Free Will Redux: A Question

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This topic contains 225 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Unseen 6 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #35231

    jakelafort
    Participant

    My impression is that Brian Greene thinks but is not certain that the yellow brick road is inalterable but i was handicapping while listening and distraction makes it more likely i misunderstood.

    #35232

    _Robert_
    Participant

    It will be interesting to see how AI progresses in creative ventures. They will have to implement and harness random processes to seed ‘artificial creativity’, but creativity is much more than that. Is a best selling AI written novel gonna happen in our lifetimes? Are millions of ‘Mona Lisa’ grade paintings on the horizon. I have heard some AI generated pop songs. I have even used generators to help me write. Frankly not very impressed yet.

    #35235

    jakelafort
    Participant

    I have been reading about savants who have gifts of musical and artistic genius. Just born with it but otherwise developmentally deficient and with some it is almost like nobody is home.

    #35238

    Unseen
    Participant

    It will be interesting to see how AI progresses in creative ventures. They will have to implement and harness random processes to seed ‘artificial creativity’, but creativity is much more than that. Is a best selling AI written novel gonna happen in our lifetimes? Are millions of ‘Mona Lisa’ grade paintings on the horizon. I have heard some AI generated pop songs. I have even used generators to help me write. Frankly not very impressed yet.

    I think that first a professional grade literary critic would need to be invented first, though a computer can (and has) generated poetry that looks and feels like a lot of bad human poetry. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a human poetry reading but…be sure to bring your NoDoz.

    #35239

    Unseen
    Participant

    No…quantum randomness won’t explain free will. But it also makes predicting a coin toss 1000 years in the future nearly impossible (even with an omniscient level knowledge of every particle in the universe at any one time). So you might want to give up this idea of yours that “quantum randomness cancels itself out in the aggregate” because it most certainly is not the case.

    Davis, when you raise your arm or choose the strawberry ice cream, there’s no need to trace the chain of causes back any further than the proximate set of causes. Further back than that is irrelevant.

    All of science above the subatomic level is predicated on one simple principle: Whatever happens happens due to the proximate cause or set of causes. If no two snowflakes are alike (which has never been proven as far as I know), despite all being based on the crystallizing of water, then there are reasons (causes) for the variations. They form in uncontrolled situations with varying circumstances.

    Whatever causes human behavior, will need to fit into that schema of cause and effect.

    Answer me this: If we do find “will,” what will it look like? It sure sounds like it will align an action with a feeling, the one is a physical occurrence while the other is mental, and mind can only be one of two things: physical (driven by processes going on in the body, especially in the brain and nervous system) or spiritual. And if spiritual, then you have another famous problem: the mind/body problem.

    We feel we have free will and we also feel we have deja vu. We dismiss the latter as a meaningless mental  curiosity, a mental hiccup, but we feel the need to salvage free will. It’s the only thing I can think of we feel we desperately need to salvage. If I were to wish to salvage something, for me life after death, not free will, would be at the top of the list.

    For me, fighting free will believers is equivalent to fighting believers in God, people who are irrationally attached to a basically nonsensical idea. Every attempt so far seems to be an end run of some sort, and please don’t look behind the curtain!

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by  Unseen.
    #35243

    Ivy
    Participant

    @davis

    So what’s your definition of free will Ivy?

    The ability to choose your own path. Simple. I don’t think natural scientists can really speak to free will. I think it’s something the field of psychology can address. We make decisions with the information we have at the time under our own individual unique circumstances. Sometimes we “get it right,” but more so we “get it wrong,” but it doesn’t really matter. We make choices. Those choices have natural consequences. The wealthier you are, the better choices you have in front of you.

    The natural consequences of your actions influences the choices you may have as a result of earlier decisions. But…you still made a decision!

    We are free to choose within the constraints of our place in society.

    #35245

    Davis
    Moderator

    I’vy that definition is so broad that even cats have free will. Do you think cats have free will?

    #35246

    Davis
    Moderator

    Unseen I have reached my limit of patience with you mischaracterising me as a free will believer. I cannot count the amount of times I have specifically and clearly stated that I do not claim that free will exists. If you continue to do that I will permanently cease all further discussions with you about free will. Please stop it.

    Instead of looking at the free will debate as a “fight with free will believers” you may look at it as an opportunity to educate yourself on the other side of a topic you seem, at least until now, entirely ignorant of and afraid to engage with. Consider getting over your uneasiness with it and actually reading shit.

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by  Davis.
    #35247

    @ivy: The ability to choose your own path. 

    At what point in our lives do you think we have that ability?

    #35249

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    The true freedom in life is to be able to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.

    Richard Foster

    #35250

    Unseen
    Participant

    Don’t think you will be collecting your Nobel prize just yet. All you need is practically complete knowledge of the state of every atom from the beginning of time till now just to know you will flip a coin in the future and come up heads. Good luck with that.

    One doesn’t need the Big Bang and every cause and effect between then and now. Name one thing (barring the quantum level) that happens NOT due to the immediate antecedent conditions. Oh yeah, I forgot: free will. The one thing people claim operates based on uncaused causes. Everything else requires a set of sufficient PHYSICAL conditions to happen, but not human choices.

    Lots of different things can happen from the same set of sufficient PHYSICAL conditions (thanks to sub-atomics that are neither here nor there).

    True, but that looseness doesn’t apply when it comes to the causes actually causing the event. That is what the entire edifice of science is built on. It is why we don’t trust experiments that turn out to be unrepeatable, for example

    And besides, knocking the primacy of cause and effect does nothing to salvage free will, unless you want to all dualist on us and claim there is this other stuff that’s immune to cause and effect like, um, for example a SOUL. Welcome to them Ghost in the Machine. That is a very effective solution to the free will issue, but then you have the mind/body problem, another hairy one.

    #35251

    Unseen
    Participant

    Davis, I’ve been educating myself on this topic for some 50 years. I’m not unaware of counter arguments, and if you think I need to be better educated (than you), then so does everyone else here.

    Yet, time after time after time, you decline to help us by giving us a clear indication of your educated view.

    What exactly IS your educated view on free will so that all of us can discuss it? I can’t remember you ever giving it to us? I don’t think I’m alone in saying that.

    If your response is that we’d all have to read a book or books first, then it’s not a solution.

    So, first of all, do we have it in your view or not, and then teach us.

     

    #35252

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Proponents of the preconscious will say that it has access to plans and strategies and tactics you’ve worked out in advance which it uses, though you become consciously aware of the implementation shortly afterward. It’s as if a mind inside your mind is handing you slips of paper telling you what to do next.

    Drat, well stated. I’ll admit there’s at least the possibility that those proponents are correct. And ironically, it’s likely those very frontal lobes that define what we think free will is, in spite of how illusory the construct of free will probably is.

    For the sake of simplicity, assuming there’s a fair chance that most people (who aren’t highly schooled on this topic) can still get something out of the discussion: 1) Definitions of free will vary so much that it’s imperative that one definition be stated up front before the discussion can maintain meaningful consistency; 2) Scientifically, the best we can come up with atm are brain-scan type measurements of the feeling of free will that people report, because there is no scientific definition yet of what free will is, although it seems simple enough to understand the psychological and social benefit of having a belief in one’s own free will; 3) drat, personal opinions of mine need to be explained in another paragraph, below:

    We don’t even have sufficient definitions of “I” or “me”, in these discussions. I most certainly have the ability to make my own decisions, because those underlying un/pre/subconscious process are part of me. My body, my brain, my decisions. Whether I call that free will or not, is a non-scientific, dictionary-free personal opinion. Even whether I freely choose to believe in free will is also irrelevant, because it depends more on what I want to believe in rather than what may or may not be scientifically or logically relevant.

    Full disclosure: I want to believe in free will, and (even as a philosophical novice) I’m noticing that I always want to argue for it, or at least I want the “free will” phrase to be defined by terms that are compatible with both how we feel about free will, and what science may or may not currently know about it. (Details of the feelings aspect has been historically imprecise or ignored, imo, by both the scientific and the religiously dogmatic communities. This issue is discussed very much like other politically partisan issues of the day, where feelings conflict with facts or empirical data.)

    #35253

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Is this really a binary question? Maybe the “free” part of “free will” can be graded somehow. I will take  shot at it.

    -Level 1..Pure free will, an unscientifically defined essence, somehow independent of a given state of physics. AKA a soul.

    -Level 2..The living, unlike inanimate objects can make choices. They are subject to all physical laws however maintain some autonomy and control by choosing one of many paths from a given state of physics because they can alter their physical brain state by some yet unknown mechanism. This ability came via evolution (which uses randomness itself) and becomes very advanced with primates and a small selection of other animals. Awareness of the choice may be after the fact; nonetheless the living creature’s survival is dependent on the correctness of it’s choices.

    -Level 3..The living creature will make a choice or decision with some quantum based randomness, possibly based on a probability curve or histogram.

    -Level 4..The living creature will always select the same choice from a given state of physics.

    Even more interesting to me is the plain “will” (without the free) as in the will to survive and propagate. I wonder if we can even ask why?

    #35254

    Davis
    Moderator

    No unseen, clearly you haven’t been properly educating yourself on the topic because you are ignorant of theories which are taken seriously by neurosciences and philosophers. They are not fringe theories. Your fear of picking up a book and reading it keeps you from educating yourself on it. It baffles me why you are fearful of this but there must be some reason. You weren’t even aware of the serious criticism of the interpretation of the Libet and earlier experiments.

    My view on the topic is, which I have said NUMEROUS TIMES, is that we are not in a position to rule out free will and that theories such as Dennet’s emergence of greater freedom or Hofstadters strange-feedback-loop are worth taking seriously. We are awaiting a breakthrough in our understanding of consciousness and a deeper understanding of physics in general. Until that time it is reasonable to cast doubt that there is free will but it is ridiculous to summarily dismiss it and it is even more stupid to cover your eyes, go LALALALA and refuse to pick up a fucking book and read it.

    I am not remotely an expert in the field, I’ve simply done what a few other users here have done and picked up a few books and read them on both those who deny free will and promising theories on how it is possible in a deterministic world. The summation of the “against free will” side is: “I don’t see how it is possible” and absolutely no or terrible critiques of those who have proposed theories. Of the theories I have read, two of them are particularly reasonable and warrant taking seriously. In the mean time we need only be patient and enjoy the journey as we witness humans cracking the problem of human consciousness and other scientific fields. After all, whether we have free will or not makes virtually zero difference in our lives, there is literally nothing to lose either way and we are hardly in any position at the moment of have anything approaching “knowledge” either way on the topic.

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by  Davis.
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