Free will ~ A product of imagination

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Quantum Quack, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member


    except the product of the imagination called fiction... [ despite what others may tell you of course!]

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  3. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Well as you know philosophers have been debating this issue since the dawn of time, and if the notion that freewill is a product of the imagination , a fiction waiting to be enacted does it pass muster enough to proceed to the next step . That being to put the notion in a more formal language and forward it on for peer review?
    To offer solution that bridges the chasm between deterministic views and that of the more "magical" variety?
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  5. Dazz Registered Senior Member

    As it seems to me that, the real issue of determining if free will is or not imagination or, free will goes as far as imagination goes, the pinnacle of the dilemma lays in the boundary that there has to exist between free will and imagination. And IMO that has to be made throught sheer determinism, as, to put it in the boundary realms, that can be measured, one must put it at its most concrete sense, because to determine a boundary between abstract things is like raising a wooden fence on the sandwaves of a desert most of the time. The separation between free will and imagination would be as thin as of love/passion, passion/obssession, obssession/paranoia and so on. It takes a small step to lead to another.
    See if you agree?
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  7. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Oh I have no problem with what you have written... However once something is considered as imaginary [ "real" fiction ] then the link to deterministic causality becomes one of how the deterministic aspect provides physical provisioning for that fiction with out actually determining that fiction...

    to explain:
    A truck is built to carry a load.
    The truck does not determine what it carries... however it may determine the volume it can hold and whether or not it is sufficient for the task required [re: physical limitations]. There is no rule that says someone can not try to fit 20 cubic meters into a space of only 15 cubic meters available and fail in the process of trying to do so. [ our psychiatric hospitals could be said to be filled with minds who have over loaded the mental truck so to speak]
    I guess what I am trying to say is that the determinism involved is in providing the platform for the imagination to work from and makes no determination as to what that imagination is capable of producing. The imagination being self regulated by it's own imaginings, imaginary rules of logic for example, or imaginary physics, reasoning, rational, self restraints, blocks and other self control apparatus generated as the mind requires them to afford a comfort zone for the imaginer. Managing the fiction in our heads is not easy I might add...with out discipline and self restraints learned and imagined likewise.

    ...just thoughts
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Yet the question remains of how much freedom there is within this freewill.
    I would suggest none, and that "his/her will, purpose and motivation" are mere interpretations of the patterns of activity, but with no ability to change them from that which they are.
    This does not mean that I can not appear to change it from one moment to the next, but that any apparent change is merely the outcome of a causal chain that adheres to the universal laws.
    The proponents of the illusory free-will would not, I think, dispute your notions in defining freewill as you do, but they would question whether there is any genuine freedom within it, and if there is no freedom within it, how can it be freewill as anything other than illusion?
    Not necessarily pre-determined (which is why I don't like the use of "determined by" to merely mean "the result of"). If one considers the universe to operate with an element of randomness, or is indeterministic, but that randomness/indeterminism is still allowed by the universal laws, then there is no predetermination yet freewill would be, per their argument, still illusory.

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    It is in quotes because to consider it a genuine decision is to beg the question. It is the very issue that is being questioned.
    So how do we define "making a decision"? I would say that most people would see the term as being the output from freewill. If we consider freewill to be genuine, then a decision is the output from freewill. However, if a decision is merely the output of, say, a deterministic process, akin to a computer filtering data and reaching a conclusion (as per IBM's Watson), then we can be considered to "make a decision" if that process occurs within our heads/brains.
    As such the term "decision" does not say anything about freewill being illusory or otherwise.
    So I put it in quotes to ensure that people do not make the assumption that the term implies a genuine freewill.
    Sure. I'm not a strict determinist. But even with randomness within the operations at the minutest level, it is the inability to do anything other than that which happened that is crucial.
    If I roll an indeterministic die, for example, the output can be any number from 1 to 6, but I can not "choose" which it is. But the output is not predetermined.
    I don't think it is faith. I'm not saying that nothing can ever defy them, but if that happens then those laws will be debunked and new ones will be developed. But they are laws precisely because nothing yet has ever defied them.
    But moving on...
    Let's call it an assumption, then.

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    Ok. We're on a roll...

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    First, I'm saying that it is not just the external environment. Clearly it has some impact - often quite significant.
    As for the rest, this is what I would consider to be merely a matter of definition of freewill... i.e. your definition is that the process occurs within the human, irrespective of what that process is, and much of the process is feedback loops of other processes within the human... etc.
    For me, there is still no freedom within the process. And if there is no freedom, how can I say that there is any freewill? There is certainly the conscious appearance of it (the consciousness being another process etc), but is there any actual freedom to do anything?
    So this is where we seem to differ, I think.
    I'm trying to keep it away from that, and would not argue beyond request for evidence of it, which would get tiring.
    "Determine" has specific connotations - as in if the universe was rewound and played over, the same things would result. The argument that I (and I think Baldeee, and Cluelusshusband etc) make is that it is merely the lack of freedom to select the output that is important... and there is no freedom in an indeterministic environment that follows the universal laws. At most there is randomness (and thus indeterminism). So whether the universe is strictly deterministic (I don't think it is) or not, really does not matter. And the closest thing such as Clueluss and others have to succinctly word that is to merely talk about causation. But causation does not imply determinism.
    If one merely uses "determine" to mean "is the result of..." without invoking the determinist philosophy, then okay, but it can get confusing.

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    For the record, I don't believe in supernatural souls either. And I think the rest depends on what you consider freewill to be. And for me it needs to have genuine freedom to be considered a genuine freewill.
  9. Heranion Registered Member

    If you believe you are free, you are.
    If you believe you are not, you are not.

    Below is my pragmatic holistic explanation for this train of thought:

    1. Free will and locus of control

    Locus of control is the extent to which individuals or groups believe in free will, in the sense that they can or cannot control the events around them. Now, it has been proven that individuals or groups who believe in free will, will more often survive their environment than their deterministic counterparts. When tornadoes struck Alabama and Illinois, and considerably more people and their belongings fell victim in Alabama than in Illinois, studies showed that Alabama inhabitants were more prone to externalize and Illinois inhabitants were more prone to internalize. Alternatively put, in the discrepancy between Alabama and Illinois damages, the level of preparedness was an effect of the inhabitants locus of control. Illinois people, believing in free will more than Alabama people, took better actions to defend themselves against the forces of nature. Therefore, you can deduce that your individual and collective locus of control may dictate your chance of survival and extrapolate that your chance at living full or successful lives is also influenced by this. This applies to any particular event, though the outcome may not be positive for believers for each event.

    2. Free will and entropy

    Entropy: Any given system will try to achieve maximum internal chaos (read: diversity), mostly and primarily to maintain itself.

    I believe our society follows this principle. That is why we are having the discussion over free will. We need people who don't believe in free will (sheep, followers, loyalists) and people who believe in free will (herding dogs, leaders, free souls, dissenters) in order to maximize our diversity and organic way of life and society. The goal in this discussion is balance, harmony. Too much free thought leads to explosive destructive progress (cancer). Too little leads to apathetic destructive stagnation (necrosis). This applies to the life of a collective or society as well as to the minds of individuals.

    3. Free will and evolution

    We've been having this discussion since the dawn of man, further proving the necessity of the discussion. The development of legendary Greek tragedies and other ancient deities that prescribe our lives have been a testament to that. Perhaps religion can be explained as a need for less barbarism, through less free will. As stated above, our collective subconscious follows the rules of entropy. And our locus of control dictates our chance at survival in the long run. If you combine the two propositions, you will see that this falls perfectly in line with Darwin's legacy and theories. Even if this has nothing to do with DNA, the mere distribution of believers and nonbelievers through social interaction and education might have an effect on our societal progress and chance of survival. The adoption of new ideas and technology might be at its peak when we have a perfect harmony in the belief of free will and determinism. In the case of Alabama vs Illinois tornado damages/victims, determinism might have led to new developments (because the damages will lead to better built houses and infrastructure, employing new technologies or engineering) in the area while believers in free will were better prepared and there was a lesser demand in new infrastructure. In this case, perhaps next time the Alabama people will be better prepared. Perpetuum Mobile?

    4. Genetically programmed free will

    In the passing of genes, there's usually the following options: AB + AB = [AA, AB, AB, BB]. In this simple sample, A is belief and B is disbelief. If free will is passed on like this, whether through nature(DNA) or nurture(education), that would explain the tenacity with which we adhere to the belief or disbelief of free will. In the long run, for humanities' sake, the diversity in the belief of free will might be essential for smooth progress. As in, progress with the least amount of victims or friction and the least expenditure of energy.

    5. The analogy with cell biology

    An analogy can be found within our cells as well. We have two major types of cells. Sexual and asexual.

    Sexual cells can be seen as free-thinking cells, believing in free will. They produce 4 daughter cells (haploid) through a process called meiosis, where the number of chromosomes is split in half and can cross over in their offspring, producing greater variety than their asexual counterparts. So, these cells can be compared to individuals who believe in free will, causing explosive growth and diversity.

    The asexual cells can be seen as deterministic cells, not believing in free will. They produce 2 daughter cells (diploid) through a process called mitosis, where the number of chromosomes remain equal to that of the parent cells and are genetically pretty much (not counting errors) the same. These cells can be compared to individuals who don't believe in free will. It is a more safe method of reproduction, but fairly slow and linear.

    The human body comprises of both and needs both to exist. So it is only natural that our society reflects this in the belief of free will and other forms of harmonious but conflicting thoughts.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  10. Dazz Registered Senior Member

    1. Yes you have asserted nicely to the importance of the belief in free will althought, you have not entirely presented if the free will is indeed a product of imagination or not.
    Presently, we have the importance of it, the belief in the free will. That solely is a subject of faith and i am distressed at this discussion. So let's go to the next.

    2. And?
    The assertion that diversity exists in our society does not make free will less of an imaginary thing or more. Correlation does not mean causation.

    PS: I have not infered that i believe or don't believe in free will. Trying to build up my opinion as well.

    3. Animals have also evolved, do they have free will? Or survival instinct? Maybe both are intrinsically tied together. As the disbelief in free will might render you accepting whatever happens to you, according to your passage. But again, correlation and causation.

    Nothing else i can elaborate tho'.

    @Q Q, i lost my line of thought for some while. Catching up.
    I humbly think that the truck would be more easily and readily purchased if we had a hefty sum of "empirical determinism" (my gooshness..) per say.
    For us to think what is imaginary we must agree that it is something that lives in the mind.
    The choices live in the mind and the act of being able to choose (deemed free will) live in the mind as well as out of it. Simply because the occasion that presents your choice is out here, your take to pick one out of the options is within your conscience. But the actual happening is in the empirical world. So far so good for imagination?
    Quite blurry, i think so.
  11. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    For the product of the imagination to be "fictional" in the commonly used context, must indeed exist only in the mind so to speak. However the the fact that world is full of enacted fiction regarding human behavior would need to be considered.
    Perhaps carefully defining terms is absolutely necessary when talking about in mind, out of mind, fiction, real fiction and enacted fiction [ reality ]?

    Perhaps a starting point would be to construct a glossary of terms that clarifies the distinctions between terms like fiction, "Real" fiction and enacted fiction
  12. Dazz Registered Senior Member

    I think it would be pretty decent to conclude that the enacted fiction is the "reality" as, it is the choice of the free will made practical?
    When it is actively put on the realm of the empirical world.

    As for the real fiction would be the imaginings (borrowing your word) made impossible, or possible, still in the abstract word that may, or may not, be oppressed by the laws of physics, maybe? I seriously had to ponder a bit about this part.... >.<

    And for the fiction, it is easily assumed it may be the part within the abstract realm, within the minds that couldn't care less about the laws of physics, where between blue and red, you choose yellow.
    That is my say at least...
  13. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    yes the enacted fiction being subject to, or oppressed by the laws of physics but not determined by the laws of physics.

    ie, "a master builder wants to build a 10,000 floor skyscraper but can't because of the...." so he builds a space station instead.

    What I see is that real fiction is our imaginations attempt to mimic what we perceive of the outer world. [ A bit like writing a reality based news article compared to writing fantasy fiction. ]

    I have no issues with any of the above... it makes sense to me...
  14. Heranion Registered Member

    My previous post about the necessity of diversity in the belief of free will has nothing to do with faith, you needn't be distressed. The following definitions are my basis for analysis and the perspective on this matter:

    Imagination: The process and the ability to form new ideas, images and sensations
    Free will: The ability to decide what to do independently of any outside influence, unconstrained by metaphysical, physical, social and mental factors.
    - metaphysical constraints: any form of determinism in any kind of ideology or religion
    - physical constraints: imprisonment, disease
    - social constraints: threat of punishment, shame, censorship, family values
    - mental constraints: neural predisposition (determinism), mental illness

    Also worth noting: The core defining property of 'Will' in the philosophical sense is 'intent'.

    See, this is why I post mildly irrelevant information. Are we not one step further? (I did not imply causation by the way)

    - Free will is a product of imagination

    - There is diversity in the belief of one's free will
    - There is diversity in the ability to exert one's free will
    - Imagination is the ability to form new ideas, images and sensations
    - Free will is not a reflex, it is a decision. It is the intended unconstrained ability to act.
    - You cannot act without thought, except for reflexive actions. In order for you to take action, you must first imagine it.
    - Our imagination is unconstrained, our imagination is also mostly intended (even lucid dreams are possible, from my own experience too)

    We can so far conclude that free will and imagination are at the least not mutually exclusive.

    Now, for anyone to be able to freely decide (unconstrained by metaphysical, physical, social and mental factors) what to do, they need to escape from the collection of choices made before them or in their stead and the stories told before them. To act on the stories and choices of others, can be argued, is not living, nor is it using your ability to think and act unconstrained to the fullest. I'll let you continue make my case for me;

    Animals have survival instinct. Do they imagine? Certainly they do! (animals dream too). Free will... perhaps. Maybe the only difference is that we are more intelligent than most species, and our type of bodies allow us to do more with our imagination. But again, I did not imply causation between evolution and free will and I don't want to sidetrack this discussion with animal behavior. All I did in my previous comment was show that free will is a driver for societal progress as much as determinism, and that if both are in harmony (see diversity subject I introduced), the best results are possible. Why? Because diversity is crucial in an entropic, highly dangerous universe.

    And why do I believe in the harmony of determinism and free will? Because man's reach exceeds his grasp. His imagination exceeds his reach. Though we are bound by reality, we advance and grow by the temptation of dreams and the alluring character of infinite possibility. Essentially, imagination contrasts free will and also complements it. Because free will is bound by reality and imagination is not. Moreover, our imagination redefines our reality on a daily basis. If our reality is a circle, imagination is the vector that increases its radius and determinism is its circumference.

    However, as a futurist, I consider our imagination to be (among many things) a tool for envisioning all possible futures. If our imagination can conjure up an infinite amount of possible destinations, then the paths taken cannot be singular, nor linear, as proven by quantum mechanics. Thus, imagination allows for (demands?) free will.
  15. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    If you don't mind me saying, the above is an extraordinary [good] piece of writing....IMO
    Can I ask you to elaborate/clarify the following passage?

    Welcome to sciforums btw...

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    “Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
    Or what's a heaven for?” ~ Robert Browning, perhaps?
  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    And are you going to show that freewill is a reality? That something does indeed operate a will that is independent of any outside influence, unconstrained by metaphysical factors?
    Or are you merely going to conclude that freewill is as much a product of imagination as, say, Tolkein's Middle Earth is?

    I don't doubt that if freewill were genuine that it would require an imagination, not least to identify and picture the possible choices (if I ask you to pick A or B you need imagination to assess what each option might result in etc). Without imagination one would be looking at mere random selection at best.

    But just because P requires Q does not mean that if Q exists then P also does.

    So perhaps the question raised in the OP can be answered simply by saying that freewill is at least as much a product of the imagination as anything else (elves, dwarves, unicorns etc). But that answer does not speak of the existence of freewill beyond the ability to imagine it.

    So is freewill a product of the imagination? Are dwarfs, elves and the like?
    Is freewill any more real than those?

    And to answer that one must look past the mere ability to imagine, and to the mechanisms that we understand to be freewill: are those mechanisms free from external influence, from metaphysical constraints etc?
  17. wellwisher Banned Banned

    If you lack imagination, you may not be able to generate new choices, thereby defaulting one to what is in working memory. In this case, it would appear like free will does not exist, since the future is defined only by the procedures of the past.

    The imagination, is different in that can see a hypothetical future, such as a new bridge across the river. One can wait for eons for this bridge to appear through natural laws, but it will never happen. Since the imagination is not always rational or limited to casual, the future time line can depart from the patterns of the past to create a unique future; based on will power.

    In my imagination, I can fly to the moon, by waving my arms like a bird. This is not real or practical, nor can it be done via the laws of nature. Nevertheless, the imagination allows me to depart from natural laws and cause and effect, in this silly way. The imaginary vision of the bridge is not as much of a departure from reality. However, it will not spontaneously appear from natural forces and laws, just like me flapping my arms will fly me to the moon. But, the bridge is within the realm of possibility, through applied science instead of natural science.. The result can be a unique thing within the universe, in space and time, because imagination thought it and was not limited to natural laws; will power uses this template.

    Imagination is the non causal wild card that can fuzz out natural limits to provide additional choices. This can become the basis for free will; free from natural determinism, using the imagination to help contrived from scratch. We have free will in our imagination, because of its ability to break any law in an imaginary way. Interfacing reality narrows this down but does not eliminate it. The practice needed for free will development, is to use the imagination, while learning to interface the realm of possibilities.
  18. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    @Heranion, friendly advice for a new poster...

    As Sarkus appears to have me on iggy there is no point me responding to his attempt to entrap you.. Just be careful he is very gifted at shifting context midstream leaving the reader unaware that he has done so...
  19. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    well said!
  20. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    what mechanism are you referring to?
  21. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    So we conclude that a genuine freewill would require an imagination.
    But, as Sarkus rightly points out, if P requires Q, the existence of Q does not necessarily mean that P exists.
    Computers can do the same thing: or so the Met Office seem to think.
    Further, you state that the imagination is not (always) limited to causal: are you suggesting that the imagination can arrive at something without either a conscious or subconscious cause?
    The bridge, as imagined, is an abstraction, created by causal processes within your brain.
    Those processes, unless you have evidence to the contrary, would rationally be held to follow the laws of the universe.
    That the imagined abstraction can appear to defy those laws is a red-herring, since it is not a reality as anything other than an abstraction.
    And as has been pointed out previously, you end up with the argument that the OP reaches: something not real need not abide by the universe's laws.
    How is it non-causal?
    You have claimed it to be but not shown how it can be.
    Try and imagine anything without a reason (conscious or subconscious) for doing so.
    Do you have anything to show how it can be free from "natural determinism"?
    (And how does "natural determinism" differ from "unnatural determinism"?)
    Indeed: something not real need not adhere to the universe's laws.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  22. wellwisher Banned Banned

    I think I figured out the disconnect between the two main points of view. If we apply the atheist definition of God, it is considered a product of the human imagination. God is not considered part of reality based on scientific proof or any of the laws of nature that we know. If free will is connected to the imagination, God (imagination induction) is a potential basis for humans becoming free moral agents; free will. In traditions, God creates humans as free more agents. All it would take is the God concept, to animate the imagination, then free will begin to evolve. Even today, a fundamentalist lives in their own alternate reality heavy on the imagination.

    In other words, if we assume god is all imagination, the very idea of god, by stimulating imagination, offers the very wild card needed to depart from natural determinism.

    If natural determinism,instead of will power was true and God being the product of the imagination is accepted as true, then God would be a product of natural determinism and therefore real. This means God follows natural laws at some level, we may not yet know. This would make atheism a form of religion, since it denies any natural determined connection to God. There is a paradox where both are mutually exclusive.

    If you compare the religious person to the atheist, in terms of free choice and determinism, atheism more closely follows the path of natural determinism. This is why we just assume children will have sex, since this is genetically determined. Religion, via the imagination and the connection to God, choses a path of repression that tries to alter nature determinism in favor of an imagined ideal. The first does not require willpower and choice, since it follows the inertia of genetic, while the second need both to swim against the current. It all due to more use of the imagination in religion, to alter natural determinism in ways that don't just fall from natural laws, but need a push; where there is will there is a way.

    Christ said love your enemy. This is not natural, since an enemy will trigger fight or flight in an animal, not love. The fight and flight instinct, due to the imagination, is induced out of whack with natural determinism. This determinism was a product of millions of years of evolution. But this willful choice favors a future utopia that will not happen naturally, but rather needs a drastic departure from natural determinism.

    The concept of free more agent and free choice stems from religion (imagination) not science (hard reality). Over the centuries as the religious imagination descends to reality, then willful acts, like of the gods, appear; pyramids.
  23. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    If imagination is what affords us our freewill then there is no reason to consider freewill to be in defiance of the "laws of physics" in fact one could consider that freewill is "enshrined" by the laws of physics."

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