The many faces of the free will problem

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
Gertie
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Gertie » April 21st, 2017, 2:57 am

For my part it would be really helpful if you could spell out:

1) Why and on what basis you feel that a belief that all mental events reduce to physical ones can be justified by reference to science, despite science embracing mental events.
2) Why and on what basis you feel that an explanation that reduces everything to the physical is necessary and sufficient, but other explanations are not.
:lol:

OK I give up.


Really?

1) How do mental events occur, what's the explanation?
2) How are they causal? How does this work in practice, for example how does thinking make my arm move, what's the causal explanation?

Lay out the details, how the explanation works.

Oh, the how is indeed a problem
Exactly!

This is the point.

Each 'side' of the free will argument can happily spend all day picking holes in the other's evidence and arguments, that's the easy part. I can see why you're happy endlessly doing that, but it's ultimately inconclusive.

Because giving an evidenced explanation of how your positive claim works which can't be picked apart is the problem. You can't do that.

That's why my own position, rather than the mischaracterisation you continue to strawman, is that we don't know if we have free will. To know we need a deeper explanation which resolves the evidence and arguments.

That's why people like Fc try to create more fundamental explanatory hypotheses trying to explain an issue which seems intractable based on our current understanding of how the world works. An explanatory model which encompasses both the mental and physical. Not just conceptually, as if saying 'monism' makes the problem disappear - but how it could actually work. In a way I can't spend days picking apart.

If you can do that, lay it out here.

Belindi
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Belindi » April 21st, 2017, 3:09 am

In the absence of any understanding of physiology what is more probable

1. that the central nervous system which includes the functions of memory, judgement, and motor nerves controls skeletal-muscular actions, or that

2. there is a structure in the head which is invisible and acausal and which makes all our decisions for us ?

Fcacciola
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Fcacciola » April 21st, 2017, 10:50 am

Gertie wrote:Yes theoretically that could work.

It's not an easy fit with our observations of consciousness being associated with complex systems, suggesting consciousness is an emergent property, but the fault could lie in our limited ability to observe and interpret.
My interpretation of the reasons why we only associate consciousness with complex systems is--in connection with what I said at the bottom of my last post--that in reality, we only see consciousness within ourselves, nowhere else. Therefore, we are naturally bound to attribute (rather than really "see") consciousness in anything that resembles ourselves. So, to the same extent we can see consciousness on an abstract animated clock drawn on a computer, which is illusory, we fail to see it in anything that doesn't look like us, even if that might very well be completely wrong.

As it turns out, I, the entity where I so clearly see (my own) consciousness, am a complex system, whose parts we even figured out to great length. Then is only natural to put these two observations together (*I* am conscious + *I* am made of these parts) to infer that consciousness ought to be an emergent epiphenomena. This naturally logical assumption bares the burden of needing all the glory details of how does that actually happens, but that is not a problem, just a lot of work. However, there is a real "problem" (in quotes) with the emergent assumption, despite being so easily derived from the (completely subjective) observations: if consciousness is a system-level property but of a system that is in constant flux, then there is no object-level entity being the experiencer of the experiences. In other words, there really isn't any ontological self, and "I" am just a form, not a real thing. If one really wants a persistent, ontologically real "experiencer", there are some parts of the brain that are quite persistent, and so we might think that this or that neuron is "me". However, neuroplasticity and all sorts of brain damage clearly shows that the "awareness of our own consciousness" is completely unaltered (*1), so, the emergent view really renders consciousness as a system-level *only* property that is somehow dynamic enough to emerge "persistently" no matter how the system from which it emerges changes.

While that view is both logically inferred and realistically possible, it totally goes against our own self-perception, which states that there really is a me and I'm not just a form. Interestingly, our own self-perception (*I* am conscious + *I* am this complex system) is the very starting point from which we infer the emergent view, so, it is on the edge of absurdity to end up concluding that the starting proposition is not really what it appears to be (since the conclusion is that there is no ontologically real "me" in the first place)

I believe there is a way to attempt a primitive explanation on how there can be a real ontological "me", an object-level individual experiencer, and at the same time so clearly perceive--or experience--conscious awareness as a system-level property associated with the system that is our entire human being (from brain to toe). That explanation is rather large and out of scope, but I wrote about that in another post on a totally different topic here:

http://onlinephilosophyclub.com/forums/ ... 11#p287911


(*1) we might find that we can't move a limb, touch my nose, build up a sentence, remember our names, etc... but none of that changes the self-awarness of our own consciousness.
Gertie wrote: Isn't that a measurement problem rather than an argument against neural correlation in principle?
Absolutely. There is nothing logically wrong with the principle of neural correlation (even if I personally disagree with it). I just wanted to point out the measurement problem in case readers missed it and think we got any conclusive evidence already.
Gertie wrote: But there is no settled deeper explanation, so imo we're not in a position to simply assert the existence of free will based on our current understanding of how the world works.
Right. And contrary to what it might seem, I'm really trying to not assert the existence of free will, but to build a model that can be put to the test. Only evidence can assert the existence of anything.
Gertie wrote: Epistemically speaking, the way I see it is that the existence of an 'outside world' at all requires a leap of faith. All be it one we have to take for practical reasons.

Once that's assumed, we have to recognise that we're limited creatures molded by evolution for utility, rather than Perfect Truth Perceivers and Understanders. So we're limited in our perceptual and cognitive capabilities, at certain levels of granularity and conceptual understanding. (QM seems 'weird' to us because we didn't evolve to operate at that level of granularity, classical physics works for us to navigate the world).
Precisely.
Gertie wrote: And our utilitarian systems are apt to find useful kludgy short cuts which mostly serve their purpose, but can't always be relied on. Like your example, our tendency to see agency when its not there (useful when there's a rustle in the bushes - better for our ancestors to assume it's a snake and run, than assume it's the wind). Or simply 'filling in' our optical blindspot so we don't notice it. We're not cameras, green and red don't exist out there, we play a part in constructing our models of out there, and ourselves, in useful ways which work for us.

This means our own folk psychology intuitions aren't always reliable either. We can be certain that we experience willing our arm to rise, then experience seeing it happen. But we can't be sure of the mental causal connection we intuit.
Right. So even if we finally figure out a way to get some evidence, one way or another, we'll still be intrinsically limited.

Togo1
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Togo1 » April 21st, 2017, 1:02 pm

Gertie wrote:
For my part it would be really helpful if you could spell out:

1) Why and on what basis you feel that a belief that all mental events reduce to physical ones can be justified by reference to science, despite science embracing mental events.
2) Why and on what basis you feel that an explanation that reduces everything to the physical is necessary and sufficient, but other explanations are not.
:lol:

OK I give up.
<shrug> Examining initial assumptions isn't really optional. I get that it's uncomfortable, but we actually need to do it.

This is epistomology. We need to work out what of the problem we are facing is based on our initial assumptions, such that if we change those assumptions we change the problem. I'm pointing out what changes if we change the assumptions, because that is part of understanding the problem.

Really?

1) How do mental events occur, what's the explanation?
2) How are they causal? How does this work in practice, for example how does thinking make my arm move, what's the causal explanation?

Lay out the details, how the explanation works.

Oh, the how is indeed a problem
Exactly!

This is the point.

Each 'side' of the free will argument can happily spend all day picking holes in the other's evidence and arguments, that's the easy part. I can see why you're happy endlessly doing that, but it's ultimately inconclusive. [/quote]

What you're describing, where one person puts up an idea and the other picks holes in it, is inconclusive, yes. It's rhetoric (debate) rather than philosophy. What I'm trying to do bring down our framing of the problem to some basic assumptions, so we can see what it is we're discovering about the problem and what we're bringing a priori. That actually allows you to reach some conclusions, such as issue X is based on assumptions A, B and C. Of course it doesn't work if you refuse to discuss them.
Gertie wrote:Because giving an evidenced explanation of how your positive claim works which can't be picked apart is the problem. You can't do that.
Sorry, what positive claim? All I've said is that your framing of the problem depends on assumptions you are bringing a priori, and that with different assumptions the problem changes, and some aspects of it disappear entirely. For example, there's no issue with mental causing physical or physical causing mental if you take mental and physical to be two aspects of the same thing.
Gertie wrote:That's why my own position, rather than the mischaracterisation you continue to strawman, is that we don't know if we have free will.
I know it is. I have no objection to the idea that we can't know that we have free will.
Gertie wrote:To know we need a deeper explanation which resolves the evidence and arguments.
That's the bit I'm having more issue with. I don't think you've correctly identified the evidence and arguements.

What you're asking for is an understanding of how we can reconcile mental and physical events, given that they're seperate, and suggesting that we can't resolve this without deeper explanation. I'm suggesting that the reason why it appears so difficult to resolve, may be because we're assuming they are seperate when they aren't.
Gertie wrote:That's why people like Fc try to create more fundamental explanatory hypotheses trying to explain an issue which seems intractable based on our current understanding of how the world works.


Hm.. Our current understanding of how human behaviour works is based on identity theory, the idea that mind and body are different aspects of the same thing. Thus decision making involves a lot of neural connections, and a lot of different thoughts, and they are different from each other or have causal relationships between them - they are different aspects of the same overall process.

While this idea is neat, tidy and explains the observed phenomenon more sucessfully than any other, it would make the observed world a stranger place than many physicalists are entirely happy with. But then that's in line with most of the scientific discoveries since the 1970s. <shrug>
Gertie wrote:An explanatory model which encompasses both the mental and physical. Not just conceptually, as if saying 'monism' makes the problem disappear - but how it could actually work. In a way I can't spend days picking apart.

If you can do that, lay it out here.
The one scientists actually use for human behaviour is Identity Theory, in which there is no interaction between the mental and physical to start with, because they're different aspects of the same thing. Under this approach, interactions occur between objects, but those objects have a mental and physical aspects, and mental aspects are an accurate and useful map to what's going on physically (because at some level that are what is going on physically).

This isn't the same as the mental reductionist approach in which everything is modelled as a purely physical, and mental experience is left as a sort of acausal ghost or illusion.

I appreciate that isn't exactly what you were asking for, but it is something that leaves far less to explain.
Belindi wrote:In the absence of any understanding of physiology what is more probable

1. that the central nervous system which includes the functions of memory, judgement, and motor nerves controls skeletal-muscular actions, or that

2. there is a structure in the head which is invisible and acausal and which makes all our decisions for us ?
Well 1, clearly, but I don't see that they're alternatives. Try this:

Which is more probable?

1. that the central nervous system which includes the functions of memory, judgement, and motor nerves, controls skeletal-muscular actions, and that there is a structure in the head which is invisible and which makes all our decisions for us, which are then ignored in practice?

2. That the central nervous system which includes the functions of memory, judgement, and motor nerves, controls skeletal-muscular actions, and that there is a structure in the head which is invisible and which makes all our decisions for us, which in turn controls the central nervous system?

3. That we have a system that is both a central nervous system which includes the functions of memory, judgement, and motor nerves, and operates as an invisible structure in our heads that makes all our decisions for us, and it is this system that controls skeletal-muscular actions?


After all, noone is denying the existance of this invisible structure in our heads that makes decisions, they're just arguing about how useful it is.

Belindi
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Belindi » April 21st, 2017, 3:25 pm

Togo1 wrote:
After all, noone is denying the existance of this invisible structure in our heads that makes decisions, they're just arguing about how useful it is.
I deny that any structure in the head is invisible.

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Felix
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Felix » April 21st, 2017, 4:24 pm

The "structure" of consciousness is invisible, but it's not all in our heads.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

Togo1
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Togo1 » April 21st, 2017, 4:44 pm

Belindi wrote:Togo1 wrote:
After all, noone is denying the existance of this invisible structure in our heads that makes decisions, they're just arguing about how useful it is.
I deny that any structure in the head is invisible.
So make it visible. Same issue still applies.

Gertie
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Gertie » April 22nd, 2017, 6:45 am

Fc

Gertie wrote:
Yes theoretically that could work.

It's not an easy fit with our observations of consciousness being associated with complex systems, suggesting consciousness is an emergent property, but the fault could lie in our limited ability to observe and interpret.

My interpretation of the reasons why we only associate consciousness with complex systems is--in connection with what I said at the bottom of my last post--that in reality, we only see consciousness within ourselves, nowhere else. Therefore, we are naturally bound to attribute (rather than really "see") consciousness in anything that resembles ourselves. So, to the same extent we can see consciousness on an abstract animated clock drawn on a computer, which is illusory, we fail to see it in anything that doesn't look like us, even if that might very well be completely wrong.
Yeah emergence is only one possibility. And you're spot on that a lot of our thinking, as well as short-cut intuitions, about consciousness is (perhaps necessarily) based on similarity to what we know is conscious - ourselves. That's an observation which often gets over-looked. I forget who, maybe McGinn, talks about identifying consciousness by analogy. It's all the Turing test does.
As it turns out, I, the entity where I so clearly see (my own) consciousness, am a complex system, whose parts we even figured out to great length. Then is only natural to put these two observations together (*I* am conscious + *I* am made of these parts) to infer that consciousness ought to be an emergent epiphenomena. This naturally logical assumption bares the burden of needing all the glory details of how does that actually happens, but that is not a problem, just a lot of work.
Right. Twere it but so simple! Of course even if we were able to observe all the aspects of a system which results in consciousness, that isn't the same thing as understanding why and how it does. It doesn't identify the necessary and sufficient conditions for consciousness which that system has. And if we take examples of emergence in systems where we don't recognise consciousness, we can reduce the emergent physical properties to the underlying ones, eg the properties of ocean waves can be reduced to the properties of H2O molecules, as I understand it. It's what The Standard Model does - according to the likes of Carroll. And it's what physicalist reductionism of causality claims. But we can't reduce ontological consciousness to physical brains and their components in the same way. So while emergence is a way of understanding processes which is familiar to us and looks applicable to consciousness in some ways, it doesn't look applicable in an important one -ontological reducibility. The similar ways might be a good clue, or they might not. Having said that, the fact that brains are the most complex physical things we know of is a nice fit with emergence.
However, there is a real "problem" (in quotes) with the emergent assumption, despite being so easily derived from the (completely subjective) observations: if consciousness is a system-level property but of a system that is in constant flux, then there is no object-level entity being the experiencer of the experiences. In other words, there really isn't any ontological self, and "I" am just a form, not a real thing. If one really wants a persistent, ontologically real "experiencer", there are some parts of the brain that are quite persistent, and so we might think that this or that neuron is "me". However, neuroplasticity and all sorts of brain damage clearly shows that the "awareness of our own consciousness" is completely unaltered (*1), so, the emergent view really renders consciousness as a system-level *only* property that is somehow dynamic enough to emerge "persistently" no matter how the system from which it emerges changes.

While that view is both logically inferred and realistically possible, it totally goes against our own self-perception, which states that there really is a me and I'm not just a form.
This is actually less of a problem for me than the one I mentioned above. A moment by moment 'emergent sense of self' seems plausible to me. Look at it this way

Emergence is consistent with the observation that consciousness seems to have evolved as an increasingly complex toolset to help us navigate the world. So the earliest conscious-ish critters might perhaps only have experienced something very simple, like a change in light, or sound or vibrations, which triggered their motor systems to scurry away. Nothing we'd recognise as a sense of self /cognitive self-perception required. The increasing complexity which eventually ended up as humans with a repertoire of trillions of combinations of neural interactions within semi-independent but connected subsystems would be a chaotic flashing bombardment of sensations, and probably useless, without some kind of filtering, focus and overall coherence. This satisfactory coherence is so important to us it allows us to deal with cognitive dissonances, often trumps reason, and fills in uncomfortable gaps. And is based in having a specific first person point of view and the ability to create (causal) narratives and coherent models of the world and ourselves. So we can make sense of it all, and make useful predictions.

Hence the utility of being able to focus attention and cohere this flashing chaotic cacophony of sensations into a sense of a singular self moving through space and time in a causal way from a specific perspective located 'within' our bodies.

That all makes sense to me, that a sense of a unified self would need to co-evolve with our ever increasingly complex input of of sensations, perceptions, emotions, memories and so on to be of utility, to serve the purpose it evolved for.

Whether it adds up to an 'ontological me' might just be a matter of definition? I'm not sure if there's really a difference between A Self, and A Constructed Sense of Self. Are you suggesting in the next quote that there is? And how could self-reflection/self-perception tell the difference?
Interestingly, our own self-perception (*I* am conscious + *I* am this complex system) is the very starting point from which we infer the emergent view, so, it is on the edge of absurdity to end up concluding that the starting proposition is not really what it appears to be (since the conclusion is that there is no ontologically real "me" in the first place)

I believe there is a way to attempt a primitive explanation on how there can be a real ontological "me", an object-level individual experiencer, and at the same time so clearly perceive--or experience--conscious awareness as a system-level property associated with the system that is our entire human being (from brain to toe). That explanation is rather large and out of scope, but I wrote about that in another post on a totally different topic here:
Okey doke, I'll have a look. Whether conscious experience requires an experiencer is something I've pondered myself. It seems like it must, but maybe it's our evolved 'mental grammar' which makes it seem that way...

-- Updated April 22nd, 2017, 1:07 pm to add the following --

Fc continued...

oops reading back I missed these bits -
Gertie wrote:
But there is no settled deeper explanation, so imo we're not in a position to simply assert the existence of free will based on our current understanding of how the world works.

Right. And contrary to what it might seem, I'm really trying to not assert the existence of free will, but to build a model that can be put to the test. Only evidence can assert the existence of anything.
No worries, I get that.
Right. So even if we finally figure out a way to get some evidence, one way or another, we'll still be intrinsically limited.
Hah.

One of the things I love about Philosophy of Mind is as soon as you think you're getting somewhere it messes with your head again and tells you not so fast smarty pants!

Likewise free will can seemingly only be supported by some more fundamental model of reality than we currently have, and such a model could well mean free will (the thing it's supposed to explain) isn't what we think it is... :shock:



[That post you linked to is long, I'll have a proper read and see if it's more appropriate to respond there or here].

Belindi
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Belindi » April 22nd, 2017, 12:22 pm

Togo1 wrote:
Belindi wrote:Togo1 wrote:


(Nested quote removed.)


I deny that any structure in the head is invisible.
So make it visible. Same issue still applies.
Sorry, I'm lost. Which "same issue"?

I am saying that the structure in our heads is biological. As biological the structure in our heads is not acausal. To put it another way as the structure in our heads is a biological structure it is incapable of originating but is linked in to the whole system of nature.

Togo1
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Togo1 » April 23rd, 2017, 5:14 am

Belindi wrote:
Togo1 wrote: (Nested quote removed.)


So make it visible. Same issue still applies.
Sorry, I'm lost. Which "same issue"?

I am saying that the structure in our heads is biological.
Sure, and I'm saying it doesn't matter if it's biological or not.

The structure in our heads has certain properties, involving mental experience, reasoninging, logic, etc. that don't map neatly into a web of determined relationships. That issue remains whether you consider it to be biological or not. If it's not, then you're suggesting a very strange alternative world that interacts with our own in some undefined way. If it is, then biology is simply stranger than we gave it credit for. Just like physics is turning out to be.

What you're suggesting is that because it's biological, we somehow need to force-map it to a model that excludes mental experiences. But that's just ignoring the available evidence. It's possible to do, of course, but it's desperately unscientific.
Belindi wrote:As biological the structure in our heads is not acausal. To put it another way as the structure in our heads is a biological structure it is incapable of originating but is linked in to the whole system of nature.
And the whole system of nature can't originate either, correct? Under this view of the universe, nothing can ever be originated, apart from some special pleading around the big bang. Or to put it another way, there's only ever been one event, cause and effect are merely abstract steps in resolving it.

It's an interesting article of faith, but I'd prefer to stick with the science. As you say, the structure in our heads is not acausal, and we should be able to use the concept of local causation to explain that thought A leads to action B without worrying about whether that violates some a priori principle of zero origination.

Gertie
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Gertie » April 23rd, 2017, 8:34 am

Fc

I'm only half way through your linked post and I'm already kinda over-whelmed by the amount of What If supposition building upon supposition involved.

I should probably start by saying I'm the annoying type of sceptic who is theoretically so open to hypotheses in the area of Mind that my brain's in danger of falling out, but really hard to persuade that any specific answer is correct. So while I'm interested in radical ideas and think radical ideas might be required, and take my hat off to those who come up with them, ultimately I'm a very stubborn and frustrating customer. So...

It's a concept I've come across, and it's fascinating to see how it could work as something more than a vague claim. And as you point out it's a belief system, not philosophy as such.

So the problem is getting it from being a belief system to philosophy yes?

The pro is its explanatory power. Is this about right -

You identify a more fundamental type of stuff which you call spirit, the source of that stuff being even more fundamental and brute fact, which you call creator.

You give the reason for the existence of this stuff, but again the reason lies in the unexplained brute fact creator.

You give its properties (drive, cognition). And say that human-size stuff = one spirit

And show how that explains our experience of reality, its purpose and how it works in practice.

It ties in Materialism, experiential Mental states and Meaning as aspects of one more fundamental type of stuff - spirit. MMM Theory! which captures more aspects of our reality than most theories of reality - you explain Meaning.


The cons -

Speculation building on speculation - where's the evidence.

It's all founded on a posited creator and generally smacks of religious faith in something untestable and quite possibly unknowable. (I'm an atheist myself and see its Creator foundation giving rise to all the problems associated with faith based belief systems, including the psychological dispositions which might lead people wanting it to be true to provide the starting point, motivate you to find a way for it to be true, rather than starting with the evidence and following where the evidence leads - no personal offence intended, and I know you couch your theory in ways that show you're obviously aware of this yourself).



So those are my initial thoughts, for what it's worth.

Back on topic, a human sized singular spirit self does answer the free will problem. (Tho it makes me wonder about shop mannequins, and dogs and iguanas and other not-quite-human-sized stuff)

But as I mentioned in the previous comments, I'm not personally persuaded an ontological self exists outside of moment-by-moment processes with experiential states. In other words, it looks like whatever my neurons are doing right now, adds up to Me right now. And now. And now. Almost the same each now, with a sense of continuity of identity, but obviously with noticeable changes over time. And each moment of self-interrogation, self-perception, is answered by Me which correlates with the responding brain configuration, patterns of neurons. To me, that's where the evidence points re the Self. But it's only part of the greater mystery of consciousness, and a more fundamental explanation of consciousness (like yours) could blow it out the water.

Fcacciola
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Fcacciola » April 24th, 2017, 10:42 am

Gertie wrote:Fc

I'm only half way through your linked post and I'm already kinda over-whelmed by the amount of What If supposition building upon supposition involved.

I should probably start by saying I'm the annoying type of sceptic who is theoretically so open to hypotheses in the area of Mind that my brain's in danger of falling out, but really hard to persuade that any specific answer is correct. So while I'm interested in radical ideas and think radical ideas might be required, and take my hat off to those who come up with them, ultimately I'm a very stubborn and frustrating customer. So...
And that can be very helpful since being skeptic but at the same time open minded, you can fruitfully point out all the problems without smashing the whole thing down (which close minded skeptic do)
Gertie wrote:
It's a concept I've come across, and it's fascinating to see how it could work as something more than a vague claim. And as you point out it's a belief system, not philosophy as such.

So the problem is getting it from being a belief system to philosophy yes?
Absolutely. In fact, I'd even say to some future science, not just proper philosophy.
Gertie wrote: The cons -

Speculation building on speculation - where's the evidence.
There is no evidence in any epistemologically correct form, but there is something, a certain methodological process by which the propositions of this particular belief system are constructed.

Unfortunately, I've been spending quite a lot of time trying to solve what I call the "boostrapping" problem: for me to even describe the process, let alone justify or show it, I need to build on even much more speculations, which leads to a circular justification problem. That is why all these time I just keep referring to the belief system without any attempt to show where it comes from in the first place.
Gertie wrote:It's all founded on a posited creator and generally smacks of religious faith in something untestable and quite possibly unknowable.
Someone noticed in my post that the proposition of "hemi-eternal" (spiritual) life is controversial (and certainly is) and I figured that is also unnecessary for the presentation.
I'm noticing now that the proposition of a creator (and its creation) is equally unnecessary. That is, the proposition is presented as an attempt to show where do all the spirits come from, why they have the attributes they do, and show that there is a design behind all that. However, while all that is somewhat explained drawing on the creator and creation--from the point of view of the belief system--is only a valid and useful explanation if you share the belief. Otherwise, is only one more assumption to just take.
So, next time I will try to leave it out.

Gertie wrote: (I'm an atheist myself and see its Creator foundation giving rise to all the problems associated with faith based belief systems, including the psychological dispositions which might lead people wanting it to be true to provide the starting point, motivate you to find a way for it to be true, rather than starting with the evidence and following where the evidence leads - no personal offence intended, and I know you couch your theory in ways that show you're obviously aware of this yourself).
None taken, don't worry.

Belief systems carry the shadow of wishful thinking, blind faith and often dogmatism, so is only natural that anything drawn form them is instinctively related to these. Even the church where I first learned all this, despite being theoretically open minded and non-dogmatic, falls for the same mistakes as any other religion, which is why I broke apart.
On the other hand, I believe that we humans have a builtin ability to build personal belief systems that can be, when properly constructed, completely rational. Is just that religious institutions (and mainstream scientificism to be fair) build on that to create power by putting a dogmatic layer on top of that innate ability.
A rational personal belief system is a set of provisional propositions that are attributed as truths based on a number of different justifications, in which the rationality comes from understanding the nature of the justifications and the resulting provisionality of the propositions.
Religious belief systems are usually (perhaps always) monolithic, such that to accept one part demands accepting all others, which in turns leads to the believer having to chose this or that system (i.e. Christianism or Buddhism). They are often unquestionable (purely dogmatic, even today) or questionable but only in principle as the system is not really built to be properly questioned and have it progressed as a result (scholasticism). In contrast, a rational personal belief system is modular (made of any set of propositions coming from any number of sources) and dynamic (propositions progress, come and go as the system integrates other propositions).
As I described it, Science, from the point of view of one learning or doing science, is a type rational personal belief system (one with special justification and construction rules), but one can, if done properly, extend that to incorporate any proposition coming from anywhere, whether it is scientific discovery, inner contemplation (a priory knowledge) or any external source. They key is in the proper valuation of the justifications and the resulting veridity of the propositions in question (ideally, one would use modal or fuzzy logic so that any proposition isn't just true or false, but have a degree of certainty)

The most important part of any personal rational belief system is the transformations it is supposed to undergo as it progresses: that is, starting postulates with, for example, unshared evidential justification (such as personal experiences) are supposed to make their way up or down as one works to evolve the system (for example, by trying to find shared experiences or less subjective external evidence). It is the commitment to work to evolve the system, constantly finding ways to either confirm or discard propositions, which makes it rational (and useful) [and what usually doesn't happen at all, unfortunately]


Gertie wrote: Back on topic, a human sized singular spirit self does answer the free will problem. (Tho it makes me wonder about shop mannequins, and dogs and iguanas and other not-quite-human-sized stuff)
For what is worth, once again according to this belief system, shop mannequins do not display free-will at the mannequin level for they are not linked to any spirit (at that level), though each atom in the mannequin does.
Biological organisms, on the other hand, from fungus to dogs, do display organism-level free-will. They are structurally exactly like us. The only difference is that that in our case, at the apex of the "hierarchical spiritual and physical subsystem" there is a whole spirit, not a fractional spirit as in their case.

Gertie
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Gertie » April 25th, 2017, 9:26 am

Fc
Gertie wrote:
The cons -

Speculation building on speculation - where's the evidence.


There is no evidence in any epistemologically correct form, but there is something, a certain methodological process by which the propositions of this particular belief system are constructed.

Unfortunately, I've been spending quite a lot of time trying to solve what I call the "boostrapping" problem: for me to even describe the process, let alone justify or show it, I need to build on even much more speculations, which leads to a circular justification problem. That is why all these time I just keep referring to the belief system without any attempt to show where it comes from in the first place.
OK. From what I've gathered you have the implications of the double slit experiment/qm, our sense of self, you've mentioned the tradition of this type of thinking being salient, and I'd say the coherent explanatory power (including of meaning/subjectivity/free will, all those aspects of consciousness which mystify us) is a type of evidence. Is that it?
Gertie wrote:
It's all founded on a posited creator and generally smacks of religious faith in something untestable and quite possibly unknowable.

Someone noticed in my post that the proposition of "hemi-eternal" (spiritual) life is controversial (and certainly is) and I figured that is also unnecessary for the presentation.
I'm noticing now that the proposition of a creator (and its creation) is equally unnecessary. That is, the proposition is presented as an attempt to show where do all the spirits come from, why they have the attributes they do, and show that there is a design behind all that. However, while all that is somewhat explained drawing on the creator and creation--from the point of view of the belief system--is only a valid and useful explanation if you share the belief. Otherwise, is only one more assumption to just take.
So, next time I will try to leave it out.
Yeah it removes a layer of 'boot-strapping', but you're still left with a brute assertion of the existence of the spirit stuff being fundamental, with the problem of untestable and unknowable. It brings it closer to mainstream philosophy of mind tho I think, just call it consciousness rather than spirit. :wink:
A rational personal belief system is a set of provisional propositions that are attributed as truths based on a number of different justifications, in which the rationality comes from understanding the nature of the justifications and the resulting provisionality of the propositions.
I agree. But that leads us back to epistemology doesn't it? I'm thinking you have to establish a valid epistemological structure where your belief system can justifiably sit. Like science and religion do. Maybe it doesn't have to be completely comprehensive, but it has to make sense philosophically.
The most important part of any personal rational belief system is the transformations it is supposed to undergo as it progresses: that is, starting postulates with, for example, unshared evidential justification (such as personal experiences) are supposed to make their way up or down as one works to evolve the system (for example, by trying to find shared experiences or less subjective external evidence). It is the commitment to work to evolve the system, constantly finding ways to either confirm or discard propositions, which makes it rational (and useful)
Well put.



I must say it's refreshing how open you are. (Much more than I am about my own pet theories!)

Seems to me your thinking on your hypothesis is way ahead of anything I might come up tho with I'm afraid.

Belindi
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Belindi » April 25th, 2017, 10:28 am

Togo1 wrote:
Belindi wrote:Togo1 wrote:


(Nested quote removed.)


I deny that any structure in the head is invisible.
So make it visible. Same issue still applies.
It is visible or audible or kinaesthetically felt, to the subject of the experience as subjective qualia. The same event is visible to the biologist , who of course might also be the subject, as neurons, neurochemicals, and behaviours of the body-proper.

Fcacciola
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Re: The many faces of the free will problem

Post by Fcacciola » April 25th, 2017, 12:00 pm

Gertie wrote: OK. From what I've gathered you have the implications of the double slit experiment/qm, our sense of self, you've mentioned the tradition of this type of thinking being salient, and I'd say the coherent explanatory power (including of meaning/subjectivity/free will, all those aspects of consciousness which mystify us) is a type of evidence. Is that it?
That is indeed part of the personal justifications I have for adopting (and adapting) this belief system, but what I referred to is quite different.
But since now I'm shifting from cautious to mysterious, I'll give it a try, since that is not my intention. Notice that the following is bound to be much more controversial that anything else I've written here so far.

The main postulates of this belief system (in a "raw" form rather different from the "processed" way I've been presenting them here) exist in the "books" of a particular non-mainstream and rather modern Argentinian religious institution. I merely adopted and adapted these (and has no relation to the people that wrote the books first). It is the methodical process used to put these postulates in the church's books in the first place what I referred to. Explaining that, even in its ideal form (which differs from its actual form, as usual) puts me in the "boot-strapping" circular justification problem I mentioned. In any case, below is a brief summary of the foundation behind the method by which those books where written (not so much about the method itself but its foundation).

Consider the following speculative postulates. This is rather long, and I am trying to cut it down to just the postulates needed to explain how the books are (ideally) written.

1.Spirits/Souls/Conscious entities (whatever term your prefer) are only the "CEO" of the hierarchical, modular, nested free-will system that any single biological organism (including human beings) is.

Such "CEO" is the me in me (the inner body-independent self).

3.In order to command and sense the rest of the hierarchical system, there are certain control and feedback mechanisms in place to be used by this CEO.

4.These mechanisms have both physical and non-physical parts.

5.The Brain is the primary (physical) organ of the physical part of the mechanism that controls the system as a whole. It includes, but is not limited to, the physical end of the "interface" between such a "CEO" and the rest of the system.

6.The Mind is the primary (non-physical) organ of the non-physical part of the mechanism that controls the system as a whole. It includes, but is not limited to, the non-physical end of the "interface" between such a "CEO" and the rest of the system.

To illustrate this model of a biological organism let's consider in more detail the "CEO" analogy. A human, for example, would be like a business company, and "we" in a human, would be like its CEO. A CEO might "command" to double sales, but the actual course of action (such as launching a new marketing campaign) is not directly his command. It is the responsibility of the rest of the system (in particular, the different "managers" at each layer in the modular, nested hierarchy) to figure out how to double sales. Likewise, when I intend to drink a glass of water, my actual inner intention is not directly that (to drink water) but to experience the sensation of satisfaction from the perceived needs of my body (the rest of the system). It is the "mind" which translates that into the human action of reaching out for a glass of water.

Now,

Going from the biological need of water that is communicated to the CEO (to me) through the brain, then through the mind, to which the CEO (that is, me), in turn, responds with the command to satisfy that need, going back to the mind and from there to the brain, is actually a really complex process. The "realization" of which is not just the bodily movement towards the glass, but the train of "feelings" (of thirst) and "thoughts" (let's get that glass of water over there). Feelings and thoughts are brain and mind processes (they both participate, not just the mind alone) that materialize the communication from body to CEO (me, the spirit/soul/conscious entity at the very top) and back to body.

Conscious awareness of said feelings and thoughts (which are brain+mind processes) is the perception of those processes that the CEO does, similarly as he perceives the extent, shape and position of the body he is in command. That is, feelings and thoughts are as external to the CEO itself (to me myself) as are the tip of the fingers.

7.Such "CEO" of any human being is by itself completely independent of the human being, thus, it (we) existed from before birth and exists after bodily dead.

That is, linking to a biological system (i.e. incarnating) as it's CEO is effectively as temporary as being employed as a CEO in a business company.

8.Since spirits/souls/conscious entities are effectively independent of being temporarily linked to a biological organism, the outmost extent of reality is populated by much, much more, than "incarnate spirits". In particular, every human being that once lived (but no longer) is not gone but elsewhere.

9.As indicated in postulates 5 and 6, the brain and the mind are devices that control the functioning of the whole biological organism, and a significant part of their functions is to interface with the CEO. That is, there exist a very specific communication mechanism (and channel) through which the CEO (that is me, the incarnate spirit) commands and senses the rest of the biological system (the body)

10.As it turns out, that communication mechanism is, like any other mechanism, exploitable. In particular, it is possible, if all conditions are met, that a spirit/soul/conscious entity that is not the CEO, interfaces himself to the body.

This exploit is, again like any other, not out of the control of the actual CEO, and the effectiveness of the "secondary link" (if you wish) depends on the control of the CEO (the incarnate spirit in proper charge)

11.The population of incarnate spirits, that is, humanity, is best seen as a particular "layer" or "level" in a fundamental "soul progression". Like being in first grade if you like. When the biological link expires, we spirits are free to move on in our progression (or not) by any means (other than incarnating). In consequence, the entire population of spirits is stratified in "progression layers", with humanity being one of these (about in the middle I would say) [for what is worth, the biblical concepts of hell and haven simply refer to these layes below and above "humanity"]

12.Postulate 11 implies the existence of "higher levels", where those spirits that have already progressed further than "us humans" reside.

13.Due to 10, it can and does happen that "spirits in higher worlds" (or progression layers) sometimes use the "spirit<->mind<->brain" exploit to have a human person generate feelings and thoughts whose source is that other spirit from a higher world rather than just himself.

14.That "secondary link" might carry and convey actual information such as "knowledge from higher worlds", specially regarding the larger reality such as that referenced in these postulates I just written here.

Notice how the postulates above attempt to provides a sketch of the mechanism that has always been used by religious communities to come up with their doctrines. Terms such as "revelation", "prophecy"... etc would be folk-versions of the mechanism sketched above.

In the case of the contemporary, non-mainstream, Argentinian religious institution I've mentioned, a group of "investigators" (so I don't use "researchers") methodically used the "exploit" as in postulate 14 to write down the core of the belief system.

In my brief description I omitted a large number of details, but I must say that this method has a nontrivial margin of error (that is, uncertainty), which is attempted to be taken into account in the process. In any case, the "oficial" version of the belief system as you would find it in the books contains all sort of propositions, and in my adapted version (the one I presented here), I took the liberty of rejecting those that made no sense to me (such as a certain account for the origin of men on earth), changing those that I think needed to be changed plus adding my own propositions (such as all the details about free will systems), and disregarded those that can make some sense but the "speculation/utility" ratio was not high enough to be worth adopting (such as accounts of alien or extinct civilizations)
Gertie wrote:Yeah it removes a layer of 'boot-strapping', but you're still left with a brute assertion of the existence of the spirit stuff being fundamental, with the problem of untestable and unknowable.
Right.
On the other hand, I believe that what is testable is the "exploit" I written about above. That is, the reality of the mechanism by which men (any men, not allegedly gifted ones) can effectively gain knowledge of higher worlds. Doing that is, my opinion (and plan), a starting point to find a way to test the rest.
Gertie wrote: It brings it closer to mainstream philosophy of mind tho I think, just call it consciousness rather than spirit. :wink:
From the different reasons I don't call it that, the main one is that consciousness if often understood as conscious awareness, of the kind that is on/off as we switch from awake to sleep. But that is quite different. Only in certain unqualified contexts the term is used in a way to matches the term "spirit" or "soul".
Gertie wrote: I agree. But that leads us back to epistemology doesn't it? I'm thinking you have to establish a valid epistemological structure where your belief system can justifiably sit.
Like science and religion do. Maybe it doesn't have to be completely comprehensive, but it has to make sense philosophically.
Absolutely!
That is very precisely one of the "lines of work" I intend to follow (but I have a dayjob and a family to take care, so my work is going very very slowly)
Gertie wrote: I must say it's refreshing how open you are. (Much more than I am about my own pet theories!)
Hopefully, my openness would work for the best. I have plenty of tales in which it got me into trouble, including having girls dump me cold when I was a teen and I ended up taking about this stuff on the second date :)

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