What is the appeal of considering free will an illusion?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wynn, Oct 21, 2010.

  1. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Yes i agree that the POV that free will is an illusion is consistent with the facts we know.!!!

    [from that article]

    "This article will show that GFW is physically possible, even probable, without any violation of physics if one is willing to drastically revise the usual concept of one’s self."

    Even in the "revised concept of one's self"... does it not still rely on cause an effect... beggin the queston... whare is the "free will".???
  2. Billy T Please use Sugar Cane Alcohol Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I am sorry my reply is long, but complex non-standard ideas need some length to be made clear.
    No. The "revised concept of self" is not a physical body, but part of the Real Time Simulation, RTS. Thus "you" (I use quotes around the personnel pronouns to indicate I am referring to "you" of the simulation.), not being in anyway physical, "You" are NOT controlled by the laws of physics. And in dream state there typically need not be any cause and effect relationship. -Things can just "happen."

    In any simulation, the RTS included, the laws of physics can be violated just like the fast road runner going around a sharp curve can run out into space and not fall until he looks down and sees there is no ground under his feet. You can have a fire without any heat in a simulation, etc. etc. AND you can have genuine free will which is in violation of the laws of physics that do ALWAYS CONTROL THE FIRING OF EVERY NERVE in your physical body. This is because "you" do not exist in the physical world, but in a simulation of it, the RTS.

    As "you" act upon what "you" perceive (when "your" body is awake) evolution has made the RTS be a quite accurate copy of the real physical world, which includes "your" physical body. E.g. "You" don't jump off of tall cliffs or buildings as RTS simulation code which had your body do that was selected against during human evolution. Thus, when awake, effects do follow from causes, as in the physical world but as will be discussed soon, this need not be the case in the dream state. - There things can just happen without any cause.

    However, many things you do perceive in the simulation as real are not exact copies of the real world. All perceived illusions are this. For an important example, a left phantom arm for "someone" whose body has only a right right arm now due to some accident, is just as real in "his" perception as the "his" real right arm. I.e. the simulation is still creating it. Often it will be forever in one fixed position, - perhaps sticking straight out from "his" physical body.

    This is because there is a constant checking of the characteristic* generated in the RTS against the characteristics being developed from the body's sensory inputs. (This explains why there are slightly more retrograde fibers from the parietal section of the brain to for example the "visual cortex" than come there from the eyes - why they exist is a great mystery for the conventional POV of perception as "emergent" following many stage of neural computational processing)

    If however the physical left arm is missing, there are no sensory input signals from it, so the RTS does not revise its position to agree with non-existent input data signals, but just leaves it in a fixed position - often sticking straight out from the body with fist tightly clutched and in pain. (Pain also is created in / part of / the RTS.)

    A little more than a decade ago, a wonderful, quick and simple cure for phantom limb pain or awkward positions was invented. Humans are very visual creatures. If your eyes tell you something is true, you will believe it, even it it it not being confirmed by your other senses. - I.e. the RTS will adjust to have in the RTS what agrees with the seen conditions of the physical world. This cure was to have a vertical mirror in a box and windows controlling what the phantom limb suffer could see.

    I.e. He saw in the mirror the image of his still still existing right arm, but it looked like the left arm he no longer has. He is told to un-clinch his hand and he see his left hand image in the mirror un-clinch and the pain of his phantom finger nails digging into his phantom palm stops! He can lower his real right arm and watch the image of it, his phantom left arm, in the mirror lower too. After that, perhaps repeated a few times, his phantom limb remains at his side. This is almost impossible to understand if you believe in the conventional POV of perception, but completely consistent with my "crackpot" point of view about perception - just one of many dozen examples that fit naturally into my POV but are inconsistent with the conventional POV about how perception occurs!

    The behavior of a person with a phantom arm sticking out from his body illustrates that the phantom is just as real as the existing arm is to him. For example if he must run thru a narrow door way, he will automatically twist his torso sideways to keep the phantom from banging into the door frame. He intellectually knows the phantom is not really there and can walk thru the door way without twisting side ways. It must seem to him, intellectually that the phantom arm is like a ghost the can pass thur walls etc.

    ALL of "your" perceptions and "you" are created in the RTS. It stops running when you are in deep dreamless sleep. Then "you" do not exist; only the physical body does. As you do not act upon what "you" perceive in a dream state that part of the RTS, does not need to be an accurate copy of what is possible in the physical world. Typically it is not, as there was no evolutionary pressure to make it so. The standard POV that perception "emerges" from the inward flow of processed sensory data is completely wrong. Perception is a creation of the brain. In the dream state, there is not even any inflow of sensor data from for example your shut eyes, for it to emerge from! Yet the world of "your" dream can be as rich and detailed as the world you perceive when you are awake because the RTS is creating it the same as the world you perceive when you are awake.

    My POV that Genuine Free Will, GFW, is possible - not in conflict with laws of physics - is but a tiny consequence of my crackpot POV about perception. While I have shown that GFW is possible, I tend to believe it is just an illusion.

    *"Characteristics" is used in a well defined technical sense. Both I and conventional cognitive science's POV about "characteristics" completely agree, but they have no reason to suggest why all of the sensory input is de-constructed into a fixed set of "characteristics." For example sound is broken down into its Fourier frequency components, which then are further processed. The frequency components with wavelength approximately the size of your head from the left and right ears are compared to compute the difference in their arrival times - that is how you can tell from where the sound is coming even with your eyes shut. To do this these components from both ears go to both sides of the brain. (To compare their arrival times, these signals need to be in the same tissue.)

    For another example of characteristics, the input from the eyes is broken down into line orientations, colors, motion, surface texture, etc. and these characteristic are sent to DIFFERENT parts of the brain for further processing. The accepted POV of view about perception has no idea why input information should be de-constructed into "characteristics" to achieve a UNIFIED understanding of the world.

    I suggest this is done for the same reason a pilot uses a detailed, "broken down into characteristics" check list to evaluate his plane before take off. I.e. the RTS is constantly being adjusted to agree with the external world, each characteristic by characteristic separately. For example if a TV image of a car changes from red to blue in the next frame of the broadcast, there is no need in the RTS to change its direction of motion or car's shape, etc. but there is a conflict in the part of the brain, v4, that processes the color characteristic. The RTS was, via the retrograde fibers from parietal to V4, telling it was simulating a red car but the input from the eyes is now telling in V4 that the car is blue. So this characteristic, and only this characteristic, of the car in the RTS is changed. This minor adjustment of the RTS can be made without stopping it, but see my discussion of the EEG signal called p300 in the text I linked to in an earlier post for what happens when the required revision of the RTS is more major.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2010
  3. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Even in the "revised concept of one's self"... does it not still rely on cause an effect... beggin the queston... whare is the "free will".???

    So in the RTS som thangs hapen for no reason... but give a specific esample of how thangs that hapen for no reason (in the RTS) equates to free will.???
  4. Billy T Please use Sugar Cane Alcohol Fuel Valued Senior Member

    There is (I assume) a relatively hard wired code for the RTS that comes from your DNA, just like you and all primates smile when happy instead of frown. "You" are sort of like a sub routine in this code and interact with the rest of it including perceive what it is representing of your physical body and he external world. "You" via these interactions and not clearly defined interactions with brain activity which is not part of the RTS, but is part of the neural activity controlling "your" physical body and exercise both conscious and unconscious control over the physical body. For example some of "your" thought can change the heart beat rate or consciously cause the body to to pause the normal automatic breathing ("you" can stop the body's breathing for a minute or so)

    This subroutine WHICH IS "you", in my POV is controlling both itself and much of the body's acts. It is in this sense that "you" have free will i.e."you" are in at least partial control. You are causal, but not caused except that you are, like all of the Real Time Simulation, being made by parietal nerve discharges which are executing the current version of he code which is "you."

    These discharges do make "you" but in accordance with the code* of the self creation part of the simulation. They do not cause the body's actions "you" do. They cause "you." I.e. they create an agent who then makes decisions, but I admit it is all just neural processing, but the fact that the "you" being created by these neural discharges are then making the choices is where the free will MAY come in.

    * As I stated, part of this code is given / specified by the body's DNA, but as you age it is modified by your experiences - I.e. "you" are a continuously modified set of code within the RTS and by the time you are an adult "you" have, without knowing how or even that this code exists, have made most of the "you" that the code now executes. It is the evolving "you" that decided much of what the body does. Both major decisions like to marry X or just to lift you right hand to scratch your nose.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  5. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Sinse the RTS is a DNA "Hard wired code" with which "you" interact... an the RTS also represents to "you" what it preceives of "you'r" physical body an external world... along wit the neural activity consciously an unconsciously controlin "you'r" physical body... suggests to me that the "you" has anythang but free-will to make uninfluenced choises.!!!
  6. Billy T Please use Sugar Cane Alcohol Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Not quite what I was trying to say. The RTS is initially for a new born relatively simple compared to what it will become later. It does have the power to make a simple "you," which is an agent, and an increasingly better model of the external world, your body included as part of that "external world." "You" as an agent created by the initial DNA code have many learning abilities. Some mainly physical, such as to have both eyes pointed in the same direction. Some more about knowledge. For example, as Chomsky has pointed out, there is an innate language capacity which only needs to hear your native tongue to have some of the grammatical structures that are possible turned off and others activated. (I am using "grammatical" in Chomsky’s sense, which has nothing to do with the grammar you were taught in school. That is artificial but Chomsky’s grammar is innate knowledge/ sets of rules* / all humans are born with. It is too complex for me to try to explain. - Don't read Chomsky to understand he is much too obtuse for all but professional linguists**. Read Steven Pinker's book The language instinct)

    "You" don't so much "interact" with the hard wired DNA stored code; it is more accurate to say "you" are created by it as an agent that can both (1) learn (a process that modifies the original DNA code constructing "you" so "you" become more complex as "you" age), and (2) can interact, or take information, or "perceive" the RTS's model of the external world that is also part of the RTS to make "your" body move - do things such as speak, throw a rock, etc..

    That is "you" have awareness of the RTS's model of the external world, and can cause "your" body to respond to it, but your body can also respond independently of "you" (I.e. it does have what we call "reflexes.") Thus your body is under dual control, but the major part of this activity is being controlled by "you," an autonomous subroutine within the RTS, which initially was hard wired behavior from the stored information in the DNA, but grows more complex as you age.

    *All human languages follow one of these possible rule sets. They control the structure (not the words, of course) of how you for example convert a statement into a question or insert a dependent clause into the main sentence structure etc.

    **I bought three of his books and got nothing out of any of them, and I already knew something about his Grammar! It is a great irony: The world’s main language expert can’t write a readable book!


    I don’t know if it will help or not, but consider IBM’s chess playing computer “deepblue.” While it is true that it was just a set of deterministic behaviors made by various transistors switching states, it did have, or could be considered to have, “a decision making agent” constructed within it by these transistors. I.e. this agent could sense the “external changes” created by its human opponent, and decide what to do in response. This agent did make choices, but they were part of an unchanging hard wired program.

    “You” are also an autonomous agent, but “you” are part of an evolving/ learning / program much more complex than deepblue, which could not learn. I.e. “you” start out as DNA code, but rapidly “bootstrap” “yourself” into a much more complex, self-created, agent which does make real choices based on “your” total learning /educational/ experiences. That is very different from deepblue, which never learned. By age three, “you” bear very little resemblance to the “you” of the DNA code. "You" are then a unique agent, that is not following any static hard wired code, but one "you" have constructed and are still modifying as you age.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  7. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

    I don't know...Myself, it makes me feel like puking.
  8. LunarSun Registered Member

    As I stated before, I am not saying we are able to ignore the fact the laws of physics are always there, nor am I saying that they are not consistently affecting us. What I am saying however, the laws do not always directly affect the choices we make(which I had previously stated). Take gravity for instance: Gravity will always be active, there is no denying that, however, it does not affect my choice as to where to go for a vacation, or some other destination. In a way, it can be referred back to Newton's Law where, an object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion until directly acted upon by an outside force. If the laws of physics are not directly affecting the choices we make, then essentially, they hold no relevance to said choices. Our minds are what allow us to make choice, they are what we can consider "consciousness"; Gravity, however, acts upon our entire body, not simply are brain. Saying such, we can surmise that many of the choices we make, are not directly affected by the Laws of Physics. Now, if you were meaning to tie in other laws, such as the Laws of Nature, or such things as that, it would be a completely different discussion. One which, I would agree, the Laws of Nature do govern much of what we tend to do, though, we do have enough consciousness to make a choice, not to follow some of the instincts which are dictated by such Laws.
  9. Billy T Please use Sugar Cane Alcohol Fuel Valued Senior Member

    And what do you think "our mind" is? Is it immaterial spirit a thus not subject to the physical laws? If yes, how does it move even an atom, much less you mussels to make you speak or walk?

    If the mind is the brain why is it not governed by the laws of nature? I.e. is not the firing of every nerve in the brain controlled by the physical laws?
  10. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Jus to be clear... i read the origional essay to see what the argument for free will was an thats still what im lookin for.!!!

    All of that is cause an effect an is the basis for the "you" which will evolve over time.!!!

    "You'r" bodys reflexes are not free will... an "you" dont have a choise in the origional hard wired DNA "you" (the agent) are created by... an that unchosin DNA will be a determinin factor in everthang you will eventualy learn/preceive... ie... from the get-go ther never was a posibility for free will... an ther wont be even as you age/change/grow mor complex.!!!

    Terms like "unique an autonomous agent"... "self created/boot-straped" mite have the sound of free will to som... well... until those terms are examined mor closely... an yes we change over time... but in the scenerio you gave above... from the initial "you"... whare is the causal chane broken in such a way that equates to free will.???

    An jus like everthang else... i suspect thers reasons beyond you'r control that make you feel that way... eh:)
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I don't know whether to laugh or to cry ...
  12. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Which ever you do... i suspect ther will be causes beyond you'r control that led you to the "choise" you made... eh:)
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    You mean that free will makes you "feel like puking"?
  14. Billy T Please use Sugar Cane Alcohol Fuel Valued Senior Member

    No, -obviously false as if true, then identical twins (same DNA) would think and chose alike at age 30. Your experience as you live make you unique, as I stated, even with an identical initial code as you twin brother.

    Again: I am not claiming that genuine free will exists, only that it is possible for it to do so without being inconsistent with the natural laws. This because in a simulation as complex as the RTS it is possible for a* subcomponent/ a subroutine, if you like/ to be and act like unique and autonomous agent. I.e. make decisions due to their greatly and uniquely evolved new code controlling them, which bears little resemblance to the initial DNA code instructions.

    Perhaps it will help if I admit that at every stage of the evolving subroutine that is "you," "you" can not make any choice but the one you do make. "You" ARE your evolving controlling code, but tomorrow, presented with the same set of alternative choices, "you" may chose differently. I.e. the idea that at any time you could have chosen "b" instead of the "a" you did chose is an illusion, but the choice of "a" when it was made was "your" free will in action at that time. It was not predetermined from your birth because you are unique.

    * ”a” as I am not sure, but think two or more personalities subroutines may exist in the same RTS, but only one at a time is in control of the body. This would be another case like identical twins where both have identical DNA initial code. That initial DNA code only (or mainly) equips the new born with the capacity to learn.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    First, what is your distinction between "Laws of Physics" and "Laws of Nature", or the other laws? :confused: What is a Natural Law and what is a Physical Law? I see no distinction other than the word used.

    Secondly, your example (using gravity) is fallacious - much like stating that no shoes fit you simply because the ones you picked off the shelf didn't fit. I.e. you chose a single Law (of Gravity) and claimed that because that didn't influence you that no such laws influence you.
    However, it is also flawed in that the Law of Gravity is precisely why you did not choose, for example, to travel to Alpha Centauri, or even the moon. I.e. the Law of Gravity is just one thing that may limit our choices.

    Thirdly - you're still looking at macro influences. Start considering the microscopic - the interaction between atoms, quarks, how one molecule interacts with another. For there to be genuine free-will then your "choices" must be capable of influencing the microscopic realm.
  16. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    Or, if "free will" does not influence the microscopic/subatomic world, then one need to consider how the brain works. If the brain and the flows of information within it is controlled by those microscopic laws (much as the flow of information in a computer is), and free will/the ability to choose does not influence those flows, then how could free will arise in the first place? In what sense would it be meaningful to have free will, if the physical brain is a slave to physics? Where are choices even made if not in the brain?

    One could accept Billy T's version, that we are all merely information and that the brain is a simulation (or a part of a simulation, or possibly a holographic projection), but that raises more questions than it answers, and it doesn't necessarily show (as he indicates) that there is free will, it just removes the brain (as we know it) from the argument as a constraint.
  17. glaucon tending tangentially Moderator

    Mod Hat,

    Anyone for getting back on topic? Anyone? Beuller??

  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    All good questions - which is why many good scientists are currently trying to find answers to them.
    But in and of themselves they are insufficient for me to consider it rational that free-will is more than an illusion - not that there is any appeal to this position other than that gained from retaining a rational position.
  19. Billy T Please use Sugar Cane Alcohol Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I gave an answer in post 80 to thread's question, which seems complete and has not been revised by others. Perhaps that terminated the "on topic" discussion. I said:
    Thread seems to have morphed into discussion as to whether or not free will is an illusion and / or is it possible it is not an illusion.

    Pandaemoni mis-stated my POV as: " it doesn't necessarily show (as he indicates) that there is free will," but correctly states my main point: "it just removes the brain (as we know it) from the argument as a constraint."

    I have only shown (I think) that free will can avoid being in violation of the physical laws (but stated I tend to think it is an illusion) by making the self only information and not anything physical as the behavior of all things physical are constrained by the physical laws.

    If you want, close the thread as its question seem to have been answered, but IMHO the current morphed discussion is useful.
  20. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Originally Posted by cluelusshusbund
    ... an that unchosen DNA will be a determinin factor in everthang you will eventualy learn/preceive...

    You seem to thank i said that ones DNA will determine ever aspect of ones life (which i did not say)... what i did say is... ones DNA will be a determinin factor in everthang they will eventualy learn/preceive... ie... if you are born wit defective DNA which leads to you havin an iq of 47... that DNA affects everthang you learn/perceive for as long as you live.!!!

    Yes... an i havent seen you present any process that results in free-will... it seems that the RTS is jus an unnecesary layer that still dont produce free will in any shape or form.!!!

    Thats jus passin the buck agan... ie... not even the autonomous agent has free will... an how does it equate to "you" havin free will for an autonomous agent to make "you'r" decisions for you.???

    I dont make the clame that everthang is predetermined... what i say is... i havent seen any logical evidence (includin you'r complex RTS) that ponts to free will not bein an illusion.!!!
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010

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