The truth about causation and free will.

Here’s the scoop. The river flows only to the sea. Fish swim upstream, and turn about. Eddys form, taking water upstream within them, for a time. Dams are built. The sun takes its due. Yet the river flows only to the sea.

No decision I make stops the world from turning. No law of physics is broken if I decide against dessert one evening. God’s plan continues unabated even if I sin.

It changes nothing about our world if some action of mine is an uncaused cause. I can’t decide against gravity. What is caused within us, and within any being capable of making a decision, like your scruffy pet dog, is the ability to make a choice. There is no paradox here. The cause of the bend in the river is not affected by the cause of the riverhead’s formation. Only the river is affected by both.

And no, I’m not stoned.

This is false advertising…

What was the “truth” (that I was expecting) supposed to be?

Is it supposed to be some half-assed Compatibilism…on weeeeed?

I already obviated the use of the marijuana joke. Come up with something a little more original.

Now, I knew this wasn’t going to be very popular. Especially with your type, mony.

Get back to me when you understand enough to ask a poignant question.

Faust, do you have any thoughts on the relation between the concepts “uncaused cause” and “self-cause”?

Perhaps you could expand on the first bold bit with examples?

And the second bold bit seems vague. Elaborate a bit?

Maybe, Saully.

I have never understood why we are so ready to believe in an unbroken chain of causality. That’s a linear model. If the Big Bang Theory is correct, the model is not linear at all. It’s an explosion. When a bomb explodes, the various pieces of shrapnel are not supposed to be affecting each other, as they radiate out from the center. Don’t we then have many chains? And what happens when the shrapnel lands? Say it lands on the ground. What does it do? Rust?

If a child comes by and picks up a piece of shrapnel, does it really make any sense to say that this act was caused by the bomb?

Sentient beings are vectors. Why is that difficult?

What philosophers have abhored is that we are caused, causes, self-caused and uncaused all at once. Not entirely, any one of these.

The trouble with linear thinking is that it doesn’t always reflect the reality that we know.

It is useful in politics, however.

Fent - I’ll try to respond in a few minutes.

Fent - I think a lot of things are really what they seem to be. Unless we are religious, we have no reason to think that we cannot make decisions. Free Will is a religious concept.

The second bold item is this - there is no evidence of an unbroken chain of causation. Ever. Causation implies motion. But motion in the known universe, taken as a whole, is not linear. Chains of causation do seem to exist, but we have no reason to believe that they are all connected to each other.

Arh, okay. Yep I agree with that.

Not this truth meme again. Send in Paneful. ](*,)

That is exactly what it is a natural question that arises from believing that God is omniscient and we therefore are trapped by a logical paradox of our own making as badly as Sysiphus was by his gods.

  1. God says that he cannot lie
  2. God says we have free will
  3. God is omnisient
  4. God is beyond logic unless causality doesn’t exist
    4.1) Causality is false
  5. god is Loki or a trickster playing impenetrable mind games
  6. or man just made him up and then got stuck in a loop
  7. God disappears up own lying ass
    Compatibilism is another way of copping out of the bigger questions and merely asserting by sophistry something is true ultimately because you believe it is religious or not.

Free will does not mean omnipotent will or will free from the laws of physics. But anyways, what is the physical law that forced me to type this out against my will?

I’ve missed you, Faust. Good to see you posting more. Now set me straight…


What am I missing?

Yeah, really. Satirical articles aside. Whatever it was that led to the evolution of humans can sensibly be considered a cause. I can make decisions because that’s one the abilities that humans, and other animals, have. I cannot trace the entire course of that evolution, but them there scientists have some kind of handle on it.

A condition can have a cause. And that condition may be that of “the ability to make a choice”. It’s not the particular choice itself that is caused, but only the ability to make one.

Wouldn’t the notion of a “self-cause” entail that a thing can affect itself [assuming choice is the cause as Faust mentioned]? That would also mean a “self-cause” is caused by choice …if I’m understanding correctly. Choice becomes the cause, the respective act becomes the effect [so to speak], externally, as well as an affect internally. Therefore, the external effect seems linear while the affect is cyclical insofar as it occasions another choice. However, if the external effect is predicated upon the affect which serves as a catalyst for choice, even some of our effects become cyclical [ex. habituation].

This confuses me, though. A vector seems to support a linear model, as far as I can tell. We are given magnitude, but direction seems linear with respect to our environment. That is to say, even a predictable choice is influenced by external variables on different occasions. So the affects which prompt a choice and the manner in which we affect ourselves and our environments would seem to correlate to the direction of change in the variables. That isn’t to say, however, that said variables experience change in a linear direction, but our ability to choose must be adapted to each new set to produce a similar effect. So, “self-causes” would seem like linear series of choices, rather than the same exact choice each time. The effect is cyclical, but the choice is linear inasmuch as the variables influencing the choice are in ‘flux’.

If you think about it, if not for the notions of ‘life’ and ‘death’, time itself would be entirely cyclical. That we seem to move in a predetermined direction [birth → life → death] gives us a linear grasp of time – of course, that also assumes that birth is a beginning and death is an end.

I have no beef with the sensible notion that we make choices. But using the concepts we use, that notion seems to make little sense, which is why the idea of hard determinism, or predestination, or whatever, can hold us under its spell. You can say that the particular choice itself is not caused, but that statement strongly implies some sort of break in the causal chain, which seems nonsensical. I know you’ve mentioned the non-linearity of cause and effect, but however cause and effect specifically works, in general, events are connected to each other through space and time. There are no isolated events.

Scientists are ready to believe in unbroken chains of causality because you can’t explain what doesn’t have a cause—not to mention diagnose, treat, or cure. This is just the modus operandi of scientific/physical explanation. That modus operandi will extend even to every colliding neuron, in your head, as you have the sensation of making a ‘free’ choice. It doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as ‘free will’; what it means is that you aren’t safe thinking you can section off some sphere of human decision-making exempt from causal explanations. Try as you might to pull your-self (or choice) up into existence by your bootstraps out of the swamps of nothingness, there will be a causal explanation of the same sort that explains how we came to have an ability to make a choice, in the first place. You can’t reasonably say that our capability for choice is deterministic, but our choice isn’t. At least, you’ve given no reason–and hence why this all looks satyrical. What does this mean for free will? I don’t know, you’re the one who advertised the truth about it—not me.

Why not? Something determined can act as an influence without necessarily being deterministic [if it is dismissed or ignored, for instance]. The ability to choose is obviously there, but that which we base our choices on may be a choice in itself.

But what is the difference, whether there are multiple influences or a single cause? The question is about the inevitability of a present moment based on a given past. I do we think we can choose, but I have a real hard time making sense of that intuition conceptually. Yes, we can choose. But is this really true, ultimately?

…because the sort of explanation we’re talking about doesn’t halt at arbitrary conceptual distinctions between having a ‘capability to make a choice’ and the particular choice we make. If you’re willing to host and entertain determinism, determinism will creep into every room. Let’s not think we’re free only because we decided not to take our ability to explain things causally into the realm of making a choice. …That’s like assuming that your money is in the bank, because that’s where it’d be if you had any. (But you might be dirt poor).

A cause causes something. An influence has the potential to become a, or part of a, cause.

Why’s that? We aren’t disrupting any causal chains through an ability to choose, we are affecting ourselves [which, in my opinion, is likely an ability specific to sentience]. The choice itself, not the ability, becomes applicable to space/time through action. The ability is there regardless, meaning our ability to choose does not need an occasion [or correlation to an effect], even though making a choice might.

We’re not? I think you’re not…

I think the ability was caused at some point, but that is given now. I think the act of putting a choice into action is what is caused. The choice itself, as an option, is dependent on, but not necessarily determined by, a condition.

Would you think a planet in some other galaxy is affected by our causal chain? Even if we are talking about multiple causal chains existing simultaneously, we are talking about isolated events [so long as they do not intertwine]. Unless you intent to prove that there is some universal cause that connects everything in existence without implicating an infinite regress [like the Big Bang theory].