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
16
50%
Yes
14
44%
Don't know
2
6%
 
Total votes: 32

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HAGART
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby HAGART » 10 Jul 2016 03:45

Summerlander has a crush on Christopher Hitchens, and my man-crush is George Carlin. :mrgreen:

I looked up: GEORGE CARLIN FREE WILL
and I found a short clip which is only 40 seconds.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLGf1_HKmLc
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 » 11 Jul 2016 20:41

deschainXIX wrote:I think the modern notion that free will is an illusion (which is unquestionably is) can coexist with Sartre's thoughts. Sartre, as I interpret him, is saying that because nothing exists in any important sense, we are free to define our own existence however we wish. We must explode the prison of Being and escape from whatever mental confines the world, our biology, or society attempts to impose on us. That's what I take from him, anyway.


I agree and that's my take, too. I don't know if you listened to the recent discussion between Harris and Dennett but it was definitely more civilised. Of course Dennett agrees with Harris that the Libertarian free will does not exist. It seems to me that they mostly differed in semantics. What I liked about Dennett is that he pointed out that a rock is not free to choose anything in the sense that it doesn't move and has no experience. (Even though I agree with Arthur Schopenhauer that a rock is, in fact, free from experience and therefore the pressures of choice.) A human being, however, is capable of perceiving a potential of choices and therefore the organism has a will which is free to act even if the will is determined by a set of urges; in this sense, we have free will even if decision-making is determined by causes that we did not author---as Sam Harris reminds us. I felt that was Daniel Dennett's most valid point but I still found myself resonating with the other Horseman.

They mentioned consciousness briefly and I suspect it is due to the fact that neither fully understand it. Dennett concedes that consciousness does exist but he believes it is not what we think it is which Harris appeared to find valid. Of couse they were still a little confrontational but it was worth it. They should have done it sooner to clear the air. I felt Dennett was more defensive and more concerned about defending his professorial turf.

HAGART wrote:Summerlander has a crush on Christopher Hitchens, and my man-crush is George Carlin. :mrgreen:

I looked up: GEORGE CARLIN FREE WILL
and I found a short clip which is only 40 seconds.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLGf1_HKmLc


Love him! :D

He mocked religion and destroyed free will with prayer in one go! :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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deschainXIX
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby deschainXIX » 12 Jul 2016 20:11

Summerlander wrote:I agree and that's my take, too. I don't know if you listened to the recent discussion between Harris and Dennett but it was definitely more civilised. Of course Dennett agrees with Harris that the Libertarian free will does not exist. It seems to me that they mostly differed in semantics. What I liked about Dennett is that he pointed out that a rock is not free to choose anything in the sense that it doesn't move and has no experience. (Even though I agree with Arthur Schopenhauer that a rock is, in fact, free from experience and therefore the pressures of choice.) A human being, however, is capable of perceiving a potential of choices and therefore the organism has a will which is free to act even if the will is determined by a set of urges; in this sense, we have free will even if decision-making is determined by causes that we did not author---as Sam Harris reminds us. I felt that was Daniel Dennett's most valid point but I still found myself resonating with the other Horseman.


I'll have to give that a listen. But in terms of free will, I think Dennett is dead wrong to say that a rock and a human being are different in any significant way. They are both physical systems determined by physical influences. A rock bouncing off down a stream is no less free than the courses our lives happen to take. In fact, it's a pretty good metaphor for our lack of control over our lives. An animal's capacity for motor movement has nothing to do with the philosophical idea of "free will." The difference between a rock and an animal is a matter of biology, not philosophy. What's the difference between the causes that influence a rock to fall off a mountain side and the causes that influence an animal to pursue its prey? I don't see any. :P
Well said.

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Summerlander
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 12 Jul 2016 21:11

You're right. In fact, Dennett can only say that a human being has a sense of free will as opposed to a rock which has no experience. The analogy only reinforces the illusory nature of free will---or indeed its non-existence.

Regardless of our sense of autonomy, if we knew all the causal factors involved, our predictive power would grow to see uncertainty---along with the illusion of self-control---simultaneously dwindle. Not even chaos theory would be able to preserve free will like in some liberty-of-the-gaps fallacy. The brain is a causally open dynamical system that began from its initial embryological conditions to be constantly impacted upon by continuous experience.

Our encephalons are virtually double rod pendulums being perennially teased by the fingers of experience making its effects seem like random decisions. It's a deterministic organ whose behaviour can be predicted in principle. However, it's such a complex 'chaotic system' that we are hardly able to accurately measure current states much less put up with its uncertainty in forecasting neuronal events that don't even cover 1% of its Lyapunov lifetime, so to speak. When meaningful predictions cannot be made, the system appears random; and in this case, if the system is known to be aware of itself, the erroneous liberum arbitrium assumption is invoked. This is a mistake akin to theology, as Sam Harris pointed out in his thesis, because it ignores all arbitrary influences involved.

These days I find it slightly pathetic when people claim they know for sure that they'll dream about Freddy Krueger because they've just watched 'Nightmare on Elm Street'. This doesn't take into account all the experiences and thoughts one will have until bedtime; all the memories that could be triggered; and all the relative LaBergian schemas as a result. It shouldn't be surprising to hear that they didn't dream about Freddy after all---or that Freddy looked more like Robert De Niro than Robert Englund! :-D

Do listen to the Horsemen. It's worth it even if Sam Harris is more with it than Santa! :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

Enra Traz
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Enra Traz » 28 Jul 2016 20:08

'Hume's fork: Either our actions are determined, in which case we are not responsible for them, or they are the result of random events, in which case we are not responsible for them.'

~Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy

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Pilgrim
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Pilgrim » 29 Jul 2016 06:14

Necessity is compatible with moral responsibility, praise, blame. Attached link is for Jonathan Edward's work this subject. It is a lengthy read, but thoughtful theological/philosophical considerations.

http://www.reformedreader.org/rbb/edwards/fowindex.htm

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Summerlander
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 29 Jul 2016 19:32

It's 'Freedom of the Will' by Jonathan Edwards. I just finished reading Genome by Matt Ridley and started reading Islam and the Future of Tolerance by Sam Harris and Majid Nawaz.

The former book ends with a chapter on free will and echoes the sentiments of Sam Harris with the addition of relevant topics like genetics and chaos theory. It points out that there is a tendency for people to mistake determinism for inevitability or fatalism. But determinism doesn't work like that. Determinism is when you look at the past and realise that your actions, which you thought you authored, are the product of cause-and-effect.

Determinism doesn't mean that one should give up their plans for the future, because this one is uncertain ... unknown. The universe is such a complex deterministic system at the Newtonian level that it is impossible to predict exactly how things will unfold---and this would be true even if you knew all the factors and variables involved.

The universe, too, is like a double-rod pendulum, the deterministic contraption which demonstrates the unpredictability and the appearance of randomness conveyed by chaos theory.

We are in love with the notion of being completely free because we love the idea of liberty, reward, responsibility and morality. But the judicial system is founded on a fiction, the subject of this topic; so are the major monotheisms. (Whose adherents fail to realise that the existence of free will contradicts God's omnipotence.)

It's funny how determinism can become an attractive proposition to those who are accused of sin; how quickly the accused claim they were not in control, but rather, influenced by external forces. How quickly does a murderer relinquish his beloved free will when his lawyer advises a plea of insanity or 'dimished responsibility'? What about the child in the playground who is caught jumping over the fence and claims 'my mate made me do it'?

Determinism is obviously true at the classical level. Regardless of this fact, it's patently true that determinism is not as repulsive as people make it out to be. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It frees people from blame and responsibility. This, of course, can be taken to meretricious extremes.

My conclusion here is that we have managed to kill free will. In fact, free will never was---we just dispelled the myth. Never mind quantum mechanics: we live in a deterministic universe. If my brain was a random system, I would not be making sense right now---my post wouldn't be coherent and I would have anything but freedom (I certainly wouldn't have the freedom to engage in this conversation.

Have no regrets because it wasn't your fault. But at the same time, try to be the best person you can be---you have that potential and you owe it to yourself to at least try! There will still be consequences if you resort to crime.

Determinism doesn't mean one should stop being responsible when one is quite capable of being so through anthropic perception. You only have the excuse if you really can't function in our society. Then you need help.
"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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Pilgrim
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Pilgrim » 29 Jul 2016 21:18

The title on Edward's work is misleading, since current readers are removed from the context of that day of his pressing concern against free will.

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Summerlander
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Summerlander » 29 Jul 2016 21:41

Oh, I gathered that. My rant wasn't really directed at Edwards because I was misled by the title of his work. I could see it was his exposé of free will as a fallacy. Even in modern day's context the text is somewhat applicable. Morality is a necessity itself and the threat of conviction can be a deterrent for many with a proclivity for infractions.

Of course, many anti-social individuals really can't help themselves but, while we still lack a cure for psychopathy, we should incarcerate them for theirs and our protection. :-)
"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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Pilgrim
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Re: The Illusion of Free Will?

Postby Pilgrim » 29 Jul 2016 22:39

I knew that you know. :) I don't like the title in case others are unfamiliar. I wonder if he had one of those typical paragraph-length titles, but it was just shortened for the age of brief titles.

Edited for finding title--

Freedom of the Will: A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of that Freedom of the Will which is Supposed to be Essential to Moral Agency, Virtue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame


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