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Free will does not exist (Beware)

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chewybrian
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by chewybrian » November 9th, 2018, 10:06 am

Eduk wrote:
November 9th, 2018, 9:06 am
Also free will isn't mutually exclusive with materialism.
I appreciate your persistence, but I still don't get it. I would define free will as the ability to have made a different choice in any given event, despite circumstances remaining unchanged. Although I had oatmeal for breakfast, I could have had a pop tart. No outside force had to intervene, like a pop tart commercial or a dip in my blood sugar. If I had a free will, then at that critical moment I could have picked either. That's it.

So, assuming that you agree with the laws of cause and effect applying to all material things, then tagging our free will as material means such rules must apply, which means any action or 'choice' we make must be fully determined. I've carefully read what you've said, I watched the videos you've linked, but it all seems like a tortured attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable. If my action is fully determined then there is no element of choice and no free will to discuss. Perhaps the door is open if our understanding of the laws of physics is incomplete or incorrect in this area(?).
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Eduk » November 9th, 2018, 10:35 am

Perhaps the door is open if our understanding of the laws of physics is incomplete
Of course it's incomplete. Nobody knows what the nature of consciousness is. No one has a clue how apparently inanimate matter can 'experience'.
If you can take away nothing else it is simply that we don't know. Therefore we cannot conclude that consciousness isn't an emergent property. Of course we also cannot conclude that it is an emergent property.
Also this doesn't mean we know nothing. Theories as to the nature of consciousness can be entertained and considered, it is not necessary to 'complete' physics to do this.
You think you know what consciousness is, you think you know what it means to experience, you think you know what free will means. I am simply pointing out that your definition of free will is unsatisfactory.
When I am deciding between oatmeal and pop tarts (for example) I could not truly tell you why I want one over the other on any particular day. The answer simply occurs to me. I cannot explain to you the source of my desires or the workings of my unconscious. I can of course desire pop tarts but decide oatmeal is more healthy, but that requires determinism does it not?
Seems to me that choices require determinism. I cannot conceive of a non determined world or what choices I would 'want' to make in one.
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by chewybrian » November 9th, 2018, 10:56 am

Eduk wrote:
November 9th, 2018, 10:35 am
Perhaps the door is open if our understanding of the laws of physics is incomplete
Of course it's incomplete. Nobody knows what the nature of consciousness is. No one has a clue how apparently inanimate matter can 'experience'.
If you can take away nothing else it is simply that we don't know. Therefore we cannot conclude that consciousness isn't an emergent property. Of course we also cannot conclude that it is an emergent property.
Also this doesn't mean we know nothing. Theories as to the nature of consciousness can be entertained and considered, it is not necessary to 'complete' physics to do this.
You think you know what consciousness is, you think you know what it means to experience, you think you know what free will means. I am simply pointing out that your definition of free will is unsatisfactory.
When I am deciding between oatmeal and pop tarts (for example) I could not truly tell you why I want one over the other on any particular day. The answer simply occurs to me. I cannot explain to you the source of my desires or the workings of my unconscious. I can of course desire pop tarts but decide oatmeal is more healthy, but that requires determinism does it not?
Seems to me that choices require determinism. I cannot conceive of a non determined world or what choices I would 'want' to make in one.
Nor can I imagine a fully determined world. I think the truth is in between. We are influenced, yet we still get to make the final decision. Choices require influences, perhaps. But, if the influences have the final say, then these actions cease to be decisions any more than North Korea might have an "election".
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Eduk » November 9th, 2018, 12:02 pm

I don't think the truth is anywhere near in between, I think the truth is unknown. Because it is unknown it is unknown whether determinism is mutually exclusive or not. I would argue there is no reason to assume it is mutually exclusive. And doubly argue against any conclusions that that assumption might lead you to.
Ultimately I quite like to be pragmatic. Let us imagine a fully determined world. Now what do I want for breakfast? Has anything changed? In my opinion no. Let us imagine a not fully determined world (whatever that might be). What do I want for breakfast? Has anything changed? I would argue no.
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Burning ghost » November 9th, 2018, 12:10 pm

Eduk wrote:
November 9th, 2018, 12:02 pm
I don't think the truth is anywhere near in between, I think the truth is unknown. Because it is unknown it is unknown whether determinism is mutually exclusive or not. I would argue there is no reason to assume it is mutually exclusive. And doubly argue against any conclusions that that assumption might lead you to.
Ultimately I quite like to be pragmatic. Let us imagine a fully determined world. Now what do I want for breakfast? Has anything changed? In my opinion no. Let us imagine a not fully determined world (whatever that might be). What do I want for breakfast? Has anything changed? I would argue no.
To kill or not to kill. If you believe it is already determined then it turns out you had a choice what then? If you believe you had a choice it matters what you do. Breakfast choices are not as important as killing or not killing (although one can lead to the other under the right circumstances where lack of food muddies subjective decision.)
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Eduk » November 9th, 2018, 12:59 pm

If you believe it is already determined then it turns out you had a choice what then?
What does making choices have to do with determinism? I make choices, I wasn't arguing that I didn't make choices.
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Eduk » November 9th, 2018, 1:02 pm

besides can you give me an example of someone you would kill if you believed in determinism but wouldn't kill if you didn't?
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Present awareness » November 9th, 2018, 1:06 pm

Burning ghost wrote:
November 9th, 2018, 12:10 pm
Eduk wrote:
November 9th, 2018, 12:02 pm
I don't think the truth is anywhere near in between, I think the truth is unknown. Because it is unknown it is unknown whether determinism is mutually exclusive or not. I would argue there is no reason to assume it is mutually exclusive. And doubly argue against any conclusions that that assumption might lead you to.
Ultimately I quite like to be pragmatic. Let us imagine a fully determined world. Now what do I want for breakfast? Has anything changed? In my opinion no. Let us imagine a not fully determined world (whatever that might be). What do I want for breakfast? Has anything changed? I would argue no.
To kill or not to kill. If you believe it is already determined then it turns out you had a choice what then? If you believe you had a choice it matters what you do. Breakfast choices are not as important as killing or not killing (although one can lead to the other under the right circumstances where lack of food muddies subjective decision.)
Especially if someone burns the toast!
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by LuckyR » November 9th, 2018, 1:09 pm

Tosen wrote:
November 1st, 2018, 11:43 pm
Choice/choose/choosing/chose/free will- I used all of these words interchangeably as well, so they all refer to "free will". When I use free will I mean any instance in which we decide to do something, anything, absolutely anything. To choosing what to eat today, to what moral decision to make in any situation, to choose what convictions to have towards something, to choose to even move your body. This extends on to thinking itself and on a radical sense, to your existence itself. Nothing you are doing right now is done/decided by you. This is the illusion of free will that we have. It is an illusion because it's not a real experience, but the illusion is mind-bending that it still feels real . This is a hard one to digest.
I completely disagree and the disagreement is best illustrated by provisionally accepting your premise.

If all "decisions" are actually not decisions at all and are pre-determined, likely by the way that sub-atomic particles happened to stream out from the Big Bang, then just like the behavior of billiard balls on a slate table and planets in orbit, all human behavior/decision making would be predictable.

Everyone agrees that in the area of human (or animal for that matter) decision making that there are influencers that for large groups can increase the odds of predicting decision making, yet are very, very far away from 100% accuracy (and thus actual "prediction/pre-determination"). Thus this known reality is not helpful in this discussion.

I would describe the process of decision making as akin to the weather. Broadly "predictable" in the sense that over long periods of time and numerous predictions it can be predicted better than pure chance, yet nowhere near 100% accuracy to prove determinism. It is well known in meteorology that the inability to predict the weather with certainty goes BEYOND merely not knowing enough variables or having enough computing power. This is commonly given the name the Butterfly Effect which is a practical phenomenon of chaos theory.

Thus those, such as yourself, who note that human decision making (just like the behavior of billiard balls) can be influenced by this and that are correct. The problem comes when determinists seek to translate known concepts that apply to simple systems to complex systems. A common statistical error.
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Eduk » November 9th, 2018, 1:29 pm

It is well known in meteorology that the inability to predict the weather with certainty goes BEYOND merely not knowing enough variable
Can you provide a link please.
The only thing I can think of is the uncertainty principle whereby it is conceptually impossible to have the perfect knowledge (presumably) needed to model the weather with 100% accuracy.
But the uncertainty principle doesn't disprove determinism.
If all "decisions" are actually not decisions at all and are pre-determined, likely by the way that sub-atomic particles happened to stream out from the Big Bang, then just like the behavior of billiard balls on a slate table and planets in orbit, all human behavior/decision making would be predictable.
Not necessarily. It could be determined and unpredictable, see the uncertainty principle for an example.
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by chewybrian » November 9th, 2018, 3:37 pm

Eduk wrote:
November 9th, 2018, 1:02 pm
besides can you give me an example of someone you would kill if you believed in determinism but wouldn't kill if you didn't?
Go ahead and kill anyone you can if determinism is true, for the simple reason that doing it proves you had other choice but to do it. If you believe in free will, you can try to be virtuous and kill only as necessary in self-defense.
Eduk wrote:
November 9th, 2018, 12:02 pm
Let us imagine a not fully determined world (whatever that might be). What do I want for breakfast? Has anything changed? I would argue no.
Everything would have changed. Just eat poison for breakfast. What you are asking for is to continue exercising your free will while declaring it does not exist. If the universe is determined, then your breakfast choice, and other life and death choices, are made for you.

Eat the poison, kill your family... You would be unable to take any action not fully determined, so your ability to complete the task would show you could not have done otherwise. Can you wrap your head around that or would you like to avoid it once again?

If you take on determinism hook, line and sinker then there is no need to consider choices or their implications because you can only take the one course charted by the universe. Yet, you do in fact take time to consider what suits you, as you said above, which shows me you have faith in free will and lack faith in determinism.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Eduk » November 9th, 2018, 5:37 pm

sorry chewy you seem to be missing the point.
Firstly I was arguing for determinism and choice not being mutually exclusive, I understand that you don't consider that an option but I do. So when telling me what I believe I think you should give me the benefit of the doubt.
Secondly I was trying to imagine a world without choice, let us be doubly clear I do not think that that is the case. So I personally don't want to murder anyone out of a sense of nihilism, that makes no sense to me. So I either choose not to kill everyone or am determined not to kill anyone. Either way the result is the same.
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Tosen » November 10th, 2018, 3:41 pm

chewybrian wrote:
November 9th, 2018, 7:54 am
Atreyu wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 8:29 pm
No, an entity which knew all the variables involved in your "choice" could say with certainty beforehand what "choice" you were going to make, and therefore could say that you were "destined" to go left or right....
This is simply an opinion with no verifiable fact to back it up. The rules of cause and effect can be easily shown to apply to material things, but can not be shown to apply to our free will, which, perhaps not coincidentally, can not be shown to be material. You may assume that it must be material because other things turned out to be, yet it remains an assumption. You may assume that this theoretical perfectly informed being would know all your actions before you took them, yet you can not prove it.

The idea that we lack free will is contrary to our subjective experience. In the end, this is all we have and all we are. All existence is, for each of us, limited to our subjective experience and our judgments and opinions of our experiences. There is nothing irrational about holding the opposite opinion, and accepting your experience of free will just as it appears to you, unless and until convincing evidence comes along. You can convince me that a stick does not bend when I dip it in the water, because the illusion can be disproved by fact. But, there are no facts to which I must surrender in the case of free will possibly being an illusion. My perception of free will may be reality.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-Xp7mvOcVM There is evidence right here my friend. Sam harris provides a phenomenoloical example (Through our Subjective experience) and then cites various experiments that prove it.Deny it or accept it at will. Most of you haven't read the EMPIRICAL DATA that I offered in this forum. Come back and then critique it.

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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Tosen » November 10th, 2018, 6:04 pm

Burning ghost wrote:
November 2nd, 2018, 1:40 am
I know this may be hard for you to hear. You need to re-write more than I need to re-read. I cannot even offr you much critique because I don’t know what you’re saying.

As an example, if you’re using the term “phemonenology” you should perhaps try to learn more about what it means. When you say “phenomena occurs without our awareness of it” you’ve made a fatal error and conflated two different contexts here. In a phenomenological sense it is contrary to talk of phenomena outside of awareness - you’re conflating a physicalist view of reality with a phenomenological view (not that the general positioning of phenomenology refutes physicality it just isn’t particularly concerned with it hence the regard toward “phenomenonal experience” not “physical experience” - don’t conflate the two.)

It is not “okay” for me to be confused between the contexts of your choice of words. You can either make distinct demarcations between the terms you use, find terms that exist already, or turn the reader off.

What is more, and I’d be shocked if Harris doesn’t mention this in some other vid/book, the term “unconscious” (as in “unconscious neurological processes”) can easily be refered to as “conscious activity.” Now you may think I am conflating terms. I promise you I am not because I’ve actually read textbook on cognitive neuroscience where the certain patterns of “unconscious” activity observable in the brain can be only be present when someone is consciously aware - these would be things like automated responses to certain environmental cues, or learnt (explicitly learnt) patterns of behavior.

You’d probably find it incredibly interesting to study much more about how memory functions, how we learn, and items of psychology and neurology that look at “priming” and such. It’s a very fascinating area to say the least.

You may also want to look into “sleep” because you’ve expressed an outdated assumption about he function of sleep - that being “rejuvenate” and then talked about coming back to “consciousness” when in a dream state is actually a “conscious state.” You can then look into the neurological view of differ states of consciousness from “coma” (generally considered a state in which conscoiusness is all but absent.) The function of memory and learning is also closely related to dream states.

Another issue is defining “conscious thought” because many people struggle to think in anyother way than verbally. I am not one of those people. I personally refer verbal thought, or any worded “expression” (be it internally “private” or externally “shared”) as the eulogy of phenomenological thought - right down at the base level (if there is such a thing?) I make no apology for not knowing what is going on, of my fuzzy worded expression of it, or any concrete knowledge fo such a thing other than by my problem with dealing with temporality as an external topic - for obvious reasons!

I agree with you on Heidegger in part. Some of his attempts to refine Husserl’s ideas were useful and helped some grasp them better. Imo he wetn too far though and stretched the concept of “dasein” out so much that it lacks any applicable definition outside his own little hermeneutical “game.”

All said and done though I understand what you’re saying well enough to say you’re expressing badly, you need to dig deeper, and I agree with you in one way that “free will” doesn’t relate to what you’re setting out, yet in other contexts it does exist quite clearly.

The strong deterministic view cannot be proven, but it is at least in some agreement with the notion of a binary view of “free will: as an all or nothing proposition. Given that I barely understand what conscoiusness is, what time is and a number of other things, I am not willing to throw my eggs into one basket - and if I cannot so what?

Also, from a moral perspective it is seems more damaging to me as an individual to believe that either everything is my problem or nothing is my problem. If what I think, and what I do as a consequence of my thoughts, is partially derived from some underlying “free choice” expressed in ways I cannot fathom then it would be immoral of me to live life as if my actions were somehow not my responsibility, or that everything was my responsibility. I live life as a being who has a limited scope and understanding of myself and the world and explore it willfully and with a mixture of caution and, I hope, bravery.

Another issue with listening/resding people’s views (such as Harris’) is that it is very easy to become, I’d say inevitable to some degree, closed off froopposing positions. No doubt you’ve come across Dennett too or Dawkins. They are quite willing to say “free will” exists in one sense and not in another and they’re more onside with Harris’ perspective. Sapolsky is another who’d help bolster your position more - give weight to your argument to some degree.

On a purely psychological level it is very apparent that we’re pretty delusional creatures and tend toward making up the best narrative we can to suit our world views. I like Sapolsky’s view of homosapiens as the “confused ape.”

As an analogy maybe it would help to view questions like this:

- Is weather composed of wind, sun and clouds, or air, heat and water?
- Does the Sun make weather happen or the atmosphere?

Is there any “decision” in the above teo scenarios? If not then when we talk about decision what it is that defines “decision” for animals yet not for the Sun or Clouds?
First of all I read your response carefully, so I hope you do the same and don't "skim" the rest.

You are one of these highly analytical philosophers of language. This is positive because you always question what I mean by how I use language to express my standing, this is good for a productive philosophical discussion, but negative if we end up in infinite loops of explaining definition. We seriously still have a problem of you understanding me, though I do understand you and were your coming from. I will do this again and I hope it works. Focus on understanding HOW I USE MY WORDS. That is why in this thread I defined as much as I could the terms I used. The problem is that you constantly compare my definitions to how philosophy have used these words on their many and many philosophical debates throughout history. And since I'm using some words synonymously, you still compare it to how philosophy has strictly defined it. There is no such thing as a an only way to use a word. Please understand this. Remember a lot of philosophers have created words to refer to complex abstract ideas that they can't explain with ordinary language(Substance, being, duality, etc) So stop placing other philosophers on a pedestal and the language/terms they have created. With that said, of course I don't mean that every word that I have used I invented my own exclusive meaning, I'm just using it a little bit differently to make sense of these ideas. By the way, try to understand how others in this forum that do get me and how the notion of free will does not exist. With that said I'll start now.

I always used phenomenology to refer to "Our own subjective experience of reality" AKA consciousness, nothing less, nothing more, understand this. I honestly haven't read Heidegger much so I don't know if he complicated his own definition with all of his analysis. I used the expression: "phenomena that occurs without out awareness of it" to simply explain a basic psychological phenomena that can happen to in our daily lives, like the own process of thinking like Sam Harris explained. I understand if the way that I said that contradicts a view that phenomenologists hold, but that was not the point at all. Let me say the expression in another way: "Things that occur in experience without ourselves directing our attention to it" You arbitrarily established that I conflated a physcalist view with a phenomenological view of reality. Why do you complicate your own understanding to this degree? Here you are again turning this into a battle of definitions in the philosophical tradition. Physicalist vs Phenomnology, I don't stand for such a thing. Oppose me, not other debates on these philosophical belief-systems. Point is, I just wanted to explain the same thing Harris did in the video. The words I used triggered something else I guess.

Okay you explained this word "Unconscious". Before you said that you always have had problems understanding it. This matter is your own personal strife that you have with this term. I'm just gonna pray that you possibly understand this. But you know something? You just said something that basically gets you close to understanding Harris! "Promise you I am not because I’ve actually read textbook on cognitive neuroscience where the certain patterns of “unconscious” activity observable in the brain can be only be present when someone is consciously aware - these would be things like automated responses to certain environmental cues, or learnt (explicitly learnt) patterns of behavior". You said "certain patterns of unconscious activity" is only possible to know them when someone is consciously aware. Wow! How can you not understand me after saying that? Let me use your own terms so you can understand me. Thinking in itself, would be a certain pattern of unconscious activity that it is observable when someone is becomes consciously aware of it. That sums it all up! This is why listed those exercises because the purpose is to become aware of it. This gave me a little bit of hope. Now back to the term unconscious, this is the definition of it based on a dictionary I have: "Not perceived at the level of awareness; occurring below the level of conscious thought. Do with that dictionary definition as you will. Since Freud coined the term unconscious; neurologists, psychologists have done tests and they gradually have become aware(Like you explained) of their own unconscious behavior, thinking, or of other psychological processes. This is how neuroscience has been able to thrive.

Here is something else you said to support the above statement: "You’d probably find it incredibly interesting to study much more about how memory functions, how we learn, and items of psychology and neurology that look at “priming” and such. It’s a very fascinating area to say the least." Notice that neuroscientists are describing how memory functions, how we learn. They are describing cognitive processes of the mind as something that happens separate to their volition, describing it like an object of the world, when the mind is inside you. But tell me, are we conscious of those processes? Did you decide to know and how to develop language? Do you decide how the mind correlates its contents? (Memory) Neuroscientists are saying: "The mind does this and that". But what about you? What do you do? They are missing this clear duality of our mind and ourselves.

Regarding what I said about sleeping. Tell me if you have slept soundly while being aware that you are sleeping for 8 hours. You are saying that you are aware of every passing minute, hour and such, till the moment you decide to wake up? That is what I mean by what I said. Haven't you dreamed and after waking up you said: "Oh, it was just a dream!". Were you then "consciously aware" that you were sleeping and dreaming? No!, you realized it after you woke up. I don't know what you read, but perhaps it confusedly used erroneous terminology (Maybe they used "conscious state" to refer that the brain is still functioning). It is absurd to say that you are aware while you sleep, it is the same as saying that you are just lying down on your bed with your eyes closed, never seeming to "fall asleep". What it is known in neuroscience is that the mind is highly active whilst we sleep, dreaming is an effect of this, and other things as well. Think for yourself, if neuroscientists say that it is a "conscious state", confirm it phenomenologically for yourself. Again, this was probably a trivial dilemma by their wording of it.

Defining "conscious thought" will always be a problem because there is no such thing as that! You will get nowhere with this.

Heidegger used the word "dasein" to merely mean the experience of the here-and-now. A term that I used at the start of my thread. It is existence, you are presently in this moment experiencing something, existing. That is "dasein", consciousness. He just used that german word to be more precise on what he means by consciousness and all of his phenomenological talk. Although he definitely has a ontological position of it, fundamentally he just means consciousness.

The strong deterministic view can already be proven by the various neurological investigations that Sam Harris cited. It is already there empirically, accept it or not.

The moral consequences of this are very, very profound. Because like you said, you do not become an agent of your actions. This is something that I of course fear the most and I deny it as well. I always said that free will is an "illusion". But we are still responsible of our actions because it's not as if were are enslaved to reality and cannot do anything about it. It's not like in our own subjective experience of reality we feel as if we are being controlled by a master puppet. This is why our decisions are still "illusory" but they still count, merely because of the value we place on decisions. It is enough to have an illusory sense of ownership or volition deciding between for example: "Lying to my mother or telling her the truth about _______". This matter has way more negative repercussions on my part, but I will not get to them.

You say that people may become close-minded when being exposed to ideas like Sam Harris. Well it truly depends of the person. In my case, this is not something that I believe. Because if I believed this I am just being dogmatic or just following a leader like a brainwashed, uncritical person.. So, if you just believe it, you don't understand it at all, and it is merely an emotional attachment to Harris views, the perpetual advent of dogmatism. And by the way, some people become conscious of this themselves without knowing Sam Harris. One good example is the actor Jim Carrey, though the way he expresses it might sound nonsensical because he does uphold a certain mystic view of reality. Mysticism or mystical traditions, have purely directed their energy on the mind. They have already discovered this sense of no free will for thousands of years. Philosophy got very close to it when phenomenology emerged, but philosophers still remained highly rational beings like their ancient fathers, Plato and Aristotle.

This will be all my replies. Have a good day sir.

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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Tosen » November 10th, 2018, 6:09 pm

Atreyu wrote:
November 6th, 2018, 7:56 pm
OP, I agree with you. In reality everything happens. We don't really do anything in the true sense of the word.

We don't think thoughts, they just happen. They just 'pop' into our awareness without any conscious intention on our part.

Nor do we choose our feelings, they also just happen. This is more obvious for most people.

Nor do we walk, talk, or choose to go anywhere or do anything. It all happens as well. All of our physical actions are merely responses/reactions to our feelings and sensations, neither of which we have any control over. You go to work because you need to eat, and you visit a friend because you feel like it (want to). Any you have no control over your hunger or your desires.

And of course, all of our instinctive functions (heartbeat, breathing, secretion of hormones, etc) also merely happen. But this is the only part of ourselves in which our mechanical nature is quite obvious.....
Knowing that you and I have become aware of this. How do you proceed with your life? Our experience of this illusory free will still feels real. But we understand that we do not control our desires/emotions towards things. How has this brute fact affected you? I ask you these existential questions as a fellow human not just a philosopher.
Good day

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