Touche – the prediction mechanism, the event, then the Inhibition before the N400 then the N400.
It’s true, we’re never “in” the present moment. Quite impossible due to our machinery.
I tend towards seeing these kinds of things as hysteresis; and the lag is critical to take into account.
But let’s consider the anticipation-based-on-past-inputs/the action/the inhibition/the n400 “circuit” as a single processing unit.
I still don’t see how the existence of the lag invalidates free will. We make changes to resolve cognitive dissonance, either to our outer environment or to our “inner” environment. [try to change what’s around us, or restructuring our beliefs/ideas in some fashion] generally… yet we also hold contradictory beliefs simultaneously with ease most of the time.
The thing about this: It all makes sense. I see us as state machines – anticipation machines; driving through life experiencing Time as if driving forward while looking backwards and SHOCKED when a rock comes crashing through the mirror which we thought was a window…
… yet it doesn’t, for me, invalidate free will.
In short, it’s a nice story to conclude there’s no free will except the sociological consequences would be absolutely dreadful should a society decide en masse that “yes, there is no free will”. Courts? Poof gone. Reasoning? Why bother?
To me, since we CAN’T PREDICT with any sort of accuracy all possible choices of a person, it’s far TOO SOON to declare free will doesn’t exist.
I couldn’t recommend to anyone that we have no free will because all of these subtle nuances will be completely lost on most people, even if explained.
It would be disasterous for a society to believe they have no free will. Dreadful.
Also, you have to consider that it is the VERY SAME supposedly determinate systems that built the machines to measure the lag to provide the determination that we have no free will.
I still content that “there is no free will” is an interesting fairy tale backed by a nice story filled with neural circuitry measured in laboratory conditions isolated from reality.
We do not know enough about the brain for this level of certainty. It remains a fairy tale to my ears, one that is somewhat inspirational and freeing, but a story nonetheless.
Certainty is also an illusion. It is an emotional state. Reason is an illusion for the same reason. Can’t have reason without an emotional push. Yet we still have to act ‘as if’ these things are true, just as we have to act ‘as if’ free will is true because from a pragmatic perspective, it’s true. The distinctions only need come into play in certain circumstances.
Apologies for bringing seemingly unrelated things into it. It’s a subject I’m passionate about because overconfidence in a deterministic Universe is a very bad thing.