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

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

Post by Imetheman1 » February 12th, 2019, 4:17 pm

The following hypothetical scenario represents a solution to the mystery of Benjamin Libet's investigations regarding the nature of free will.

Assume 1st of all that all living organisms possess that which I call 'Prime Consciousness'. Assume that the 'PC' operates in the same way that it is predicted that quantum computers will eventually operate. The 'PC' can be regarded as existing and operating only in the relative immediate present of the animal – that frozen moment in time between the past and the future. The PC has only one job, it determines the motor function and therefore the physical movement of the organism in 3D space.

However, those species of animals who evolved a brain capacity and intelligence over time, which enabled them to process information regarding their immediate physical environment so that they can make an intentional choice to move in one way or another at any given moment in time, possesses a second level of consciousness which can be described as physical sentient awareness. Single celled animals can be regarded in this sense as possessing only prime consciousness.

As the brain capacity and intelligence of any given species evolves over time, the quantum computing ability of the PC to assimilate different information also increases. As the intelligence of a species continues to develop, the horizon of awareness of the 3D environment expands from it's immediate vicinity to a broader more encompassing environment which includes physical, social, economic, personal and emotional influences .

The information which the PC of any given human being assimilates at any given moment in time and which influences and determines the subsequent physical action of the body, is a complex cocktail of all of these elements. The role of the PC when any given individual puts pen to paper is not just that it determines the physical movement of the fingers [and therefore the pen on the paper]- the PC also represents the emotional, economic and or socio-political free will intentionality of the individual, and who has a full grasp of the implications and consequences which may be inherent in the content and subject matter of which they are writing at that moment

Given that the assimilation and transfer of information in the brain is a neurological process which is determined and governed by the laws of chemistry and physics [and therefore occurs over time], means that the moment of conscious sentient awareness, necessarily occurs after the intentionality of movement already decided by the PC. In this situation, the movement of the physical body is in response to the intentionality of the PC.

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.

The separation in time between the 'now' of the PC of any given individual and that of their sentient conscious awareness, would explain the mystery of the findings of Benjamin Libet investigations into the nature of free will.

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

Post by h_k_s » February 16th, 2019, 8:55 am

Imetheman1 wrote:
February 12th, 2019, 4:17 pm
The following hypothetical scenario represents a solution to the mystery of Benjamin Libet's investigations regarding the nature of free will.

Assume 1st of all that all living organisms possess that which I call 'Prime Consciousness'. Assume that the 'PC' operates in the same way that it is predicted that quantum computers will eventually operate. The 'PC' can be regarded as existing and operating only in the relative immediate present of the animal – that frozen moment in time between the past and the future. The PC has only one job, it determines the motor function and therefore the physical movement of the organism in 3D space.

However, those species of animals who evolved a brain capacity and intelligence over time, which enabled them to process information regarding their immediate physical environment so that they can make an intentional choice to move in one way or another at any given moment in time, possesses a second level of consciousness which can be described as physical sentient awareness. Single celled animals can be regarded in this sense as possessing only prime consciousness.

As the brain capacity and intelligence of any given species evolves over time, the quantum computing ability of the PC to assimilate different information also increases. As the intelligence of a species continues to develop, the horizon of awareness of the 3D environment expands from it's immediate vicinity to a broader more encompassing environment which includes physical, social, economic, personal and emotional influences .

The information which the PC of any given human being assimilates at any given moment in time and which influences and determines the subsequent physical action of the body, is a complex cocktail of all of these elements. The role of the PC when any given individual puts pen to paper is not just that it determines the physical movement of the fingers [and therefore the pen on the paper]- the PC also represents the emotional, economic and or socio-political free will intentionality of the individual, and who has a full grasp of the implications and consequences which may be inherent in the content and subject matter of which they are writing at that moment

Given that the assimilation and transfer of information in the brain is a neurological process which is determined and governed by the laws of chemistry and physics [and therefore occurs over time], means that the moment of conscious sentient awareness, necessarily occurs after the intentionality of movement already decided by the PC. In this situation, the movement of the physical body is in response to the intentionality of the PC.

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.

The separation in time between the 'now' of the PC of any given individual and that of their sentient conscious awareness, would explain the mystery of the findings of Benjamin Libet investigations into the nature of free will.
I'm not particularly fond of the theory of quantum physics. This is just a rehashing of ancient Greek speculation by the Atomists.

Thus you are mixing speculation with science and philosophy.

It is more fascinating to ask whether all animals in their own freewill determinations have the same consciousness that humans seem to have. We humans know about each other from ourselves. But we don't know much about the other animals.

But back to the original topic, freewill is a matter of circumstance and environment. Slaves have little freewill other than to decide whether to try to escape or not. Not sure if that counts as freewill to most observers.

We have eliminated slavery from the Earth by and large. But economic slavery still exists.

Do economic slaves have freewill or not? Probably only to the extent that they choose to submit to their own economic slavery or take a faster way out.

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

Post by Hereandnow » February 16th, 2019, 6:55 pm

Imetheman1
Assume 1st of all that all living organisms possess that which I call 'Prime Consciousness'. Assume that the 'PC' operates in the same way that it is predicted that quantum computers will eventually operate. The 'PC' can be regarded as existing and operating only in the relative immediate present of the animal – that frozen moment in time between the past and the future. The PC has only one job, it determines the motor function and therefore the physical movement of the organism in 3D space.
Like h_k_s I see little value in bringing a concept like quantum physics into this if it does no real explanatory work. Anyway, at the outset, this idea of prime consciousness is a serious problem in its conception: that frozen moment in time between past and future?? What could "frozen" mean if it has but one function, as if something could have a function yet be frozen at once? You mean it as a metaphor, then. But metaphors have use only if they make sense. Function here is a doing, a behaving, yes? But any organism physically moving is moving within a learned environment; of course, a newly born giraffe stands almost instantly I've read, but prior to birth, it is assumed there are motor experiences being assimilated. But then, your PC could be functionally reducible to a heart beat, some autonomic function, but these are understood to operate below the threshold of consciousness. Hmm...I'll read on.
However, those species of animals who evolved a brain capacity and intelligence over time, which enabled them to process information regarding their immediate physical environment so that they can make an intentional choice to move in one way or another at any given moment in time, possesses a second level of consciousness which can be described as physical sentient awareness. Single celled animals can be regarded in this sense as possessing only prime consciousness.
So it is intentional choice and physical sentience that divides the one from the other, the PC organism lacking these. Not clear how consciousness can be attributed to single celled animal. And moving so quickly on to intentional choices bypasses the issue of whether or not cows, pigs and turkeys have intentional capabilities. See the intentional systems theory argument. It's online.
As the brain capacity and intelligence of any given species evolves over time, the quantum computing ability of the PC to assimilate different information also increases. As the intelligence of a species continues to develop, the horizon of awareness of the 3D environment expands from it's immediate vicinity to a broader more encompassing environment which includes physical, social, economic, personal and emotional influences .

Did you say the quantum computing ability of a PC? But you described them as being utterly primitive. Are you saying now that PC's evolve into super PC's? Or, as I inferred from what you said before, are you maintaining that PC's' are basic, foundational for all living organisms (by the way, a flower is a living organism. Does it have PC? See your first assumption) and does not evolve, but remains as a substratum, an atemporal right hemisphere substratum at the base of evolved functions?
The information which the PC of any given human being assimilates at any given moment in time and which influences and determines the subsequent physical action of the body, is a complex cocktail of all of these elements. The role of the PC when any given individual puts pen to paper is not just that it determines the physical movement of the fingers [and therefore the pen on the paper]- the PC also represents the emotional, economic and or socio-political free will intentionality of the individual, and who has a full grasp of the implications and consequences which may be inherent in the content and subject matter of which they are writing at that moment
Ah, so we are super PC's after all. You need to rethink your first two paragraphs. Since the PC turns out to be a vacuous concept, for why bother with such a thing if all you're saying is that organisms evolve into higher functioning beings and PC neither designates any particular feature they have nor does it really describe any process of transformation, then i wonder what this is a about.
Given that the assimilation and transfer of information in the brain is a neurological process which is determined and governed by the laws of chemistry and physics [and therefore occurs over time], means that the moment of conscious sentient awareness, necessarily occurs after the intentionality of movement already decided by the PC. In this situation, the movement of the physical body is in response to the intentionality of the PC.

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.

The separation in time between the 'now' of the PC of any given individual and that of their sentient conscious awareness, would explain the mystery of the findings of Benjamin Libet investigations into the nature of free will.
The trouble with all of this is that the PC is supposed to be a present agency of behavior that is somehow, in its nature, independent of the temporal events that condition it and inform it as to what is possible, reasonable. You want to establish a separation between PC and sentience that allows for human freedom. If i follow this right, it is sentience that is independent of the "chemistry and physics" and this follows from theh premise that sentience evolved after
Of course, this assumes it makes sense to say that sentience is independent of the physics. This is an assumption based on what, evolutionary sequence whereby the one rose up first? I would have to read Libet I suppose. But here, well, you have a LOT of explaining to do.

But at least it got interesting in the end. Better than I thought it would.

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

Post by Hereandnow » February 16th, 2019, 6:59 pm

And just to follow through, I did read where you said that sentience and PC are not to be divided. But my point is that it is precisely a division of some sort that makes the idea meaningful. But I would need to read Libet on this.

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

Post by chewybrian » February 16th, 2019, 7:36 pm

h_k_s wrote:
February 16th, 2019, 8:55 am

It is more fascinating to ask whether all animals in their own freewill determinations have the same consciousness that humans seem to have. We humans know about each other from ourselves. But we don't know much about the other animals.

But back to the original topic, freewill is a matter of circumstance and environment. Slaves have little freewill other than to decide whether to try to escape or not. Not sure if that counts as freewill to most observers.

We have eliminated slavery from the Earth by and large. But economic slavery still exists.

Do economic slaves have freewill or not? Probably only to the extent that they choose to submit to their own economic slavery or take a faster way out.
Does a human have a free will when they are born, or does it develop over time? If it must be developed, at what point does it show up? The answer you give might tell you the answer for the animals. For example, it is said that an adult dog is about as intelligent as a two year old human. I want to say that animals do have free will.

I don't think slavery, jail, or any other restraint on your actions negates your free will at all. My favorite philosopher, Epictetus, was born a slave, and considered himself free even when he was a slave, in that nobody could control his attitudes or opinions. I think he makes the point better than I could:
Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to your ability to choose, unless that is your choice. Lameness is a hindrance to the leg, but not to your ability to choose. Say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens, then you will see such obstacles as hindrances to something else, but not to yourself.
"Your ability to choose", or prohairesis, is your free will. It is not measured by your ability to win or succeed in your plans.
What then should a man have in readiness in such circumstances? What else than "What is mine, and what is not mine; and permitted to me, and what is not permitted to me." I must die. Must I then die lamenting? I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must go into exile. Does any man then hinder me from going with smiles and cheerfulness and contentment? "Tell me the secret which you possess." I will not, for this is in my power. "But I will put you in chains." Man, what are you talking about? Me in chains? You may fetter my leg, but my will not even Zeus himself can overpower. "I will throw you into prison." My poor body, you mean. "I will cut your head off." When, then, have I told you that my head alone cannot be cut off? These are the things which philosophers should meditate on, which they should write daily, in which they should exercise themselves.
"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 Imetheman1 » February 17th, 2019, 11:11 pm

The ability of the PC of any given species of animal to assimilate information from it's immediate 3D environment equates with it's level of intelligence. At the most primeval level, even single celled animals would not be capable of continuing as a form of life if they were not capable of moving independently within 3D space - either towards a source of calories or away from possible danger. The primeval PC free will of a single celled animal can be described as a mathematical equation regarding a 50/50 choice of action - do nothing or move. The body of the single celled animal responds instantaneously with the intentionality of it's PC. And the only job which the PC has is to assimilate information from the immediate 3D environment. As such, the single celled animal does not possess sentient consciousness. This also implies that such animals can have no concept of the passing of time.

It would be impossible for any species of animal to evolve and flourish on this planet without each member of that species possessing the ability to be able to move intentionally at any given moment in time in any direction in 3D space it chooses. The ability of the amount of information which the PC of any living organism assimilates at any given moment in time, is determined by the evolved level of intelligence of that species. And the level of intelligence of any given species is determined by the horizon of the environment of physical reality which the individual organism can encompass at any given moment in time.

Human beings represent the most intelligent animals on the planet by virtue of the fact that our horizon of knowing of physical reality from the sub-atomic scale to the macro-cosmic scale, far surpasses that of any other animal. And it is only because of our evolved increased brain size [and equivalent increase in our intellectual capacity] that we have been able to do so.

Every living organism is born possessing the most primeval motor function form of PC. When we get to human beings, a baby begins it's life and the only environment it's PC is aware of is of is it's immediate 3D environment. As the baby grows up into an adult, the horizon of it's awareness of physical reality grows day by day. The increase in the horizon of awareness of physical reality of a human being year on year, correlates with an increase in the amount of information which the PC has to assimilate at any given moment in time.

When we come to an adult human being, the amount of information which the PC assimilates at any given moment is determined by the scope of the horizon of physical reality of which the individual has a grasp. There can be numerable influences on the intentionality behind the pushing of a pen. However, the ultimate source of intentionality behind the movement of the pen is your PC. However, unlike a single celled animal a human being can apply their own free will as the final adjudicator on whether they go ahead with the intentionality of the PC.

( I wish to rectify an earlier statement which suggested that Free will resides in the immediate present of the PC. To clarify - The free will of any individual animal exists and operates in the sentient conscious awareness of that organism).

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

Post by Hereandnow » February 18th, 2019, 1:59 pm

Imetheman1
The ability of the PC of any given species of animal to assimilate information from it's immediate 3D environment equates with it's level of intelligence. At the most primeval level, even single celled animals would not be capable of continuing as a form of life if they were not capable of moving independently within 3D space - either towards a source of calories or away from possible danger. The primeval PC free will of a single celled animal can be described as a mathematical equation regarding a 50/50 choice of action - do nothing or move. The body of the single celled animal responds instantaneously with the intentionality of it's PC. And the only job which the PC has is to assimilate information from the immediate 3D environment. As such, the single celled animal does not possess sentient consciousness. This also implies that such animals can have no concept of the passing of time.
The primeval free will of a single celled animal? This makes sense to you? You are saying that bacteria have free will. But how is it that what we call free will can be conceived like this? What are paradigm examples of free will that allow this? (whether you think there is such a thing or not)? In order to be free to choose among options, one must first put them before thinking and consideration in order to choose, and choice
ultimate source of intentionality behind the movement of the pen is your PC. However, unlike a single celled animal a human being can apply their own free will as the final adjudicator on whether they go ahead with the intentionality of the PC.
It is an assumption that, again, needs a lot of explaining, that an organism HAS this free PC. How is it free? You have to describe the nature of PC such that you make clear where the chemistry and physics (as you put it) as well as the history of learning and compiling predispositions to make decisions and the values attached to these that would constitute motivation for choosing (a oxymoronic notion, I know. That is the problem, though) leave off, and freedom to choose begins. Even in cases of simple paradigmatic free will, those merely of having choices, which are the least problematic, as in, I choose to lift my arm, as opposed to being free of any drive or motivation that would constitute a causal source which thereby precludes freedom to act independently, it requires an ability to reflect, to second guess one alternative to reject it for another. I mean, when you ask the question, what is free will to begin with, all meaningful ideas extend far, far beyond what a bacterium can do.
At any rate, PC, as I understand it, is this "frozen in the present" which is somehow independent of, stands apart from, whatever would make a claim against its sovereignty, and this runs into profound problems. It would have to somewhere in the vicinity of Sartre's nothingness. Good luck with Being and Nothingness. But even Sartre is bound to limit the pour soi's freedom to choices grounded in what motivates. How one's nothingness can stand apart from this and use this to exercise judgment for decision makingn at once, I don't understand. The problem is essentially yours: how to you separate your PC from decision making that is necessarily motivational in nature? If not this, PC's and nothingness would sit there and DO nothing.

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

Post by Hereandnow » February 18th, 2019, 2:11 pm

It does occur to me to add: if you are seriously thinking of expanding on this defense of free will, you should read Sartre, Kierkegaard and others. Existential freedom is about the phenomenological presence of choice: Unlike a tree or a cloud, I have this ability to choose, and this is evidenced simply in the phenomenon of willing my hand to rise, willing to rob a bank, change my gender, and then making it so. There is none of the "science" behind this for phenomena are originary, they are there logically prior to science. And causality and its apodicticity yield to the certainty of what is there, right before you.

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

Post by h_k_s » February 18th, 2019, 10:51 pm

chewybrian wrote:
February 16th, 2019, 7:36 pm
h_k_s wrote:
February 16th, 2019, 8:55 am

It is more fascinating to ask whether all animals in their own freewill determinations have the same consciousness that humans seem to have. We humans know about each other from ourselves. But we don't know much about the other animals.

But back to the original topic, freewill is a matter of circumstance and environment. Slaves have little freewill other than to decide whether to try to escape or not. Not sure if that counts as freewill to most observers.

We have eliminated slavery from the Earth by and large. But economic slavery still exists.

Do economic slaves have freewill or not? Probably only to the extent that they choose to submit to their own economic slavery or take a faster way out.
Does a human have a free will when they are born, or does it develop over time? If it must be developed, at what point does it show up? The answer you give might tell you the answer for the animals. For example, it is said that an adult dog is about as intelligent as a two year old human. I want to say that animals do have free will.

I don't think slavery, jail, or any other restraint on your actions negates your free will at all. My favorite philosopher, Epictetus, was born a slave, and considered himself free even when he was a slave, in that nobody could control his attitudes or opinions. I think he makes the point better than I could:
Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to your ability to choose, unless that is your choice. Lameness is a hindrance to the leg, but not to your ability to choose. Say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens, then you will see such obstacles as hindrances to something else, but not to yourself.
"Your ability to choose", or prohairesis, is your free will. It is not measured by your ability to win or succeed in your plans.
What then should a man have in readiness in such circumstances? What else than "What is mine, and what is not mine; and permitted to me, and what is not permitted to me." I must die. Must I then die lamenting? I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must go into exile. Does any man then hinder me from going with smiles and cheerfulness and contentment? "Tell me the secret which you possess." I will not, for this is in my power. "But I will put you in chains." Man, what are you talking about? Me in chains? You may fetter my leg, but my will not even Zeus himself can overpower. "I will throw you into prison." My poor body, you mean. "I will cut your head off." When, then, have I told you that my head alone cannot be cut off? These are the things which philosophers should meditate on, which they should write daily, in which they should exercise themselves.
My cat seems to be as smart as a 12 year old child, at least. He has free will. But he seems to be highly influenced by his environment. That would make him an Empiricist.

He remembers a lot of kitten stuff from his mother. And he views me as his mother as well. So he trusts me.

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

Post by chewybrian » February 19th, 2019, 10:55 am

Hereandnow wrote:
February 18th, 2019, 1:59 pm
The primeval free will of a single celled animal? This makes sense to you? You are saying that bacteria have free will. But how is it that what we call free will can be conceived like this? What are paradigm examples of free will that allow this? (whether you think there is such a thing or not)? In order to be free to choose among options, one must first put them before thinking and consideration in order to choose, and choice
You could start by defining will. I would say it is the ability to pursue desires. Carbon and oxygen don't go out looking for each other, but there may be a reaction if they come into contact under the right conditions. But, most living things can go looking for what they want in some way. A plant can reach out toward water or light, growing it's roots or leaves where it perceives the best chance to get more of what it wants. So, a will is, perhaps, only the difference between animate and inanimate.

Then, what makes it 'free'? In some sense, you could say the will of the plant is free, in that it is free from needing a push, as a billiard ball or a cloud would. It moves on its own to seek what it wants. Some single celled organisms move on their own, so you could make the case that they have a free will to go out and find what they want, rather than waiting around to be acted upon by an outside force.

However, in these discussions, we usually mean something else when we say 'free'. We mean free of the influence of biological needs, instincts, and environmental influences. We should never mean uninfluenced, just not fully influenced (to say otherwise is to build a straw man, IMO). For example, if I am hungry, I am inclined to eat, yet I can choose not to eat. I am influenced, yet free.

Then, you are ready to start examining human opinions, choices and actions and to try to determine if they are determined. If you are intent on believing in free will, any choice will suffice. It should never matter if you are successful in your pursuit. If I choose to try to become a lawyer, this is an exercise of free will, assuming I could have chosen to try to be a fireman instead. If I can't pass the bar, this does not negate the free will shown in choosing the attempt. If you think you could have chosen otherwise in any particular case without changing the circumstances, then you believe in free will (as most people do). If you are inclined to choose determinism, then you can find an influence behind any choice that might satisfy you, even when the action is an obvious display of free will...

Image

So, we can carry on indefinitely with this argument and get nowhere.

I do think it is a kind of Pascal's wager in which the bet to take should be obvious. If we are fully determined, then we will never be able to control our actions no matter what, so there is no point in making any effort, and nothing to be done in response to this epiphany. If we buy determinism, we have proven to our own satisfaction that we can not control our own actions. So, there is nothing to be lost in 'pretending' that we are in control, as we will only be able to pull off the charade if that is what past events intend for us to do. However, if we do in fact have a free will, then the loss of not using it to its full effect for our own benefit is obvious.

So, everyone should clearly be acting as if they have a free will in any case, no matter the truth or their beliefs about it, right? If this is correct, then why bother fighting this fight at all? Why not just accept free will as truth, if acting as if you have a free will is the only logical course? If the truth of the matter is unknown (which is really the only fair stance-- @Eduk wins!), then why choose to believe the path where you have nothing to gain, instead of the one where there is almost unlimited potential? Unlike Pascal's wager, the reward comes now while you are alive, and you don't need to suffer or give anything up to get it.
"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 19th, 2019, 1:00 pm

Chewy:
You could start by defining will. I would say it is the ability to pursue desires. Carbon and oxygen don't go out looking for each other, but there may be a reaction if they come into contact under the right conditions. But, most living things can go looking for what they want in some way. A plant can reach out toward water or light, growing it's roots or leaves where it perceives the best chance to get more of what it wants. So, a will is, perhaps, only the difference between animate and inanimate.
Frankly, I don't think will is a meaningful term outside of casual use. I want this Mercedes, I work to get it. How does one insert will into this as something that can be extracted from what actually occurs, as we do with, say ,reason, when we examine the logical structure of our propositions in speech and writing? There is desire, so called, which can be reduced to a broad range of social influences that elevate owning a Mercedes to a place of esteem and admiration as well as the comfort of the ride, the reliability and so forth. These individual desires culminate into one, that to own a Mercedes. But if we abstract desire, do we find will at all? Will seems to imply agency: there is perceived value in something, the motivation is therefore there, in the value (I consider motivation to be part of the essence of valuing: I like X and I want X are inextricable such that the wanting is IN the liking, notwithstanding that this wanting may be defeasable, as they say that is, defeatable given the context in which wanting occurs), and motivation and value I can witness as they occur, as I dream about ownership, its joys and what I have to do to achieve it, them. Then taking that extra job in the evenings to realize this. But where is will? Will, to me, is shorthand for all the things I mentioned, it is one of those fictions that help us get along in the practical world, but, like similar fictions, like accountability, responsibility, guilt, innocence, it is a no show in analysis. Hard to see this when such a term is so prevalent in use and usage.
Then, what makes it 'free'? In some sense, you could say the will of the plant is free, in that it is free from needing a push, as a billiard ball or a cloud would. It moves on its own to seek what it wants. Some single celled organisms move on their own, so you could make the case that they have a free will to go out and find what they want, rather than waiting around to be acted upon by an outside force.
Right, and the suspicious term here is "moving on their own". Where is this, even on yourself? That language you speak, the intonation, the application in context, where does the impulse (desire, implicit albeit subtle) end and You, the willing agent to speak, end? Am I willing these words on the page? Or isn't it that this knowledge base driven tacitly in different ways simply pours forth? And when I stop typing and the voice says, implicitly or otherwise, this is good, this is worthy, continue--how is it that this independent will to move forward makes any analytic sense? I am not just looking for expediency in explanation. I don't mind discursive account. But this I that is the willful thrust of what I do and think: I do not observe this, it is not a helpful explanatory term, and this makes it the kind of thing that is just too weird to even make sense of. It is nonsense.
However, in these discussions, we usually mean something else when we say 'free'. We mean free of the influence of biological needs, instincts, and environmental influences. We should never mean uninfluenced, just not fully influenced (to say otherwise is to build a straw man, IMO). For example, if I am hungry, I am inclined to eat, yet I can choose not to eat. I am influenced, yet free.

Then, you are ready to start examining human opinions, choices and actions and to try to determine if they are determined. If you are intent on believing in free will, any choice will suffice. It should never matter if you are successful in your pursuit. If I choose to try to become a lawyer, this is an exercise of free will, assuming I could have chosen to try to be a fireman instead. If I can't pass the bar, this does not negate the free will shown in choosing the attempt. If you think you could have chosen otherwise in any particular case without changing the circumstances, then you believe in free will (as most people do). If you are inclined to choose determinism, then you can find an influence behind any choice that might satisfy you, even when the action is an obvious display of free will...

In your choice not to eat, the question is, why? You have a reason, no doubt, but is this reason not a motivation?

Honestly, I am not an advocate of things being determined any more than I am of free will. I think both of these are first pragmatic terms that are bandied about carelessly and that is fine with me. I just don't think when it comes to philosophical analysis we should hold on to terms that are not defensible. If will is, as you claim, inextricable from motivation, then there must be some settled way in which it makes an appearance independently of motivation. Is there?

This would be in choice. Choice is visible as I choose now to lift the coffee cup with my hand, and I choose to take a sip. But then, this is not the way we live and breathe at all, is it? After all, I am intentionally lifting the cup to make a point. I don't choose like this normally, I just do things, usually, and there is no intervention at all. Intervention steps in when something goes wrong, when the glue pot is empty, I stop gluing and think, oh! I need more glue. Freedom in the sweeping sense that is discussed here is the same thing, the freedom from motivation, though it is not a threshold of some minor interruption, it is the whole of Being itself that comes into question. This is close to freedom in a, well, visible or palpable sense, for while no doubt it is motivated in its beginnings, it is open entirely, and has this openness not resolvable in any given desire. It is the openness that is unpinned that possesses freedom, or something similar. Perhaps "true" freedom lies in the moment, in between t he heaves of past motivations and future possibilities.
I do think it is a kind of Pascal's wager in which the bet to take should be obvious. If we are fully determined, then we will never be able to control our actions no matter what, so there is no point in making any effort, and nothing to be done in response to this epiphany. If we buy determinism, we have proven to our own satisfaction that we can not control our own actions. So, there is nothing to be lost in 'pretending' that we are in control, as we will only be able to pull off the charade if that is what past events intend for us to do. However, if we do in fact have a free will, then the loss of not using it to its full effect for our own benefit is obvious.

So, everyone should clearly be acting as if they have a free will in any case, no matter the truth or their beliefs about it, right? If this is correct, then why bother fighting this fight at all? Why not just accept free will as truth, if acting as if you have a free will is the only logical course? If the truth of the matter is unknown (which is really the only fair stance-- @Eduk wins!), then why choose to believe the path where you have nothing to gain, instead of the one where there is almost unlimited potential? Unlike Pascal's wager, the reward comes now while you are alive, and you don't need to suffer or give anything up to get it.
Pascal's wager is a pragmatic choice. Certainly there is some merit in this. We use a lot of terms that do not bear well under close scrutiny, but use them because things work better, at least for now, with them in place. Our moral terms are like this; errrr, all terms are like this, really. But terms have possibilities for use, and this means there are limitations in them. Pragmatically, when context for understanding is changed, the use changes, and here, the context is a more rigorous approach, a narrowing of possibilities, as we do in any technical field where normal terms are given more clarity, to the term will and freedom.

(Pls note that there is a lot of existential thinking mixed in this. I am what I read, as are we all.)
Sorry for the all the bother.

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

Post by chewybrian » February 19th, 2019, 6:03 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
February 19th, 2019, 1:00 pm
(Pls note that there is a lot of existential thinking mixed in this. I am what I read, as are we all.)
I am confused by this disclaimer at the end, since what comes before doesn't look like existentialism to me. I don't think I have the same exposure to it, nor the volume of exposure, but I have some grasp of Sartre, at least.

He says we are nothing but the sum of our choices and actions, and that we bear full responsibility for them, even to the extent that we are choosing implicitly what we think is correct for all of mankind if we take an action. If it is morally acceptable for us, then we think it must be so for all men. We never get a pass. And, determinism, fuggetaboutit!
Some still reproach us for confining man within his individual subjectivity. But there is no other
starting-point than the "I think, I am" - the absolute truth of consciousness, a simple truth
within reach of everyone and the only theory which gives man the dignity of not being a mere
object...

The man who hides behind the excuse of his passions or of some deterministic doctrine, is a
self-deceiver. "And what if I wish to deceive myself?" - there is no reason why you should not,
but I declare publicly that you are doing so.
Hereandnow wrote:
February 19th, 2019, 1:00 pm
Honestly, I am not an advocate of things being determined any more than I am of free will. I think both of these are first pragmatic terms that are bandied about carelessly and that is fine with me. I just don't think when it comes to philosophical analysis we should hold on to terms that are not defensible. If will is, as you claim, inextricable from motivation, then there must be some settled way in which it makes an appearance independently of motivation. Is there?
I'm just snipping this out as the main point of what you say, and my response is that the proof is subjective. I don't have to 'settle' the mechanism for its existence to know that it is there. I make a lot of assumptions about the outside world based on my sense impressions and the opinions expressed by others. But, what can I know more certainly than what is in my own heart and mind?

Perhaps it does not make sense or is not consistent with observations of other things that I should hold this power. Yet I do. Just being alive is to be inconsistent with anything else that is not alive. A rock may become warm because the sun shines on it, or appear shiny because it is wet. But, choosing is a big deal, and not simply an "effect" of outside forces--it is a force.

Perhaps the stance of making no finding is the responsible position in a sense. But, I choose the honest answer, that I know that I can choose as clearly as I know anything, and I'll not deny this to try to confirm to myself or anyone else that I am a philosopher or a scientist (as if!). Still, to try to be a philosopher requires honesty above all, in my view, even if the rest of the world should hold a contrary opinion. If I try hard to understand and consider the opposite position, yet remain unconvinced, then I have the right or perhaps the obligation to hold to my own 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 or it is not my fault that I am wrong.
"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 19th, 2019, 10:36 pm

chewybrian
I am confused by this disclaimer at the end, since what comes before doesn't look like existentialism to me. I don't think I have the same exposure to it, nor the volume of exposure, but I have some grasp of Sartre, at least.

He says we are nothing but the sum of our choices and actions, and that we bear full responsibility for them, even to the extent that we are choosing implicitly what we think is correct for all of mankind if we take an action. If it is morally acceptable for us, then we think it must be so for all men. We never get a pass. And, determinism, fuggetaboutit!

I'm just snipping this out as the main point of what you say, and my response is that the proof is subjective. I don't have to 'settle' the mechanism for its existence to know that it is there. I make a lot of assumptions about the outside world based on my sense impressions and the opinions expressed by others. But, what can I know more certainly than what is in my own heart and mind?

Perhaps it does not make sense or is not consistent with observations of other things that I should hold this power. Yet I do. Just being alive is to be inconsistent with anything else that is not alive. A rock may become warm because the sun shines on it, or appear shiny because it is wet. But, choosing is a big deal, and not simply an "effect" of outside forces--it is a force.

Perhaps the stance of making no finding is the responsible position in a sense. But, I choose the honest answer, that I know that I can choose as clearly as I know anything, and I'll not deny this to try to confirm to myself or anyone else that I am a philosopher or a scientist (as if!). Still, to try to be a philosopher requires honesty above all, in my view, even if the rest of the world should hold a contrary opinion. If I try hard to understand and consider the opposite position, yet remain unconvinced, then I have the right or perhaps the obligation to hold to my own 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 or it is not my fault that I am wrong.
I wrote a nice response to this, then submitted it, was not signed on, and all was lost. Ill try again tomorrow.

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

Post by Hereandnow » February 20th, 2019, 12:16 pm

chewybrian
I am confused by this disclaimer at the end, since what comes before doesn't look like existentialism to me. I don't think I have the same exposure to it, nor the volume of exposure, but I have some grasp of Sartre, at least.

He says we are nothing but the sum of our choices and actions, and that we bear full responsibility for them, even to the extent that we are choosing implicitly what we think is correct for all of mankind if we take an action. If it is morally acceptable for us, then we think it must be so for all men. We never get a pass. And, determinism, fuggetaboutit!
For me, Sartre was the only one who gave an ontology of freedom save Kierkegaard, from whom he got it. Sartre didn't just look at the phenomenon of choice and say behold we have freedom. He grounded freedom in is our essential Being, which is nothingness. Kierkegaard a hundred years earlier called us nothing as well, referring to the absence of objective presence to actually witness, but for him, this was the very seat of actuality, i.e., god and the soul. It's an interesting argument I think is right (see his book of Anxiety, original sin and religious dogma). I never understood Sartre's nothingness but I do Kierkegaard's.Anyway, the point I am making here is that will, freedom: these are terms that hold up because there is something in the world that supports them. Will reduces to wanting and doing, as I see it, and if that is what the term is limited to, then fine. But it is the metaphysicalizing of the term, as if it were some irreducible phenomenon, as if we are will in the same ontological sense that Kierkegaard and Sartre say we are freedom. No. I am reading some later Heidegger these days, and he has convinced me that there is precious little that is irreducible (he says nothing is this, that there is nothing truly foundational save the complex language that gathers when ones thinks.) True, all that we can think has its understanding in language that contextualizes it, that it fits in to. Making sense at all all is making sense in language. But while it requires language to "say" the thing (freedom, choice, a piano), this does not mean the intuitive values themselves are not in the presence of things that cannot be witnessed and understood as they are, as the things themselves, as Husserl put it. Put a lighted match to your finger. It is not language that is telling you it is bad; the badness is not contingent, it is an absolute.

This is why I put that disclaimer about existentialists: My thinking about will, choice and freedom is derived from these guys.
Perhaps it does not make sense or is not consistent with observations of other things that I should hold this power. Yet I do. Just being alive is to be inconsistent with anything else that is not alive. A rock may become warm because the sun shines on it, or appear shiny because it is wet. But, choosing is a big deal, and not simply an "effect" of outside forces--it is a force.
I think I agree with this. We identify things by how they appear, and rocks do not choose, we do. Rocks cannot choose not to be rocks, we, ion the other hand can be lawyers and accountants, or whatever. This is the point of that famous expression "existence precedes essence". Sartre thought we have no essence, we make it ourselves. Our existence throws us into the world (however you want to put it), then we have choices grounded in our nothingness freedom. But I am not willing to identify this force in ways that are not defensible. I'll go with Heidegger: we say force, but what is this? There is always context, always descriptive, historical, analytical thoughts that "gather" in the recollection of the term (to bring the term to mind IS to recall) and it is here the foundation lies. What it really is, that is, metaphysically, well, can't be said at all.

I am still thinking on this. I lean towards Heidegger, then towards Husserl, and so on. I need to read more on both, but the arguments are fascinating.
Perhaps the stance of making no finding is the responsible position in a sense. But, I choose the honest answer, that I know that I can choose as clearly as I know anything, and I'll not deny this to try to confirm to myself or anyone else that I am a philosopher or a scientist (as if!). Still, to try to be a philosopher requires honesty above all, in my view, even if the rest of the world should hold a contrary opinion. If I try hard to understand and consider the opposite position, yet remain unconvinced, then I have the right or perhaps the obligation to hold to my own 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 or it is not my fault that I am wrong.
I choose the answer that bears up under scrutiny. It is important to remember that some of the worst thinking imaginable was supported with the greatest honesty. One needs to go into things, find competing arguments, look for their flaws, compare to observation and so on. In this matter, it is philosophical argument that is insightful. Science has little to say, at least so far, for it does not examine the conditions PRIOR to the production of judgment, that is, the conditions of judgment and world that are assumed andn therefore ignored by science. As to determinism, there is still something there, isn't there? As Foucault once put it, isn't it true that we are being ventriloquized by history? I mean, every nuance of every expression, ever action, every meaning put forth in language-- the style, the intonation, the accent, the protocol, and so on: isn't it all just stuff assimilated when we were infants, children, teens? That thought that rises to respond, where did it come from? How do you know it? I freely put the question mark on the page, but this convention and the context for its use, is done. It takes, and this has Heidgger in it, the stopping, the examining to activate freedom,. that is, freedom from the flow, otherwise, we are just going along driven not internally, as you put it, but "externally" by the history of learning and solving problems. Again, freedom only rises up when there is something "wrong", when we stop and say wait a minute, what is this? THIS is questioning, what Heidgger calls the piety of thought. One breaks from stream of whatever it is that possesses one at the time when one interposes a question.
Questioning is the essence of freedom.

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

Post by chewybrian » February 21st, 2019, 9:43 am

Hereandnow wrote:
February 20th, 2019, 12:16 pm
Anyway, the point I am making here is that will, freedom: these are terms that hold up because there is something in the world that supports them. Will reduces to wanting and doing, as I see it, and if that is what the term is limited to, then fine. But it is the metaphysicalizing of the term, as if it were some irreducible phenomenon, as if we are will in the same ontological sense that Kierkegaard and Sartre say we are freedom. No.
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.

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.

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.
"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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