Free Will

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Post by Clemsy » Fri May 28, 2010 10:58 pm

:)

In following one's bliss, chauffeurs are contraindicated.
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Post by CarmelaBear » Sat May 29, 2010 12:08 am

Hint: the word "follow" implies choice. When Yogi Berra found a fork in the road, he took it, but we can go whichever way we like. You can dig a hole, too.

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Post by romansh » Sat May 29, 2010 12:26 am

Neoplato wrote:
I know what you mean, but I could easily argue we can follow our bliss when we become aware there is no "driver"?-Romansh
How is this different from the antique cars at the amusement parks? The cars are set on a track that can't change. Does that mean you think "destiny" rules all? :?:
Neo ... I'm not sure.

If a quantum mechanical description of the universe is accurate then the answer would be "no". If say something similar to a Bohmian description is accurate then my answer would be "perhaps".
Last edited by romansh on Sat May 29, 2010 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by romansh » Sat May 29, 2010 12:27 am

CarmelaBear wrote:Hint: the word "follow" implies choice. When Yogi Berra found a fork in the road, he took it, but we can go whichever way we like. You can dig a hole, too.

~
I was thinking along similar lines, only a stream or a river follows the topography of the land.
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Post by CarmelaBear » Sat May 29, 2010 2:05 am

romansh wrote:
CarmelaBear wrote:Hint: the word "follow" implies choice. When Yogi Berra found a fork in the road, he took it, but we can go whichever way we like. You can dig a hole, too.

~
I was thinking along similar lines, only a stream or a river follows the topography of the land.
Oops. You're right. I guess I think that when it is given as advice, it is intended to refer to choice.

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Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
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Post by romansh » Sun May 30, 2010 4:31 pm

Andreas wrote:
The conclusion I have come to is, "why?" is a strange question.
I woud sooner ask what are the causes?


What's more important might be, that the cause, of the causes, is the impulse to ask the question.
Or how do you know that the causes are not driven by the question?
:)
Andreas, my point (and it is mine) that we will never know, at least for sure, whether we have free will or not. So why not take a look at the "absence of free will" as a concept more carefully? It does not necessarily lead us into some nihilistic black hole. So what causes people assume we have free will other than our demonstrably faulty experience.

To answer your question:

Yes the "question" will be a cause, it's just that, what caused the thought for the question? Or are you suggesting effects caused the precursor causes? Sounds like time running backwards to me.
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Post by CarmelaBear » Sun May 30, 2010 5:57 pm

romansh wrote:......we will never know, at least for sure, whether we have free will or not. So why not take a look at the "absence of free will" as a concept more carefully?
We are part of the big web of nature, and as such, there are causal explanations for every choice we make......somewhere, no matter how complex the explanation may be.

Having said that, however, what we call "choice" or the process of choosing, does involve us in a way that is not entirely clear to the person or mind that is participating. The idea of choice does not exclude the possibility that other factors entered into the process, and sometimes with such compelling force that we could perceive no other alternative than the one we acted upon.

Determinative processes are not exclusive in a universe where there may be many such determinative elements in play. In the realm of addictive behavior, for example, the choice to do something that is good for us on a deep, long-term level is difficult and sometimes impossible to perceive when we are utterly immersed in the experience of needing....and I mean really needing to relieve a desperate compulsion to do something right now. "Living in the moment" conflicts with the idea of "delayed gratification" and the moment can be filled with nothing but the desire for something and the fear of doing without it and the guilty pleasure of knowing that satisfaction is easy to achieve.

Through behavioral techniques, such addictive conduct can be overcome, but only by paying attention to that conduct to the exclusion of other things that may be more compelling still. The notion that "choice" is involved gets to be more and more of a stretch until a young man is dead from an overdose and a woman loses a leg to diabetes and someone is killed in a car wreck by a driver who doesn't remember getting in the car. Rarely do addicts trace the beginning of a loss of choice to a condition that involved choosing. They experience valued friendships that require the lowering of inhibitions and the altering of consciousness. They experience nightmarish life realities that must be mentally and emotionally escaped in order to be endured.

Even with non-addictive or compulsive conduct, there are causal elements involved which are inaccessible to either the one doing the choosing or those who observe the individual and the actions or results of actions by that individual. For instance, did Mozart choose to compose "The Magic Flute"? Assume for a minute that the creative process was somehow caused by a multitude of complex things that happened only once. Would anyone else have been able to tap into those causal elements? Would it matter that they could be discovered and replicated at a later date?

Where this experience is concerned, we are aware of participating in the process of creation and conduct. When the creativity is happening only in one mind in this universe (the one universe we experience together), then it becomes our only access to that part of life that is capable of producing that particular set of behaviors. The Mozart choice of this note over that may have its natural causes, but only Mozart was tapping into those particular causes right then, and it doesn't much matter whether he passively wrote down the inspiration that simply popped magically into his consciousness by the awesome mechanistic causal workings of nature or he originated the choice by being aware of all the alternatives and grabbing the one that suited his creative purpose.

We call it "choice" because we don't know what else to call it, and we can't give away our unique role in the process. An act we call "choice" is one that nature permits and circumscribes, but does not seem to dictate. Our individual cooperation is required.

Consciousness has two big elements. One is awareness. The other is will. We may not understand the nature of these functions, but we definitely experience them. Nature lives in boxes and bubbles. Inside them, everything seems to live by a certain set of rules, and one rule seems to be that there is always an exception to every rule.

Inside this bubble, it feels like I'm choosing these words, and I don't know why it feels that way, but I do know that no one else is making exactly these choices right this minute anywhere else in the universe. That's good enough for me. I'll call them mine and double dog dare anyone to suggest that this set of words could have fallen on the world wide web without my "choices" of words.

If the words have bad consequences, I can point to the lack of real choice, but if the results are positive, then I sign the work and take credit as if I were something special.

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Post by romansh » Mon May 31, 2010 1:24 am

Hi Carmela

I don't have a problem with the word "choice". Calculators choose based on the inputs, I can see no difference between us and calculators, other than complexity and the 'substrate'. If complexity gives us free will, so be it; but, I'm doubtful. It's our consciousness and awareness that appear to be the contradictors; our sense of self.

But I know my consciousness cannot be trusted; there is too much evidence.

Anyway you have me beat when it comes to psychology and clinical psychology in particular. What are your thoughts on evolutionary psychology - Trivers et al?
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Post by CarmelaBear » Mon May 31, 2010 3:17 am

romansh wrote:Hi Carmela

I don't have a problem with the word "choice". Calculators choose based on the inputs, I can see no difference between us and calculators, other than complexity and the 'substrate'. If complexity gives us free will, so be it; but, I'm doubtful. It's our consciousness and awareness that appear to be the contradictors; our sense of self.

But I know my consciousness cannot be trusted; there is too much evidence.

Anyway you have me beat when it comes to psychology and clinical psychology in particular. What are your thoughts on evolutionary psychology - Trivers et al?
First, Rom, thanks for the kindness of your expression. My expertise is gleaned from here and there, not at all fit for academia, where I'm sure Trivers et al are known. If I know anything on the subject of evolutionary psychology, it's exceedingly general and limited on specifics. I doubt that I've read more than one or two books on it, a long time ago, and by now, mostly forgotten.

Still, I have opinions and understandings. I love that people can speculate on behavior and motives based on solid knowledge of known things going back many thousands of years. It's especially exciting on account of the slow progress of evolution. I totally accept that many of our dumbest tendencies can be attributed to the fact that we've only been industrialized for a short time and our bodies and minds have not caught up with the wrenching changes. It explains why I sometimes sound so much like a Neanderthal.

One example is the slow evolution of the Rule of Law, (which is a wonderful euphemism for accepting Rule of Mostly Dead Folk). The accumulated wisdom is remarkable, and I am not interested in re-inventing the wheel. However, for thousands of years we've been responding to offensive conduct with a kind of well-rehearsed barbarism, and sadly, it cuts both ways. No matter what side of the law you are on, you're likely to be a party to everything from killing to torture and wholesale theft (the names of such actions are changed to protect the guilty).

The dysfunction and the hypocrisy of the Rule of Mostly Dead Folk affects those who find out the hard way that there is a better way to do things, and it turns out not to be legal (eg, quickly stopping the oil leak in the gulf is completely illegal :!: ). Sometimes we just feel that if we are expendable enough to be put in harm's way (like all the people Americans will be memorializing tomorrow), then we should be able to make our own mistakes our own way when it concerns only our own selves. Sometimes, when too many of our kind turn out to be bad guys, it reflects on the entire group and the whole lot wind up in the crosshairs of the local constable (I won't mention Arizona). I could site more examples of dysfunction, but it's a very long, boring litany.

There are members of the judiciary who don't understand that when people enter a courtroom and they feel afraid, they are not afraid on account of some kind of lofty respect for the the judges. Generally, they are afraid because of a connect-the-dots realization that the simple words of the authorities are enough to bring down the disruptive side of the law. The law can use nearly every kind of force to disrupt and destroy individuals, families, communities and whole cultures. Only nature has greater power in that regard, and I shudder to think how quickly nature is going to spoil the seafront properties along the coast just to prove who is really in charge.

~
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Post by Andreas » Mon May 31, 2010 8:29 am

Andreas, my point (and it is mine) that we will never know, at least for sure, whether we have free will or not. So why not take a look at the "absence of free will" as a concept more carefully?
But I am, and I have enough free will to choose if there is a choice or not. :)
It does not necessarily lead us into some nihilistic black hole.
But without free will what is the point of answering your post? Does it even matter that I am here. Why free will leads us into some nihilistic black hole?

My own definition of free will is that it is not something that allows me to act independently of the universe, free will is something that allows me to experience myself as part of the universe, and the choices the universe has already made for me are being transformed into my own choices because I am the universe! :lol:
So what causes people assume we have free will other than our demonstrably faulty experience.
Is it not unfair for you to assume that the "presence of free will" is the cause of a faulty experience? Wouldn't it be logical to assume, that it is the same faulty experience which makes us think that there is an "absence of free will"?

It may be the cause of a predetermined universe to be here in these forums but I can most positively say, that it is my choice to embrace it.
Yes the "question" will be a cause, it's just that, what caused the thought for the question? Or are you suggesting effects caused the precursor causes? Sounds like time running backwards to me.
Well, I am suggesting both, Romansh.
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Post by Neoplato » Mon May 31, 2010 11:10 am

Andreas Wrote:
My own definition of free will is that it is not something that allows me to act independently of the universe, free will is something that allows me to experience myself as part of the universe, and the choices the universe has already made for me are being transformed into my own choices because I am the universe!
Ooooo... :D I really like that one! 8) That was good! :wink:
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Post by jonsjourney » Mon May 31, 2010 11:57 am

My own definition of free will is that it is not something that allows me to act independently of the universe, free will is something that allows me to experience myself as part of the universe, and the choices the universe has already made for me are being transformed into my own choices because I am the universe! -Andreas
I agree, Neo. This is a really cool definition, Andreas!

It seems to express a bridge between determinism and freedom. I may not have had enough coffee yet today, but this really seems pretty nice!
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Post by romansh » Tue Jun 01, 2010 1:37 am

Andreas wrote: But I am, and I have enough free will to choose if there is a choice or not. :)
:) No one is arguing whether we choose to choose or not.
but can you choose to choose to choose to choose or not? I would argue not.
I could throw in a few extra "choose to"s if you think you can. :)
Andreas wrote: But without free will what is the point of answering your post? Does it even matter that I am here. Why free will leads us into some nihilistic black hole?
There are people who believe in free will and feel this way. Three years ago when my son died I understood this completely. It does not matter one iota. Now I can put a positive spin or this or not.
Andreas wrote: My own definition of free will is that it is not something that allows me to act independently of the universe, free will is something that allows me to experience myself as part of the universe, and the choices the universe has already made for me are being transformed into my own choices because I am the universe! :lol:

Ahh can you freely not experience yourself as part of the universe.
Andreas wrote: Is it not unfair for you to assume that the "presence of free will" is the cause of a faulty experience? Wouldn't it be logical to assume, that it is the same faulty experience which makes us think that there is an "absence of free will"?
I'm not assuming that at all. My personal experience is faulty, there is too much evidence to argue otherwise. Now my evaluation of said evidence is subject to the same risks. But when a large number of people succumb to the same illusions then I'm a little more sure of my interpretation.
Andreas wrote: It may be the cause of a predetermined universe to be here in these forums but I can most positively say, that it is my choice to embrace it.
I make no claim regarding whether the universe is predetermined or not. In my reply to Neo I hope I was clear. But I would lean to the claim that the universe is ultimately undeterminable.
Andreas wrote: Well, I am suggesting both, Romansh.
In that case I eagerly await your evidence of time running backwards and effects being responsible for causes.
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Post by Cindy B. » Tue Jun 01, 2010 10:07 am

Ultimately, romansh, I'm with you, but--and I'm not saying that you necessarily think in this way--there's a difference between "determined" and "destined," I think. My very basic understanding of chaos theory allows for both chance (freedom) and order (determinism), in that any perturbation of an orderly system will behave in unpredictable and undetermined ways for a period of time, but also resolve into an alternate order of some sort as determined by the system's evolving characteristics. Does that make sense? I guess what I'm trying to say is that from this point of view, we're not predestined given some first cause, but determined by a series of intermediate causes and effects that affect the various systems of which we're a part, systems that naturally tend toward equilibrium of functioning to enhance adaptation.

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Post by jonsjourney » Tue Jun 01, 2010 10:33 am

I guess what I'm trying to say is that from this point of view, we're not predestined given some first cause, but determined by a series of intermediate causes and effects that affect the various systems of which we're a part, systems that naturally tend toward equilibrium of functioning to enhance adaptation. -Cindy
Very nice.


It seems that Andreas' take is a nice perspective from the view of the individual lived experience attempting to organize itself within the universe.

Cindy's statement puts a scientific perspective on the idea without it becoming anchored to the potentially nihilistic pre-determined first cause type of arguments.
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