Ego Depletion and Freewill

Physiology and resisting temptation. The role of glucose and freewill.

If freewill exists, then cause and effect are not in succession—and the past does not determine the future. You are messed up all by yourself.

It would be poor judgment to say that the force compelling a bad choice is deterministic, whereas the force countering it is free.

Free will supports culturally valued behavior. Such behavior often requires a personal sacrifice for the sake of the collective. This position implies that selfish behavior is intuitive, primary, and easy, whereas socially responsible behavior is only won by a successful struggle against the unfree forces of self-interest. Contrary to this view, recent research suggests that culturally valued cooperation often comes easily and intuitively, and that, in fact, selfish behavior is the most often the result of deliberation.

When we look back on the important choices we’ve made in our lives, it is likely to think we could have chosen differently and had a different outcome. This would be incorrect.

Ego depletion refers to the idea that self-control or willpower draws upon a limited pool of mental resources that can be used up. When the energy for mental activity is low, self-control is typically impaired, which would be considered a state of ego depletion. Glucose plays a big role in maintaining our normative self, or the societal self.

Imagine trying to make a rational decision with the all-seeing eye holding a hammer over your head? It would get tiring, hence the hypocrisy of belief in freewill. Every decision depletes energy. Every resistance to perceived temptation does the same. Eventually glucose wears down and you are charged with sin, the inability to continuously resist two opposing forces you never initiated.

Mermaid cave art