“The significance, purpose, underlying truth, etc., of something.” – Meaning number one from the Oxford English Dictionary
I think that the world or universe does not have any intrinsic meaning attached to it. As a corollary, I think that it is us (humans) that give meaning to our world. In my view the world does not come with labels attached to it. We use language to provide the words we attach to things we find in the world. But, it is important to remember “that the word is not the thing.” This is a word is not the same as what it names or points to in the world. Of course, language does more than just name things; it provides ideas, concepts, feelings, actions, and a lot more.
Now one would think from this first paragraph that I think that we think in language. I do not. The first thing to say is I think that the brain is responsible for all our thoughts as well as our feelings, perceptions, memories, and behavior among a whole lot more. Of course, the brain also produces language, a task at which it is supremely adept. This is not to say that we don’t make mistakes when we speak or write.
Given that the language centers in the brain are in locations different from cognitive production in the prefrontal cortex, it seems likely from this that we do not think in language. That is the number one reason why I do not think we think in language.
Another thing that supports my view of thought is that language use seems so fluid. Most of the time words, and sentences, and groups of sentences, and groups of groups of sentences seem to just flow without conscious effort. This is even more pronounced in a language like Spanish, which is spoken at a faster pace. Of course, we do have to stop and wait for an appropriate word or grouping of words to come into our consciousness at times. But, that does not show that we are thinking in language; it just shows that language production itself has some fits and starts to it.
Another thing about language to consider is there are thousands of languages, as well as, creoles, pidgins, and many more extinct languages to boot. Now, is it really plausible that the brain is capable of thinking in such a multiplicity of languages. It is much more probable that the language components of the brain handle this huge amount of different languages, leaving the thinking component free to do its fantastic job.
There is also the fact that we at times, some of us more than others, think in images, that is visually. Sometimes when I cook I envision how I am going to accomplish the dish at hand. Naturally, recipes are written in language, but if you have spent anytime looking at cooking blogs, they are filled with pictures, which for some people can be a real help. It is not just food blogs, but a lot of cookbooks also have pictures of the steps necessary to complete the recipes in them.
Other uses of pictures are graphs – these are a visual depictions of mathematical relations (also see the next paragraph); comic strips and political comics use illustration to give a better sense of the meaning involved; any pictures at all really can provide meaning – they are suppose to be worth a thousands words; and moving pictures (movies and television shows) gives us vastly more information than just the dialogue.
One also finds people who are able to think in a musical way as was recently pointed out to me. There is some thought process that is marrying sounds with sounds. Than there is mathematical thought. While mathematics uses symbols, which is what most words are, other than a small portion of signs, the flow of numerical thought is quite different than what people usually do with language.
While I have thought about how we do not think in language before, the impetus for writing this blog was my cat Baxter, or the conversation I had with my friend Bette on what the hell he was thinking. It was then that I said that we are the ones who give meaning to Baxter’s thought. Not that he does not have thoughts of his own, but being without the ability to express them in language his ability to have meaning himself is limited.
So, what role does language play if it does not play a role in thinking. I think language is a translation of thought, but not thought itself. Language is one of the most conscious of all mental phenomena. I have come to think that consciousness serves as a focusing device, like a magnifying glass. In other words, what we need to pay most attention to is what is in our conscious awareness. So, language gives us a focus on our thoughts.
Language’s most prominent role is communicating with others. It allows us to transfer our thoughts to other people. At least the thoughts we desire to share, with the possibility of slip ups, giving thoughts that we would not have wanted to share otherwise. Here, I am not talking about Freudian slips of the tongue, which I do not deem to be a window to unconscious thought. These Freudian slips are probably just a brain malfunction. After all, the brain is not likely to operate perfectly.
Getting back to thought itself, I wish to say a bit more. Obviously, the brain has numerous subsystems so to speak with lots of connections to other subsystems. In this respect the brain is modular, but some modules are more connected than others.
Two areas that I think are intimately connected are our thinking and feeling zones of brain activity. There is enough brain imaging studies to show that when humans are thinking, not only are these areas (which could be multiple) active, but at the same time the areas that produce feelings, or emotions, are active as well.
One particularly well studied part of neuroscience is decision making. It seems that we do not make decisions without also having feelings at the same time. By the way, I think the strongest feeling at decision time is freewill. That is right freewill. I think freewill is an emotion, and not a decision maker.*
Now, with language we command the world of meaning within and without. From within it is us that provides the meaning to our lives; we do not and cannot receive it from anywhere else (see below). Granted, some people are at loss when it comes to providing a meaning to their lives and to their activities. Their lives can seem dull or trouble to themselves and others.
From positive psychology (which I am no big fan of) studies have shown that people who say they are happy live meaningful lives and do meaningful activities. However, happiness is a complex set of differing emotions. Joy, pleasure, peacefulness, and in the groove are among the different emotions and feelings associated with happiness. So, what one person means by being happy and another person means by being happy can differ more or less. My big qualm is that these happiness studies rely on questionnaires to assess a person’s happiness. While a well design questionnaire is harder to put a positive spin on it, all questionnaires can be problematic.
Some people turn to the god they believe in, or have faith in, to provide a meaning for their lives. I do not see this as a possibility because I do not believe there is any god or gods to provide that meaning. Is salvation really a goal of life; it seems more like a goal of death to me. I do feel that a person’s belief in god can give them encouragement or strength to help he or she to carry out the meaning that he or she gives to his or hers own life.
What meaning we give to our world matters a lot. Those that see a fearful world, or those that attach other negative meanings or connotations to their world will in general be unhappy. Those that see it more positively will in general be more happy. I said their world because each of us live in our own world of meaning, but a large portion of our worlds is shared. This situation is a milder brand of solipsism (“the theory that only the self exists”^). The shared portion is called inter-subjectivity.
But, life is variable and so is the world. This means that the meaning we find in the world changes. A look at the different concepts used through history to understand the world confirms this. At one point humans tended to find the world full of spirits, which over time solidified into gods, eventually becoming a single god for most humans. Then, physical explanations started to appear, and science became the major way that humans understood their world. Of course, there are those who still cling to supernatural explanations, but they do not explain the world as well, if at all.
Can the meaning we give to the world be wrong? Most definitely, yes. We may attach what ever meaning we want to the world, but the world does not have to answer to our meaning of it. Giving the correct meaning to the world helps us to better navigate it. If you look outside and you think it is not raining, and then go outside without an umbrella you are likely to get wet. I know this is trivial sounding, but it points out directly where meaning can go wrong. After all, truth matters despite what some philosophers might say.
This leads me to bring up my idea that the world is not logical. While the world might be one way or the other, there is no if p then q in it. Logic maybe a good tool to apply to the world, but the world has no intrinsic logic it to it, just like it has no intrinsic meaning. Actually, formal logic is not really all that helpful outside of certain applications, such as science, if even there. The world is too gray for a two-valued logic to hold for most things. Life is not black and white most of the time. An multi-valued logics are not precise enough to be of much value.
Actually quantum physicists for the most part think that in the smallness of the atomic world two-valued logic does not apply. There appears to be no law of the excluded middle, that Aristotle set down long ago. The law of the excluded middle is something is either A or not A. Without this law if something is not true it does not mean it is false, and if something is not false it does not mean it is true, as with the law of the excluded middle. For instance, in quantum physics if a particle is unobserved it has no position, it only has a probability that it is one place or another.
Does this mean humans are necessary to observe the quantum world for it to be one way or another? I do not think so. For one, quantum mechanics is a mathematical theory in that it takes mathematics to describe it. It makes it very exact. Quantum mechanics is probably the most accurate theory science has provided us with. Anyway, in the mathematics of quantum mechanics indeterminism is smack dab in the middle of it, so to speak. It is only measurement that provides an exact position within the scheme of quantum mechanics. Second, while I have not read about this, I think it is possible that when the atomic world encounters other aspects of the world, such as other atomic events, this provides the exactness to the world necessary for determinism of above the quantum level without human observation. And last, the universe had been fine before humans were ever around to make a quantum observation.
Also, when dealing with two-valued logic, the sorites paradoxes need to be considered. This occurs when there are definite end points, but the intermediate points are not definite. An example is a sand pile. One grain of sand does not make a pile, neither does two or three and so on. But, at some point we have a pile of sand by adding one grain at a time. Multi-valued logics while thought to be helpful by some is just to imprecise to be really useful. Does it really help to say that we have 30% of sand pile or whatever you have to analyze that it has intermediate positions.
Now, the sand pile maybe a rather trivial example, but life situations are not. Think about our obligations. How obligated am I to help out a friend? There are a lot of depends involved. How good of a friend is he or she, how much can can I help this friend, or do I have something that conflicts, and thus prevents me from fully helping my friend. See how messy the world is. By the way, all of these consideration involve giving some meaning to the situation other than the facts of the matter (my friend lives next door or in the next town). The meaning we desire to provide the situation with is still mostly up to us.
Yes, the world is messy. Yes, meaning can be messy too. Most meaning is complex. After all, we rarely use single words, and we rarely use single sentences, and we often do not use even single paragraphs to produce the meaning we attach to the world.
Should I have to qualify the messiness of the world because of the simplicity of the forces of physics, which rules all things in the universe? Not really. While the universe is ruled by a small set of forces and twelve fundamental particles and the particles responsible for carrying out the four basic forces, their combinations are virtually infinite. Virtually, of course, because while the number of combinations between particles and the forces are stupendously large they are still finite, thus their combinations are still finite. But, I bet you cannot count them all.
So, the universe, as far as science can tell, is both simple and complex. It is simple because the forces and particles that determine the universe is a small set. It is complex because the number of combinations allows for such complexity as the human brain, which is said to be the most complex thing in the universe.
Oh, without my brain none of this blog would be possible.* Ultimately, the brain is responsible for all meaning in the world – complexity contemplating complexity.
If the universe is ruled by deterministic rules and a finite amount of matter, is there any freedom in the universe? A lot of people wish that at the very least they have the ability to make their own choices. Well, they do have the ability; it is just that the ability is produced by the brain, which is part of the deterministic world.*
Oh, what about randomness? Randomness does not really save the day because this would make our choices being made in a willy-nilly fashion. So, the supposed randomness of quantum physics cannot save the day for free choice proponents. I am using the term free choice instead of freewill because I do not think freewill as free choice exists.* Quantum physics, which seems to force on us the idea that randomness is ultimately the beginning of all action down at the atomic level.
Where does this leave determinism? I think it leaves it basically unchanged. It is not that there is randomness at the quantum level, but that these quantum actions are uncaused. Randomness enters the picture because of the probabilistic wave equation used in quantum mechanics. But, the equation itself is deterministic – you plug in the numbers and presto-chango out comes an answer. So, determinism is still there; it is just that noncausal quantum actions are responsible for all actions deep down at the very bottom of things. To me uncaused does not mean randomness. Also any noncausalness goes away once the level above the quantum one is reached. From here its cause all the way up.
So, quantum physics does not rescue free choice. Yet, I do think we possess freewill; this is because I think freewill is an emotion as I mentioned earlier. Without it our deterministic choices would not be carried out. Whenever we make a decision the emotional center in the brain is just as active as the rational center. I take this to mean freewill is an emotion. It is a necessary component in carrying out our actions. Without the emotion freewill we would not act at all. Of course, this does not save some of us from a deterministic brain because the brain determines our emotions as well as are thoughts.*
Finally, since this is a blog about meaning, I would like to say something about the sticklers of language. These are people who insist that certain words are not really words. I just saw a newscaster say that irregardless is not a word. She said “it wasn’t in the dictionary.” Well, it is in the dictionary at dictionary.com. Though, it is stated that it is nonstandard. The standard is regardless – no “ir” to it. But, if you are in a conversation with someone, and he or she uses irregardless, I bet you understand what she or he means.
This goes for phrases and whole sentences. In a book review I wrote I used the phrase worser and worser. I feel that the majority of readers knew what I meant – things are even worse than we supposed. I say whole sentences because we often come across ungrammatical sentences from time to time, yet we usually understand what is being said or was written. Even a sentence that uses only “dictionary words” and its grammar is meticulous can still be misunderstand.
Misunderstanding is rife. Even when we use the same words, they often carry more than one meaning. I take this as buyer (of words) beware. This is why it is so important that we make clear what we mean by defining a word or words when disagreement raises its head, not necessarily its ugly head because disagreements can be fruitful. We often need to reevaluate are thinking. Disagreements can do this. They can either lead to a change in our thinking or lead us to provide better reasons for our thinking, if we pay the attention the disagreement deserves.
I was once in a conversation about belief. One person insisted that if someone believed something about him it carried with it the assumption that in the speakers mind that it was true. This follows from a philosophical view of belief, which he apparently knew nothing about. If he did, he would have known that beliefs do not necessarily have to be true. If beliefs are true, this amounts to knowledge in most philosophers’s books (catch the pun). The other person was talking of belief in a psychological sense – that beliefs were firmly held thoughts. She, however, did not try to negate the other person’s meaning. She was only seeing belief in other terms, where he could not give up his meaning of the term. He was in distress because of this, so real world communication has important consequences.
In addition to definitions it is often necessary for people to be aware of and give their presuppositions when communication goes awry. Without these presuppositions being made clear significant communication is not possible in these situations. Arguments just do not follow through from one person to the next. This kind of thing often comes up in religious discussions, where the believer has a different world view than the nonbeliever, based on different presuppositions. So, any common understanding is unlikely. It is not impossible, but it takes extreme clarity to bring understanding about.
I close with the hope that my readers will get what I mean; Baxter certainly does.
At least when he is awake.
* See my blog – Why Are People Afraid of Their Brain?
15 thoughts on “What Do You Mean?”
Hi Steven! I hope you’re doing well today. I enjoyed this post and will try in the coming week to post a proper response. Meanwhile, whenever you have a couple of minutes, please check my blog. Since the ‘Facebook’ post, I posted one more blog entry and a new page, ‘Poems’, complete with a quick little poem I wrote yesterday, and I’d appreciate your thoughts.
Take care, be well, and happy thinking,
I was doing well on Saturday, and I am still doing well today. I made a comment on your second first post on that page, but I could not find out how I could do that with your poem, so I sent you a message via the contact function. I am looking forward to your comments on my meaning blog, as they are always well thought out.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I plan on commenting on both, but I have been busy trying to get this blog posted.
Matter of fact, I have had both post open in my browser since yesterday.
I was reading this post, and a few questions came to mind. You stated that
the word was in dictionary.com. Yet, actually most words in dictionaries
online are not always present in the widely accepted “oxford english
dictionary”. Do you think that this almost conflict between a well documented
source and the internet has an effect on peoples language? Secondly, I
liked your point about misunderstanding and how words that are
grammatically correct can be misunderstood. In English Language, we have
Grice Maxims that dictate the information that can be retrieved from a
conversation. Thirdly, What do you think about the effect of the internet on
language? Do you think it is a positive force for the development of the english
Finally, this was a good post. It really hit the nail on the head. I am going to
be posting another article soon on my blog, so if you could check it out. It
would be good.
All the best in future articles,
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you so much for your comments.
In answer to your first question – yes the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the go to dictionary in academia. I have two excuses for not using it. One is convenience; I keep dictionary.com open in my browser. It is also a big help in finding the correct spelling of a word that I am not sure of because I can enter how I think a word is spelled, and if it is not correct, it gives me other words that might be the word I am looking up. Also, for personal use a quick definition is all I require. My other excuse is that until Saturday I did not realized I had access to the OED through my local library system online. I only decided to check its definition of “meaning” after I had found an image to used at the beginning of the of this blog. So, now that I have access to it I will probably use its definitions in future blogs accept in some cases (see below). Anyway, I found that the OED gave “irregardless” as nonstandard too. Also, the newscaster I believe was referring to Webster’s Dictionary, so all I felt I needed to refute her was to find a dictionary that had it in it.
As for the effect of the internet on people’s use of language there is most probably some influence, but not so much as you would think. First, online dictionaries are at least as accurate as Webster’s or other popular dictionaries. Second, it is usually not necessary to have a precise dictionary definition to use a word. We often do quite well getting are meaning across without referring to a dictionary. Third, while the OED may be authoritative as far as how a word has been used, it is not a normative reference. I feel that no dictionary should be normative no matter how authoritative it may be, but this is not the stated purpose of the OED although some people would like to treat it as such.
Now, if your talking about academic writing the situation is somewhat different. In academic writing it is thought by most professors that one should only use the OED for definitions. This is not so in all cases, however. When one is referring to how people use a word, than it is often best to use a reference they would be using. Of course, scare quotes (“”) should be used for the word in these cases at least in linguistics and philosophy of language.
I have not heard of “Grice Maxims” before. But, I will hazard a guess that it might use information theory. One finding from information theory is the redundancy of the English language, and I suspect all written languages. James Gleick’s “The Information” has a good chapter (I think it is a whole chapter) on the redundancy findings. As you can code, you might think about writing a program that is able to do this with a piece of garbled text or missing letters if you are interested. Personally, I am not very interested in it.
The bigger problem with the internet is as a resource for information rather than language use. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad information out there. This is especially so in science, including health issues. I think it is safe to say that most people do not check the sources in popularly report health resources. Often you find after checking the reference, the inferences made do not actually follow the research. One particular case I had fun with is the fasting diets that are becoming popular. I started to go through a particular blog looking at the research references and found that they did not really back up what the author wrote in his(?) blog (long forgotten). After checking the first five references I gave up. I found out later from professor Joe Schwartz at McGill University that the insulin related benefits of these diets is due to protein restriction. In a study he reported, looking at plant protein (vegan) versus animal protein diets, he said the finding was that in a reduce protein diet, which vegans have, is where the cause of the benefit lies. In other words it is not the type of protein that matters, but the amount. I will not even go into “Forks Over Knifes”, which is mainly a commercial outfit.
One other note: for the tribulations of using wikipedia see my reply to Denny’s comment on my “Why Are People Afraid of Their Brain?” blog.
Sorry for the length of my reply, but you did ask.
Thank you for this thought-provoking and insightful post. I really enjoyed engaging with your ideas. I’m sorry I’ve take so long to begin a proper response.
I agree wholeheartedly with your entire first paragraph. I also agree that our brains are responsible for all our feelings, perceptions, emotions, memories, behavior, etc. What I disagree with is your core assertion that we do not think in language, and I think some of your arguments fail to support that assertion.
I have to admit to having read, thought, and studied about the brain and thought much less than you obviously have. And I’m willing to concede that maybe you and I mean different things when we make an assertion about how we think. For instance, I think reflex, automatic, and habitual actions occur following little to no thought. I can recall dozens of actions I perform in a given day that I did without being aware of thinking about doing them or that I thought of doing without silently telling myself to do them. So maybe those are the kinds of thoughts you mean when you assert that we do not think in language.
But I assert that, at least some of the time, we absolutely do think in language. Take the act of writing, for instance. Do you not think of each word you type? When you are formulating arguments in your head or merely contemplating a subject, do you not hear yourself thinking? I do, very clearly. Maybe I have misunderstood your assertion. Should I make a distinction between pure thought and talking to myself silently? But even if I make that distinction, am I not thinking when I am talking to myself silently?
Regarding your #1 reason for thinking we do not think in language, to wit that the language centers and cognitive production portions of the brain are in different areas: I don’t think that succeeds as support because, as you well know (and as you discuss in your paragraphs about the modular brain and the intimately connected thinking and feeling zones), our brains are extraordinarily complex and consist of millions, maybe billions, of neuronic connections and networks that are infinitely interconnected and work together in countless ways, which leaves room for the possibility that the cognitive production areas can work in tandem with the language production centers, maybe even in as-yet undetected or unstudied ways.
Regarding your argument that it is implausible that the brain is incapable of thinking in a multiplicity of languages: Since language must be either acquired or invented, obviously, some thought must go into production of it. Since typically language is acquired from parents, teachers, and peers over a period of a few years, as opposed to being available to an infant in an already fully-formed language center upon birth, then clearly much thought must go into acquiring the language, so theoretically, a person can think in as many different languages as he or she can learn.
I do think there’s something to your argument that language is a translation of thought rather than thought itself, but I think that leaves room for the possibility that there’s a difference between pure thought and thinking in language.
Obviously, there is so much more to your post that I’m not going to begin to address right now because I’ve done all the thinking about the subject that my inferior brain can handle for the time being. I’m not up on the structure and style of modern theological essays; your post may be a perfect example of how they’re written. But by the time I got to the section when you first mention that you believe the world is not logical, I was done. It seems to me that would serve better as a separate post. I’m not trying to be snarky or nitpicky, please don’t take it that way. Maybe that’s exactly the way that philosophers by training and long practice write, in which case you did a great job and I congratulate you. It’s just more than I can process in one afternoon!
When next I get some free time, I may try to respond to some more, but really, by the time I get to this part and the parts that come after it, I’m waaayyy out of my depth!
Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Take care, be well, and happy thinking.
Thank you for your intelligent comments. I would not say that you have an inferior brain if the comparison is with me. I may know my way around some philosophy, but you are very capable when it comes to gaining insights from poetry and fiction. Your reviews are very insightful. I remember in one of the first discussion threads that we posted to and you said that you can appreciate the Bible as literature, while I cannot. Very few of us if anyone these days is a polymath; we all have to specialize in only one or a few things when it comes to intellectual pursuits.
First about assertions, I am saying that we do not think in language at any time. Thinking and language are different animals so to speak. They definitely interact (really) – predator and prey (not really). Before going forward, you must understand that my whole discussion is an exploration, so I am not claiming any certainty for my views on language and thinking. Matter of fact, you could consider my arguments as plausibility or possibility proofs.
For the substance of your comments I will say that I am not convinced by any of your counter examples to give up my assertion. Your examples of writing I had addressed in the blog. As I see it it is possible that we are not waiting for the right word, phrase, or sentence, but for our brains to finish their thoughts, as well as, for it to get translated into language so we can understand our thoughts and explain them to others. We are conscious at these points because that is our current focus – it is what we need to be are aware of at the moment.
The explaining even goes for talking to animals. It is just that they do not understand the explanation we give to them in words. I often find myself explaining stuff to Baxter in language. But, I feel that we explain ourselves in other ways that they are able to understand to a degree. I think they can read our body language, our voice tone and loudness or softness, and most important, I feel, touch. I claim no exact beliefs for these thoughts. That is why I used feel and to think because when I use belief or believe it is when I feel justified by evidence and coherent reason. Of course, any of my beliefs are open to challenge, but some beliefs are firmer than others.
As for brain connections, there are some areas more connected than others and one of these more connected areas are our decision making areas (prefrontal cortex) and are feeling areas (the limbic system and the amygdala). I have only surmised that the thought zones are better connected with the language zones because I have no neuroscience to back this up.
The efficiency of which children learn language without much specific training is amazing. A child’s brain at the time he or she is learning language is not even fully developed, especially the areas involved with cognition. It seems that the child learns language with out much thought at all.
I just started thinking that language is a sense. I have heard linguists refer to language perception, and the brain some how decodes sounds into words. So, while language may not be a primary sense, it appears to me as sense like – it senses out thoughts. I need to sharpen my thought on this.
I do not blame you at all for not commenting on the whole blog. I know it is very long and is not written in a breezy style. I will say that I do think that the logic part does belong because logic is one of the ways people give meaning to the world, whether or not it maybe appropriate. After going through the blog to see how the logic part fit in, I did feel that I probably should not have included so much on freewill and determinism. That I think was more or less tangential, especially since I addressed these issues in “Why Are People Afraid of Their Brains?”
I do feel that the logic part could be expanded into a blog of its own, giving a little history of its development, showing how logic systems work to some degree (I am certainly not any where near being an expert on logic), and when and where it may or may not be appropriate to apply to the world (probably my strongest point).
I am not sure of your reference to theological writing. I definitely do not see my writing as theological. Theology pays no attention to physical evidence and assumes god to exist. God’s existence is best left to the philosophy of religion.
As for training and long practice, I have neither of these. I only started to formulate some of my own philosophical ideas four or five years ago. Of course, before this I still held philosophical views and arguments for atheism, but these were hardly original, if I can even claim that for my current ideas now. As for writing, I have really been doing this for less than a year. It is true that I wrote when I posted to goodreads’ discussion threads, but nothing like my blog writings.
I give warm thanks for your positive compliments. They are really taken to heart. This should not ignore the thanks given for your critical comments, which I truly value.
LikeLiked by 1 person
It is good Steven and i think you could write a good book on this topic.
And i don’t understand these line from this blog please explain it. “By the way, I think the strongest feeling at decision time is freewill. That is right freewill. I think freewill is an emotion, and not a decision maker.”
Thank you for your comment and your nice compliment.
For more on my concept of free will you will find it in my blog “Why Are People Afraid of Their Brains?”
You can find it here: https://wordpress.com/post/aquestionersjourney.wordpress.com/276.
I have come to think of free will as an emotion or feeling (the two are fairly interchangeable). Except on the quantum level cause and effect reign. So, anything we think, decide, or feel is produced by the brain—no exceptions. In other words, the brain is a deterministic organ, just like any other organ, such as the heart or liver. This is a form of compatibilism. This is that there is no contradiction between free will and determinism. My difference is that other forms of compatibilism use definitions to link the two; mine is not definitional. In my form of it free will is a bona fide entity.
In neuroscience studies it has been shown that the emotional center in the brain is active during decision making. This is why I think free will is an emotion. And this is why I think it is playing the role of volition. The starter button if you will.
I hope this helps. I do explain it a little more in the above mentioned blog post.
I will let the cat (Baxter) out of the bag for my readers. I have a goal to publish an e-book of my blogs in five years. I have given consideration to writing a dissertation type work on the brain and free will. This maybe a pipe dream, but who knows; it is always good to dream, even if it is not likely to come about.