Author Topic: Determinism, not free will  (Read 4113 times)

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #60 on: June 28, 2014, 03:13:35 PM »
You know, I used to argue all the time in favor of determinism and how free will is an idea that has no sense. I used to until I saw I was wrong. Hell, until I saw that most that discuss this entire topic are wrong.

The reason this entire debate has missed the mark is because since the beginning we have done nothing but mix categories of language. What do I mean? Well, for one we have a very scientific category of language. It is structural, seemingly objective, and unemotional.

The the other side we have a human lens. Which tend to be based on experience, emotions, and life.

So when it comes to the question of determinism and free will, I think this is where we go wrong. Determinism belongs to the physical world. What I mean is it explains the fabric of existence and the continuation of time. Yes, determinism exists. On the grand scheme of things, EVERYTHING is determined. I do not deny that. But let's not take it where it does not have to go.

IF when we speak of free will we mean some sort of mechanical framework that just allows things to happen with no reason, I think we've either lost sight of what free will is or we just never understood it. Free will is not mechanical. It never has been.

Free Will belongs to experience. It does and always has. Our lives, from what we choose to eat, choose to say, and whether we wash or hair or bodies first, ALL OF IT, is experienced as free. It is. You cannot deny this. No determinist, hard as s/he may try, can. We experience every waking moment of our lives as free. That is not to say that all we do is not determined. I am not saying that. I am saying that though determined, our experience of it is free.

The problem we run into then is people saying, "Well, Free Will is an illusion." This is nonsense. How could you call the very lens you live life through an illusion? That makes no sense to me. I understand the desire to say this, but here we mix language and do no justice to the experience of life. What makes us human.

I liken it to the question, "What is love? (Baby, don't hurt me!). If I ask two people this question, imagine these answers.

Person A: Love is when chemical X and Chemical Y are released on give you feeling Z"
Person B: Love is when I saw my baby for the first time. I never knew I could be born again, and I was the moment I had my first kid. Love is those random times I hold hands with my significant other just because. Love is hanging out with my friends and laughing at the stupid things that we laugh about.

Here we have two definitions of love. Person A gave us a mechanical definition of love. Person B gave us an account that was derived through the experience of living and seeing love. Who is correct? Well, I would say they both are. One person gave us how love is created and what it is, the other gave us what we experience as love. Neither is false. One isn't an illusion.

So what I am saying here is we must do justice to what it means to be human. Our lives may be determined, but our experience of what is has always been free.

The movement of my hand may be determined, but I damn well made it move. ;)



Now THIs is the best definition of free-will I've ever heard.  However, just because we currently mostly experience it as free, however, if you really pay attention to life as you experience it, you will notice that often we actually do feel not in control of our own situation.  Our minds are capable of feeling both as if they are freely doing things, and as if they are but robots doing what we are programmed to do. 

Determinism in practice, as opposed to just blabbing about it, could be put to good use in society if people actually were taught to think critically about it more often.  Is that poor young black man from the slums doomed to a life of crime?  Or can we change his circumstances, change the variables as it were and prevent the bad things before they happen?  Determinism, when put in to practice in this way, could do a lot to improve everything from individual personal betterment to large scale social betterment to environmental change.

But I don't hold out a lot of hope for people to start trying to view the world in this way.  Most people can't even shed the warm illusion of being a special loved creation at the center of the creators universe.
It's a lot easier to blame people for choosing to be evil or bad, punish them, lock them up, then pat ourselves on the back for being the good guys.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.  LLAP"
Leonard Nimoy

Offline Hakurei Reimu

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #61 on: June 28, 2014, 06:20:10 PM »
I didn't read past this (so likely someone already addressed this) but I wanted to say something, because every time I read this definition of the compatibilist definition, I think how meaningless it is.  It just means exactly the same thing as determinism (which they even partly admit because of the whole "it doesn't interfere with determinism" bit).

Why bother to even have this definition of free will?  It doesn't include any meaningful use of the words choice or free, it only depends o the word will.  I wanted it, therefore it happened, even though it was determined to happen and I didn't have another choice, only the one I made.
Nobody has provided meaningful definitions of the words "choice" or "free," either. They're simply used as if we knew what they mean, but go ahead and try to define 'choice' or 'free' without reference to themselves and you quickly tie yourself into knots trying to divorce either of them from determinism or plain randomness.

Concepts like "choice" and "free" as well as "will" have to be built from concepts not dependent on them, else you have a stolen concept fallacy. You have to build up what you mean for someone to have "choice" in something, else you're not really saying anything screeching "I didn't have another choice." What would "having another choice" entail here? Nobody seems to know.

The compatibilist position recognizes this: that "choice" has to be built up from 'non-choiceful' mechanisms, and "free" has to be built up from 'non-free' mechanisms. Similarly, "will" has to be built up from 'will-less' mechanisms. This is very much the same way we build up "consciousness" from the 'non-conscious' mechanisms and the mechanisms of "mind" from 'mindless' mechanisms in cognative neuroscience. Why should "free will" and "choice" be any different from "consciousness" and "mind"? Why would free will and choice be any more of an illusion as consciousness and mind themselves?
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Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #62 on: June 29, 2014, 02:08:16 AM »
Now THIs is the best definition of free-will I've ever heard. 
Awww, shucks! *blushes*

Quote
However, just because we currently mostly experience it as free, however, if you really pay attention to life as you experience it, you will notice that often we actually do feel not in control of our own situation.
I'm afraid there's a mixture of language games going on here. I, too, at times feel as though I was not in control of a situation. I was forced to do something I did not want. Things happened outside of my control. Those are things that happen, but I'm afraid that is not what I am speaking of, and the fact that those two are real things does not negate anything I said. The fact that you are able to put together that you were not in control is your mind moving freely. Your experience. There is never a time when you or I wake up without our control as our bodies run us across the house making food, getting changed, and cleaning the house. These are all things we do and as we do them we experience them as free. Often times these debates you hear someone say, "I feel as though I made the choice to go to the mall", "I feel like I decided I wanted a cheeseburger and not a quesadilla" or "I feel like I made the decision to forgive my father." None of these things happen in a way that our experience is not free. We do feel like we made those choices. You could never experience life in any other way. I reckon this is Kant's unity of experience stuff. The faculties of the mind are things all humans have and we have in the same way.

Also, I think Determinism is a very important concept. Determinism can only be seen backwards (we cannot know the totality of all in order to know the future), and thus that being the case we should look at situations, understand why they happened, and try and create better outcomes.

Determinism and free will exist. They simply exist in two different realms.

Our minds are capable of feeling both as if they are freely doing things, and as if they are but robots doing what we are programmed to do. 

Determinism in practice, as opposed to just blabbing about it, could be put to good use in society if people actually were taught to think critically about it more often.  Is that poor young black man from the slums doomed to a life of crime?  Or can we change his circumstances, change the variables as it were and prevent the bad things before they happen?  Determinism, when put in to practice in this way, could do a lot to improve everything from individual personal betterment to large scale social betterment to environmental change.

But I don't hold out a lot of hope for people to start trying to view the world in this way.  Most people can't even shed the warm illusion of being a special loved creation at the center of the creators universe.
It's a lot easier to blame people for choosing to be evil or bad, punish them, lock them up, then pat ourselves on the back for being the good guys.
[/quote]
Poster formerly known as Sky;Walker.

His life rushes onward in such torrential rhythm that only angels and devils can catch the tempo of it.

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #63 on: June 30, 2014, 11:25:14 AM »
“We feel that our actions are voluntary when they follow a decision and involuntary when they happen without decision. But if a decision itself were voluntary every decision would have to be preceded by a decision to decide - An infinite regression which fortunately does not occur. Oddly enough, if we had to decide to decide, we would not be free to decide”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Way of Zen
???  ??

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #64 on: June 30, 2014, 11:50:20 AM »
Our minds depend on physical processes, and our decisions are based on our knowledge, or lack of, feelings, emotions, beliefs, all of which determine what we decide to do with our illusion of having freewill with our conscious abilities that are also determined by physical processes. The only way we could have freewill is if we were separate from our physical bodies which we are not. Freewill only comes into the picture if we have a soul that is separate from our physical bodies. There is not one shred of reliable evidence that this is so. This is why so many people think being gay is a choice, or immoral behavior, as well as criminal behavior is. When we want retribution it is to make us feel good, the very reason people are religious, and come up with God giving us freewill. Which is kind of funny when you think about it. It means you are free to be a bigot, prejudice, revengeful, and hateful as long as it is supported by religion and its moral code. Where is freedom involved in that? We have will power, but it is not free and separate from the physical.  :borg:
« Last Edit: June 30, 2014, 11:53:38 AM by Solitary »
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Offline SGOS

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #65 on: June 30, 2014, 12:18:09 PM »
I'm still on the fence regarding determinism. It has very valid and compelling points.
But ... how is spontaneity accounted for? Sam Harris then has a point, and I can be on board with that. It's not all determinism or free will, it likely falls somewhere in between.
I like this.  It might be the first thing I ever read that makes sense in this never ending debate.

Offline SGOS

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #66 on: June 30, 2014, 12:23:56 PM »
And I told myself I wasn't going to engage in this nonsense anymore.  Now there's a case for determinism if I ever saw one.

Offline Hakurei Reimu

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #67 on: June 30, 2014, 06:03:27 PM »
And of course Solitary copypastes his tired rant about free will, which he does not define. He is literally talking about nothing at all.
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Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #68 on: July 01, 2014, 02:58:10 AM »
I like this.  It might be the first thing I ever read that makes sense in this never ending debate.

I'd like to say that I think what I said is a more informative answer to the debate that anything Sam Harris could say. Harris' comment is a lazy way of putting it.
Poster formerly known as Sky;Walker.

His life rushes onward in such torrential rhythm that only angels and devils can catch the tempo of it.

Offline SGOS

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #69 on: July 01, 2014, 09:13:06 AM »
I'd like to say that I think what I said is a more informative answer to the debate that anything Sam Harris could say. Harris' comment is a lazy way of putting it.
Actually, there are a lot of good comments in this thread.  I joined late after many good observations were made, and I responded to the first thing that resonated, and my reply then shows up at the end of the list.  It almost sounds like I'm disregarding all the replies except that one (which was the first) thing I could make sense out of.  That's not the case.

I don't know if this never ending free will debate is simply over my head, or too philosophical in nature to prove the validity of either side, but I've struggled with it for years.  Ordinarily, I could just blow something like this off as horseshit, except that some pretty intelligent people seem to have given it a lot of thought, and seem to be pretty convinced of one side of the debate or the other.

What resonates for me in this thread is that the debate heretofore seems to be divided as black or white.  I also sense a semantic element is involved, but try as I might, I have never been able to identify what that might be.  You can also argue that tiny brain farts exist during one's supposed "free choice" in the selection of vanilla or chocolate, and say that these brain farts come from environmental causes and mysteriously affect your brain without you knowing it.  And maybe it's even true, but is seems like a pedantic excess of mental energy.

But simply treating it like that God awful nature/nurture debate seems like nothing more than a meaningless philosophical exercise.  Well to me anyway.  If everything is determined, but just doesn't seem like it, then I probably shouldn't bother wasting time thinking about it.  But matters of degree I can accept.  Others may not, but in the end deciding whether I should be watering my lawn right now has a greater effect on my future than arguing nature/nurture or determinism/free will.

But from what I can tell, the debate will never be resolved.  As a debate topic, I've yet to encounter anything with such an enduring (and often, annoying) resilience.

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #70 on: July 01, 2014, 03:39:29 PM »
@SGOS I totally understand. I am trying to break that black and white fallacy and show it's more complicated than we think, but also rather simple. If you go one page back and see my first post, I think you may like the answer.
Poster formerly known as Sky;Walker.

His life rushes onward in such torrential rhythm that only angels and devils can catch the tempo of it.

Offline SGOS

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #71 on: July 01, 2014, 04:34:03 PM »
If you go one page back and see my first post,
I did.

Quote
I think you may like the answer.

I do.

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #72 on: July 01, 2014, 06:35:34 PM »
Yay! I'm happy to hear that.
Poster formerly known as Sky;Walker.

His life rushes onward in such torrential rhythm that only angels and devils can catch the tempo of it.