I almost buy Sam’s argument. Help me out here.

 
kipski
 
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kipski
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09 July 2017 20:11
 

I found Sam’s position on free will to be persuasive. To put it in my own words: I am not the ultimate source of my actions, they are the result of my past experience interfacing with my current state of being and experiences.  I found his example (p. 47) about the effect of low blood sugar on my mood indicating that I am a biochemical puppet a good analogy, but I wasn’t able to make the leap from that realization to a meaningful way to interact with the forces that shape my deeds and perception.  In the low blood sugar example, recognizing the source of your irritability gives you the power to alter it by eating something (grabbing one of our strings, as Sam puts it).

What I need some clarification on is what strings are available to grab? Sam mentions things like learning new skills, adopting new habits, etc.  But I don’t see how we can both make a choice to change the “inputs to the system,” thereby “radically transforming one’s life” without breaking down some of Sam’s otherwise staunch assertion that free will is an illusion.

I realize that the first half of the book does a pretty good job of eliminating any middle ground between determinism and free will, but in practice, it seems like Sam is suggesting we can control the inputs, and therefore the system. I understand that we are still trapped in the system as we do this, but I am unable to shake the feeling that there is a deeper problem here that I am not able to elucidate. Essentially, how can I make choices about how to influence the factors that shape my perception and actions if I am not free to make choices to begin with? Where do Sam’s feelings of freedom come from in this view of reality?

Is the crux of the issue the concept of the self? Is there no me? Then who is making these non-choices? If the self is an illusion, are these choices just clockwork, or is there a real choice to be made about how to live? The quote that seems to get the closest to answering this another analogy. “You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm.” (p. 14)  I am at a loss here, can someone explain what, precisely, Sam is saying? Am I the sum of my thoughts and influences? What does that mean?

 

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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10 July 2017 15:04
 

The only thing necessary, for me is to notice that libertarian free will isn’t even a coherent concept much less a theory with any supporting evidence. There is no model for it. There is no argument, even in the pure hypothetical for how a person could invent their own experience at the level of physical systems. It’s like the soul. Believe in it if you want but there is no part of the body for it to live in and no way to describe it in an intelligible way.

Trying to argue against it, past that is just pushing on an open door.

 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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10 July 2017 16:18
 

To argue against / for “free will” is much like pushing a car uphill with a rope.  It is known that the brain “works” via electro/chemical reactions, however no one knows (specifically) what consciousness is; no one knows (specifically) what a thought is.

The free will argument is philosophizer’s word salad.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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10 July 2017 19:46
 
bbearren - 10 July 2017 04:18 PM

To argue against / for “free will” is much like pushing a car uphill with a rope.  It is known that the brain “works” via electro/chemical reactions, however no one knows (specifically) what consciousness is; no one knows (specifically) what a thought is.

The free will argument is philosophizer’s word salad.

That’s a bullshit answer. We know that consciousness isn’t magical, it’s physical, and we know a lot about physics and matter and that greatly limits the scope.

 
 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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10 July 2017 22:16
 
GAD - 10 July 2017 07:46 PM
bbearren - 10 July 2017 04:18 PM

To argue against / for “free will” is much like pushing a car uphill with a rope.  It is known that the brain “works” via electro/chemical reactions, however no one knows (specifically) what consciousness is; no one knows (specifically) what a thought is.

The free will argument is philosophizer’s word salad.

That’s a bullshit answer. We know that consciousness isn’t magical, it’s physical, and we know a lot about physics and matter and that greatly limits the scope.

I did not say that consciousness is magical, did I?  I repeat (for clarity and emphasis) no one knows (specifically) what consciousness is; no one knows (specifically) what a thought is.

If you have specifics, by all means post them or a link.  I’ll wait.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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11 July 2017 08:06
 
bbearren - 10 July 2017 10:16 PM
GAD - 10 July 2017 07:46 PM
bbearren - 10 July 2017 04:18 PM

To argue against / for “free will” is much like pushing a car uphill with a rope.  It is known that the brain “works” via electro/chemical reactions, however no one knows (specifically) what consciousness is; no one knows (specifically) what a thought is.

The free will argument is philosophizer’s word salad.

That’s a bullshit answer. We know that consciousness isn’t magical, it’s physical, and we know a lot about physics and matter and that greatly limits the scope.

I did not say that consciousness is magical, did I?  I repeat (for clarity and emphasis) no one knows (specifically) what consciousness is; no one knows (specifically) what a thought is.

If you have specifics, by all means post them or a link.  I’ll wait.

We specifically know it’s physical and not magical i.e. it didn’t come from your god or anyone else’ god. So no, it’s not like pushing a car uphill with a rope, it’s like using science to come up with theories to work it out, like the Big Bang, gravity etc..

 
 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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11 July 2017 13:51
 
GAD - 11 July 2017 08:06 AM
bbearren - 10 July 2017 10:16 PM
GAD - 10 July 2017 07:46 PM
bbearren - 10 July 2017 04:18 PM

To argue against / for “free will” is much like pushing a car uphill with a rope.  It is known that the brain “works” via electro/chemical reactions, however no one knows (specifically) what consciousness is; no one knows (specifically) what a thought is.

The free will argument is philosophizer’s word salad.

That’s a bullshit answer. We know that consciousness isn’t magical, it’s physical, and we know a lot about physics and matter and that greatly limits the scope.

I did not say that consciousness is magical, did I?  I repeat (for clarity and emphasis) no one knows (specifically) what consciousness is; no one knows (specifically) what a thought is.

If you have specifics, by all means post them or a link.  I’ll wait.

We specifically know it’s physical and not magical i.e. it didn’t come from your god or anyone else’ god. So no, it’s not like pushing a car uphill with a rope, it’s like using science to come up with theories to work it out, like the Big Bang, gravity etc..

I neither said nor implied either magic or some god.  I’ve repeatedly said in a number of threads that I don’t believe in a supernatural god, magic or woo.

There is a scientific consensus on the Big Bang, called The Standard Model.  There is a scientific consensus on gravity, thanks to Einstein’s theories.  There is no scientific consensus on consciousness, nor on what specifically comprises thought.

Again, I repeat (for clarity and emphasis) no one knows (specifically) what consciousness is; no one knows (specifically) what a thought is.  There’s lots of disputed theorizing and philosophizing, but no consensus.

 
 
doug_q
 
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doug_q
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12 July 2017 13:54
 

I view it this way.  The fact that your neural network learned information about low blood sugar means that it can choose to do something about it once it happens again.  There is still no need for a conscious decider.  This ties in with Sam’s discussion about law enforcement and jurisprudence.  If brains want a world with law and order they are well served to create an environment that will help train other brains to behave themselves.  Dennett seems to make the same judgement that if you do something wrong and you can later choose to do it right, then that proves free will, but I don’t see it.  There is not reason to suppose the second chance is any less deterministic than the first one.  It is just the inputs of the present state that leads to the next state of a successful second chance contain the determined result of the failure of the first chance.  It is rather confusing to think about.

 
Onespecies
 
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Onespecies
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16 July 2017 20:12
 

I hope this one helps.

https://youtu.be/uDuYiJjEBD4

 
Decay
 
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Decay
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17 July 2017 14:19
 

It seems a big leap to believe free will is the best answer. We start from an astounding amount of meaningless primatives/precursors on which we had zero impact.

• Big bang/inflation
• Cooling
• Stars form
• Stars break
• Heavier components form planets
• Some, or at least one, planet somehow evolves life from a pre-biotic Earth
• Shit ton of time passes, mud sits up and clubs other upright mud on the head, tries to
      compete for breeding rights.
• Upright mud, like its predecessor components, is scalable/adaptable—much time
      passes, clubbing one another and mating.
• Modern humans emerge.
• The humans slowly form language, tools, innovative masturbation techniques.
• Old humans teach new humans, new humans accept most teachings, but make small
      tweaks over time.
• You eventually come along, read my loosely organized, half-wit comments and ponder free will. Thing is, you had no choice or control of all the events that led up to today. You didn’t pick your ancestors, parents, siblings, gender, body type, IQ, first language, how and where your early education (if you get early education) happens, etc.  If you get this far and think you have free will, well, in all of my anecdotal experience, you’re just playing some mental gymnastics and redefining words to match your new definitions.

We certainly have some wiggle room in choice, but it most assuredly doesn’t look much like free will.

I’m open to convincing arguments—Dennet has yet to produce one. I’ll add caveats here: it’s not Dennets job to solve this puzzle and perhaps his solution is correct, but I am too dull a marble to make meaningful contact with it.