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Illusion of Freedom
Posted: 02 June 2011 02:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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ohawkins21 - 01 June 2011 08:22 PM

What I am saying is that all because Joey choose to do X does not mean that it is inevitable that Joey would choose to do X over W and Z if put in the same circumstance.


In regards to determinism the fact that I am on this computer right now does not mean that I had no choice but to be at this computer, it just means that I choose to do so and given the same circumstances, I could choose to go for a walk, instead of jumping on the computer.


This is the meat of our argument. You seem to want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to have cause and effect, but also the freedom to make decisions that our not predetermined by preexisting causes. This can’t be.


Joey cannot choose differently if EVERYTHING is the same, because what made Joey act the way he did the first time must make him act the same the second time. OR do you want to argue that Joey’s actions are uncaused? Is that what it all comes down to? A magical uncaused will?


Given the same circumstances you would jump on the computer again to reply to me, because your brain would make you. You just don’t seem to grasp that everything in the universe obeys the same laws of cause and effect. The same laws that make the row of dominoes fall from the first domino to the last makes people act the way they do.


I don’t know what more to say about this. People seem believe in the freedom of decision with religious fervor.

Ok, so we are on the same page..What irks me is that when I hear deterministic arguements, thoughts are always ignored and it is usually implied taht before we think, our brains have already made a decision of what to do without us being away of it…this I have a problem with.


While I do think that thoughts might play a role in the way of a feedback-loop I also think many things are being decided in the brain without thought ever playing a role.

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Posted: 02 June 2011 03:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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“And quantum effects are unlikely to be biologically salient in any case.” The very existence of a chemical bond - any kind of chemical bond - can only be explained with quantum mechanics. A chemical bond is a quantum mechanical state. Chemical bonds are irrelevant for biology!? DNA!? Think about it Sam! That’s scientifically nuts!


The point that Sam is making and that I think you are deliberately misunderstanding is that quantum mechanics changes very little in the way we understand the world to work on molecular basis. Chemical bonds are not unpredictable. The whole basis for chemistry is that we know to a great degree of certainty what is going to happen when you put two chemicals together. I do not need to know anything about quantum mechanics to deduct from this that we live in a highly deterministic universe. I could even accept that there is a very small random effect, but it is obviously (look around you!) a very small effect. I don’t believe there is an random effect just an effect that cannot be explained yet.

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Posted: 02 June 2011 03:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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lente - 02 June 2011 06:39 AM

...I don’t know what more to say about this. People seem believe in the freedom of decision with religious fervor…

True, but some people believe in complete determinism just like you. Where’s your scientific proof? Quantum mechanics does not obey this deterministic cause-effect belief system. Have you found the presumed hidden variables? What about Bell’s inequalities? What about Occam’s razor? Doesn’t occam’s razor demand dropping the belief in unproven and unidentified variables on the basis of a dogma?

So, I think your religious fervour is equally disturbing.

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Posted: 02 June 2011 03:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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lente - 02 June 2011 07:03 AM

“And quantum effects are unlikely to be biologically salient in any case.” The very existence of a chemical bond - any kind of chemical bond - can only be explained with quantum mechanics. A chemical bond is a quantum mechanical state. Chemical bonds are irrelevant for biology!? DNA!? Think about it Sam! That’s scientifically nuts!


The point that Sam is making and that I think you are deliberately misunderstanding is that quantum mechanics changes very little in the way we understand the world to work on molecular basis. ..

Chemical bonds are completely incomprehensible without quantum mechanics. I am not misunderstanding Sam, but Sam has no idea what he is talking about and neither do you.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valence_bond_theory

Chemical bonds do not obey deterministic laws. That is the state of the art and the mainstream scientific understanding of our day. If you have a better theory for chemical bonds than go publish it and get a nobel prize.

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Posted: 02 June 2011 03:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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kikl - 02 June 2011 07:10 AM
lente - 02 June 2011 06:39 AM

...I don’t know what more to say about this. People seem believe in the freedom of decision with religious fervor…

True, but some people believe in complete determinism just like you. Where’s your scientific proof? Quantum mechanics does not obey this deterministic cause-effect belief system. Have you found the presumed hidden variables? What about Bell’s inequalities? What about Occam’s razor? Doesn’t occam’s razor demand dropping the belief in unproven and unidentified variables on the basis of a dogma?

So, I think your religious fervour is equally disturbing.

So you have a problem with complete determinism? Fine, let’s say that the universe is 99% deterministic. Doesn’t leave much room for freewill does it?

Chemical bonds are completely incomprehensible without quantum mechanics. I am not misunderstanding Sam, but Sam has no idea what he is talking about and neither do you.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valence_bond_theory
Chemical bonds do not obey deterministic laws. That is the state of the art and the mainstream scientific understanding of our day. If you have a better theory for chemical bonds than go publish it and get a nobel prize.

I do know what I am talking about and so does Sam. Your fondness for quantum mechanics blinds you to the obvious truth that we live in a very deterministic universe. Chemical bonds DO obey our understanding of cause and effect. It doesn’t really matter if a single atom doesn’t do what we predict it to do, because it’s “friends” will. If this wasn’t the case our understanding of chemistry and biology would be meaningless.

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Posted: 02 June 2011 03:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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lente - 02 June 2011 07:40 AM

....So you have a problem with complete determinism? Fine, let’s say that the universe is 99% deterministic. Doesn’t leave much room for freewill does it? ...

I do know what I am talking about and so does Sam. Your fondness for quantum mechanics blinds you to the obvious truth that we live in a very deterministic universe. Chemical bonds DO obey our understanding of cause and effect. It doesn’t really matter if a single atom doesn’t do what we predict it to do, because it’s “friends” will. If this wasn’t the case our understanding of chemistry and biology would be meaningless.

I don’t know what 99% deterministic really means. Furthermore, do you have any evidence to support your data?

It really doesn’t matter whether I am fond of quantum mechanics or not. I have studied quantum mechanics in depth and I know that its not a deterministic theory according to the mainstream scientific understanding. Furthermore, I know that chemical bonds as we understand them today are not completely governed by cause and effect.

Sure, you can keep on denying the current scientific Weltanschauung. But in this way you have more in common with religious fundamentalists who reject the theory of evolution than with people who believe in rationality and scientific progress as the best way of finding truths.

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Posted: 02 June 2011 04:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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kikl - 02 June 2011 07:50 AM

I don’t know what 99% deterministic really means. Furthermore, do you have any evidence to support your data?

It really doesn’t matter whether I am fond of quantum mechanics or not. I have studied quantum mechanics in depth and I know that its not a deterministic theory according to the mainstream scientific understanding. Furthermore, I know that chemical bonds as we understand them today are not completely governed by cause and effect.

Sure, you can keep on denying the current scientific Weltanschauung. But in this way you have more in common with religious fundamentalists who reject the theory of evolution than with people who believe in rationality and scientific progress as the best way of finding truths.


99% deterministic simply means that when you get out of the door in the morning to go to work your rightly expect that the laws of physics haven’t changed overnight. You don’t expect your car to have suddenly become an elephant or your boss the ass you always thought he acted like.  As for data, almost all scientific evidence is based on the assumption of determinism. When scientists say that X is caused by Y they do so in the context of determinism. They are not saying X is caused by Y, but the next time it may be different.


The coherency of the universe can only be understood by determinism. You can (and have) argued that it is is not absolute. Well maybe that is true. However it is determined enough to make life possible. What it doesn’t make possible is freewill.


You simply misuse you understanding of quantum mechanics to make a claim that is not supported by even the most common observations of reality. Why don’t you provide the evidence that quantum mechanics plays a significant role in our daily life and in the understanding of biology?

[ Edited: 02 June 2011 04:11 AM by lente]
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Posted: 02 June 2011 04:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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lente - 02 June 2011 08:09 AM

...
You simply misuse you understanding of quantum mechanics to make a claim that is not supported by even the most common observations of reality. Why don’t you provide the evidence that quantum mechanics plays a significant role in our daily life and in the understanding of biology?

I have. The chemical bond. Radio activity, remember that? crystal structures!? Semi-conductors, .... oh well, there are countless examples.

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Posted: 02 June 2011 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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kikl - 02 June 2011 08:17 AM
lente - 02 June 2011 08:09 AM

...
You simply misuse you understanding of quantum mechanics to make a claim that is not supported by even the most common observations of reality. Why don’t you provide the evidence that quantum mechanics plays a significant role in our daily life and in the understanding of biology?

I have. The chemical bond. Radio activity, remember that? crystal structures!? Semi-conductors, .... oh well, there are countless examples.

I said significant.

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Posted: 02 June 2011 04:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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lente - 02 June 2011 08:20 AM
kikl - 02 June 2011 08:17 AM
lente - 02 June 2011 08:09 AM

...
You simply misuse you understanding of quantum mechanics to make a claim that is not supported by even the most common observations of reality. Why don’t you provide the evidence that quantum mechanics plays a significant role in our daily life and in the understanding of biology?

I have. The chemical bond. Radio activity, remember that? crystal structures!? Semi-conductors, .... oh well, there are countless examples.

I said significant.

I’m not misusing quantum mechanics. I’m telling you like it is. This was readily apparent to the founding fathers of QM. Heisenberg called his uncertainty principle in German “Unbestimmtheitsrelation”, which literally means: Indeterminacy relation. When he discovered it, he said: “I think I have disproved the causality principle.” Sure, you can debate that.

Chemical bonds are insignificant for our daily life or biology? Semi-conductors are insignificant for our daily life? Hmmm….

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Posted: 05 June 2011 02:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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kikl - 02 June 2011 08:36 AM
lente - 02 June 2011 08:20 AM
kikl - 02 June 2011 08:17 AM
lente - 02 June 2011 08:09 AM

...
You simply misuse you understanding of quantum mechanics to make a claim that is not supported by even the most common observations of reality. Why don’t you provide the evidence that quantum mechanics plays a significant role in our daily life and in the understanding of biology?

I have. The chemical bond. Radio activity, remember that? crystal structures!? Semi-conductors, .... oh well, there are countless examples.

I said significant.

I’m not misusing quantum mechanics. I’m telling you like it is. This was readily apparent to the founding fathers of QM. Heisenberg called his uncertainty principle in German “Unbestimmtheitsrelation”, which literally means: Indeterminacy relation. When he discovered it, he said: “I think I have disproved the causality principle.” Sure, you can debate that.

Chemical bonds are insignificant for our daily life or biology? Semi-conductors are insignificant for our daily life? Hmmm….


No, that is not what I said or meant in any case. What I mean and have tried to explain to you again and again is that IF there is ANY quantum effect (however you want to define it) it does NOT matter a whole lot to the everyday workings of chemical and biologic systems. How do I know this? Simple: I do not have to understand quantum physics to clone DNA (for example) even though DNA cloning certainly involves chemistry.


And guess what: it is a fairly predictable process. And why is that? Because for all practical purposes the universe works as you would expect if determinism is true. That is why - getting back to the main topic - freewill cannot exist.

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Posted: 05 June 2011 03:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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lente - 05 June 2011 06:56 AM

...No, that is not what I said or meant in any case. What I mean and have tried to explain to you again and again is that IF there is ANY quantum effect (however you want to define it) it does NOT matter a whole lot to the everyday workings of chemical and biologic systems. How do I know this? Simple: I do not have to understand quantum physics to clone DNA (for example) even though DNA cloning certainly involves chemistry.

And guess what: it is a fairly predictable process. And why is that? Because for all practical purposes the universe works as you would expect if determinism is true. That is why - getting back to the main topic - freewill cannot exist.

So now your lack of knowledge about both chemistry and physics turns into a virtue for understanding the world! Wow, that’s an achievement. That’s your initial argument. Initially you stated that the universe is completely deterministic. Apparently, you dropped this nonsense. Then it is “fairly predictable”. If you want to prove that freedom is an illusion - like Sam Harris - then “fairly predictable” - whatever that means - is simply not enough. From a philosophical point of view that’s a non sequitur. It does not follow from “fairly predictable” that freedom is an illusion.

If persons are “fairly predictable” and not free as you claim, then why don’t you make a fortune by predicting peoples behaviour? Why don’t you predict the content and form of my next post on this forum? Why don’t you predict the rise and/or fall of the stock market (that’s human behaviour!).... Answer: You can’t! Nobody can! Why? I don’t know, but my hunch is: They have a free will. Why do I think so? Personal Experience! So it is indeed reasonable to believe this.

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Posted: 05 June 2011 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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kikl - 10 May 2011 05:39 AM

Sam believes that freedom is an illusion. Humans act according to the laws of nature, which completely determine our behaviour. Therefore, the notions of “acting”, “choosing”, “deciding”, “doing”... are all mere illusions. I have a few questions related to this topic.

1. Morality is about what persons ought to do. But doing is a mere illusion. Therefore, there is no place for morality. What’s wrong with this reasoning? Why does Sam write books about morality?

What do you mean by “doing is a mere illusion”?

2. If freedom is an illusion, then why does this illusion exist? Are there scientific reasons for the illusion of freedom.

Freedom of?

3. If freedom is an illusion, then why do we have developed a conscious mind? What is the function of conscience if not to guide our actions? Or does Sam believe that conscience is an illusion too?

Freedom of?

As you can see, it’s not possible to explore other avenues until you can better elaborate your positions.

Beyond this, a few things you may want to consider:

1. All events in the universe are transitory and non linear. Energy and material forms changes from one state to another. So, they are in the constant flux of changes; some longer in static form, other lesser in subtle form. Static events goes to 4 transitory stages of arising, stabilization, decay and dissolution. Subtle events goes to 3 transitory stages of arising, transformation (stabilization + decay) and dissolution. Because of this constant flux of change which leads to ..

2. No permanent “self” or “I”. The human body completely changes approximately every 7 years not only physically but also mentally. That means all mental faculties as well, including consciousness and volitional actions, which are not static anyhow. So understanding that there is no permanent self, but only a temporary self which one clings on to thus leads to ..

3. The desire for choices to choose of this or that, of what is or isn’t which creates discriminatory views and thus ignorance or delusion arises.

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Posted: 05 June 2011 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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So now your lack of knowledge about both chemistry and physics turns into a virtue for understanding the world! Wow, that’s an achievement.

I see how it is. You like to call other people ignorant, but you can’t provide evidence of your superior knowledge. I may not know much about physics and may not be the world greatest mind on chemistry (although I know enough about it), but at least I am not as deluded to think you need to know these things to understand the basic facts of live.

That’s your initial argument. Initially you stated that the universe is completely deterministic. Apparently, you dropped this nonsense.

Actually I was just being fair to you. I think there is good reason to believe that the universe is at it’s core deterministic. However I am willing to admit that this cannot said for sure at this moment, but neither can your random/undetermined theory be conclusively proven.

Then it is “fairly predictable”. If you want to prove that freedom is an illusion - like Sam Harris - then “fairly predictable” - whatever that means - is simply not enough. From a philosophical point of view that’s a non sequitur. It does not follow from “fairly predictable” that freedom is an illusion.

Do you really not see the basic error you are making here? How is the fact that not everything can be 100% predicted evidence that there is something random/undetermined in play? A far more logical explanation would be that we just don’t know enough to predict something with 100% accuracy.


There are however plenty of things which can be predicted with almost 100% accuracy. If I don’t eat for a year I will almost certainly be dead in a year.(sooner of course) Do you doubt this? How can this be so certain if there really is a large random effect active in the universe. If this effect existed you would expect that strange occurrences such as flying monkeys and such would occur, but they don’t.


You are just afraid of having no freewill. Just admit to it!

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Posted: 05 June 2011 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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lente - 05 June 2011 03:39 PM

...

Do you really not see the basic error you are making here? How is the fact that not everything can be 100% predicted evidence that there is something random/undetermined in play? A far more logical explanation would be that we just don’t know enough to predict something with 100% accuracy.


There are however plenty of things which can be predicted with almost 100% accuracy. If I don’t eat for a year I will almost certainly be dead in a year.(sooner of course) Do you doubt this? How can this be so certain if there really is a large random effect active in the universe. If this effect existed you would expect that strange occurrences such as flying monkeys and such would occur, but they don’t.


You are just afraid of having no freewill. Just admit to it!

You keep modifying your statements. “basic facts of live.”; “at its core deterministic”. Well, the “core” of the world are its elementary particles. The mainstream scientific understanding of our days is that the elementary particles do not behave in a deterministic fashion. The belief that this randomness is due to our lack of knowledge is called hidden variable theory. There is no evidence whatsoever that these hidden variables exist. ‘Therefore, most physicists do not believe in hidden variables or many worlds. We have no evidence for their existence. Therefore, the mainstream understanding is that quantum mechanics is a complete description of these particles.  So you reject the existence of god for lack of evidence but you postulate hidden variables but have no evidence whatsoever for their existence. That’s inconsistent reasoning.

The theory is extremely successful. The theory has been tested like no other theory of physics. For example, QM explains the periodic table of elements ... Chemistry is basically governed by the behavior of the valence electrons of atoms. This is pure quantum mechanics and a sound understanding of chemistry is not possible without quantum mechanics. Therefore, all chemistry majors learn QM.

The correspondence principle explains how the non-deterministic world may appear to be deterministic. Newtonian physics is an approximation of quantum mechanics under certain constraints. That’s why it works pretty well. But, it doesn’t always play out this way. This is a topic of intense research. If you want to understand this paradox, you are going to have to study quantum mechanics. Sorry man!

Yes, there are many things that can be predicted with a high probability. But, if you wan’t to prove the non-existence of free will based on a comletely deterministic world, then high probability is not enough. That’s a non sequitur. There are many things you can’t do, for sure, 100% sure. You can’t stop drinking and survive for years, 100% sure. You can’t start flying in the air by waving your hands in the air, 100%. Sure. There are limits to our freedom. But that doesn’t mean that we do not have any choices whatsoever. You can drink 2 liters of water per day or 3 liters if you like. You can jump in the air, walk, take an air plane or swim, drive a car….

Finally, we are talking about human behavior. If you could predict human behavior precisely, then you would have a point. But, you can’t. You can’t even predict human behavior approximately. You are in fact making a bold conjecture: Because many everyday events appear to be predictable, everything is precisely predictable.  The conjecture is wrong.

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