The illusion of free will

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by barcelonic, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    The limitations of language do not excuse the issues in your claims.
    Possibly, but I fail to see how this links to your notions of the existence of "nothing", since Parmenides argued that there was, and can be, no "nothing". Nor does it appear to link in any way to your notion of freewill.
    Okay, so you think Parmenides is correct and that there is no motion or change, but that he failed to consider the temporal nature of cause and effect? :bugeye:
    Parmenides didn't advocate any cause and effect, but a fixed past, present and future. His was fatalism at its purest. And he didn't advocate movement as a reality at all, irrespective of where it can be determined from.
    Parmenides' philosophy is like a record... as the record plays the music comes in and out of existence: this is our perception, what he referred to as "The Way of Opinion". But he saw reality as being the record itself, the music may appear to come in and out of existence, but the groove is already there, the music fixed in place.
    So now you advocate for freewill being genuine by invoking a philosopher who was a fatalist?
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  3. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    So now you argue against a position simply because you think (rightly or wrongly) that it mirrors a religious conclusion?
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    The difficulty that I was talking about is the difficulty in making the idea that people are nothing more than puppets consistent with ethics, and more broadly, with how we all seem to understand both ourselves and the actions of other people.

    I think that there very well might be some fundamental randomness built into a great deal of causality. I'm thinking of the probabilistic interpretations of quantum mechanics and stuff like that.

    It's important to the point that I was making earlier to recognize that causality isn't necessarily the same thing as determinism. Causality says that every event has a preceeding cause. Determinism says that the state of the universe at time A determines the state of the universe at time B. My speculation is that that at least some of that causal determination is probabilistic. In other words, causality defines a range of possible outcomes and assigns likelihoods of each one occurring. And as the time interval between A and B increases, those indeterminacies might increase as well, and the probabilities with which accurate predictions can be made of B from A decrease towards chance.

    The abstract space composed of all possible states of affairs, all the states that the universe might be in, that are consistent with things like logic and the so-called 'laws of nature', I guess.

    Since the 'big bang' the universe has evolved (in the sense of temporal change) from that initial state to the state that the universe has right now. We can imagine that evolution as a line, a path that the state of the universe has taken through possibility space.

    My speculation is that the path that the evolution of the universe has taken is fundamentally unpredictable. In other words, if we ran the 'big bang' all over again, with all of the same initial conditions (as close as they can be physically specified, which might not be entirely precise if things like quantum indeterminacy hold), the evolution of the universe would likely follow an entirely different trajectory the second time. Things might turn out very different.

    My choices are the result of my understanding of the situations that I find myself in, along with my existing goals, purposes, emotions, knowledge base, and stuff like that. All of that stuff comes together in some as-yet little-understood cognitive and volitional process. My own belief is that it will all turn out to be naturalistic and neurophysiological in nature.

    I should add that when I use words like 'my' and 'myself', I'm not talking about 'the human soul' or Descartes' 'mind substance' or anything like that. I use those words to refer to my own on-board cognitive and volitional process.

    Are my internal states caused? Sure. I think that they almost certainly are.

    Are they determined? Probably 'yes' with a high degree of accuracy if we are talking about the states and experiences that immediately preceeded them, but probably less accurately if we are talking about how things were a week ago or ten years ago. And I don't really buy the idea that everything I think and do now was already determined long before I was born.

    How does thinking about causality and determinism this way preserve free-will? Because we typically define free-will as choosing our behavior through our own personal decisions, as opposed to having our behavior imposed on us by outside forces.

    That doesn't mean that causal processes can't be how those decisions are made. Nor does it mean that our inner states don't determine our behavior. Moving my arm by free-will isn't the same thing as watching it jerk convulsively. The exercise of free-will demands that my moving my arm be the result of my own decision. And that decision isn't just a random event, it needs to have arisen as the result of my own beliefs, goals and purposes. Far from being inconsistent with local determinism, free-will seems to demand it.

    It's only when people start insisting that all of our behavior is fully determined by the external environment, by things entirely other than ourselves, that the free-will problems start to arise.
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  7. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Understandin that free will is an illusion opens the door to improve ethics... much like understandin that insane people dont deserve punishment for havin a brain disorder... or that people in prison dont deserve punishment/to be treated inhumanely!!!

    What difficulty do you see wit ethics... wit the realization that free will is an illusion.???
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  8. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    No, you are just demonstrating your narrow and limited use of logic.

    It is true historians have interpreted that Parmenides concluded that there was no "nothing" and with this conclusion in mind he also concluded as did they interpret Zeno of Elea, that movement was impossible.
    The first premise though is invalidated by the outcome. no "nothing" = no movement.

    So we have this situation:
    If there is no "nothing" then movement is impossible.
    If there is movement then "nothing" exists as a reality.
    All they , Parmendies & Zeno did was logically prove that "nothing" was essential for the temporal phenomena of movement and were considered "mad" for doing so.
    It is little wonder that the school of Plato and ilk misinterpreted both Zeno and Parmendies given that the need for "exhaustive logic" is necessary to reach the conclusions reached. [ I believe the use of exhaustive logic was more or less obsolete by that time... *unqualified opinion ... as we had to wait many centuries before calculus was re-invented and applied by Isaac Newton to handle situation involving infinities (exhaustion)]

    Would you not consider your self to be a philosophical fatalist? [ what ever that means?] By declaring that freewill is impossible and can only be an illusion and not a reality? [using the same failed premise that Parmendies and Zeno used according to limited use of logic, therefore invalid interpretations, by Aristotle, Plato and Socrates?
    I believe Parmendies and Zeno were a hell of a lot smarter than their egoistic successors, that being Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, thought they were.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  9. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    No I am just amused by the irony that you are actually promoting a defacto Cause and Effect religion as most of science is doing. Most amusing indeed!

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    Eventually as your approach evolves you will have to conclude that free will is by the grace of "indeterminism" or probabilism or some other simulacrum for the "Grace of God"
    or simply have to declare that the God of cause and effect is your master...and you are not responsible for your choices at all.

    Ego death is not pleasant!
    Which is why the issue of freewill remains on the philosophical agenda..IMO
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  10. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    @ Yazata
    IMO quite a sound and reasonable notion. That the "butterfly effect" through eons of evolved possibilities can evolve the reality of freewill where the possibilities are infinite.
    It is not necessary for me to agree, however, the approach you mention [given the current approach by science] appears quite reasonable to me.
  11. Motor Daddy ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ Valued Senior Member

    I also agree with Yazata that a do over would probably produce different results than the first go at it.

    But...if there were even a more fundamental cause of the universe, such as a distinct means in which distance is manifested, then it could very well follow a very distinct pattern overall, even though the signal noise might be slightly different. In other words, distance and time follow a pattern, and it very well could be that the pattern is that things happen on a time scale, and by things I mean, planets and moons crashing into each other like an out of sync gearbox.

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    It probably happens every 5,252 years, or 33,000 years, or something with those numbers.

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  12. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    I dont know of anybody in this or other "free will" threds that ive read here... who does argue for a hard deterministic view of the universe... but for some reason people continue to give arguements as to why the universe isnt deterministic

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    ... so more to the issue... do you thank free will is an illusion.???
  13. Motor Daddy ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ Valued Senior Member

    I seriously can't make heads or tails of what the words "deterministic" or "free will" mean. I've heard those words used so many different ways it confuses the sh!t out of me.

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    Define those words and I will tell you what I think using the definitions you give me.
  14. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    You mean rather than your misunderstanding of the ancient philosophers, and effectively rewriting what the philosophers said?
    So let's see...
    And this is indeed what Parmenides held to be the case: no movement. He held that movement was an illusion (the way of opinion).
    He categorically stated that there was no "nothing", so just because you don't like the conclusion that this results in is no excuse for you rewriting his philosophy as he held it.
    Not so, as he categorically stated that in his philosophy "nothing" did not exist, that it is not possible to exist. Everything is and always will be, unchanging. He also claimed that movement was thus impossible.
    What you are arguing is along the line of Melissus's (student of Parmenides) thinking: that movement can occur only if the moving thing has empty space to move into (empty space being "nothing" or "not-being"). But since he held that "not-being" could not be, he concluded that there could not be any movement.
    So again, I find it laudable that you are trying to use the arguments of such rigidly fatalistic philosophers to try to support your case.

    Their conclusion that movement does not exist stems from their premises. If Melissus concluded that movement was only possible if "nothing" existed, it is not logical to then say that since movement is possible, "nothing" must exist, as you are going against the premise upon which their logic is built, and effectively begging the question.
    I.e. Your introduction of the additional premise (movement is possible) results in contradictory logic... So not all premises can be held at the same time. So to use any conclusions from the expanded argument (such as claiming it means that "nothing" must exist, since movement is possible) is flawed from the outset.
    You need to construct your own logically valid argument, that incorporates the premises you want. Care to give it a shot?
    And you think my use of logic is narrow and limited? If it is, at least it remains logical.
    It does require more logic than you can bring to the discussion, that's for sure.
    And I'm still surprised you're using their philosophy to support your position.
    Speaking of which, you still have yet to address how any of this supports the notion of a genuine freewill (as opposed to mere appearance of)?
    If you don't know what it means, why are you asking if I consider myself one, as it would mean nothing to you?
    Do I consider myself a fatalist? Loosely, yes. But not on a practical level. I'm not a fatalist that thinks the same things will happen if you just sit back rather than get involved, for example.
    I do not use the same premises as them. And you have yet to show how either their logic, or my own, or indeed the premises I used, are flawed.

    Quite possibly.
  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I suggest if you want to start going down the side-path of referring to science or even cause and effect as religion that you raise another thread for it.
    In this thread it is merely a premise put forward on which to build the argument. If you can show it to be a false premise, by all means provide the evidence.
    "By grace of"? Why not merely the impartial result of the mechanics of the universe as applied over 13.7 billion years?
    And since responsibility is linked to our perception of freewill rather than the underlying mechanics, we will remain "responsible" for as long as the perception by our consciousness remains in place.
  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Indeed, everyone seems to think it is freewill vs determinism, irrespective of the actual argument presented. And if you think freewill is illusory you are almost always seen (or argued against) as if you are a determinist, irrespective of your actual philosophy on the matter.
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Determinism is the philosophy that if you put exactly the same inputs into a system you will get exactly the same outputs, every time. So if you rewound the universe back to t=0, a strict determinist would say that the universe would unravel exactly the same way as it did the first time.
    An indeterminist would say that you might get different outputs, even if you use exactly the same inputs.

    A definition of Freewill, well, that's part of what this thread is all about, I think. There is no single definition or understanding of it.
    Whether or not it is illusory depends, at least the way I look at it, on whether the definition you apply to freewill goes against the very nature/possibility of the underlying mechanics (whatever you might hold them to be). And even if your definition is only a matter of how it appears then I would probably call it illusory.
    But illusory does not mean that it does not exist... Illusions exist, just that what they appear as seem to go against the nature of the underlying mechanics etc.
  18. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Right. Many philosophical arguments revolve, at least to some extent, around how we define our terms. Then there's the more empirical question of whether reality conforms to those understandings. I think that both kinds of problems arise here. Precisely how are we defining 'determinism' and 'free-will'? Does the universe really behave either of those ways?

    I'd define 'determinism' as the general idea that the state of the universe at time A determines the state of the universe at (typically subsequent) time B. 'Causal determinism' associates this idea with the idea of cause and effect. If we insist that the determinism is precise (and not probabilistic) then determinism seems to suggest that future events are just as fixed and unalterable as the past is fixed and unalterable. If we knew the initial conditions of the universe at the time of creation with absolute precision, and knew all of the so-called 'laws of nature', then we could predict every event in the entire future of that universe with perfect accuracy. Everything that will ever happen was already determined at the very beginning.

    William James called this vision 'the iron block universe'.

    It's important to note that softer versions of determinism have been proposed. One of them is probabilistic determinism. This one basically says that the state of the universe at time A establishes the probabilities that various outcomes might occur at subsequent time B, but doesn't precisely determine which one of them will actually happen. Some interpretations of quantum mechanics propose this, at least on the micro-scale.

    Defining 'free-will' is harder. We all have an intuition of what it means, but putting that into words is difficult. Perhaps the best way to approach it is descriptively, by following how people use the idea and what they typically mean by it in real life.

    I'll say that an action of mine is a free act of my own will if it resulted from my own purposes, goals, ideas, evaluations and decisions. In other words, an act of mine is free if the decision to do it arose inside me, so to speak, from a suitable employment of my own internal decision processes, and wasn't imposed on me from outside by some external force. That's typically what people mean when they say, as they might in a court of law, 'He acted of his own free will'.

    The 'iron block' kind of determinism seems to do violence to this idea of free-will, by insisting that while it may seem like my acts are the result of my own decisions, which in turn arose from my own inner states and processes, in reality those states, processes and acts they give rise to, were precisely determined by how things were long before I ever appeared. Put another way, the details of my internal deliberations and the results that they give rise to were totally imposed on me by the causal force of the universe outside me.

    My own belief is that the probabilistic sort of determinism might not pose nearly as much of a challenge to my kind of idea of free-will. That's because while our inner decision processes might indeed be entirely naturalistic and causal in nature, the decisions and actions they result in might not have been precisely determined by the rest of the universe outside us at all. The nature of the surrounding universe might suggest that we're more or less likely to do some things than others, but few adherents of free-will would really care to dispute that. In order to explain precisely why people make the choices they make, simply describing their external environment will rarely if ever be sufficient. The inquirer will have little choice but to look at what's happening inside the person's head.
  19. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    just a quick scim... more later
    so as he stood there breathing and walking about he states that movement is impossible.... and you believe him or those who interpreted his words?
  20. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    You see movement is indeed possible and accordingly "nothing" must be present to facilitate it which is confirmed by the fact that movement is indeed occurring.
    It is not rewriting what was said but understanding what was said.

    The logic proposed is inescapable:
    1] If there is no "nothing" then movement is impossible.
    2] If there is movement then "nothing" exists as a reality.

    or are you going to claim "non- sequitur", and start waving you hands around when it is impossible to move them except by "opinion" (an illusion of perception)?
    All Parmenides and Zeno did was expose a fundamental paradox that the sheer existence of this universe attempts to resolve.
    As far as I am concerned they get top marks for doing so... It was only that Aristotle , Plato and Socrates and most of science later [including yourself] find the notion of a founding paradox impossible to comprehend as it "appears" to defy sensibility. [aka: Ex-nihilo]

    An example of such avoidance:
    You and most of science have continued to avoid the paradoxical reality that at any t=0 [duration=0] the universe is non-existent.
    Which is a part of the paradoxical puzzle that facilitates movement and ultimately the reality of freewill. [Which by it's very nature is an outcome of that paradox]

    Poetic license:
    "The universe exists for eternity simply to ensure that "nothingness" or "non-being" remains eternally non-existent as a cause but existent only as an effect."

    The "effect" but not the causality that nothingness or non being generates, can be easily proved.
    By simply attempting to identify, exactly, the center of any given mass [ center of gravity] using a process of exhaustion [ infinite reductionism]
    You will find that the COG exists with it's inherent effects [gravity] but the cause of it will not be evident because it doesn't exist.
    You may recall my use of this diagram?:

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    now relate it to this light cone diagram by placing the notion between the future and past cones as the observer on the HSP:

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    so the "existence" of "nothingness" or non-being " is very easy to show once you know what to look for.
    The "center of time [ t=0 ] is also the Center of mass [center of gravity ]
    so to say that nothingness or non-being is non-existent using normal pedagogy is it is easy to determine it by it's effect but not by it's substance or "thing-ness" [as a cause]

    Now I ask you Sarkus, do you read anything of value in what I just posted?
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  21. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    You are not only rewriting Parmenides' philosophy but also begging the question in that statement above.
    Your understanding of what Parmenides meant in his writings is a joke, QQ. He was quite clear, as are all subsequent philosophers and commentators on the matter, that he believed that movement was merely an illusion, and that "nothing" does not exist.

    Further, as stated, you are introducing/altering a premise of his argument and then trying to use his argument to support your own, when it does no such thing.
    Yet you haven't shown that "movement" within this "logic" is not illusory. And to assume it is not is simply begging the question, which you seem to do an awful lot.
    Parmenides' premise is, words to the effect, that "nothing" can not exist.
    From this he concludes that the universe is unchanging, and that change and movement are illusory. If you alter his premise then you start a different argument, which is NOT that of Parmenides.
    I'm not going to claim non-sequitur, I'm merely going to claim that you don't appear to actually understand the arguments that you are presented with, nor seemingly even the arguments that you try to use to support your position.
    First, do you have anything to support the notion that the universe is non-existent at t=0, other than wishful thinking?
    Second, and this has been true of your posts in this thread and, from what I can see, every other you have entered regarding freewill, you have never shown how you get from your premise to the conclusion that freewill is more than just illusion. Even here you are jumping from claim to conclusion. It's almost as though I've never mentioned this slight flaw in your "argument" for all the notice you take of it.
    Wow, where to start with this.
    Simply put, I find nothing of value in what you post, but that you posted it is certainly of value in understanding just how ridiculous your notions can be.
    On your example of the COG, your thinking is just a mess: the COG is merely a property of matter. It is therefore "caused" by the same thing that causes the matter to exist. Within a system the COG is "caused" by the bonding of the various atoms.

    And then after your diagrams, which explain nothing at all, you once again jump from them to the conclusion.
    I may as well post an image of a stick-figure and type "QED" after it, as it offers as much explanation as yours seem to.

    So do I find value in what you have posted? Let me ask you: do you honestly think that there is value in what you have posted?
  22. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    ok... enough said.. work it out for yourself...
    You are on the record and that is all I wished for.. thanks.
  23. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    @ Sarkus
    so you don't even know what "IT" is that you are debating about?
    just like lies, deceptions and fraud exists!
    an absurd nonsensical, collage of intellectual gobbiddy gook!

    You need to do better than that...
    So are you a C&E puppet or not?

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