Is it the same on a pony as it is on a cow?”
It’s a simple question because of the very nature of the animal. It only feels things on its body—the tongue, for instance—and it doesn’t have the sense of time. And so it’s completely impossible for an animal to know what our perception may suggest about its own reality—no amount of experience could ever give an animal such insight into its own future state.
In fact, we wouldn’t know which future state we’re entering; we wouldn’t see it—our perception only indicates what’s going on in the present moment. This is a point that scientists call the “unavailability condition” because the lack of a future is the basis of both the existence of the “unknown” and the reality of free will. It’s in this absence of knowledge that free will can exist—but only as knowledge about the self. If we had complete knowledge of the future, it would never be allowed to happen by any means. It’s in this absence of knowledge that we’re allowed to make choices that may be in fact the consequence of our decisions rather than being the result of our conscious decisions.
So the horse is a perfect example: our understanding of horse behavior is absolutely primitive. We never see it do a thing; we have no clue what actions it may or may not take. But if a horse were to say, “I’m going to run away!” we would immediately recognize the behavior as a free act in response to that request. Our horse’s action would not make us think of it as behaving in an involuntary manner: it would feel our presence and it would respond—as it always has—by running away, the very next instant. If, on the other hand, we were to say, “I want you to stop!” then we’d only be thinking, “You see, now we got an animal who’s thinking.”
“Free will” is not an illusion of our minds, but the product of experiences through which we get knowledge about the world around us.
How much is freedom?
Freedom is what allows us to do whatever we want. For example, if you’re looking forward to your vacation and decide to take a vacation, you can choose to take one that requires lots of going outside, eating good meals, enjoying yourself, and so on. You can also choose to only take vacation plans that fit your own lifestyle. Or you could have a vacation that requires only one hour of
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