Free Will the wrong question
Posted: 11 April 2012 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I have been following the Debate about “free will” that has been going on for some time now and is currently ragging on the Web at sites like Sam Harris’. My feeling is that a debate on free will is misguided because consciousness the vehicle for “free will” is not understood. In other words, how can you understand the contents when you do not understand the container?

I would think it prudent if we want to have some understanding of free will , to ask this: Free from what? Will, being the conscious effort to perform an action.  Let us answer the first part; free from what? This question in itself must be understood because being free means “not affected” so freedom can not be a reaction, like being free from something, because then freedom depends on something, which is a contradiction. It is important to understand that being able to choose between what we think is right or wrong does not make us free.

The entire debate on free will is taking place with-in the system of thought and thought by its nature can not be free because it is based on knowledge and since there is no perfect knowledge it stands, quite evidently that we are not free.

 

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Posted: 13 April 2012 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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For me while I think I see where your coming from I don’t think its that semantic. But to run with your analogy,  I would ask you to say why you think ‘consciousness’ is a container? Where do you separate the awareness of a decision and the decision itself? Consciousness is what we have and maybe the reason we imagine free will.

How would having ‘perfect knowledge’ make us any more free than imperfect knowledge?

The conversation is also happening within the realm of neurology where it can be demonstrated to varying degrees that there is a lag in time regarding decision making and being conscious of the decision. Its not just in the ‘system’ of thought.

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Posted: 13 April 2012 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I will attempt to clarify: Consciousness arises out of matter (the container) if there were no matter there would be no consciousness.  It is though, as you say, the content is the consciousness. Perfect knowledge is not possible, by its nature knowledge is dynamic because it is always being adjusted. Free Will (to exist) must radiate from perfect knowledge if it doesn’t then it is encumbered which automatically negates it, (free will).


You mention neurology I have encompassed that into “matter ” the physical brain. 


I have a blog please check it out. http://dungteller.blogspot.com/

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Posted: 25 April 2012 09:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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***  I would like to know how long it takes for any/all measurable processes between the conscious and subconscious.
If the conscious mind has no say in the matter, it is of little or no value and maybe even a detriment to the survival of man?

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Posted: 27 April 2012 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Can we say where the conscious mind ends and the subconscious begins? I think it is obvious that there is consciousness and it has achieved many things some were good some were horrendous. I think what needs to be understood is the “source of human action”. If the source of human action is not intelligence then there will be conflict and if we are honest in our observation then it is obvious that we are not intelligent, conflict is everywhere. To clarify a person may be an intelligent scientist but like everyone else the rest of his life is mired in conflict.
When a species poisons it own environment and threatens its own existence in many ways it is obvious intelligence is not operating.

[ Edited: 28 April 2012 09:43 AM by Bill Rogan]
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Posted: 27 April 2012 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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  I believe that the issue is not with the IQ but more so taming one’s emotions.  As we know even people with high IQs do bad things, the action is driven by emotion that the IQ subconscious was unable to control, emotion is like a virus, it corrupts the system.  Emotion is embedded thru out our system and anytime it is triggered our survivability is put at risk, unfortunately not everyone has a high enough IQ to consciously manipulate/control/modify the emotion within.  This emotion which greed is tied into will knock out the reason program long enough to accomplish its goal, this is how we end up with a housing recession brought on by some of our most highly educated people.  Their reason software was corrupted/short circuited long enough to accomplish the emotionally driven greed the desire to have more than the next guy or out of fear, fear of not having enough to last / to survive.  These are ever running programs within the system of our minds, conscious/subconscious… lack of free will is not all inclusive in my mind, I see an interface with a window of instantaneous exchange and perhaps the speed of exchange is not measurable.  A neighbor, formerly a military sniper mentioned to me that if he was to drop a bullet and pull the trigger of his rifle that the bullet he dropped and the bullet that travels 1100 feet (his longest hit) would hit the ground at the same time, I know that this info is common sense for many, but I believe that he mentioned that to me for a reason, his mind is communicating info to mine in regard to this discussion and I just have to figure out how it fits into the puzzle.  Just my 2 cents worth of pondering… Have a Nice Day!

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Posted: 27 April 2012 09:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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DawnCCC - 25 April 2012 09:12 PM

***  I would like to know how long it takes for any/all measurable processes between the conscious and subconscious.
If the conscious mind has no say in the matter, it is of little or no value and maybe even a detriment to the survival of man?

Consider the possibility that what is called the unconscious is only referred to in such a dismissive way due to the fact that we’re unable to remember most of our cognitive work. I see it as being comparable to an iceberg in the sense that the vast majority of our mental activity is forgotten since it’s unneeded, so we refer to it as unconscious just as the majority of an iceberg is invisible to someone in a nearby boat on the water. But while we’re engaged in thought, we are certainly conscious of everything we encounter mentally.


???

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 28 April 2012 07:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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People do not pray for rain during a flood, that would be crazy. Not seeing that thinking your way out of a knowledge based thought induced cultural dilemma is just as crazy, with even more dire consequences than a mere flood.

Thought based knowledge is causing all the problems it says it is trying to fix and it has not worked and will not work. Common sense even says that it (knowledge) would have worked by now, for there have been great intellects trying to solve mankind’s problems and there has also been (so I’m told ) God’s trying to fix us.

So what will work????????

[ Edited: 28 April 2012 08:26 AM by Bill Rogan]
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Posted: 28 April 2012 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Bill Rogan - 11 April 2012 08:30 AM

I have been following the Debate about “free will” that has been going on for some time now and is currently ragging on the Web at sites like Sam Harris’. My feeling is that a debate on free will is misguided because consciousness the vehicle for “free will” is not understood. In other words, how can you understand the contents when you do not understand the container?

To return to this statement of yours, Bill, I think it summarizes something important. Free will is both a religious term and a secular term. I’m beginning almost to think in terms of free will(a) and free will(b). I have no problem with Harris confidently stating that free will is a myth or an illusion or whatever it is he says. (I haven’t read his latest book/essay.) But in my agreement, I’ll stipulate that free will of the religious type is an illusion. I see secular-style free will, which could be retermed as human will or free choice or something else, as entirely legitimate and as real as any other language-based concept.


(All language based concepts are, of course, illusions. But if we’re going to go to extremes, we might as well just shrivel up into balls and wait for the next freeze.)


So I feel that I agree with Harris in an essential way. But I think he’s overstepping current neuro knowledge and application when he utilizes his neuroscience expertise and descriptions to explain away free will. Neuroscience is still in its infancy and understands only certain—hugely and enormously impressive perhaps—aspects of cognitive operation and function. His free will stance is entirely philosophical, it seems to me, yet he uses (misuses) his Ph.D. expertise by declaring neuroscience to have abolished free will.


But Harris has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and therefore he’s far from qualified to utilize such minimal expertise to make his declarations. For me, it reads like a bait and switch of sorts.


Does this make sense to you, Bill? Have I missed anything by not having read his latest work? If you think so, I’ll quickly bow out of this thread.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 29 April 2012 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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    I read the book, FREE WILL, and I struggle to keep an Open Mind and I struggle to agree.  Based on my own experience I would argue otherwise, but I must appreciate Dr. Harris’ education and therefore must delve deeper into the subject matter before I reach a final conclusion in my own mind.  I hope that it is not my ego that demands a Free Will, but as psychology would have it, that would be the leading cause of disagreement with Dr. Harris I suppose.  I can accept that genetics makes for a very interesting tapestry of living, semi-intelligent robots scrambling around planet earth, but then that lends me to believe that we humans and life on earth is an EXPERIMENT of an advanced life form, then that though lends me to wonder what is their goal with us which leads to the supernatural which is only supernatural in our limited existence, and that makes me realize that anyone with an IQ under “X” would need a GOD to cope with life on earth.  As emotional beings we are fragile.  I understand that Dr. Harris is frustrated with how idiotic religion seems in an “intelligent” vessel such as mankind; what he fails to realize is that although many horrible acts agains humanity have been accomplished under the guise of religion, the odds are that much worse could have been in our history and since we do not know for sure, he should back out of that argument and I am hoping after he reads Dr. Pinker’s book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, he will realize that yes, a lot of death happened in the name of GOD, but now thousands of years latter that same GOD has allowed the “Better Angels” to tame that ill begotten quality out of mankind… Christianity has matured out of killing in the name of GOD (for the most part, I realize that USA is predominantly Christian so our interference in the Middle East could be construed as a religious endeavor), whereas the MUSLIM religion is still hell bent on population control in the name of GOD.  I personally do not believe that GOD approves of any of it, like any good parent, he will let Johnny fall off his bike so that he learns to be a better bicyclist.  Have a Nice Day.  ... just my 2 cents worth of confusion…

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Posted: 29 April 2012 08:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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I have only read “The End of Faith” and I felt that the book dismantled the nonsense of organized religion in a way that was non confrontational. I think Harris has a partial insight into the human mind and how it functions. What I was amazed at was the response of the so called faithful when they read the same thing, I did. Paul Simon the lyricist wrote “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” this is quite true.  Most people, in general can not be objective, no matter how smart they seem.

I wonder does what I am saying sound extreme to others? It all seems so simple to me and I am trying to convey that in these comments.

I am sensing in you a mind capable of complex thought and I see what you are saying in that we are in an infancy as far as our knowledge of mind/brain function.

I want to try and draw a distinction between understanding how a process works (reality) and being of the process itself (actuality).  Empirical knowledge and data are of course important but they will not lead to understanding. I think - feel (thelt) that in “reality” we describe the process, in “actuality” we are the process. I have just one question for us all and that is; why is it that we are not in tune with what we are? It seems obvious that mankind is not in sync with nature, conflict is everywhere and all the knowledge in the world is not changing this fact.
I think you are approaching this topic in a scientific manner and I am trying to point out the limitations of a knowledge based solution. You might be interested in reading “Thought as a System” by David Bohm.
Thanks for writing and listening,
Warm Regards, Bill

[ Edited: 01 May 2012 01:09 PM by Bill Rogan]
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Posted: 29 April 2012 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Hi My last post was addressed to nonverbal, sorry

Bill

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