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Help! How could determinism not also imply fatalism?
Posted: 13 September 2012 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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I don’t understand how determinism does not imply fatalism. Yes, as agents we can choose to avoid something but that very choice was determined. Therefore what happened was always going to happen from the beginning of time.

All of the ‘evitability’ in the universe does not ‘evit’ determinism and, quantum mechanics aside, Leplace’s demon remains possible.

Sam asserts that although choices depend on prior causes they still matter – they are in themselves a cause. He suggests that it would be missing the point for someone to just ‘sit back and see what happens’. I think there is a problem with this idea in that any decision to sit back and see what happens is just as caused as a decision to do something productive. Of course choices matter – they are a part of the causal chain but the choice that is made is determined from the beginning of time by an extremely complex chain of causes. Again, quantum mechanics aside Leplace’s demon will still know everything there is to know about the universe. 

Sam goes on to state that trying to do nothing is very difficult and that the desire to do something will overcome most people’s effort. This point seems completely unnecessary (and counterproductive) to make. Again, the choice to do something and then the difficulty in doing it is all just as caused as any other behavior. Accordingly it does not make sense to discuss the difficulty of sitting back. The difficulty does not indicate anything relevant to the argument. The value of all behaviors for the purpose of considering whether there is free will are equal: each has a cause.

Sam discusses the experiments of Benjamin Libet which indicate that a person’s decision to do something is made before they become consciously aware of it. Whether decisions are made consciously or unconsciously they are still determined because there is always a prior cause. This example does however beg the question of if consciousness does not result in choices why did it evolve (what adaptive advantage did it instill). To suggest that such a complex phenomenon is simply a by-product of evolution that serves no adaptive advantage is extremely difficult to believe (although admittedly not impossible).
All of the agency and intentions in the universe do not negate determinism and quantum mechanics aside Leplace’s demon remains possible. If people use the nonexistence of free will as a pretext for doing whatever they want then this outcome is entirely determined just as any other event is.

Understanding freewill shouldn’t tempt us off our diets but it might and if it did it would simply be a cause in a long line of them.
The avoidance of anything is simply determined. Intentional agents do not negate determinism. Every choice they make is inevitable. To see choices or avoidance as separate to the causal chain is simply wrong. They are an integral part of the causal change.  Determinism does imply inevitability. If something is avoided it was always going to be avoided. 

I can’t fathom how determinism doesn’t imply fatalism. Can anyone help to flesh this out for me?

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Posted: 13 September 2012 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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KOZ - 13 September 2012 01:13 PM

I don’t understand how determinism does not imply fatalism. Yes, as agents we can choose to avoid something but that very choice was determined. Therefore what happened was always going to happen from the beginning of time.

All of the ‘evitability’ in the universe does not ‘evit’ determinism and, quantum mechanics aside, Leplace’s demon remains possible.

Sam asserts that although choices depend on prior causes they still matter – they are in themselves a cause. He suggests that it would be missing the point for someone to just ‘sit back and see what happens’. I think there is a problem with this idea in that any decision to sit back and see what happens is just as caused as a decision to do something productive. Of course choices matter – they are a part of the causal chain but the choice that is made is determined from the beginning of time by an extremely complex chain of causes. Again, quantum mechanics aside Leplace’s demon will still know everything there is to know about the universe. 

Sam goes on to state that trying to do nothing is very difficult and that the desire to do something will overcome most people’s effort. This point seems completely unnecessary (and counterproductive) to make. Again, the choice to do something and then the difficulty in doing it is all just as caused as any other behavior. Accordingly it does not make sense to discuss the difficulty of sitting back. The difficulty does not indicate anything relevant to the argument. The value of all behaviors for the purpose of considering whether there is free will are equal: each has a cause.

Sam discusses the experiments of Benjamin Libet which indicate that a person’s decision to do something is made before they become consciously aware of it. Whether decisions are made consciously or unconsciously they are still determined because there is always a prior cause. This example does however beg the question of if consciousness does not result in choices why did it evolve (what adaptive advantage did it instill). To suggest that such a complex phenomenon is simply a by-product of evolution that serves no adaptive advantage is extremely difficult to believe (although admittedly not impossible).
All of the agency and intentions in the universe do not negate determinism and quantum mechanics aside Leplace’s demon remains possible. If people use the nonexistence of free will as a pretext for doing whatever they want then this outcome is entirely determined just as any other event is.

Understanding freewill shouldn’t tempt us off our diets but it might and if it did it would simply be a cause in a long line of them.
The avoidance of anything is simply determined. Intentional agents do not negate determinism. Every choice they make is inevitable. To see choices or avoidance as separate to the causal chain is simply wrong. They are an integral part of the causal change.  Determinism does imply inevitability. If something is avoided it was always going to be avoided. 

I can’t fathom how determinism doesn’t imply fatalism. Can anyone help to flesh this out for me?

 

The term “fatalism” would apply to a self missing its power of choice.
Underpinning the belief in free will is the assumption of an entity to have it.
Out of this conjecture all religions, all supernatural, magical thinking. and all soul searching emerge.
Do the people in your dreams at night have free will?
Of course they don’t.
The brain’s day-time dream character is no different.
There is no point attempting to map the influence of what amounts to be an imaginary, mnemonic character.
It is belief in self that is the hidden root of the dilemma.
And the assumption of self is the center of the inquiry.
The I am poses conceptual questions about its own conceptual overlay.
There are numerous books that undermine the reality of the personalized sense of self.
Even if there were such a thing a a self, it would not be able to determine if it did or not have what it calls free will.
And the attempt to do so implies the preexistence of conscious choice and something in which it resides.
It’s like a human chasing their own make believe tale.

[ Edited: 13 September 2012 03:03 PM by toombaru]
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Posted: 13 September 2012 06:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Read the following:

http://www.naturalism.org/demoralization.htm


http://www.naturalism.org/fatalism.htm

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Posted: 13 September 2012 06:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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BernardoPinto - 13 September 2012 06:15 PM

Read the following:

http://www.naturalism.org/demoralization.htm


http://www.naturalism.org/fatalism.htm

 

The I am is a self-sustaining program.
It certainly doesn’t want to get depressed by thinking that it is not the captain of its very own little ship.
It just cannot imagine itself powerless.
It invents terms like “determinism” and “fatalism” to describe what being a persona would be like without free will.
And it doesn’t like the way it feels when it thinks about that kind of stuff.
Even in these imaginary conditions the self remains sitting safely on its throne.
It evolved to help the physical organism survive and its own survival is necessary to that end.
It will plant its little flag in its little field and defend it against all logical arguments that expose its essential emptiness.
It will manipulate all contrary evidence to reinforce its tenuous position.
Like Pinocchio, it just wants so much to be real.

 

[ Edited: 13 September 2012 06:45 PM by toombaru]
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Posted: 13 September 2012 08:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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BernardoPinto - 13 September 2012 06:15 PM

Read the following:

http://www.naturalism.org/demoralization.htm


http://www.naturalism.org/fatalism.htm

Wow!  My mind is officially blown.  Thank you for posting this.  I’ve heard of naturalism before, but this is my first exposure to a serious description of the school.  I think I just officially stopped being a fan of Sam Harris.  This explains in crystal clear detail precisely why he is right 90% of the time, and willfully disingenuous the remaining 10%.


I found the following passage from http://centerfornaturalism.blogspot.com/2008/11/worldview-naturalism-in-nutshell.html particularly informative:  “If you don’t believe in anything supernatural – gods, ghosts, immaterial souls and spirits – then you subscribe to naturalism, the idea that nature is all there is.” Notice how they try to slip this perversion of reason right past you.  Let me paraphrase “If you don’t believe in superstition, then you believe in everything with which I am about to fill your head.”  This is manifestly abhorrent to my sense of skepticism.  I’m appalled that so many smart people are jumping in.  It smacks of a conspiracy to replace traditional religion by proselytizing a competing belief system.  If you substitute one belief system for another, have you really accomplished anything? 


The convert to this naturalism religion may have an increased respect for science, but they are still accepting their world view on faith.  I prefer a self identified Christian who puts little stock in the faith she hasn’t bothered to fully reject to the activist mentality of a person who would convert to a belief system that allows them to pursue their ridiculous mysticism in full view of their scientific knowledge. 


This Emperor, my friends, is naked!

 

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Posted: 13 September 2012 09:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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KOZ - 13 September 2012 01:13 PM

Sam discusses the experiments of Benjamin Libet which indicate that a person’s decision to do something is made before they become consciously aware of it.

This is the fact that Sam appears to find most convincing as evidence that there is no free will.  I fail to see the connection.  I think he is confusing causality with sequence.  He says that we cannot be the cause of our thoughts, because we are not immediately aware of the processes which generate them.  But we don’t need Libet’s experiment to inform us that our conscious thoughts are not generated instantaneously.  We know that they are the product of many neurons which must communicate with one another to produce the effect we experience.  We further know that neuronal networks must communicate over distances of space which are the length of a significant fraction of our brains, and that physics sets an upper limit on the speed at which information can be conveyed.  We can hardly expect any biological process to produce speeds minutely approaching that limit. 


So, am I impressed that a computer can pick up my brain activity faster than my consciousness can become aware of it?  Hardly.  When you think it through, the contrary result would have been the surpising one:  free will or no.  That there be some particular set of neurons which fire and constitute our conscious minds boarders on the absurd.  Why would something as obviously the result of complexity as is consciousness be generated by simple means?  But this appears to be precisely what Sam was expecting.

 

 

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Posted: 13 September 2012 10:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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TheCoolinator - 13 September 2012 09:01 PM
KOZ - 13 September 2012 01:13 PM

Sam discusses the experiments of Benjamin Libet which indicate that a person’s decision to do something is made before they become consciously aware of it.

This is the fact that Sam appears to find most convincing as evidence that there is no free will.  I fail to see the connection.  I think he is confusing causality with sequence.  He says that we cannot be the cause of our thoughts, because we are not immediately aware of the processes which generate them.  But we don’t need Libet’s experiment to inform us that our conscious thoughts are not generated instantaneously.  We know that they are the product of many neurons which must communicate with one another to produce the effect we experience.  We further know that neuronal networks must communicate over distances of space which are the length of a significant fraction of our brains, and that physics sets an upper limit on the speed at which information can be conveyed.  We can hardly expect any biological process to produce speeds minutely approaching that limit. 


So, am I impressed that a computer can pick up my brain activity faster than my consciousness can become aware of it?  Hardly.  When you think it through, the contrary result would have been the surpising one:  free will or no.  That there be some particular set of neurons which fire and constitute our conscious minds boarders on the absurd.  Why would something as obviously the result of complexity as is consciousness be generated by simple means?  But this appears to be precisely what Sam was expecting.

 

 

 

Do you imagine that within the brain there exists an actual entity that governs the activity of the neurons?
Is there some sort of overseer that lives in the dark damp goo of the brain whose job is to direct the organism through its daily affairs?
Does this little creature make thousand of decisions every day for the body?

 

[ Edited: 13 September 2012 10:53 PM by toombaru]
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Posted: 14 September 2012 01:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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BernardoPinto - 13 September 2012 06:15 PM

Read the following:

http://www.naturalism.org/demoralization.htm

http://www.naturalism.org/fatalism.htm

This website is awesome. ‘I’ am a naturalist.

The self and freewill are illusions.

An agent’s intentions matter because they are a part of the causal chain.

Everything is determined. The fact that I am writing this post and indeed this sentence was always going to happen from the beginning of time.

It seems to ‘me’ (for want of a better term) that regardless of whether an agent is a part of the causal chain the choices that they make (e.g. whether to cross the road with their eyes opened or closed) are already determined.

Whilst it is not prudent to ‘sit back and see what happens’ if one was to sit back and see what happens it would be no less caused than any inanimate billiard ball type causation.

This is amazing in that by knowing the exact fine detail of everything that is happening right now would provide, for an extreme intelligence, the ability to know all previous states of matter and all future states of matter. Leplace’s Demon is omniscient.

I saw something ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLGI5ocAYZM ) in which Dennett claims that there is an epistemic horizon: that we cannot, in principal, know the future? I have not come across this idea before. Any good links?

I also disagree with Dennett and Dawkin’s celebration of being alive when considering the improbability. It seems that probability fails to inspire awe in light of determinism. There is no such thing as a possible alternate state of the universe. To say the probability of conscious life on Earth was so low that we can be thankful for this fact doesn’t seem to make sense. There was no alternative. It just is as it is. The awe is an irrational emotion.

 

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Posted: 14 September 2012 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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KOZ - 14 September 2012 01:44 AM

The self and freewill are illusions.

This is an unsubstantiated, faith-based claim.  Your conclusions cannot follow until you have established your premise.  I give more respect to a theist who is at least honest about the nature of her acceptence of claims she hasn’t proven.  Notice the similarity between your own ‘evidence’ that free will is an illusion and their ‘evidence’ for the existence of God.  It is circumstantial and euphemistic at best.  Yet you dishonestly proceed from their taking the notion as unassailable fact. 


I predict that I can expose you further if you will do me the service of answering one question.  Is there any evidence to support the existence of sprititual experiences?

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Posted: 14 September 2012 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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TheCoolinator - 14 September 2012 07:37 AM
KOZ - 14 September 2012 01:44 AM

The self and freewill are illusions.

This is an unsubstantiated, faith-based claim.  Your conclusions cannot follow until you have established your premise.  I give more respect to a theist who is at least honest about the nature of her acceptence of claims she hasn’t proven.  Notice the similarity between your own ‘evidence’ that free will is an illusion and their ‘evidence’ for the existence of God.  It is circumstantial and euphemistic at best.  Yet you dishonestly proceed from their taking the notion as unassailable fact. 


I predict that I can expose you further if you will do me the service of answering one question.  Is there any evidence to support the existence of sprititual experiences?

 

I can assure you that no one has ever had a sprititual experiences.

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Posted: 14 September 2012 08:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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KOZ - 14 September 2012 01:44 AM
BernardoPinto - 13 September 2012 06:15 PM

Read the following:

http://www.naturalism.org/demoralization.htm

http://www.naturalism.org/fatalism.htm

This website is awesome. ‘I’ am a naturalist.

The self and freewill are illusions.

An agent’s intentions matter because they are a part of the causal chain.

Everything is determined. The fact that I am writing this post and indeed this sentence was always going to happen from the beginning of time.

It seems to ‘me’ (for want of a better term) that regardless of whether an agent is a part of the causal chain the choices that they make (e.g. whether to cross the road with their eyes opened or closed) are already determined.

Whilst it is not prudent to ‘sit back and see what happens’ if one was to sit back and see what happens it would be no less caused than any inanimate billiard ball type causation.

This is amazing in that by knowing the exact fine detail of everything that is happening right now would provide, for an extreme intelligence, the ability to know all previous states of matter and all future states of matter. Leplace’s Demon is omniscient.

I saw something ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLGI5ocAYZM ) in which Dennett claims that there is an epistemic horizon: that we cannot, in principal, know the future? I have not come across this idea before. Any good links?

I also disagree with Dennett and Dawkin’s celebration of being alive when considering the improbability. It seems that probability fails to inspire awe in light of determinism. There is no such thing as a possible alternate state of the universe. To say the probability of conscious life on Earth was so low that we can be thankful for this fact doesn’t seem to make sense. There was no alternative. It just is as it is. The awe is an irrational emotion.

 


I suppose for some who grasp the fact that it is life itself that “decides” and there is no little captain steering the ship could see that as depressing.
But it is only the little captain that is depressed.
Here, awareness, look out into a vast, ever emerging mystery.
The little captain still stands at the helm…..spinning his wheels…....barking out orders.
But it is known that it is a phantom…..a chimera.
Awareness sees colors….....hears sounds…...tastes oreo cookies dipped in milk…...feels the touch of a grandchild’s hands…...leans its head back and laughs.
Awareness…...aware of itself….......amazing.

[ Edited: 14 September 2012 08:51 AM by toombaru]
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Posted: 14 September 2012 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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TheCoolinator - 14 September 2012 07:37 AM
KOZ - 14 September 2012 01:44 AM

The self and freewill are illusions.

This is an unsubstantiated, faith-based claim.  Your conclusions cannot follow until you have established your premise.  I give more respect to a theist who is at least honest about the nature of her acceptence of claims she hasn’t proven.  Notice the similarity between your own ‘evidence’ that free will is an illusion and their ‘evidence’ for the existence of God.  It is circumstantial and euphemistic at best.  Yet you dishonestly proceed from their taking the notion as unassailable fact. 


I predict that I can expose you further if you will do me the service of answering one question.  Is there any evidence to support the existence of sprititual experiences?

LOL! Cool response, thanks.

You are right. I have not provided evidence that the self and freewill are illusions. I was not trying to provide any or convince anyone of anything in the post.

Um…. please go ahead and ‘expose me further’ on the basis that my answer to your question is that there is evidence to support the existence of ‘spiritual’ experiences - aside from first person testimony there is also the god helmet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_helmet). I believe the experiences occurred and felt ‘spiritual’ however I do not think they provide meaningful evidence for the spiritual itself - there is an important difference. As Dawkins says - he used to think that if a huge Jesus appeared in front of him and told him he was real that he would believe but now he simply thinks that he would query whether he was hallucinating. 

 

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Posted: 14 September 2012 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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TheCoolinator - 13 September 2012 08:32 PM

Wow!  My mind is officially blown.  Thank you for posting this.  I’ve heard of naturalism before, but this is my first exposure to a serious description of the school.  I think I just officially stopped being a fan of Sam Harris.  This explains in crystal clear detail precisely why he is right 90% of the time, and willfully disingenuous the remaining 10%.


I found the following passage from http://centerfornaturalism.blogspot.com/2008/11/worldview-naturalism-in-nutshell.html particularly informative:  “If you don’t believe in anything supernatural – gods, ghosts, immaterial souls and spirits – then you subscribe to naturalism, the idea that nature is all there is.” Notice how they try to slip this perversion of reason right past you.  Let me paraphrase “If you don’t believe in superstition, then you believe in everything with which I am about to fill your head.”  This is manifestly abhorrent to my sense of skepticism.  I’m appalled that so many smart people are jumping in.  It smacks of a conspiracy to replace traditional religion by proselytizing a competing belief system.  If you substitute one belief system for another, have you really accomplished anything?  The convert to this naturalism religion may have an increased respect for science, but they are still accepting their world view on faith.  I prefer a self identified Christian who puts little stock in the faith she hasn’t bothered to fully reject to the activist mentality of a person who would convert to a belief system that allows them to pursue their ridiculous mysticism in full view of their scientific knowledge.


What on earth are you talking about ?

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Posted: 14 September 2012 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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KOZ - 14 September 2012 01:44 AM

This website is awesome. ‘I’ am a naturalist.

The self and freewill are illusions.

An agent’s intentions matter because they are a part of the causal chain.

Everything is determined. The fact that I am writing this post and indeed this sentence was always going to happen from the beginning of time. It seems to ‘me’ (for want of a better term) that regardless of whether an agent is a part of the causal chain the choices that they make (e.g. whether to cross the road with their eyes opened or closed) are already determined.
Whilst it is not prudent to ‘sit back and see what happens’ if one was to sit back and see what happens it would be no less caused than any inanimate billiard ball type causation.
This is amazing in that by knowing the exact fine detail of everything that is happening right now would provide, for an extreme intelligence, the ability to know all previous states of matter and all future states of matter. Leplace’s Demon is omniscient.

Correct, although the ability to know all previous states of matter and future ones is only possible in theory, not in practice.

 

KOZ - 14 September 2012 01:44 AM

I also disagree with Dennett and Dawkin’s celebration of being alive when considering the improbability. It seems that probability fails to inspire awe in light of determinism. There is no such thing as a possible alternate state of the universe. To say the probability of conscious life on Earth was so low that we can be thankful for this fact doesn’t seem to make sense. There was no alternative. It just is as it is. The awe is an irrational emotion.

What they mean by that is that life is a rare event.

 

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Posted: 14 September 2012 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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TheCoolinator - 14 September 2012 07:37 AM

This is an unsubstantiated, faith-based claim.

Hmm, no.

Contrary to popular belief, faith is not necessary to reject something for which there is no evidence in the first place.

That’s also why atheism is not faith based.

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Posted: 14 September 2012 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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BernardoPinto - 14 September 2012 11:38 AM

Correct, although the ability to know all previous states of matter and future ones is only possible in theory, not in practice.

Thanks. Why isn’t it possible to know all previous states of matter and future ones in practice? I am thinking of an extreme intelligence resulting from the singularity.

I saw something ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLGI5ocAYZM ) in which Dennett claims that there is an epistemic horizon: that we cannot, in principal, know the future? I have not come across this idea before.

Any good ideas?

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