You Do Not Choose What You Choose
Posted: 08 June 2011 06:55 PM   [ Ignore ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  800
Joined  2010-11-12

If you do not have free will, the you that you think you are does not exist.
If you do not exist…......what does that say about your God?
The function of God is to assuage the fear of oblivion and to bolster the illusion of personal autonomy.
The sense of self evolved simply because it helps the organism survive and reproduce.
The self needs to feel substantial and what better way to do that than have a loving creator?
It is impossible to see through the charade as long the belief in God persists.
There is no benefit to this understanding other than living in a less delusional overlay when it is apprehended that the sense of self is merely a conceptual-mnemonic phantom.

[ Edited: 06 April 2012 12:33 AM by toombaru]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 June 2011 08:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Newbie
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2011-06-09

I just read Sam Harris’ June 8, 2011 article entitled “You Do Not Choose What You Choose”.


Upon reading it, I felt both confused and enlightened. Please bear with me as I reason this through.


I believe that the core thesis of the article is that the phenomenon of conscious thought is not exempt from causation, but is also not causal in its own experience.  That is to say, my chain of thought occurs, but are not caused into existence in a manner that I have “control” over, i.e. no free will.


When thinking about a possible analogy as to the source of conscious thought, a flock of birds comes to mind. The evolution in shape and size of the flock is constantly changing and caused by the collective actions of all the birds.  Likewise, my brain gives rise to thoughts caused by some neural activity and appears to flow from one thought to the next.  Yet each bird, may only be aware of its local behavior, having limited capacity to know what influenced its movement.  Again, my conscious thought may only be aware that it existed, but without understanding what truly gave rise to it.


So the article’s argument is if I don’t know what caused my thought, then I cannot have free will to alter its course. The emergent behavior of the flock as a whole is completely determined by the behavior of the birds, which in turn can affect the behavior of each bird. But there is no bird puppetmaster who apart from the bird impacts its actions. Likewise, my thoughts are wholly determined by neural activity, which it might influence, but it does not appear to stand apart from it.


But the flock, as an entity, in turn impacts each bird.  One bird may land, triggering all others to land. Did the one bird “cause” the flock to land? Was that bird “free” to land? Similarly, my thoughts, however limited in awareness of its causes, can in turn affect the brain to effect some action, which in turn affects my thoughts further.  Was that conscious thought “free” from the chain of thoughts from which it was borne?


I believe the conclusion is no. There cannot be “free will” in the common sense use of the term.  All our thoughts occur and potentially impact the rise of other thoughts in a strictly causal sense.  The flock landed because of the behavior of the one bird, and the one bird landed because of the behavior of the flock. There is no agency apart from the neural flock that avails itself of or dictates alternate choices.


One can certainly learn, and through that change the state of the brain and the thoughts it gives rise to.  I can learn a new language and read something I was unable to previously read.  But that is not free will; it is merely where that chain of thought ultimately led to.


So then what is conscious thought?  If conscious thought is merely the emergent behavior of a certain configuration of neurons that provides for an illusory and transient sense of self, then what is the essence of self itself?  The sense of self appears to be the shifting illusory form of the flock. If the birds stop flying, is it still a flock?  If I meditate and stop thinking, what is the self between my thoughts?


The sense of self appears to be as much an illusion as the sense of free will.

[ Edited: 09 June 2011 09:09 PM by rationalbostonian]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 June 2011 09:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  800
Joined  2010-11-12
rationalbostonian - 10 June 2011 12:30 AM

I just read Sam Harris’ June 8, 2011 article entitled “You Do Not Choose What You Choose”.


Upon reading it, I felt both confused and enlightened. Please bear with me as I reason this through.


I believe that the core thesis of the article is that the phenomenon of conscious thought is not exempt from causation, but is also not causal in its own experience.  That is to say, my chain of thought occurs, but are not caused into existence in a manner that I have “control” over, i.e. no free will.


When thinking about a possible analogy as to the source of conscious thought, a flock of birds comes to mind. The evolution in shape and size of the flock is constantly changing and caused by the collective actions of all the birds.  Likewise, my brain gives rise to thoughts caused by some neural activity and appears to flow from one thought to the next.  Yet each bird, may only be aware of its local behavior, having limited capacity to know what influenced its movement.  Again, my conscious thought may only be aware that it existed, but without understanding what truly gave rise to it.


So the article’s argument is if I don’t know what caused my thought, then I cannot have free will to alter its course. The emergent behavior of the flock as a whole is completely determined by the behavior of the birds, which in turn can affect the behavior of each bird. But there is no bird puppetmaster who apart from the bird impacts its actions. Likewise, my thoughts are wholly determined by neural activity, which it might influence, but it does not appear to stand apart from it.


But the flock, as an entity, in turn impacts each bird.  One bird may land, triggering all others to land. Did the one bird “cause” the flock to land? Was that bird “free” to land? Similarly, my thoughts, however limited in awareness of its causes, can in turn affect the brain to effect some action, which in turn affects my thoughts further.  Was that conscious thought “free” from the chain of thoughts from which it was borne?


I believe the conclusion is no. There cannot be “free will” in the common sense use of the term.  All our thoughts occur and potentially impact the rise of other thoughts in a strictly causal sense.  The flock landed because of the behavior of the one bird, and the one bird landed because of the behavior of the flock. There is no agency apart from the neural flock that avails itself of or dictates alternate choices.


One can certainly learn, and through that change the state of the brain and the thoughts it gives rise to.  I can learn a new language and read something I was unable to previously read.  But that is not free will; it is merely where that chain of thought ultimately led to.


So then what is conscious thought?  If conscious thought is merely the emergent behavior of a certain configuration of neurons that provides for an illusory and transient sense of self, then what is the essence of self itself?  The sense of self appears to be the shifting illusory form of the flock. If the birds stop flying, is it still a flock?  If I meditate and stop thinking, what is the self between my thoughts?


The sense of self appears to be as much an illusion as the sense of free will.

 

This is wonderful.
It is like dancing on the Grand Canyon Sky Walk.

[ Edited: 09 June 2011 09:29 PM by toombaru]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2011 02:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  11
Joined  2011-06-04
rationalbostonian - 10 June 2011 12:30 AM

So then what is conscious thought?  If conscious thought is merely the emergent behavior of a certain configuration of neurons that provides for an illusory and transient sense of self, then what is the essence of self itself?  The sense of self appears to be the shifting illusory form of the flock. If the birds stop flying, is it still a flock?  If I meditate and stop thinking, what is the self between my thoughts?

——-


A. Imagine if you look at a painting of a women from a far distance.
B. But as you walk closer and and closer then eventually put your eyeball near the painting, you will see the paint textures, color arrangements and placements and what methods and tools was used to apply the medium to the canvas.
C. It’s not a women anymore. It’s just paint on a canvas in some pattern.


A. Imagine if you look at some wooden horses in a merry-go-round when it isn’t rotating, you can clearly see the horses in distinct details.
B. Now as the merry-go-round began spin slowly then faster, you will see less details, and at very high speed, you won’t be able to see the horses at all.
C. There are no horses anymore. It’s just a merry-go-round with nothing inside.


——-


We tend to be fixated upon static forms, one right after another. As we are able to let go of one, we latch on yet to another form or object and so forth. Just like how energy changes from one form to another. It never dissipates.


The above example provides static objects or forms or points of contention that expresses the events. Like points on a graph or dates in a timeline.


Just like everything I’ve type thus so far. Each letter is an object that expresses a word. Each word is the total sum of the letters that express a sentence. Each sentence is the total sum of the words that expresses a meaning and so forth, to a paragraph, a page, etc.


So for every succession or stage or set of events, we can clearly see that their are changes, and thus all objects are really empty of existence, but yet still existing. The objects are temporal variables or descriptor for the events.


What we deemed as a static “self” conventionally, even with our very own consciousness, are all continuous, arising and dissipating of one or more events to another.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2011 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  800
Joined  2010-11-12
Gia Cát L??ng - 10 June 2011 06:02 AM
rationalbostonian - 10 June 2011 12:30 AM

So then what is conscious thought?  If conscious thought is merely the emergent behavior of a certain configuration of neurons that provides for an illusory and transient sense of self, then what is the essence of self itself?  The sense of self appears to be the shifting illusory form of the flock. If the birds stop flying, is it still a flock?  If I meditate and stop thinking, what is the self between my thoughts?

——-


A. Imagine if you look at a painting of a women from a far distance.
B. But as you walk closer and and closer then eventually put your eyeball near the painting, you will see the paint textures, color arrangements and placements and what methods and tools was used to apply the medium to the canvas.
C. It’s not a women anymore. It’s just paint on a canvas in some pattern.


A. Imagine if you look at some wooden horses in a merry-go-round when it isn’t rotating, you can clearly see the horses in distinct details.
B. Now as the merry-go-round began spin slowly then faster, you will see less details, and at very high speed, you won’t be able to see the horses at all.
C. There are no horses anymore. It’s just a merry-go-round with nothing inside.


——-


We tend to be fixated upon static forms, one right after another. As we are able to let go of one, we latch on yet to another form or object and so forth. Just like how energy changes from one form to another. It never dissipates.


The above example provides static objects or forms or points of contention that expresses the events. Like points on a graph or dates in a timeline.


Just like everything I’ve type thus so far. Each letter is an object that expresses a word. Each word is the total sum of the letters that express a sentence. Each sentence is the total sum of the words that expresses a meaning and so forth, to a paragraph, a page, etc.


So for every succession or stage or set of events, we can clearly see that their are changes, and thus all objects are really empty of existence, but yet still existing. The objects are temporal variables or descriptor for the events.


What we deemed as a static “self” conventionally, even with our very own consciousness, are all continuous, arising and dissipating of one or more events to another.

 

Clinging to the back of the human brain, the homunculus spends its time preening its own image, creating gods and demons.
It is a chemical-electrical phantom.
It is a survival-reproductive program that calls itself “me”.
It’s all quite amazing….....in a non-personal kinda way.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hyvdKpufUI

[ Edited: 10 June 2011 07:35 AM by toombaru]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 October 2011 01:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  173
Joined  2011-10-16
rationalbostonian - 10 June 2011 12:30 AM

I just read Sam Harris’ June 8, 2011 article entitled “You Do Not Choose What You Choose”.


Upon reading it, I felt both confused and enlightened. Please bear with me as I reason this through.


I believe that the core thesis of the article is that the phenomenon of conscious thought is not exempt from causation, but is also not causal in its own experience.  That is to say, my chain of thought occurs, but are not caused into existence in a manner that I have “control” over, i.e. no free will.


When thinking about a possible analogy as to the source of conscious thought, a flock of birds comes to mind. The evolution in shape and size of the flock is constantly changing and caused by the collective actions of all the birds.  Likewise, my brain gives rise to thoughts caused by some neural activity and appears to flow from one thought to the next.  Yet each bird, may only be aware of its local behavior, having limited capacity to know what influenced its movement.  Again, my conscious thought may only be aware that it existed, but without understanding what truly gave rise to it.


So the article’s argument is if I don’t know what caused my thought, then I cannot have free will to alter its course. The emergent behavior of the flock as a whole is completely determined by the behavior of the birds, which in turn can affect the behavior of each bird. But there is no bird puppetmaster who apart from the bird impacts its actions. Likewise, my thoughts are wholly determined by neural activity, which it might influence, but it does not appear to stand apart from it.


But the flock, as an entity, in turn impacts each bird.  One bird may land, triggering all others to land. Did the one bird “cause” the flock to land? Was that bird “free” to land? Similarly, my thoughts, however limited in awareness of its causes, can in turn affect the brain to effect some action, which in turn affects my thoughts further.  Was that conscious thought “free” from the chain of thoughts from which it was borne?


I believe the conclusion is no. There cannot be “free will” in the common sense use of the term.  All our thoughts occur and potentially impact the rise of other thoughts in a strictly causal sense.  The flock landed because of the behavior of the one bird, and the one bird landed because of the behavior of the flock. There is no agency apart from the neural flock that avails itself of or dictates alternate choices.


One can certainly learn, and through that change the state of the brain and the thoughts it gives rise to.  I can learn a new language and read something I was unable to previously read.  But that is not free will; it is merely where that chain of thought ultimately led to.


So then what is conscious thought?  If conscious thought is merely the emergent behavior of a certain configuration of neurons that provides for an illusory and transient sense of self, then what is the essence of self itself?  The sense of self appears to be the shifting illusory form of the flock. If the birds stop flying, is it still a flock?  If I meditate and stop thinking, what is the self between my thoughts?


The sense of self appears to be as much an illusion as the sense of free will.

Hi rationalbostonian,

Yes, the analogy is interesting and perhaps captures a bit of the competitive pandemonium that Dennett describes in Consciousness Explained, but I’d just like to add a few observations.
1. There is no collective action of all the birds, there is just a considering of all the actions of each individual bird, seeking to mitigate individual risk through flocking behaviour.  The behaviour is risk-driven and individual-driven.
2.  The behaviour is locally driven - i.e. each bird is aware of the birds nearby but not aware of the size or shape of the flock.  It just has its locally limited capacity to know what influenced its behaviour, as you say.  This would suggest a locally limited capacity to know or understand in the brain if the analogy holds true in that domain.  So your analogy would suggest that an individual idea will know a little about what caused it.  With this little bit, that idea may be able to will what’s selfishly desired for itself - and the rest of the flock of thoughts may follow it to settle on a fence or the limbs of a nearby tree.
3.  The behaviour of the flock does not affect the behaviour of each bird.  Each bird acts in accordance with its perception of risk, and the birds close by in the flock affect that perception.  In turn, this affects how the flocking, or risk-mitigating behaviour or mechanism, will be executed by the individual bird.  This is where the analogy with thought activity may break down.  Do we know if individual thoughts, wanting to survive, follow a risk-mitigating survival mechanism?  They may do, but that is a bit speculative right now.  And how will flocking promote their survival against predators (which I guess will be competing demons)?  Still, it is a very interesting thought.
4.  Each bird does seem free to land and does affect the bird next to it (not the whole flock).  Some birds seem more slavishly driven by the flocking behaviour (or fear of predators) than others.  It is a very individual thing.  They do not flock in peaceful circumstances like soldiers march in Tiananmen Square.  But as the real level of risk increases, the flocking does get more intense and careful.  So the analogy does not allow us so far to declare that our thoughts or chain of thoughts are not free to a small extent.
5.  There is a local interplay between birds that affects individual behaviour.  And this cascades until we perceive behaviour at the flock level.  I think this idea would agree with Dan Dennett’s model.  But the one bird does not behave because of the flock.  (Blind) agency remains with the risk-mitigating individual bird who (blindly) chooses flocking to various degrees as his/her preferred method
6.  Where “I” am in the analogous mind interplay is a little less clear.  Am I an individual bird, a bird plus immediate neighbours or the whole flock (all demons, active and inactive)?  The momentary sense of self may be an illusion, but it is not efficacious to think of it that way.  I hope you live your life with a strong sense of meaning, purpose and moral responsibility - this is your best chance to self-actualise!

 Signature 

“That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”  (The first article of the Virginia Declaration of Rights adopted unanimously by the Virginia Convention of Delegates on June 12, 1776)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 January 2012 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  107
Joined  2012-01-09
toombaru - 08 June 2011 10:55 PM

If you do not have free will, the you that you think you are does not exist.
If you do not exist…......


You skipped a step here.  You should have said “If the you-that-you-think-you-are does not exist….”


It is clear we are mistaken/ignorant about a lot of stuff, including ourselves.  The illusion of free will is one clear example.  That doesn’t mean that we do not exist.


Consciousness is the root brute fact, I think

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 January 2012 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  800
Joined  2010-11-12
QuakePhil - 09 January 2012 12:46 PM
toombaru - 08 June 2011 10:55 PM

If you do not have free will, the you that you think you are does not exist.
If you do not exist…......


You skipped a step here.  You should have said “If the you-that-you-think-you-are does not exist….”


It is clear we are mistaken/ignorant about a lot of stuff, including ourselves.  The illusion of free will is one clear example.  That doesn’t mean that we do not exist.


Consciousness is the root brute fact, I think

 

You thought that you existed as a dream character last night.
Consciousness is the label that the objectifying mind gives to itself.
Whatever consciousness is, it will never have access to itself for one very good reason.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 March 2012 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  16
Joined  2012-03-30
rationalbostonian - 09 June 2011 08:30 PM

I just read Sam Harris’ June 8, 2011 article entitled “You Do Not Choose What You Choose”.


Upon reading it, I felt both confused and enlightened. Please bear with me as I reason this through.


I believe that the core thesis of the article is that the phenomenon of conscious thought is not exempt from causation, but is also not causal in its own experience.  That is to say, my chain of thought occurs, but are not caused into existence in a manner that I have “control” over, i.e. no free will.


When thinking about a possible analogy as to the source of conscious thought, a flock of birds comes to mind. The evolution in shape and size of the flock is constantly changing and caused by the collective actions of all the birds.  Likewise, my brain gives rise to thoughts caused by some neural activity and appears to flow from one thought to the next.  Yet each bird, may only be aware of its local behavior, having limited capacity to know what influenced its movement.  Again, my conscious thought may only be aware that it existed, but without understanding what truly gave rise to it.


So the article’s argument is if I don’t know what caused my thought, then I cannot have free will to alter its course. The emergent behavior of the flock as a whole is completely determined by the behavior of the birds, which in turn can affect the behavior of each bird. But there is no bird puppetmaster who apart from the bird impacts its actions. Likewise, my thoughts are wholly determined by neural activity, which it might influence, but it does not appear to stand apart from it.


But the flock, as an entity, in turn impacts each bird.  One bird may land, triggering all others to land. Did the one bird “cause” the flock to land? Was that bird “free” to land? Similarly, my thoughts, however limited in awareness of its causes, can in turn affect the brain to effect some action, which in turn affects my thoughts further.  Was that conscious thought “free” from the chain of thoughts from which it was borne?


I believe the conclusion is no. There cannot be “free will” in the common sense use of the term.  All our thoughts occur and potentially impact the rise of other thoughts in a strictly causal sense.  The flock landed because of the behavior of the one bird, and the one bird landed because of the behavior of the flock. There is no agency apart from the neural flock that avails itself of or dictates alternate choices.


One can certainly learn, and through that change the state of the brain and the thoughts it gives rise to.  I can learn a new language and read something I was unable to previously read.  But that is not free will; it is merely where that chain of thought ultimately led to.


So then what is conscious thought?  If conscious thought is merely the emergent behavior of a certain configuration of neurons that provides for an illusory and transient sense of self, then what is the essence of self itself?  The sense of self appears to be the shifting illusory form of the flock. If the birds stop flying, is it still a flock?  If I meditate and stop thinking, what is the self between my thoughts?


The sense of self appears to be as much an illusion as the sense of free will.

Well done. You ask:

So then what is conscious thought?  If conscious thought is merely the emergent behavior of a certain configuration of neurons that provides for an illusory and transient sense of self, then what is the essence of self itself?  The sense of self appears to be the shifting illusory form of the flock. If the birds stop flying, is it still a flock?  If I meditate and stop thinking, what is the self between my thoughts?

I equate conscious thought as that which connects Plato’s world of forms with the phenomenal plane of exist where they lawfully manifest in their variety. Conscious humanity would live as a beings of ACTION in accordance with this connection. Fallen man lacking consciousness is a creature of REACTION as you suggest.

Plato differentiates between knowledge and opinion. We are creatures of opinion lacking conscious knowledge belonging to a higher reality: the source of devolved opinion

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 April 2012 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2012-04-04

toombaru” date=“1307584551”>If you do not have free will, the you that you think you are does not exist.
If you do not exist…......what does that say about your God?
The function of God is to assuage the fear of oblivion and to bolster the illusion of personal autonomy.
The sense of self evolved simply because it helps the organism survive and reproduce.
The self needs to feel substantial and what better way to do that than have a loving creator?
It is impossible to see through the charade as long the belief in God persists.
There is no benefit to awareness, other than living in a less delusional overlay, when it is apprehended that the sense of self is merely a conceptual-mnemonic phantom.

Hi, there :)

I read your good sentences :) Enjoy them! :0

And more, for me, I just won’t choose or even pay a penny for what I just need it/them.

Estell

[ Edited: 10 May 2012 02:00 AM by EstelleBrown]
Profile
 
 
   
 
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed