The Illusion of Free Will?

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Do you think we have free will?

No
15
50%
Yes
13
43%
Don't know
2
7%
 
Total votes: 30

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HAGART
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby HAGART » 31 Jul 2014 10:59

Time for another debate. For those who believe in the illusion of free will then we agree that we are all "moist robots" and "organic machines".
When a robot goes rogue do you change the programming or pull the plug?

In poetic terms, this has to do with justice, incarceration and the death penalty.... and has EVERYTHING to do with this free will topic. Very easy to ask, even harder to answer.

I couldn't help myself. I have no free will! I love hot topics. The hotter the better! :mrgreen:

I only ask because I think a lot and value all opinions and this robot of mine were "I" reside in, hasn't gone rogue on this forum. I'm still on topic! :ugeek:
If we all lucid dreamed this world would be a better place.

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Summerlander
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 31 Jul 2014 11:24

Ideally, or in an ideal future I should say, we would change the programming of the rogue robot provided that we know what we are doing and understand the consequences.

But, scientifically, we are at a stage where we don't know enough about the robot and changing the programming is, therefore, risky. At this moment in time it appears that pulling the plug is the best solution. However, at the same time, capital punishment is a problem to the wrongly accused. (There is an ongoing debate about this.)

So what's the best remedy as a temporary solution? Incarceration? Is it enough of a deterrent. Maybe not but it is probably the best we can do at the moment.

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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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HAGART
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby HAGART » 31 Jul 2014 11:50

I'm going to let this sink in before replying myself. I have so much to say, but need to sleep on it.
If we all lucid dreamed this world would be a better place.

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Summerlander
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 31 Jul 2014 13:38

Sleeping on it may be productive and add more to this interesting discourse. I have watched nesgirl's video about quantum mechanics, determinism, and free will, btw, and feel prompted to underline a point raised near the end - which somewhat salvages the reality that criminal minds are nothing but the product of poorly calibrated clockwork: unpredictability does not equate with free will. :|

As Sam Harris remarks in his "Free Will" thesis, the popular conception of free will comes from the erroneous impression that we could have conducted ourselves differently than we did in the past and that we author our thoughts and actions. Here are some interesting quotes: 8-)

"If the laws of nature do not strike most of us as incompatible with free will, that is because we have not imagined how human behaviour would appear if all cause-and-effect relationships were understood."
- Sam Harris

"There are more bacteria in your body than there are human cells. In fact, 90% of the cells in your body are microbes like E. coli (and 99% of the functional genes in your body belong to them). Many of these organisms perform necessary functions - they are "you" in some wider sense. Do you feel identical to them? If they misbehave, are you morally responsible?"
-Sam Harris; Free Will

The hierarchical reductionist approach may be a cardinal step in attempting to fathom the workings of reality, but it is important to remember that this most vital approach is more likely to unearth alimentary answers pertinent to the immediate interactive environment of the microlevel it deals with than cater us with a complete picture of the whole. Because what we are looking at is multi-layered, examining parts won't necessarily reveal the links traversing all the way to the classical, deterministic "top." (And assumptions about the classical level of reality should not be made based on the level of reality that undergirds it, which is, by necessity, fundamentally different.) :geek:

Conclusively, quantum mechanical indeterminacy, as the argument for a free will support, holds no water because quantum effects are not biologically salient, and, even if they were, they still wouldn't guarantee free will (or make this one any more intelligible). It would only mean that the laws that govern quantum mechanics determine our behaviour and we are clueless about this as we go about our business. (And this is true to a minor extent as the following example illustrates: cosmic rays that bombard the Earth can strike living cells at the core and produce mutations which in turn influence evolution. Where is our free will hand in all of this, one might ask!) In a similar vein, classical cause and effect dictate eventuation, and, upon reflection, we are heard using statements such as this one: "I don't know what came over me." :roll:

As Donald Griffin once discovered, nature, through the slow process of evolution, devised a system of echolocation in bats long before humans came up with sonar and radar technology. In humans, a world war demanded better technology and thankfully enough we had already been naturally bestowed with great assets such as our complex, thinking brains. The bats found a way to adapt to the ever-changing environment and so did we. The forces of nature compelled us to become who we are today. Nature also had millions and millions of years to produce a biological system that generates consciousness and self-awareness. We've only begun to try to understand this in the last century or so and are still puzzled by how the phenomenon of consciousness could arise. We certainly have not managed to create a conscious robot, but even our most advanced computer systems can respond in unpredictable ways, and, at times, exude free will. But appearances, as we have learnt time and again, don't always constitute facts. A machine is non-living and non-conscious, but, like us, follows the rules of cause-and-effect.

Does all of this mean that, based on what's happened before, we have been endowed with more control? No. We have merely been guided by our urges to adapt and improve the quality of our lives. The goal to survive has always been our most basic instinct. It's primordial and inevitably leads us to generally seek pleasure instead of pain; happiness instead of suffering. We feel the need to live, thrive, and avoid self-destruction. A need is a concept which is central to necessitarianism, a form of compulsion, an urge. The need, in its subtlest form but always with the goal of comfort in mind, also begets wants. In this opus of falling dominoes there is no room for free will. :)
"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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HAGART
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby HAGART » 31 Jul 2014 21:46

I like to use few words, and a little humor, to raise some questions in people about our whole concept of justice, and how we treat other animals as if they are just organic machines with no free will, yet we can't see ourselves that way.

If a dog were to break out of it's yard and bite a child, it's socially accepted that the dog should be terminated.
If Luis Suarez were to break out of his cage and bite a child, it's socially accepted that he simply be scolded.


:lol: (I hope it makes people think!) :cry:
If we all lucid dreamed this world would be a better place.

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Summerlander
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 01 Aug 2014 00:11

LOL! Yes. And the dog is guaranteed to never do it again. The same cannot be said for Luis Suarez. Even if he was to receive the same penalty as the dog, we can't guarantee that he won't reoffend. He might be a day-walking vampire. (Just Google-image him.) :-D

[ Post made via Android ] Image
"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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HAGART
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby HAGART » 01 Aug 2014 00:59

I like the Meme with him wearing a dog cone. That's a perfect picture for what I was talking about. :lol:

It's fun to take a break and laugh. But seriously, why do people think they are divine and above all other animals when we are just sacks of goo bumbling around like automatons. We are no different than our ape cousins, fundamentally. Has anyone ever watched a Lady Bug crawling on their arm and realize that it's just a robot and so are we? I can't explain it, but I urge others to figure it out for themselves in their own way.

Going outside and looking at plants and ants going about their business, and questioning how the sense of self enters the equation is the most 'spiritual' I ever am. But it's actually pure logic and reasoning. Nothing mystic about it! It's a wake up call.
If we all lucid dreamed this world would be a better place.

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Jack Reacher
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Jack Reacher » 01 Aug 2014 10:39

Summerlander wrote:How do you figure that?[/b][/size] Image


Because, back in Time when you asked me to provide an example of free will, I looked and thought, I could Reply to you, or simply not Reply to you.

I chose to Reply to you.
"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 » 01 Aug 2014 21:31

HAGART wrote:Going outside and looking at plants and ants going about their business, and questioning how the sense of self enters the equation is the most 'spiritual' I ever am. But it's actually pure logic and reasoning. Nothing mystic about it! It's a wake up call.


Same here (and I perfectly understand your usage of the word spiritual). The puzzle of consciousness is a great one that I hope we will one day suss out. I also love the topic of evolution very much. (So much so that I am currently reading "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins.) :)

Jack Reacher wrote:I chose to Reply to you.


I think you are still missing the point, Jack Reacher. I could also ask you to think of a capital city beginning with "W." You might feel (biology/physiology/psychology behind this), because you're from New Zealand, you don't wish to be obvious and say Welling. So you say Washington. But, likewise, you might feel patriotic, or lazy, and say the obvious. Or you might be watching a program about WWII, narrating the moment when Germany invaded Poland, which prompts you to think, "Warsaw."

Whatever you choose, you think you chose out of free will. But there are underlying reasons which may not always be so obvious to you. The mention of capital cities here has already sparked a train of thought in you, thus robbing you of free will (as if you had any to begin with). A fervour may now tempt you to post a "W" option more obscure than the examples I mentioned, in a bid to prove to me that you are not biased by any precursor but it doesn't take a genius to see that, already, whatever urge you have has already been set in motion since the stimulus that occurred beyond your control.

To conclude and reiterate, despite your awareness of both options (a: reply; b: ignore), one was more appealing to you at the time for whatever reason, eg. your imagination predicted a better outcome for one of them which seemed, at the time, to be more emotionally gratifying. You could not have gone for the other option because your brain did not allow you to (perhaps you lacked the necessary masochism :mrgreen: ). The option of replying to me won. You needed to have your say. Need. Necessitarianism. Determinism. Brain states. Cause-and-effect. 8-)

@ everyone:

I'm going to stir the pot a little by posting a link in favour of the compatibilist view for those who think we should live as though there is free will and may feel the urge to refute my deterministic position. (See, I'm such a good sport.) :mrgreen:

Take a look at this link where Daniel Dennett talks about free will:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGPIzSe5cAU

Dennett backs up his compatibilism with weak analogies such as the value of money being an illusion and baseballs going over the Green Monster wall in Fenway Park as not being real home runs. I disagree with many points made by Dennett (I'm entitled to even if I'm just an armchair philosopher :P ). Dennett basically propounds the idea that if something feels real, then it is real enough, and, if acting according to this philosophy works in some way that is all you need. But what about the ways in which the system could work by acknowledging what many deem to be the cold-hearted truth? If we delve into the possibilities that a system that recognises the inherence of determinism could generate, we will find better options (which admittedly need to be backed up by science and better technology).

From Dennett's point of view, if the illusion is strong enough, then it should always be deemed as fact. If the puppet is happy with his strings, then it is free. He highlights the difference between voluntary and involuntary action but such distinctions arise from our biased perception and such distinctions can still co-exist with determinism. He also attempts to reinforce his moral certainty on this topic by somewhat redefining the term "free will" which I think is a cheap move and unwittingly misrepresents libertarians.

I also don't see how morality is incompatible with determinism. We know, in the least, what we need. We have an idea, however vague, of what's good for us and we hope that our urges, as a collective (we feel empathy and recognise that altruism can aid survival), will propel us towards happiness and a society that we perceive to work well. Unless, of course, we are hardwired to fail in the end. But we still feel like making the effort. It is in our nature to make some sort of effort. We would find it impossible, and tedious as a choice, to simply do nothing. Also, our urges, which we do not author (otherwise they wouldn't be urges in the first place), still get us to move and avoid trouble if we can. The dominoes will fall with or without free will. Free will is not required for the universe to work in the way that it does just as the theory of how the universe began does not require a divine creator. :twisted:

Dennett once dared to criticise Harris's "Free Will." Here's what happened:
Dennett wrote:
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/reflections-on-free-will
Sam Harris replied:
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-marionettes-lament
I rest my case for now... :mrgreen:
"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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Peter
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Peter » 02 Aug 2014 06:48

I will take it one level deeper and say that the person writing this msg is in a lot of ways a puppet controlled by other selves and so to think that we have free will is at the same level as believing there is color outside of our minds.
Who are you I asked, the reply "dont be silly, we are your daughers" many years before they were born


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