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Free will and determinism can coexist...

 
 
perception
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Apr, 2003 10:30 pm
C.I.

I absolutely agree that the genetic template that we are born with plays a very large role in our development. The other factors you mentioned have for the most part been identified by educators and addressed to a large degree. I also agree about the late bloomer or the person who has conflicting priorities due to abilities in athletics or drama or music or any number of activities that draw energy and cloud the minds of teenagers. I am pointing to a possible area that could be extremely important( it's what I'm trying to determine) but has been ignored or overlooked by professional educators. What I am suggesting may not be possible in a practical sense.

Kids (as well as adults ) make some really stupid decisions that can and often cause their deaths such as riding in cars driven by newly licensed drivers who want to immediately go out and race some other equally unqualified driver and suddenly they are dead.
Immature impulsive behavior can be identified early if kids know what to look for and have complete knowledge of the sad consequences of impulsive decisions.

More in line with this thread, knowledge that free will exists can/ could help some kids realize that they can take control of their lives and are not stuck with what they think they are whatever that may be.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Apr, 2003 11:40 pm
I remember some time in the past where kids were shown the lungs of a smoker and a nonsmoker in the attempt to prevent them from smoking. I'm not sure how successful that program was, but I'm sure it may have saved a couple kids from picking up the habit. As for inexperienced kids driving to race or while under the influence, I'm not sure what techniques would work. Kids normally have the attitude that nothing bad happens to them - only to others. How educators can dispel these ideas are going to be a challenge. c.i.
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perception
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Apr, 2003 10:28 am
C.I.

The real problem is: How do we advocate a philosophical concept that cannot be proven---that free will does exist. I think there is some consolation in the following:

1. It is just not logical to believe that all happenings are predetermined---if my logic is faulty someone please correct me.

2. It is also not logical to believe that any Supreme being would be the originator of sin which would logically follow the thinking that all things are predetermined.

3. The rule of law insists that perpetrators of crimes against society must be punished for their actions and those individuals must be accountable for their action. If all things are predetermined it is not logical to hold any mortal being accountable for actions that he could not philosophically have made a decision to commit.
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Terry
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 12:54 am
perception, I agree that kids need to learn to make wise decisions for themselves. They need to understand that their whole future depends on decisions they make now, and that bad judgment in driving, using drugs or irresponsible behavior can result in a lifetime of misery for themselves and others. I don’t know how you convince teenagers of that when they believe that they are invincible. (My own kids are in college now and doing well - so far - but we had some trying years). They need to be able to visualize a promising future and the steps they can take to achieve it. It helps if they believe that they are loved and valued by people who care what they do. But a peer group that seeks immediate gratification and belittles future plans and dreams can destroy them.

Society needs to establish and promote a consistent system of values instead of letting kids get their moral standards from movies and MTV. They need knowledge of the dangers they face but they also need experience in applying it to make judgments in real-life situations. Perhaps we could have computer games where they get points for caring instead of killing, staying out of trouble instead of looking for it, and seeking knowledge instead of treasure.


1. Why do you think that it is not logical to believe that everything is predetermined? QM, which is the best argument against a clockwork universe, seems equally illogical. Must the universe always be logical?

2. Is there any reason why a Supreme Being must be benevolent? Perhaps it enjoys watching people sin and suffer, just as some people like horror movies.

3. It may also be predetermined that people will be held responsible and punished for their crimes. Predetermination does not negate accountability for your actions. Making a decision to willfully commit a crime is wrong, even if future history is written in stone and no other choice could actually be made.
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perception
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 08:39 pm
Terry wrote:

They need to be able to visualize a promising future and the steps they can take to achieve it. It helps if they believe that they are loved and valued by people who care what they do. But a peer group that seeks immediate gratification and belittles future plans and dreams can destroy them.

Society needs to establish and promote a consistent system of values instead of letting kids get their moral standards from movies and MTV. They need knowledge of the dangers they face but they also need experience in applying it to make judgments in real-life situations.

If you believe in the above why ask your questions or are you just playing devils advocate?

1. Why do you think that it is not logical to believe that everything is predetermined? QM, which is the best argument against a clockwork universe, seems equally illogical. Must the universe always be logical?

To me --for the future to be predermined---the movement of every particle must predetermined----that seems impossible therefore not logical.

2. Is there any reason why a Supreme Being must be benevolent? Perhaps it enjoys watching people sin and suffer, just as some people like horror movies.

Good question---but then I'm not religious. I believe however that most people have a psychological need for the moral code that religion brings to the table.

3. It may also be predetermined that people will be held responsible and punished for their crimes. Predetermination does not negate accountability for your actions. Making a decision to willfully commit a crime is wrong, even if future history is written in stone and no other choice could actually be made.

refer to my answer to 1.above---not logically possible. (I hope )
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 11:55 pm
free will
I'm sorry to insert a point of view here before reading what has been posted. The density of the arguments requires a level of energy I won't have until tomorrow--after a night's sleep. But let me suggest that in a sense everything is determined by present conditions (contextualism?) and relevant antecedent events. In a sense my actions RIGHT NOW are the products of the entire universe's condition. Everything has "conspired" to produce such actions. Before anyone's nose gets bent by these comments, I must stress that they are meaningful IN A SENSE, but not common sense. Nevertheless, there is a kind (perhaps even a degree) of freedom in my actions. Insofar as they reflect my nature, they are in harmony with my "will." And to the extent that I am an expression of the universe (whatever that may be), my actions are free. Therefore, determinism (hate "isms") is not the same thing as being unfree. If I were forced to behave in a manner contrary to my nature, that would be unfree. BUT if I accept that I am one with all there is, nothing can be an alien force working against "me." I do think I should sleep.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2003 10:54 am
JLN, I can understand the jest of your post, but would appreciate an expansion on your ideas. We are the product of our environment/universe; that's understood without question. The question I have is "how free," and what do you consider "free?" c.i.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2003 01:38 pm
free will
Good questions, C.I., How free? Can't say--a quantification is impossible here. What I mean by freedom is the issue. I do not refer to the freedom of the ego to have its way--in part because the ego is illusory, as far as I'm concerned. My ego does not have its way as much as it would like--no doubt. And this is what frustrates people, to the extent that they identify with this sensation of self. But if one identifies with the cosmos, if one realizes he is fundamentally an expression of that mysterious whole, that ground of his true being, then he feels (in non-egocentric moments, that is) that he is as free as the universe is free. My true self is free (perhaps I should find a better word, "spontaneous" might approach an improvement) to the extent that the universe is free. Then, again, maybe the notion of freedom is the problem. Perhaps the universe is neither free nor unfree, which suggests that we are neither as well. But all of this discussion rests on the assumption of the reality of the ego and its freedom or lack thereof. Beyond this I don't have much more to say. I certainly do not want to engage in the sophmoric philosophical debate (one I engaged in throughout my young adulthood) between free-will and determinism. I think that issue is a false one, burdened by false assumptions.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2003 02:03 pm
JLN, Thanks for your response. I think our freedom/free-will lies somewhere between the extremes that you have identified. We all have varying degrees of constraints that we all live with; some more than others. In this world of today, as I observe myself interacting within it, I feel that my free-will is perhaps 'better' than the majority. For one thing, I thank my grandfather for having been adventurous enough to travel from Japan to Hawaii in 1893 to establish for us the foundation for the many freedoms we enjoy in this country. It hasn't always been frosting on the cake, and this country did put us into concentration camps for four years during WWII, but that experience shrinks to how many in this world have lived - such as the people in Iraq who have suffered for over thirty years under Saddam. Most of our education was free, and the opportunities granted to us with college degree in hand over forty years ago was almost miraculous. We are not wealthy, but I am able to travel around this world two or three times every year, and I have visited over 75 countries as of last count. I have seen and still see people with greater potential not living as well. My free-will was surely influenced by my environment. I'm not a religious person, but for the grace of god go I. Wink c.i.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2003 09:25 pm
free-will
Wonderful response, C.I., Of course I also agree that at the common sense/existential level of experience "freedom" amounts to "independence." And this varies with the kind of political system one lives in, the amount of sophistication he has (intellectual perception of options), his level of financial security (practical options), his level of courage (willingness to take risks), etc. etc. I was talking about free-will and determinism more at the philosophical/ mystical/ ontological/ metaphysical level(s).
BTW, it was good to learn such interesting things about your life. Thanks for sharing.
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perception
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2003 10:34 pm
JL

I can agree with some of what you say---everything that has "happened" in the universe which is becoming history every moment was due to a cause and effect cycle. You said it " conspired" to achieve the effect of this moment. That is a substantial presumption in my opinion and what do you base it on?

As I have just said I believe everything in the past is the result of a natural cause and effect cycle. Now transitioning to the next moment is what I want to know. You say it is conspiratory--I believe it to be random therefore we have a choice in the placement of the particles.

Please explain why I am wrong.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2003 11:01 pm
free-will
Perception, of course you are right. The universe has no intentions, plans, goals, etc. It is random, as far as we can tell. That randomness is, however, what I mean (metaphorically speaking) by "conspires to...". You ask me, very reasonably, on what I base this presumption. I can only say: intuition. What else do we base our beliefs on, even when they are scientific assumptions that are not provable scientifically?
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2003 11:20 pm
JLN, If you look at my post, you will see that my response answered your philosophical questions. The uniqueness of how my life transpired goes to the heart of philosophy/determism at the metaphysical level. In other words, people having similar antecedents may turn out to have completely different lives. What are the cause and effects of such variables? Free-will or determinism? Which has the greater influence, and why? c.i.
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perception
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2003 08:22 am
C.I.

Your last post was particularly incisive----just a compliment. I'm very interested in JLs response.
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Terry
 
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Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2003 08:34 am
perception, while I prefer to believe that we have free will (and it is necessary to act as if we do for society to function), you can make an equally good case for a predetermined universe. If God is omniscient, then the future movement of every particle was known by God before he created anything. If time is a dimension like space and we imagine a universe having only two spatial dimensions, every instant is like a sheet of paper showing the position of every particle at that time. Stacking sheets gives us a block of space-time in which the movement of particles is recorded in consecutive snapshots. The block is like a book in which an outside observer can flip through to the end to see what will happen. No particle or person can take any path other than the one the book shows that it will take, but there may be other universes where other paths are taken.


Moral codes do not require belief in gods or religion, although a god gives unarguable authority to the laws which men wish to impose on others and the carrot/stick incentives to persuade people to follow them.



c.i., I agree that people who lack freedom to act cannot exercise free will to the same extent that we do, and that environment and prior experiences constrain our choices. But do you think that your life and place in the world was "fated" or predetermined before you were born, or were you just lucky enough to have been one of the privileged citizens of the world?

What about people born with mental deficiencies that limit their ability to make free choices?
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perception
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2003 09:23 am
Terry

Your premise is that there exists an omniscient God. This is for another argument.

I have exhausted my limited list of reasons for believing that there is indeed true free will---I can only hope that someone wiser than me can either prove me wrong or clear my mind in the other direction.
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Terry
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2003 09:32 am
perception, it is not my premise that there is an omniscient god. That is merely one of the possibilities. Even if no god exists, the universe could still be determinate if QM is incorrect or if past, present and future states coexist.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2003 10:40 am
Terry, I'm struggling with the word "privileged." I prefer to use the word "lucky." I do not think anybody's life is "fated" or "predetermined." It's how man and/or nature has influenced the individual's environment. Bad genes, deformities, developmental disability, Siamese twins, death at birth, all have an impact on the invidual's future. Natural or man-made disaster can also impact the individual. There are many environmental influences for which we have no control. For the degree that we do have control, the philosophical question is how much is free-will and how much is determinism? Will we ever know the answer? c.i.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2003 02:10 pm
freewill
This is a most difficult topic--for expressing one's ideas that is. I suspect that some kind of descriptive mathematics would be required to express our intuitions adequately, but I'm totally unable to do so. And if I could would others be able to follow it? Terry's stacked sheet/book simile was helpful, and very clever. Earlier I suggested that present conditions and events are "determined" temporally and spatially (antecedent conditions/events and contemporary conditions/events elsewhere). The latter seems to be well illustrated by the differently positioned particles on Terry's page.
It seems to me that once we include the notion of God in this discussion our discussion becomes very murky. As it stands, we are like people trying to bathe in a vat of mud.
Let me add one other simplistic notion, not to elucidate reality, but to express ideas I have about reality. First, we must remember that language determines our thoughts to a great extent such that our thoughts and statements about reality are not to be confused with reality itself (assuming there is such a thing-in-itself). And logic is a very poor guide for the appreciation of reality. It is only a tool by which we avoid contradicting ourselves. And if our premises are wrong (and they surely are at least limited if not wholly wrong) our logic merely extends the mischief of our faulty presumptions.
Now for my simplistic notion: If an event, E, is "caused" by event, D, which is in turn caused by event, C, which is caused by B and ultimately A(assuming a prime mover), it follows, logically at least, that event, E, is ultimately (philosophically speaking) caused by ABCD (as well as the contemporary "particles" on Terry's sheet of paper). If we stretch my alphabet back to the beginning of time (assuming a beginning of time), we might conclude (rightly or wrongly) that the most temporally immediate events--say D--have a more visible causal value. For example, if we want to prevent event, E, we must prevent event, D. We do not have to bother to go back to the beginning of time and prevent A. Nevertheless, without event, A, event E. could never have happened. D may be called the efficient cause of E and A (as well as BC) necessary causes (of course D is both efficient and necessary cause). So D is a more immediate cause, and it is of both practical and philosophical significance (apologies to C.I.) , and ABC are primarily of philosophical significance.
How can something so simplistic be so complex?
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perception
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Apr, 2003 07:57 pm
JL

Are you saying that all historical events are interconnected and there fore all future events are interconnected in the same manner.
You said that most of our problems with defining the concept of reality are caused by deficiences or misunderstandings of the language---well right now I am struggling with your use of the words "necessary and efficient" regarding cause of E by D. Please explain.

Perhaps you did not mean that "all" historical events are interconnected---please address this first.

I like to be logical in my thinking and it may have an application here-----I just don't know.

Please explain your thinking further.
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