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What is free will?

 
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jul, 2013 09:11 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I was compelled by the sheer amount of nonsense I read in it if I had a choice I wouldn't even be replying to it....Wink
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jul, 2013 09:27 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
When you claim there are "the sheer amount of nonsense," you need to explain which statement(s) you're talking about.

As for eating, many in this world eat with western-style utensils, many use chopsticks, and many use their bare hands. Culture has influence in many of our habits. I learned to use chopsticks when I was very young as did billions of others on this planet.

Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jul, 2013 09:32 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I can only thank you for making my point...congratulations you just described a deterministic perspective on why people chose to eat with A, B, or C tools...choices have reasons !
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jul, 2013 09:44 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
The choices in how to eat were established by culture. That's the reason why I said we are the product of our genes and our environment. They are not "predetermined" based on your concept of that word. Families/parents influence their children's habits based on their culture. Before they came to the US, they used chopsticks. Since I'm third generation American, I use chopsticks, utensils, or my hand to eat. Once we have free will, we can choose whatever method of eating we wish. They are not "predeterined." I choose the method all by myself. I can eat Asian food with utensils or eat with my hand. That's free will.

I can even bend over my plate and eat directly from it - if that was to be my choice.




Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jul, 2013 10:02 pm
@cicerone imposter,
It is the choice you feel like you want but that choice has you pointed out has cultural reasons or when not cultural particular good reasons its not like a randomly peaked choice you felt like it...even when people claim they can make random choices tests have shown with advance the spike of one choice coming up in EMR before the chooser was aware of his choice...but then again for the hundred time even if you could do totally random choices those choices would be originated by randomness n not by "you"... how many times do I have to repeat that there is not a single well known spokesman for free will taking indeterminism as an argument for free will...
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jul, 2013 10:13 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Randomness is what allows us to choose. Why are you on a2k posting your opinions? Out of all the choices you have, you chose to come here to post.

Nobody directed you to come here, and it was not "predetermined" but you chose to come here all on your own at the moment you decided to do it.
Nobody else could have predicted what your choice would be a minute, ten minute, or a half hour before you decided to post on a2k. NOBODY.

Maybe, a fraction of a second or a little more before, but that's stretching predetermined to a ridiculous conclusion.

How many options do you think you had before deciding to post on a2k?
One, ten, hundred, a thousand?


Fil Albuquerque
 
  2  
Reply Fri 19 Jul, 2013 10:40 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Again if it is a RANDOM choice you are not making that choice the choice just popped in your mind randomly very much like throwing a dice...authorship of choice requires determinism this is consensual throughout all the spectrum of expert free will advocates. How could it be otherwise ? Where is "agenticity" if the choice is the product of random behaviour ?
tomr
 
  3  
Reply Fri 19 Jul, 2013 11:04 pm
@Olivier5,
Quote:
That person you hear is you. It only looks like it's a different person doing the thinking. And perhaps it is something like another stream, network or center of thoughts or whatever, different from the one listening. Because as soon as you chose to focus your attention on watching your own thought process, you opt for the position of spectator or auditor of yourself. You double up.

But you can also opt for a less self-conscient approach and focus more on the action, like when you drive. And then you become the actor, and you may not keep too many mental notes of what happens in your mind, when you make those choices. You're in a different mental place then, in the driver seat.

What you are saying is that we can go two routes. One is the route where we analyze our thoughts as I suggest and then learn something about the nature of our decision making process. Or the second route is to essential ignore such attempts to understand these internal processes but rather fly around without bothering to question anything. It seems to me that the smart thing to do would be to follow option one. That's if you really want to know anything. Because you are not going to learn anything about these internal processes by flying around in the racecar seat of your mind never to question what is really making the turns. And that is the whole point of the exercise, which is to learn something about the the nature of your decision making process.

You do not need to step back from you thought process at the same time you are trying to think through what city to pick. That's what you have memory for. Do the exercise and be mindful and remember every step you take that gets you to the decision. Then when the decision is made make the effort to analyze the origins of every reason and desire that brought you to that choice. It really is very simple. You will find you are not aware of being the source of those reasons and desires. If you are having trouble keeping track of the process write it down. The first thing you right down after asking yourself to pick a city is the thing you should be concerned with the most. Because that first thing originated based on no concious choice on your part. Other things can then follow from the first as a jumping off point.

I just did the exercise and the first thing I was aware of after I asked the question was an image of a brick building. It wasn't anything specific but as soon as I gave the comand "Pick a city." there was the image of some unknown semi-generic building. This is how the mind works. It associates thoughts with other mental phenomena and what you get is what you get. Then I kind of get a rough layout of the United States from some kind of darkened arial view. Then a city like New York comes to mind.

Now I can come up with reasons for why I want one city over another but the same thing happens when I need reasons. They come out of a place unknown to me in that same manner. "This city is closer to where I live." or "This city is bigger." or whatever. And if you have to decide between the two reasons, then keep being aware because you will find the same phenomenon. Things just kind of float into your awareness with out your pre-approval.

To understand this you cannot be biased one way or the other. You just really need to take some time out for a day or two and really question the ultimate origins of your choices. Or using your analogy, get out of the driver seat and look at whats going on outside. You might find your race car rides on rails.



reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 07:02 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
I have not read all of tomr's replies but it does seem like tomr and Fil Albuquerque have the best working model about behavior.

I personally think that we are like biological machines that are preprogrammed and updated continuously by our environment. There seems to be chemical reactions going on in our brains that are stimulated by our environment and depending on how our prewired "so to speak" brain likes or dislikes the question it will respond accordingly with help from the memory and what ever else it uses to make a decision.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 08:50 am
@tomr,
Quote:
What you are saying is that we can go two routes. One is the route where we analyze our thoughts as I suggest and then learn something about the nature of our decision making process. Or the second route is to essential ignore such attempts to understand these internal processes but rather fly around without bothering to question anything.

Not at all. What I am saying is: you can chose different loci in your mind, the doer or the listener for instance, and each locus has its perspective. If you focus on listening it will feel as if somebody else was doing the thinking, but that's an illusion inherent to your perspective.

As an aside, I do think that one should exercise caution in deriving conclusions from observing oneself. Introspection can be illusionary. The mind is not fully transparent to itself and there's no reason to believe introspection will always work. Conscience is not omniscience.

Quote:
Now I can come up with reasons for why I want one city over another but the same thing happens when I need reasons. They come out of a place unknown to me in that same manner. "This city is closer to where I live." or "This city is bigger." or whatever. And if you have to decide between the two reasons, then keep being aware because you will find the same phenomenon. Things just kind of float into your awareness with out your pre-approval.

I agree that's what's happening. IMO it's a Darwinian process by which ideas are generated randomly and selected non-randomly. But I don't see how it invalidates free will as long as, in the end, you consciously make the choice of going for this or that city, or applying this or that criteria to select it.

In the end, it boils down to the question of the utility of conscience. Why would nature bother for creating something so bizarre, if it performed no function at all?

Imagine a man without conscience. The kibd of man you described, always in the driving seat. Can you with your world view account for any difference between that man and a self-conscious man?
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 09:55 am
@Olivier5,
Where one decides to live is a good example of free will. The reason we live here in Sunnyvale, CA, is based on several reasons. One is that Sunnyvale is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, and job opportunities have been very good here - even for non-engineering types like myself. Two is that Sunnyvale had a good reputation for good schools for our children. Three is that the Sunnyvale city government has always been excellent fiduciaries of running our city winning many awards. Four is the easy access to the ocean, San Francisco, and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the many great venues in Northern California.
Number five is that my wife loves it here.

We are planning to move to a retirement community in about three years in Palo Alto. It's rather expensive, because the buy-in is over $300,000 plus $6,000 a month to live there, but they provide three levels of care. We think it's worth it.

We also know that it would be much cheaper if we move out of this area.

All those decisions we have made are what I deem is based on free will.

We are only constrained by our genes and our environment.
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 10:17 am
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
Where one decides to live is a good example of free will.


I don't think so.

Quote:
The reason we live here in Sunnyvale, CA, is based on several reasons


I can agree.

Quote:
One is that Sunnyvale is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, and job opportunities have been very good here


Seems to be something here that stimulates the brain and adds welling being to life "like eating fruits, meats and so forth. other animals do the same thing.

Quote:
Two is that Sunnyvale had a good reputation for good schools for our children. Three is that the Sunnyvale city government has always been excellent fiduciaries of running our city winning many awards. Four is the easy access to the ocean, San Francisco, and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the many great venues in Northern California.
Number five is that my wife loves it here.

We are planning to move to a retirement community in about three years in Palo Alto. It's rather expensive, because the buy-in is over $300,000 plus $6,000 a month to live there, but they provide three levels of care. We think it's worth it.

We also know that it would be much cheaper if we move out of this area.

All those decisions we have made are what I deem is based on free will.


This all seems to stimulate the brain in a desired way.

Quote:
We are only constrained by our genes and our environment.


That say a lot
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 10:54 am
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 10:55 am
@reasoning logic,
1 - ...either he doesn't understand what "free" means or he is just looking to disagree to look cute...Wink

2 - ...by the way thanks for the video because it clearly shows just how thin is the line between the compatiblist view of free will and the view that there is no free will although pep talks can move you towards effort that has consequences in improving the position you are in...the frontier is indeed very thin n that is probably why the theme is so confusing from a common sense point of view.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 12:20 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
I have absolutely no problem with the definition for "free."
Quote:
free [free] Show IPA adjective, fre·er, fre·est, adverb, verb, freed, free·ing.
adjective
1.
enjoying personal rights or liberty, as a person who is not in slavery: a land of free people.
2.
pertaining to or reserved for those who enjoy personal liberty: They were thankful to be living on free soil.
3.
existing under, characterized by, or possessing civil and political liberties that are, as a rule, constitutionally guaranteed by representative government: the free nations of the world.
4.
enjoying political autonomy, as a people or country not under foreign rule; independent.
5.
exempt from external authority, interference, restriction, etc., as a person or one's will, thought, choice, action, etc.; independent; unrestricted.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 01:09 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Quote:
The point is that you are not aware of what your choice will be...even when you really try to make an impartial random decision...secondly relevant data is relevant subjectively...furthermore the truly relevant data like avoid the speeding car is evidence of determinism n not the opposite.

Of course, relevance is subjective. We're talking about a SUBJECT making a decision.

I propose that we leave the issue of determinism aside. Your determinist tendencies are evidently esthetic and metaphysical in nature, you hate the idea of indeterminism. Yet hard-core material determinism only leads to complications and contradictions. Like if Harris is fully determined by his chemistry and other non-mental factors, then his philosophical reasoning is worthless. An argument can only mean something if you agree that reason has a role to play in this world, a causal dimension to it. Ideas matter, or they don't. They are not epiphenomena, or if they are, the very idea that they are is an epiphenomenon itself without consequence and validity, it's just neuronal noise. A scientist or philosopher who says: our ideas are predetermined by neuronal activity is basically saying: don't you take my babling too seriously, i'm just a machine saying nonsense.

In other words, any theory of the world, and of the mind, needs to account for its own emergence, for its own possibility as a valid, reason- and observation- based knowledge. Science presuposes the possibility of the human mind to be able to make sense of the world, so a scientific theory of the mind must make sense of sense itself. How can a chemical machine literaly make (produce) any real sense, in a hard-core materialist & determinist world view???

So let's agree that ideas matter, and have causality. You could of course argue that if ideas function in a causal way, they may still be predetermined by other ideas, so the world could still be determinist. That is true, and I am compatibilist in THAT SENSE and that sense only.

Quote:
I just like you to properly explain at what point is the given choice "yours" only because you feel so ? When rationally calculated it is a necessary consequence when imaginarly not rational its is the product of unconscious processes which you cannot control, where is your alternative when alternatives are always an a posteriori judgement upon how you acted ?

I can have a theory of how minds work, like you say you have, that tries and take mental facts into consideration. There is no reason to assume that our conscient perception of ourselves is pure illusion, not anymore than seeing an apple fall from a tree is by necessity a pure illusion... There are however reasons to believe there's a large dose of recreated, virtual, buffered and selected information in what comes to our conscience. It's highly processed information, and it has is quirks and blind spots and errors and gliches, ok, but it FUNCTIONS, it plays a role, it paints an important image. We could not survive without our 5 senses, however weak they are, and we couldn't survive as minds without our capacity for mental introspection and observation. Mental facts are facts one need to account for.

All this to say that before I abandon the 'illusion of free will', I'd like to have some evidence it's indeed an illusion, for I have next to half a century of mental life behind me and remembers a good third of it perhaps, and that's a lot of mental facts pointing at free will to account for.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 01:44 pm
@Olivier5,
Well stated, Olivier, and I agree. Just the idea that we move from one place to the next proves we have free thinking and will. Nothing is predetermined - not even by the actor until such time that piece of biology thinks about it and moves on it.

I just returned from Five Guys hamburger joint, and ate a hamburger with iced tea. I decided to go there after I jumped in my car to drive in that direction, because they have a pretty good selection of restaurants. I decided on Five Guys after driving about two miles toward my destination. It was not "predetermined" until I made my choice.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 01:56 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
Nothing is predetermined - not even by the actor until such time that piece of biology thinks about it and moves on it. I just returned from Five Guys hamburger joint, and ate a hamburger with iced tea.

It's not even a 'piece of biology', it's a mental event informed by biology, which says things like: I've been surviving on pizzas for the past 3 days. I need meat!
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 02:18 pm
@Olivier5,
That's basically it! Mr. Green
Carnivore anyone? LOL Laughing
0 Replies
 
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jul, 2013 02:56 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
Just the idea that we move from one place to the next proves we have free thinking and will.


It would take a little more than that to convince me.

Insects, birds, fish and animals can move from one place to another for various different reasons that are not associated with free will.


Some parasites live in the gut of shorebirds and produces eggs that are released in the bird’s stool which are spread into the salt-water marshes and ponds of southern California. Some of these eggs get swallowed up by snails and hatch into larva. Once these larvae are mature enough they leave the snail and swim out into the marshes eventually finding a killifish, entering through the gills and making its way along a nerve and into the brain cavity. Once in the brain cavity the parasite will cause the fish to come to the surface, swim in circles, jerk around and display its silvery underside in an attempt to attract a bird’s attention. This behavior makes the infected fish 30 times more likely to be caught and consumed by a bird. Once the fish is consumed, the parasite lives in the bird’s gut and the process can begin anew.

Quote:
I decided on Five Guys after driving about two miles toward my destination. It was not "predetermined" until I made my choice.


Here is a video that talks about your experience. You can start at five minutes if you want to get to the point and skip a little.
 

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