thoughts on determinism

The Illusion of Illusionism
Raymond Tallis sees through a physicalist confusion.

[quote]The Experience of an Illusion

Even if its explanations of the nature and purpose of phenomenal consciousness were valid, illusionism would not make consciousness, and in particular phenomenal consciousness, any easier to fit into a physicalist world picture. To the contrary, it becomes a more awkward customer[/quote]

All the while, however, he’s in the same boat the rest of us are in: speculating about how to speculate about his own interactions with others given all that he simply does not grasp about the human brain itself going all the way back to, what, the Big Bang? God?

If the physicalists are compelled to explain phenomenal consciousness only as they are able to, why might it not be that Tallis is reacting to them given the only manner in which he is able to?

What doesn’t change [click or not] is the profound mystery embedded in matter able to “somehow” become conscious of itself as matter able, in turn, to acquire moral “convictions”.

And if, instead of color, the experience revolves more around, say, the war in Gaza or Ukraine…? What can or cannot be called an illusion there?

And if somehow matter in a No God universe did manage to evolve into living, self-conscious entities – us? Who can really know for sure what it is or is not capable of? It simply remains what may well be the most profoundly problematic mystery of them all. One that we will all probably go to grave merely believing “in our heads” whatever we happen to believe is true about it.

What about your question Why? That question, and the required potential inherent in the ability to ask that question, is why philosophers are ultimately the smart ones, as opposed to people that “do not ask” and thus ‘assume’ the world around them to be determined.

Why ask why… Why existence?

Your question originates from the assumption that existence is fundamental, while the Why question doesn’t. There is an aspect that must precede existence, for that question to be possible. Some say ‘cannot be defined’ and leave it, others name it God and formalize a whole religion. But the possibility of the Why question of philosophy is evident.

Philosophy can make a case for evident applicability of the Why question, and as such legitimize their business. The validity of a chosen philosophical path can be questioned, and with a Why question fundamental to a philosophical endeavour, that ‘ought’ to be, and is where one finds the foundation of true morality. The philosophical Why results in Aristotle’s eudaimonia, which is a state of ‘philosophical contemplation’ with as a result ‘the highest human virtue’, namely, alignment with the moral good.

The Illusion of Illusionism
Raymond Tallis sees through a physicalist confusion.

Actually, as with any philosophical speculation that takes us back around to grappling with the human brain itself, there is in fact no “starting point” other than a particular set of assumptions someone makes about relationships that evolved over literally millions of years. Instead, he makes arguments about physicalism in much the same manner that physicalists make their own arguments. But we are all embedded in “the gap” here. And the part where we don’t actually know what we don’t even know about where human beings here on planet Earth fit into an explanation for the existence of existence itself. We don’t even know if the human brain is capable of grasping that. Some just make all of this more trivial than others.

On the other hand, physical scientists, employing the scientific method and working with ever more sophisticated fMRI technologies, are still unable to pin down whether or not human consciousness is actually autonomous. Unless, perhaps, a link can be provided challenging that.

The truth. The truth here? Tallis can provide us with a scientific assessment establishing that human interactions are unequovocally not just embodying the illusion of free will? He’s just here to provide us with a philosophical confirmation?

Okay, then back to dreams. My own are bursting at the seams with mental fictions. The “interactions” in the dreams are created by the brain itself. We wake up noting that none of it really happened at all. Except “in our head”. Indeed, how many times have we woke thinking, “whew, it was just a dream!”.

Let’s try this…

In regard to your own interactions with others, what do you propose he means above?

Or, going back to my own main interest here…connecting the dots existentially between the behaviors we choose and moral responsibility…how do we go about determining what either is or is not wholly determined by the laws of nature?

This makes me wanna get back on my Descartes Emerson days.

In his 1637 work Discourse on the Method for Rightly Conducting Reason, Descartes introduced a provisional morality consisting of three or four maxims. For example, one maxim states that people should obey the laws of their country, follow their religion, and govern themselves with moderate opinions. Another maxim states that people should be decisive in their actions and follow doubtful opinions with consistency.

Emerson was different in that every individual needs to be self-reliant and thus not depend upon others if he or she is to be free and to live life fully.

Together you get golden rule that you must treat others the same way as you intend to be treated.
And whatever governance you proclaim will never be publicly accepted or rejected.

The Illusion of Illusionism
Raymond Tallis sees through a physicalist confusion.

Indeed. And how does that not revolve mainly around this:

Though I’m the first to admit a part of me is no less able to scoff at determinism. Like most of us here, I “just know” deep down inside that at least up to a point I really am calling the shots here. But that doesn’t make my brain any less material. It is still nothing less than a profoundly problematic mystery. Which is why so many invent God to make it go away.

And then it’s brain activity all the way down. But down to what? God? the Universe itself? As for the brain deceiving us, that happens to me every night. For hours on end “I” am “out in the world” with those I knew from the past…family dreams, college dreams, Army dreams, work dreams, etc.

Asserting things like this given “the gap” is something many philosophers might do. It’s always fascinating to speculate about the human brain. On the other hand, it’s the human brain itself doing the speculation. Thus, what may well be “behind” illusionists, physicalists, materialists, idealists, realists, etc., is nothing other than what could never not be behind it.

It’s as though Mother Nature is shooting a film and we are all compelled to act out our scripted parts. But, unlike with God, we’re just not sure if there is any teleological component embedded in the laws of nature. We’re not even entirely sure if our lack of certainty itself is not just one more inherent component of Reality.

The Illusion of Illusionism
Raymond Tallis sees through a physicalist confusion.

Ultimately, what lies behind illusionism and physicalism remains the profound mystery embedded in how the human brain is able to create a self-conscious awareness of itself in the first place. If it’s not a manifestation of God, then would it not need to reflect a component subsumed in the material universe itself…a factor that “somehow” made it all possible?

Also, something that explains quantum interactions and the staggering vastness of the universe.

Again, come back to it all in a hundred years. The only question is this…will the physicists have finally resolved it all? Will they be able to demonstrate that their resolution is in fact the real deal and not just another inherent manifestation of the only possible reality? Or will they still have to fall back on philosophers for other equally important components.

Back then to the gap between what Tallis construes the most basic level of understanding is here and all that would need to be grasped about human consciousness in order to close it completely. Then the surreal reality of how, yes, awareness certainly seems to be “delivered” by some entity that may well have acquired a true autonomy. Or maybe the mystery of existence itself ultimately comes down to information and knowledge that our own brains, even if autonomous, are simply not sophisticated enough to grasp.

It’s all still no less mind-boggling once you go out far enough into the deep end of the reality pool.

Come on, admit it. The existence of the human brain, the human condition and existence itself, while utterly fascinating to explore philosophically are still far beyond the reach even of the hard sciences.

On the other hand, sure, if philosophers ever do concoct a brand new argument allowing them to intertwine their theoretical conjectures about the human brain and their own actual interactions with others, I’d be particularly interested in that.

Determinism versus Determinism
Nurana Rajabova is determined to sort it out.

Then the parts that [compelled or not] fascinate me the most:

1] Figuring out how particular compatibilists are able to convince themselves that, even though we are determined to do what we could never not do, we are still morally responsible. Unless, of course, this argument too is just another inherent component of the only possible world.

2] Trying to grasp the frame of mind of those like Sam Harris. In other words, those who seem to accept that we do live in a wholly determined universe…and yet “somehow” their arguments must prevail because they really are the best arguments. But how can things be thought of as better or worse in a world where they could never have beed otherwise? Other than because we think of things like this in turn because our brains compel us to.

And around and around and around we go. If some come to believe this because they are compelled to while others come to reject it because they are compelled to…? What about the implications of that?

What does it mean to live in a world where something is shattered, where others are blamed for shattering it, but both the act of shattering it and the reactions to the shattering are just inherent and necessary manifestations of the only possible world?

Determinism versus Determinism
Nurana Rajabova is determined to sort it out.

That’s more or less me “here and now”. Then the part, however, where I flat-out acknowledge how the odds that my take on all of this is the correct one is almost certainly very, very, very remote. All someone need do is to bring back the fact that I haven’t a clue regarding how the human species fits into the existence of existence itself. And, of course, neither does anyone else here.

What I wouldn’t give for someone to actually explain this to me in such a way my own frame of mind here begins to crumble. I begin to see what I keep missing in the arguments of others. I begin to see the likelihood of moral responsibility “somehow” being applicable to human interactions.

On the other hand, back to this…

I come here one day arguing that I finally do grasp how one can be compelled to behave as they do but still be responsible. Only how do I know for sure whether in doing so this isn’t just another inherent manifestation of a wholly determined universe?

In the interim…

I know that I wonder about this all the time. Again, however, I wonder if all that I profess to know, I was never able not to profess to know.

determinism is incompatible with free will, but sovereignty is not, because it is a co-concurrence (between necessary & contingent beings) made possible by the omnitranstemporal eternally subsuming contingent beings

You are not missing anything the complexity involved is what frightens people, the belief in free will is in itself a simplification of the complexity of existence. It is nonsense of course, but it turns the mind-boggling complexity into something we can deal with as sin and blame. Sin is the foundation of the church, and blame is the foundation of the judicial system, it is more comfortable than dealing with overwhelming complexity or reality. I think most people given to thought would agree that all is process, what you did yesterday largely determines what you can do today.

If one were to embrace determinism one would notice an increase in one’s compassion for others, even as we often do for the animals in our lives. Like the animals in our lives, we too are reactionary creatures, the physical world acting upon us is cause to all reactive creatures and our reactions constitute causes that affect the physical world.

Another interesting thing about process is that the present always opens backward to wonder. We living our lives forward find we only begin to understand it backwardly. To reactive creatures there is no such thing as human action, there is but human reaction, for all behavioral movements must be motivated from the outside, and motivation spells reaction, not action.

Often in discussions on determinism, there are concerns about what to do with people who are dangerous to others and society at large. I do not think this is a problem. These people must be restrained as in when we believed in free will, but with an entirely new perspective and greater compassion for those conditioned negatively in the journey through their early life. I think also that embracing determinism would profoundly engage the mind affecting the way one views and has one’s life in the world, a much more profound experience than the belief in human action/ free will, what that might do to the gray matter of the population at large is up for speculation. Just the evolution of increased compassion in the face of life’s harsher realities would be a most interesting development.