Free Will

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Post by jonsjourney » Fri May 21, 2010 1:51 am

Dogmatic scientists - Just curious, have I been dogmatic anywhere? -romansh
No sir, you have not! I wanted to bring some "balance" from that sort of bird on the wire kind of perspective here so that nobody wanting to engage in the discussion felt as if science was necessarily free of the problems that have dogged human constructs from, it seems, day one. From my memory, I have always found your dialogs here to be considerate and open to new ideas (regardless of whether we agree), which is all we can ever hope to do in a conversation. :)

And as you said, patience is very important. We could all use a good deal more of that.

Finally, yes, I tend to think that we cannot know whether or not we have free will, and to be even more to the point, I do not think that it really matters. I do think that I can make choices. I think those choices are influenced by multitudes of things, but are they "free"? The problem is largely the seeking of the answer...in my view.
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Post by romansh » Fri May 21, 2010 4:14 am

jonsjourney wrote: Finally, yes, I tend to think that we cannot know whether or not we have free will, and to be even more to the point, I do not think that it really matters. .
In the great scheme of things, not one wit.
But if we are pretending to be rigorous scholars and philosophers ...

I know tomorrow, I'll get up and go to work as though my free will is fully intact.
jonsjourney wrote: I do think that I can make choices. I think those choices are influenced by multitudes of things, but are they "free"? The problem is largely the seeking of the answer...in my view .
Yes we make choices ... freely? Possibly, but it is difficult to find the evidence to support this position.
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Post by jonsjourney » Fri May 21, 2010 10:50 am

I wonder if this action was chosen freely?...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%ADch ... %E1%BB%A9c
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Post by romansh » Sat May 22, 2010 12:05 am

jonsjourney wrote:I wonder if this action was chosen freely?...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%ADch ... %E1%BB%A9c
We can wonder or we can use science to try and find out.

Wondering alone won't help, I think

rom
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Post by jonsjourney » Sat May 22, 2010 12:24 am

We can wonder or we can use science to try and find out. -rom
:lol:
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Post by Overmanwarrior » Sat May 22, 2010 1:55 am

romansh wrote:
jonsjourney wrote:I wonder if this action was chosen freely?...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%ADch ... %E1%BB%A9c
We can wonder or we can use science to try and find out.

Wondering alone won't help, I think

rom
Of course it was chosen freely! He became of Bodhisattva, but he'll never know.
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Post by romansh » Sat May 22, 2010 2:23 am

Overmanwarrior wrote: Of course it was chosen freely! He became of Bodhisattva, but he'll never know.
hmmnn ...well that seems to have settled it. Debate over.
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Post by jonsjourney » Sat May 22, 2010 11:54 am

I think that story illustrates the complexity of the free will debate.

It is hard to imagine any form of determinism leading to self destruction intentionally, even if the ultimate result is permanent release from the wheel of samsara. In addition, one of the ideals of the Bodhisattva is remaining in the world in order to help relieve the suffering of others. In some ways, the actions of this monk is much like the Arhat. As is so often the case, this situation illustrates both aspects in one event. Maybe that is the point...not this, not that...both, yet one?

In addition, we cannot ignore the outside forces that led to this event, which leads us back toward a view of some form of "determinism". Had there not been a war, a life to be given up, a man called Shakyamuni Budda....etc, etc.

Maybe this "determinism" we refer to is like free will. Simply a way of trying to understand why we do what we do. In my view, there is a profound, and sometimes profane, interconnection between all life. Causality seems to go on infinitely behind us and stretch far beyond what we can foresee at any given moment. This moment, right now, is it. It is informed by all we have seen and will inform all we will see.
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Post by romansh » Sat May 22, 2010 2:51 pm

jonsjourney wrote: I think that story illustrates the complexity of the free will debate.
JJ - i don't see this complicated at all. It's our intuition or experience battling with our reason.
jonsjourney wrote:It is hard to imagine any form of determinism leading to self destruction intentionally, even if the ultimate result is permanent release from the wheel of samsara. In addition, one of the ideals of the Bodhisattva is remaining in the world in order to help relieve the suffering of others. In some ways, the actions of this monk is much like the Arhat. As is so often the case, this situation illustrates both aspects in one event. Maybe that is the point...not this, not that...both, yet one?
As a student of psychology you must be aware of evolutionary psychology; the work of Trivers and no doubt others? I think we all have used a calculator; now and then it gives an unexpected result.
jonsjourney wrote:In addition, we cannot ignore the outside forces that led to this event, which leads us back toward a view of some form of "determinism". Had there not been a war, a life to be given up, a man called Shakyamuni Budda....etc, etc.
When you say "outside" I cannot help but question what exactly do you mean by inside?
Do you mean our physical bodies or do you mean our homunculi?
jonsjourney wrote:Maybe this "determinism" we refer to is like free will. Simply a way of trying to understand why we do what we do. In my view, there is a profound, and sometimes profane, interconnection between all life. Causality seems to go on infinitely behind us and stretch far beyond what we can foresee at any given moment. This moment, right now, is it. It is informed by all we have seen and will inform all we will see.
This causality stretches beyond what we consider "us". I would argue to such an extent that concepts like "us" and "I" are ultimately highly dubious.


Just curious JJ ... what is your working definition of "free will"?
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Post by jonsjourney » Sat May 22, 2010 3:49 pm

Just curious JJ ... what is your working definition of "free will"?
Hmmm. I suppose it is the human construct that we have independent control of our actions, regardless of various deterministic factors.
i don't see this complicated at all. It's our intuition or experience battling with our reason.
Hmmm. Maybe, but as a person who operates more from my intuitive nature, for me personally, it is complicated. This is not a bad thing. Just my peculiar or particular view, you know?
As a student of psychology you must be aware of evolutionary psychology; the work of Trivers and no doubt others? I think we all have used a calculator; now and then it gives an unexpected result.
Indeed! I love it when what is not supposed to happen, happens. Unless it is when I get hit by an airplane or a black hole randomly opens in front of me. :wink:
When you say "outside" I cannot help but question what exactly do you mean by inside?
Do you mean our physical bodies or do you mean our homunculi?
Outside = Environment

Inside = What occurs inside an organism, like me.

Homunculi = Ghost in the Machine = Self = No such thing (as far as I can tell).

However, I do perceive that "I" am in here. I do not know what that means or why I tend to believe that my consciousness is somehow different from that of a plant or dung beetle. Must just be a part of how our brains interact with our environment, I suppose. This "I" does have value, at least to me!
:wink:

I genuinely enjoy this conversation, rom, but doubt if it will "go" anywhere. Some things just seem....intractable.
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Post by romansh » Sat May 22, 2010 4:10 pm

jonsjourney wrote: However, I do perceive that "I" am in here. I do not know what that means

I too perceive that I'm here and I have no sensible reason to assume that others are not in the same boat.
jonsjourney wrote: or why I tend to believe that my consciousness is somehow different from that of a plant or dung beetle. Must just be a part of how our brains interact with our environment, I suppose.

I too suspect your (our :))consciousness is different from that of a dung beetle.
We are much more complex; so consequently, our responses to our environments are more richly textured.
jonsjourney wrote: This "I" does have value, at least to me!
:wink:
Of course it does, evolution and the changing environment have shaped us to value ourselves.
jonsjourney wrote: I genuinely enjoy this conversation, rom, but doubt if it will "go" anywhere. Some things just seem....intractable.
I enjoy it too JJ ... thanks.
My quest is not to batter people into becoming rabid determinists, at least not this time.
It's more to allow people to realize we will never truly know, but if that is the case we should examine the case for the absence of free will and its ramifications.
Last edited by romansh on Sat May 22, 2010 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by jonsjourney » Sat May 22, 2010 6:28 pm

My quest is not to batter people into becoming rabid determinists, at least not this time. -rom
I never once felt the need to call in the authorities! :)
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Post by romansh » Sat May 22, 2010 6:42 pm

jonsjourney wrote:
My quest is not to batter people into becoming rabid determinists, at least not this time. -rom
I never once felt the need to call in the authorities! :)
:lol: :lol: :lol:
I'm not sure everyone felt or feels that way.

:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Post by boringguy » Sun May 23, 2010 4:59 am

Romansh,

I understand Bell's point and tend to agree, that Nature does exist without my observing it, but tend to side with Berkley's third alternative in that I as I now know myself may not be the totality of 'the observer'. - bg
I don't think Bell is saying this. Bell in actual fact was a critic of Quantum Mechanics and a proponent of a deterministic interpretation of Schrödinger's equation. –romansh

Sorry romansh, sometimes my thoughts jump around and I don’t explain well.

First, Einstien wrote in a letter to Schrondinger in suppoort of his thought experiment;
Nobody really doubts that the presence or absence of the cat is something independent of the act of observation.- Einstien
So where Bell said;

Was the wavefunction of the world waiting to jump for thousands of millions of years until a single-celled living creature appeared? Or did it have to wait a little longer, for some better qualified system ... with a Ph.D.? If the theory is to apply to anything but highly idealized laboratory operations, are we not obliged to admit that more or less "measurement-like" processes are going on more or less all the time, more or less everywhere. Do we not have jumping then all the time? –Belll

Without having read his work, but only from this quote, I’m thinking he is implying yes to his own question. From there I go this direction. Shcrondinger and Eistien are pointing out the inconsistancy between what the evidence shows of the micro when applying it to the macro. However;
but I don't understand that experimental evidence shows wavefunction collapse to be randomly occurring all the time. - bg

That being the case, and wave-function collapse giving rise if you will, to particle-function then I take it he is saying that myself as observer, nor the single celled, nor the multi-celled with a Ph.D, are the cause of wavefunction collapse. And then in adding some agreement with this statement of yours;

I would agree there is little understanding as to what constitutes an observer, but from my understanding it is when there is an exchange of energy. – romansh
And my own thought that all Nature is manifest simply of energy by, well by some change in that energy, and in not throwing out the experimental evidence, then I am agreeing with Bell (I think)and Einstien and Bishop Berkley’s third alternative in that Nature exists outside of my own observation of it. Berkley therefore postulates, and lack of futher evidence at this point leaves one free to sumise, what he terms Eternal Spirit, the same as I think Campbell terms Mind at Large, Einstien called Cosmic Religious Feeling, and I for the purpose of this conversation have called the Observer which may be the I that is more than I as I now know myself. Maybe that's a strech to lump all of those together be I am. So can that be the I of free will? I can’t really say, but it may be that if free will exists, it exists from there. Which then in my dry humoristic way, I kind of see Bell tripping over his own foot so to speak, in that determinism seems to me to have very little room for an unobservable, yet he at the same time he seems to me to postulate the need for just that. Just my opinion of course and I may be assuming a bit more than I should into Bell's view, perhaps he is just supporting another alternative explanation of the observed experimental results, but I hope that's clearer as to my thoughts.

In the end I have to agree with the direction of the conversation and say that I think that greater minds than I have puzzled over the question and the evidences, and at best it seems have redefined the parameters of what constitutes ‘free will’ to fit what can be said. I doubt if I have anything definitive to add to the question, and I guess I’m ok with it either way. But if the story is already written, I still just ask to learn it as I go, as opposed to knowing the whole story and being required to dryly read it anyway. That would be hell, if you ask me.


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Post by romansh » Sun May 23, 2010 6:03 am

Hi BG and thanks for the response.
Here's my take on quantum phenomena:
Firstly the quantum phenomena we observe are very real.
Quantum mechanics (and its progeny) provide a very accurate and useful prediction of such phenomena. Probably the most "accurate" theory as yet devised.
At its heart the QM description is acausal, ie science stops here,
It's based on Schrödinger's equation. Schrödinger who was uneasy with the QM interpretation devised his cruel cat thought experiment. It is the box that is amazing and not the neither dead nor alive cat. Einstein was also skeptical as you noted.

de Broglie proposed an alternative interpretation of Schrödinger's equation which never got picked up by the physics community at large and as a consequence never "fully" developed. Bohm, then Bell and others continue developing this causal description of quantum phenomena.

Either way the concept of free will is not helped by either interpretation. I'll have to read up on Bishop Berkeley's philosophy a bit more, but based on my reading of philosophy with respect to free will, it won't be helpful.
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