Davis

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  • #35124

    Davis
    Moderator

    Unseen is right (though only with the added caveat of MAY) in that there may never be a solution and perhaps correct in that the solution is free will simply IS an illusion…they are both possibilities. Simon is correct in that the solution may come by finding the right conceptual framework. As Raymond Tallis (a noted neuroscience and philosopher) said on the topic of consciousness and free will we need someone (or a group of people) to do for this topic what other geniuses have done for physics or evolution. Until then I think it’s fair for some to even say “I simply don’t see how free will is possible considering determinism”. But it is another to say free will is impossible…considering our ignorance and especially considering there are theories worth taking seriously (Hofstadter’s recursive-strange-loop theory being another).

    #35122

    Davis
    Moderator

    Oh I have no doubt you believe there is no solution to a problem on an issue in which we lack even basic information on and one you refuse to inform yourself on opposing arguments. That’s why, while on most topics I totally respect your point of view (even when I may seriously disagree with it) on this one I can only shake my head and laugh out loud. I’m sure you’ll rehash this topic again in a couple years and I can only hope you may have read a single thing by then that challenges your view. Prove me wrong.

    #35109

    Davis
    Moderator

    Hey Jake, don’t get me wrong…I also think it’s great that Sam is trying to add meaning and value to a secular life without religion. It is fantastic. But I simply laughed while reading his book “Free Will” where he casually dismisses free will because “determinism” but then at the end talks about moral responsibility without even bothering to explain how moral responsibility means anything if we literally have no choice behind what we do. For me, I can somewhat respect someone who takes the position that “free will is an illusion” as long as at the same time they hold that “moral responsibility” is an illusion. To punish someone for an act they had no choice to commit…is absurd. Those who are convinced about free will as an illusion seem universally incapable of dropping the subject there. Such a book should be about 10 pages long. But they never are and they simply have to go on introducing meaning involving human choice in a world where choice is not possible. And they don’t seem to recognise how glaringly ridiculous it is to do that.

    • This reply was modified 1 day, 22 hours ago by  Davis.
    #35104

    Davis
    Moderator

    Neuroscience is far more difficult a field than rocket science Ivy. You need to have a near medical understanding of the physiology of the brain and then a theory of consciousness and an understanding of human psychology and be up to date on the most recent research. Rocket scientists have sufficient information and millions of man hours of research and practical application to get a human on the moon. We don’t even have sufficient information to form a confident theory of consciousness and the best ones are laboriously technical. A basic principles of neuroscience (an introduction) text book is 1000 pages. People have created and nurtured AI algorithms that have become so complex they don’t even understand themselves how they work. Our minds are far more complex than that. At a stage like this…it is preposterous to make confident claims about our freedom to make decisions…one way or another. Basically we are waiting for someone the likes of Einstein or Darwin to come along and do for the mind what they did for their own fields. In the mean time I take a work by someone like Dennet a lot more seriously than say, Sam Harris’s flippant ridiculous little book on free will where he casually dismisses any possibility of free will, because the universe is like…a clock…and yet then goes on to discuss personal responsibility as though responsibility means anything if we have absolutely no choice and then talks about the meaning of a spiritual life as though there is any meaning in the universe if the is no such thing as choice.

    • This reply was modified 2 days, 2 hours ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 2 days, 2 hours ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 2 days, 2 hours ago by  Davis.
    #35101

    Davis
    Moderator

    Jake…you see…this is basically why I was very reluctant to elaborate on Dennet’s theory because while Simon did about as good of a job as you possibly can with summarising a complex theory…it didn’t begin to do it justice. The chess program is an analogy and not a direct explanation of his theories. I don’t want to get bogged down into explaining more and more concepts of his theory when someone can simply read the book (and put the effort into it). It’s also been some years since I read it so I cannot cite it again and I may read it again over the xmas holidays, as Reg said, it’s worth a second read. Dennet’s theory isn’t simply a “we virtually have free will” or “we might as well have free will” it is a compatibilist theory (how free will is possible in a deterministic world). The computer analogy simply gives an example on how one agent has a greater degree of freedom in decision making than the other and it is also related to his theory on how a greater degree of freedom in decision making evolved in humans (say comparing a rather primative sapian with modern humans). The analogy is not the “nail in the coffin”. I don’t want to make the argument that “no you are wrong because I simply read a few books and you’ll have to read it to understand what I’m saying”. What I’m saying is: ruling out free will because of determinism is a rash quick judgement call and there are several theories (Dennet’s being one of them) which are more than worth exploring. But you’ll have to do your homework. I’m not going to explain concept after concept here on a theory which is already tentative where Dennet admits to the limits of the theory considering the limits on our knowledge. It’s worth reading not just for the free will portion but an extremely well explained theory on consciousness and a modern take on moral decision making. Again, even if you still disagree with the free will portion it is worth reading.

    • This reply was modified 2 days, 7 hours ago by  Davis.
    #35095

    Davis
    Moderator

    Unseen you specifically said in the past any idea should be easily summarised in a couple sentences. When challenging you to do so (say summarise relativity or evolution into a few sentences so a layperson can reasonably understand it you were conveniently silent).

    In any case…an average person cannot properly understand the intricacies of the theory of relativity. Most of us here couldn’t. We understand a vague outline of it and those who know a little more have learnt quite a bit about it (even if it isn’t highly technical). That doesn’t mean the larger more complex theory doesn’t provide rational and even useful answers to complex questions. I barely understand game theory and I can hardly wrap my mind around calculus…and my engineering friends who found something so obvious and simple couldn’t even teach the basics to me. Does that mean I’m more stupid than a layperson or that the whole endeavour is of little use? Your requirement that anything worth taking seriously should be explainable to a layperson is deranged. It’s just a lazy excuse not to pick up a fucking book and read it. I’m not saying this in a mean spirited way…I am saying this out of sheer flabberghastery and calling you out for being intellectually lazy and using you whole “summarise to the lay person” as a pitiful evasive tactic.

    • This reply was modified 2 days, 15 hours ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 2 days, 15 hours ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 2 days, 15 hours ago by  Davis.
    #35088

    Davis
    Moderator

    If you can’t explain it to ordinary folks plainly, then in their mind the problem will remain.

    Unseen that is total bullshit. Please explain the theory of relativity in “two sentences”.

    #35087

    Davis
    Moderator

    Simon Matthews, a great user here on atheist zone some years back who sort of fizzled away, wrote a 2 page summary of Dennet’s “Freedom Evolves”. I’m not going to search the archives for it (it may even be on think atheist!) but for a book that is insanely difficult to summarise I’d say he did an okay job on the basic premise. The best way to look at it is that thinking of this problem in terms of “free will” as “pure free autonomy” is misguided and that we should look at individual agents as having higher “degrees of freedom” than others.

    #35079

    Davis
    Moderator

    The best theory I’ve ever read on free will is “Freedom Evolves” by Daniel Dennet (one of the four horsemen on atheism writing “Breaking the Spell”). I can lend anyone the ebook if they are interested. I believe Simon Matthews wrote a three page summary of the book some years back and also believe Reg has read it. Covers a fairly up to date theory of consciousness and other neuroscience topics, compatibility, moral responsibility (and moral theory) and of course free will. Highly worth the read.

    #35054

    Davis
    Moderator

    I’m super glad to hear that Ivy! I can totally sympathise with the plight of raising a child with behavioural problems all on your own. So are you more in the atheist camp at the moment or are you on the fence? I’m terribly sorry about talking to you about you in the 3rd person. If I had any idea I wouldn’t have done it! Mil disculpas amor!

    #35049

    Davis
    Moderator

    Indeed. I mean all of this sounds slightly reasonable, I’d simply argue that if AI could break free from the absolute laws of physics (we think are absolute) then our highly complex brain that we don’t fully understand could too! I don’t think this is the best route to AI anyways but I would say if you allow for AI to achieve it…then free will is most certainly not impossible.

    One of the things I find utterly hilarious (ridiculously hilarious) is that here we all are, apparently cogs in a clock work who think we have freedom, though we actually don’t, and we have absolutely no choice but to type out stuff here debating whether we have a choice or not to debate whether we have a choice or not (and in fact here I am with no choice but to comment on the silliness that we are debating whether we have a choice or not to debate whether we have a choice or not). If there really is no such thing as free will (which I admit is possible) then this is the most deliciously absurd thing ever (and the human condition is already preposterously absurd) but then I had no choice but to say this so maybe it isn’t absurd (though I had no choice but to say I had no choice so maybe….)

    • This reply was modified 3 days, 21 hours ago by  Davis.
    #35042

    Davis
    Moderator

    Ahhh ha ha ha. I had no idea. I thought you had left for good. How is your son!?

    #35040

    Davis
    Moderator

    Ivy…you’re Belle????

    #35038

    Davis
    Moderator

    As to the likelihood of utilizing alternate physics i doubt it also but it may be possible.

    Indeed I don’t get it. He’s on the one hand admitting that in fact there may be some unknown route to free will…but somehow knowingly claim humans don’t have access to this (how do you know that?) and that AI might (how do you know that?). I mean either there is an alternative physics or there isn’t. If there is then you have no idea what it is, how it works or who has access to it (either us or AI, both or neither). And if it is then that totally breaks the brutal hard-determinism that makes up the whole crux of the free will position. So if you permit even the possibility of some unknown physics then you’ve totally undermined your position. How can anyone know if there is an alternative physics or not or what qualities it has or who would have access to under whatever conditions? This when it is all total pure speculation. Sooooooooooooo…are we losing the absolute confidence here that free will is categorically impossible?

    #35037

    Davis
    Moderator

    Says the expert in ad hominems who started this whole topic to provoke and who escalates disagreements with “happy spirited” snark. I never claimed to know better than you, I have no idea if free will exists, I simply did something (and two other users here) that you haven’t done which is educated myself a little on both sides of the debate. Rehashing this stupid shit and repeating your overconfident ignorance isn’t contributing either unseen. Just pick up a book and read. I’ll buy one for you and mail it to you for Christmas.

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