The Illusion of Free Will?

For all other chat which isn't directly related to lucid dreaming and the world of sleep and dreams.

Do you think we have free will?

No
14
50%
Yes
12
43%
Don't know
2
7%
 
Total votes: 28

Jackson
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The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Jackson » 28 Jul 2014 19:53

The title explains itself. Do you believe in free will? Or is the only thing that cannot be predicted is the velocity and position of subatomic particles, and that is the only source of input for the outcome of the universe? Post your thoughts below. :D

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Jack Reacher
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Jack Reacher » 28 Jul 2014 21:03

There are so many uncertainties in this universe it becomes mind boggling. The human race is one of the factors for some of the uncertainties, our will and imagination etc are some of the factors for the creation of the future.
Last edited by Jack Reacher on 01 Aug 2014 10:45, edited 1 time in total.
"There is theoretical abstraction, and then there is true abstraction."

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Summerlander
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 28 Jul 2014 21:38

Do I think we have free will? No. We live in a universe of cause and effect. Determinism rules regardless of quantum mechanics. In fact, even a random framework at such level of reality (not to mention superdeterminism) could not guarantee an incoherent concept such as free will. Neither would a soul for that matter!

We do not pick our genome, our gender, our parents, our life circumstances and we cannot help the emotions that arise in our minds and influence our thoughts.

Free will does not exist. Just look at Scott Adams's Dilbert regarding free will. He illustrates my point very well. I would also recommend Sam Harris's thesis on this topic. 8-)
"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Jack Reacher
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Jack Reacher » 29 Jul 2014 01:17

I agree mostly with what you say, but I still think we have degrees of freedom. I believe in cause in effect,

A caused the events to lead to B, us.

From B, I believe we are the cause of the next letter C, or rather, we choose the next letter subject to constraints. So we can choose from the set {C,D,E} for instance. Its just my view of how the universe is expanding and such.
"There is theoretical abstraction, and then there is true abstraction."

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Summerlander
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 29 Jul 2014 01:50

Can you honestly tell me you can predict what you are going to be thinking in the next moment let alone tomorrow? There is no room for free will period. You have the illusion of choice and freedom but the truth is that your will isn't free, it is determined by unconscious causes.

If you wake up in the morning and feel like having coffee instead of tea it is because you happen to have a particular brain state that dictates your urges, how you feel, and ultimately influences how you think. You do not choose your brain chemistry any more than you control how your kidneys work.

If you still think we have a degree of freedom that warrants free will, I invite you to provide an example...

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"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Jack Reacher
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Jack Reacher » 29 Jul 2014 02:24

Well I could have chosen not to reply to you. Before I clicked on the reply button I truly saw two choice, reply or don't reply. For me, in some present moments I see a range of choices that are bounded by restraints. I define myself in this instance as a component of the causal factors that influence the following events.

As for predicting my next thought, that's an easy one. I will simply tell myself to think of something, and when the time comes, I will think of it.

As for predicting an arbitrary thought on some day, that is tough because I can't control events that far. That doesn't mean I don't have any degree of freedom though.
Last edited by Jack Reacher on 01 Aug 2014 11:21, edited 1 time in total.
"There is theoretical abstraction, and then there is true abstraction."

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Summerlander
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 29 Jul 2014 12:05

Jack Reacher wrote:Well I could have chosen not to reply to you.


Yes you could but you didn't because you did not have the right brain state at that particular time to decide not to reply to my post. The fact that we have no free will even reflects in our day-to-day language when we say things like, "It didn't occur to me..." Primarily, unconscious processes in your physiology take place. It is also important to remember that you wouldn't even have the apparent choice of replying to me if I hadn't posted in the first place. The fact that I did has influenced your neurophysiology. My post has been your environmental stimulus.

Again, I do not see an instance of free will here. I only see directed will which is very much guided by emotional urges and thinking arising in the brain - both of which you could not help and did not author. It is true that, if you went back in time, having the knowledge that you have now, you probably would have done things differently. But the truth is that, the past version of yourself, the one that decided to reply, couldn't. Why? Because it was constrained by a particular brain state. Likewise, your present self has a particular brain state that dictates a strong temptation to not reply (just to prove a point! :mrgreen: ) if it were to travel back in time a few hours.


Jack Reacher wrote:Before I clicked on the reply button I truly saw two choice, reply or don't reply. For me, in ever present moment I see a range of choices that are bounded by restraints. I define myself in this instance as the causal factor.


Your logic still hinges on the fallacy of free will. You had the illusion of choice, nothing more. Did you know that scientists have measured activity, for instance, in the relevant cortical areas of the brain taking place before a person is even aware of deciding to move a limb? You will always feel more compelled to favour one choice over another and you often can't explain it other than one urge being stronger than the other. Just like you also cannot help what you remember - your brain happens upon it! Again, I do not see free will... :ugeek:

Jack Reacher wrote:As for predicting my next thought, that's an easy one. I will simply tell myself to think of something, and when the time comes, I will think of it.


You may tell yourself that (in this instance because I influenced such plan in you) but you cannot guarantee it. What if you forget the plan? Sure, setting external reminders, such as an alarm clock, will help. But planning ahead isn't an instance of free will, it is a clear example of an urge, a desire brought about by brain chemistry which subsequently influences behaviour. If someone urged you to take a potent drag of a marijuana joint before your plan came to fruition, you might become so euphoric to the point of forgetting about it as you feel compelled to revel in your newfound sensation.

Here is an important clincher: you may decide what you decide but you cannot decide what you will decide. The latter depends upon both external factors and unconscious internal mechanisms. The conscious self is not the author or anything, it is merely a witness. The self is like a supermarket selling fairtrade products with its own logo on the packaging. It takes the credit for the products it sells, but the truth is that the goods have been harvested abroad, a process which takes place beyond their control and awareness... :shock:

Jack Reacher wrote:As for predicting an arbitrary thought on some day, that is tough because I can't control events that far. That doesn't mean I don't have any degree of freedom though.


You don't control events in the first place, they control you. And arbitrary thoughts emerge willy-nilly like all others because you do not have a say in what happens at the level of the brain. And when it comes to making decisions, it could go either way and you don't know. But because conscious awareness is akin to a spotlight illuminating stage events, it typically claims authorship of the spotlight content without knowing what's gone on behind the scenes. In this way, the individual lives under the illusion of free will. But there cannot be free will in a world of cause and effect. You may get a sense of freedom in what you do, but your ego is moved by unconscious quicksands, and, ultimately determinism dictates that there is no such thing as objective freedom. And the compatibilist notion that a puppet is free as long as he loves his strings does not wash with me. :mrgreen:

Thank you for playing devil's advocate.
You are, aren't you?
There is no free will, it is an incoherent concept that posits a self that is uncaused and capable of violating the chemistry that undergirds it in the first place. :twisted:
"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Jack Reacher
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Jack Reacher » 29 Jul 2014 19:56

Summerlander wrote:
Jack Reacher wrote:Well I could have chosen not to reply to you.


Yes you could but you didn't because you did not have the right brain state at that particular time to decide not to reply to my post.


Right, because I chose the brain state that let me reply. If I didn't want to reply, I would have entered a different brain state. In that moment I truly saw two choices. Are you really telling me you have no control over anything you do in your life?
"There is theoretical abstraction, and then there is true abstraction."

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Summerlander
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 29 Jul 2014 20:35

Regardless of you seeing two choices, one won over the other in a cerebral arena where urges compete and conflict is constant.

You do not control what happens with your neurons unless you physically open your head and make such attempt at your peril.

You felt compelled to reply at the time despite seeing the other option. Something in you urged you to reply and won you over. The urge to not reply was simply too weak and all of this translates into cerebral activity that you had no control over. If you were to suggest to a neuroscientist, or even a neurologist, that you control what goes on in your noggin, you'd leave them in stitches.

Hence the reason why some people who want to quit smoking succeed and others don't. Hence the reason why some try and fail. Hence the reason why some quit after ten years rather than two, despite trying to quit earlier. They happened to finally succeed when their brains stumbled upon a favourable state.

Yes, you read me right. We don't really have any control over our lives but we may be lucky enough to have such illusion when things happen to go the way we want them to. Ultimately, nobody truly deserves merit for their actions, and, likewise, the wrongdoer is not truly culpable, he or she is just unfortunate in their physical make-up and their life's events.

As much as you love the sense of being in control, the truth is stranger than fiction. The judicial system is based on a very strong illusion. The truth may be counterintuitive but it is the only plausible scenario.

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"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Jack Reacher
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Jack Reacher » 29 Jul 2014 21:05

Summerlander wrote:Regardless of you seeing two choices, one won over the other in a cerebral arena where urges compete and conflict is constant.


Right, because I chose it to.
"There is theoretical abstraction, and then there is true abstraction."


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