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Free will vs. determinism

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 01:00 pm
@peacegirl,
peacegirl wrote:
Joe, one of the reasons (not the only reason) you are able to hurt me is because you know that if you are caught, you will definitely be blamed and punished, or you will have to give some kind of reasonable excuse to the authorities. Threats of blame and punishment actually give you the advance justification you need in order to act on your desires.

No, I can hurt you because I can inflict pain upon you. Blame and punishment don't enter into the equation. And I don't need any justification for hurting you, just as I don't need any justification for going to the circus. If I derive more satisfaction out of punching you in the face than I would by doing anything else, then that's all the justification I need. And, as I pointed out before, I can only assume that my satisfaction will be increased if I know I will not be blamed or suffer any retaliation if I punch you in the face.

peacegirl wrote:
If you did not have this justification, your conscience would not allow you to go ahead with your actions. Going to the circus hurts no one, so you don't need any justification. It's only when you are contemplating hurting something to hurt another that conscience comes into play.

How do you know I have a conscience? How do you know if anyone else has a conscience? Are you suggesting that Lessans's system only works on people who have a conscience?

peacegirl wrote:
It would be insane if we suddenly stopped blaming people. The author explicitly stated that this would make matters worse. People would take everything that is not nailed down. This law of our nature has to be understood and applied worldwide for this to be an impenetrable deterrent. Until the, we must continue to live in a world of judgment, blame, and punishment where police, politicians, and government have to control people's behavior.

That's fine, I have no problem with that. Clearly, there are a number of steps that we need to work through to get to the promised land. It seems, however, that Lessans is basing a good deal of his philosophy on assumptions about human nature that are, to say the least, idiosyncratic. And if those assumptions are wrong, then wouldn't you have to admit that the philosophic system must be wrong too?

peacegirl wrote:
I don't need any affirmation. I came here to share knowledge, that's all. And if you really don't think this author has anything to offer, you can move on to another thread. I don't mind answering your questions, but if you do stay here, I am asking you to stop belittling the author or I will choose, in the direction of greater satisfaction, to ignore you.

Fair enough.
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 01:32 pm
@joefromchicago,
peacegirl wrote:
Joe, one of the reasons (not the only reason) you are able to hurt me is because you know that if you are caught, you will definitely be blamed and punished, or you will have to give some kind of reasonable excuse to the authorities. Threats of blame and punishment actually give you the advance justification you need in order to act on your desires.

Joe: No, I can hurt you because I can inflict pain upon you. Blame and punishment don't enter into the equation. And I don't need any justification for hurting you, just as I don't need any justification for going to the circus. If I derive more satisfaction out of punching you in the face than I would by doing anything else, then that's all the justification I need. And, as I pointed out before, I can only assume that my satisfaction will be increased if I know I will not be blamed or suffer any retaliation if I punch you in the face.

peacegirl: Having the desire to hurt me would never be enough to justify what you are contemplating...in the new world, that is. There is no way you could desire to punch me in the face if you knew IN ADVANCE that not only I, but the whole world, would never hold you responsible, never criticize you blame or question you for what we now know is a compulsion beyond your control. You could never get satisfaction out of hurting me under these conditions. But it must be qualified that this would be a first blow, not a retaliatory blow. The author writes:

"In order to hurt another, either deliberately or carelessly, man must be able to derive greater, not less, satisfaction which means that self-preservation demands and justifies this; that he was previously hurt in some way and finds it preferable to strike back ‘an eye for an eye’, which he can also justify, or else he knows absolutely and positively that he would be blamed by the person he hurt and others if they knew."

peacegirl wrote:
If you did not have this justification, your conscience would not allow you to go ahead with your actions. Going to the circus hurts no one, so you don't need any justification. It's only when you are contemplating hurting something to hurt another that conscience comes into play.

joe: How do you know I have a conscience? How do you know if anyone else has a conscience? Are you suggesting that Lessans's system only works on people who have a conscience?

peacegirl: Yes, people are born with a conscience. But conscience can either be weakened or strengthened depending on the interaction between the individual and his environment.

peacegirl wrote:
It would be insane if we suddenly stopped blaming people. The author explicitly stated that this would make matters worse. People would take everything that is not nailed down. This law of our nature has to be understood and applied worldwide for this to be an impenetrable deterrent. Until the, we must continue to live in a world of judgment, blame, and punishment where police, politicians, and government have to control people's behavior.

Joe: That's fine, I have no problem with that. Clearly, there are a number of steps that we need to work through to get to the promised land. It seems, however, that Lessans is basing a good deal of his philosophy on assumptions about human nature that are, to say the least, idiosyncratic. And if those assumptions are wrong, then wouldn't you have to admit that the philosophic system must be wrong too?

peacegirl: Yes, if his observations (they are not assumptions, sorry) were inaccurate, then his discovery would be wrong. But his observations regarding human nature are not wrong; are not flawed; and they have no loopholes. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

peacegirl wrote:
I don't need any affirmation. I came here to share knowledge, that's all. And if you really don't think this author has anything to offer, you can move on to another thread. I don't mind answering your questions, but if you do stay here, I am asking you to stop belittling the author or I will choose, in the direction of greater satisfaction, to ignore you.

Joe: Fair enough.
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 01:33 pm
@peacegirl,
If it's helped you, that's a good thing.
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 01:42 pm
@Arjuna,
Thanks!
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 01:46 pm
peacegirl wrote:
There will be more questions because of it. I've been there and done that, and I choose not to do it again

It's called discussion.
Quote:
It's not fair that people expect a cliff note on such an important topic. I'm not going to jeopardize this work just to prove to people that I understand this knowledge myself.

There are many substantial philosophical works that have cliffnotes. While one won't be able to write a comprehensive and detailed analysis of a work from a cliffnote, it is most definitely not an injustice to the author to clearly write out some of the main points and/or arguments from a particular work -- and it can really be helpful to those who aren't familiar with that particular author or idea (hint, hint). It's normal, peacegirl, even though you've convinced yourself it isn't.

You understand his arguments clearly and yet you can't articulate what they are. Fine. Then you can't. But I'm lost as to why you created a thread then. Most people create threads when they want to begin discussions. You simply created this one so that you could paste another man's work? Fair enough, I guess.
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 03:50 pm
According to Lessans in pages 28 through 31 of Chapter One, free will does not exist because it cannot be mathematically proven. For something to be mathematically provable it must be reversible. The choices one makes must be reversible, and choices once made cannot be reversed, therefore free will is not mathematically provable, therefore free will does not exist.
Zetherin
 
  2  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 03:55 pm
@InfraBlue,
Since when does something have to be "mathematically proven" to exist? Is the existence of my couch "mathematically proven"?

If the argument is:
(1) Things exist iff they are mathematically proven
(2) Free will is not mathematically proven
(c) Therefore free will does not exist

I question premise (1).
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 04:00 pm
@Zetherin,
I second the question.
0 Replies
 
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 07:26 pm
@Zetherin,
peacegirl: There will be more questions because of it. I've been there and done that, and I choose not to do it again

Zetherin: It's called discussion.

peacegirl: Discussions are okay as long as people don't draw premature conclusions when they don't get a complete grasp of the material. Reading the book and then having a discussion, or reading a chapter at a time and then having a discussion are much better alternatives.

Quote:
It's not fair that people expect a cliff note on such an important topic. I'm not going to jeopardize this work just to prove to people that I understand this knowledge myself.

Zetherin: There are many substantial philosophical works that have cliffnotes. While one won't be able to write a comprehensive and detailed analysis of a work from a cliffnote, it is most definitely not an injustice to the author to clearly write out some of the main points and/or arguments from a particular work -- and it can really be helpful to those who aren't familiar with that particular author or idea (hint, hint). It's normal, peacegirl, even though you've convinced yourself it isn't.

peacegirl: The reason I am not attempting this is because I gave you on a silver platter the few pages that explain why man's will is not free. I have no idea why you don't want to read it when it would only take 10 minutes of your time.

Zetherin: You understand his arguments clearly and yet you can't articulate what they are. Fine. Then you can't. But I'm lost as to why you created a thread then. Most people create threads when they want to begin discussions. You simply created this one so that you could paste another man's work? Fair enough, I guess.

peacegirl: Actually, I don't usually cut and paste. This was done for your benefit, so you wouldn't have to go wading through the book. Actually, in talking to Joe, I have answered some questions. If you want to ask more questions without reading anything, I will try to answer them but I cannot guarantee that the answers will be satisfactory in your eyes. I put the book online for a reason, so that people would have access to the full text. Being unfamiliar with an idea is all the more reason to read the text. Anything less will not do it justice. I guess if he was well known, you would have devoured the book by now.
0 Replies
 
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 07:29 pm
@InfraBlue,
Wrong. He was just trying to show that free will could never be proven true because in order to do this you need to reverse time, undo what has already been done, and then show that A could have been chosen instead of B. He did not say that free will was not true; he said it could not be proven true. That also means that determinism cannot be proven false, for if it was proven false, that would make free will true, and that is impossible to do. But this does not mean that determinism cannot be proven true. These are facts, not theory.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 07:30 pm
peacegirl wrote:
I have no idea why you don't want to read it when it would only take 10 minutes of your time.

Because philosophizing isn't about simply reading another man's work and understanding what they have to say about the matter. That's what people who want to trick people into believing they are intelligent do. They'll spew out memorized rationales from popular philosophers, but when asked to think about the matter themselves, they are unable to. I want you to think about the matter yourself, and then run your thoughts by me and the others here.
peacegirl wrote:
If you want to ask more questions without reading anything, I will try to answer them but I cannot guarantee that the answers will be satisfactory in your eyes.

Fair enough.

My question is, what is your argument that free will does not exist? Is it the one I gave above?
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 07:32 pm
@Zetherin,
peacegirl: I have no idea why you don't want to read it when it would only take 10 minutes of your time.

Zetherin: Because philosophizing isn't about simply reading another man's work and understanding what they have to say about the matter. That's what people who want to trick people into believing they are intelligent do. They'll spew out memorized rationales from popular philosophers, but when asked to think about the matter themselves, they are unable to. I want you to think about the matter yourself, and then run your thoughts by me and the others here.

peacegirl: As I said, I already answered Joe's questions. Why don't you reread them. They came directly from me in my own words.

peacegirl wrote:
If you want to ask more questions without reading anything, I will try to answer them but I cannot guarantee that the answers will be satisfactory in your eyes.

Zetherin: Fair enough.

My question is, what is your argument that free will does not exist? Is it the one I gave above?

peacegirl: He did not say that free will didn't exist. He said free will could never be proven true, for in order to prove it, you have to do the impossible. But that does not mean determinism cannot be proven true.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 07:39 pm
@peacegirl,
peacegirl wrote:
No, that only demonstrates why free will can never be proven true.

What it would prove, if the argument was sound, is that free will does not exist. But what I am questioning is premise (1), and I would like someone to address that. Can you be that person?
Quote:
It does not prove determinism true.

Do you have an argument that proves determinism is true, or did you just want to note this?
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 07:46 pm
@Zetherin,
peacegirl wrote:
No, that only demonstrates why free will can never be proven true.
What it would prove, if the argument was sound, is that free will does not exist. But what I am questioning is premise (1), and I would like someone to address that. Can you be that person?

Quote:
It does not prove determinism true.
Do you have an argument that proves determinism is true?

peacegirl: That's what I posted for your reading pleasure. Smile
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 07:46 pm
peacegirl wrote:
He did not say that free will didn't exist. He said free will could never be proven true, for in order to prove it, you have to do the impossible

Ah, now we're getting somewhere.

What did he mean that we have to do the impossible? Or what do you think he meant?
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 08:39 pm
@peacegirl,
peacegirl wrote:
Having the desire to hurt me would never be enough to justify what you are contemplating...in the new world, that is.

Well, that may be true, but then we never get to the new world if Lessans is wrong about human nature in the first place. My questions aren't directed to what humans would do in the "new world," but rather what they do now.

peacegirl wrote:
There is no way you could desire to punch me in the face if you knew IN ADVANCE that not only I, but the whole world, would never hold you responsible, never criticize you blame or question you for what we now know is a compulsion beyond your control. You could never get satisfaction out of hurting me under these conditions. But it must be qualified that this would be a first blow, not a retaliatory blow.

Why is that? Because my conscience would bother me too much? What if I didn't have a conscience?

peacegirl wrote:
The author writes:

"In order to hurt another, either deliberately or carelessly, man must be able to derive greater, not less, satisfaction which means that self-preservation demands and justifies this; that he was previously hurt in some way and finds it preferable to strike back ‘an eye for an eye’, which he can also justify, or else he knows absolutely and positively that he would be blamed by the person he hurt and others if they knew."

Self-preservation? How did that get stuck in there? Is there a requirement that satisfaction must, in some way, derive from the desire for self-preservation?

peacegirl wrote:
Yes, people are born with a conscience. But conscience can either be weakened or strengthened depending on the interaction between the individual and his environment.

What about sociopaths who feel no guilt or remorse whatsoever? Do they get to do whatever they want in the "new world" because no one will blame them or retaliate against them? Or does Lessans deny that they even exist?

peacegirl wrote:
Yes, if his observations (they are not assumptions, sorry) were inaccurate, then his discovery would be wrong. But his observations regarding human nature are not wrong; are not flawed; and they have no loopholes. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

How do you know his observations are correct? Are those observations deductive or inductive?
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Aug, 2010 05:26 am
@Zetherin,
If you believe we can reverse time and undo what has already been done, then you will disagree that free will cannot be proven true. But I accept this fact. If you don't, then you are entitled to disagree but I'm not interested in discussing it further. The author writes:

"If it is mathematically impossible to prove something true, whatever
that something is, is it possible to prove the opposite of that
something false? Isn’t it obvious that the answer must be no, it is
not possible unless the person asked does not understand the
question. In other words, if determinism could be proven false, this
would automatically prove free will true, and we just demonstrated
that this is impossible unless we can turn back the clock. How is it
possible to prove free will true when this requires doing something
that is mathematically impossible? We can never undo what has
already been done. Therefore, the first step is to prove undeniably
that whatever your reasons for believing free will true cannot be
accurate because it is impossible to prove this theory since proof
requires going back in time, so to speak, and demonstrating that
man could have chosen otherwise. Since it is utterly impossible to
reverse the order of time, which is absolutely necessary for
mathematical proof, the most we can do is assume that he didn’t
have to do what he did.”
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Aug, 2010 05:37 am
@joefromchicago,
peacegirl wrote:
Having the desire to hurt me would never be enough to justify what you are contemplating...in the new world, that is.

joe: Well, that may be true, but then we never get to the new world if Lessans is wrong about human nature in the first place. My questions aren't directed to what humans would do in the "new world," but rather what they do now.

peacegirl: What many people do is find ways to get around the penal system in order to get what they want. In fact, some get great satisfaction in just seeing if they can beat the system and not get caught.

peacegirl wrote:
There is no way you could desire to punch me in the face if you knew IN ADVANCE that not only I, but the whole world, would never hold you responsible, never criticize you blame or question you for what we now know is a compulsion beyond your control. You could never get satisfaction out of hurting me under these conditions. But it must be qualified that this would be a first blow, not a retaliatory blow.

joe: Why is that? Because my conscience would bother me too much? What if I didn't have a conscience?

peacegirl: But you would have a conscience. If you read the last part of Chapter Two, this transition to the new world would occur under global conditions where the perpetrator could no longer justify doing what he did before. If this basic principle failed to work for a few whose consciences have been severed (and there is no way to know until all blame and punishment ceases), we would know that this person is mentally ill and would get him help, just like they do in today's world. But mental illness itself will be virtually non-existent as a new generation is born and children are brought up in a completely different environment.

The author writes:

"In order to hurt another, either deliberately or carelessly, man must be able to derive greater, not less, satisfaction which means that self-preservation demands and justifies this; that he was previously hurt in some way and finds it preferable to strike back ‘an eye for an eye’, which he can also justify, or else he knows absolutely and positively that he would be blamed by the person he hurt and others if they knew."

joe: Self-preservation? How did that get stuck in there? Is there a requirement that satisfaction must, in some way, derive from the desire for self-preservation?

peacegirl: No Joe. That's not what he is saying. If you had just read the book you wouldn't have this question. Self-preservation is the need to preserve oneself. If one is hungry and he has no way to get food, then hurting you to get food is necessary if one doesn't want to become a loser. The hurt to the one who is hungry is a first blow, so this action on his part would be justified and his conscience would permit the theft. Only when something is a first blow; something that is done to gain at someone else's expense, will conscience be affected and not permit the action because it would be unjustifiable.


peacegirl wrote:
Yes, people are born with a conscience. But conscience can either be weakened or strengthened depending on the interaction between the individual and his environment.

joe: What about sociopaths who feel no guilt or remorse whatsoever? Do they get to do whatever they want in the "new world" because no one will blame them or retaliate against them? Or does Lessans deny that they even exist?

peacegirl: Of course sociopaths exist, but you can't even begin to project the power of this law of our nature. Also, when the causes that led to a person to become a psychopath or a sociopath will no longer be. Even those children who may be born with a predisposition to lash out when hurt, will be prevented. Just like someone may have a predisposition to a certain illness, doesn't mean it will automatically manifest itself. It takes a combination of environmental and hereditary factors for it to become a full blown disease.

peacegirl wrote:
Yes, if his observations (they are not assumptions, sorry) were inaccurate, then his discovery would be wrong. But his observations regarding human nature are not wrong; are not flawed; and they have no loopholes. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

joe: How do you know his observations are correct? Are those observations deductive or inductive?

peacegirl: Inductive reasoning because it is a psychological law that applies to everyone, just like one plus one equals two can be counted on no matter what two items you are being added together.
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Aug, 2010 07:25 am
@peacegirl,
Being able to reverse time would be helpful sometimes.

I say I am in possession of will and through it I make choices.

When I say that, I'm describing my experience. The only way you could understand the statement is if it describes your experience as well.

I'm experiencing certain things now.... the bright white of this screen, for instance. As I stare at the screen, the fact that it's white is not subject to proof, because I can't doubt it.

You can't really ever prove that which can't be doubted. You can never be in a state in which there can be any gain in confidence.

So I can't doubt that volition is part of my experience. I know it is. Being without volition is also part of my experience... as when I'm floating passively in a creek. I also see it in the hospital where I work when a person receives a paralytic agent. This renders the person completely nonvolitional as far as I can tell. But my intuition is that if the person is still conscious, he or she still retains some measure of volition regarding attitude. Only if a strong sedative has also been administered, obliterating consciousness, would I imagine that all volition is gone. At that point, the Person is temporarily gone. What's left is living meat. When the surgeon is finished fixing the plumbing, we wait. Without the drugs, the motor cortex will recover. In a few hours consciousness will reappear. In due course, the living meat will have changed into the vehicle by which the Person seeks dominion over his environment. Volition has returned.

I have no way to doubt my own experience. I'm always free to question my interpretations of events, though.

I can imagine that what I'm calling a volitional Person, though it seems different from living meat, it's not. I realize that what I'm assuming is that the source of the Person's movement is within.... the Person.

What if that's false? What if the living meat moves in the same way a cloud moves? The source of the movement is the source of all movement.... whatever that is... Big Bang, maybe.

Maybe what I've been calling a Person is actually mechanical, so it moves the living meat like the mechanism of a clock moves the hands.

As mightly as logic may be that my interpretation of what I see is false... (and it's mighty enough to be undeniable) there's no logic that can touch my own direct experience. There is Will. And it's mine.

I can't prove it... because I can't doubt it.
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Aug, 2010 08:08 am
@Arjuna,
peacegirl: I happen to agree with you. I don't know what you've read of this book, but the author never said we don't have a will, which is part of our personal experience. He is just demonstrating that it is not a free will. This is where he separates himself from the conventional definition that says we are driven by outside forces with no say in the matter.
 

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