3
   

Absolute determinism and the illusion of free will.

 
 
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2003 05:26 pm
The evidence is clearly out there. Our emotions are determined by hormones, our thoughts by electrochemical impulses. And these in turn are dependent upon the sensory input we recieve, the food and chemicals we absorb. And these inputs we recieve, these chemicals that we absorb, these impulses that we experience are in turn all governed by absolute laws of physics.

I can explain in far greater detail if it proves neccesary but in a sense I'm argueing that everything we think and feel is a direct by product of things beyond our realm of control.

In a far more simplistic sense. We are a byproduct of our genes and environmental influences neither of which we have any real contorl over. Person x grows up in a small arab community that preaches hatred for America. All their lives, they've been taught by islamic extremists that they must kill the infidels. All their lives, their parents have spoonfed them horror stories about the atrocious acts and injustices these infidels commit against them. All their lives, they've seen terrorists and suicide bombers celebrated as heros, they have witness the most prominent and respected members of their community sing them praises, compensate and care for their families after their death. Is person x to blame if they were to become terrorists themselves? Now consider that had person x grown up in a different community, had they been educated with love and compassion, they would be the most kind hearted, gentle and loving of individuals.

So if that is the case, is there isn't such a thing as free will. Is there any amount of randomness to the universe, to life itself. Or we simply no more than complex machines spewing out predeterminable outputs based on a plethora of predetermined inputs and precise calculations based on the laws of physics, equations with far too many variables to be even be aware of it to it's full extent. And if such were the case, can we really be blamed for our actions? Do we have any real control over our lives?

As for the possible uncertainity introduced by the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, that interpretation while popular 20 years ago is no longer seen as the dominant one. It is quite probable if not likely that the seemingly inexplicable observations in Quantum Mechanics have a deterministic explanation.

In short, nothing in science points to randomness in the universe, all phenomena that are currently explained are done so with a simple causal relationship. And a universe governed by causation is one that is predetermined.
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 33,169 • Replies: 493
No top replies

 
perception
 
  0  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2003 05:46 pm
Centroles

The debate of whether or not we have free will or if it's just an illusion is always an interesting one and it has been carried out a couple of times here but since there can never be a firm conclusion let's go through it again.

Some can argue that everything is interconnected and therefore every action is predetermined.

I will cast my vote in the opposite direction and say that every act is random and that each and every decision has been made after considering two or more choices.
0 Replies
 
Centroles
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2003 06:16 pm
So at what level is this randomness generated, at the neurochemical level, at the atomic level?

I don't understand how you can see every act is random if you can't point to any particular part in the chain of events that leads to an act that isn't a simple action, reaction.
0 Replies
 
rufio
 
  0  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2003 06:32 pm
A human being is more than biology and culture. The fact that you can ignore your biological needs if you have to and throw out cultural practices and beliefs that you don't like is proof enough of that, I think.
0 Replies
 
Centroles
 
  0  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2003 06:52 pm
That's a simplistic way of looking at it. What are your motivations for ignoring your biological needs: to protect those that you care for because of the sensory stimuluses you associated with them? Would a person be willing to do the same for strangers who they never met? Is it because they are any less human, or because you have less stimuluses associated with them? Or perhaps if you would do the same, is it simply because of the positive reinforcement you've recieved or seen other people recieve for commiting acts of seeming selflessness, the postive reinforcement you've been conditioned to associate with such acts?

Why do you not like these cultural practices that you throw down? Is it random? Or is it a direct byproduct of your own personal experiences and sensation? Is it simply because of what you have been psychologically conditioned to associate with these practies?
0 Replies
 
rufio
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2003 07:32 pm
"Would a person be willing to do the same for strangers who they never met?"

Depends on the person. There's a couple people on this forum who insist they would.

I don't think we have free will because we act randomly - I agree with you that we don't, we act mostly according to outside stimuli. However, we also do a lot of things for no particular reason at all,. like deciding to glance out the window, and there is always the possibility that you will act against every stimulus just for the hell of it. That's why we have free will. Not only that, but for every set of stimuli, there are multiple paths that don't contradict them. You still have the freedom to choose one over another, albeit within certain constraints.
0 Replies
 
satt fs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2003 07:58 pm
A few words, I think, will suffice.
There is no deterministic explanation of phenomena experienced by humans.
0 Replies
 
SealPoet
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2003 09:04 pm
If free will is an illusion, it is an illusion I am predestined to believe that I have.
0 Replies
 
rufio
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2003 10:22 pm
If thinking is predestined, why even bother?
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2003 10:47 pm
This world may be only illusion--but it's the only illusion we've got.
0 Replies
 
satt fs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2003 10:58 pm
If one is isolated the life is an illusion, if connected (with love or hate) the life is the reality.
0 Replies
 
Centroles
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2003 12:58 pm
i'm not saying that life is an illusion. simply that the notion of having free will is an illusion. because everything that we do, and everything that we are is a direct byproduct of everything that has happened in the past.

i'm posting what i am right now because of the specific genes i've inherited, the specific experiences i have seen which formulated the neurons in my brain in a specific fashion, the proteins and hormones inside me right now based on what i ate in the past few weeks.

and each of these events were themselves a direct byproduct of what happened in the past.

and what i am doing now, which is like i said directly as a result of what happened in the past will contribute to what happened in the future.

thus if everything we do now is a result of what happened in the past and everything we do a moment from now is a result of the past and what we are doing right now, then essentially, everything is an action reaction chain that we have no control over.

thus, we effectively have no free will.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2003 01:10 pm
Centroles wrote:
i'm not saying that life is an illusion. simply that the notion of having free will is an illusion. because everything that we do, and everything that we are is a direct byproduct of everything that has happened in the past.


The part about "everything that we do, and everything that we are is a direct byproduct of everything that has happened in the past" can be true...

...and we can still have "free will."

They don't appear to me to be mutually exclusive.

I'd be interested to see you attempt to make the case that they are.


Quote:
i'm posting what i am right now because of the specific genes i've inherited, the specific experiences i have seen which formulated the neurons in my brain in a specific fashion, the proteins and hormones inside me right now based on what i ate in the past few weeks and each of these events were themselves a direct byproduct of what happened in the past.


Even if this were true -- and I am not at all sure it is -- the same comment I made earlier holds.

All that being true does not preclude "free will."


Quote:
...and what i am doing now, which is like i said directly as a result of what happened in the past will contribute to what happened in the future.


Yeah...and so what???


Quote:
...thus if everything we do now is a result of what happened in the past and everything we do a moment from now is a result of the past and what we are doing right now, then essentially, everything is an action reaction chain that we have no control over. thus, we effectively have no free will.


I wish I knew the proper philosophical expression for the fallacy in this bit of "reasoning", but I don't. It is fallacious nonetheless.
0 Replies
 
perception
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2003 02:01 pm
centroles wrote:
and what i am doing now, which is like i said directly as a result of what happened in the past will contribute to what happened in the future.


There is no denying that what has happened up to this instant is linked to something in the past but not necessarily caused by everything that has happened in the past. I believe you are confusing causation and linkage. Your genetic makeup has an impact on the decisions you make would not directly cause a certain decision. The same logic applies when using your past experience when making a decision----you may not have any experience which is applicable to your next decision therefore you must abtain new information. The new information may or mayNOT have any link to any past information therefor the chain is broken.

If this is not the case----what proof can you offer that I'm wrong.

BTW---if your scenario is correct then we can never hold any criminal responsible for a crime and we should immediately release all criminals from prison.
Following the same logic then God(if there is one) is the originator of sin----so in essence God and the Devil are one and the same.
0 Replies
 
Sheep
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2003 11:23 pm
I don't believe that all of our actions are predetermined or forced upon us. What I do agree with is that our actions are dictated by stimulus from the past, but that is unavoidable in any situation.

Our actions are a combined result of our genes, subconscious, and our parents. At a very young age we imitate and later on copy our parents in order to learn how to interact and manipulate the world. They dictate all of our social reactions up to a certain age. Then, we act from our subconscious either as Pavlovian reactions or ways to solve our internal conflicts. Finally, the genes ultimately choose what traits we inherit from our parents, how seriously conflicts affect our lives, and what choices we make. But the only uncertainty that I can possibly come up with is the mix of chemicals in our body at any one time, and even then our genes make the final decision on what we do.

I don't believe that all of our actions are predetermined or forced upon us simply because our genes are an integral part of who we are and only external forces can take away your free will.
0 Replies
 
Centroles
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2003 10:56 pm
I guess before we can have this discussion, we must first decide on what free will is.

I think of it as choice. There is something innate inside of us that directs our actions, our soul, our very essense. This essence of us is what actually directs or atleast influences our actions. And this is free will.

I don't believe such an essence exists. Atleast I don't believe there is any evidence to believe it does.

I believe that our brain is no different than a very intricate and complex computer. Our genes are the basic hardware, the architecture with which to code off of us. Our experiences and the inputs that we recieve continuosly adapt and change our programming, the algorithims with which the output is determined. These algorithams are analogous to the chemicals and toxins we take in and how they effect us; the stimuli we recieve and how we steadily become desensitized to it, due to the down regulaton of neuroreceptors; how all these influences our dendritic cells to direct the growth of neurons at certain locations, to congegrate into certain neural centers, to associate in specific ways.

I believe that there is nothing more to us than this. There is no innate soul that directs our actions. We are in every sense of the word highly complex and specialized machines (directed to evolve and reproduce ourselves, with the fittest being the most likely to suceed, identical to how certain complex algorithams operate to find the simplest, most efficent process).

And I believe that our brain is no more than an incredibly complex and powerful computer. It's based upon our genes, which we have no control over, it's programmed based on the inputs we recieve, which we also have no control over. And using these two, our brain spits out an output based on these inputs. There is nothing else at work here (I challenge any of you to find evidence that we are influenced by anything other than these two mechanisms).

So if we really are analogous to computers, if there is no innate soul or being that directs our actions. If everything that we do, everything that we are is due to things which we have no control over. Then do we really have any more control over what we do than a computer does over the output it spits out? Without such a control, we clearly have no free will. Such a thing, a free will doesn't exist.

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, neither can energy. Nothing in this universe can be created or destroyed. And everything else that happens in the universe is a direct result of everything that has happened to it. Nothing else has control over what it does. If one car hits another car head on, both cars slow down. One car can't choose to simply not slow down. The car's movement is controlled entirely by the forces/influences acting upon it. So what is allows us to believe that thought is any diffent. What allows us to believe that we can do something that ISN'T controlled entirely by the forces/influences acting upon us?

The entire notion of free will depends on something, a soul persay, that comes from within and influences our actions independtly of the forces/external influences acting upon us. But as far I am concerned, to believe that is no different that the car can act indepently form the forces/external influences acting upon it, that the car can make it's own force and thus direct it's own motion. I don't believe that being able to do so merely violates a law of physics. I believe that it violates a law of logic. Something can't come from nothing. Free will/free choice also cannot arise from nothing. It is an illusion we accept to believe that we are more than mere objects. It is one that persists because the incredible amount of influences that direct our actions can't possibly be comprehended and anaylized, that the complexity of the computer that directs our actions (the brain) can't be fully understood. But never the less, there is an inherent unwavering pattern, an incredibly complex but set in stone series of actions and reactions, that underlie every decision we make.

Thus I believe we have no free will. And while practicaly this isn't feasable, no one is truly responsible for their actions.
0 Replies
 
Centroles
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2003 11:02 pm
In fact, I would go far as to say that there is no inherent difference between living and nonliving matter except for perhaps the number of chemical interactions going on and the complexity of the mechanims that underlie them.
0 Replies
 
Terry
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Dec, 2003 01:31 pm
Centroles, I agree with just about everything you said about the brain, except for your conclusion. Smile

There is an enormous difference between the human brain and a computer: we are self-aware. Somehow this conglomeration of neurons and chemicals is able to generate consciousness from sensory input combined with information stored in memory. Because we can remember the past and predict the future based on what we have learned about how the world works, we can evaluate the consequences of our actions. Empathy allows us to predict the behavior of others based on our own motivations.

Certainly we are influenced by our past experiences and constrained by the limits of the organic brain constructed by our genes. But we are not just machines locked into rigid patterns of behavior. We may not have immortal souls, but we do have minds that can evaluate present circumstances and consciously choose among myriad possible options.

If free will were just an illusion, we would not have the creativity to invent all of the marvelous wonders of human arts and engineering, not the least of which is the computer on which I am typing.

BTW, free will is what allows you and me to look at the same data and come up with completely different conclusions! :wink:
0 Replies
 
Centroles
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Dec, 2003 01:52 pm
Terry, that's where I differ from you. I believe that we reached different conclusions not because of free will but because we are indeed working with radically different data (the many experiences I've had in my life) and with very different hardware as well (due to genetic differences, and the chemicals and toxins we've taken up).

And I believe that what is often mistaken for creativity often simply stems from our inability to fully comprehend the mechanisms which we use to formulate our output (our thoughts and ideas).

That what seems to be random behavior (free will as you call it) indeed stems from our inability to comprehend the many many different influences that have shaped us and the complex mechanisms with which we rach a conclusion.

I believe that this whole concept of conciousness, of self-awareness are indeed also illusions. They stem entirely from this sensory input and the information stored in memories.

And I believe that when we finally do design a computer that's influenced by (programmed by) as many different environmental stimuli as we are, that has as complex a circuitary as that which can be found in our brain, we'll have a machine that is every bit as random, every bit as able to predict future behavior, consequences, empathize with similar computers etc. And it will do all this just as unsuccessfully as we often do.
0 Replies
 
jonat3
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Dec, 2003 09:04 pm
I think there are some occasions where free will may exist.
For example, take the hormone adrenaline. All humans can produce this hormone, but some are better at it than others. That could be genetic, but people can also be trained to produce it. The information for the production of adrenaline is within the genes themselves. However to be able to produce it is mostly dependent on environmental influence. Environmental influence determines wether that part of the genes will be activated to produce the hormone.

I believe the above process may be the same with gays. Some people may have a larger tendency to be gays, because of their genes, but the environmental influence determines wether that part of the gene is activated or not ( of course this is my hypothesis, dont take it for truth ).
Now some would argue that some people become gays without that person being given outside influence ( meaning that they were raised to be hetero, yet they still have urges, so they possess "free will" ). I disagree there. Environmental influence is not only the way we are raised, etcetera. Environmental influence also implies the things we eat, drink, etc. Those things have also an effect on the human psyche. Chocolate for example has an aphridosiac in it. For all it takes, that person may love a particular type of food and that food contains chemicals that make activation of the "gay gene" more likely. Or perhaps he stood too long in front of the microwave and it altered his brainwaves, who knows.
What i'm trying to say is that concepts like genes and environmental influence are much more complex than that and a simple way to approach this question may not be possible.
The choice to become hetero or gay is emotionbased IMO. And emotion in itself is hormone-based.

So the question remains, does free will exist? I think that we have far less free will than people think, but i still do think it exists. For example, what would a computer do if a problem arises and it has insufficient data? Suppose there does not exist a God. Things like "Good" and "Evil" would not really exist then. Such things would only exist if God existed. If a computer would have the problem of choosing one concept over the other and no God existed, it wouldn't matter which concept the computer chose. Evil wouldn't really be evil and good wouldn't really be good, so it wouldn't matter which concept the computer chose. The choice in this case would be RANDOM.
My point? Random situations do exist. Electricity for example can run through a medium in one direction. However if you researched the movement of the electrons themselves, you would find that movement to be completely random. And out of randomness does "free will" spring forth.

Of course the above argument relies heavily on the fact that there exists randomness in physics. If randomness doesn't exist in physics, then every action and reaction would be predetermined. Predeterminaion negates free will.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

How can we be sure? - Discussion by Raishu-tensho
Proof of nonexistence of free will - Discussion by litewave
morals and ethics, how are they different? - Question by existential potential
Destroy My Belief System, Please! - Discussion by Thomas
Star Wars in Philosophy. - Discussion by Logicus
Existence of Everything. - Discussion by Logicus
Is it better to be feared or loved? - Discussion by Black King
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Absolute determinism and the illusion of free will.
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.05 seconds on 06/15/2021 at 05:29:13