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Thoughts on determinism...

 
 
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2013 06:23 am
Just a general discussion on the viability of determinism.
Is the universe predetermined from the outset?
Or do we have true 'free will' in our decision making.
All opinions welcome.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 6 • Views: 2,562 • Replies: 20
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2013 01:16 pm
@SebastianOakes,
I take pleasure from the notion (whether deluded or not) that the future is open. Our decisions and actions shape it, but our past, since it has happened, is fixed. In other words, I tend to be a determinist when I looked back and a non-determinist w hen I look forward.
But ultimately that is just the perspective I have as a being with a human body in a particular human culture at a particular historical moment.
SebastianOakes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2013 05:44 pm
@JLNobody,
Thanks for the reply!
I certainly wouldn't say the notion is deluded, since there is so much we don't understand about human consciousness etc. Imagine after years of research we find that the inner workings of the brain function on a quantum level, with nothing being certain, only a probability.
What do you make of this question: If time was somehow put back a year from this exact moment, and EVERYTHING was exactly how it was down to the position of every atom and everything within the atom across our entire universe, do you think that the year would play out in an identical manner, leading back to this exact point again?
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2013 09:18 pm
@SebastianOakes,
It seems to me that this "thought experiment" is limited by the fact that it rests on the assumptions it is designed to "test".
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2013 09:38 pm
I believe determinism is broadly based on one's genes and environment. Those cultures that have had an early start in educating the masses were provided with the greatest choices during their lifetime.
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SebastianOakes
 
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Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2013 07:37 pm
@JLNobody,
In no way are either of these concepts testable; in reality of course it is unlikely they ever will be.
I just have an interest in the subject, and want to know what people can contribute. They may know more about certain aspects of physics than I do, so their input may be food for thought.
georgeob1
 
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Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2013 09:37 pm
Determinism and predictability are not the same thing, despite that fact that in discussions like this one it is common to assume one implys the other. Many observable dynamic systems in nature are deterministic, in that the laws governing their motion and action are known and the parameters involved measurable, but they remain unpredictable in that their future states are not always knowable. The weather is a good example. There are many others as well.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2013 11:18 pm
@georgeob1,
Yes, that is consistent with my two perceptions that (1) the past can be seen as determined, closed, or "destined" in the sense that since it has already happened as it has, it could not have happened any other way, and (2) since it has not happened yet the future is open or undetermined.
But know that I do not insist these perceptions refer to anything but myself.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 12:26 am
@SebastianOakes,
We know by just our own lives that nothing is really determanistic. Out of the many options available to us, we make a choice out of the many options open to us. How often have we driven a car to go someplace, but decided to take a detour to another place along the way because the idea just happened to pop into our brains?
closetdancer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 01:14 am
@cicerone imposter,
I just feel that this quote would fit in...

A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.
Colin Powell
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georgeob1
 
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Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 11:43 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

Yes, that is consistent with my two perceptions that (1) the past can be seen as determined, closed, or "destined" in the sense that since it has already happened as it has, it could not have happened any other way, and (2) since it has not happened yet the future is open or undetermined.
But know that I do not insist these perceptions refer to anything but myself.


It turns out that they do. The issue is sensitive dependence on initial conditions, and it is very likely that applies to human behavior as well. Such systems are often deterministic, something which can readily be demonstrated after the fact as you noted, but still remain unpredictable - their future state is unknowable.
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SebastianOakes
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 05:29 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Ahh but WHY did that thought pop into our brain?
As far as we are currently aware, though incredibly complex, the brain does still function on the same principles as the rest of the universe. That thought will have popped into your head because of some stimuli, whether you notice it or not; A memory perhaps, that is a physical structure within the brain, which in turn was formed after a different stimuli affected us. If our mind is shaped by outside influences, such as experiences, genetics etc, then could this not be considered to be predetermined?
SebastianOakes
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 05:36 pm
@georgeob1,
You appear to be touching here on chaos theory, especially with the weather example; The idea that any change in the initial condition, no matter how infinitesimally small it may be (and therefore unmeasurable), can completely change the outcome, suggesting that we would never be able to determine the true outcome because we cannot know the EXACT initial conditions, however this is only due to our own limitations
In a theoretical situation in which we CAN know the exact initial conditions, the outcome would be determinable.
SebastianOakes
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 05:43 pm
@JLNobody,
I certainly agree with the first point, but the second point does not really cover the idea in question. Though the future gives the appearance of infinite choices, If everything in our universe is truly determinable, then the future would be too. If all the EXACT initial conditions are known (the position of every quark, wave etc) then without any form of influence from outside our supposedly closed universe (call it a closed system), then why wouldn't the future be determinable? (This isn't a rhetorical question, if ANYONE can shed further light on this idea then please do)
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georgeob1
 
  2  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 07:51 pm
@SebastianOakes,
SebastianOakes wrote:

You appear to be touching here on chaos theory, especially with the weather example; The idea that any change in the initial condition, no matter how infinitesimally small it may be (and therefore unmeasurable), can completely change the outcome, suggesting that we would never be able to determine the true outcome because we cannot know the EXACT initial conditions, however this is only due to our own limitations
In a theoretical situation in which we CAN know the exact initial conditions, the outcome would be determinable.

In a theoretical situation, pigs might fly....

The problem is that infinitesmal changes in the initial contitions grow without bound, and absolute perfection is simply not achievable in the real world.

The Global Numerical weather model firsr wend faster than real time in 1972, yielding crudely accurate predictions ( a coarse grid) good for 3-4 days into the future (after that the model generates patterns that look like weather, but prove to have only a random relationship to what actually occurs}. Now after 20 or so iterations of Moore's Law we are up to 6 days in accuracy and the gains have been getting steadily smaller
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north
 
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Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 08:47 pm

The weakness of determinism is the lack of understanding of the exception to the rule

Hence what is thought of as determined , has always , the exception
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jan, 2013 12:25 am
@SebastianOakes,
Wrong; a thought that may have popped into our brain doesn't necessarily lead to its followup. The options are yes or no; not always yes just because we thought of it.
SebastianOakes
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Feb, 2013 03:31 pm
@cicerone imposter,
That wasn't what was meant by my statement. The 'options' are indeed yes or no, but based on previous experiences, we will always be inclined towards one. We are never literally completely torn 50/50 on which decision to make. Even if you feel like you have gone against what you would normally choose, some stimulus will have caused that deviation from the norm, so again, it is debatable if free will exists....
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Feb, 2013 03:46 pm
@SebastianOakes,
You're not making any sense. You wrote,
Quote:
Ahh but WHY did that thought pop into our brain?
As far as we are currently aware, though incredibly complex, the brain does still function on the same principles as the rest of the universe. That thought will have popped into your head because of some stimuli, whether you notice it or not; A memory perhaps, that is a physical structure within the brain, which in turn was formed after a different stimuli affected us. If our mind is shaped by outside influences, such as experiences, genetics etc, then could this not be considered to be predetermined?


As I've said, just because it pops into our head doesn't mean we make that into our action.
0 Replies
 
imans
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Feb, 2013 04:37 pm
@SebastianOakes,
existence is superiority value
superiority value is exclusively true freedom
since true freedom exist then any is free truly
when any is free then each free reality is exponentially free out of living free
then any present instant of same existing point is absolutely different and else of previous instant

the least truth is determined so existing point is real the more determinism is certain
by realizing all freedom ends and especially for determinsm freedom

then all business of determinism creations are alive by cheapest freedom wills ends

so we have like free determinism outside existence and living determinism inside of it

the clash between both is the issue of now

if i follow right reasons, i would say that determinism should b dead since it is not existin since know opposites then it is not true

then truth should win as freedom is truth

which go back to the initial justificaiton of true existence determinism being about freedom truth knowledge

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