Do Fruit Flies Have Freewill? Do Humans?

Recently on my Squidoo lens (website) at carried the link found elsewhere on the web about the research study which attempted to find out if common fruit flies had `freewill’ – or – did they `act’ `randomly’. They conducted this research by gluing the fruit fly to a copper wire that left it `free’ to beat its wings. The fruit fly was then immersed in an all white environment which was`free’ of `cues’. The scientists were trying to determine if the beats of the fruit flies wings were `random’ within this environment which had `no cues’ — or — did the beating of the wings, which yields a `direction’ for the fruit fly – result from something other than random movement.

While I will have the link to the story at the bottom of this post (or you can go to my Squidoo site) — the results indicated the fruit flies had something between `freewill’ and `determinism’. (It quibbled about whether the `pattern of movement – which was similar to an algorithm’ qualified as real intentionality.)  But then it seemed the study then concluded that any freewill was `freewill’ – and even if limited, the fruitfly had it. And therefore so did humans the research seemed to extrapolate. Hmm. How nice. I wonder how many would have read the article if it had said humans had no freewill.

Interestingly, the article did spend some time talking about the freewill vs determinism `issue’ of philosophy — a rarity in today’s dumbdown media positioning of avoiding anything `too heavy’. But, as you know, HEAVY is this blog’s middle name — and freewill and determinism qualifies as topic material. It also goes right into the area my mind likes to explore — phenomenology. That’s right, the stuff of Edmund Husserl and others. To me, combining the ideas of 1910 phenomenology and just the basic of physics known today, seems to point to at least a way to grapple with the freewill vs determinism issue. IF it really is an issue.

My hope is that readers of The Heavy Stuff are at least familiar with the basics of phenomenology – but if not – one dictionary definition is:

  • the study of the development of human consciousness and self-awareness as a preface to philosophy or a part of a philosophy
  • a philosophical movement that describes the formal structure of the objects of awareness and of awareness itself in abstraction from any claims concerning existence

How’s that for heavy? All I can say is that Phenomenology has been the heaviest idea I’ve ever encountered. In addition to that, amazingly, I’ve had my own phenomenology ideas before I encountered Husserl’s works in 1975 or so. But, all that is for another post — this post is about freewill and determinism ——- and  — The Heavy Stuff’s as always unique take on the issue. READY? Get that mind open now, breathe deep, use what you have and do what you have  to do to  arrive at an altered state to receive this phenomenology take/positioning  on one of mankind’s intellectual issues.

Here the idea is. Ordinary physics tells us about `how’ humans `gather’ our information to even perceive the reality around us. First, we as a human being, have a `space’ which is us. Me. You. A space. A group of atoms organized by DNA to represent a human and all the characteristics of a specific human `space’. This `space’ (our body) has a relationship to `other spaces’. The computer we sit in front of – the garbage can in the kitchen – the trees outside. Even the locust in the tree. Even to the sounds from a train whistle.

Those other `spaces’, those other `things’ — `are representations of their actual now a `moment ago” — THEY are NOT in OUR `space-now’. The `light’ from `where their space is’ travels to our perception. THEIR space that we see has already occured and THEY are actually IN another `space’ - of which will travel to our perception too. What this means my dear readers is that `the space we see is DETERMINED’. Even the `space’ we see that is OUR OWN body – is DETERMINED. The nature of consciousness is that we can only be aware of things that have been determined. And are therefore `past’ things in comparison to our `now placed-spaced consciousness’.

Does that mean that we all need to `embrace despair’ as suggested by J.C. Pierce in his 1970′s books on `The Crack Of The Cosmic Egg’? No, not at all. The fact that `the space we see has been determined’ does NOT mean we `didn’t participate in THAT SPACE’. Indeed, not only did we participate in that space —- OUR `real now space’ — ISN”T even a part of it — we exist in a `real space’ which has our intentionality and duration exclusively.

It’s this `real space’ that we possess – that has our `freewill’ NOT the `space’ we `project’ onto `others spaces’. What we need to grasp as human beings or what any space needs to grasp as a being with life in reality – is that we can `change’ our `relationship’ (the `next’ actual space location) to any space — by moving our actual space. And, we do THAT in OUR `space’ with our intentionality’s – and freewill that has NOTHING to do with other spaces.

The Heavy Stuff positioning on this philosophical issue is —- Every Space Becomes A Time Point For Other Spaces.

The link to the article directly is – and, just to ask, if fruit flies have freewill, should they be glued to copper while alive? Just kidding. Thanks for reading, leave a comment — and hey, I’ve got the best of the links of 2006 on

One Response to “Do Fruit Flies Have Freewill? Do Humans?”

  1. mjs says:

    Joseph Campbell spent some time describing the Hindu idea of “the Net of Gems” wherein each gem reflected the others (an idea of representing the ineffable that was apparently of some comfort to Schopenhauer). When we attempt to dissect the manifested world it vanishes again and again–we put it back together when the pieces are of such a size that they’ll behave, but we don’t have as much luck with microphysics. No dicing the veil.