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Free will

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Mark1955
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Re: Free will

Post by Mark1955 » September 20th, 2018, 9:56 am

Haicoway wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 7:53 am
Scientists discount free will because anything we think originates in the unconscious mind before we are conscious of it, and therefore we can’t direct anything consciously.
How do we know this. We can't see into our unconscious mind ourselves.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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chewybrian
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Re: Free will

Post by chewybrian » September 20th, 2018, 11:00 am

Haicoway wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 7:53 am
Scientists discount free will because anything we think originates in the unconscious mind before we are conscious of it, and therefore we can’t direct anything consciously.

The closest we can come to a free will act is accomplished thus: You take something you are debating doing and list all the pros and cons you can think of. Each pro or con would be a reason for doing the thing or not. Then you put the T-diagram away and put all of the factors out of your mind. Then you decide, you choose, not from some reason, but from an unconscious gestalt of all of the reasons you were aware of plus others you were not consciously aware of. And you commit to sticking with your decision, your choice, forever, regardless of any reasons against it that pop up later. You take a stand and never waver. That process is the closest thing to free will that exists.
Three things...

Do you have a source that says all thought begins in the unconscious mind?

If it does begin in the unconscious mind, why does that mean for certain that it is not part of the process of free will? I have many thoughts on which I do not act. So, there could still be free will in deciding on which ideas to act upon, even if the thoughts don't come from the conscious mind. We can't act on anything unless we are conscious, right?

How does 'sticking to your guns' imitate free will? There is nothing about changing your mind that is not consistent with free will, especially if you are acting on new information not available to you when you made your initial choice.
"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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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Free will

Post by ThomasHobbes » September 20th, 2018, 4:10 pm

chewybrian wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 11:00 am
Haicoway wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 7:53 am
Scientists discount free will because anything we think originates in the unconscious mind before we are conscious of it, and therefore we can’t direct anything consciously.
Three things...

Do you have a source that says all thought begins in the unconscious mind?
That's like asking; how do you know plants grow out of the ground.

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chewybrian
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Re: Free will

Post by chewybrian » September 21st, 2018, 8:04 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 4:10 pm
chewybrian wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 11:00 am


Three things...

Do you have a source that says all thought begins in the unconscious mind?
That's like asking; how do you know plants grow out of the ground.
Do CEO's grow out of janitors?

I'm not sure your plant analogy holds up. We have unconscious thoughts that take care of background operations and alert us through reflex. We also have conscious thoughts which arise from our own will, consciousness, soul, whatever you want to call it. They may interact, yet I don't see how conscious thought necessarily emerges from unconscious origins. If you go all the way back to an embryo, then you could say that, but after consciousness and free will have emerged, I don't see that each new conscious thought must begin as unconscious thought.

A little research finds we know shockingly little about how our minds work. There is a theory that there is no such thing as conscious thought at all. Basically, we only become aware of our thoughts, which are all unconscious. Consciousness is simply awareness. As such, you are no more aware of your own thoughts than you are of the thoughts of others. You must read the cues of your own behavior to determine what you are thinking, just as you must do in order to interpret the thoughts of others.

I don't but any of that for one second, any more than I buy the idea that I have no free will. But, it adds one more layer of destruction of the individual from modern science and philosophy, which is why I am always drawn back to the ancients. They were not so blinded by their own meager discoveries to as to deny their own experience and indeed their own existence. This modern science-based philosophy amounts to the Emperor's New Clothes when people attempt to take the rules beyond their logical bounds. We all experience free will all the time. If this is contrary to the laws of physics, then the laws must be incomplete or incorrect, or the mind must not be entirely physical.
"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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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Free will

Post by ThomasHobbes » September 21st, 2018, 11:24 am

chewybrian wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 8:04 am
ThomasHobbes wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 4:10 pm


That's like asking; how do you know plants grow out of the ground.
Do CEO's grow out of janitors?
No, but you got that poor analogy from the depths of your head, whether you like it or not.

I'm not sure your plant analogy holds up. We have unconscious thoughts that take care of background operations and alert us through reflex. We also have conscious thoughts which arise from our own will, consciousness, soul, whatever you want to call it. They may interact, yet I don't see how conscious thought necessarily emerges from unconscious origins. If you go all the way back to an embryo, then you could say that, but after consciousness and free will have emerged, I don't see that each new conscious thought must begin as unconscious thought.

A little research finds we know shockingly little about how our minds work. There is a theory that there is no such thing as conscious thought at all. Basically, we only become aware of our thoughts, which are all unconscious. Consciousness is simply awareness. As such, you are no more aware of your own thoughts than you are of the thoughts of others. You must read the cues of your own behavior to determine what you are thinking, just as you must do in order to interpret the thoughts of others.

I don't but any of that for one second, any more than I buy the idea that I have no free will. But, it adds one more layer of destruction of the individual from modern science and philosophy, which is why I am always drawn back to the ancients. They were not so blinded by their own meager discoveries to as to deny their own experience and indeed their own existence. This modern science-based philosophy amounts to the Emperor's New Clothes when people attempt to take the rules beyond their logical bounds. We all experience free will all the time. If this is contrary to the laws of physics, then the laws must be incomplete or incorrect, or the mind must not be entirely physical.

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chewybrian
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Re: Free will

Post by chewybrian » September 21st, 2018, 11:46 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 11:24 am
No, but you got that poor analogy from the depths of your head, whether you like it or not.

Thank you for taking the time to explain your thoughts on the subject so clearly and completely.
"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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Thinking critical
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Re: Free will

Post by Thinking critical » September 22nd, 2018, 3:38 am

chewybrian wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 8:04 am
ThomasHobbes wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 4:10 pm


That's like asking; how do you know plants grow out of the ground.
Do CEO's grow out of janitors?

I'm not sure your plant analogy holds up. We have unconscious thoughts that take care of background operations and alert us through reflex. We also have conscious thoughts which arise from our own will, consciousness, soul, whatever you want to call it. They may interact, yet I don't see how conscious thought necessarily emerges from unconscious origins. If you go all the way back to an embryo, then you could say that, but after consciousness and free will have emerged, I don't see that each new conscious thought must begin as unconscious thought.

A little research finds we know shockingly little about how our minds work. There is a theory that there is no such thing as conscious thought at all. Basically, we only become aware of our thoughts, which are all unconscious. Consciousness is simply awareness. As such, you are no more aware of your own thoughts than you are of the thoughts of others. You must read the cues of your own behavior to determine what you are thinking, just as you must do in order to interpret the thoughts of others.

I don't but any of that for one second, any more than I buy the idea that I have no free will. But, it adds one more layer of destruction of the individual from modern science and philosophy, which is why I am always drawn back to the ancients. They were not so blinded by their own meager discoveries to as to deny their own experience and indeed their own existence. This modern science-based philosophy amounts to the Emperor's New Clothes when people attempt to take the rules beyond their logical bounds. We all experience free will all the time. If this is contrary to the laws of physics, then the laws must be incomplete or incorrect, or the mind must not be entirely physical.
Chewy, I believe I have found a way to bridge our thoughts on free will. After our previous discussion you rightfully concluded that at many levels our veiws on this matter are aligned with the obvious fundamental difference being that we disagree on what it means to be an agent of freewill. I suspect that this is due to a categorical error on both fronts in that you are describing the cognitive experience of will whereas I have been approaching the topic from a neurological perspective.
At face value the fact the we clearly make choices and decisions, it is useful to say that we display traits which we categorise as freewill. At a deeper level the ability or act of choosing can be understood to be consequential of nuero processing which ultimately determines cognitive responses.
I have attached a 20 minute discussion between Sam Harris and Sean Carol (theoretical physicist) to demonstrate the credible scientists are more than happy to accept freewill as long as in us described correctly.

https://youtu.be/sK2PviGQiHk
This cocky little cognitive contortionist will straighten you right out

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Thinking critical
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Re: Free will

Post by Thinking critical » September 23rd, 2018, 12:47 am

Correction for the above final sentence - (auto correct ironically changes correctly spelt words to completely new ones, making several sentences grammatically incorrect.)

*it is "described correctly"
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Burning ghost
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Re: Free will

Post by Burning ghost » September 23rd, 2018, 3:07 am

The only reasonably interesting branch of “free will” worth discussing in a “philosophical” way is the matter of ethics and morality right?

The idea of choosing to believe ou have no responsibility for your actions is a very messy problem to unravel if you’re not very, very careful. We know too well from psychological literature that we’re quick to accept responsibility for what we deem to be seen as good in our eyes and/or others over admitting abject failure being our own doing through our own actions.

How do you think this plays out in terms of moral choice and ethics?
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Mark1955
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Re: Free will

Post by Mark1955 » September 23rd, 2018, 10:29 am

chewybrian wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 8:04 am
A little research finds we know shockingly little about how our minds work.....
We all experience free will all the time.
Any decent stage magician can make you experience all sorts of things, it doesn't mean they happen. I'd stick with the first idea. We know how neurons work in a very simplistic way and we know what we experience as thought. I've yet to find anything convincing that shows a connection, lots of possible ideas, but precious little evidence.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Mark1955
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Re: Free will

Post by Mark1955 » September 23rd, 2018, 10:35 am

Burning ghost wrote:
September 23rd, 2018, 3:07 am
The only reasonably interesting branch of “free will” worth discussing in a “philosophical” way is the matter of ethics and morality right?

The idea of choosing to believe you have no responsibility for your actions is a very messy problem to unravel if you’re not very, very careful. We know too well from psychological literature that we’re quick to accept responsibility for what we deem to be seen as good in our eyes and/or others over admitting abject failure being our own doing through our own actions.

How do you think this plays out in terms of moral choice and ethics?
I'm very wary of the pseudo liberal idea that we are not responsible for our actions due to outside factors, whether that be social or neurological. We all know that society has to have a measure of "You did that and will be punished because what you did is wrong" or it won't work. The idea someone is not responsible seems to me to lead down only two routes, a) they are incurably ill and must be segregated permanently from the rest of society, b) they are curably ill and must 'cured', however brutal that cure is.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Free will

Post by chewybrian » September 23rd, 2018, 11:11 am

Thinking critical wrote:
September 22nd, 2018, 3:38 am
I have attached a 20 minute discussion between Sam Harris and Sean Carol (theoretical physicist) to demonstrate the credible scientists are more than happy to accept freewill as long as in us described correctly.

https://youtu.be/sK2PviGQiHk
This one had a much kinder tone than the last one you linked. His opinion and the reasons for it are simple and clear. Yet, he not only does not attempt to connect the dots, but readily admits that this is not within our capabilities yet to prove his assertion (that we lack free will). It is only an opinion, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. No matter how smugly he asserts that he might ultimately be proven correct, nobody knows the truth yet.

Life and consciousness are special cases and even he or you would likely admit that we *appear* to have a free will, and his actions and yours are entirely consistent with agency, no matter what the truth of the matter is. There is no material difference between my body and brain awake or asleep, alive or dead, other than agency. My free will or consciousness lack any and all physical attributes of the things to which the laws of physics do apply. It's sophomoric simplicity to assign the rules that apply to atoms or beams of light to something which is clearly not in the same class. It's as if you decided that no organism could regrow limbs because you had never seen it happen. Yet, when shown the special case of a salamander or some other organism which can do so, you insist that it only appears to regrow the limb, because doing so would run counter to the rule you had already made based on other observations.

I will put to you the question I would like to put to him: What would you prefer the truth to be? Say the odds were 50/50, would you still sit on the side of determinism? Why would anyone choose (no pun intended) to believe they were powerless if there was a chance they were not? If you are merely a spectator of your own choices, why work at anything at all? Why not walk into the ocean and kill yourself, for if you do, it will turn out to have been the only choice you could have made, right? Don't you walk into a wall of such inconsistencies every moment if you are "choosing" all the time under the terms you define?

I think his opinion and yours are very dangerous, as even you seem to say:
The idea of choosing to believe ou have no responsibility for your actions is a very messy problem to unravel if you’re not very, very careful. We know too well from psychological literature that we’re quick to accept responsibility for what we deem to be seen as good in our eyes and/or others over admitting abject failure being our own doing through our own actions.
Self-improvement is hard, and most people won't make the effort. If you tell them it is impossible and they believe you, then they can stop trying and justify anything they want to do. Every alcoholic can stop drinking, just as most out of shape people can get up and exercise. Certainly genetics and outside influences steer us all the time, and some goals are beyond our abilities. But, most of our troubles come from poor understanding and bad habits. How else does therapy, or any twelve step program lead to success but through the agency of the person enrolled in it? How else can these lead to success for some and not others but for the fact that some make the effort required and some don't?

My parents suffered from anxiety and depression, and I 'inherited' these problems through genetics and experience. Perhaps I was dealt a bad hand in this regard, but you still get to play the hand. When I came upon the information that I could work my way out of these handicaps...

http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.html

...I decided to make the effort and it paid off. How else do people manage to change themselves in this way but through agency? Neither my genetics nor my past experiences were altered to allow me to change my perspective; I chose to alter my perspective and overcome the influence of genetics and experience. A free will is the most important thing any person has. You can choose to be happy in almost any situation. We should be celebrating free will and showing people how they can use it to improve their lives rather than trying to convince them they are helpless. In a depressed state, I was all to ready to believe I was powerless to overcome my problems. If I had encountered your take on free will prior to the take of Epictetus, I might not even be alive at the moment. Indeed, your assertions are just that dangerous to people in that state of mind.
How do you think this plays out in terms of moral choice and ethics?
There is no morality possible in the world you wish to create. We could only choose what appears to benefit us best at any given moment. If such beliefs take over, it seems it would lead to a frightening 'brave new world', where most of us were waiting to be led, and a police state where only deterrence could prevent bad behavior.

We should be advising everyone to withhold judgment, rather than asserting the inevitability of the truth of his/your opinion.
"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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Thinking critical
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Re: Free will

Post by Thinking critical » September 24th, 2018, 6:42 am

Chewy said
I will put to you the question I would like to put to him: What would you prefer the truth to be? Say the odds were 50/50, would you still sit on the side of determinism? Why would anyone choose (no pun intended) to believe they were powerless if there was a chance they were not? If you are merely a spectator of your own choices, why work at anything at all? Why not walk into the ocean and kill yourself, for if you do, it will turn out to have been the only choice you could have made, right? Don't you walk into a wall of such inconsistencies every moment if you are "choosing" all the time under the terms you define?
It is not that simple, the relationship between determinism and freewill runs much deeper.

The ability to choose a choice or decide on a decision is intrinsically entangled between the conscious experience and the genetic blueprint of the brain. How we experience the world which we perceive - consequently influences the way we interact with it. The way we percieve the world - is determined by how our neurones process sensory data. The reason I say the two are intrinsically entangled is because our experiences create new neurological pathways (this is how we learn), the pattern of the pathways (synapses) determines which information gets sent to the frontal lobe, the entire process of thinking can be reduced to a causal relationship.

So can I alter the path of my future? Well yes, potentially anyone can. This leads to an interesting point however, why is it so many people travel down the path of self destruction?
It's not because they lack the cognitive faculties to motivate themselves to change, it's much more complex. The reason people struggle so much to change their habbits is because their previous experiences have wired their brains to think, respond and behave in a certain way, it's not that they can't change, their futures aren't predetermined, however people are more likely to repeat habbits as opposed to do the contrary unless they are prepared to make a conscious effort to change.

Life experiences are essentially responsible for moulding our brains. Each unique genetic blueprint of the brain will mould (slightly to significantly) different to these experiences. We cannot foresee nor completely control our environments or the events which feed our cognitive experiences, therefore we are not free to choose what data our brains will process and at many levels we can't control how we process or respond to the data...already this puts limitations on freewill.

A great example of this is trauma, traumatic experiences can litterally scramble and rewrite neuro pathways so severely that people can litterally loose complete control of cognitive functions when they experience situationss that remind them of traumatic events, demonstrating how behaviours and responses can be triggered sub-consciously while simultaneously dominating the will of the subject.

Personally, I don't have a preference in regards to wether or not we have free will, I find the journey of attempting to understand "why we do what we do" much more interesting. And at the end of the day it makes no difference, the absence of freewill certainly doesn't eliminate the ability to assess our own actions and make ethical choices, it does however highlight the fact that a persons past certainly play a significant role in influencing their future.
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chewybrian
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Re: Free will

Post by chewybrian » September 24th, 2018, 3:02 pm

Thinking critical wrote:
September 24th, 2018, 6:42 am
So can I alter the path of my future? Well yes, potentially anyone can. This leads to an interesting point however, why is it so many people travel down the path of self destruction?

It's not because they lack the cognitive faculties to motivate themselves to change, it's much more complex. The reason people struggle so much to change their habbits is because their previous experiences have wired their brains to think, respond and behave in a certain way, it's not that they can't change, their futures aren't predetermined, however people are more likely to repeat habbits as opposed to do the contrary unless they are prepared to make a conscious effort to change.
I agree with this assessment of reality, but this is not determinism. 99% control to the environment and 1% left for me is still a version of free will. If I can make a few choices here and there, then they can have cumulative effects as well.

But, this is not what your guy says in the video. He says that, at the end of the day, there will be only one possible choice you can make every single time. The decision will have effectively already have been made by past events, and you are just a bystander.
Thinking critical wrote:
September 24th, 2018, 6:42 am
And at the end of the day it makes no difference, the absence of freewill certainly doesn't eliminate the ability to assess our own actions and make ethical choices, it does however highlight the fact that a persons past certainly play a significant role in influencing their future.
There are no ethics possible without free will. If I could not have done otherwise, there are no 'good' or 'bad' choices, or even choices at all. If I am able to choose, I can take either action. If only one action is possible, choice is gone, and morality necessarily goes with it.

Consider further the reverse of the determinism equation. If I take an action, any action, it must have been the one and only choice I was able to make. So, I can do whatever the "F" I want, and say the universe made me do it. No blame, no accountability...it's all there in the video link. If you really believe in determinism, then this follows naturally and undeniably. Where do you think that leads? How can you possibly think this has no effect on ethical choices? The deterministic universe would have eliminated all chance of ethical or moral action by definition.
"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

Post by ThomasHobbes » September 24th, 2018, 5:39 pm

chewybrian wrote:
September 24th, 2018, 3:02 pm
So, I can do whatever the "F" I want, and say the universe made me do it. No blame, no accountability...it's all there in the video link. If you really believe in determinism, then this follows naturally and undeniably.
Fallacy of adverse consequences.
Just because you don't like it, does not mean it is not true.

Accepting compatibilist determinism does not mean you do not have to face consequences. The point about consequences is that they help sway the determined conditions that effect change in your behaviour. It's called deterrence. You might have heard of it.

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