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Sam’s new thoughts on free will
Posted: 12 September 2012 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]  
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Coolinator writes: “I don’t follow your point. Are you advocating for retributive justice? Are you pointing out that punishment can be justified even in the absence of free will?”

No, I’m definitely not advocating retributive justice.  I was simply suggesting that the environment plays a major roll in who we are and how we decide.  I’m also suggesting that if this is true, free will may be an explanatory fiction.    I’ll try to give a few examples:  consider identical twin infants, one of which we’ll assign to Chinese parents and the other to Maasai parents.  Obviously, one twin will grow up to speak Mandarin and the other will speak Maa.  The first twin may embrace Buddhism while the other may be an animist.  The first could become a farmer while the second may become a herder—different environments, different lives, different world views.  We can take it to a higher level when we say that a parent, mentor, book or experience has changed our lives—that it has sent us down a new path.  In actuality this is exactly what has happened; our neural pathways have been altered—we are changed organisms.  Now consider, when making a decision, how your experiences throughout life affect the way in which that decision is derived.  Inevitably the question becomes “did your life experiences affect your decision or did you decide of your own free will?” 

Karl Popper put the question this way:  “How can nonphysical things such as purposes, deliberations, plans and decisions play a part in bringing about physical changes in the physical world?”  There has to be an agent for change and that agent is the environment working on our neural endowment.  Genetically and behaviorally we are the products of our environment.  We don’t need free will.

[ Edited: 12 September 2012 10:37 AM by Wreck of M Deare]
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Posted: 12 September 2012 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]  
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kikl - 12 September 2012 06:20 AM
mormovies - 12 September 2012 05:46 AM

...We need thinkers who will go out on a limb.

I agree, we need thinkers. l.

If that were true, don’t you think we would have thought our way through this by now?
More thinking on matters such as this is like trying to put a fire out with gasoline.
Thinking is what causes the imaginary problem.

 

[ Edited: 12 September 2012 10:19 AM by toombaru]
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Posted: 12 September 2012 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]  
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toombaru - 12 September 2012 10:03 AM
kikl - 12 September 2012 06:20 AM
mormovies - 12 September 2012 05:46 AM

...We need thinkers who will go out on a limb.

I agree, we need thinkers. l.

If that were true, don’t you think we would have thought our way through this by now?
More thinking on matters such as this is like trying to put a fire our with gasoline.
Thinking is what causes the imaginary problem.

Sure, and I would welcome any new and original thought about this matter. But, Sam is not thinking. He is preaching. He has been spinning around the same argument that have been thoroughly refuted by several people. He entangles himself in innumerable contradiction. His previous post is proof of this.

If Sam started to use his brains eventually, I would welcome this. But, he isn’t. He is like an obstinate little child who wants to win the argument, although it has been lost loooooong ago: There is no point in thinking about morality, if you reject the existence of free will. Morality is about the question: What shall I do? If you deny the possibility of doing anything, then the question is in itself absurd. Sam must leave the table and forever shut up about this topic, if he took his own position about free will seriously.

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Posted: 12 September 2012 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]  
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kikl - 12 September 2012 10:09 AM
toombaru - 12 September 2012 10:03 AM
kikl - 12 September 2012 06:20 AM
mormovies - 12 September 2012 05:46 AM

...We need thinkers who will go out on a limb.

I agree, we need thinkers. l.

If that were true, don’t you think we would have thought our way through this by now?
More thinking on matters such as this is like trying to put a fire our with gasoline.
Thinking is what causes the imaginary problem.

Sure, and I would welcome any new and original thought about this matter. But, Sam is not thinking. He is preaching. He has been spinning around the same argument that have been thoroughly refuted by several people. He entangles himself in innumerable contradiction. His previous post is proof of this.

If Sam started to use his brains eventually, I would welcome this. But, he isn’t. He is like an obstinate little child who wants to win the argument, although it has been lost loooooong ago: There is no point in thinking about morality, if you reject the existence of free will. Morality is about the question: What shall I do? If you deny the possibility of doing anything, then the question is in itself absurd. Sam must leave the table and forever shut up about this topic, if he took his own position about free will seriously.

 

Well…...that’s just it…..he can’t do that…...even Sam doesn’t have free will.
Other than the sense of self imagining that it is the one choosing, there is no evidence to support the belief in free will.
There is no evidence, other than in thinking, that self has its existential reality.
It is you my dear who clings to your little bio-degradable life preserver, hoping not to drown in the vast Sea of Unpredictability.

 

[ Edited: 12 September 2012 12:06 PM by toombaru]
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Posted: 12 September 2012 10:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]  
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toombaru - 12 September 2012 10:28 AM

....
Well…...that’s just it…..he can’t do that…...even Sam doesn’t have free will.
Other than the sense of self imagining that it is the one choosing, there is no evidence to support the belief in free will.
There is no evidence, other than in thinking, that self has its existential reality.
It is you my dear who clings to your little life preserver, hoping not to drown in the vast Sea of Unpredictability.

I think he could do it, because I believe in free will. But, he would have to swallow his pride and admit defeat. He is not ready to do that and prefers to perpetuate this nonsense.

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Posted: 12 September 2012 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]  
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kikl - 12 September 2012 10:37 AM
toombaru - 12 September 2012 10:28 AM

....
Well…...that’s just it…..he can’t do that…...even Sam doesn’t have free will.
Other than the sense of self imagining that it is the one choosing, there is no evidence to support the belief in free will.
There is no evidence, other than in thinking, that self has its existential reality.
It is you my dear who clings to your little life preserver, hoping not to drown in the vast Sea of Unpredictability.

I think he could do it, because I believe in free will. But, he would have to swallow his pride and admit defeat. He is not ready to do that and prefers to perpetuate this nonsense.


YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!


Oh sorry…...........what I meant to say was even if there were such a thing as truth…....it couldn’t actually be handled.
I guess its easy to be misunderstood on these forums.

:-0

 

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Posted: 12 September 2012 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]  
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mormovies - 11 September 2012 10:16 PM

What’s wrong with retributive justice even if free will doesn’t exist?

Without free will we can’t be repsonsible for our actions.  If that it so, then retribution becomes logically absurd.

mormovies - 11 September 2012 10:16 PM

As to one’s own happiness, says [John Stuart] Mill, the individual must be “disinterested” and “strictly impartial”; he must remember that he is only one unit out of the dozens, or millions, of men affected by his actions. “All honor to those who can abnegate for themselves the personal enjoyment of life,” says Mill, “when by such renunciation they contribute worthily to increase the amount of happiness in the world.”
>> Horrible nonsense IMO!

Your argument seems Randian.  For my part, I wouldn’t give a page of Mill for her entire body of work.  I’d love to debate the merits of utilitarian vs. retributive justice, but I don’t think this is the thread for that.

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Posted: 12 September 2012 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]  
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Siger - 12 September 2012 02:24 AM

OK, I assumed this topic was just about a blog of Dr. Harris. I did not read his book yet. I will order it right away and come back to this forum when I have read it.

I was only trying to enrich the discusion by attempting to fairly represent Sam’s ideas.  I think that it’s clear he intended his recent post to be a continuation of his past arguments - not a stand alone peice.  Although if you are interested in the arguments of people who claim they are certain that free will is an illusion his book is a great place to start.  It’s short, logically sound and does a very good job of stating the case.  For a more in depth look into the kinds of research he touches on which seem to have done the most work in convincing him on the point, I recommend Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow.  I don’t know if Kahneman has a position on Free Will, but if you read his book I wager that you’ll never again be confident about asserting that it exists.

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Posted: 12 September 2012 08:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]  
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Wreck of M Deare - 12 September 2012 09:59 AM

Coolinator writes: “I don’t follow your point. Are you advocating for retributive justice? Are you pointing out that punishment can be justified even in the absence of free will?”

No, I’m definitely not advocating retributive justice.  I was simply suggesting that the environment plays a major roll in who we are and how we decide.  I’m also suggesting that if this is true, free will may be an explanatory fiction.    I’ll try to give a few examples:  consider identical twin infants, one of which we’ll assign to Chinese parents and the other to Maasai parents.  Obviously, one twin will grow up to speak Mandarin and the other will speak Maa.  The first twin may embrace Buddhism while the other may be an animist.  The first could become a farmer while the second may become a herder—different environments, different lives, different world views.  We can take it to a higher level when we say that a parent, mentor, book or experience has changed our lives—that it has sent us down a new path.  In actuality this is exactly what has happened; our neural pathways have been altered—we are changed organisms.  Now consider, when making a decision, how your experiences throughout life affect the way in which that decision is derived.  Inevitably the question becomes “did your life experiences affect your decision or did you decide of your own free will?” 

Karl Popper put the question this way:  “How can nonphysical things such as purposes, deliberations, plans and decisions play a part in bringing about physical changes in the physical world?”  There has to be an agent for change and that agent is the environment working on our neural endowment.  Genetically and behaviorally we are the products of our environment.  We don’t need free will.

I’ve been reading a bit of Popper lately since Kikl suggested that it may help me to understand Kant where he believes I have failed to do so.  I must say I’m not impressed and this quote doesn’t help his case since recent research has shown him to be wrong on the point:

 

“By now, in 2011, dozens of clinical trials have shown that MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) can relieve psychological distress in breast cancer survivors, reduce side effects in organ-transplant recipients, relieve anxiety and depression in people with social anxiety disorder, and help people cope with chronic pain.”

Begley, Sharon; Davidson, Richard J. (2012-03-01). The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live—and How You Can Change Them (Kindle Locations 3650-3651). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.


So, we know that nonphysical process of the kind he spoke can, in fact, directly bring about changes in the physical world.

 

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Posted: 13 September 2012 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]  
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Coolinator writes: “So, we know that nonphysical process of the kind he spoke can, in fact, directly bring about changes in the physical world”

What makes you think they’re non-physical?

[ Edited: 13 September 2012 06:43 AM by Wreck of M Deare]
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Posted: 13 September 2012 08:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]  
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Wreck of M Deare - 13 September 2012 06:40 AM

Coolinator writes: “So, we know that nonphysical process of the kind he spoke can, in fact, directly bring about changes in the physical world”

What makes you think they’re non-physical?

I’m simply using Popper’s definition as provided in the quote:  “…nonphysical things such as purposes, deliberations, plans and decisions…”  If mediation does not fall within that definition, then I’m not sure what he’s talking about, and to borrow Sam’s expression, I’m pretty sure neither does he. 


If there is no valid distinction to be made between the physical and non-physical - which I would allow - then Popper is drawing lines in the imaginary sand.  If there is, he is just plain wrong. 


What I’m failing to understand is how any of this sheds any light on the question of whether freedom of will is a real phenomenon or an illusion.  I concede your larger point about environment and genetics playing a massively determantive roll in the human experience, but for me, the question of free will turns on whether those determinations together with randomness can explain 100% of all human behavior.  If it fails, even at a 99.9%, then we need a hypothesis to take us the rest of the way.  My position on the issue is that we are not yet close to being able to make this determination - though I am not a neurologist.

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Posted: 13 September 2012 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]  
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TheCoolinator - 12 September 2012 08:43 PM
Wreck of M Deare - 12 September 2012 09:59 AM

Coolinator writes: “I don’t follow your point. Are you advocating for retributive justice? Are you pointing out that punishment can be justified even in the absence of free will?”

No, I’m definitely not advocating retributive justice.  I was simply suggesting that the environment plays a major roll in who we are and how we decide.  I’m also suggesting that if this is true, free will may be an explanatory fiction.    I’ll try to give a few examples:  consider identical twin infants, one of which we’ll assign to Chinese parents and the other to Maasai parents.  Obviously, one twin will grow up to speak Mandarin and the other will speak Maa.  The first twin may embrace Buddhism while the other may be an animist.  The first could become a farmer while the second may become a herder—different environments, different lives, different world views.  We can take it to a higher level when we say that a parent, mentor, book or experience has changed our lives—that it has sent us down a new path.  In actuality this is exactly what has happened; our neural pathways have been altered—we are changed organisms.  Now consider, when making a decision, how your experiences throughout life affect the way in which that decision is derived.  Inevitably the question becomes “did your life experiences affect your decision or did you decide of your own free will?” 

Karl Popper put the question this way:  “How can nonphysical things such as purposes, deliberations, plans and decisions play a part in bringing about physical changes in the physical world?”  There has to be an agent for change and that agent is the environment working on our neural endowment.  Genetically and behaviorally we are the products of our environment.  We don’t need free will.

I’ve been reading a bit of Popper lately since Kikl suggested that it may help me to understand Kant where he believes I have failed to do so.  I must say I’m not impressed and this quote doesn’t help his case since recent research has shown him to be wrong on the point:

 

“By now, in 2011, dozens of clinical trials have shown that MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) can relieve psychological distress in breast cancer survivors, reduce side effects in organ-transplant recipients, relieve anxiety and depression in people with social anxiety disorder, and help people cope with chronic pain.”

Begley, Sharon; Davidson, Richard J. (2012-03-01). The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live—and How You Can Change Them (Kindle Locations 3650-3651). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.


So, we know that nonphysical process of the kind he spoke can, in fact, directly bring about changes in the physical world.

 

Have you read the recent research on how researchers conclude pretty much what they expect?
It seems that we put far too much value on research in general.
Most of it is bogus.
First they tell us vitamin C cures colds and is good for us.
Then they tell us it either does nothing or is dangerous to our health.
They told us to take vitamin E until they told us to stop.
Coffee was bad or us, then it was good for us…...now the jury’s out.
For years they told cancer patients to keep a positive attitude and fight the good fight.
Come to find out cancer cells are totally aware that thought is being used against them.
There are researchers who claim that acupuncture and aroma therapy actually work.
The idea that it is possible to isolate a few observed phenomena and then determine their origin from the infinite chain of cause and effect is irrational.
The entire thinking that there are causes and effects is flawed.

They might be able to help a skin rash but when the conceptual mind tries to deal things immaterial, it enters a dark place with no flashlight.

What causes a plant to grow?
What causes the wind to blow?
I don’t know.
I don’t know.

 

[ Edited: 13 September 2012 10:40 AM by toombaru]
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Posted: 13 September 2012 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]  
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TheCoolinator - 12 September 2012 01:54 PM
Siger - 12 September 2012 02:24 AM

OK, I assumed this topic was just about a blog of Dr. Harris. I did not read his book yet. I will order it right away and come back to this forum when I have read it.

I was only trying to enrich the discusion by attempting to fairly represent Sam’s ideas.  I think that it’s clear he intended his recent post to be a continuation of his past arguments - not a stand alone peice.  Although if you are interested in the arguments of people who claim they are certain that free will is an illusion his book is a great place to start.  It’s short, logically sound and does a very good job of stating the case.  For a more in depth look into the kinds of research he touches on which seem to have done the most work in convincing him on the point, I recommend Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow.  I don’t know if Kahneman has a position on Free Will, but if you read his book I wager that you’ll never again be confident about asserting that it exists.

I think you discussed well, I really mean that I want to read the book and it is on the way.

I have discussed a lot about “free will” (which I prefer to interprete as “be able to make choices”) and the problem always seems to be that I can’t get a clear view of the arguments against it. You reply to one and another is thrown up. I hope Dr. Harris presents a clear list of arguments for his case, which would keep the discussion centered.

By the way, I think very highly of Merlin Donald (“A Mind So Rare”) for his evolution-centered handling of consciousness.

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Posted: 13 September 2012 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]  
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Siger - 13 September 2012 10:38 AM
TheCoolinator - 12 September 2012 01:54 PM
Siger - 12 September 2012 02:24 AM

OK, I assumed this topic was just about a blog of Dr. Harris. I did not read his book yet. I will order it right away and come back to this forum when I have read it.

I was only trying to enrich the discusion by attempting to fairly represent Sam’s ideas.  I think that it’s clear he intended his recent post to be a continuation of his past arguments - not a stand alone peice.  Although if you are interested in the arguments of people who claim they are certain that free will is an illusion his book is a great place to start.  It’s short, logically sound and does a very good job of stating the case.  For a more in depth look into the kinds of research he touches on which seem to have done the most work in convincing him on the point, I recommend Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow.  I don’t know if Kahneman has a position on Free Will, but if you read his book I wager that you’ll never again be confident about asserting that it exists.

I think you discussed well, I really mean that I want to read the book and it is on the way.

I have discussed a lot about “free will” (which I prefer to interprete as “be able to make choices”) and the problem always seems to be that I can’t get a clear view of the arguments against it. You reply to one and another is thrown up. I hope Dr. Harris presents a clear list of arguments for his case, which would keep the discussion centered.

By the way, I think very highly of Merlin Donald (“A Mind So Rare”) for his evolution-centered handling of consciousness.

 


The mere attempt to determine if it has or doesn’t have free will is an exercise in what the mind imagines validated its own assumptions.
It assumes (is the assumption) that it has free will and then goes out trying to find ways to validate its assumptions.
It assumes that it is choosing to search for answers concerning its own reality.
The mind, and its conceptual reality, is so loaded with assumptions concerning its own autonomous nature that is literally impossible for it to answer the question it poses.
It even assumes that it is the one asking the questions.
In fact, there can be no resolution to the dilemma on the level in which it occurs.

 

 

[ Edited: 13 September 2012 11:07 AM by toombaru]
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Posted: 13 September 2012 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]  
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Siger - 13 September 2012 10:38 AM

By the way, I think very highly of Merlin Donald (“A Mind So Rare”) for his evolution-centered handling of consciousness.

Thanks for the tip.  I’m definately going to add it the queue.  If wikipedia is fair to his thesis, though, I can see one big hole at the outset.  Why would an increase in social group size have an impact on human development?  I’m not sympathetic to the notion that our social group size is likely to have differed in any significant way from our nearest cousins before the developement of agriculture - which is recent enough to be evolutionarily irrelevant. 


Of course, Cochran and Harending argue that that time period is not evolutionarily irrelevant in their book, the 10,000 year explosion, but I nevertheless find it unlikely that the inventors of agriculture and husbandry did not have fully or nearly fully developed human cognitive capacity.

[ Edited: 13 September 2012 09:07 PM by TheCoolinator]
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