3 of 16
3
Sam’s new thoughts on free will
Posted: 10 September 2012 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  802
Joined  2010-11-12
totof - 10 September 2012 02:37 PM

was it tombaruu who said ” I would suggest that there is no such thing as free will simply because there is no actual entity to have it. The sense of self exists only in the frontal cortex of man.
It is a conceptual homunculus that attaches itself to the organism.
It appears real to itself but it is phantom composed entirely of its own memories.
Who do you think does all this choosing?
The phantom or the brain?”

consciousness is not tangential, it is the same elephant as free will, isn’t it? and I believe consciousness is more than a phantom: I recall reading in the area of complexity, that a function or a new entity arise from a set of reacting agents being so densely packed that a threshold is reached where a new unforeseeable process takes place. In particular, consciousness might be just be the emerging process as enough neurones become interconnected. if that is true does it make consciousness a phantom? hurricanes built up from a certain set of circumstances passing a threshold, hurricanes aren’t phantoms. Just because consciousness emerges from our large set of connections doesn’t make it a phantom and to reduce the self to a collection of memories…isn’t that a predicate without solid proof?

If consciousness is real, and it is,  as we experience it, the self is more than memories, and negating free will on the basis of the scanners is a definition issue, but the biggest problem I see in the statement “free will doesnt exist , we are predetermined to do what we do”, is that it is UNFALSIFIABLE, and that is a serious issue in sciences.

 

It isn’t that we are programmed to do what we do.
There is no we doing the doing.
The sense of being a separate self emerges when the human brain reacts to the options that life offers.
The brain reacts in the only way it can and the self prances on stage to grab the flag.
You assume that “consciousness” is a thing.
You also take it for granted that this thing can access its own underpinnings which would mean that it would have to divide itself into a seer and a seen.
The mind labels its own thinking “consciousness” and attempts to break down and study its components.
Consciousness is not a thing, it is what’s thinging.
Science knows no more about consciousness than it did a thousand years ago.
It will never have access to its own nature.
A telescope can never see itself.
And a telescope is an actual thing.
What you call science really doesn’t understand any thing.
The most learned scientists have no idea what light, magnetism, or gravity are.
The nature of water is more than enough to confound the deepest thinkers and yet you profess to know what consciousness is and what it can and can’t do.

Go to your room!

 

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 September 2012 09:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  152
Joined  2012-08-29
toombaru - 10 September 2012 02:33 PM

There is no more evidence to support the existence of the self than there is for a creator god.

It’s interesting how diligently you skirt the issue of not having any proof for your belief, which I can safely assume that you have accepted on faith.  I’ve seen this tactic before, since I’ve argued with many theists.  I’ve offered you opportunity after opportunity to put forth a single argument in support of your belief that there is no self, and you continue to decline.  Instead, you work diligently to put me in the camp of free will believers so you can attack my lack of evidence.  I am not a believer in free will.  I am not obliged to defend a potion upon which I have not been convinced. 


Your posts are consistent in this forum.  You operate from the assumption that it is obvious that there is no free will, and claim to have a monopoly on the logical consequences of this belief.  Every post you proffer is a filtration of a smarter individuals ideas through this narrow prism.  You see only through a glass darkly knowing in part and prophesying in part. 


One can only hope that the neurological components in your brain which have failed to fool you into believing that you have any choice in your actions can be reconfigured to accept the absurdity of the positions they have caused your fingers advance in this forum.  Thereby they might come to understand that littering the forum with such banal misapprehensions of ideas put forth more coherently by more cogent collections of neurons is unwise.  Presumably the prefrontal cortex encased in your cranium would then occupy itself mastering complex ideas with which it has yet to come to grips. 

 

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 September 2012 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  152
Joined  2012-08-29
ncarver - 10 September 2012 08:28 AM
wantstoknow - 10 September 2012 03:58 AM

I am trying to wrap my brain around the gap between having the potential to do X and doing or not doing X.  You say:
“Of course, I’m not saying that you can become a surgeon by accident—you must do many things, deliberately and well, and in the appropriate sequence, year after year. Becoming a surgeon requires effort.”
What is the essence of a deliberate action versus one we have no control over?  It seems there is some special sauce being applied on top of potential, which allows the bearer of potential to realize that potential.  What is the special sauce if not free will?

Exactly. This is the place where it breaks down for me, as well. “Deliberate” implies choice, it implies having control over whether or not that action was taken, and you just as well could have not done it. But if there is no choice, if the brain would do the only thing it could have done given the circumstances and the near-infinite causal chain of events prior to it… how can deliberate have any meaning?

Now, it could be an issue of language lacking. Perhaps our words and language are so infused with the illusion of free-will that we have no way to express this kind of thing, thus are left with words like “deliberate.” Still… the implication is as “wantstoknow” indicated… an implication of two different kinds of actions… one not chosen, and essentially pre-determined… and the other “deliberate” (for lack of a better word) that could have been otherwise if not for human volition to make it so.

This is what is not being explained clearly, or clearly enough for my little brain.

If I understand Dr. Harris correctly, the distinction for which you are seeking an answer is itself an illusion.  Some of your impulses are presented to you as having an ‘outside source’ like being hungry.  Others are presented to you as having and ‘internal source’ or being self-generated, like wanting to go to medical school.  Dr. Harris believes that every impulse - though different in nature and appearing dramatically so to the illusory construct of the self, is generated by an as yet unarticulated set of processes (the existence of which there is an ever increasing body of scientific research to support) none of which are presented to your consciousness and therefore none of which could have been influenced by it.  Therefore, your freedom - having been generated by a set of process over which you had no control and causing you to make choices, the impulses behind which you still have no control - is not, strictly speaking, free. 

Even mindfulness meditation - a purely neurological process scientifically shown to have dramatic and, if practiced diligently enough, permanent measurable effects on the brain does not receive a pass.  This is so since the thing which first convinced you to try it could not have been under your control.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 September 2012 10:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  152
Joined  2012-08-29
ncarver - 10 September 2012 11:53 AM

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/09/consciousness_science_and_ethics_abortion_animal_rights_and_vegetative_state_debates_.single.html

Tangentially related to this discussion… the investigation into what is consciousness and what does it say about human behavior. Free will and consciousness are related concepts in many ways.

It does bring me to my major point about the lack of free will, or the fact that it is “just an illusion.”

What if the illusion is the whole point? What if consciousness and that sense of “I” is not just a crappy side effect of advanced neurochemistry… but the evolutionary point to it all? Why is the illusion any less real? Maybe the point of the brain mass is to cast that shadow.

We very well could be the universe trying to know itself… so the sense of “I” is necessary for that. Hatred and worry and all that are negative side effects of the sense of that consciousness, but that doesn’t mean the self is a lie. Hell, at a quantum level, isn’t all of reality simply an illusion swimming in a wavefront of possibility? Why would the illusion of free will or consciousness be any less real?

Notice how Mr. Bor and Dr. Harris have identical morality positions and for identical reasons.  This underscores my point that the existence of free will just isn’t a very interesting question at this point.  Whether our conscious self is an illusion or not does not change the fact that it is the central operating platform for our highest and most important brain functions.  Bor, Harris and I all agree on the most important issues, including the importance of continuing to attempt to grow our understanding of consciousness scientifically.  In the end, either Bor or Harris will be right about whether the self is free - but I will wait until I have seen enough evidence to convince me before I pick a side. 


I should add that your analysis is spot on.

[ Edited: 10 September 2012 10:28 PM by TheCoolinator]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 September 2012 10:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  152
Joined  2012-08-29
totof - 10 September 2012 02:37 PM

was it tombaruu who said ” I would suggest that there is no such thing as free will simply because there is no actual entity to have it. The sense of self exists only in the frontal cortex of man.
It is a conceptual homunculus that attaches itself to the organism.
It appears real to itself but it is phantom composed entirely of its own memories.
Who do you think does all this choosing?
The phantom or the brain?”

consciousness is not tangential, it is the same elephant as free will, isn’t it? and I believe consciousness is more than a phantom: I recall reading in the area of complexity, that a function or a new entity arise from a set of reacting agents being so densely packed that a threshold is reached where a new unforeseeable process takes place. In particular, consciousness might be just be the emerging process as enough neurones become interconnected. if that is true does it make consciousness a phantom? hurricanes built up from a certain set of circumstances passing a threshold, hurricanes aren’t phantoms. Just because consciousness emerges from our large set of connections doesn’t make it a phantom and to reduce the self to a collection of memories…isn’t that a predicate without solid proof?

If consciousness is real, and it is,  as we experience it, the self is more than memories, and negating free will on the basis of the scanners is a definition issue, but the biggest problem I see in the statement “free will doesnt exist , we are predetermined to do what we do”, is that it is UNFALSIFIABLE, and that is a serious issue in sciences.

Interesting points.  If you read the article by Daniel Bor which ncarver was kind enough to post in this thread, near the end you will see him raise the issue of ethics in relation to artificially generated consciousness.  That has identical implications to your ‘generation from neuronal attrition’ model.  Just what exactly is this stuff of consciousness which either exists in our brains or is a universal hallucination?

One point of criticism: the notion of predetermination is not unfalsifiable.  It is merely not addressable at our current state of understanding (so far as I have understood that state) neither is your belief that consciousness is real.  I remain convinced that we simply haven’t uncovered the truth yet, but i am confident that we can and we will.  Keep an eye on present research in this field, because it is advancing at a break neck pace.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2012 02:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2012-09-11

Below I use “free will” as meaning “being able to make choices”, or simply “freedom”. This is the meaning of the word found in all moralistic sections of the “no free will” lierature. So I do not refer to theological ideas as “absolute free will” or “absolute freedom”. So let’s keep things simple: free will today means “conscious choice”.

The denial of free will is no science. It is not a scientific theory apt to testing or falsification. Rather it makes falsifications “illusions”. It is an ideology spreading with suggestion, repetition, slapping on the back… and an accusation of “cognitive dissonance” for whoever goes astray.

It is metaphysics, and as every metaphysics it fits within a thousands of years old tradition: how to convince people that they are dum, and that they should accept the lead of insiders?

The thoretical denial of free will starts from a nineteenth century mechanical worldview, which says that everything happens because of little causal bumps. This worldview is outdated now that we onderstand dialectical materialism and darwinism. Today every biologist knows that those little bumps can come together in complex assemblies, with their own behaviour, no longer linear, but working by goals and assessments. After all, a poker player or petanque player can very well consider the situation and make tactical moves, undisturbed by little causal bumps wich do their self-effacing work silently. 

Cases used to illustrate that free will does not exist (such as drug addicts, sleep walking,...) contradict the theoretical denial above. To say that addicted people have lost their free will, implies that non-addicted people have one, and consequently that free will exists.

There are various positions on the social effect of the free-will denial ideology. Sometimes it is said that life goes on the same as always, even without free will. Sometimes (often in the same paper) it is said that justice and even democracy should be adapted to the new “knowledge”. The most ridiculous suggestion is that we should just live on as if free will exists, while “knowing” it doesn’t. Less ridiculous, but if possible even more detrimental, is to bring back the old societal split between the initiated and the ignorant. If it would be better to lie to children (as Sam Harris defends) then the next question is: when wil we tell them? Will we tell the retarded ever? The less educated? Will we ever dare to tell schoolbus drivers that it is not their fault if they cause an accident while driving drunk, while he knows it was his choice? Will we tell an engine driver that passing a red sign is not really his responsability, though he knows it was his choice?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2012 09:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  802
Joined  2010-11-12
Siger - 11 September 2012 02:27 AM

Below I use “free will” as meaning “being able to make choices”, or simply “freedom”. This is the meaning of the word found in all moralistic sections of the “no free will” lierature. So I do not refer to theological ideas as “absolute free will” or “absolute freedom”. So let’s keep things simple: free will today means “conscious choice”.

The denial of free will is no science. It is not a scientific theory apt to testing or falsification. Rather it makes falsifications “illusions”. It is an ideology spreading with suggestion, repetition, slapping on the back… and an accusation of “cognitive dissonance” for whoever goes astray.

It is metaphysics, and as every metaphysics it fits within a thousands of years old tradition: how to convince people that they are dum, and that they should accept the lead of insiders?

The thoretical denial of free will starts from a nineteenth century mechanical worldview, which says that everything happens because of little causal bumps. This worldview is outdated now that we onderstand dialectical materialism and darwinism. Today every biologist knows that those little bumps can come together in complex assemblies, with their own behaviour, no longer linear, but working by goals and assessments. After all, a poker player or petanque player can very well consider the situation and make tactical moves, undisturbed by little causal bumps wich do their self-effacing work silently. 

Cases used to illustrate that free will does not exist (such as drug addicts, sleep walking,...) contradict the theoretical denial above. To say that addicted people have lost their free will, implies that non-addicted people have one, and consequently that free will exists.

There are various positions on the social effect of the free-will denial ideology. Sometimes it is said that life goes on the same as always, even without free will. Sometimes (often in the same paper) it is said that justice and even democracy should be adapted to the new “knowledge”. The most ridiculous suggestion is that we should just live on as if free will exists, while “knowing” it doesn’t. Less ridiculous, but if possible even more detrimental, is to bring back the old societal split between the initiated and the ignorant. If it would be better to lie to children (as Sam Harris defends) then the next question is: when wil we tell them? Will we tell the retarded ever? The less educated? Will we ever dare to tell schoolbus drivers that it is not their fault if they cause an accident while driving drunk, while he knows it was his choice? Will we tell an engine driver that passing a red sign is not really his responsability, though he knows it was his choice?


If we don’t have free will, we cannot chose to alter our behavior to accommodate that understanding.
As mentioned above any discussion on the existence of free will is like defining something that does not exist.

 

 

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2012 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  802
Joined  2010-11-12
TheCoolinator - 10 September 2012 09:42 PM
toombaru - 10 September 2012 02:33 PM

There is no more evidence to support the existence of the self than there is for a creator god.

It’s interesting how diligently you skirt the issue of not having any proof for your belief, which I can safely assume that you have accepted on faith.  I’ve seen this tactic before, since I’ve argued with many theists.  I’ve offered you opportunity after opportunity to put forth a single argument in support of your belief that there is no self, and you continue to decline.  Instead, you work diligently to put me in the camp of free will believers so you can attack my lack of evidence.  I am not a believer in free will.  I am not obliged to defend a potion upon which I have not been convinced. 


Your posts are consistent in this forum.  You operate from the assumption that it is obvious that there is no free will, and claim to have a monopoly on the logical consequences of this belief.  Every post you proffer is a filtration of a smarter individuals ideas through this narrow prism.  You see only through a glass darkly knowing in part and prophesying in part. 


One can only hope that the neurological components in your brain which have failed to fool you into believing that you have any choice in your actions can be reconfigured to accept the absurdity of the positions they have caused your fingers advance in this forum.  Thereby they might come to understand that littering the forum with such banal misapprehensions of ideas put forth more coherently by more cogent collections of neurons is unwise.  Presumably the prefrontal cortex encased in your cranium would then occupy itself mastering complex ideas with which it has yet to come to grips.

Pots and kettles are by nature black.
I see your agnostic views concerning free will as an inability to grasp the fundamental ideas presented.
I do not see you as opinionated.
I see you as a collage of coagulated opinions.
(I see my self the same way.)
As I have mentioned there is no way for me to deconstruct an illogical concept that the objectifying mind invents.
I cannot prove that Joseph Smith never saw those Golden Tablets or purple angels on the moon.
If he wants to convince me, perhaps a photograph or a feather would help his case.
For the sense of self, there is a natural tendency to cling to illusion of free will simply because without choice, the I am has no substantial reality.
Without free will, it simply doesn’t exist.
It’s time to make a choice.
Do you believe in free will or not…........................hey…...wait…..........that’s not right.

[ Edited: 11 September 2012 09:50 AM by toombaru]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2012 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  286
Joined  2011-04-26

Sam’s latest argument is just too cut and dry.  His denial of free will based on the traditional usually mystical argument is convincing and has a strong scientific basis.  But his specific examples and conclusions do not always follow logically.

“I think that on balance, it could only produce a more compassionate, equitable, and sane society.”
Why and how?  One does not logically follow the other.  If there is never was free will,  how will the knowledge of its lack of existence make the world a utopia?

If there is no free will, I don’t believe there is, there are still other factors that he is conveniently glossing over.  I’m sorry, but an individual doesn’t just naturally gravitate to being a surgeon or anything else.  There is conscious choice, effort, struggle and will involved to varying degrees.  There is something (probably many, many things) that Sam is omitting.  The subject is massive and nobody, let alone Sam, has the clear cut answer at this point in time.  Sam has an interesting theory but neither he, nor anybody else, can draw decisive conclusions just yet.

[ Edited: 11 September 2012 10:39 AM by mormovies]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2012 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  802
Joined  2010-11-12
mormovies - 11 September 2012 10:35 AM

Sam’s latest argument is just too cut and dry.  His denial of free will based on the traditional usually mystical argument is convincing and has a strong scientific basis.  But his specific examples and conclusions do not always follow logically.

“I think that on balance, it could only produce a more compassionate, equitable, and sane society.”
Why and how?  One does not logically follow the other.  If there is never was free will,  how will the knowledge of its lack of existence make the world a utopia?

If there is no free will, I don’t believe there is, there are still other factors that he is conveniently glossing over.  I’m sorry, but an individual doesn’t just naturally gravitate to being a surgeon or anything else.  There is conscious choice, effort, struggle and will involved to varying degrees.  There is something (probably many, many things) that Sam is omitting.  The subject is massive and nobody, let alone Sam, has the clear cut answer at this point in time.  Sam has an interesting theory but neither he, nor anybody else, can draw decisive conclusions just yet.

A human decides to become a surgeon in the same way a bear decides to turn right in the woods.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2012 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  286
Joined  2011-04-26

A human decides to become a surgeon in the same way a bear decides to turn right in the woods.

>> Impossible!  Just ridiculous!  Scientists will look back on this and laugh at us.  Computers are starting to make choices on their own.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2012 11:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  802
Joined  2010-11-12
mormovies - 11 September 2012 11:03 AM

A human decides to become a surgeon in the same way a bear decides to turn right in the woods.

>> Impossible!  Just ridiculous!  Scientists will look back on this and laugh at us.  Computers are starting to make choices on their own.


They “make choices” based solely only on their program.

 

 

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2012 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  802
Joined  2010-11-12
toombaru - 11 September 2012 11:10 AM
mormovies - 11 September 2012 11:03 AM

A human decides to become a surgeon in the same way a bear decides to turn right in the woods.

>> Impossible!  Just ridiculous!  Scientists will look back on this and laugh at us.  Computers are starting to make choices on their own.


Computers “make choices” based solely only on their program as does the brain.
Don’t trust scientists too much.
They’re all just guessing.

 

[ Edited: 11 September 2012 11:13 AM by toombaru]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2012 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  286
Joined  2011-04-26

Don’t trust scientists too much.  They’re all just guessing.

>> Yes, exactly.  That’s why I’m disturbed that Sam is so certain.  It’s too early to claim we know and understand this aspect of human nature.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2012 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  802
Joined  2010-11-12
mormovies - 11 September 2012 01:12 PM

Don’t trust scientists too much.  They’re all just guessing.

>> Yes, exactly.  That’s why I’m disturbed that Sam is so certain.  It’s too early to claim we know and understand this aspect of human nature.

Academically Sam is a very smart human.
So is my brother, but every year or so he needs to borrow money from me.
The brain simply does not have access to its own machinery.
It did not evolve to understand anything beyond its survival-reproduction agenda.
Oh it can study the neurons in detail but even the most advanced scientists have absolutely no idea what is going on inside their own skull nor will they ever.
The attempt by humans to study human behavior through their own human lens is almost comical.
Chimpanzees would be heavily biased if they tried to understand chimp behavior.
I wonder is scientists could study their own behavior while trying to study their own behavior.

 

 

 

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 16
3
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed