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*sigh* The illusion of free will
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wosbald wrote:
+JMJ+

Fixed it fer ya. Wink


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Proposing that there is something "more" to human cognition that is not explained by any natural laws we know about is mysticism. There's nothing wrong with that. But admit it's mysticism.

You can say that one day science will find it. People also believe that one day we will prove unicorns exist. Such beliefs are only admired by the people who have them, to the rest of us it doesn't look so good.

Further, believing one day science will explain the origin of free will, but not ALSO admitting that one day science could explain how free will is governed by cause and effect, is cherry-picking to support a chosen conclusion. No one knows what science will find. That's why we pursue it. What we think the outcome will be isn't of any use.

I for one am not happy about some spirit/soul/force controlling what I think from somewhere utterly inaccessible to me, and so beyond my ability to control or abjure or even send a signal to. I am happier having free will that's deterministic. Because it's only me who's in charge.
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's really interesting is the idea that you choose everything all the time simultaneously filling the multiverse with new realities each time. Since the multiverse is limitless there's plenty of room for the version of you where you chose vanilla instead of chocolate ice cream.

As your soft human brain is only capable of being aware of a single reality you are oblivious to all the rest.

Imagine a state in the distant future where you are capable of tracking more than one reality, maybe not all of them but at least a few.

You can see that if you had turned left instead of right you would have been run over by a truck in the other choice related existence.

I know, I know. Its not a provable theory. Take it up with the guys developing the Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Smile
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayfriend wrote:
Proposing that there is something "more" to human cognition that is not explained by any natural laws we know about is mysticism. There's nothing wrong with that. But admit it's mysticism.
I assume you're talking to me, since I'm the one claiming this. I hope it's okay to respond directly.

I admit that it sounds like mysticism on the surface, but I deny that it actually is, as do philosophers like the atheist, Thomas Nagel and the physicist Roger Penrose.. Our position is a bit more subtle. I think attempting to simplify it with this label only hinders one's own understanding of it. Have you read either or their books? You will find much more detailed descriptions and robust defenses. I recommend MIND AND COSMOS by Nagel and SHADOWS OF THE MIND by Penrose.

What I'm asserting is not unscientific. I can assert the very same thing about the universe: there is "more" to the universe that is not explained by any natural laws. An example would be the ratio of the election's mass to the proton's mass. No one knows why these two particles have these particular masses, and what fixes that ratio. It's unexplained by any known physical law. That doesn't make it mysticism. We can also question why the universe is so amendable to mathematical description. There is no scientific explanation for this. That doesn't make it mysticism. It's just pointing out a gap in our explanations. When those gaps relate to very deep issues in the nature of reality, it often takes a paradigm revolution to fill them in.

Wayfriend wrote:
You can say that one day science will find it. People also believe that one day we will prove unicorns exist.


Deep mysteries only become mysticism when you insert magic or miracles into the gap of explanation--as creationists try to do when they note gaps in the evolutionary account. By explicitly stating that I expect science will one day explain it, I'm doing exactly the opposite. This is nothing at all like believing that unicorns will be proven to exist, because we already know that mind exists.

All I'm saying is that our expectation that mind will be explained with a reduction to materialism has some serious problems which are not admitted or considered by materialists--they are dismissed as appeals to mysticism (as you've done). That's not a response to our points, it's an evasive mischaracterization.

Wayfriend wrote:
Such beliefs are only admired by the people who have them, to the rest of us it doesn't look so good.


I'm not sure how this is relevant to the topic at hand.

Wayfriend wrote:

Further, believing one day science will explain the origin of free will, but not ALSO admitting that one day science could explain how free will is governed by cause and effect, is cherry-picking to support a chosen conclusion. No one knows what science will find. That's why we pursue it. What we think the outcome will be isn't of any use.
Why do we think that all of reality will be explained by one set of physical laws? Why do we bother trying to find a Grand Unification Theory that will unite quantum mechanics and relativity? Why don't the greatest minds in science just "see where science leads them," as you say we should, instead of pursuing this goal? We don't blindly follow science. We test hypotheses. A hypothesis is an opinion of the outcome. Not only are they *not* useless, science doesn't advance without them. Science isn't a path we follow, it's an exploration, guided by our intuition, assumptions, beliefs, and opinions. Sometimes we discover criteria that limit any possible future explanation--like Bell's Theorem. It's not unscientific to make a claim that any future explanation (of a given type) must take a certain form. That's a hypothesis we can test, too. If it turns out wrong, fine, it gets corrected.

With that said, I'm not claiming that physical cause-and-effect can never account for the phenomenon which seems like freewill to us. Instead, I'm saying that there are serious obstacles to that proposition, some of which seem to be obstacles not only in practice, but in principle. For instance, how in the world can non-teleological processes lead to teleological creatures like us? That seems like a contradiction in terms. Much more than a practical puzzle, it's a logical quandary. Teleology exists in the universe. We have the direct evidence in our own goal-oriented actions. But the universe--scientists tell us--isn't teleological. So how does it happen? One doesn't reduce to the other, not in any obvious way.

Wayfriend wrote:
I for one am not happy about some spirit/soul/force controlling what I think from somewhere utterly inaccessible to me, and so beyond my ability to control or abjure or even send a signal to. I am happier having free will that's deterministic. Because it's only me who's in charge.
I am certainly not talking about spirits and souls. Nor is mind utterly inaccessible to me--it's exactly the opposite. Freewill that's deterministic isn't freewill, it's the illusion of one. You're happy with an illusion? I'm not.
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

Zarathustra wrote:
Wayfriend wrote:
I for one am not happy about some spirit/soul/force controlling what I think from somewhere utterly inaccessible to me, and so beyond my ability to control or abjure or even send a signal to. I am happier having free will that's deterministic. Because it's only me who's in charge.


I am certainly not talking about spirits and souls. Nor is mind utterly inaccessible to me--it's exactly the opposite. Freewill that's deterministic isn't freewill, it's the illusion of one. You're happy with an illusion? I'm not.


Assuming I'm reading your objection aright, I think that what he means is that he's happy with a freewill that's determinative. Not that he's happy with a freewill that's determined by an external cause.
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wosbald wrote:
Assuming I'm reading your objection aright, I think that what he means is that he's happy with a freewill that's determinative. Not that he's happy with a freewill that's determined by an external cause.

No, I mean deterministic, as in following cause and effect. But that is, as I see it, the only form of free will that's determinative (I just looked that word up!). It's also the only form of free will that's not an illusion - when your controlled by randomness, or controlled by supernatural phenomenon that you cannot perceive, you are not free. The "free" in "free will" after all doesn't denote "unconstrained", it denotes "not under the direction of something else". If my will is guided by who I am what I think, and nothing else, it is free, whether it follows the natural laws of cause and effect or not.
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wosbald wrote:
... I think that what he means is that he's happy with a freewill that's determinative. Not that he's happy with a freewill that's determined by an external cause.
Neither of us mentioned external causes. I understand that people are talking about physical causation within their own brains. I'm saying that if "freewill" is actually physical causation within the brain, it can't be freewill ... which is what Fist and Faith is also saying.

Can we all agree that mind is not physical? Intentionality, qualia, subjectivity, etc. have no mass, no objective properties, no spatial extension, no definite spot in space. While we may locate the physical processes which produce consciousness in specific neurons--which in turn have mass, spatial extension, and objective properties--this is not the same as spatially and physically defining the location or mass of a subjective experience. How much does the redness of red weigh? It's a ludicrous question.

So if consciousness isn't physical, then we've already admitted that there are things in the universe which aren't physical. If there are effects which aren't physical, why can't there also be causes that aren't physical? Nonphysical causation is what I'm talking about. I'm not saying that the actions or contents of mind isn't determined by itself, I'm saying just the opposite: it is self-determined. However, that's not committing me to physical causation. It's mental states causing other mental states.

That proposition is no more mystical than the existence of immaterial mind itself. If there exists a phenomena that is immaterial--and that isn't mystical--then I need not defend myself against a charge of mysticism in claiming that this phenomenon can itself have causal agency (which, by definition, supercedes physical causality). It's a higher level of causation, holistic causation of an emergent phenomenon.
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

wayfriend wrote:
Wosbald wrote:
Assuming I'm reading your objection aright, I think that what he means is that he's happy with a freewill that's determinative. Not that he's happy with a freewill that's determined by an external cause.


No, I mean deterministic, as in following cause and effect. But that is, as I see it, the only form of free will that's determinative (I just looked that word up!). It's also the only form of free will that's not an illusion - when your controlled by randomness, or controlled by supernatural phenomenon that you cannot perceive, you are not free. The "free" in "free will" after all doesn't denote "unconstrained", it denotes "not under the direction of something else". If my will is guided by who I am what I think, and nothing else, it is free, whether it follows the natural laws of cause and effect or not.


Okay. I think I'm tracking, and I think that we're on the same page. If you think otherwise, feel free to let me know.

--------------------------------------------

Zarathustra wrote:
Wosbald wrote:
... I think that what he means is that he's happy with a freewill that's determinative. Not that he's happy with a freewill that's determined by an external cause.


Neither of us mentioned external causes. I understand that people are talking about physical causation within their own brains. I'm saying that if "freewill" is actually physical causation within the brain, it can't be freewill ... which is what Fist and Faith is also saying.


It does seem to me that one could say "external" inasmuch as one would be referring to that which is "external to an illusion" (with consciousness being understood as nothing but an insubstantial epiphenomenon of physical causation). Once the externality is breached, the illusion dissipates.

Regardless, I'm not going to go to the mat for this terminology. I admit to not following this thread all that closely, and therefore, I must not be tracking with all of the lines of distinction that have been drawn thus far. I prolly should gracefully bow-out (at least, for now), since I'm only making a muck of an already messy convo.

Before I withdraw, maybe I can be of help in saying that I don't put Freewill in question, since I affirm it as a philosophical axiom which, thus, can't be proved without assuming it. In my estimation, anything short of such a metaphysically-principled affirmation leads to the same dead-ends as Descartes trying to prove his existence through recourse to an external guarantor.

On that note, I suspect that F&F's wrestling with Freewill may be symptomatic of an implicit, inherited, Kantian residue. If that thread is pulled, then maybe the blockage can be cleared, or at least, illuminated.
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hashi Lebwohl wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:
Physical laws have no goals. Atoms don't have ideas. The human mind is adding something to the universe that isn't contained in the physical laws which produces it. Both the content of consciousness and the products of conscious people are things that can't determined by physical processes, and indeed violate standard cause-and-effect by being teleological and/or ideal in nature.


Godel already covered this topic. We may substitute "the laws of physics" for "any consistent formal system" and thus conclude that there are things which are true--"statements of the language of the formal system"--but which cannot be proved or disproved from within the formal system itself.


I know what you're saying, but we can't substitute the laws of physics for "any consistent formal system." Physical laws aren't a formal system. They are contingent regularities, not necessary relations. They are subject to revision by recourse to observation, rather than being necessarily true. They aren't generated by axioms, they are the product of inference and induction. Godel was very clear that his theorem can't be applied to the physical world.

It's not that natural laws can't ever explain consciousness. Our consciousness appeared in organisms through evolution and is sustained in us by chemical reactions in the brain. There's no reason in principle why it can't eventually be explained, even though there are reasons in principle why it can't be explained by reduction to materialism.
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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
When one idea follows another idea in a reasonable fashion, the laws of physics don't determine this flow. It's the ideas themselves that are causing other ideas--causation that happens on an entirely different level than the atoms bumping around in neurons.
The reason one idea follows another is because one reminds me of the next. And the resemblance is not merely in the thought, but in the ways the two things are encoded in our brain. The flow is on two levels. The flow in the thought comes because of the flow in the "atoms bumping around in neurons." The memory that some event brings up is stored in certain ways, and the event that brings up that memory is similar enough to cause that memory to be brought to the surface. They resonate. Pattern recognition. One thought does not bring up another without having caused a resonance.
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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
The reason one idea follows another is because one reminds me of the next. And the resemblance is not merely in the thought, but in the ways the two things are encoded in our brain.
But no two brains are the same. We don't all encode ideas with the same exact string of connected neurons. The relationship between ideas and neurons isn't one-to-one, but organic. Thus, it really doesn't matter how we encode these ideas. What matters is their meaning. When one idea leads to the next, it's not because the firing of "matrix of neurons X" leads to the firing of "matrix of neurons Y" by some physical, deterministic rule (such that if X fires, so too does Y, necessarily). That matrix could be different for each individual person, with no clear physical rule leading to the firing of the appropriate matrix of neurons for whatever concept we're representing with "Y."

When people learn math, for instance, they build up networks of connected neurons on the basis of the logical necessity of the relations themselves. The connections formed in the brain don't cause us to recognize that "1+1" = "2." The causation happens in the opposite direction: because we recognize the logical necessity of this operation, we form neural connections to retain this knowledge. The understanding of 2 being the sum of 1 and 1 isn't the product of some physical causality between the firing of two sets of neurons, but instead the necessity that the answer could not possibly be anything else. The causation MUST happen in the direction of ideal truth ==> neural connections, or the validity of math would be completely undermined.

This has nothing to do with resemblance. These thoughts aren't connected because they remind us of themselves. (Perhaps that happens in rote memorization, but we don't contain every single mathematical fact by memorization.) While some form of neural connection is following the logic of math, it is the logic itself that is connecting the numbers/relations, and our thoughts moving from one to the other are caused by this logical connection, not by physical laws. No physical determinism could possibly dictate this flow, because the laws of arithmetic are not physical laws, they are purely formal. Physical laws are contingent, not logically necessary.

The same thing happens when we form new thoughts ... such as composing new music or writing a story. The causation can't be deterministic, otherwise that thought or music would have in some sense always been in our brain somewhere, "programmed" to have happened. We can't possibly think of a new thought or piece of music because of resemblance, or there would never be any new thoughts. They would all be likenesses of old thoughts.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do–back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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