# Determinism

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Captain Canada, Aug 14, 2001.

1. ### Chagur.Seeker.Registered Senior Member

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Way to go, kmguru ...

You are capable of an intelligent post!

I'm glad I didn't give up on you

3. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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So, in short, we are talking about two different systems, one which offers sequential and relatively predictable variables, the other having spontaneous and often unpredictable variables?

5. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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Maybe the variables of the later are so numerous that we cannot account for all of them, not even with the power of our processing machines.

d, di, digress, digression... Once again, where were we giong with chaos and the first post of this thread?

7. ### Merlijncurious catRegistered Senior Member

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Yes there are linear systems and non-linear systems. The non-linear systems are characterised by the fact that their state is described by (one or a set of) defferenial equations.
However, not all non-linear systes behave in an unpredictable manner. Many non-linear systems have so called attractor points (or attractor paths) in their states. In that case the behaviour will be very much predictable.

A very simple example is a mass lying on a smooth surface horizontally attached to a spring. If you perturb the state of the system (i.e. you push the block away from its original position), it will return to its original state.
More complex (still simple) example is the number foxes and the number of rabbits in a niche.
More foxes -> less rabbits;
less rabbits -> less foxes;
less foxes -> more rabbits;
more rabbits -> more foxes.
Here is a funny site depicting this example (from the 5K competition)
Here the attractor point is more a trajectory; there is a pattern.
Conclusion: not all complex systems behave unpredictable. But some do, they are chaotic.
It is all a matter of the parameter values in the equation.

~Merlijn

8. ### Captain CanadaStranger in TownRegistered Senior Member

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484
Chaotic Post

I'm afraid that my knowledge of chaos theory is essentially limited to cliche, so I am unable to contribute anything of much use to this strain of the debate. (kmguru and Chagur, I think, lived up to the challenge by allowing peace to break out)

What does interest me is the nature of causation and the concept of free will. In a sense, I wonder whether the argument over whether anything can be truly considered 'random' (in the general sense of the word - I know little of the mathematics that governs it) is moot.

My question would be, does it matter whether our actions are random or caused? Either way, in what sense do we have control> The freedom to will?

If we accept a causal universe, we must retrospectively be able to follow the chain of our actions back to an 'outside' cause - not of our making. Our decisions, which govern our actions, cannot fall outside a causal universe. Our will is caused, a reaction to other actions.

I suppose a question pertinent to this scenario above is as follows. If we accept cause and effect, does that mean that a pattern must underlie, hence excluding the common conception of 'randomness'?

But as far as free will is concerned, I would suggest that, either way, it is irrelevant. If we accept randomness, in what sense does that allow us to say that we have the freedom to will? or the freedom to will our will? Essentially, how can we choose? If our thought processes are caused, they are not really 'our own'. If our thought processes are random, we have no control. If we have no control in either sense, should we be held responsible for our actions?

Just a few questions to see if there are any thoughts on the matter and re-direct the tangent (apologies to Chagur and kmguru and the peace effort 'caused' by chaos...). Apologies also if I have been unclear in what I'm attempting to get at.

9. ### Merlijncurious catRegistered Senior Member

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As I said earler: it is totall clear (at least to me).
And again hooray: you see the problem of an indetermistic worldview!

What do you think may be the answer: apparenty you know "a way out", or are you just not comfortable with the idea.

~merlijn

10. ### Captain CanadaStranger in TownRegistered Senior Member

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I don't think I know a "way out". I do think that many philosophical probelms are ones that stem from an imprecise language. But I think the free will question is, largely, genuine.

My own view, for what it's worth, is that there is no way out of a causal world. Consequently, in the broadest sense, all events are predetermined.

But the questions I have posed are still up for debate.

I have to admit I'm not entirely sure what you're saying. Are you saying that the problems with an indeterministic view of the world has such problems that it is impossible to conceive of?

My main problem is that whether the world is determined or random (I cannot see an in between state), free-will makes no sense. 'Choice' is a concept I believe to be misunderstood, as it applies to each of our ability to direct our will. I can in no way see how 'free will' - our ability to direct our thoughts freely and without influence - is possible.

11. ### kmguruStaff Member

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11,757
I tend to agree. Though we all can see the light, we have a problem looking into the greater picture which is "the reaction to other actions." The best way to answer that is with a question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

So basically what we call freewill is a subset of a superset and so on. Within that variation, randomness does play a part - knowing that it is not absolute random. It is like when you get dressed, chances are that you wear your clothes in a certain sequential manner. Within that sequence, there is some variations between days. That variation could be caused from other actions that we may not be able to discern...and so on...

At this point, I would like to thank you all for letting me participate in the debate of Chaos, Complexity Science, Non-linear Systems Dynamics. As I was thinking to explain all these, I am developing a framework that will be the next level from what Corporations tranditionally use as a Decision Support Systems. If Xerox or Polaroid had such a system, they would not be in such trouble. I have not worked out all the details yet, but I think, I am in the right direction. Thank you all...

12. ### Chagur.Seeker.Registered Senior Member

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2,235

Years back I had an Anthropology professor that went on to do some rather interesting work at Northwestern University in the field of kinesthetics (body language) and one of the things that I had trouble accepting was his premise that within the the first six seconds of meeting someone, a stranger, you decide subconsciously decide which of the four F's (fight, flee, fuck, or feed) will dominate in the interaction. Over the years I've come to realized the wisdom of what he had to say.

But what has that got to do with determinism?

That although we think that we are exercising free will, ex. in the case of meeting someone for the first time, in reality we are programmed by our total life experience up to that moment and respond accordingly. Determinism of a sort, so to speak, but a determinism that is infinitely variable.

13. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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Hmm, I agree with the idea that we are a hodgepodge of experiences and that those past experiences exert influence over our reactions and through our character, dependant on the immediate environment and the input offered; on the other hand, we seem to have a choice of experiences from which to choose/build our reactions: <i>Should I choose the bow and arrow or the olive branch?</i>

14. ### Chagur.Seeker.Registered Senior Member

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2,235
Don't know, Bowser ...

His premise was that your response was based on your 'total life experience' which means ever since you were a wee-waa. If he was right it's almost a validation of the old saw: A leopard can't change its spots.

15. ### wet1WandererRegistered Senior Member

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WEE Waa? Is that one of those little things in the too short white capes that's always wrapped up around the legs?

16. ### Chagur.Seeker.Registered Senior Member

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Oh damn ...

I goofed!

I used a Xxznfuzz expression for what you Earthlings would refer to as 'ankle biters' or 'rug rats'.

Sorry.

17. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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Interesting. I refer to mine as <i>work</i> and <i>liability</i>.

So, the sum of all experiences, huh? Hmm, maybe only a portion of those experiences if they are relative to the moment at hand. That doesn't speak for impulse though.

18. ### ripleofdeathRegistered Senior Member

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2,762
hey all

chagur- i have no doubt that your posts are of signifigant value and relavance although someitmes your expresion seems to confuse the theory of learning... i suspect(only in relation to posts adressed to kmguru)!

i say this because i see a familiar battle between
kmguru and chagur.... it does sometimes detract from the point of the thread....
however i do get the occasional LOL from it

i strongly suspect that both kmguru and chagur are very similar in
emotional strength and there for (now with history of suspision)
fail to identify the nature of expresion and jump to a conclusion of ill will.... where both wish neither! :/
this is the first time i have been so specific to such a topic of personal relavence but wish both can see the knoledge each holds!
MAYBE....

you were rival siblings in another life?

#so... how do we determine to be determined to determine how
blindly determined we may be?
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IF YOU BELIEVE IN (phonetic spelling) "day sar voo" then you have free will!
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19. ### Chagur.Seeker.Registered Senior Member

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Hey, Rip ...

I guess that's just one of my many failings ... I have an intense dislike for bombastic pedants.

20. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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<img src = "http://www.sciforums.com/f35/s5c5f3ab4e39ba4b99e3731b341e1cf4e/images/icons/icon10.gif"> Yow!

21. ### kmguruStaff Member

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Sounds familiar!

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