Determinism

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:48 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote: The parts I thought were clear and match my most common reaction:
you have told us all this before

you have not evolved

That you want to be or be seen as a victim.
That it is implicit in many of your posts that all others or at least objectivists are stupid.
That your posts are ad hom - (since they go to motive, as a rule.)


Okay, but can we agree that in a wholly determined universe, nothing that you or I or he has posted here was ever truly within our command as autonomous human being? After all, that's the beauty of determinism [for some]: Everyone is let off the hook!

But let's assume instead that we really do possess some measure of freedom in choosing [as opposed to "choosing"] our words.

Over and again I note that my interest in philosophy revolves around the question, "how ought one to live". And in what [I presume] to be a No God world. That's my "thing" here. And, over the years, I have honed my thinking down to points that I believe best encompass it. If that annoys some, they can move on to other. Or frequent only my quotes, music and film threads.

Evolved? What does that mean? For the objectivists of course others "evolve" only when they come to think more like they do. But I never construe my own frame of mind here as anything other than an existential contraption.

Victim? I'm down in a hole [in the is/ought world] and right around the corner is what I construe to be oblivion. Those are just facts of life for me.

Ad homs? Well, in polemical mode, I can surely come off that way. Ever and always provocative. But to call the search for motive a personal attack is a stretch. On the contrary, it goes to the heart of the matter for me here: "I" as dasein.

Karpel Tunnel wrote: I haven't seen anyone else sum up my general reaction to how you position yourself in relation to others in such a concise and clear way.


Here we will just have to agree to disagree. As I noted elsewhere I don't often read his stuff because I do not have any respect for his intelligence given the stuff that I have read. Now, that's just my own person opinion however wrapped up in an existential contraption.

But his "consent violation" is [to me] analogous to James Saints "RM/AO" or fixed crosses [Jacob?] "value ontology".

I have no clear idea what on earth they mean. And, in particular, with respect to conflicting goods embedded in particular contexts.

Seriously, what do you think he means by it? Cite a few examples from your own interactions with others. And in the least abstract manner that you are able to.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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Re: Determinism

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:09 pm

iambiguous wrote:
Okay, but can we agree that in a wholly determined universe, nothing that you or I or he has posted here was ever truly within our command as autonomous human being? After all, that's the beauty of determinism [for some]: Everyone is let off the hook!
Determinism leaves room for Ecmandu to describe you, for others to find this description useful, to notice experiences with others are better in some way - should that be the case. If you mean, we shouldn't blame you for being the way you are or something well that cuts both ways.

But notice how the context has shifted. To you his post was just gibberish. I pointed out parts that I found potentially accurately descriptive. I list these parts.

Your response is 'but I can't help but be like that'

That has nothing to with whehter his post is gibberish or if it conveyed something bluntly and clearly.

this is a regular pattern I find with you. You shift the context all the time, and this generally includes you choosing to repeat something as if it is relevent, something you have said before, a number of times. Here the impications of determinism.
But let's assume instead that we really do possess some measure of freedom in choosing [as opposed to "choosing"] our words.

Over and again I note that my interest in philosophy revolves around the question, "how ought one to live". And in what [I presume] to be a No God world. That's my "thing" here. And, over the years, I have honed my thinking down to points that I believe best encompass it. If that annoys some, they can move on to other. Or frequent only my quotes, music and film threads.

Of course it is fine to focus on what you want to focus on. But you don't have to treat us as if we don't exist and have motives of our own. You can simply say; I am not interested in that. What you do is treat everything as a failed attempt to solve one of your few main problems. And it seems like you simply cannot tell that other people have other goals. And this happens in threads that are threads you started either.

So here you frame our being annoyed as: they are annoyed because I limit my focus. Perhaps someone is, though I kinda doubt it.

It is that you respond as if there are ONLY your issues, so anything anyone says is a poor attempt to solve your issues. Here, as if the issue was whether you could have done something else and are you let off the hook by determinism.

Evolved? What does that mean? For the objectivists of course others "evolve" only when they come to think more like they do. But I never construe my own frame of mind here as anything other than an existential contraption.



Ad homs? Well, in polemical mode, I can surely come off that way. Ever and always provocative. But to call the search for motive a personal attack is a stretch. On the contrary, it goes to the heart of the matter for me here: "I" as dasein.
I don't know if I or he called it a personal attack. I called it ad hom, which it is. But then you go beyond this. In one on one interpersonal interactions, if someone seems not as upset as you or has beliefs different from you, you tell them it because your ideas make them uncomfortable. Yes, you sometimes then say, you might be wrong.

At a party I walk up to a woman and say 'You are a slut and a whore' then I say 'I might be wrong, of course.'

It's still a personal attack. Yours are nicer, but they are still personal attacks.

The consent violations discussion is a huge one.
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:43 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
Look, my point in regard to determinism is that sans human autonomy this very exchange could only have ever unfolded as it must. Thus all of the words that we use in it we are compelled to use.


Sure. I don't disagree. That is the implication of determinsm.


Then, like me, are you willing to accept the "for all practical purposes" consequences of this? That neither one of us are really right or wrong here in a world where perceptions of right and wrong themselves are no less entirely in sync with the immutable laws of matter.

On the other hand, I acknowledge that human autonomy is also a possibilty. And that, in fact, one of us may well be closer to a more reasonable frame of mind. It's just that here I note that gap between which of us is closer and all that would need to be known about existence itself in order to determine just how much closer to the whole truth one of us is.

Many here seem to just shrug that part off. Not me. From my perspective that gap [and all of the "unknown unknowns" that fill it] is the most important point of all.

We still have no way in which to determine definitively if determinism is our...fate? Or none that I'm aware of.

Still...

Whether your frame of mind is more reasonable than mine would then seem to be moot. Both frames of minds are wholly [necessarily] in sync with the immutable laws of matter.


Karpel Tunnel wrote:Are you trying to say it is unreasonable of me to think you are not responding to me as other people do? If so, then this message should go to you also. I really don't know what you are on about. Are you angry that a determinist gets irritated with you? Because you can't help but be who you are? Is that what you are saying? You might want to mull over the irony in that.


Huh? What I'm saying is that in a wholly ordered universe ever and always in sync with the laws of matter, whatever either one of us think, feel, say or do, is entirely determined such that we only "choose" to be "reasonable" or "unreasonable". Or to "feel" angry. As for irony, how is that not just another domino derived from the human brain derived for the laws of matter?

Karpel Tunnel wrote:Me, I black box determinism/free will.


Yes, and in a determined universe, you were never going to not black box it. You were never able to not black box it.

Those autonomous aliens note you pointing it out to us but then note that, in reality, you only "chose" to.

As with peacegirl, you say you understand determinism a lot like I do, but from my frame of mind you don't understand the existential implications of it as I do at all.

In other words...

In a determined universe you were never going to not like or dislike flavor X. All so-called pragmatic concoctions here are necessarily in sync with the ubiquitous laws of matter.


Karpel Tunnel wrote: You often explain things that you have no reason to explain to me, and as if they are relevent.


I am simply drawing a parallel between you liking or disliking flavor X ice cream and the points that you raise about me here. As I understand determinism, you are no less compelled to react as you must in either context.


Karpel Tunnel wrote:You attributed a complicated abstract reasoning process to a preference of mine. I said that was silly and that it was more like preferring an ice cream flavor. My point is only stronger in the context of determinism. IOW exactly! they are alike. So you don't have to make up some complicated hysterically convoluted contraption for my preference. I didn't concoct an understanding of pragmatism to choose vanilla as my childhood favorite flavor. You see contraptions and complicated, very abstract mental thinky verbal ones when someone is different from you. Not everyone decides everything via working it out logically and in words in their minds. I did not sit down and decide my understanding of pragmatism and then apply this to the issue of free will and determinism. I find that it does not interest me much and no one has every said anything that pulls me away from my gut reaction. Maybe they will, but so far it is just like someone telling me I should be more interested in butterscotch.


Again, in a determined universe [as I understand it now] this exchange is all just one more facet of nature's "script" for us. Thus, things are only as "complicated" as nature itself is.

Then this part...

Yet you seem to be criticizing me here as though I were in fact free to rethink all this through more clearly. To think like you do.


Karpel Tunnel wrote:This is precisely the kind of thing that Ecmandu is pointing out as a victim stance. Of course pointing out what I think it is the case, might change your mind. and yes, I think it is the case. You seem to be saying here 1) you can never change your mind because of determinism - which runs counter to all your ramblings about dasein and not knowing what you will believe in the future 2) that you are victimized if someone else asserts what they think is the case. 3) that no determinist can assert what they think is the case or they are victimizing 4) that I am a determinist.


What on earth does it mean for one to be the "victim" or the "victimizer" in a world where one is only what one is compelled to be by dint of material, phenomenological forces beyond ones control?

Either that or, sure, I am completely missing your point in a world in which I am in fact free to rethink the exchange and come closer to your point of view. Or you come closer to mine. A world, in other words, where being more or less reasonable really does matter. Why? Because we really do have the freedom to make it matter.

As though I do in fact have the autonomy necessary to change my mind. Which I may well have.


Karpel Tunnel wrote:You don't need free will to change your mind. You do understand that right? You can learn, even in a determined universe.


Of course I understand it. We "choose" things. But if I change my mind only because I was never able to not change my mind [about anything] then, in turn, I "learn" only what I was never able to not learn.

You do understand that, right?

Here you seem [to me] to be in sync with peacegirl. This thing about "choosing" in a way that dominoes do not...even though the laws of matter embedded necessarily in nature are ultimately behind both the dominoes and the human brain.

We live in a world where value judgments come into conflict. And I believe my own opinions about these issues [like yours] are derived existentially from the life that one lives. Call these beliefs concoctions, call them something else. Call the manner in which we react to them pragmatic, call it something else.

And even though I don't know the extent to which human autonomy is a factor in all of this, what could possibly be more important to know?


Karpel Tunnel wrote:Oh, you are victimizing me. I should prioritize it like you do? The universe may be dtermined but if it is, I can't help but not priortize it like I do. Poor me.

You do understand that you cannot possibly imagine it is correct to not prioritize finding the answer to dterminism vs. free will. YOu don't justify this, but you express it. Which is fine, it's just you don't seem to notice.


Here I am basically stumped. What on earth does your point here even have to do with mine above?

A little help from others, perhaps?

Karpel Tunnel wrote:Look, your points about dasein and conflicting goods are fine. Sometimes when you engage with specfic objectivists, it's pleasant to watch. But your whole pattern of relating...I know you don't understand why ecmandu would say something like that. You don't come off as someone much interested in psychology or the specific kinds of introspection associated with that. Fine. But consider that certain things might be obvious to other people but not to you. There's a boatload of cognitive science research that says this is possible and in general applicable to everyone, though some more than others.


In my view, this sort of "general description" critique can only be fleshed out by [over and again] reconfiguring the "intellectual" points being made into an exchange about particular conflicting behaviors in a particular context.

And [of course] in making the assumption that we do possess some level of autonomy. Otherwise I am "stuck" with the assumptions I make about a determined universe: that nothing in this exchange could ever have been other then what nature intended.

Then the mystery shifting to whether nature itself has any intent. The part about teleology and purpose and meaning in our lives. The part that [for many] includes religion and God and the human soul.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:I am sayng that perhaps the way you feel victimized and position yourself as the brave person facing the extential void, mistreated by others who are triggered by the issues I raise and cannot face them....


This is your own "existential contraption" in my view. You make me the issue and note all of these things about me that I simply do not recognize in myself.

Either bring these "issues" down to earth and embed them in a particular context or they are just more psychologisms to me.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:Note: this is not an agrume to convince you. That would look very different. This is me saying: consider that you have a giant blind spot regarding what you are doing here. Cause sure looks like it.


Right. Like, from my point of view, I can't suggest the same sort of thing about you.

Or [as with so many others I have encountered over the years] is the biggest blind spot of all here that I don't see things as they do?

It's all about me failing to view myself as cogently as you and others do:

Karpel Tunnel wrote:There is shit you just don't want to look at and it shines in most of your posts. Or so it seems. There is something that does not fit, in some big way. Whetehr you are aware of it or not and exactly what it is, I don't known. I suspect Ecmandu is right, but I am nto sure. I suspect that rage drives you much more than concern about finding the answers, though I suspect you don't know this. This is all what is fascinating.

And every single post in response to me contains stuff that just adds to this. The avoidance, the repetition, the not fitting together, the positioning of yourself as the only of (of few at most) who can just be in the hole wihtout making up contraptions to comfort yourself, etc.

It happens over and over. And no matter who points it out, you go ad hom and say it is them not being able to face the hole. You say you aren't sure, but you go there, sooner or later.

The fascinating thing is, as I think it: does Iamb truly no notice at least in his periperhal vision, that something else might be going on when he posts and relates to others here than what he puts forward? So the temptation returns: hold a mirror up. Nope, not that time. Hold up a different mirror, focused on something else. Nope. I mean, perhaps I should not be surprised. I have been quite oblivious to things that were obvious to others about me. We are good at defending ourselves. But there it is.


What on earth does this mean? We would have to follow each other around from day to day to day and note our reactions to any number of things. Explaining to each other why we think we chose this instead of that.

Well, that's not likely to happens. So, in my view, we can only brings things like "consent violation" "pragmatism" and "dasein" down to earth by imagining particular contexts in which we might make particular choices.

Let's all agree on one and do it. See what unfolds when the words are forced to make contact with the world that we live in.

Karpel Tunnel wrote: Where on earth you got the idea I was saying my various possible reactions were free of dasein's effects or free of determinism, I have no idea.


I have never said that


Karpel Tunnel wrote:Then why incredulously lecture me yet again about dasein or the implications of determinism. If it was relevent it had to be a 'seeing a need to remind me of these things', if it wasn't relevent, why bring it up.


You call it a lecture, I call it trying to understand the manner in which we seem to share certain opinions about "I" at the intersection of dasein, conflicting goods and political power, and understanding the manner in which we don't.

Such that [from my frame of mind] our choice to be pragmatists results in different perspectives on the existential implications of this: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382

How do you reflect on your own particular "I" here so as to appear [to me] to be considerably less fractured and fragmented. And thus able to sustain a more comforting and consoling frame of mind when dealing with your "self" confronting conflicting goods in your interactions with others.

On the other hand, often our frame of mind about the lives we live is embedded more in the actual set of circumstances that we confront day in and day out. If things in that regard [love life, sex, job fulfillment, family and friends, fulfilling distractions etc.] are going well for you, it is easy enough to bend your "philosophical" perspective to be more in sync with that. Or you may have "the glass half full" outlook on life and then circumstantially the glass tumbles to the floor and shatters. You are suddenly overwhelmed existentially with problems and ordeals. Then your philosophical bent shifts more in the direction of being in sync with that instead.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Fri Mar 29, 2019 12:21 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
iambiguous wrote:
Okay, but can we agree that in a wholly determined universe, nothing that you or I or he has posted here was ever truly within our command as autonomous human being? After all, that's the beauty of determinism [for some]: Everyone is let off the hook!


Determinism leaves room for Ecmandu to describe you, for others to find this description useful, to notice experiences with others are better in some way - should that be the case. If you mean, we shouldn't blame you for being the way you are or something well that cuts both ways.


Well, my own understanding of determinism leaves no room for descriptions or blame to be anything other than an inherent, necessary manifestation of nature unfolding as it must.

And in cutting both ways it merely reflects that fact that nature's way encompasses all of us. And this exchange would be no exception.

Only I have no way of really knowing for certain if I have no way of really knowing for certain because I am merely "choosing" what I am compelled to, or because I am in fact exercising my autonomy and choosing to think about all of this in a way that is not in sync with your way or his way. And that, in fact, either your way or his way or my way does reflect a more reasonable perspective.

Karpel Tunnel wrote: But notice how the context has shifted. To you his post was just gibberish. I pointed out parts that I found potentially accurately descriptive. I list these parts. Your response is 'but I can't help but be like that'


No, my response is that I don't know for certain if I can help to be like that. What I then do [as most do in turn] is to assume that I might possibly be able to freely choose to be something other than what I think I am here and now.

What we do here then is to make arguments that may or may not pull and tug us in different directions. And that has everything to do with how [up to now] I find his post to be but one more example of a "general description" "intellectual contraption" while you find it to be blunt and clear instead.

I would however never argue that my frame of mind in this regard is anything other than an existential contraption. A value judgment rooted in dasein.

Karpel Tunnel wrote: ...this is a regular pattern I find with you. You shift the context all the time, and this generally includes you choosing to repeat something as if it is relevent, something you have said before, a number of times. Here the impications of determinism.


You point this out to me but you won't admit that this may well be but one example of your own existential contraptions. Or that we might be construing the exchange based on entirely different assumptions regarding what we think the other is misconstruing.

All you can do here is to note what you deem to be particular instances of this.

Thus...

...let's assume instead that we really do possess some measure of freedom in choosing [as opposed to "choosing"] our words.

Over and again I note that my interest in philosophy revolves around the question, "how ought one to live". And in what [I presume] to be a No God world. That's my "thing" here. And, over the years, I have honed my thinking down to points that I believe best encompass it. If that annoys some, they can move on to other. Or frequent only my quotes, music and film threads.


Karpel Tunnel wrote: Of course it is fine to focus on what you want to focus on. But you don't have to treat us as if we don't exist and have motives of our own. You can simply say; I am not interested in that. What you do is treat everything as a failed attempt to solve one of your few main problems. And it seems like you simply cannot tell that other people have other goals. And this happens in threads that are threads you started either.


Or the manner in which I react to something you post merely prompts you to assume that I am not interested in where you want to take things.

Again, bring these "you are the problem" observations into a discussion of actual human interactions. Then you can be more specific in noting when, from your point of view, I am "failing" to be interested in your take on something.

Karpel Tunnel wrote: It is that you respond as if there are ONLY your issues, so anything anyone says is a poor attempt to solve your issues. Here, as if the issue was whether you could have done something else and are you let off the hook by determinism.


This is simply not sinking in. I don't really understand what you are telling me here. I don't know if determinism is a reasonable frame of mind, let alone the most reasonable frame of mind one can have about the choices we make when confronting the question "how ought one to live?" in a world bursting at the seams with conflicting goods construed subjectively from the perspective of "I".

iambiguous wrote: Evolved? What does that mean? For the objectivists of course others "evolve" only when they come to think more like they do. But I never construe my own frame of mind here as anything other than an existential contraption.


iambiguous wrote: Ad homs? Well, in polemical mode, I can surely come off that way. Ever and always provocative. But to call the search for motive a personal attack is a stretch. On the contrary, it goes to the heart of the matter for me here: "I" as dasein.


Karpel Tunnel wrote: I don't know if I or he called it a personal attack. I called it ad hom, which it is. But then you go beyond this. In one on one interpersonal interactions, if someone seems not as upset as you or has beliefs different from you, you tell them it because your ideas make them uncomfortable. Yes, you sometimes then say, you might be wrong.


As folks like Promeathean75 have pointed out, I've been in exchanges with those I construe to be objectivists for many, many, many years. And I can only be honest in my reaction to them. And part of this flows from the fact that for many years in turn I was myself an objectivist. I know first hand what it means to have "I" begin to topple over and then break into pieces. I had reacted then just as I perceive them reacting now.

With you as fellow pragmatist however my reaction revolves more around how you manage to go about the business of confronting those with conflicting value judgments and not tumble down into the hole as I imagine it as the only reasonable manner in which to deal with "I" here as an existential contraption. Someone who recognizes that their own values are constructed largely out of the experiences that they have had in the course of living a particular life, and that there does not appear to be a way for philosophers to concoct anything in the way of a moral obligation.

Karpel Tunnel wrote: At a party I walk up to a woman and say 'You are a slut and a whore' then I say 'I might be wrong, of course.'

It's still a personal attack. Yours are nicer, but they are still personal attacks.


I disagree. The connotations I wrap around objectivists is not the same [to me] as the truly disparaging connotations that revolve around callng a woman a slut at a party.

Karpel Tunnel wrote: The consent violations discussion is a huge one.


Okay, let him bring this down to earth. Let hm note a particular context in which human interactions involve actual consents being violated.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:52 pm

"Compatibilism"
Craig Ross in Philosophy Now magazine

It is interesting to note that a compatibilist would presumably have to accept that the Terminator as played by Arnold Schwarzenegger is free, in that it has a desire (to kill John Connor) which it pursues with flexibility, insight and intelligence. It is certainly hard to see why the Terminator is un-free simply because it was given its (programmed) passion by an identifiable individual, as opposed to taking pot luck from God or genetics.


One can imagine that, down the road, as we get more and more sophisticated in creating cyborbs, that line between real and artificial intelligence will become more and more blurred.

Is the Terminator free or unfree? Is there anything that he thinks or feels or says or does that is not entirely programmed by machines programmed by human beings?

Is there anything that you and I do that is not entirely programmed by nature?

Is there anything that nature does that is not entirely programmed by God?

How do we go about determining with any real precision where one component of existence ends and the other parts begins?

When we interact the closest we seem able to get to the "I" of others, is in making eye contact. You can stare into your own eyes while looking in the mirror. But: are you really seeing your "self" there?

That just doesn't seem to be the end of it. But where else can we go until someone, someday can show us?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:04 pm

"Defending Free Will & The Self"
Frank S. Robinson in Philosophy Now Magazine

In 2012, Sam Harris, one of the famed ‘four horsemen’ of New Atheism, published a book called Free Will, arguing that it doesn’t exist. He’s a neuroscientist, and he contends that the more science learns how our brains work, the less plausible is a self with free will. He calls them ‘illusions’. By contrast, in his 2003 book Freedom Evolves, Daniel Dennett, another of the horsemen, argued for a concept of free will that is “an evolved creation of human activity and beliefs” and is compatible with causal determinism. Who is right, if either of them?


This is basically where I get stuck. Sam Harris the neuroscientist argues that the more we know about the human brain the less we seem to be free to know this of our own volition. Then others like Dennett weigh in with opposing points of view.

How then does Harris not see this debate itself as but in turn wholly determined? He takes on the theists as well as though their exchanges with him could ever have been other than what they were.

Think about it. When he gets miffed at a God world or a free will advocate doesn't he step back and accept that his reaction is only as it must be? Doesn't that make the gist of his argument but another bunch of nature's dominoes toppling over like the dominoes that topple over when the Pope reacts to pedophiles in the ranks of the Catholic Church preying on children because they were never able not to prey on them?

What do I keep missing then when the so-called "compatibilist" weigh in and attempt to "reconcile" the two?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:19 pm

"Defending Free Will & The Self"
Frank S. Robinson in Philosophy Now magazine

Determinism is the nub of the matter. Dennett defines it by reference to ‘Laplace’s demon’. Two centuries ago the French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace said that if an all-knowing demon could know perfectly the state of every particle in the universe at any given moment, it could predict their state in the next, and the next, and so on to eternity. The operation of cause and effect means that what happens next is determined by what has come before, and the future of the universe down to its tiniest details is predestined until the end of time.


This is basically how I view "the immutable laws of matter" in a determined universe. Cause and effect is synonymous with the only possible reality. "Perfection" would be encompassed in the "brute facticity" of existence itself.

Only without that component we call a teleology. Matter has evolved into minds able to invent the word teleology but that too is only a "mechanism" embedded necessarily in nature unfolding like clockwork.

Just with [from my frame of mind] no clockmaker.

Then "I" fall over the edge into the "for all practical purposes" surreal attempts to make sense of that.

At least with a demon [or, more likely, a God] we'd have something to take it all back to. But in not having that here and now myself "I" am just completely baffled.

Which I presume is a frame of mind that I will take with me to the grave.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:54 pm

"Defending Free Will & The Self"
Frank S. Robinson in Philosophy Now magazine

Dennett questions such certainty, proposing an element of chance within causality, due to quantum mechanics.


But: Was Dennett ever able to not question such certainty? And how is the "element of chance" understood as the same or different from "randomness" in the universe?

Instead, from my point of view, what is seen as "chance" or "randomness" is merely a reflection of the gap between what we think we know about reality here and now and all that needs to be known such that in a wholly determined universe even interactions in the quantum world would be entirely predictable. Either by God or by a mere mortal able actually to grasp both the theory and the practice of everything.

Nevertheless, he says the deterministic argument against free will remains that all outputs from your brain – including all your so-called ‘choices’ – are entirely products of physical causes beyond your conscious control. If you pick chocolate over vanilla ice-cream, that’s a consequence of something that happened among your neurons, due to the structure of your neural network, and this was shaped by everything that happened in your life till then, and indeed everything causally linked to your brain all the way back to the Big Bang. That’s causal determinism. It’s as if you’re a computer program doing what it does because it’s programmed to, and can’t choose to do different; like a chess computer that, faced with the same board configuration, will make the same move every time. Most of Dennett’s book is about how and in what sense we could have free will anyway.


So: Does he pull it off? Or is his own argument in and of itself just another inherent, necessary manifestion of what could only ever be?

Then we head in the direction that peacegirl always seems to go:

Someone might point out that we’re acting on our desires, which a computer doesn’t have. But as Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “a man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants.” In other words, you might choose chocolate over vanilla, but you can’t choose to prefer chocolate over vanilla.


Which is basically my point here as well. But she somehow sees this point as missing her point. And even though I am not able to not miss her point, I still seem to be "responsible" for missing it. In a way I am simply unable to grasp.

Moreover, as Daniel Gilbert’s 2007 book Stumbling on Happiness showed, not only do we not choose our desires, we don’t even know what they truly are. You can misjudge what you think you want, and also how its fulfillment will affect you. As George Bernard Shaw once quipped, there are two big disappointments in life: not getting what you want, and getting it.


So, "for all practical purposes" in groping to grapple with why we choose the things that we do from moment to moment, what am "I" to really make of all this?

Are the words I am typing here just another more complex [and currently ineffable] manifestation of those dominoes toppling over mindlessly, or does the part about human minds/consciousness "choosing"/choosing in a way the dominoes do not make all the difference in the world?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:34 pm

"Defending Free Will & The Self"
Frank S. Robinson in Philosophy Now magazine

What does the word ‘you’ really mean anyway? This is the problem of the self, which is entwined with the problem of free will. We all know what selfhood feels like. But David Hume said that no amount of gazing inwards enabled him to perceive his own self. I have repeated his experiment with the same result. As hard as I try to grasp the true essence of being me, it slithers away. One cannot use the self to seek the self, it seems. I can’t wrap my head around my head.


In other words, the arguments here get us coming and going. We can never quite pin down "I", let alone connect this "self" to a "will" able to be examined in a definitive manner.

Or are there people here who have managed to convince themselves that folks like Hume weren't successful because they hadn't "thought it all through" in the right way. Like they have. They're absolutely positive they're in touch with the one and only "me". And that this one and only me is calling the shots when thinking, feeling, saying and doing things. Or at least the really, really important stuff.

And the irony here is that so much that does go on inside our bodies is on automatic pilot. All those parts and pieces going about the business of interacting, doing their thing, as though "I" weren't even around at all.

Parts like this:

Let’s consider how we experience vision. Photons hit your retina, and as a result electricity pulses along the optic nerves into your brain. All of the electrical signalling between your neurons might be encoded into 1s and 0s – zillions of them – somewhat like in a computer. But even if so, how does the brain turn that information back into a picture, seen by you? And the problems of making sense of what we see are huge. The brain has to collate two different images (one from each eye), gauge distance, adjust for perspective, parse rapid motion and interpret patches of color as objects. And we not only see what’s before us, but in our minds we can also see things we remember, or only imagine.


We see things. We interpret what we think they mean. We react to what we think they mean. And yet there is not a one of us here who has a sophisticated enough grasp on all this to note a detailed distinction between the brain doing its thing and us taking over.

We just know it's in there somewhere. And the thought that we could never know anything other than what we are compelled to know by brains as mindful matter having evolved along with life itself on planet Earth is just too...

Well, we don't know exactly what that means.

Not counting those here who bundle up their words into an intellectual contraption and call that the answer.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Fri May 03, 2019 5:49 pm

"Defending Free Will & The Self"
Frank S. Robinson in Philosophy Now magazine

We might imagine a ‘Cartesian theatre’ in our heads, with a projection screen, with what we see being viewed by a little person in there – a homunculus. But how does the homunculus see? Is there another smaller homunculus inside his brain? And so on, endlessly…


This is basically what it comes down to. What we see can only be grappled with by making particular assumptions about the relationship between matter as mind and mind as matter. But going back how far? To an understanding of life itself and its evolution on planet Earth? To an understanding of planet earth going back to the birth of the solar system...then going back to the Milky Way galaxy's birth...then going back to the Big Bang...then going back to God...then going back to, well, what exactly?

That's the part that [to me] is particularly exasperating. Our "will" -- free or not -- would seem to be only a more or less significant component of existence itself. Then the part that our own individual "I" plays in it all. How much more "infinitesimally insignificant" can that be?

And then there are so many different ways in which to approach it...

Closer to the truth, I think, and applicable to all mental processing, is the concept of representation. Sensory perceptions (or as philosophers say, qualia) cannot themselves be empirically detected in the brain. If it’s raining it won’t consequently be wet inside your brain. This is also true of bodily sensations – if you have a stomach ache, you can’t have a stomach ache in your brain. And what does it mean to experience something — like eating a cookie, or smelling a flower? The experiences themselves are not in the mouth or nose, or the brain, but in the mind. In all such phenomena, it’s a matter of the brain constructing a mental representation of the stomach ache, rain shower, the taste of the cookie, or the flower’s smell.


Always it seems to come back to that most extraordinary of nature's inventions: the mind. Matter able to probe itself as matter intertwined in this particular something groping to understand if "I" itself is able to grope about autonomously.

The part in other words where the matter in the mind and the matter in all the rest of the body coordinate their "things" into producing someone like me typing these words on a laptop computer. Here and now.

And then "I" trying to determine if what I am going to do next -- go grocery shopping -- is only that which I am ever able to do next.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby promethean75 » Sun May 05, 2019 9:06 pm

We might imagine a ‘Cartesian theatre’ in our heads, with a projection screen, with what we see being viewed by a little person in there – a homunculus. But how does the homunculus see? Is there another smaller homunculus inside his brain? And so on, endlessly…


that endless regression is a great point against any objections to eliminative materialism... but even supposing there was some mind 'in there', some private theater of qualia inaccessible to everyone else and which only you can experience, how could you talk meaningfully about any of it?

i've always found wittgenstein's point particularly insightful when he criticizes the common sense phrase: 'i know i am in pain'. at first glance this should seem perfectly right... but then he says 'we can't speak of knowing outside of the context of doubting, therefore to say 'i know i'm in pain' is entirely senseless.' wait what? let's think about what he means here. so i can't doubt i'm in pain - it hurts like hell... there's no denying that - and i could say 'i know i'm in pain', but only under one condition; if i did not use the word pain as a representation of some content of experience, but rather simply to convey a sense in which the meaning could be used, and understood as such. so i'd be notifying others that i'm having a kind of experience. if not, the other would not be able to know the thing the word represents... and yet for other things i observe through inductive experience of which i speak about as 'knowing', e.g., 'the milkman is here' (something i could doubt... i may be hallucinating or a brain in a vat, etc.), the thing the statement represents can be experienced by the other. see the subtle difference between the statement 'i know i'm in pain' and 'i know the milkman is here'? qualia... or as nagel put it, that problem of 'knowing what it's like to be a bat', is a non-problem. even the bat can't know what it's like to be a bat, because there is no 'bat' in there that can be known or doubted. he can be a bat, and know he's a bat, but there is no amount of private experience of the inner cartesian bat that would lead him to believe he, and only he can 'know' what it's like to be a bat. for what about being a bat and a bat's experiences can be doubted outside of inductive bat propositions made with a representational language? see what i mean? the same batesian dualism eventually stands to be critiqued by a battgenstein.

you can extend this little drill to demonstrate how the difference between representational meaning and use-meaning has caused so much trouble in philosophy. take the word 'mind'. mind as something separate from the body, or an additional quality added to the body, or something the brain 'produces' and 'has'... and then to speak about it with the same predication i would use to describe things in the world; the mind is free, or the mind is determined, or the mind is mad, or the mind is lost, or the mind is big, etc. i can know such expressions only as metaphor which become meaningful once i attribute to the expressions particular behaviors... which are ostensible uses of meaning that i learn through language/culture. but i can never know of something separate from these behaviors... something that exhibits such qualities as a thing might exhibit a shape or color or movement, etc. the mind as a 'container' of concepts. another senseless notion.

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Mon May 06, 2019 6:47 pm

promethean75 wrote:
We might imagine a ‘Cartesian theatre’ in our heads, with a projection screen, with what we see being viewed by a little person in there – a homunculus. But how does the homunculus see? Is there another smaller homunculus inside his brain? And so on, endlessly…


that endless regression is a great point against any objections to eliminative materialism... but even supposing there was some mind 'in there', some private theater of qualia inaccessible to everyone else and which only you can experience, how could you talk meaningfully about any of it?

i've always found wittgenstein's point particularly insightful when he criticizes the common sense phrase: 'i know i am in pain'. at first glance this should seem perfectly right... but then he says 'we can't speak of knowing outside of the context of doubting, therefore to say 'i know i'm in pain' is entirely senseless.' wait what? let's think about what he means here. so i can't doubt i'm in pain - it hurts like hell... there's no denying that - and i could say 'i know i'm in pain', but only under one condition; if i did not use the word pain as a representation of some content of experience, but rather simply to convey a sense in which the meaning could be used, and understood as such. so i'd be notifying others that i'm having a kind of experience. if not, the other would not be able to know the thing the word represents... and yet for other things i observe through inductive experience of which i speak about as 'knowing', e.g., 'the milkman is here' (something i could doubt... i may be hallucinating or a brain in a vat, etc.), the thing the statement represents can be experienced by the other. see the subtle difference between the statement 'i know i'm in pain' and 'i know the milkman is here'? qualia... or as nagel put it, that problem of 'knowing what it's like to be a bat', is a non-problem. even the bat can't know what it's like to be a bat, because there is no 'bat' in there that can be known or doubted. he can be a bat, and know he's a bat, but there is no amount of private experience of the inner cartesian bat that would lead him to believe he, and only he can 'know' what it's like to be a bat. for what about being a bat and a bat's experiences can be doubted outside of inductive bat propositions made with a representational language? see what i mean? the same batesian dualism eventually stands to be critiqued by a battgenstein.

you can extend this little drill to demonstrate how the difference between representational meaning and use-meaning has caused so much trouble in philosophy. take the word 'mind'. mind as something separate from the body, or an additional quality added to the body, or something the brain 'produces' and 'has'... and then to speak about it with the same predication i would use to describe things in the world; the mind is free, or the mind is determined, or the mind is mad, or the mind is lost, or the mind is big, etc. i can know such expressions only as metaphor which become meaningful once i attribute to the expressions particular behaviors... which are ostensible uses of meaning that i learn through language/culture. but i can never know of something separate from these behaviors... something that exhibits such qualities as a thing might exhibit a shape or color or movement, etc. the mind as a 'container' of concepts. another senseless notion.



What becomes particularly surreal then is the manner in which we react to assessments of this sort only because we were never able to react to them in any other way.

Ah, but only if my brain precipitates my mind to precipitate my fingers to type these words only because I am not able to not type them.

Where does nature with its laws of matter fit in here? Descartes, his theatre. Then my reaction to Robinson's reaction to it compelling the post above and now you being compelled to read these words. Is it all really just one necessarily intertwining reality unfolding inexorably toward what can only ever be?

Along with Wittgenstein and his boxed beetle?

My own exasperation in acknowledging that I will almost certainly go to the grave not knowing what if anything is behind it all being but one more unimaginably insignificant facet of it all in turn?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Mon May 06, 2019 7:57 pm

From "Pointlessness Doesn’t Follow from Determinism" at the Breaking the Free Will Illusion website

Time and time again people express to me their feeling that if determinism is true and the “future is inevitable” due to this, that everything is “pointless”. That for some reason us being able to freely will a change in the future implies some sort of meaningfulness that an entirely causal universe doesn’t have.

This, however, is what is called a “non-sequitur” in philosophical terms. That means the conclusion (e.g. “everything is pointless”) doesn’t follow from the premises (e.g. the universe is deterministic, the future state is a causally inevitable, etc.).


Again, the part [in my view] where everything in this debate seems to get all tangled up in what we either are or are not able to fully encompass using language.

Assuming for the moment that in using it we do have some measure of free will.

In other words, for all practical purposes, if we do live in a wholly determined universe, it would seem that however we frame the meaning of the word "pointless" and its relationship to the meaning that we give to the word "determined", the "point" of the future doesn't make the actual future itself any different than it seemingly must be given that the point of nature is to unfold solely in accordance with the immutable laws of matter.

Just because the universe is deterministic, doesn’t mean that what we do is futile.


And here the word "futile". Since we are inherently/necessarily a part of nature unfolding as it must [for whatever reason], the only way that futile makes any sense to me is in discovering the reason why existence unfolds at all; and then determining that the existence of existence itself is futile. That any reason is as ultimately futile as any other.

Here we are back to the distinction that peacegirl and I seem to make between "choosing" and choosing.

Because we at least "choose" to do only what we are able to "choose" to do. This our part in it all must surely be less futile than the parts played by mindless matter.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby promethean75 » Wed May 08, 2019 12:57 am

Again, the part [in my view] where everything in this debate seems to get all tangled up in what we either are or are not able to fully encompass using language.


well you've been around long enough to get the gist of my position regarding this problem of language. i took a strong post-structural turn toward philosophy after i found wittgenstein, and recently i've been studying derrida... something that seems almost like a grand finale to my epistemological nihilism. the timing is perfect; derrida's concept of the 'trace', 'logocentrism', 'différance', 'binary oppositions', 'presence' and 'aporia', are all magnificent insights revealing the essential instability of philosophical text (where they are expressed most). and what's great about all this is that i get to see it happening in real-time at these forums. it's almost like i'm taking a class, dude. when i apply the concepts i've learned from wittgenstein in a deconstructive approach to what i read here, i see all these things come to life. for example, in one of the freewill threads, there is now a new binary opposition of 'internal' and 'external'. now it's not the fact that such a dichotomy would be irrelevant to what and how causation works - there is not a space or enclosure or limit at which causation starts or stops working... so 'inside' and outside' are fortuitous terms here - but that even if there were such a difference of space, of 'inside' and 'outside', nobody using the term could define clearly where it was. and yet, they flow right on with the discussion as if this idea is taken for granted and understood by everyone using the term. so with this you get a great example of the wittgensteinian language game - where a word used in an ordinary context to define physical, geometric locations is now transferred into a metaphysical environment where it's usual connotations are completely missing - as well as derrida's aporia; the stability of the terms depends solely on 'what comes next', but this in turn depends also on what follows, etc. being that the terms are fortuitous to begin with, there can be no 'right' direction, and any direction will produce the same 'sense' of meaningfulness for the viewers... precisely because they are meaningless. the reader takes possession of the text, decentralizes the transcendental center or intent of the writer, and re-appropriates the meaning to fit what he understands the words to mean. so you finally have a kind of self sustaining logocentric simulacrum freely operating between the writer and reader... wherein the language becomes the destabilized transcendental center rather than the intent of the writer or reader. what occurs is a meaningless freeplay or pantomime of language... by which each interlocutor is only arguing with himself.

a general principle: in language, the signifier is always incompletely defining all the possible ways the signified can be meaningful (cue W's language games)... and yet at any point that the signifier is pinned down and becomes dependent on 'what follows', the aporia results and the text loses all stability by being continuously postponed.

from one nihilist to another, let me suggest that, in fact, the intuitions we experience when we observe what we can't make any sense of (or multiple senses of... which amounts to the same thing), result from what are actually subtle structures which nonsense and ambiguity must conform to. granted that this is a deconstruction... you might think of it, paradoxically, as the last possible structural approach to language and philosophy. so no, my friend, you are not the crazy one here. on forum boards, insanity is the rule. for the nihilist, it is an exception.

i had breezed by derrida a decade ago without giving him much thought... but this was because i hadn't yet put the necessary years in to experience exactly what he was on about. now i see it more clearly than ever. odd that many ordinary language philosophers call him an obscurantist. like wittgenstein, he's actually waged an assault on philosophy for the purposes of returning language from it's metaphysical environment.

in any case, check out this video.

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Thu May 09, 2019 3:43 am

From "Pointlessness Doesn’t Follow from Determinism" at the Breaking the Free Will Illusion website

“If the future is inevitable, what we do doesn’t matter.”

This non-sequitur often stems from the false equivocation of determinism with fatalism. The process of how the future is inevitable is an important factor that is left out. If “what we do” is part of the process that causally leads to that “inevitable future”, then it certainly doesn’t follow that what we do “doesn’t matter” (as the infographic explains). If, on the other hand, fatalism applies, it does follow that what we do doesn’t matter. This is why it’s important when educating people on the lack of free will that we explain the distinction between these things.


I'll be the first to admit that the distinction some make between determinism and fatalism is lost on me.

If the laws of nature determine what the future will be, why is it not reasonable to argue that the future is fated to be what the laws of nature inexorably make it?

Thus what we are compelled to "choose" to do is to participate in the interactions that will unfold into a future that necessarily encompasses these choices.

It's not a question of mattering but of what we do mattering because in an autonomous world we might have chosen to do something that resulted in an entirely different future.

If, however, the future unfolds only as it must, what we choose to do matters only in the sense that it would matter how the dominoes are set up if in the future they are all to topple.

They would seem to be fated to all topple only if we are fated by nature to set them up so that they will all topple.

How then do others see this distinction between determinism and fatalism?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Thu May 09, 2019 10:10 pm

separate morality from free will
by Phil Goetz
at the lesswrong website

Kant argued that the existence of morality implies the existence of free will. Roughly: If you don't have free will, you can't be moral, because you can't be responsible for your actions.


As many here might imagine, my own interest in determinism revolves fundamentally around the question that most interest me philosophically: How ought one to live?

And Kant would seem to be right in the bullseye in noting the clear connection between free will and moral responsibility. If you are not able to freely choose your own behaviors, then being held responsible for them by others is just another way of saying that they are not able to freely choose to hold you responsible.

Then for Kant [and philosophers of his ilk] it is merely a matter of concocting a God such that in a world where we do have autonomy, He becomes the ultimate arbiter on Judgment Day.

On the other hand, if this transcending font is omniscient, how is one able to reconcile human freedom with that?

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says: "Most philosophers suppose that the concept of free will is very closely connected to the concept of moral responsibility. Acting with free will, on such views, is just to satisfy the metaphysical requirement on being responsible for one's action." ("Free will" in this context refers to a mysterious philosophical phenomenological concept related to consciousness - not to whether someone pointed a gun at the agent's head.)


But here [for me] things immediately get tricky. What does it mean "for all practical purposes" to refer to free will as "a mysterious philosophical phenomenological concept related to consciousness" and then to make a distinction between that and someone "pointing a gun at the agent's head"?

How and when do the concocted concepts of free will make contact with the behaviors of conscious human beings choosing to point guns at the heads of others?

How are the laws of nature not compelling both one philosopher to define and describe free will conceptually and another philosopher to point a gun at another's head?

What do I keep missing here?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Tue May 14, 2019 3:48 am

"Defending Free Will & The Self"
Frank S. Robinson in Philosophy Now magazine

....then how do you see or otherwise experience the representation? Why, of course, by means of a further representation – of ‘yourself’ having that experience. According to the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio in Descartes’ Error (1994), even that’s not enough. The brain must actually keep three mental balls in the air simultaneously: the base representation (of the rain, say); a representation of yourself taking it in; and, finally, a third order representation, so that you not only know something, but know you know it. This might seem to be another potentially endless recursion: a representation of the self perceiving a representation of the self perceiving… However, the buck must stop somewhere, because we do know when it’s raining, and know we know it… and grab umbrellas.

While the mind is doing all that work creating representations – continually, as new signals keep arriving – there’s yet another ball it must keep aloft: a representation of who ‘you’ are. Damasio likens this to your FBI file, although it’s not all in one file, but spread across various brain modules. It includes information like what you do, where you live, people important to you, knowledge of your past, and ideas about your future: everything that makes you you. It’s not just filed away, and you constantly refresh and update all of it.


Let's be honest: few of us possess in tandem both the mental capacity and the educational background needed to ponder all the balls lofted up into the air inside one or another intellectual contraption like this. Conjectures that attempt to come to grips with an actual choice being made by someone in a particular set of circumstances. And even the neuroscientists who do explore the functioning brain here, do so by and large in a very narrow context: probing the brain thinking and deciding inside one or another fMRI device.

Not only that, but the balls can bump into any number of "conditions" in which the brain is [at times] fiercely tugged and pulled autonomically in any number of directions: drug use, hypnosis, delusions, dementia, Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, clinical depression, psychosis; and many other physical and mental disorders.

And what of the dreams that we have? How is this particular "ball" to be grappled with [represented] other then as a classic example of how the brain itself creates these truly astonishing "realities" such that, while in the dream itself, "I" is convinced that it is calling the shots.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Tue May 14, 2019 7:35 pm

From "Pointlessness Doesn’t Follow from Determinism" at the Breaking the Free Will Illusion website

“Given determinism, the future might as well be now.”

This does not follow. What is happening now is entirely different than what is happening in the future, regardless if what is happening now leads to what will happen in the future.


Another point I seem to be entirely missing. If the future unfolds only in accordance with the laws of matter in the present, it will be different only in the sense that here and now we are not around then to note the difference. But it can still only be what it must be.

It's like nature compels John to set up a million dominoes. And, as it turns out, given the laws of matter, John is compelled to set them up such that they all do [must] topple to form a design that depicts Trump and Putin in bed together.

Now, the dominoes before they topple do not look the same as toppled dominoes. But the present and the future are still no less necessarily intertwined given my own understanding of determinism.

“If we have free will, then the present moment (now) is significant, because only now can we change.”

The ability to change now and the future (from what is caused) does not make such an action more significant or better. In fact I’d argue that such would be more problematic that a consistent causal path (regardless of it’s inevitability).


Of course some things would be considerably more problematic in a free will world. On the other hand, other things would change only because in the either/or world the laws of matter are applicable to the past, the present and the future. Anything that we might deem to be "significant" or "better" is still embedded in nature.

On the other other hand, in the is/ought world, free will precipitates any number of conflicts regarding those things deemed by some to be "significant" or "better" that are not deemed that way at all by others.

I must be misunderstanding the point being made here.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Thu May 16, 2019 3:56 am

Separate morality from free will by Phil Goetz
[from the lesswrong web site]

Talking about morality causes much confusion, because most philosophers - and most people - do not have a distinct concept of morality. At best, they have just one word that composes two different concepts. At worst, their "morality" doesn't contain any new primitive concepts at all; it's just a macro: a shorthand for a combination of other ideas.


Of course my own problem here is that many who insist that they do have a "distinct concept of morality", are very often not willing [or able] to connect the dots between their concept of morality and the manner in which the definition and meaning that they give to it is rendered more substantively/descriptively in regard to their day to day interactions with others.

And if one sees another's conception of morality as "macro", what on earth does that mean relating to their actual reaction to the behaviors of others which conflict with their own.

Kant argued that the existence of morality implies the existence of free will. Roughly: If you don't have free will, you can't be moral, because you can't be responsible for your actions.


Likewise where are the examples that Kant notes which take this "general description" itself out into world he lived in? And, even in assuming free will, to what extent does he delve into the components of my own moral narrative: the self as the existential agglomeration of particular experiences and relationships; Barrett's idea of "rival goods"; the role that political power can play in a community that either worships and adores a rival God, or a secular community embedded in a No God ideology like Communism; or one revolving around the nihilistic assumption that prevails among those who are more inclined to embrace a "show me the money" social and economic ethos.

And where is Kant's deontological morality [for mere mortals] without the transcending font?

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says: "Most philosophers suppose that the concept of free will is very closely connected to the concept of moral responsibility. Acting with free will, on such views, is just to satisfy the metaphysical requirement on being responsible for one's action."


How is one to realistically intertwine the metaphysical concept of free will with the actual nitty gritty day to day conflicts that arise from different "one of us" communities insisting that, autonomously, being morally responsible involves behaviors that clearly clash?

Determinism on the other hand subsumes all of this in but the psychological illusion of free will. The clashes are real but they were never able to unfold other than as they must.

Free will" in this context refers to a mysterious philosophical phenomenological concept related to consciousness - not to whether someone pointed a gun at the agent's head.


This is the part that is particularly problematic to me. Here I'm simply confused regarding the ability of language like this to be brought down to earth and intertwined in an examination, description and analysis of the choices we make.

What on earth is this supposed to mean with respect to the behaviors that we do opt for existentially?

Human consciousness certainly seems able to think up [autonomously or not] an abstraction like a "mysterious philosophical phenomenological concept related to consciousness". But how "for all practical purposes" is this applicable to someone who does point a gun at another's head?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Sat May 18, 2019 11:50 pm

"Defending Free Will & The Self"
Frank S. Robinson in Philosophy Now magazine

Free Will Fears

The minds and selves we experience are extremely complex, sophisticated constructions. To say it’s all just determined, with no role for a true ‘you’ in there, seems too facile and reductionist a dismissal of all that complexity, which, after all, appears engineered precisely in order to produce a you that deliberates to make decisions tailored to circumstances you face.


Really well put, right?

To think that "I", given all of the extraordinary ways in which we are able to experience and express it, can have somehow just evolved "mechanically" from matter that consisted basically of the elements hydrogen and helium just after the Big Bang, seems, well, preposterous.

And yet, come on, who has ever really been able to pin down this "real me"? And look what the brute facticity of the human brain can construct in the way of "I" in dreams. How are "you" then not just a chemical and neurological "contraption"? How are dreams themselves not just the brains very own SIM worlds or Matrix perceptions?

One fear is that if we’re really just elaborate robots operating according to programming and inputs we can’t control, our lives are meaningless. But that’s not how we live them. As Dennett puts it, notwithstanding whatever some philosophers or neuroscientists may say, we live in an ‘atmosphere of free will’: “the enveloping, enabling, life-shaping, conceptual atmosphere of intentional action, planning and hoping and promising – and blaming, resenting, punishing and honoring” (and writing books against free will, like Sam Harris). This is our lived reality. Dennett says it’s independent of whether determinism is true. Indeed, as a thought experiment, imagine going through even one day as though you had no free will. It would be absurd. The attempt would actually invert the conundrum: How could you be sure anything you did was in fact determined and not somehow an exercise of choice?


Yet it is here again that I am unable to "think through" speculations of this sort and decide if they are an explanation enough. How might Dennett's "atmosphere of free will" not be just another manifestation of a brain able to "produce" thinking like this in sync with the psychology [illusion] of free will in sync with a metaphysical determinism?

What on earth can really be demonstrated to be "independent" of a wholly determined universe? Even the "thought experiment" above could be seen as but another necessary manifestation of that which can only ever be.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Mon May 20, 2019 5:46 pm

From "Pointlessness Doesn’t Follow from Determinism" at the Breaking the Free Will Illusion website
by Trick Slattery

“Determinism leads to nihilism.”

Yet another non-sequitur. This is not the case. A determinist can recognize that value states causally happen, and recognize the importance of those value states. There are also different types of nihilism that reflect different things. For example, suggesting there is no grand meaning or purpose to the propagation of life (a very specific type of existential nihilism) is entirely different from saying there is no meaning, purpose, or point in acting a certain way – or that there is no value or meaning at all. Also, ethical nihilism certainly doesn’t follow from determinism.


But: Is not a determinist compelled by nature to recognize everything only as he or she was ever able to?

And being a nihilist in a determined universe doesn't make these recognitions any less compelled. And, sure, there might be hundreds of different types of nihilists...but what they would all seem to share in common is their inability to choose to be anything other than what the laws of matter propel them towards.

I'm always perplexed by this sort of thinking. In a determined universe as I understand it, nihilists would seem to be interchangeable with Platonists or Christians or Communists or anarchists or hedonists or sociopaths. No one actually has the free will to choose to be these things. No more so then I have the free will to choose to type these words.

And would not ethical nihilists [like me] necessarily follow along our determined paths?

How could they not?

Instead, there's a part of me unable to actually believe there isn't a part of me able to actually choose freely among alternative options. If only, in particular contexts, as an existential contraption.

But this always takes me back to the extraordinary dreams that I have. It simply boggles my mind how convinced I am "in the dream" that it is not a dream at all. That "I" am real, choosing freely to do this instead of that. Then, waking up, I immediately realize that none of it was real. It was al a virtual reality "world" that my brain created out of...what exactly?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Tue May 21, 2019 3:47 am

separate morality from free will
by Phil Goetz
at the lesswrong website

I was thrown for a loop when I first came across people saying that morality has something to do with free will. If morality is about doing the right thing, then free will has nothing to do with it. Yet we find Kant, and others, going on about how choices can be moral only if they are free.


From my frame of mind, morality in a wholly determined universe is just another example of nature manifesting itself as it does in, say, the unfolding of a natural disaster.

Only unlike the mindless matter interacting in, say, a tornado, the matter in the human brain is able to delude itself into believing that human interactions are qualitatively different. Why? Because, through human consciousness, matter "chooses" to unfold only as it must.

Always and ever the mystery of mind.

An ignorant [but autonomous] alien would note human interactions as seemingly predicated on the free will of the men and women they are observing. But a more sophisticated [and autonomous] alien would point out that nothing they "choose" to do in interacting was ever really of their own volition. Just as we understand that when we see characters in a film, we know they are not "in the moment" up on the screen choosing to do what they do. And, besides, the director and the screen writer are choreographing "the action". But that too is only another manifestation of nature. They are no less compelled to do only what they must.

But even if our species does in fact interact as autonomous beings, morality [as I understand it] is still not something that can be pinned down essentially.

The problem I have with Kant [in an autonomous universe] is the extent to which he failed to take into account the components of my own moral narrative. Through his own rendition of God, he provided us with a font that enabled him to argue that moral interactions can be embedded categorically and imperatively in rational moral obligations.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Thu May 23, 2019 6:45 pm

"Defending Free Will & The Self"
Frank S. Robinson in Philosophy Now magazine

Determinism is a tricky concept. If a ball is going to hit you, but you duck, do you actually alter what might have happened, or would Laplace’s demon have predicted your ducking, so you were never going to be hit anyway? This is the idea that whatever happens had to happen, so ‘changing the outcome’ is a meaningless concept.


This is basically what I keep coming back to. Are the laws of matter compelling nature to compel my brain to compel my fingers to types these words...or is there some facet of "I" here that does in fact participate in "changing the outcome" such that my posting these words and your reading them might possibly have been other then what in fact it turns out to be?

Sans the demon or God.

Can we somehow choose to duck and not be hit by the ball? Or does the autonomous alien note that we did in fact duck, but recognizes that our "choice" to duck was only embedded in the psychological illusion of free will embedded ontologically in the immutable laws of matter?

Dennett gives the example of a golfer missing a putt who says, “I could have made it!” What does that mean? Repeat the exact circumstances and the result must be the same. However, before he swung, was it possible for him to swing differently than he wound up doing, with a little more concentration, or better aim? This is what he means by saying, “I could have made it!” Yet his actual swing was, as the determinists argue, the consequence of a million little deterministic factors preceding that moment. So was it all preordained, or could he have, might he have, swung differently?


And this gets us to the nitty gritty for many in regard to the correct answer here. If the swing is only as a result of "a million little deterministic factors" [going back presumably to the Big Bang or to whatever else explains Existence] then the golfer who believes this can insist that he missed the putt only because there was never a chance of him making it.

Whereas the golfer who refuses to believe in a determined putt, makes it, and then insists this revolves solely around his great skill as a golfer.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Sun May 26, 2019 8:48 pm

From "Pointlessness Doesn’t Follow from Determinism" at the Breaking the Free Will Illusion website
by Trick Slattery

“Free will gives us meaning and purpose that we can’t have without.”

Even if we (incorrectly) accepted that there was no meaning or purpose in a no-free-will deterministic universe, it doesn’t follow that free will grants such purpose.


Here however I make the distinction between existential and essential meaning. Having free will would certainly seem to permit us to ascribe particular meaning to particular things, interactions, relationships. But in the is/ought world the ascriptions relating to conflicting goods would be embedded more in existential contraptions than in essential truths rooted in Gods or deontological philosophical concoctions or nature or political ideology.

But having some measure of autonomy is clearly of fundamental importance.

After all, any meaning we ascribed to anything in a determined universe is only meaning we were never able not to ascribe.

The fact of the matter is, determinism gives us our entire coherence of thought. The consistency to act on “what matters” through causal understandings. Without such consistency, the freedom to do otherwise willy-nilly takes away meaning and purpose (rather than grants it). Considering that all understandings of what is important – and all meaning and purpose – requires causality and consistency – free will is anything but a meaning and purpose system.


Over and again: I must be missing something here. In our waking hours, the entirety of our coherent thought in a determined world would be the equivalent of the entirety of our coherent thought in our dreams: wholly compelled by a brain wholly compelled by the laws of matter.

The difference is merely embedded in all that we are yet to grasp about the physiological relationship between the brain, the mind and "I".

From my perspective, he seems to make his argument as though he is somehow able to insert "I" into it in much the same manner as someone who believed in free will would.

The fact of the matter. Exactly. How is that not the fact of the matter here?

"Causality and consistency" as it is applicable in determining "what matters" and what is "important" to us, regarding the behaviors we choose, is determined by nature.

Nature has merely evolved into brains evolving into minds evolving into an "I" that is able to delude itself into thinking that what matters and what is important to "me" is because that's what "I" was able to freely discern for myself.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Wed May 29, 2019 5:57 pm

separate morality from free will
by Phil Goetz
at the lesswrong website

Committing a crime is, generally, regarded as immoral. (I am not claiming that it is immoral. I'm talking descriptively about general beliefs.) Yet people see the practical question of whether the criminal is likely to commit the same crime again, as being in conflict with the "moral" question of whether the criminal had free will. If you have no free will, they say, you can do the wrong thing, and be moral; or you can do the right thing, and not be moral.


If there is no free will then whatever we call human interactions [inside or outside the law] is in turn necessarily embedded in the laws of matter. So, what difference [ultimately] does it make regarding discussions and debates like this, if they are determined/fated/inexorably compelled by nature to unfold only as they must.

All "practical questions" would seem to be interchangeable with all "practical answers" here: wholly determined.

You can never choose autonomously to do either the right or the wrong thing in a determined universe. Why? Because "right" and "wrong" are just words that were compelled to be invented by those compelled to speak the English language embedded in the psychological illusion of free will. Which is then embedded ontologically in whatever brought into existence nature and its material laws.

If, again, that, in and of itself, can ever actually be known for sure.

Or, again, I am missing something crucial here.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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