Do we have free will?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Nobeliefs, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Free will is not an entitlement, but is something you develop with conscious effort. Both sides of the argument are correct based on the premise they use; whether you expect to be entitled to free will at birth or whether you expect to earn it. In my experience, free will is developed through effort and self awareness. We are only born with the capacity for free will.

    For example, most children have a narrow adaption to various types of food. They may hate broccoli. This aversion to broccoli is not free will but determinism. As most children get older, they learn to overcome this childhood determinism. We develop more free will in terms of food selection and may start to eat broccoli. This comes from learning to question childhood biases.

    As you expand free will, more and more, you need to question and challenge other forms of determinism. Some of these come from personal conscious and unconscious bias while other come from collective unconscious bias. There is also collective conscious bias. For example, what you learn in school can bias how you look and think about the world.

    Collective bias is tougher to overcome since you may feel the need to run with the herd. The herd will even pressure you choose against free will in favor of group determinism. If you were a democrat try to argue republican and watch the herd reaction. Instinct is deterministic and compels us to integrate with a herd by sacrificing free will.

    In my mind, science is a work in progress. This is true of all areas of knowledge. If it was at steady state there would not be any need to do further research. There is no expectation that what we have today will be exactly the same in 1000 years. So almost everything is open to challenge if you think long-long term. This allows free will even with rational determinism.
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    As much certainty as is available from observation and multiple analytical approaches.

    We observe, for example, dreams and childhood memories having influence on our behavior. We observe placebo effects and the inculcation of physical skills.

    We can measure, even, the degree to which some people have more or more capable free will than others - youthful crack addicts have less, adults without addictions or compulsions have more.
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  5. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Free will is dependent on self awareness and self control, both of which are learned skills. If you are a crack addict, an unconscious compulsion chooses for you in a type chemical determinism. You may know this is not healthy, but can't control yourself. Self awareness and self control would try to neutralize the compulsion so one has freer choice. It may take therapy to build awareness and will.

    An addiction is easy to see in terms of limiting free will. There are more subtle things that limit free will which one may not be aware of since these may be considered socially acceptable. For example, say there is a fad. The excitement of the fad will create a push to run with the herd since possession of the fad object gives you prestige and lack of possession can put you at a social disadvantage. This limits free will but since it is subjectively defined as good most willingly give up free choice.

    This example is not easy to come to terms with, because the brain has been collectively brainwashed to funnel you down the path of least social resistance. Free will requires you learn to come and go with equal strength. This will place you against social currents, which are easier to just flow with in deterministic fashion. This is why the discipline of free will is the most difficult of all. It is almost an R&D discipline where you need to constantly differentiate and redefine even against strong personal, social, and instinctive currents.
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  7. river

    Once this is accomplished , to your last statement , when does free-will become or how does free-will manifest ?
  8. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Straw man, as I only said that these particular words were innocuous, and no one else has weighed in on them. "Pedantic little tirade" is a factual statement. You admitted that the "initial cause" was irrelevant, so you have demonstrated that your objection to neglecting "initial" was both pedantic (criticizing minutia) and insignificant (little). And your vehemence and repetition are definitively a tirade.

    Again, what "evidence is clear"? How has it been "established that it is not consciousness"?

    What Sarkus has said is not scientifically justifiable and thus does not warrant any refute at all. His positive claim is his own burden of proof, and the negative claim that free will does not genuinely exist cannot be proven (except by exclusively exhaustive means, which he has not even attempted).

    Again, the scientific method places the burden of proof on the claim that differs from the self-evident (i.e. the readily observable). But if you do not understand the scientific method, there is little here you are likely to comprehend.

    Where did I 'equate this possible alternative outcomes to an "ability"'? I have not, so you are only running with Sarkus' straw man. It is simple. If the exact same cause can lead to one of several possible outcomes, even under duplicate conditions, then there is a freedom between that cause and that effect, contrary to a strict determinism.

    You seem to be advocating the mythical "randomly determined", which seems to be a nonsensical misunderstanding of probabilistic determinism. Random is an effect that is unpredictable and unaccountable. So "random outcome" is devoid of any explanatory power or argumentative weight.

    And again, your argument would require that a single indeterminate event is equivalent to a single choice, which only you and Sarkus seem to be advocating. Free will does not exist in dice, and you would not make such ignorant comments if you managed to pay attention the last umpteen times that I have told you that indeterminism only allows for the freedom but does not necessitate the ability to choose. You and Sarkus seem determined to conflate these two.

    I have already and repeatedly explained that there is a vast different between allowing for more than one possible outcome (freedom from strict determinism) and capitalizing on such freedom. I do not hide at all. I accept indeterminism for what it is without making any claims beyond that, contrary to your constant straw man.

    You are the one who seems to be evading direct questions and hiding under Sarkus' skirt to avoid having to support your own claims. At least learn the scientific method already.
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Don't worry, Baldee, you'll soon learn that Syne has no interest in furthering discussion.
    He also has a lack of ability in understanding the logic of sentences - highlighted when trying to justify himself... as you say, if one is arguing that the initial cause is not X, it is sufficient to show that it is not X - there is no need to show it is Y... hence the nature of the initial cause is irrelevant past showing that it is not X. But Syne doesn't understand.
    He also confuses the concept of burden of proof with the scientific method. Hey ho.
    And yes, he has nothing to offer the discussion: he is a coward that says "you're wrong - indeterminism allows for it!" without explaining how... hiding in the "vast difference" between indeterminism and strict determinism (even though noone is arguing from a strict deterministic position).
    But he doesn't understand this.
    He argues: "If the exact same cause can lead to one of several possible outcomes, even under duplicate conditions, then there is a freedom between that cause and that effect, contrary to a strict determinism" so he has shifted my argument to one of strict determinism, and still doesn't explain how there is within this an "ability to do otherwise" - given that the outcome can not be influenced, even if it is one of many possible.
    He also tries to distinguish between probabilistic determinism and randomness, but in doing so merely disguises his own lack of understanding.

    So seriously, I wouldn't bother any further. Syne will just try to wrap you up in belligerent banalities and misunderstandings, dressed in language which some may consider rudeness. He relies on "self-evidence" as his only recourse even though it is the nature of the "self" that is actually in question... so somewhat begging the question.
    Again it is unlikely he understands this.

    As said, if you have any questions about my arguments, send me a PM, but I wouldn't bother further here.
  10. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    No, it is you who refuses to further discussion here. I have asked repeatedly, but neither you nor Baldee can seem to show evidence for "not X", much less "is Y". You do not seem to understand that you cannot show evidence for the lack of something, i.e. "not X", unless you exhaust every possible alternative, which is not feasible and would necessarily include "is Y".

    It is more apt to call it the scientific burden of evidence (which is synonymous with the scientific method), but most people are not so pedantic and readily recognize "burden of proof" in this context. But you really should not be pretending that you understand the scientific method immediately following your claim that a negative statement is sufficient in science. The "you have to prove my negative statement false" claim is exactly the sort of shifting the burden that the religious and pseudoscience hacks typically hide behind.

    But since you have chosen not to engage in discussion, demonstrably projecting that characteristic on me, go right ahead and continue to prove to everyone how little you, and by agreement people like Baldee, understand scientific methodology.

    You have admitted to not taking a stance on determinism, either way. And when your arguments are not coherent without an assumption of determinism, it is you who seems does not understand. And the coward here is obviously the one avoiding direct discussion, with little passive-aggressive asides to others. But are you seriously claiming there is not a significant difference between indeterminism and determinism? That is laughable. Just keep digging that hole.

    Just more evidence of your ignorance. No wonder you do not think there is a significant difference between indeterminism and determinism (antonyms mind you), as you cannot "distinguish between probabilistic determinism and randomness". And you are still harping on this straw man about indeterminism being equivalent to an "ability to do otherwise". No wonder you do not want to actually participate in a direct discussion. You just keep demanding that I explain an argument I have not made.

    Not only avoiding direct discussion but discouraging the participation of others. I rely on the scientific method, which does not find a negative statement to be sufficient, contrary to your nonsense. Like everything else, you seem to have your own, special definition of the scientific method.

    And you only seem to be affirming my much earlier point that whatever existence you claim for consciousness/free will is necessarily the only existence you can confer on the external world. You have yet to provide any criteria by which to distinguish the two unambiguously.

    Wait...I thought he said he had already been PMing you.

    Watch out, Baldee. He seems to want you to argue, and look the fool, on his behalf.
  11. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    I was arguing the principle, not the specific.
    Sarkus grasped this.
    You do not.
    The principle is that if one can show that it is not-X then one does not need to show that it is Y.
    Hence whether the initial cause is the Big Bang or some deity or whether there was no initial cause is ultimately irrelevant beyond showing it is not-X.
    Sarkus actually considers things to be indeterministic.
    In as much as same inputs can lead to different outputs.
    But again you jump on the miscomprehension, deliberate or not I can not tell, that he thinks there is no significant difference.
    Any assumption you require that suggests such is just evidence of your lack of comprehension.
    But instead of admitting you don't comprehend you attack as false based on false assumptions through your miscomprehension.
    Sarkus never said that.
    He said that your attempts to do so disguise your lack of understanding.
    It is quite simple, really: the output of an indeterministic system is random, although the randomness lies within a probability function.
    And the scientific method relies on making false assumptions of what people say?
    You have not followed the logic.
    Fair enough.
    But just admit that rather than try to wage a war.
    And this was an invite to continue doing so.
    Your problem with that?
    Only foolish in continuing with you who can not comprehend what is said and who makes false assumptions to argue on.
    Sarkus was right.
  12. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Rubbish. Logic is more than capable of rationally excluding possibilities without the need for evidence beyond that which supports the assumptions upon which it is based. If you can not follow the logic that goes from all effects either being caused or random, to the exclusion of free will other than as a mere perception, then just say so. Things would progress more smoothly.
    I think Baldeee has adequately addressed your continuing inability to comprehend what people write and your jumping to assumptions that are simply not there.
    I will engage in discussion with those who wish it.
    I have? Where?
    I have actually been quite clear that I adhere to a probabilistic determinism, which is inherently indeterministic - in as much (and I think Baldeee was quoting me) as the same inputs can lead to different outputs - and by inference an output can not necessarily be strictly linked to a given cause.
    That is your miscomprehension, and you come across as though overcompensating for your lack of understanding by being aggressive in your posts.
    What is laughable is that you ascribe that claim to me when I have never said it. More evidence of your jumping to erroneous and unwarranted assumptions, fuelled by your lack of comprehension.
    I am not harping on about anything other than your refusal to explain how you go from indeterminism to your claim of a genuine free will. I do not equate, or ascribe to you the claim that they are equivalent - only that the logical assumption is that you go from one to the other... yet you have never indicated how... instead you just fall back to hide within repeated quotes of what indeterminism is. Have you nothing else to offer?
    No, I encourage direct discussion. I discourage belligerence and the fuelling of it.
    Contrary to your misunderstanding, I have never claimed that a negative statement alone is sufficient.
    I have more than sufficiently expressed the criteria - and provided an analogy. You dismissed it as arm-waving. If you had no interest in actually trying to understand what I said back then, then I have no interest in explaining it further. Go back and read it. And when you're less belligerent perhaps we can discuss further. I don't hold much hope, though.
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Two problems here:

    the concept of "cause" employed is grossly oversimplified, to the point of meaninglessness (what is "the cause" of rainfall ? to pick a very, very simple illustration of the problem - nothing at the molecular level "causes" rain, there is no single cause at any level, etc). The concept of "cause" is not simple. Most of what is described as "cause and effect" is simply - "mere" - very high levels of probability, for starters. The threshold of probability beyond which people start to use words like "cause" varies by circumstance, including by subject.

    the notion of perception of free will as being "mere" betrays a failure to examine the situation closely. There is nothing "mere" about a perception of free will - like the perception of gravity, it is the starting point of any accurate description, and accurate description is what theory must account for. We can begin by observing that some people have much less freedom of will than others, in the quite specific sense that the options for their behavior they can actually choose in certain circumstances are observably, measurably fewer and more limited, regardless of their or the observer's perceptions.

    The more general source of confusion is a failure to distinguish logical levels of explanation. No "logic" goes from all the effects at the atomic level being either caused or random (obscure and problematic as that statement is anyway) to the nonexistence of emergent patterns at higher levels, patterns that use the entire arena of atomic cause and effect as substrate. Entities such as air pressure, say, do not become "mere perceptions" simply because they are not products of cause and effect at the atomic level - that asking about the air pressure of an atom or affecting an atom or caused by an atom makes no sense.
  14. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Principle? As opposed to the scientific method? What you two seem to be too obtuse to get is that you have not shown that "it is not-X". You just keep assuming it so without being able to show any supporting evidence. For the umpteenth time, what evidence?

    Like I have said before, if you cannot operate according to the scientific method then you should be posting to the philosophy forum, where logic devoid of evidence is at least acceptable. This is a science forum.

    Hence the incoherence when you criticize me for saying that indeterminism allows for more than one possible outcome. If effect is not strictly linked to a given cause then there is some amount of freedom inherent to that effect.

    I have already tried to explain, but you equivocated emergence into meaninglessness. Oddly, you failed to even reply to my last post explaining all that.

    Yet you keep making a negative assertion with only an analogy you have yet to connect to the real world as support. You seem to have a chronic aversion to empirical evidence.

    Brilliant post.
  15. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

    The question of "free will" is necessarily a religious question implying existence of will of the omnipowerful universal creator (programmer) to measure our freedom against. I don't see how this question can be formulated in the godless universe, and why? If an omnipowerful, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient entity exists, we simply cannot have full fledged free will. How exactly? If (Abrahamic) God exists, our free will would make him necessarily less than omniscient and omnipowerful, it would make him less than God. Free will and Abrahamic God cannot coexist, it's elementary logic. Thus, existence of free will must be postulated to keep religious doctrines (and our egos) from falling apart. Consider "free will" as an axiom of Christianity.
  16. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    The evidence is the plethora of scientific evidence that supports cause and effect, or the randomness of uncaused events.
    There is no other evidence needed.
    For free will to be the INITIAL cause requires violation of this as it requires the cause of something to be uncaused and non-random.
    If consciousness is not the INITIAL cause then free will is part and parcel of the chain of cause and effect which behave in accordance with the laws of physics etc.
    Such a chain has zero ability to do other than which it does, even if what it does is indeterministic and not known before it happens.
    It is spelled out for you.
    There is no need to show what the initial cause is.
    It is sufficient to show that it is not consciousness.
    Yet your posts are filled with nothing and devoid of logic.
    The science is in the validity (or otherwise) of the underlying assumptions.
    That is where the evidence points.
    The rest is logic.
    Freedom in as much as a dice is free to roll on any of its sides, as Sarkus already mentioned.
    But this is not an "ability to do otherwise".
    There is no ability by the dice.
    It is at the whim of its causes.
    It may be unpredictable and indeterministic but it has no ability to do other than which it does, which can not be known other than probabilistically until it happens.
    You do not ascribe dice with free will.
    So what is the difference?
    Explain how you cross the vast gap you have in front of you.
    Emergence does not allow the emergent thing to be an initial cause.
    To do so violates cause and effect.
    Emergent items are things that can not be reduced to specific causes, but they are no less the result of causes.
    They are not causeless.
    Do you consider them causeless?
    Far from it.
  17. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Why is the complexity a problem?
    Logically it makes no difference whether the cause is singular or is the entirety of the universe.
    It makes no difference whether the cause is one atom interacting with another, or whether one moment of time is the cause for the next.
    Logically there is a cause and there is an effect.
    Your appeal to complexity is therefore unwarranted.
    A perception of free will is always going to be "mere" in comparison to a genuine free will.
    One that violates the nature of cause and effect would put any mundane explanation into the category of "mere".
    Apologies if you find the word not to your liking.
    I find it quite apt.

    Logic applies across the board.
    It is fallacious to say that logic does not hold at all levels of explanation just because of the level.
    If it does not hold at one level but at another then it is because you have introduced other assumptions.
    That would then be your mistake.
    The logic does not say that emergent patterns are non-existent.
    Free will, even if an illusion, still exists and is an emergent pattern, as is consciousness etc.
    As Sarkus has been at pains to explain: illusions still exist - just not as perceived.
  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    So if as I claim: dreams and wishes and thoughts and perceptions and ideas and so forth cause each other and cause behaviors and cause decisions, and atoms do not cause these things and have no causal role at that level, that in your opinion makes no difference to a discussion of free will?

    Logic holds at all levels within each level - that's one way to define a logical level. Attempting to cross logical levels with logical implication established within a level sets up paradox - "this sentence is false" and the like.

    Substrates do not cause patterns. Water molecules do not cause waves. Neurons do not cause ideas.

    Cause and effect being one of the illusions that exists, just not as perceived - right?

    Free will does not cease to exist because people perceive it incorrectly - reality does not disappear because people have illusions about it.

    Arguing against violations of the nature of cause and effect does not deal with free will that does not violate the nature of cause and effect. If all you want to say is that free will cannot be supernatural or magic, I have no objection. If you want to conclude that free will therefore does not exist, I think you are seriously mistaken - and certainly not supported by "logic": such a conclusion does not follow.
  19. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Only in as much as it lays out the definition of free will that you adhere to.
    No one seems to dispute that this free will exists.
    Not even Sarkus.
    The issue is one of whether it is genuinely as perceived or not.

    Paradoxes are paradoxes regardless of level.
    The logical conclusions only change if the assumptions are changed.
    Logic remains consistent across all levels when applied to the same assumptions / premises.
    Logic is not subjective to the level.

    Not in and of themselves.
    But they are part of the cause.
    The fundamental building blocks formed to create water molecules, which interact with other water molecules, with the wind, with gravity and a vast array of other influences.
    Together they are the cause.
    It is enough to say that waves are caused.
    Waves are not the initial cause.
    Likewise consciousness is not the initial cause.
    It is one of the foundations of science.
    Whether one considers it illusory or not depends upon your starting assumptions and how you perceive it.
    Why do you think it illusory?
    Has anyone said otherwise?
    The idea of free will does not disappear.
    Our understanding of what it is, though, changes.
    When we see a mirage that we thought was a pool of water, the mirage remains but our understanding of what we perceive changes.
    No one is saying that free will does not exist but only that it is not as perceived.
    Sarkus made this clear many times.
    The free will that Syne put forward, the "ability to do otherwise", logically requires consciousness to be the initial cause.
    If it is not the initial cause then the output of consciousness (the decision) is an effect that was itself caused, and the interactions behave according to the unguided laws of the universe, whether deterministic or indeterministic.
    There is no "ability" in there to do otherwise although there is a probability of an alternate outcome (in an indeterministic environment).
    Probability can not be equivocated with ability.
    And if consciousness is the initial cause and is anything other than random then it violates cause and effect.
    This view of free will is the one we perceive yet it logically violates cause and effect.
    But free will does exist without violating cause and effect.
    Therefore the free will that exists can not be as we perceive it to be.
    Our perception that our consciousness initiates decisions is illusion.
    But from a practical point of view - from the level we operate at - we accept the illusion as the genuine article.

    If there are other ideas of what free will is that do not violate cause and effect and are anything other than a self-perception of our activity then put it forward.
    I would like to hear of such ideas as a counterpoint to Sarkus'.
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Within a given logical level, logic is consistent and paradox does not exist.

    Assumptions and premises are local to logical levels. Crossing logical levels without altering ones premises etc breeds paradox, inconsistency - Bertrand Russell handled that (Principia Mathematica, the matter of the "class of all classes" etc) by forbidding the crossing of logical levels altogether.
    It is objective to the level.
    The issue is its nature - a comparison with someone's perceptions would be particular to that person.

    We have established that it is not perceived as magical or supernatural by many people who believe it to be causal and not illusory at its level either.

    So there is no "the cause" at that level. "The cause" is a pattern at a higher logical level, the level of the wave not the molecules, for which water molecules and air molecules and so forth are substrate.
    OK. Then let's not say too much. There is no "the initial cause" of a wave, or any cause whatsoever at the substrate level.
    Waves do not cause themselves. They do participate in causal chains and complexes that cause other events, however. Like any other participator in causality, they may even be "the initial cause" of something, if the concept makes sense in that context - no reason not.
    As the example of the wave showed, the concept of "the initial cause" does not apply. Free will is causal at its level - the level at which dreams and ideas and memories and so forth are causal. Conscious perceptions and decisions are causal, they cause events and actions, at this level. We observe this, not only introspectively but in such rigorously researched areas as placebo effects and witchcraft and skill training through visualization.
    This seems to mix up various levels of "laws of the universe". Surely you do not mean to claim that free will decisions and what they in turn cause are determined by, say, the laws of thermodynamics? Such laws apply to substrate several levels down, they provide no guidance (let alone determinism) whatsoever beyond some very loose and largely irrelevant constraints on physical possibility of firing pattern within the physical brain.

    Of course a decision has causes, contexts, etc - comprised of ideas, dreams, memories, deductions, moods, and so forth. With different ideas, different memories, any of thousands of different stimuli and perceptions and conscious thoughts and memories bidden or unbidden, the decision can change, can be otherwise.
    That kind of language is where I got my reference to cause and effect as an illusion. It is not perceived correctly - in fact its very definition of name and usage incorporate an error of perception, in which causes are presented as determining effects, when we know from much research and theory that in any sequence of event regardless of mechanism we are talking "merely" about a significantly high position on a scale of probability. If that makes it an illusion, then OK so is free will.

    Meanwhile, we have rigorous demonstration of consciousness having influence (causality) on decisions, behaviors, actions, events - let's use skill training through visualization as the rolling example.
  21. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Because the assumptions remain the same.
    The logic remains the same.
    Not just the conclusions but the application of logic itself.
    The assumptions and premises define the level.
    But the application of logic itself is consistent across all levels.
    By arguing for the different levels you are almost confirming that free will only operates at a certain level, a level that is defined by our perception of how things work as opposed to their actual nature (whatever that might be).
    There does not seem to be any issue in that regard.
    Sarkus, I and others would all agree that free will exists and can said to be the cause of actions at the level at which it operates.
    But that is qualifying the concept of initial cause.
    And qualifying the concept of ability, and other such things, to only being applicable within that level.
    There has not been an issue if that is your intention.
    And to me, and others, such a level, when contextualised to the larger, is driven by conscious perception rather than actuality.
    As Sarkus said earlier, you limit the investigation by doing so, to an area where there is no dispute.
    Causal, yes, but not the initial cause other than solely within that level.
    If you stick just to that level then there is no disagreement.
    There never appears to have been any.
    No. There is a cause.
    It would be impossible to say what it is at a specific level as it would be everything that has influence on every part of the water.
    Everything within its sphere of influence.
    But it is wrong to say that there is no cause at that level.
    Every molecule (of water, of air etc) acts individually according to the influences upon it at any given moment, mixed in with a healthy dose of randomness at the quantum level, I'm sure.
    There maybe, there may not be, but that is more a question of whether you think the universe began with the Big Bang, is cyclical, was put here by a deity etc.
    But again you are limiting the investigation only to the level at which we all agree free will exists.
    That does not appear to be the issue and does not seem to have ever been the issue.
    The issue is whether calling something the initial cause only at a certain level, due to our perception of it being so, is actually what is happening.
    We consider ourselves to be free, to have an ability to do otherwise.
    We consider this because we perceive our consciousness to be the initial cause.
    At this level it makes sense, sure.
    But even you now seem to be accepting that this is not what is happening, that the wave participates in a causal chain, was not the initial cause.
    And if that is the case then our consciousness is not the initial cause, and that what we perceive to be such is therefore illusion.
    Again this just limits discussion to the level at which we all agree free will exists etc.
    There is no mix up.
    The laws were not specifically stated as it was in reference to the fundamental laws, not merely the laws that subsequent patterns exhibit.
    E.g. The laws of thermodynamics apply to levels above the quantum level, and I am not even going to guess whether there are more fundamental laws further down that that.

    In general you do seem to be pushing for a consensus where one already exists.
    But in doing so you seem to be acknowledging that, by only being applicable to a certain level, such things are illusory when looked at as part of the bigger picture, especially where the perception at one level does not hold within the bigger.
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Nothing exists except at its level - atoms are patterns at their level, molecules, elements, properties such as air pressure, meaning in printed text, everything has its level.
    The actual nature of things defines and is defined by its level. "Perception" is not opposed to this.
    There does, because I keep reading posts like the following:
    No. I am specifically and rigidly excluding the relevance of those kinds of questions. I am asserting that patterns are not caused by substrates, period. I am observing that to claim they are is to misuse the term "cause", and that to argue in such fashion for a deterministic universe that holds "cause and effect" to be a reality while "free will" is an illusion is to make errors of logic.
    The fundamental laws are laws that patterns exhibit. There is no other kind of law.
    In the first place, do we really have a consensus that the "illusion" of free will is in the same category of categories of unreality as the "illusion" of cause and effect? Because I'm not feeling agreed with, here.

    In the second, the level at which free will is affected by dreams and memories and conscious reasoning is about as big a picture as I can handle, personally. What patterns did you have in mind, that employs those kinds of entities as substrate?
  23. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Things exist at their level but their constituents exist at lower, and the activity at the lower levels cause the higher.
    Waves would not exist if they were not caused by the interaction of individual molecules, which would not exist if it were not for the interaction of atoms, and they of quarks, electrons etc.
    The actual nature of all things is defined by the single level at which all things operate.
    The nature of things within a level is defined by its level.
    You want to restrict discussion to a single level and deem anything else irrelevant.
    I think you have introduced previously the idea of substrate yet I do not think that it is relevant.
    I see no difference between substrate and the activity of that substrate.
    They are just different constituents of the same activity.
    The pattern is only established by a higher level.
    And no one is arguing for a deterministic universe here.
    I am not.
    Sarkus did not.
    And while you have tried to limit the discussion to the level of what you consider relevant, you have not shown how the logic is wrong given the assumptions.
    All you may have done is show Syne that the distinction between illusions is where cause and effect is perceived to break down.
    The fundamental laws are the laws which the fundamental patterns exhibit.
    Not the subsequent patterns.
    If a law is only applicable at a specific level then it is not fundamental other than to that level.
    I wouldn't agree that they are, but I wouldn't claim them not to be, if that helps.
    Cause and effect is one of the assumptions on which the "free will is illusion" is based.
    Is it the most fundamental of all levels that ultimately govern the rest?
    No idea.
    And as such could it be an illusion?
    It could be.
    But as Sarkus has argued, there are differing layers of illusion, and free will is one such layer compared to the level at which cause and effect could be said to "exist".
    I wouldn't classify any of those as substrate.
    They are activities at the same level as free will, as consciousness.
    They are perceptions of activity/patterns within the brain.
    Free will may reside at a higher level but only in as much as it is perceived to take input from those things, but otherwise I tend to view them as part and parcel of the same thing, due to their interconnectedness.
    Have I misunderstood you, though?
    Perhaps you could elaborate on what you deem a substrate compared to not?

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