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A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

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Hereandnow
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Re: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by Hereandnow » February 21st, 2019, 1:34 pm

Chewybrain:
If I am reading you right, you are supporting determinism, yet also claiming to be neutral on the issue. Yes, choices exist and they support the idea of free will, unless confronted by the idea of determinism. But, determinism is only supported by its bearing on material things, and there is nothing but conjecture to say that consciousness or will is material and/or subject to the rules that bear on material things. Claiming determinism bears on choice takes you to a weird, alternate universe that just doesn't match your entire life experience.
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I prefer not to talk about material things and the standard notion of material realism that goes with it. I am not tat kind of dualist. I think there is an apparent distinction between things in the world, and this first a matter of looking to the distinction itself rather than some metaphysics. Determinism has to be understood, therefore, IN the conversation about what it means not to be determined. It does seem clear that the laying down of the playing field is determined by one's language, culture and its values, as well as hard wiring determinants (I certainly biologically received my musical appreciation from my parents. No doubt here). But what is this about? I follow Dewey in his reference to what I think of as infantile juvenile problem solving events: you were once no one at all and it was the marshaling of resources available that let you imitate, associate, assimilate, and this had nothing to do with freedom. By the time you could ask questions, the essence of freedom by my lights, you were already made and your freedom issues from a body of possibilities that is always already there. Obviously, this can change as you go to school, read poetry, study psychology adn so on, but the question is begged: how is it that these learning experiences later in life differ from the earlier ones in terms of the presence of what might determine, that is, make a claim on, your actions? You are essentially still "in" the influence of the possibilities that are laid out. But on the other hand, a person is very different from a tree or a vase in that these do not have choices at all. We are not things like this at all. Then the question goes to what human choice is. Is there something that can ground it in freedom so that choice becomes choice in the rigorous sense? This is what the original OP is trying to get at when its talks about the space of decision making, the Prime Consciousness, that somehow stands OUT of the stream of thought that informs action. It is the present "frozen in time". My objection was that it is not easy to freeze time like this because that which informs action, or motivates in caring, wanting, lusting, and so on, would have to be shown to be in the clear.
I am a sort of disciple of Kierkegaard on this: there is freedom of this kind, a soul (I am available to argue this) that sits in the eternal moment that is free and clear of the storm of events. This is where our freedom resides, but the catch is, like Kant's freedom , it requires one to be free of various and sundry desires, altogether. to be free is to be free of all worldly desires, hence motivations and determinants. Buddhists hold a similar view. But this DOES vilify the world, doesn't it? Yes it does. Very interesting argument, though.
I suppose you've seen someone challenge religion by telling a believer they should try to jump off a tall building. "If God loves you, he will save you. Otherwise, it is his will that you fall to your death, and you should not go against God's will."

Take this line of thought to a believer in determinism, if there truly is such a person. If determinism is true, then you will only be capable of taking the choice which was decided for you by past events; there is only one possible path, by definition. You are not capable of going against the determined choice, as that would be a demonstration of free will. Remember, too, that nobody says "Determinism works in mysterious ways"; by definition it does not.

So, if you are a true believer in determinism, there is no reason you should not go try to jump off the building. If you are able to pull it off, then this will show by the 'logic' of determinism that this was the only possible outcome, anyway. If this was not the plan the universe had cooked up for you, then, somehow, you would have been prevented from taking this action. If you fell to your death and were not 'forced' to do so by prior circumstances, then this would only go to prove you had a free will. Since you firmly believe there is no such thing, then you should have no fears. But, you do; we all do.
True determinism would take your apparent freedom of choice at any given moment , like when you stand there and jump or simply move your arm and say, see, determinism refuted, the same way Diogenes (it is said) refuted Zeno's paradox by walking across the room, and absorb that into it conception. It would be to say all that reveals itself as freedom, even one's most explicitly deliberate actions, is not free but determined by one's history, culture, values, and all things that gather at that moment, all the things that constitute that moment. You cannot do a Diogenes on determinism, as you would like when you talk about the fateful moment jumping off something, for the refutation is NOT demonstrable.

But even someone like Heidegger, who talks a lot about freedom, if asked what freedom is ( I haven't read him on this yet) would do what He does everywhere else: he would "gather" resources of meaning in words, he would bring in the ancient Greek and Latin, move through different approaches available in the the wealth of languages to create openings for thinking and questioning further. we get our understanding from the language we use and it is in the openess of questioning that new forms suggest themselves. Thinking is crafting Being. That's Heidegger ( I am on a Heidegger binge, hence the references). Freedom in the sense of some stand alone kind of existence, independent of what anyone thinks, is nonsense. It is metaphsical abstraction of what is clearly before us, which is choice. This doesn't mean we can't talk about how free we, but conditions of freedom cannot be removed altogether. Kierkegaard and Sartre hold a different view: a freedom grounded in actuality and what is actual is not contingent on our thinking about it.

We've all stood on the top of that tall building at some time in our lives, fully aware that we have the choice to jump off. We choose not to try to jump precisely because we know in our heart that we can do it! We have fear at that moment because we know we are free, and some small part of us may event want to jump. This feeling, though it is rare in most of our lives, is the moment when we are truly alive. This is Evel Knievel hitting the ramp, depending only on himself and luck for the outcome. That's real; most of our everyday lives are contrived b.s. where we focus on our roles and act like tools. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, acts as if they have a free will, at least in those rare moments when circumstances force them to acknowledge it, whether they claim to believe it is an 'illusion' or not, and this is pretty strong evidence to me that we do have it.
Right. I really like this moment, that is, it is telling of the existential complaint against the attempt to fit the world into theory. That's real, you say. Seed, if you like, that part of Kierkgaard's Repetition, which is very much like this, only, while Evel Kenievel stood bravely, others fall apart. No matter, this is the stuff of our existence, this is real. Now, when we philosophize about it, we are not standing on that precipice, we are trying to understand it, and that is when everything goes south. Questioning destroys our confidence in the ready to hand accounts of the way things are. So I say, when refection takes on the world, much of the world must remain what it is, but reflection will intervene and redefine everyting. In other words, the determination as to whether we are free or not cannot rest with the experience itself, regardless of how authoritative is seems. Questioning undermines authority.

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Re: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by chewybrian » February 22nd, 2019, 9:30 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
February 21st, 2019, 1:34 pm
..you were once no one at all and it was the marshaling of resources available that let you imitate, associate, assimilate, and this had nothing to do with freedom. By the time you could ask questions, the essence of freedom by my lights, you were already made and your freedom issues from a body of possibilities that is always already there. Obviously, this can change as you go to school, read poetry, study psychology adn so on, but the question is begged: how is it that these learning experiences later in life differ from the earlier ones in terms of the presence of what might determine, that is, make a claim on, your actions? You are essentially still "in" the influence of the possibilities that are laid out. But on the other hand, a person is very different from a tree or a vase in that these do not have choices at all. We are not things like this at all. Then the question goes to what human choice is. Is there something that can ground it in freedom so that choice becomes choice in the rigorous sense?
Existence precedes essence, no?  Desire, reason and experience combine to give you limited choice, which becomes less limited as you grow.  The freedom of choice differs as you get older because you can sift through the sensory inputs and information more skillfully, calling b.s. or seeing right off that something is useful and probably true.  As you grow, hopefully reason begins to drive the bus, and the desires become less immediate and more about becoming the person you would like to be.  

I think the grounding in freedom is difficult to prove if someone is committed to determinism and willing to ignore their own perceptions.  I make a finding of freedom subjectively, so I must assume that others have the same feeling.  What of novel ideas and actions?  Surely they must speak to freedom, if we are able to do something which was never presented to us a choice. If we didn’t choose it, but created it, isn’t that freedom?
Hereandnow wrote:
February 21st, 2019, 1:34 pm
I am a sort of disciple of Kierkegaard on this: there is freedom of this kind, a soul (I am available to argue this) that sits in the eternal moment that is free and clear of the storm of events. This is where our freedom resides, but the catch is, like Kant's freedom , it requires one to be free of various and sundry desires, altogether. to be free is to be free of all worldly desires, hence motivations and determinants. Buddhists hold a similar view. But this DOES vilify the world, doesn't it? Yes it does. Very interesting argument, though. 
I prefer the stance of Epictetus, in that you need to point your desires in the right direction.  He considers the world as mostly neutral, and this position is logical if you think it through.  Your desires should be set to those things which are aligned with your best nature, good for you, and within your control to obtain.  Your aversions should be set on those things which are against your best nature, or bad for you, and within your control to avoid.  Anything else outside your control (most things) deserves a neutral opinion.  

So, you should desire to go for a walk with your dog, and be averse to smoking a cigarette, and be neutral about your football team winning or losing.  If you set things up this way, you need never be disappointed.  Note, however, how many things are outside your control, about which you need to be neutral, including not wishing for good health, reputation, wealth, and such.  Take what you get with good spirits and understand that you will only bring yourself anxiety and heartache by wishing for things outside your control to go your way.
Hereandnow wrote:
February 21st, 2019, 1:34 pm
True determinism would take your apparent freedom of choice at any given moment , like when you stand there and jump or simply move your arm and say, see, determinism refuted, the same way Diogenes (it is said) refuted Zeno's paradox by walking across the room,  and absorb that into it conception. It would be to say all that reveals itself as freedom, even one's most explicitly deliberate actions, is not free but determined by one's history, culture, values, and all things that gather at that moment, all the things that constitute that moment. You cannot do a Diogenes on determinism, as you would like when you talk about the fateful moment jumping off something, for the refutation is NOT demonstrable.
Of course you can't give sound proof in either direction, which is why this topic is argued to death here.  But, consider that determinism attempts to take a theory about inanimate objects and apply it to animate life.  There is, as you say, a huge difference between the two which has never really been understood.  There is the evidence of your subjective experience, which seems to tell you that you are free to choose, and I need not go beyond this to be satisfied.  But, further, there is the troubling fact for the determinists that it is not possible to show any material attribute of consciousness.  For any other material thing, you could give some measure of weight, size, speed, etc.  If it is a material thing, it should be a simple thing to prove it so, as it is with every other material thing. The fact that it is not simply proven, or proven at all, should be a red flag.
Hereandnow wrote:
February 21st, 2019, 1:34 pm
Questioning destroys our confidence in the ready to hand accounts of the way things are. So I say, when refection takes on the world, much of the world must remain what it is, but reflection will intervene and redefine everyting. In other words, the determination as to whether we are free or not cannot rest with the experience itself, regardless of how authoritative is seems. Questioning undermines authority.
To shake my faith, I need more than a theory of how I might be wrong, but also a demonstration to back it up. If I put a stick in the water and it appears to bend, I don’t have to accept this appearance. There is a theory of why I am deceived in that case, but I can also back up the theory with real world demonstrations that prove to my satisfaction that the bending was an illusion. I demand similar validation of determinism before I will bite, or I’ll go on being the sucker that I am, believing I can determine my own opinions and attitudes and actions, and make an effort to be what I want to be instead of what circumstances decide I will be.

I think I do understand your point, and I will admit being first confused, then a little disturbed, by the constant challenges to free will here. But, ultimately, I can’t deny myself. I might as well be a chair or a rock if my choices don’t count. I don’t believe in such a thing as a ‘determined choice’, which is a bit like saying that the mirror chose to reflect my face as I was shaving this morning. What else could it do? Choice is life, and people are more than things, even if they scarcely know it in some cases, or even if they try to run from their freedom.
"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: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by Hereandnow » February 23rd, 2019, 5:28 pm

Chewybrain
Existence precedes essence, no? Desire, reason and experience combine to give you limited choice, which becomes less limited as you grow. The freedom of choice differs as you get older because you can sift through the sensory inputs and information more skillfully, calling b.s. or seeing right off that something is useful and probably true. As you grow, hopefully reason begins to drive the bus, and the desires become less immediate and more about becoming the person you would like to be.

I think the grounding in freedom is difficult to prove if someone is committed to determinism and willing to ignore their own perceptions. I make a finding of freedom subjectively, so I must assume that others have the same feeling. What of novel ideas and actions? Surely they must speak to freedom, if we are able to do something which was never presented to us a choice. If we didn’t choose it, but created it, isn’t that freedom?
But the issue needs to be handled better than what the model Diogenes provided could, which is essentially what you're doing when you take the simple choice per se and say that's enough to settle the matter. The causal talk about letting reason take the wheel and the rest is tantamount to dismissing the matter altogether. It has to be given an analytical context. Not sure why you don't go with Sartre's existence precedes essence since If you want both maintain a defensible notion of freedom AND you want to place human freedom in a world desires and influences, then Sartre is your man: we make who we are, our essence, unlike a tree that has no choices at all but to be a tree. It is not ignoring one's own perceptions, it is simple giving them analysis, not at all unlike what, say, Einstein did with space and time. Space bending?? Ridiculous, given that the concept of bending presupposes a fixed, unbending medium in which bending can occur. I never understood this and still do not. But I yield to the science. The "seems" of it falls away and I have to admit, I never really understood space at all.
But for me, Sartre goes both too far and yet not far enough.
I prefer the stance of Epictetus, in that you need to point your desires in the right direction. He considers the world as mostly neutral, and this position is logical if you think it through. Your desires should be set to those things which are aligned with your best nature, good for you, and within your control to obtain. Your aversions should be set on those things which are against your best nature, or bad for you, and within your control to avoid. Anything else outside your control (most things) deserves a neutral opinion.

So, you should desire to go for a walk with your dog, and be averse to smoking a cigarette, and be neutral about your football team winning or losing. If you set things up this way, you need never be disappointed. Note, however, how many things are outside your control, about which you need to be neutral, including not wishing for good health, reputation, wealth, and such. Take what you get with good spirits and understand that you will only bring yourself anxiety and heartache by wishing for things outside your control to go your way.
But this pointing is exactly what is at issue. And this "you" who is doing the pointing. This is what philosophy is about. Who could disagree with such common sense as Epictetus, but then, what is "common" is inherently unanalytical. At the end of the 19th century scientists were sure all had been said regarding the the fundamentals of physics.
Of course you can't give sound proof in either direction, which is why this topic is argued to death here. But, consider that determinism attempts to take a theory about inanimate objects and apply it to animate life. There is, as you say, a huge difference between the two which has never really been understood. There is the evidence of your subjective experience, which seems to tell you that you are free to choose, and I need not go beyond this to be satisfied. But, further, there is the troubling fact for the determinists that it is not possible to show any material attribute of consciousness. For any other material thing, you could give some measure of weight, size, speed, etc. If it is a material thing, it should be a simple thing to prove it so, as it is with every other material thing. The fact that it is not simply proven, or proven at all, should be a red flag.
Not material attributes, but phenomenological. But no matter. It is causality that takes center stage, and this bears analysis. Causality is not like other scientific principles, like gravity. Causality is principle of things that is not based on observation, but intuition, and is, to drop a term, a priori, true of things and their behavior prior to any observation. It is very strong in our understanding: I can imagine an apple not falling to the ground but rising to the sky easily enough, but I can't even imagine a thing moving itself, without an efficient cause. It is, to drop another, apodictic in nature. Very weird, no? It's like resisting logic itself to say an object just lifted itself up and walked away. I can SAY 1+1=4, and therein lies my freedom, but I do not believe it at all. The saying is significant, though, since it is a reflection of the fact that the math does not own you, but only own belief, implying belief and me are different things, that is, to believe is coercive, but that applies to conditions of believing, and because I can stand apart from this, I can declare 1+1=4 freely, I can put distance between me and the belief as if to say, the belief is there like a stone, like something with a fixed nature, and I cannot change this actuality, BUT, I am free of it, because I can move freely among the possibilities, no matter how absurd. Now this is clearly in existentialist's country. It goes back to Dostoevsky's Underground Man: Am I a piano key?

I think this is where you are, and so am I. But it doesn't possess an ontology of freedom, that IS the problem. Sartre said we are free because we ARE nothingness. I will one day take another look at this, his Being and Nothingness, but to me, it makes no sense. Kierkegaard has an ontology of our freedom: it is our soul Being in itself the kind of thing that can be free. I don't like the term, but I do like the idea: Can't go into this, though, unless you are game for it. Better to read Kierkegaard.

I don't use the term 'material' because I think it is metaphysical hogwash as it carries the presumption that once a thing is identified as material, it is understood. But really it is, like freedom, a term tossed about carelessly, never understood.
To shake my faith, I need more than a theory of how I might be wrong, but also a demonstration to back it up. If I put a stick in the water and it appears to bend, I don’t have to accept this appearance. There is a theory of why I am deceived in that case, but I can also back up the theory with real world demonstrations that prove to my satisfaction that the bending was an illusion. I demand similar validation of determinism before I will bite, or I’ll go on being the sucker that I am, believing I can determine my own opinions and attitudes and actions, and make an effort to be what I want to be instead of what circumstances decide I will be.

I think I do understand your point, and I will admit being first confused, then a little disturbed, by the constant challenges to free will here. But, ultimately, I can’t deny myself. I might as well be a chair or a rock if my choices don’t count. I don’t believe in such a thing as a ‘determined choice’, which is a bit like saying that the mirror chose to reflect my face as I was shaving this morning. What else could it do? Choice is life, and people are more than things, even if they scarcely know it in some cases, or even if they try to run from their freedom.
One demonstration is the apodicticity of causality: if a person is a thing, and we cannot imagine a thing moving itself, then there is a good reason to lean toward determinism. But you already noted this, yet you don't recognize it as a sufficient theory to encourage determinism. Not clear why you think like this. i mean, I understand the Dostoevskian position, I am certainly not a piano key, but it seems the only reasonable way to go is to admit that choices are what they are (within a matrix of desire, motivation and so on), and freedom is what it is (outside such things) , and if the latter is part of what a choice is all about, and I think it is, then you are committed to something like a soul, something that is acausal, free of motivation, desire and the like. The question, is, are you ready to commit to an ontology of freedom whereby freedom issues from an agency that is capable of being free because it IS freedom itself?

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Re: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by chewybrian » February 25th, 2019, 8:23 am

Hereandnow wrote:
February 23rd, 2019, 5:28 pm
Chewybrain
Existence precedes essence, no?
But the issue needs to be handled better than what the model Diogenes provided could, which is essentially what you're doing when you take the simple choice per se and say that's enough to settle the matter. The causal talk about letting reason take the wheel and the rest is tantamount to dismissing the matter altogether. It has to be given an analytical context. Not sure why you don't go with Sartre's existence precedes essence since If you want both maintain a defensible notion of freedom AND you want to place human freedom in a world desires and influences, then Sartre is your man: we make who we are, our essence, unlike a tree that has no choices at all but to be a tree.
But, I did go with Sartre; it was the first thing I wrote.

I think, as you seem to be saying, that the issue defies answers through science or even logic, and perhaps even defies description through language, a la Wittgenstein. I'm not trying to dismiss it, but rather to explain my own reasoning. If we choose to make a finding on this subject, we must side with our own nature, our perception of our life as it comes to us, or with a theory which is reasonably proven to hold for inanimate objects, yet still very theoretical in terms of living things. I side with my perception, and here is why...

First, I am here, I am choosing and I am free. I declare it because it is the nature of my entire existence. I am not able to avoid choosing at any moment, even if my choice is to do nothing (if that is even possible). I notice influences, but also that I am free to choose against them.

I don't view the world through the lens of 'solipsism', thinking that my experience is unique, and all other humans are having a materially different experience. Sure, there are differences, but I must conclude that at the core, they have the same experience as me. Therefore, all men are free to choose and compelled to choose.

Determinism demands I transfer the rules governing things which are not free to humans, who are free. But, I am not a coffee cup, a frisbee or a motorcycle. Why declare me (my consciousness), to be material without proof, especially when its very nature defies the rules governing material things, when I can decide against influence? One free choice in all of human history is sufficient to knock down determinism, so there is a huge burden on 'their' side to prove their case. If my will is material, then it should be a simple thing to prove it so, by showing its location, speed, mass, etc. Yet, they can not, pointing to the possibility that consciousness is not material at all. Think about this...the burden of proof is huge, the proof should be simple, yet it is not and it remains unproven. And, I am being asked to take all this on faith anyway and deny every perception of the world coming to me, in fact to deny my very self. Sounds a lot like a religion, doesn't it? At least the religion promises a payoff...

The other possibility is that my consciousness is material, yet of a new and previously unknown type of material thing. At some point in history, you could have declared that material things could not pass through a brick wall, and you would have had broad agreement. Then, we came to understand radio waves and other material things which could in fact pass through the wall. Similarly, it is possible that consciousness has properties or abilities not previously known to attach to material things. Shockingly, it is just barely possible that science doesn't have it all figured out yet.

Most troubling, I think, is that the logic of determinism leads you to a world that simply does not match the one in which we find ourselves. Work it backwards, as the logic insists it must work, and it falls apart (at least for me). If the world is determined, then my taking a choice proves it was the only possible choice. But, I am not bound to follow my reason, as you've said, and as the world clearly shows. I can go against my instincts, my desires, my emotions, logic. I can take an action knowing the consequences can only be negative. I ask "what is the determined choice in this situation?", and if I receive an answer then I can take a different choice just to show I am free. Then, the determinist will simply find influences in my desire to win, or spite or whatever. They declare victory without proof, when the burden should be on them. Go back to my example of jumping off the building. Nobody is willing to take that leap of faith to show they really believe in determinism. Yet, if you follow the logic all the way down the line, then they should be eager to go for it. We would always be prohibited by the universe from taking the undetermined action. Jump, don't jump..it would not matter, as we would only do exactly what past events had determined we would do. There would effectively be no 'us' to intervene on our own behalf.

So, I am expected to believe that I exist as a being fooled at every turn, feeling that I am compelled to choose at every moment of my existence, yet unable to be involved in the choice. I can contemplate on decisions and their possible consequences as long as I wish, yet I will always choose as the universe dictates. All of human history, all our institutions, art, and philosophy, save perhaps a bit of science, are out the window. My life, all lives are 100% undeniably meaningless by definition. I am supposed to swallow all of that because someone wishes to define me in terms of a shovel or a stopwatch, and to deny that to be alive is importantly different than to not be alive.

You must have played sudoku some time, no? At some point, you might be forced to consider a 'what if?" to attempt to solve. If this square is a 3, then this one would be a 5, this other one would become a 9; ah, but...there is already a 9 on that line. So, the original assertion that the first square was a 3 is disproved. This is how I view determinism. We've made an assumption (Brian is not importantly different from a foot stool). But, when we follow that assumption all the way down the line, we get to a possible reality that does not work. We have to then consider that our first assumption is probably wrong in some way.
Hereandnow wrote:
February 23rd, 2019, 5:28 pm
But this pointing is exactly what is at issue. And this "you" who is doing the pointing. This is what philosophy is about. Who could disagree with such common sense as Epictetus, but then, what is "common" is inherently unanalytical. At the end of the 19th century scientists were sure all had been said regarding the the fundamentals of physics.
Ah, but the determinists in here are fond of saying: "just because you don't like the answer does not imply it is not true". And, I say to you that just because something is simple, common, or 'unanalytical' does not make it untrue, useless, or lacking in insight. Epictetus warns us with great urgency that we should not get ahead of ourselves in philosophy, wishing to solve the issues of the nature of the universe while ignoring the actual important problems right in front of us, which are solvable and begging for solutions:
The first and most necessary topic in philosophy is that of the use of moral theorems, such as, "We ought not to lie;" the second is that of demonstrations, such as, "What is the origin of our obligation not to lie;" the third gives strength and articulation to the other two, such as, "What is the origin of this is a demonstration." For what is demonstration? What is consequence? What contradiction? What truth? What falsehood? The third topic, then, is necessary on the account of the second, and the second on the account of the first. But the most necessary, and that whereon we ought to rest, is the first. But we act just on the contrary. For we spend all our time on the third topic, and employ all our diligence about that, and entirely neglect the first. Therefore, at the same time that we lie, we are immediately prepared to show how it is demonstrated that lying is not right.
I find no need for shame in his simple ways, but rather choose to celebrate them. He's not trying to impress anyone at any point, but only to get his message across in the best way possible. Even so, the message is often lost. Or, it is heard, but dismissed, as in "sure, we all know that". Yet, we don't practice it, and we fail in a million ways because we don't. I love his manner of speech. If he encountered this discussion, he would spin around like Redd Foxx in a tunic and say: "You big dummy!" Of course you can choose, and any attempt to deny it is a tragic waste of our opportunity to make the world better, albeit in very small ways, or at least to enjoy our experience in the world.

Cicero said:
...philosophy is treatment for the damaged soul...
and I like this definition very much. The science is an afterthought for me; it is interesting, but far less important than ethics. The world cries out for ethics and we give it science, and in this way we fail terribly in our duties as philosophers. This argument of determinism is the prime example of such a failure. We have our head so far up our test tube that we forget that exercising our free will is our primary function, and we are compelled, or should be, to use it in ways that make the world better for ourselves and others. So, the unenlightened might look to today's philosopher for guidance, and receive the answer that he is not accountable for his actions, he is unable to choose, he does not exist in any meaningful way. So, he might as well join the determinist at the top of that tall building.

That (determinism) is not my answer. If, God forbid, I am to be considered to be enlightened enough to give guidance, I say to go to the top of that building and see and know that you could jump, but don't. Know that you govern your actions. Know it not in fear, but with the greatest possible relief. Know it not in shame for what you have done, but with the greatest possible excitement for what you could do. You are being pushed along, as if you are floating down a rushing river, by the effects of time and the rules of nature and the actions of others, random chance and such. There is so much you can not control, yet exactly because you can not control them, these things should not cause you the slightest distress. Rather, go out and do what you can with what you can control in the present, namely your emotions, opinions, attitudes and actions. And, there is no percentage in accepting a belief system which denies these choices to you.
"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: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by Hereandnow » February 25th, 2019, 12:50 pm

Cheweybrain:
First, I am here, I am choosing and I am free. I declare it because it is the nature of my entire existence. I am not able to avoid choosing at any moment, even if my choice is to do nothing (if that is even possible). I notice influences, but also that I am free to choose against them.
The "I" you use here needs some unpacking. See below, somewhere.
I don't view the world through the lens of 'solipsism', thinking that my experience is unique, and all other humans are having a materially different experience. Sure, there are differences, but I must conclude that at the core, they have the same experience as me. Therefore, all men are free to choose and compelled to choose.
You mean you can look at your own interior life, and infer to the lives of others. I agree, but "choose" is still a begged question. After all, what is it? I know for you it is the simple presence of choice, but it is not as if this is unanalyzable. See below.

Determinism demands I transfer the rules governing things which are not free to humans, who are free. But, I am not a coffee cup, a frisbee or a motorcycle. Why declare me (my consciousness), to be material without proof, especially when its very nature defies the rules governing material things, when I can decide against influence? One free choice in all of human history is sufficient to knock down determinism, so there is a huge burden on 'their' side to prove their case. If my will is material, then it should be a simple thing to prove it so, by showing its location, speed, mass, etc. Yet, they can not, pointing to the possibility that consciousness is not material at all. Think about this...the burden of proof is huge, the proof should be simple, yet it is not and it remains unproven. And, I am being asked to take all this on faith anyway and deny every perception of the world coming to me, in fact to deny my very self. Sounds a lot like a religion, doesn't it? At least the religion promises a payoff...
You hold fast to not simply a determinist view, but a materialist one. Let's not go down that path. Causality is the ground for determinism, not materiality. And the features of "I" that may fall within determinism are not of a materialist nature. Causality does not entail materiality. See below, again. (I am putting my response together down there)
The other possibility is that my consciousness is material, yet of a new and previously unknown type of material thing. At some point in history, you could have declared that material things could not pass through a brick wall, and you would have had broad agreement. Then, we came to understand radio waves and other material things which could in fact pass through the wall. Similarly, it is possible that consciousness has properties or abilities not previously known to attach to material things. Shockingly, it is just barely possible that science doesn't have it all figured out yet.
I don't think consciousness is material at all. I dont use this term, and I certainly have limited at best interest on what empirical science has to say on the matter.
Most troubling, I think, is that the logic of determinism leads you to a world that simply does not match the one in which we find ourselves. Work it backwards, as the logic insists it must work, and it falls apart (at least for me). If the world is determined, then my taking a choice proves it was the only possible choice. But, I am not bound to follow my reason, as you've said, and as the world clearly shows. I can go against my instincts, my desires, my emotions, logic. I can take an action knowing the consequences can only be negative. I ask "what is the determined choice in this situation?", and if I receive an answer then I can take a different choice just to show I am free. Then, the determinist will simply find influences in my desire to win, or spite or whatever. They declare victory without proof, when the burden should be on them. Go back to my example of jumping off the building. Nobody is willing to take that leap of faith to show they really believe in determinism. Yet, if you follow the logic all the way down the line, then they should be eager to go for it. We would always be prohibited by the universe from taking the undetermined action. Jump, don't jump..it would not matter, as we would only do exactly what past events had determined we would do. There would effectively be no 'us' to intervene on our own behalf.
I think the reasonable determinist will ask, how is it that your choice is free? It is a fair question, and if you cannot give a suitable account of being free, other than the Diogenes demonstration, then I am afraid the burden of proof lies with you. Have you spoken nonsense? If not, then explain, as a bank teller would explain a savings account. Freedom is the odd bird here. Determinism has the apodicticity of causality on its side. Sorry for the word dropping: one cannot ever imagine X moving, behaving without a cause. It's not an empirical principle, it is a priori, it is as necessary as mathematical necessity that there be a cause. It is a, irrefutable intuition.....or is it? See below.
So, I am expected to believe that I exist as a being fooled at every turn, feeling that I am compelled to choose at every moment of my existence, yet unable to be involved in the choice. I can contemplate on decisions and their possible consequences as long as I wish, yet I will always choose as the universe dictates. All of human history, all our institutions, art, and philosophy, save perhaps a bit of science, are out the window. My life, all lives are 100% undeniably meaningless by definition. I am supposed to swallow all of that because someone wishes to define me in terms of a shovel or a stopwatch, and to deny that to be alive is importantly different than to not be alive.
Was I not fooled by my conception pf space and time prior to Einstein? Look at the history of science: nothing but theories come and gone. Note this contemplation, this choice that rises out of it: how often does this actually occur? Below.

You must have played sudoku some time, no? At some point, you might be forced to consider a 'what if?" to attempt to solve. If this square is a 3, then this one would be a 5, this other one would become a 9; ah, but...there is already a 9 on that line. So, the original assertion that the first square was a 3 is disproved. This is how I view determinism. We've made an assumption (Brian is not importantly different from a foot stool). But, when we follow that assumption all the way down the line, we get to a possible reality that does not work. We have to then consider that our first assumption is probably wrong in some way.
Well, it depends on how you explain Brian. This is a question begged, circular reasoning that assumes something that needs explaining in order for the conclusion to follow without question.
So, I want to take issue with a given "I", whether it's Brian or anyone. After all, the I plays an essential role in all of this. I think I mentioned briefly that when we examine our actions, we are not, for the most part, actually exercising freedom at all, are we? I mean, regardless of whether we are genuinely free being or not, we most frequently do not act freely at all. When one is at the office, hammering in the work shop, talking about politics, and so on, and so on: we are not freely doing these things; rather, they just come to us in the activity. I do not contemplate hitting the nail with each stroke, nor I question the language and knowledge I am using when I talk about things I know. You could say I just "freely" do these things, but it is not "we" who are free here, it is it is the knowing, the practiced hand on the hammer. These things come out spontaneously, independently of choice, do they not? As I type, am I choosing this, or isn't it rather, I read your post, ideas rose up, presented themselves and I began typing. It is not my material nature that is the cause agaisnt my free will, it is something along a different analytic vein altogether: It is the clear observation that were are almost always acting within a context, a learned activity, and these have become automatic, thoughtless, unexamined. Indeed, it is a detriment to their execution to stop and freely review the process, as when a gymnast in mid flight starts wondering thinking, well, the hand goes here and the head should swing around....This is a disaster. The same goes for speaking, reasoning. If you stop to review, to make a claim of your freedom over the activity, you lose the activity.

This makes freedom and kind of second guessing, an intrusion into a constant state of affairs. we do this when something goes wrong. When the software stops functioning and the print doesn't show, we stop and review, and take ourselves OUT. This is what questioning does to a process of engagement. There you are hammering and the head flies off. This interruption I take as the single most significant expression of freedom: it is inquiry, the ability to stop and review and interrupt all that would make a claim to your actions and thoughts. Without this, we would be no more free than my cat is free of its instincts, meowing when she's hungry, chasing mice outside. This all flows naturally from within; now when the food doesn't come, is she exercising freedom looking around for food in all the likely places. Then in the unlikely ones. No, I would say.

I am thinking of Sartre first: freedom lies in this extraordinary ability to second guess, to take what you are conscious of and to know that you are conscious of it. He calls this, respectively, prereflective and reflective consciousness. It is in the reflection that our freedom demonstrates itself. Reflection interrupts the steady flow of engagement, so natural in cats and cows. Evidence of our freedom lies here, but this is so rare, and it does still beg the question, when you are interfering, are you not still IN the framework of language, learned and practiced? Yes, I say.
This is why I am a big fan of Kierkegaard; it's because, like Sartre, he grounds freedom, the ability to terminate and interfere in processes, in something actual. It is hard to talk of this here, but it issues from a consideration of the structural features of time and consciousness. All of our actions and thoughts issue from the past, are recalled in memory, are gatherings of our personal history, and if we live our lives as these compel, then we are not free. Freedom must stand outside this, and that puts the matter outside the way the past "makes" the present in the constant anticipation and anxiety or confidence, the way thoughts just appear, and there you are acting accordingly, typing, worrying about a family member, wondering if you can afford a new car. Fro freedom to be so grounded, it has to BE something different. Sartre's nothingness is entirely attributable to Kierkegaard's eternal present, and it is in the eternal present that our true self and nature are to be found. when I doubt, question, I am certainly still In the flow, but I am also out because the temporal feed into the present moment, turning the present into the future, instantly is paused.

Buddhists are very good at this, stopping the world.

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Re: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by chewybrian » February 26th, 2019, 9:36 am

Hereandnow wrote:
February 25th, 2019, 12:50 pm
I think the reasonable determinist will ask, how is it that your choice is free? It is a fair question, and if you cannot give a suitable account of being free, other than the Diogenes demonstration, then I am afraid the burden of proof lies with you. Have you spoken nonsense? If not, then explain, as a bank teller would explain a savings account. Freedom is the odd bird here. Determinism has the apodicticity of causality on its side. Sorry for the word dropping: one cannot ever imagine X moving, behaving without a cause. It's not an empirical principle, it is a priori, it is as necessary as mathematical necessity that there be a cause. It is a, irrefutable intuition.....or is it?
Math, science, and logic are not a priori. We have used our reason to develop and employ them to explain our observations, sensory inputs and our conclusions about the world. They are judgments, and we are the judge. Only our sense perceptions upon which we base these assumptions are a priori. Therefore, when my senses tell me I am free to choose, then I demand a high standard of proof to disregard them. I put the burden on anyone who says I can not choose freely. I defer to math, science and logic when I can see the proof, or when it matches my perception and/or judgment. When it does not, I side with myself. If you put these ahead of yourself, then you get to a point of religious style devotion. Determinism can only be believed on faith in that you must deny your own experience in the process.
Hereandnow wrote:
February 25th, 2019, 12:50 pm
This makes freedom and kind of second guessing, an intrusion into a constant state of affairs. we do this when something goes wrong. When the software stops functioning and the print doesn't show, we stop and review, and take ourselves OUT. This is what questioning does to a process of engagement. There you are hammering and the head flies off. This interruption I take as the single most significant expression of freedom: it is inquiry, the ability to stop and review and interrupt all that would make a claim to your actions and thoughts. Without this, we would be no more free than my cat is free of its instincts, meowing when she's hungry, chasing mice outside. This all flows naturally from within; now when the food doesn't come, is she exercising freedom looking around for food in all the likely places. Then in the unlikely ones. No, I would say.
If I learn to water ski so well that I can eat a plate of spaghetti as I skim across the water, this does not imply that I lack choice in skiing or eating the spaghetti. I just got so good at skiing that it scarcely requires my attention. This says nothing about freedom either way. It is simply a hierarchy which enables me to focus on what matters, which was staying alive in the wild, and might be how to play a poker hand or hit a golf shot today. My consciousness operates on many levels, but why does that matter in terms of freedom?
Hereandnow wrote:
February 25th, 2019, 12:50 pm
Reflection interrupts the steady flow of engagement, so natural in cats and cows. Evidence of our freedom lies here, but this is so rare, and it does still beg the question, when you are interfering, are you not still IN the framework of language, learned and practiced? Yes, I say.
This is why I am a big fan of Kierkegaard; it's because, like Sartre, he grounds freedom, the ability to terminate and interfere in processes, in something actual. It is hard to talk of this here, but it issues from a consideration of the structural features of time and consciousness. All of our actions and thoughts issue from the past, are recalled in memory, are gatherings of our personal history, and if we live our lives as these compel, then we are not free. Freedom must stand outside this, and that puts the matter outside the way the past "makes" the present in the constant anticipation and anxiety or confidence, the way thoughts just appear, and there you are acting accordingly, typing, worrying about a family member, wondering if you can afford a new car. Fro freedom to be so grounded, it has to BE something different. Sartre's nothingness is entirely attributable to Kierkegaard's eternal present, and it is in the eternal present that our true self and nature are to be found. when I doubt, question, I am certainly still In the flow, but I am also out because the temporal feed into the present moment, turning the present into the future, instantly is paused.

Buddhists are very good at this, stopping the world.
I can't see why you dismiss my attempts to show that the material or immaterial nature of my consciousness is a critical issue, but then stress that it must be something different, which is exactly what I am getting at. The stoics said that your prohairesis, or faculty of choice, was a bit of God dwelling within you, and there is a lot to be said for that view, as it is essentially the same debate, with a twist. Imagine arguing about the existence of God, with this critical difference. Every time you said there was no God, I looked up and said: "Hey, God?", and a voice replied: "What's up Brian?". I could ask God to turn the room into a wading pool at the YMCA, or a civil war battlefield, or Cleopatra's bedroom at will, and he would comply. In this universe, you would look pretty silly holding fast to your denials about God.

In this universe where we exist now, I have that same privilege with regard to my freedom. I can at least try to do what I choose, when I choose. You can't tell me a choice goes against determinism and deny me the choice in the process. I can choose over and over, freely, and you can choose to see a determining cause in each choice if you wish. But, I know at the deepest level of my being that this view is just wrong. Your denials seem as unreasonable to me now as the denials about God would seem after I had asked him to turn you into Phyllis Diller for my amusement.

In a sense, you could say in this case that I'm denying science and logic, which are always built upon assumptions and conclusions made by people, and therefore always suspect. Even if the logic is sound, an incorrect assumption at the beginning ruins the whole argument. This is why I think it is critical to consider that consciousness may not be material, at which point the whole argument collapses. But, you are denying the reality of your own experience, which is the only truly a priori item you have. This you can never deny or escape, as long as you are alive. The determinist is denying that man built science at all, and attributing it to the universe, reducing man to nothing of meaning.

Boil it down, all the way down. The determinist is asking me to deny myself, to deny man, and to assent to the idea that nothing ever did or could matter. It should not surprise you that I will not go quietly. What surprises me is that anyone would willingly go along with this. Determinism only amounts to a window to how much we don't understand about ourselves and everything else. Clearly, if infinite knowledge is possible, all our knowledge amounts to nothing. So, what reason is there to think this sophomoric wisdom about the world amounts to the answer to life, the universe and everything? It tells us a lot about billiard balls and nothing about free agents. I conclude we don't have the answer, only the question. The question is not: "Are we free?", but rather: "How are we free?".

Of everything that has come up in this discussion I am most confident in this assertion: that you are putting the burden of proof on the wrong side. You, I , everyone, should continue to choose freely unless or until it is proven beyond all doubt that we can not. And, if you choose to stay alive, circumstances will force you to choose freely anyway (irony, right?). With your plate of spaghetti in hand, you are skimming over the key problem. If my will is subject to cause and effect, it is because it is material. It should be a slam dunk to prove it so, and the determinists would have their case made. They can not prove it so, as I could easily do with any other material thing.

Image

What is material about a thought? It may be conjured by observations of material things, and represented in part by memories of material things. But, the thought itself has no substance of any kind. If the thinker dies and the thought was not expressed, it dies with him. Any material representation of a thought is only a reflection. Scribbles on paper do not pass on an actual thought, any more than the mirror passes on the actual 'me' in a reflection. The reflection can't interact with the world as I can, and thoughts written on paper can only inspire new thoughts. Thoughts belong to the thinker, the agent, the soul if you wish. That's me and I am here, and unwilling to deny myself.
"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: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by Intellectual_Savnot » February 26th, 2019, 2:40 pm

@chewybrian I was about to type some long thing about logic but what can I say but, hey, go with your gut

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Re: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by Hereandnow » February 26th, 2019, 7:04 pm

Cheweybrain:
Math, science, and logic are not a priori. We have used our reason to develop and employ them to explain our observations, sensory inputs and our conclusions about the world. They are judgments, and we are the judge. Only our sense perceptions upon which we base these assumptions are a priori. Therefore, when my senses tell me I am free to choose, then I demand a high standard of proof to disregard them. I put the burden on anyone who says I can not choose freely. I defer to math, science and logic when I can see the proof, or when it matches my perception and/or judgment. When it does not, I side with myself. If you put these ahead of yourself, then you get to a point of religious style devotion. Determinism can only be believed on faith in that you must deny your own experience in the process.
Sorry, that is not right. I don't mean I disagree, I mean you don't have a priority right. Also, your reasoning contains an implicit denial that conscious acts are analyzable. You take them as stand alone authoritative, and this is not born out by philosophy. It's not that there is not something in experience that is stand "stand alone" but this is a complex matter.
If I learn to water ski so well that I can eat a plate of spaghetti as I skim across the water, this does not imply that I lack choice in skiing or eating the spaghetti. I just got so good at skiing that it scarcely requires my attention. This says nothing about freedom either way. It is simply a hierarchy which enables me to focus on what matters, which was staying alive in the wild, and might be how to play a poker hand or hit a golf shot today. My consciousness operates on many levels, but why does that matter in terms of freedom?
It is not a matter of choice in the every day sense, as when I pass the salt if someone asks for it. You can SAY I choose, but this is just a rough and ready use of the term. You can SAY you choose the answer the phone with "hello" but an examination of the event itself shows nothing what ever of choice. To say your consciousness operates at many levels doesn't help your case at all, as the levels you refer to are unconscious--you unconsciously answer the phone with hello, and you would have to show how unconscious metal events are free. That would be odd to say the least.
I can't see why you dismiss my attempts to show that the material or immaterial nature of my consciousness is a critical issue, but then stress that it must be something different, which is exactly what I am getting at. The stoics said that your prohairesis, or faculty of choice, was a bit of God dwelling within you, and there is a lot to be said for that view, as it is essentially the same debate, with a twist. Imagine arguing about the existence of God, with this critical difference. Every time you said there was no God, I looked up and said: "Hey, God?", and a voice replied: "What's up Brian?". I could ask God to turn the room into a wading pool at the YMCA, or a civil war battlefield, or Cleopatra's bedroom at will, and he would comply. In this universe, you would look pretty silly holding fast to your denials about God.
First, pls put aside the stoics. I don't think they offer much here. As to God, is this what would prove the matter for you? Doing extraordinary things? I suppose we would be gods to the ancients on this account. But I don't see the point vis a vis choice and freedom. And the term 'material' I don't use because it carries the presumption of knowing something about the nature of reality, and in this it produces the illusion that what is complex is really something simple. As you do with freedom when you raise your hand and the rest. But beyond this objection I don't see any issues. (My point really is that science, since it does not care to discuss thinks at the level of basic assumptions, is settled with the assumption that there are material things and the matter is settled. Philosophy does not work this way at all.) At any rate, there is something about the apodicticity of causality that is very much at issue when it comes to the proposition that there is freedom. Here is a question: how is it that you can differentiate between one's history of learning and one's volitional abilities? Are we, as Foucault put it, being ventriloquized by history and language? This spark of divinity that rises up when you eat your spaghetti begs the question: The language you learned to even think of such a thing, the logic that issues forth to make a sentence, the habits in play learned in social functions: all this possesses nothing of nontrivial sense of choice and freedom at the moment of doing something. When you are riding those waves with plate and fork in hand, you are not exercising freedom or choice in the process. For this, there must be something to interfere, interrupt.
I will grant you this, when you lose your balance, and see this, for a moment, while there is pause, you are free from the steady production of actions, but then, as other training steps in, this moment is lost and one yields to this.
In this universe where we exist now, I have that same privilege with regard to my freedom. I can at least try to do what I choose, when I choose. You can't tell me a choice goes against determinism and deny me the choice in the process. I can choose over and over, freely, and you can choose to see a determining cause in each choice if you wish. But, I know at the deepest level of my being that this view is just wrong. Your denials seem as unreasonable to me now as the denials about God would seem after I had asked him to turn you into Phyllis Diller for my amusement.

In a sense, you could say in this case that I'm denying science and logic, which are always built upon assumptions and conclusions made by people, and therefore always suspect. Even if the logic is sound, an incorrect assumption at the beginning ruins the whole argument. This is why I think it is critical to consider that consciousness may not be material, at which point the whole argument collapses. But, you are denying the reality of your own experience, which is the only truly a priori item you have. This you can never deny or escape, as long as you are alive. The determinist is denying that man built science at all, and attributing it to the universe, reducing man to nothing of meaning.

Boil it down, all the way down. The determinist is asking me to deny myself, to deny man, and to assent to the idea that nothing ever did or could matter. It should not surprise you that I will not go quietly. What surprises me is that anyone would willingly go along with this. Determinism only amounts to a window to how much we don't understand about ourselves and everything else. Clearly, if infinite knowledge is possible, all our knowledge amounts to nothing. So, what reason is there to think this sophomoric wisdom about the world amounts to the answer to life, the universe and everything? It tells us a lot about billiard balls and nothing about free agents. I conclude we don't have the answer, only the question. The question is not: "Are we free?", but rather: "How are we free?".

Of everything that has come up in this discussion I am most confident in this assertion: that you are putting the burden of proof on the wrong side. You, I , everyone, should continue to choose freely unless or until it is proven beyond all doubt that we can not. And, if you choose to stay alive, circumstances will force you to choose freely anyway (irony, right?). With your plate of spaghetti in hand, you are skimming over the key problem. If my will is subject to cause and effect, it is because it is material. It should be a slam dunk to prove it so, and the determinists would have their case made. They can not prove it so, as I could easily do with any other material thing.
There is a lot of rhetorical content in this. For example. your privilege with regard to your freedom, and knowing at the deepest level of your being. i do wish you would reconsider the inviolability of such things. And keep in mind that I actually do think freedom is a meaningful term, as well as choice. This latter is clear, as you say, but it does not fully show itself until we make a dramatic move in our awareness. If you have the curiosity for unusual thinking, thinking that is grounded is existentialism, then consider this my good faith understanding of how it is possible to resolve this. I'll be brief:
Choice is analyzable, that is where the rhetoric ends, and insight begins. I think you should except this premise. And because there is conflict in the way we interpret what choice is that should tell us instantly that this matter has parts, can be taken apart and looked at. God may appear to you in all his glory, but the questions about how you know what has been brought before you still have those annoying epistemological dimensions. God could say don't worry about such things, but that doesn't make them disappear. Since God is not here to tell us to relax, we are left with our own wits, so lets use them. I agree with you that in that moment when a person stands out of a process and says, I am free to choose here, this is in fact a moment of genuine freedom, but it needs to be explained and understood. I am actually on your side. As to the burden of proof, well, the proof rests with the analysis.
You go on about things that don't really have a place here. No one asserting that nothing ever did or could matter. And sophomoric wisdom about the world? But then, yes, I agree: it is a question of how free we are, but this still leaves entirely unanalyzed the question as to the nature of freedom and choice. Such things are only to be determined by looking closely at occasions in which they occur,like when I wield this hammer, or write a letter: am I free as I let my skills produce actions? Forget how offended you are by the question, and forget about the undesirable consequences, just look plainly at the activity. When we are truly engaged, we are not acting independently of the the skills, the knowldge; rather, we set these forth and let them fly. Freedom cannot be this. Cats and dogs do this when they chase mice and cars.
But again, I am on your side; I believe the term freedom has a counterpart in lived experience, and it occurs not when we are doing, engaged, lost in the novel we're reading, but when this is interrupted and the flow ceases. This is when I see independence, break away from the steady production of the stream of consciousness. Freedom is not observable in a purely engaged experience, but I believe prior to the engagement, when one stops the former activity and moves into the next, there is "some degree" of freedom, that is, freedom reveals its nature. It is in the in between, when activity is arrested.
But this is tricky, isn't it?: as I said earlier, even when you break away, you are still in the grip of language, the question that terminates a process is still a question, and questions are learned structures of speech, as when we were children, we watched and listened and learned the "culture" of language, the conditions of its application, and so forth. This former times are lived out in our current spontaneity. HERE is where the challenge lies, for we come to that critical crisis, that is, in our critique of freedom, of understanding where language rises up and beholds itself! This is the oddest thing a person can do, I think. But if understood well, it can be momentous. I am with Kierkegaard on this. To know what this is about, see his Concept of Anxiety, can't begin to do this justice here.
All the above, of course, rests on the shoulders of other philosophers, and is terribly abbreviated. but I am not kidding when I say you are right to defend freedom. I only want to do justice to the term. Nothing just sits there defiant to analysis. Nothing. But analysis can take you to where you never thought possible.

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Re: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by Burning ghost » February 27th, 2019, 2:19 am

From OP -
This is not to assert however, that the PC is separate from the sentient consciousness. The PC represents the true intentionality of the individual, and the sentient consciousness is the physical awareness of the brain that a decision has been made. We could conclude that the free will of an individual resides in the PC of that individual.
This is pretty much true to what we see. On a neural level our consciousness (as put “sentient consciousness”) is a inhibitory system - meaning it hinders “prime consciousness” and in this manner plays into what we “choose” by inhibiting the “choices.”

Chewy -

I think I see what you may have intended to say about “a priori”. This is a very complex problem and we don’t really have any solid answer to this likely because the question is somewhat at fault in a manner we find extremely difficult to frame in regular speech. Technically speaking maths and logic are “a priori” and this means they are justified in and of themselves - abstract rules set up bounds within which this or that is correct or incorrect, true or false. When applied to experiential life this is useful but certainly not considered true or correct because the “rules” within which we operate as beings is beyond us (we cannot occupy that which surrounds us). That said, we can only know of something as “a priori” by experiencing the world in the first instance. Without sensory data to apply concepts like validity and quantity we’d have no inkling of “a priori” and no “consciousness either.

There is certainly a lot of confusing abounding when it comes to discussing “freedom,” “free will,” and “consciousness.” The main issue is the diffifulty in communicating very complex ideas with a limited set of objectively accepted terms - and these terms are often quite plastic in this or that context too.

It may be easier to break down the issue into different sections; the phenomenological, the physically determined, and the neurological. The main area of popular contention, it seems to me, is in ethics and morality. Often people try and cross these over into each other rather than take them on as separate topics. My personal interest is directed toward aesthetic sensibility and semiotics. Meaning the topic interests me more in how people present their ideas and the terms they have to clumsily pick from the limited array of meanings.
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Re: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by chewybrian » February 27th, 2019, 6:58 am

Burning ghost wrote:
February 27th, 2019, 2:19 am

Chewy -

I think I see what you may have intended to say about “a priori”. This is a very complex problem and we don’t really have any solid answer to this likely because the question is somewhat at fault in a manner we find extremely difficult to frame in regular speech. Technically speaking maths and logic are “a priori” and this means they are justified in and of themselves - abstract rules set up bounds within which this or that is correct or incorrect, true or false. When applied to experiential life this is useful but certainly not considered true or correct because the “rules” within which we operate as beings is beyond us (we cannot occupy that which surrounds us). That said, we can only know of something as “a priori” by experiencing the world in the first instance. Without sensory data to apply concepts like validity and quantity we’d have no inkling of “a priori” and no “consciousness either.
I replied with his word, but I would not have chosen that word as it seems to have contradicting definitions, and I chose the one(s) I meant, and he presumably meant the one you are using. Here are three examples from the entry for 'a priori' in dictionary.com:
1. from a general law to a particular instance; valid independently of observation. Compare a posteriori(def 1).
2. existing in the mind prior to and independent of experience, as a faculty or character trait. Compare a posteriori(def 2).
3. not based on prior study or examination; nonanalytic:
So, I clearly meant the last two: 'existing in the mind prior to and independent of experience' (I already have the idea in my head that I will be able to choose my reaction prior to opening my eyes and experiencing the thing to which I might react) and: 'not based on study or examination, nonanalytic' (I have a sense impression that I am free prior to trying to 'justify' or prove my freedom with science or logic, or to disprove it).

Your sense impressions are the starting point. They are the only thing you have that does not depend on your assumptions and interpretations. They are unmolested by your imperfect attempts to categorize them and give meaning to them. If I see an elephant in front of me, there is an impression that I get prior to trying to decide the meaning, prior even to recognizing it as an elephant or trying to figure out why there would be an a elephant in my living room, or to decide if I must be dreaming or hallucinating.

My sense impression that I am free to choose is there prior to any attempt to decide if I have this ability. I would have to conclude 'elephant' (the conclusion available to me that most closely matches my sense impression) unless I had a valid reason to assume it was a dream or something else. Similarly, I have to conclude 'choosing freely' unless strong evidence is present to show otherwise. Something I can't avoid seeing or otherwise sensing takes precedence over theory unless the evidence is very strong.
There is certainly a lot of confusing abounding when it comes to discussing “freedom,” “free will,” and “consciousness.” The main issue is the diffifulty in communicating very complex ideas with a limited set of objectively accepted terms - and these terms are often quite plastic in this or that context too.
It is very difficult. I've had a very compelling discussion here with Hereandnow, yet I'm not sure either of us has fully reached the other. The part on which I am failing, as always, is communicating the urgency and seriousness of the problem, and why I have a passion about my opinion. If you follow determinism all the way down the line, it is the death of man, the undoing of the birth, as we never meant anything in the first place. We might as well never exist if we can never once make a free choice. It is not a life and death problem that we are influenced, though I do think we should make better efforts to free ourselves from influences as much as possible.

I'm not arguing for God, or superpowers, eternal souls, or even full time total control of all our functions. But, it is critical that we can 'take the wheel'. If we can not, there is no point in us having the sense impression that we can. If there is a 1% chance that we can take control, then we should be fighting for our lives to declare it and maintain it and celebrate it (which, incidentally, is an apt description of most of human history!). When people here casually accept determinism, and claim that it has no effect, and life continues as before, and that it is somehow necessary that they pretend to be choosing, even as they are convinced they can not, I feel like my head is going to explode. I want to reach through the monitor and shake them and say 'live!".

Image
Hereandnow wrote:
February 26th, 2019, 7:04 pm
You can SAY you choose the answer the phone with "hello" but an examination of the event itself shows nothing what ever of choice. To say your consciousness operates at many levels doesn't help your case at all, as the levels you refer to are unconscious--you unconsciously answer the phone with hello, and you would have to show how unconscious metal events are free. That would be odd to say the least.
When my Dad calls, I sometimes answer with "Pizza Hut, will this be pick up or delivery?", or "You rang..." in Lurch's voice. It only takes one free choice in a lifetime, or one chance to choose freely, even if it is not taken, to knock down determinism. I can have biscuits and gravy every Sunday morning for the rest of my life, but as long as I know I could have ordered grits, I am free.
Hereandnow wrote:
February 26th, 2019, 7:04 pm
Sorry, that is not right. I don't mean I disagree, I mean you don't have a priority right. Also, your reasoning contains an implicit denial that conscious acts are analyzable. You take them as stand alone authoritative, and this is not born out by philosophy. It's not that there is not something in experience that is stand "stand alone" but this is a complex matter.
If a conscious act does not stand alone, then it loses the meaning and importance that makes it a conscious act. Calling it conscious is wrapped up with the idea that the conscious being chose it, and could have chosen otherwise. You can't dismantle it into its component parts like a carburetor from a '72 Nova. There are always influences, sometimes overwhelming, and we have the freedom to defer to them, to attempt to deny choice, to be lazy or fearful about choosing, but we can not escape the choice. The choice is us, we are the choice, and if it is not real and it does not matter, them neither do we.
Hereandnow wrote:
February 26th, 2019, 7:04 pm
Are we, as Foucault put it, being ventriloquized by history and language? This spark of divinity that rises up when you eat your spaghetti begs the question: The language you learned to even think of such a thing, the logic that issues forth to make a sentence, the habits in play learned in social functions: all this possesses nothing of nontrivial sense of choice and freedom at the moment of doing something.
Of course there is some truth to this, but what matters is only if the truth is 100% or 99%. How could people come up with new ideas without the other 1% that really matters? Everything I have to start with comes from the efforts of the past, yet I can add to it in some small way, and this is freedom. It doesn't matter how small, or even if I choose to exercise it. But it bloody well matters if it is there or not, lest you reduce man to an object instead of a man.
Hereandnow wrote:
February 26th, 2019, 7:04 pm
HERE is where the challenge lies, for we come to that critical crisis, that is, in our critique of freedom, of understanding where language rises up and beholds itself! This is the oddest thing a person can do, I think. But if understood well, it can be momentous. I am with Kierkegaard on this. To know what this is about, see his Concept of Anxiety, can't begin to do this justice here.
All the above, of course, rests on the shoulders of other philosophers, and is terribly abbreviated. but I am not kidding when I say you are right to defend freedom. I only want to do justice to the term. Nothing just sits there defiant to analysis. Nothing. But analysis can take you to where you never thought possible.
I do think we are asking too much if we expect to fully analyze and understand ourselves. I doubt strongly I will ever stop defending freedom, yet I am struggling to see why I need to dismantle it to accept it. I feel like I only need to show that it is not disproved, since it is so self-evident. But, I think you have convinced me to study some Kierkeggard to see if you are on to something or just nuts (or both).
"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: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by Hereandnow » February 27th, 2019, 11:32 am

Burning ghost:
This is pretty much true to what we see. On a neural level our consciousness (as put “sentient consciousness”) is a inhibitory system - meaning it hinders “prime consciousness” and in this manner plays into what we “choose” by inhibiting the “choices.”
Consider PC as the OP describes it, "frozen in time". I objected to this because no sense can be made of it. It is like Sartre's nothingness which in itself provides no basis for action. Consider what what Wittgenstein says about eternity: the only sense that can be made of it is an eternal now. My take is that in this fleeting now conceived in and of itself all production of anticipation is outside, and this production is not to be considered "in" time: It IS time. To be independent of time, acausal, is to be free in the ontology of the eternal moment. It may sound odd. It does, and I continue to puzzle over this. See, if you have a mind, Kierkegaard's Repetition. The trick is, that is, the seemingly impossible task is to generate experience that issues from this eternal present (what Sartre will later call nothingness) and does not simply project a future constructed out of mere recollection. This latter is backward looking and possesses no freedom since the past rushes "past" the present to anticipate the future and as the present (K holds this to be the seat of the soul and God) is passive, submissive. But repetition, this is forward looking, an attempt produce action out of the free "soul" of the present, the living eternal present, that is.
Can sense be made of THIS? K thinks that there is only one true actuality, and that is the self-presence. The farther flung into the abstraction of reason we go, the more we conceive of ourselves in the abstract, the more we alienate our selves from true Being, from God. It is a difficult position to objectively defend, but I think it does require some isolation from the social currents that make a claim on who we are. It is a project, this realization of the eternal present within, that has already appeared, and is waiting for rebirth, in the Eastern religious disciplines.
Chewy:
I do think we are asking too much if we expect to fully analyze and understand ourselves. I doubt strongly I will ever stop defending freedom, yet I am struggling to see why I need to dismantle it to accept it. I feel like I only need to show that it is not disproved, since it is so self-evident. But, I think you have convinced me to study some Kierkeggard to see if you are on to something or just nuts (or both).
He is tough! Because he is so idiosyncratic, and he does this on purpose to, for one thing, make you stop and think. But if you decide to get serious, you simply must read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Everybody has to do this if they are going to understand the existentialists. Know this, I am just an amateur and I read philosophy because I sincerely want to know things at the level of basic questions. I don't care about winning friends and influencing people, I just want to understand what we are and why we are throw into all this. It is a LOT of work, and I still only hover...but I hover much more closely that before, and next year I will be closer yet. Philosophy is an extraordinary adventure because it literally destroys the world, then asks you to reconstruct it.

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Re: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by Burning ghost » February 27th, 2019, 12:01 pm

H&N -

I quoted from the OP directly. I took the later to amend the former (and it was stated as a clarification). The “frozen in time” appears to have been clumsy phraseology.

The rest of what you say doesn’t really mean much to me. Nothing new there, but thanks for trying.
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Re: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by Burning ghost » February 27th, 2019, 12:04 pm

I’d second the importance of reading A Critique of Pure Reason. It is a mammoth task though but really worth the effort and a great lesson in patience, concentration and shows how mentally exhausting saying something simple can be.
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Re: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by Hereandnow » February 27th, 2019, 12:12 pm

Which is it, BG: Nothing new or it doesn't mean that much? This latter seems impossible.

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Re: A solution to the mystery of Libet's investigations perhaps?

Post by Burning ghost » February 27th, 2019, 1:54 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
February 27th, 2019, 12:12 pm
Which is it, BG: Nothing new or it doesn't mean that much? This latter seems impossible.
I don’t know what this means nor what exactly you’re referring to. My misunderstanding then I guess.
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