perfect response we subconsciously are hoping for.  There’s one story of a man who brings his father a social robot in a nursing home.  The man no longer feels guilty for not visiting much because his father enjoys interacting with the robot.  If his father has a robot and let’s say the son procures a robot for his own needs– why do they need to see each other at all?

The reduction of human interaction and destruction of the subjective self leads us to these absurd scenarios.  Authenticity is becoming less and less important and individuality is being reduced while the collective hive is being celebrated.  Ultimately this brings images of THX 1138 with holographic TV channels designed to fulfill every urge, machines to satisfy your sexual and erotic needs, and pills to manage your emotional responses.

Constant Connectivity

The title of this section is actually “Networked”.  It explores our increasing reliance and obsession with smartphones, the internet, games, and the like.  Building on the Robotics section, the author demonstrates that with robots we treat objects as people, and with smartphones and constant connectivity we treat people as objects.

The theme is this– we seek to avoid responsibility, reduce consequences, and overall minimize variables when we design, build, and use these devices.  A person is an infinitely variable thing.. a person, outside of the physical sense, has no defined boundaries.  A Facebook profile cannot accurately model this so inevitably we are dealing with objects that we then seek to turn and relate to as people.  The author shows that Facebook profiles become an externalized, minimized self.  It is not anywhere near our true self– it is preened and groomed until we are satisfied with what we want to show the world.  Additionally, ideas and thoughts shared via this medium are superficial.  If they cannot fit in 200 characters or so, they don’t exist.

This increased connectivity has tipped the work-life balance to the former.  As being with yourself becomes increasingly intolerable, being “busy” with work becomes a reprieve.  The skill of solitude is becoming a lost art.  Multitasking has become the norm, and instead of doing one task in a focused, concentrated manner we end up doing many tasks in a mediocre fashion.  This has wide ranging neurological effects as well.

Our selves have been externalized using technology.  Our phones are a crutch.. something to grab when the slightest hint of discomfort creeps in.  Text messages have become a way to absolve ourselves of guilt, responsibility but they are rarely received as such.  The author interviews several teens that have apologized for something online, but the receiving party viewed them as dishonest and empty.  Our society has turned to such a hedonistic and consumerist direction that people seem incapable of dealing with discomfort, responsibility, or the possibility of consequence.  The cult of the self is magnified online.  Paradoxically, the self matters not in this space.  The collective hive is what drives the Internet, not individuals.

Families become as the author puts it “postfamilial families” in that they are together, but alone.  I’ve seen this with my own family in that after dinner, we all sit down and several of us will take out our phones.  We’re all sitting around, but we’re not actually together.  Social interaction is becoming less tolerable yet we yearn for it, but our devices play our brains.  Constant notifications– the possibility of a “connection”– stimulates our nervous system into action and makes us addicted.  Our society’s emphasis on extroverted qualities has likely contributed to the problem.

The concept of privacy is changing as well.  The current generation of teenagers view privacy as something that will inevitably disappear and be violated.  This is in service to the collective hive.  It becomes selfish, almost blasphemous to withhold your thoughts, feelings, and any other content.

The bottom line is.. when we interact with devices, we are not interacting with people.  There may indeed be a person on the other end, but that is lost in translation.  These are simulations, they are not real.

Free Will and Consciousness by Baumeister, Mele, and Vohs

Consciousness and free action: how might they work?edited by Roy F. Baumeister, Alfred R. Mele, Kathleen D. Vohs.; University Press 2010WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

This is a collection of essays by several philosophers and neuroscientists.  It’s actually quite well-rounded with thoughts from either end of the spectrum regarding free will, its existence, and how it relates to consciousness.

 My favorites were Roy Baumeister’s “Understanding Free will and Consciousness on the Basis of Current Research Findings in Psychology”, Kathleen Vohs’s “Free Will Is Costly”, and Jonathan Schooler’s “What Science Tells Us about Free Will”.

Overall the most compatible view I’ve found is that actual free will exists but mainly in long term, abstract decisions.  Many every day decisions are thought to be performed by “zombie agents” (Christof Koch (2012). Consciousness: confessions of a romantic reductionist. MIT Press. ) that work studiously in the background outside of conscious awareness.  For example, I can say relatively certainly that my consciousness does not direct attention or awareness when I put my seat belt on in the car (unless I run into an issue getting it buckled).  My thoughts are generally elsewhere, so a zombie agent running as a background process takes over and directs muscle movements.  Longer term, abstract decisions like “I’m going to learn another language” or “I want to exercise more” could conceivably be a product of actual free will.  While executing that “Will” may be made up of many “zombie” actions, the actual genesis of the decision was free.

There is a large issue, though.  Everything in the universe, outside of quantum physics, is known to work via determinism aka cause-and-effect.  Schooler references compatibilism and highlights Velmans:

“…our brain controls our actions, but yes, we also control our actions because we are our brains.  Conscious desire doesn’t spawn or lead to neural processes any more than neural activity spawns or leads to conscious experience.  The experience of conscious free will is the first-person perspective of the neural correlates of choosing.”

Still, though, one has to be able to reconcile the deterministic nature of the universe with the possibility of free will.  Compatibilism doesn’t do this, but it does get closer to a more encompassing explanation.  Quantum physics has been used to try to explain free will and subjective consciousness, but this is even more of a problem given the random nature of the quantum world.

There is also the visceral, subjective experience of free will.  Taking a hard deterministic view of the world has been shown to be detrimental to emotional states and morality.  Belief in free will seems vital to the subjective experience of being human.

Overall, this book is an excellent collection of essays that helped me develop my ideas a bit further on free will and consciousness.