The Illusion of Free Will

  
Via:  TᵢG  •  2 years ago  •  172 comments

By:   YouTube

The Illusion of Free Will
So in reality, consciously making a  decision, the experience we call “free will,” is actually an illusion. It’s simply a  visualization of events that the brain has already set in motion. It tells you what the brain has decided to do.

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TᵢG
Professor Principal
1  seeder  TᵢG    2 years ago

Ultimately if reality is deterministic (if it is possible to calculate the future) then free will is impossible.    There are strong indications (nobody actually knows though) that our reality is indeed deterministic.   In addition, neuroscience continually observes conscious thought being recognized by the test subject after the thought was evidenced in brain activity.

It might actually be true that nothing is as it seems.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.1  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @1    2 years ago

I got through about half of this and that was all I could take. 

First of all, what is the purpose of the video?  

Second, every conscious person experiences free will every second of their life. In fact, it is impossible for people to not experience free will.  You will say what they are experiencing is not truly  free will. Sadly, your objection is meaningless. What human beings experience is what matters, not what some theoretician comes up with. No one can possibly envision a circumstance when they do not experience free will. It cannot be done.

Third, since when is the subconscious, which the video suggests is responsible for many decisions we make, not part of the person?  We dont have free will because it originates in the subconscious not the conscious. Seriously? 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1    2 years ago
First of all, what is the purpose of the video?  

To blow the viewer's mind.  To introduce the viewer to a plausible reality that shakes our intuition to its core.   To encourage the viewer to think well out of the box and consider that which seems inconceivable.

Second, every conscious person experiences free will every second of their life.

It might also be true that we experience the illusion of free will every second of our lives.  

In fact, it is impossible for people to not experience free will. 

You need to explain this claim.

What human beings experience is what matters, not what some theoretician comes up with. No one can possibly envision a circumstance when they do not experience free will. It cannot be done.

I can envision not having free will.  

Third, since when is the subconscious, which the video suggests is responsible for many decisions we make, not part of the person? 

Since these studies started decades ago.   The hypothesis is that the conscious mind is a post-processor (so to speak) that assumes credit for all decisions.   Our consciousness is, potentially, just a nicely packaged representation of decisions made at a lower level of brain activity.   Still our brains, but not stemming from conscious thought.   That is the hypothesis;  it is backed by evidence but much research remains.

We dont have free will because it originates in the subconscious not the conscious. Seriously? 

Well, no, that is not the point.   If we do not have free will it is because reality is deterministic.   Another way of saying this is that all particles in reality are ultimately predictable ... a very long, very populated and inconceivably complex cause-effect chain.

I do not sense much objectivity with you John.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.1.2  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.1    2 years ago
I can envision not having free will.  

No you cant. Even deciding you dont have free will is an expression and experience of free will .

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.1.3  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.1    2 years ago
To blow the viewer's mind.  To introduce the viewer to a plausible reality that shakes our intuition to its core.   To encourage the viewer to think well out of the box and consider that which seems inconceivable.

For what?  You think blowing people's minds is a worthy goal ? 

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
1.1.4  Gordy327  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.3    2 years ago
You think blowing people's minds is a worthy goal ? 

If it gets people to think and contemplate and expand their horizons, then yes. I'd say that is worthy. Perhaps some people just can't handle it.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.5  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.2    2 years ago
No you cant. Even deciding you dont have free will is an expression and experience of free will .

Explain John.   Just making claims is not taking us anywhere.

I can easily imagine a reality in which every particle follows consistent (albeit complex) rules.   A reality of pure cause-and-effect.   In such a reality, we would not be able to detect the cause-and-effect because it is too complex and too low level.   But, in this reality, free will cannot possibly exist because any decision is theoretically calculable at the particle level.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.6  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.3    2 years ago
You think blowing people's minds is a worthy goal ? 

Yes.   The only way we grow is to get out of our comfort zones and explore.   When we do that, we grow comfortable in our expanded horizons and this is recognized as growth (e.g. a new skill).

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.1.7  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.6    2 years ago

Ridiculous. Believing you dont have free will expands nothing. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.1.8  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.1    2 years ago

I consider this to be the "mic drop" answer to this seed , it is something I found while looking up articles about free will. I 100 percent agree with this comment, which is said more eloquently than I could manage. 

By understanding the laws of nature, I've come to the conclusion that everything evolves according to the laws of physics, and that includes the formation of conscious and unconscious thoughts in the brain.

A side-point, first... Even if I grant the conclusion (which seems reasonable in a tautological sort of way), I have to point out that there is a conceptual chasm between 'the laws of physics' and 'our understanding of the laws of physics.' Physics is a set of models about how the world works, and as accurate as those models may be, a model is never more than a loose description of those aspects of reality that happen to catch our attention. We don't 'know' that the laws of physics are deterministic: the 'Clockwork Universe' is a holdover from 18th century philosophy that is gradually eroding under modern research.

But putting that aside, this is the kind of philosophical question that the later Wittgenstein thought needed therapy rather than an answer. What use does this question have? We have the subjective experience of free will — we perceive ourselves as having the power to make free choices and decisions, perhaps within certain constraints — what reason (aside from idle speculation) do we have for questioning that experience?

I look out my window and I see a tree, and while I could play the Descartes game of trying to convince myself that tree does not exist (despite my subjective experience of it), why would I? Likewise, I see myself make a decision — I turn left when I equally well could have turned right — why would I try to convince myself that it was (in fact) not a decision at all. Sometimes there are reasons to question these naïve presumptions (e.g., the sun does not actually 'rise' in the east, and we can prove that to ourselves), but why question an experience without a proper use or reason?

In the Western world, the arguments against free will all stem from an anti-religious, anti-metaphysical worldview. There is a strong reaction in analytic/empiricist circles against organized religion, coming from a strong and bitter historical rivalry. That reaction is extended to metaphysical concepts, like God and the soul, that lie at the heart of religion, and the rejection of 'free will' becomes a tactical assault on those metaphysical concepts: negate free will (so hard-line empiricists believe) and one negates the soul, God, and religion in one fell swoop. But the concept of free will doesn't require a soul, or God, or religion; it is an experience, and metaphysical concepts arise in order to explain that experience, not the other way around.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.1.9  JohnRussell  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.8    2 years ago
In the Western world, the arguments against free will all stem from an anti-religious, anti-metaphysical worldview.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
1.1.10  Gordy327  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.9    2 years ago

While some may let an anti-religion bias guide their argument against free will, it's more a matter of free will being a logical impossibility, assuming (from a religious context) that a deity is omniscient as some religions claim or describe their deity.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
1.1.11  sandy-2021492  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.9    2 years ago

I don't recall any mention of religion in the video.  How is that anti-religious?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.12  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.7    2 years ago

Who said anything about belief?     Growing out of your comfort zone does not mean believing you do not have free will.   It means exploring a counterintuitive but plausible scenario and dealing with it intellectually.   That does not translate into belief;  this is not a religious discussion.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.1.13  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.12    2 years ago

I really dont have much to add beyond reiterating this, which I found on another website. It says essentially the same thing I was saying here last night, but with better language. 

But putting that aside, this is the kind of philosophical question that the later Wittgenstein thought needed therapy rather than an answer. What use does this question have? We have the subjective experience of free will — we perceive ourselves as having the power to make free choices and decisions, perhaps within certain constraints — what reason (aside from idle speculation) do we have for questioning that experience?

I dont think there really is a valid reason for questioning our experience of free will, which people have constantly and cannot be removed. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.14  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.8    2 years ago
I consider this to be the "mic drop" answer to this seed ,

Just shows me your refusal to explore an uncomfortable land counterintuitive possibility.   A refusal to grow.

With the attitude expressed in your reply (i.e. what difference does it make?) we would not pursue many of the sciences.   For example, what difference does it make if two particles truly get entangled?    What difference does it make if (unlike all thought to the contrary in the late 19th century) we are nothing more than the product of evolution?

Not much of a mic-drop answer.   It is more of categorical dismissal of an uncomfortable notion.

Thing is, although nobody truly knows if reality is deterministic or not, we do see a universe which appears to operate in a consistent manner.   Like a large, complex machine.   If that behavior extends to all levels then reality is indeed based purely on cause and effect — determinism.   That would mean that in spite of the powerful intuition, free will could not actually be in effect.

All you have done in your participation on this seed is to dismiss the possibility of determinism.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.15  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  sandy-2021492 @1.1.11    2 years ago

It is not.   This seed and this topic have nothing whatsoever to do with religion.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.16  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.13    2 years ago
I dont think there really is a valid reason for questioning our experience of free will, which people have constantly and cannot be removed. 

Then apparently you do not think there is a valid reason for questioning our origin (e.g. exploring the Big Bang) because there is not a damn thing we can do about it?   

Similarly, no point exploring any aspect of the human body that we cannot change.   

This is an attitude of pure anti-intellectualism;  it recognizes no value in the pursuit of knowledge unless said knowledge has a known, direct practical application.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.1.17  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.14    2 years ago
Just shows me your refusal to explore an uncomfortable land counterintuitive possibility.   A refusal to grow.

I do not consider what you are espousing and what is in the video to be "growing". 

Questioning the experience of free will is like questioning why there is oxygen on earth. It is there. That is what matters.   As the quote I used says 

"the concept of free will doesn't require a soul, or God, or religion; it is an experience, and metaphysical concepts arise in order to explain that experience, not the other way around."

Some people ask, how can the universe be eternal?  And the answer is "we dont know, it just is". 

Same thing with free will. It just is and because human beings can never experience not having free will, speculations as to its ultimate reality are pointless. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.18  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.17    2 years ago
I do not consider what you are espousing and what is in the video to be "growing". 

Of course not, you refuse to try to explore.   Just a series of nuh-uh dismissals.

As noted:  This is an attitude of pure anti-intellectualism;  it recognizes no value in the pursuit of knowledge unless said knowledge has a known, direct practical application.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.1.19  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.18    2 years ago

I am not the type of person who spends a lot of time musing on the origin of the universe and things like that. I admit that.  But I do understand the philosophy behind metaphysics. 

Free will is a ubiquitous human experience and cannot be prevented or ended. 

Its not just my opinion. What I quoted in   is from a philosophy forum. 

The guy is right. 

You say free will is an illusion. So what? Every single human being experiences free will . That is an illusion?  Or is it just an unexplainable reality? 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.20  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.19    2 years ago
I am not the type of person who spends a lot of time musing on the origin of the universe and things like that. I admit that.

An understatement based on your reaction to this seed.

Free will is a ubiquitous human experience and cannot be prevented or ended. 

True, if it exists.

You say free will is an illusion.

No, John, I have presented facts and logic that suggest that free will might be just an illusion.   I have stated several times that we do not (yet) know if reality is deterministic (or not).

So what?

And, again, this is pure anti-intellectualism.   You do not care to explore the possibility (which is actively being explored and there exists plenty of available research to review) and instead are offended that this is even being discussed.   Your taking of offensive is blatantly obvious in your collective comments on this seed.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.1.21  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.20    2 years ago

I am bowing out of this seed so you can have a smoother discussion. I am confident I have made my points effectively. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.1.22  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.21    2 years ago

Thank you.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
1.1.23  CB   replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.2    2 years ago

Or the illusion of free-will. Which goes to the point: Humans learn to convey 'loads' of meaning in practical language 'short-cuts.' That is, we take a lot for granted when we speak to one another and to that end we find it impractical to use 'dry' treatise, or long prose.

No human can possibly believe in total or whole free-will, because that would end any unexpected attitudes or actions entering into our individual paths of free-will to control every aspect of life, including for instance, we would seek no possibility of any virus or  corona-virus entering to make us sick or dead. Of course, we can't control outside influences because our bodies even our autonomous functions require some stimuli from the external world to react.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
1.1.24  cjcold  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1    2 years ago

I have lots of money but still work for the planet with various agencies.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2  Kavika     2 years ago

Thanks to Mocowgirl and you T,G.

I saw this video a few weeks back and it is stunning piece of work. The banana is a super star.

Great post.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Kavika @2    2 years ago

If there is no free will then we have to empty all the prisons out. People who cant exercise self determination cannot be guilty of wrong doing. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
2.1.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1    2 years ago
If there is no free will then we have to empty all the prisons out. People who cant exercise self determination cannot be guilty of wrong doing. 

You have hit the dilemma of fatalism.    Logically, the only course of action would be to continue to hold everyone responsible.   No way to predict how we would react:  your scenario or mine.  But mine certainly makes sense.   Reality is replete with conflicting priorities.   If it turns our that —even with certainty that there is no free will as part of our base of working knowledge— people continue to be held responsible for actions then that alone is a force that helps maintain stability.   It would be a graceful resolution of the dilemma.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1.2  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @2.1.1    2 years ago
So our behaviour is determined by the brain, the brain by the chemistry of our body, chemistry by quantum laws, quantum laws by Big Bang. In the end the Big Bang is the only "entity" responsible for John killing his friend Jack... h/t to determinism - What is the case for free will? - Philosophy Stack Exchange
 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
2.1.3  cjcold  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1    2 years ago

And then we all shoot them for fulfilling their rapist, thieving and murdering destiny?

I have known hard-core insane serial killers (medical exams at Leavenworth) . 

Some folk are just born evil. Military training will bring that seriously out in some.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
3  Perrie Halpern R.A.    2 years ago

I think that this conflates the machine that the human body is, and the complications of how the mind works. Yes, a brain can malfunction (i.e. a brain tumor), but so can a heart, which stops the heart from operating normally. 

It also makes a weird case for Eugenics. That we are almost predestined to behave and do certain things based on genes and conditions. Yet as a teacher, I saw students who defied all that should have been predetermined by these factors. 

The fact that the mind subconsciously makes a decision before we are aware of it, is not a shocker, nor does mean that there is no free will. We are an amalgamation of previous experiences and preferences. I might naturally have preferred bananas, but if someone told me as I was about to pick up a banana, that they had salmonella, I might be picking an apple instead. That decision might have been made a microsecond after hearing that, but I would say, that is the processing time, based on previous decisions made.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3    2 years ago
Yet as a teacher, I saw students who defied all that should have been predetermined by these factors. 

The video is not suggesting that factors at the level of biology are that predictive.   It is actually talking much lower in reality.   Think at the particle level.    So if determinism were at that level, we would have absolutely no clue that we are in a complex cause-effect chain and when we view reality at the level of biology (which is much grander) we would not have the cause-effect and predictability.     Genetics and other factors would still (to us) be a complex and partially understood dynamic that often works a certain way but is replete with exceptions.

The fact that the mind subconsciously makes a decision before we are aware of it, is not a shocker, nor does mean that there is no free will.

That alone does not mean we lack free will.   It is simply evidence supporting the notion that the conscious mind is not actually making free decisions.

We are an amalgamation of previous experiences and preferences. I might naturally have preferred bananas, but if someone told me as I was about to pick up a banana, that they had salmonella, I might be picking an apple instead. That decision might have been made a microsecond after hearing that, but I would say, that is the processing time, based on previous decisions made.

The lab experiments typically focus on very specific actions (like moving your finger) that can be measured.  

But in your scenario, how do you know that all those complex conditions took place in your conscious mind?   We know that many parts of a decision draw from biases across the brain (note our friend the amygdala).   Why would you exclude the possibility that ALL of our decisions are made outside of the conscious mechanics of the brain?

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
3.1.1  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  TᵢG @3.1    2 years ago
Why would you exclude the possibility that ALL of our decisions are made outside of the conscious mechanics of the brain?

I'm not, but I am not convinced either. I think like with most things, the truth lies somewhere in between. 

Let me ask you something. What is your position on this? I won't tell Geddy. :)

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3.1.2  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3.1.1    2 years ago
What is your position on this?

I find the research intriguing but incomplete.   Our brains our still well beyond our abilities to comprehend.

That said, I find it quite plausible that our reality is deterministic.   Free will would seem obvious to us (the illusion would be substantially and sound) but it would not be.   Although we would have no chance of calculating future actions, a deterministic reality means the future is calculable and thus all future decisions and actions are simply the intermediate results of a very, large calculation.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Quiet
3.1.3  Transyferous Rex  replied to  TᵢG @3.1    2 years ago
We know that many parts of a decision draw from biases across the brain (note our friend the amygdala). 

Certainly out of my league to discuss the purpose and function of the various parts of the brain, but I use the amygdala while talking to hitters, especially young hitters, and mostly from a fear standpoint. Many young hitters are simply afraid to get into the box. Overly worried about getting hit by a pitch. As that fear subsides, the main one that prevails is the fear of failure in the box. You can either give in to the fear, or you can get in the box. You can either dwell on the negative consequence of having a bad at bat, or you can focus on your purpose. Granted, some players are better at this than others, but it is not predestined to the extent that it cannot be overcome. But that's dealing more with anxiety at the plate, not decision making. 

I like the topic. I don't know that my subconscious leading my conscious necessarily removes the possibility of free will though.  

Think about it, if free will truly exists and choice is not just a chemical process, then why can things like alcohol and antipsychotics completely change a person's behavior?

Doesn't the fact that alcohol changes a person's behavior provide evidence that there is free will. Introduce something that disrupts the normal activity of the brain, and a person loses or experiences diminished decision making capabilities, like the example of the brain tumor, or the suggestion that a large percentage of prisoners in the UK have brain injuries. What does pointing these things out do to support the position that a person with a normally functioning brain doesn't have free will? These are examples of a loss of inhibitions or decision making ability, because of the introduction of something into the mechanism that disrupts normal operation. 

Going back to the previous example in the video, regarding intelligence and the position that if a person is not genetically disposed to be able to understand or appreciate something, then they lack the freedom to make intelligent choices. If a person doesn't understand the inner workings of a small combustion engine, then their choice to tear it down to diagnose a problem was not intelligent. The intelligent choice would be to take it to a mechanic. They are not without free will or the ability to choose their action, they are without knowledge or capacity to cope with the unintelligent decision of taking the engine apart. If they can't afford a mechanic, then, yes, they may be out of good options, but that has nothing to do with brain chemistry. 

No doubt, brain functions are complex. Isn't the properly working system what provides for free will, or intelligent decision making though? The video suggests this throughout. Sure, I might be predisposed, to an extent, to choose a cheeseburger over a steak, but I do have the choice. On the occasions that I do choose a steak, I am generally reminded of why I often choose a burger...I have a hard time paying 4 times the price for something I can prepare better at my house. My experiences, over time, are what inform my decision making process, but make no mistake, I run the traps if I am dining at a place I haven't been before. 

The "illusion" doesn't make sense, when the narrator suggests that instead of choosing to roll your eyes at a homeless person...think about the fact that your superior intelligence has given you the ability to make better decisions. It's not an illusion if I have the capacity to make the decision to run by, or throw him some bones. The fact that the brain operates on chemical and electrical impulses does not remove the possibility of free will, and the examples given in support of the notion, to me, are examples of systems disrupted, either by genetics or through the introduction of foreign objects or chemicals.  

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3.1.4  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Transyferous Rex @3.1.3    2 years ago
Doesn't the fact that alcohol changes a person's behavior provide evidence that there is free will. Introduce something that disrupts the normal activity of the brain, and a person loses or experiences diminished decision making capabilities, like the example of the brain tumor, or the suggestion that a large percentage of prisoners in the UK have brain injuries. What does pointing these things out do to support the position that a person with a normally functioning brain doesn't have free will? These are examples of a loss of inhibitions or decision making ability, because of the introduction of something into the mechanism that disrupts normal operation. 

How is that different from a machine malfunctioning?  

Going back to the previous example in the video, regarding intelligence and ....

Yes, I do not see free will having anything to do with intelligence or knowledge.   To me, free will is the ability to make more than one choice given a particular instant in time, and the state of the individual at that instant and the state of the universe at that instant.   If one could roll back time to replay an instant with the exact same universal state, free will means the individual could make a different choice.   To me.

The "illusion" doesn't make sense, when the narrator suggests that instead of choosing to roll your eyes at a homeless person...think about the fact that your superior intelligence has given you the ability to make better decisions. It's not an illusion if I have the capacity to make the decision to run by, or throw him some bones.

The fact that we make choices is not an illusion.   For example, the portion of the software that I developed for NT makes hundreds of thousands of choices each day.   They are real choices based on current data state and its operating principles.   But these choices are also 100% deterministic.   At the same time, with the same state, the software will make the exact same choice.  

It is not choice that is the illusion but, potentially, that the choice was an expression of free will.   If there was no free will we would still be making choices, but our feeling of free will would be an illusion (a very convincing illusion ... one that we would intuitively and vehemently object to ... but an illusion nonetheless.)

The fact that the brain operates on chemical and electrical impulses does not remove the possibility of free will, and the examples given in support of the notion, to me, are examples of systems disrupted, either by genetics or through the introduction of foreign objects or chemicals.

It really does not matter how the brain is structured.   Ultimately the brain is a structured collection of atoms.   Atoms are 100% deterministic items (based on modern science).   Thus if it turns out that it is possible (not by a human, just possible) to calculate the state of an atom based on the interaction with its environment and the state of the environment after the interaction then reality is, no matter how vehemently we would object, deterministic and free will is impossible.

Nobody knows one way or the other.   But we are all offended at the very notion of potentially being automatons ... extremely complex ones ... but automatons nonetheless.   Most people simply cannot break free of their intuition to even seriously consider the possibility that we do not have free will (that reality is deterministic).

jrSmiley_82_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Quiet
3.1.5  Transyferous Rex  replied to  TᵢG @3.1.4    2 years ago
How is that different from a machine malfunctioning?  

I thought about that, a little previously. To your question, it's not. If you put sugar in a gas tank, you are going to experience an engine malfunction. That doesn't mean that the engine is predisposed to malfunction under normal circumstances, or suffice to show that it's an illusion to think that the engine will rev when you depress the gas pedal. It only serves as an example of what might be a cause for abnormal operation or failure. The video suggests that we are living under the illusion that we make conscious decisions, and to show that we don't, gives examples of instances when there is a malfunction, i.e. alcohol, brain injury, brain tumor. The assertion doesn't make sense to me. Don't use examples of malfunction to support claims of activity under normal operation. The pedophile? Who knows, maybe the guy had impulses to fondle children the whole time, but it took an egg sized tumor to disrupt his ability to choose differently. Seems to me an example of decision making, or free will, disrupted. Ultimately, I don't think you can compare the brain to a machine though. 

They are real choices based on current data state and its operating principles.   But these choices are also 100% deterministic.   At the same time, with the same state, the software will make the exact same choice.   It is not choice that is the illusion but, potentially, that the choice was an expression of free will.

Relating back the machine question. The software has a fixed set of parameters. If I am given a choice of menu options, I may be predisposed to choose from items I know I like, but I have the option of going out on a limb, and trying something completely new. Or, I can narrow the usual options down to what I think would satisfy my taste buds the most at the moment. Then again, I could choose nothing. I don't have a fixed set of parameters in my software (admittedly I don't know that to be the case, but for sure, I have more than 100 options). My parameters are set more by my wallet, and how many meals I am paying for at the time. 

Thus if it turns out that it is possible (not by a human, just possible) to calculate the state of an atom based on the interaction with its environment and the state of the environment after the interaction then reality is, no matter how vehemently we would object, deterministic and free will is impossible.

Philosophical. But the brain, although composed of atoms, is not a singular atom. To say that the function of a collection of atoms is determined solely on how one atom responds to and interacts with its environment loses site of the fact that the atom is the smallest unit of whatever you are talking about, and is not a system. We are talking about about a system, the depths of which are not fully understood yet. I think it is short sited to say that we are on the rails of a rollercoaster, bound by the parameters of an atom's known characteristics in a vacuum. In some instances I would agree, we have instinctual impulses that are built in. Every time I scare my wife, she screams. Jump out at me, you had better duck, because I'm throwing hands. Not the same thing as deciding what to listen to on the drive in to work, if anything. My decision is informed by many things, and the choice is an expression of free will, limited only by the available listening options. 

But we are all offended at the very notion of potentially being automatons ... extremely complex ones ... but automatons nonetheless.

I'll admit, I am a creature of habit. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3.1.6  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Transyferous Rex @3.1.5    2 years ago
The assertion doesn't make sense to me.

I am not persuaded by that part of the video either.

I don't have a fixed set of parameters in my software

Modern AI implementations have a wealth of choices too.     A robot that learns how to scale a wall or do a backflip by trial and error (and very sophisticated feedback loops) has all sorts of options.   But, regardless, the number of choices is not a defining factor for having free will (or not) as I understand free will.   Rather it is the ability to genuinely make a choice that is independent of state.    If we replay a video from a certain point, the actions are always the same.  If we replay reality from a certain point, freewill would mean that going forward we would see a new (different) reality emerge.

But the brain, although composed of atoms, is not a singular atom.

That is why I stated:  "... to calculate the state of an atom based on the interaction with its environment and the state of the environment after the interaction ...".    If atoms are all deterministic then that suggests systems of atoms are likely deterministic as well since they interact with each other to form the whole.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Quiet
3.1.7  Transyferous Rex  replied to  TᵢG @3.1.6    2 years ago
If atoms are all deterministic then that suggests systems of atoms are likely deterministic as well since they interact with each other to form the whole.

No, I get what you are saying here, and I would tend to agree, if we are talking about the liver, the heart, etc. We are talking about the brain, not the digestive system. Processing information, to me, cannot be likened to processing the burger I had for lunch, which certainly has various but fixed determinable outcomes. I'd certainly have to ponder on this more, but, to me, to say that a human mind is a deterministic system has to ignore the roles of the human conscious, soul, morals, ideals, etc. The short video is a touching off point on the subject, and clearly you have considered this more than I have, which has been for all of about 30 minutes. But, I'll say that it is intriguing, and will likely prompt some reading by me, which is a nice change of pace from the typical article posted on NT. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3.1.8  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Transyferous Rex @3.1.7    2 years ago
We are talking about the brain, not the digestive system.

Complexity reduces the likelihood of a deterministic reality?   I do not see that.  

 
 
 
evilgenius
Professor Guide
3.1.9  evilgenius  replied to  TᵢG @3.1.8    2 years ago
Complexity reduces the likelihood of a deterministic reality?

Deterministic Chaos Theory actually assumes a deterministic system by measuring 3 things - The amount of uncertainty that can be tolerated in the forecast, the accuracy of measurement in it's current state and the time scale of the system. What appears to be random, in principle could be predicted. The issue is that the more time given it exponentially increased the uncertainty. As in weather prediction we can model a few days pretty well, but weeks and months not so.

Here is a very heavy math laden paper on Deterministic Chaos. It makes my brain hurt.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Quiet
3.1.10  Transyferous Rex  replied to  TᵢG @3.1.8    2 years ago
Complexity reduces the likelihood of a deterministic reality?

I think it depends on what you are talking about, e.g.,

The liver is extremely complex, but at the end of the day, it does what it does. Again, I haven't pondered the theory to any extent, apart from my few responses here. From my narrow understanding, it appears that there can be a broad approach, from treating this as if we are water molecules tossed about at the mercy of the river bank, to allowing us to be captains of a boat who think we are making navigational choices, but in reality we are simply being carried to the ocean.

I think from one end to the other, the differing approaches give too little, if any, deference to emotion, soul, conscious, awareness, etc., and assume that the river bank is already defined. It's intriguing, and I'll likely do some reading. Apparently, I have no choice in the matter.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3.1.11  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Transyferous Rex @3.1.10    2 years ago

The liver is complex but we do not consider it intelligent.   Why?   Because we consider intelligence to be a product of the brain.   But we also attribute free will to the brain but not to the liver.   We see the liver as complex but still deterministic (a very complex biochemical machine).   But the brain is more ... the brain has free will.

I wonder where the free will comes from.   If the brain, like the liver, ultimately reduces to interacting atoms then somehow these interacting atoms caused free will to emerge.   But the atoms are all deterministic and their interactions are deterministic.   So if a brain were to be viewed at an instant of time, it would be a bunch of atoms in specific states.   And the environment is also in a particular state.   So if we knew the detailed state of the environment and that of the brain as a complex network of atoms, we could calculate the next brain state.

Where is the free in free will coming from if the brain (as a complex network of atoms) is deterministic just like a liver?

This suggests the brain cannot be deterministic so there must be something going on other then a complex network of atoms. 

I wonder if we will ever find out.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Quiet
3.1.12  Transyferous Rex  replied to  TᵢG @3.1.11    2 years ago

No doubt, the search for answers will continue. Good post. More stimulating than the regular fare on here. 

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
3.2  Gordy327  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3    2 years ago
I think that this conflates the machine that the human body is, and the complications of how the mind works.

As I sometimes say, it's all about the brain.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
3.2.1  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Gordy327 @3.2    2 years ago

If it's all about the brain, then we could think ourselves out of cancer (and that might be a reality in the future). The brain controls a lot, but not all. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3.2.2  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3.2.1    2 years ago

Indeed.   So much of what ultimately emerges as human behavior we already know does not come from the conscious mind (the physical portions of the brain that manifest consciousness).   It might all come from sources other than the conscious mind.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
3.2.3  Gordy327  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3.2.1    2 years ago
If it's all about the brain, then we could think ourselves out of cancer (and that might be a reality in the future). The brain controls a lot, but not all.

I didn't say the brain controls all. But certainly a lot. Thinking ourselves in or out of a health situation sounds a lot like certain  philosophies regarding the mind-body connection.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
3.3  cjcold  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3    2 years ago

Jeez Perrie how do you explain half of the far right propagandists who seed and post here?

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
4  Gsquared    2 years ago

First, I have not watched the video yet.

I don't accept the hypothesis that all of our decisions are, or could be, made outside the conscious mechanics of the brain.

Was my decision to reject that hypothesis occasioned solely by the effects of the molecular structures of my brain on my subconsciousness?  If someone else makes the opposite decision, what would be the difference between their chemical structure and mine so as to cause us to make exact opposite decisions?

Was my decision to write this comment pre-determined by my body chemistry?

Hmm...

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
4.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Gsquared @4    2 years ago
If someone else makes the opposite decision, what would be the difference between their chemical structure and mine so as to cause us to make exact opposite decisions?

But you would expect these differences.   And the differences would be at a level far below chemistry.

I don't accept the hypothesis that all of our decisions are, or could be, made outside the conscious mechanics of the brain.

That translates into:  I reject the possibility ...

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
4.1.1  Gsquared  replied to  TᵢG @4.1    2 years ago

Why would we expect these differences?  Is there something intrinsically different between two humans that, at a level below consciouness, or far below chemistry, would cause them to make exact opposite decisions?  I recognize that organic deficits might, for example, cause somone to become a psychopathic serial killer, but I don't think that is what you are talking about.

I reject the possibility at this point.  Does the video contain clear and convincing evidence?  I will look at it when I have a chance.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
4.1.2  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Gsquared @4.1.1    2 years ago
Why would we expect these differences?  Is there something intrinsically different between two humans that, at a level below consciouness, or far below chemistry, would cause them to make exact opposite decisions?

Yes!!!   We are all distinct and our decisions (even when analyzed in terms of bio-chemistry) are incredibly complex.   And I am talking about complexity that goes well below that.  

But even at the macro level (the bio-chemical level) we know that many factors influence our decisions.   I am reminded of a study of jurists which noted that more lenient sentences are given when a judge is not hungry.   We are very complex creatures and I have no problem at all seeing how factors influence our decision making process so that people who one might expect to make the exact same decision wind up making opposite decisions.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
4.1.3  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Gsquared @4.1.1    2 years ago
I reject the possibility at this point.  Does the video contain clear and convincing evidence?  I will look at it when I have a chance.

Well I would not base your position on a single video.   This video is simply a report of ongoing research that has taken place over the last few decades.   There is so much more information out there;  hopefully the video will encourage people to dig a bit.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
4.1.4  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.3    2 years ago
There is so much more information out there;  hopefully the video will encourage people to dig a bit.

Why? What is the practical benefit to acquiring the belief that all your decisions are predetermined and beyond your control?  I can see an immense downside to having everyone believe they are not actually responsible for themselves , but I dont see what the supposed upside would be. 

No matter what the "truth" is, you WILL experience free will every single second of your life. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
4.1.5  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1.4    2 years ago

John, stop repeating yourself across the threads.

TiG @1.1.6 replies to JR@4.1.4

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
4.1.6  Gsquared  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.5    2 years ago

If we assume it's pre-determined that he do what you are asking him to stop doing, what is the point of requesting that he do something different?   Maybe that it's pre-determined that he will respond favorably?

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
4.1.7  sandy-2021492  replied to  Gsquared @4.1.6    2 years ago

Well, now I'm dizzy.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
4.1.8  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Gsquared @4.1.6    2 years ago
If we assume it's pre-determined that he do what you are asking him to stop doing, what is the point of requesting that he do something different? 

If JR is going to keep repeating himself then my request will fall on deaf ears.   The point of my request, however, is to influence him to find another course of action.

So I take my action (the request) to influence an alternative behavior.   My action, however, is no guarantee that the desired alternate behavior will result.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
4.2  cjcold  replied to  Gsquared @4    2 years ago

So do you have a beautiful, smart sister that I could fall in love with? 

 
 
 
Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
Professor Guide
5  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom    2 years ago

See!!!!!  I knew it wasn't my fault I'm an idiot!!!

On a mildly related note, anybody else remember the core-class requirement of 'volunteer' lab rat duty for the Master's and Doctoral candidates in college?      

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
5.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @5    2 years ago
anybody else remember the core-class requirement of 'volunteer' lab rat duty for the Master's and Doctoral candidates in college? 

eh?

I only got as far as a Bull Shit degree

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
5.1.1  mocowgirl  replied to  Trout Giggles @5.1    2 years ago
I only got as far as a Bull Shit degree

I dropped out of high school during the second semester of my junior year.  I do have a GED and some college, but mostly a brain that questions everything and is continually analyzing and seeking better answers.  This is probably one of the reasons, I require a lot of alone time to take in more information and sort and then re-sort it.  

Also, I have never met a person offline that has these kind of discussions.  If I even attempt to share any of this, I am dismissed as a lunatic, heretic, or  imbecile.

I have never fit in with the "proud" mom group that seemed to justify their worthiness to how soon their children drooled, walked and talked.  I was interested in politics, world religions, world history, clean energy, world events, how to "save" the planet, raising education standards in the US, and proper diet and nutrition.

If that was me exercising my "free will", then I am at a loss to explain why I chose those interests instead of being interested in the local gossip of who was humping who.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
5.2  cjcold  replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @5    2 years ago

I used to only have two legs.

Sill trying to figure out how to run with three.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
6  Trout Giggles    2 years ago

This is all way too complicated for my feeble little brain. But thanks for bringing it here, TiG

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
6.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Trout Giggles @6    2 years ago

TG never gives herself credit.

This is one the most counterintuitive notions I have experienced in my life.   It is uncomfortable and complicated, but it might also be true (we do not know yet).   It is worth considering because this notion recurs in scientific research.   Outside of neurology, when we explore what causes us to behave as we do, science suggests that our decisions are an end result of many complex factors which include everything from our genetics to the limbic system responding instantaneously to the state of our body at the moment (e.g. are we hungry?).

Here is podcast from Dr. Robert Sapolsky who is one of the best IMO researchers on behavior based on biology.  

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
6.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  TᵢG @6.1    2 years ago

I'm self effacing. I think that's the right word.

Thanks for the video.. I will try and watch it when I have more time

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
6.1.2  cjcold  replied to  Trout Giggles @6.1.1    2 years ago

Momma sez just jack off before thinking about committing a felony.

 
 
 
Kathleen
Professor Guide
7  Kathleen    2 years ago

I have always wondered how the brain, a piece of flesh, can generate our emotions and personality along with thoughts and dreams. 

Thats amazing in itself. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
7.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Kathleen @7    2 years ago

It is fascinating (to me).   I recommend Dr. Sapolsky's book:  Behave .   It is a difficult read at times, but it opens our eyes to how our brains work and why some people can behave in such irrational manners.

The punchline IMO is that the brain is more complex than any of us might have imagined and that an enormous amount of decision making takes place prior to conscious awareness (what we consider to be our minds).   So many participants in every little decision and how easily the participation is affected by myriad other factors (including environment).

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
7.2  mocowgirl  replied to  Kathleen @7    2 years ago
I have always wondered how the brain, a piece of flesh, can generate our emotions and personality along with thoughts and dreams.

Me, too.  And why all the differences in personality.

I second T,G in recommending Dr. Sapolsky's books.  I own several.  Haven't read all of them yet because I prefer listening to  Dr. Sapolsky  lectures and interviews on youtube.  I just found a new one at the link below.  This one is about stress, testosterone and FREE WILL.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
7.2.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  mocowgirl @7.2    2 years ago

Also, just so people know, Dr. Sapolsky does not dwell on free will.   It comes up as part of his research so he will at times broach the subject; he is working on a new book which is largely about free will and that is an interesting new focus for him.   So just because you and I have brought in Dr. Sapolsky into a free will discussion should not be taken to mean that this is some free-will evangelist or anything like that.  

Dr. Sapolsky, for those who do not know him, is a long distinguished field researcher and scholar in the several areas of biology and neuroscience.   His passion is researching the behavior of primates, especially baboons.

 
 
 
Kathleen
Professor Guide
7.2.2  Kathleen  replied to  mocowgirl @7.2    2 years ago

I have been looking for something interesting to read lately and this sounds like something I will get into. I always liked talking about things like this.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
7.2.3  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Kathleen @7.2.2    2 years ago

The free will portion of Dr. Sapolsky's collected research is far from being the most interesting aspect.   I, personally, am more intrigued by the role that biology plays in our behavior ... so much of how we roll seems to be based on biological rather than psychological/cognitive factors.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
7.3  cjcold  replied to  Kathleen @7    2 years ago

The human body can generate over 100 watts at rest.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
7.3.1  cjcold  replied to  cjcold @7.3    2 years ago

(GO CHIEFS)

 
 
 
Kathleen
Professor Guide
7.3.2  Kathleen  replied to  cjcold @7.3.1    2 years ago

Go Ravens! Record field goal kick!

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
7.3.3  GregTx  replied to  Kathleen @7.3.2    2 years ago

jrSmiley_13_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
7.3.4  GregTx  replied to  cjcold @7.3.1    2 years ago

jrSmiley_15_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8  Nerm_L    2 years ago

Without free will the concepts of reason, logic, rational thought, and deliberation become meaningless.  Free will is more than just picking one or the other.

Free will involves rational deliberation that guides actions.  Free will involves arriving at a conclusion based upon reason and rational thought that directs volition.  Simply choosing between an apple or banana is not an example of free will.  

Autonomic brain functions interfere with free will.  The subconscious can overwhelm the rational mind and interfere with rational thought and reason.  Our biology can circumvent the rational mind and allow us to make choices not guided by rational thought.  When our biology prevents free will then we become the same as any other living creature guided by instinct; we become human in form only.

Free will depends upon our human ability to think, to reason, and to arrive at rational conclusions.  When we make choices without using our rational mind then we are not exercising free will.  Without the rational mind then, yes, we become deterministic creatures without free will.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8    2 years ago
Without the rational mind then, yes, we become deterministic creatures without free will.

Is the rational mind (your phrase) an emergent property of the physical brain?

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.1  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1    2 years ago
Is the rational mind (your phrase) an emergent property of the physical brain?

Whether the rational mind is an evolved biological characteristic or a divine creation doesn't really matter very much.  The fact is that the rational mind does exist now in our reality.  And the rational mind is the source of free will.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.2  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.1    2 years ago
And the rational mind is the source of free will.

How do you know we have free will much less be able to identify its source?

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.3  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.2    2 years ago
How do you know we have free will much less be able to identify its source?

That was addressed in @8.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.4  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.3    2 years ago

Where?

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.5  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.4    2 years ago
Where?

@8

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
8.1.6  Gordy327  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.1    2 years ago

Yes, the mind exists. We are capable of thought. But how do you know if it truly is the source of free will?

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
8.1.7  Gsquared  replied to  Gordy327 @8.1.6    2 years ago

I'm not fully sure why yet, but it seems that there is something not logically consistent about the concept of a source of free will.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.8  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Gsquared @8.1.7    2 years ago

To have free will, there must be something (unnamed) that delivers an inspiration to act in the 'free will' manner.

What is the difference between a computer program and free will?   One answer is that a computer program is entirely cause-and-effect.   No matter how complex the program, ultimately we could get all of the data available to the program and calculate exactly what the program would do.

If the computer program had free will, we would not be able to do this calculation.   Why?   Because there would be some other missing ingredient that enables the computer program to deliver results that are not strictly a calculation of its data; not simply cause and effect.  Some other unknown thing is enabling the program to deliver unpredictable (to us) results.

Now, given that analogy, what would you make of this unknown missing ingredient?   Is this ingredient some new data delivered in mysterious ways (i.e. the force)?   If so, then if we could access that data we could calculate what the program would do.   Cause and effect still rules.

So this missing ingredient must by some kind of cognitive component that is independent of cause-and-effect.   Maybe free will is actually sourced outside of the brain (outside of the body).   If so, why do we call that free will?   It is more like a remote control.

Ultimately, one must consider what free will really is.    Free will is often considered to be freedom of choice.   Okay, good.   So let's accept the notion that we are absolutely free to make whatever (possible) choice we wish.   How do we make that choice?   Is the choice made by our brains?   If so, then the choice must ultimately source from something physical.   If physical then the choice is a result of neural interactions.   These neural interactions are tempered by the current state of the body which is in turn a result of genetics, hormones, current environment, body chemistry, etc.  

What really do we think we mean when we say that we are free to make a choice?   Free for what to make a choice?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.9  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Gsquared @8.1.7    2 years ago

Another thing to consider.

When you are stressed, do you make the same logical choice as when you are relaxed?

When you are tired, horny, sick, sad, elated, in pain, drunk, cold, hot, light-headed, pumped-up-on-caffeine, outnumbered, highly-supported, angry, etc. would you always make the same logical choice?

Why is it that factors such as being hungry affect our (unrelated) logical choices?   Clearly there are many factors of which we do not have control that go into our decisions.  

That alone should give one pause in the context of this topic.   Free will (if it exists) seems to be one of many (uncontrollable) factors that go into our ultimate choices.   Do we consciously control our amygdala's hyperfast threat detection mechanism?    We do not.   Thus the 'logic' encoded within the amygdala is out of our control yet it affects our ultimate decision:  we make different choices if we are feeling threatened (even if irrationally so) than when we feel safe.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.10  Nerm_L  replied to  Gordy327 @8.1.6    2 years ago
Yes, the mind exists. We are capable of thought. But how do you know if it truly is the source of free will?

Humans are capable of more than just thought.  Humans are capable of deliberative thought using reason and logic to arrive at abstract conclusions beyond observational experience. 

Humans do make choices based on automatic response to stimuli.  But that is not an exercise of free will because the choice has been based on deterministic biological processes without employing rational deliberation; the choice has been constrained by limitations of the biomechanism.  Humans possess a rational mind capable of deliberative and abstract reasoning that exceeds the biomechanical limitations of the brain to automatically respond to observed stimuli.  

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.11  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.10    2 years ago
Humans are capable of more than just thought.  Humans are capable of deliberative thought using reason and logic to arrive at abstract conclusions beyond observational experience. 

Yes.  Do you find abstract thinking impossible without free will?  Why?

But that is not an exercise of free will because the choice has been based on deterministic biological processes without employing rational deliberation; the choice has been constrained by limitations of the biomechanism. 

Right, the autonomic responses do not correlate with free will.   Also, the responses from primitive areas of the brain such as the amygdala and hippocampus are not considered free will.  The more we research the brain the more it looks like a complex web of biochemistry sending electrical impulses, combining same, triggering action potentials, etc.   All very mechanical.   Where, then, is the part of the brain that breaks free of all this cause-and-effect biochemistry to produce a choice that is not the result of these complex interactions?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.12  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Gsquared @8.1.7    2 years ago

Also, think of human beings with brain tumors.   There are myriad cases of profound changes in behavior based on a tumor applying force on brain tissue and when said tumor is removed, the patient returns to normal behavior.

Did that benign clump of malformed cell mass defeat free will?    Why is it that free will did not work around that problem?   How is it that a grade school teacher developed pedophilia tendencies but returned to normal when his brain tumor was identified and removed?

Free will, if it exists, does not seem to be in control as we would expect.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
8.1.13  Gordy327  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.10    2 years ago

Analyzing information and deriving conclusions, either concrete or abstract, is part of the thought process. So you're not saying anything profound. Autonomic and reflex responses to stimuli is not an engagement of free will. Again, that's rather obvious. But when you look at it, our responses are to some stimuli, even in the finite, which ultimately influences or determines the "choice" we (think) we make. In effect, that is not pure free will.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.14  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.11    2 years ago
Yes.  Do you find abstract thinking impossible without free will?  Why?

That misstates what I've said.  What I've said is that free will is not possible without the ability to engage in rational deliberation.  Under the causal deterministic model being presented, free will would be an effect and not a cause.  That's why the human capacity for reason, rational deliberation, and abstract thinking is the source of free will.  

And it doesn't really matter if the rational mind is an evolved biological characteristic or a divine creation.  The rational mind exists.  The rational mind is the source of free will.  Without the rational mind there isn't free will.

Right, the autonomic responses do not correlate with free will.   Also, the responses from primitive areas of the brain such as the amygdala and hippocampus are not considered free will.  The more we research the brain the more it looks like a complex web of biochemistry sending electrical impulses, combining same, triggering action potentials, etc.   All very mechanical.   Where, then, is the part of the brain that breaks free of all this cause-and-effect biochemistry to produce a choice that is not the result of these complex interactions?

Let's apply that to a real world example rather than a theoretical hypothetical.  Which part of that complex biomechanism is responsible for a person wearing a face mask some times and not other times?  The same person with the same brain and the same complex biochemistry does not respond the same in similar situations.  

What part of the brain is responsible for that inconsistent response?  I don't know.  But the inconsistency in response does suggest that a causal deterministic model doesn't describe that response.  Wearing a face mask does require the ability to think in the abstract; wearing a face mask is not a natural act.  Choosing to wear a mask in some situations and not others isn't a response to stimuli; some process of deliberation is at play.  

Choosing to wear a face mask or not wear a face mask is an exercise of free will.  Wearing a face mask is not natural, is not an automatic response to stimuli, and requires deliberate volition based upon reason and understanding abstract concepts.   And the inconsistent response by an individual doesn't support that deciding to wear or not wear a mask is the result of a causal relationship.   

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.15  Nerm_L  replied to  Gordy327 @8.1.13    2 years ago
Analyzing information and deriving conclusions, either concrete or abstract, is part of the thought process. So you're not saying anything profound. Autonomic and reflex responses to stimuli is not an engagement of free will. Again, that's rather obvious. But when you look at it, our responses are to some stimuli, even in the finite, which ultimately influences or determines the "choice" we (think) we make. In effect, that is not pure free will.

Yes, autonomic and reflexive responses to stimuli are governed by causal relationships.  Research that observes a response to stimuli have constrained the conclusions to causal relationships.  Response to stimuli doesn't provide insights into the nature of free will.

Stimulating the brain will elicit a response.  That is not a profound discovery, either.  But that type of research limits our understanding of the brain to only causal relationships.  That bias predisposes that human personality and human behavior can only be described by causal relationships.  Inductively extrapolating those constrained causal relationships based on response to stimuli to explain human characteristics such as free will is bad science.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.16  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.14    2 years ago
That's why the human capacity for reason, rational deliberation, and abstract thinking is the source of free will.  

And where is this capacity?   Is it in the body?   Is it located in the brain?   Or is it outside of the body?

The rational mind exists.  The rational mind is the source of free will.  Without the rational mind there isn't free will.

Your logic ...

1.   the rational mind exists

2.   the rational mind is source of free will

⛬   free will exists

... is not sound

Your premise #2 is an unsupported claim.   You would need to prove that the rational mind is the source of free will.

What part of the brain is responsible for that inconsistent response?  I don't know.  But the inconsistency in response does suggest that a causal deterministic model doesn't describe that response. 

But it is the brain, right?   The physical brain is, per your comment, the source of this inconsistent response.  


You seem to have totally missed the point I made:

TiG @8.1.11 ☞ Where, then, is the part of the brain that breaks free of all this cause-and-effect biochemistry to produce a choice that is not the result of these complex interactions?

Stated differently, the brain is a physical organ with cause-and-effect biochemistry.   It is, as best science can tell, a machine.   An extremely complex machine, but a  machine nonetheless.    You are observing the end result of human cognition where it looks as though we have free will and declaring that free will ipso facto exists.   That is, you merely declare that because we have rational minds we necessarily have free will.

I have asked you where free will comes from.  You say it comes from the rational mind.   Well, if the rational mind is an emergent property of a biochemical machine then its decisions are a function of the state of its biochemistry (which includes its unique physical composition, the influence of its environment, the influence from the rest of the body (e.g. sensory input), etc.). 

What part of the brain breaks free of all this cause-and-effect biochemistry to manifest free will?     If free will is an emergent property of the physical brain then it is the result of all these neurological and physiological factors.   And all these factors are a result of normal behavior of atoms.   It is deterministic machinery.   Very complex, but still deterministic.

So go back up to the human level now.   If you choose to have an omelet for breakfast, that choice is arguably the result of a complex process based on your current state.   Any slight change in your state (e.g. sensing a foul odor) might produce a very different choice.   But in the 'omelet' state you 'choose' an omelet.   You are, in effect, claiming that you could be in an 'omelet' state yet choose something other than an omelet.   So where does this causal-chain breaking variation come from?    How does the identical physical state produce different results?  

Note:  the identical physical state means that all sensory input, all knowledge, every last detail of you is unchanged.   Do you envision the brain engaging in some low-level randomness/noise which causes the same state to manifest different results?   If so, this randomness/noise clearly is not consciously controlled.    And if not randomness/noise then what, specifically, do you think causes a particular state the means to deliver more than one consistent result and how is this controlled by the conscious mind?

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.17  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.16    2 years ago
Your logic ...

1.   the rational mind exists

2.   the rational mind is source of free will

⛬   free will exists

... is not sound

Your premise #2 is an unsupported claim.   You would need to prove that the rational mind is the source of free will.

The provided example of a teacher with a brain tumor developing pedophilia tendencies supports my contention that the rational mind is the source of free will.  Unfortunately the example doesn't provide information on whether or not the teacher acted on those tendencies or if the teacher's rational mind acted to curb and control those tendencies.  The provided example predisposes that only causal relationships describes human behavior and constrains the example to causal relationships.

Stated differently, the brain is a physical organ with cause-and-effect biochemistry.   It is, as best science can tell, a machine.   An extremely complex machine, but a  machine nonetheless.    You are observing the end result of human cognition where it looks as though we have free will and declaring that free will ipso facto exists.   That is, you merely declare that because we have rational minds we necessarily have free will.

Plants respond to stimuli without a brain.  So the cells within our bodies do communicate with each other through biochemistry, too.  Our reflexive response to pain doesn't require the brain; our finger in the flame doesn't wait for the brain to respond.  The brain is not telling our heart to beat or our lungs to breath or our stomachs to digest.  Our brain is not involved in combating an infection or healing a wound.

There are numerous examples of people in a vegetative state whose brains are only responding to stimuli.  People in a coma cannot exercise free will.

A rational mind is a prerequisite to exercise free will.  Simply possessing a brain that responds to stimuli is insufficient.

I have asked you where free will comes from.  You say it comes from the rational mind.   Well, if the rational mind is an emergent property of a biochemical machine then its decisions are a function of the state of its biochemistry (which includes its unique physical composition, the influence of its environment, the influence from the rest of the body (e.g. sensory input), etc.). 

How do you know that?  Many parts of the body function independently from the brain.  But, as we know, humans do more than just respond to stimuli.  What role does the organism as a whole contribute to higher functions such as rational thought?

The rational mind may be an emergent property of the whole organism and not just the brain.  The entire body is a biomechanism that relies upon biochemistry.  What makes humans human may well be greater than the sum of their parts.

What part of the brain breaks free of all this cause-and-effect biochemistry to manifest free will?     If free will is an emergent property of the physical brain then it is the result of all these neurological and physiological factors.   And all these factors are a result of normal behavior of atoms.   It is deterministic machinery.   Very complex, but still deterministic.

Free will is an emergent property of the rational mind.  When you explain how the rational mind can reason, deliberate, speculate, ignore reality to explore abstractions, create fiction, and make choices without stimuli then you will have answered your own question.

If the rational mind is deterministic and controlled by causal relationships, as you are claiming, then reason, logic, rational thought, and deliberation become meaningless.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.18  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.17    2 years ago
The provided example of a teacher with a brain tumor developing pedophilia tendencies supports my contention that the rational mind is the source of free will.

It supports my contention that free will, if it exists, is an emergent property of the physical brain.

Plants respond to stimuli without a brain.    ...   There are numerous examples of people in a vegetative state whose brains are only responding to stimuli.  People in a coma cannot exercise free will.

Not addressing my point.  Nobody has suggested that autonomic functions involve free will.

How do you know that?

How do I know that if the rational mind is an emergent property of a biochemical machine then its decisions are a function of the state of its biochemistry (which includes its unique physical composition, the influence of its environment, the influence from the rest of the body (e.g. sensory input), etc.)?

You are not aware of the basics for how the brain operates??

The rational mind may be an emergent property of the whole organism and not just the brain. 

Okay.   This means, again, that the rational mind is an emergent property of a physical biochemical structure (the human being).   Does not change my point nor does it change my questions to you.

Free will is an emergent property of the rational mind.  When you explain how the rational mind can reason, deliberate, speculate, ignore reality to explore abstractions, create fiction, and make choices without stimuli then you will have answered your own question.

You are just repeating yourself.   You do not have an answer.    Not a surprise, nobody does.   The key however is for you to recognize that you simply do not have anything to support your claim that the rational mind is the source of free will.    Ultimately, no matter how many layers of indirection you impose, free will necessarily would come from a biochemical mechanism.   And somehow you would need to show how the conscious mind is in control over this biochemical mechanism to have free will.

If the rational mind is deterministic and controlled by causal relationships, as you are claiming, then reason, logic, rational thought, and deliberation become meaningless.

No, if the 'rational mind' is deterministic then all of its decisions are knowable.   That is unsettling for us to consider, but that would be the case.   Although plausibly deterministic, the complexities involved are so great that for all intent and purposes our illusion of free will would not make a difference in our lives.   That is, if free will really is just an incredibly strong illusion we still would go about our daily lives the same way.   Regardless, even if all of our concepts become meaningless (as you suggest) that has nothing to do with the truth or falseness of free will.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.19  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.16    2 years ago
So go back up to the human level now.   If you choose to have an omelet for breakfast, that choice is arguably the result of a complex process based on your current state.   Any slight change in your state (e.g. sensing a foul odor) might produce a very different choice.   But in the 'omelet' state you 'choose' an omelet.   You are, in effect, claiming that you could be in an 'omelet' state yet choose something other than an omelet.   So where does this causal-chain breaking variation come from?    How does the identical physical state produce different results?  

But I don't know that my desire for an omelet is caused solely by my brain.  And I don't know if my response to a foul odor is controlled solely by my brain.  I am an organism that consists of much more than a brain.  I respond to internal stimuli as well as external stimuli.  And some responses do not involve the brain.

If I reject eating omelets, regardless of desire, because of farming practices then I have exercised free will.  My rational mind ignores the internal and external stimuli to make a choice based upon a rational conclusion rather than upon stimuli.  My rational mind breaks the causal chain by utilizing abstract concepts that are not the result of predictable causal relationships that can be observed as a response to stimuli.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.20  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.18    2 years ago
Not addressing my point.  Nobody has suggested that autonomic functions involve free will.

But that's not true.  You have stated that free will, if it exists, is an emergent property of the brain.  And you are stating that brain functions are the result of causal response to stimuli.  You are claiming that stimulating the brain elicits a response that is automatic and deterministically predictable.  You are claiming the brain functions in a deterministic manner which means all brain functions are autonomic.  And that would include the brain function of free will according to what you have claimed.

You really are attempting to make the case that free will is an autonomic function of the brain.  You are attempting to argue that there is no such thing as free will because all brain functions are autonomic.  So claiming that nobody has suggested that autonomic functions involve free will is a false claim.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
8.1.21  Gordy327  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.15    2 years ago

Any stimuli the brain receives can affect the "choices' we make. This stimuli can influence and  push us toward one choice over another. Even those we think we are consciously making of our own volition. However, true free will means we are no being influenced to decide one way or another.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.22  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.19    2 years ago
But I don't know that my desire for an omelet is caused solely by my brain. 

So are you suggesting factors external to the body are part of the rational mind?

If I reject eating omelets, regardless of desire, because of farming practices then I have exercised free will.

Nerm you totally missed the point I made.   I spent time carefully describing the notion of state and you completely missed it. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.23  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.20    2 years ago
You have stated that free will, if it exists, is an emergent property of the brain.  And you are stating that brain functions are the result of causal response to stimuli.  You are claiming that stimulating the brain elicits a response that is automatic and deterministically predictable.  You are claiming the brain functions in a deterministic manner which means all brain functions are autonomic.  And that would include the brain function of free will according to what you have claimed.

That is not what autonomic means.   Autonomic is a biological term referring to a specific set of functions.   The brain —as a whole— is not considered part of the autonomic system.

I have suggested that the brain and, indeed, the body as a whole, consists of atoms and that based on modern science, atoms behave deterministically.   That is, we have (thus far) no evidence that atoms occasionally break the laws of physics.   And even if they did, this is at a level far below consciousness so clearly this is not free will.

Free will, if it exists, would need to be controlled by the conscious mind.   The conscious mind, as far as we know, is an emergent property of the physical brain (and the body given nervous system, etc.).  

So, again, free will would necessarily be a function of the brain.   If the brain is deterministic (which is what biochemistry suggests at this point) then free will cannot exist.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.24  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.18    2 years ago
You are just repeating yourself.   You do not have an answer.    Not a surprise, nobody does.   The key however is for you to recognize that you simply do not have anything to support your claim that the rational mind is the source of free will.    Ultimately, no matter how many layers of indirection you impose, free will necessarily would come from a biochemical mechanism.   And somehow you would need to show how the conscious mind is in control over this biochemical mechanism to have free will.

I am rejecting your proposition.  I cannot comment from your point of view because I have rejected that point of view.  I am arguing that the inductive logic extrapolating causal relationships of brain response to stimuli cannot be extended to include reason, logic, rational thought,  deliberation, and abstraction.

I am answering your questions but I my answers are from my point of view and not your point of view.  Ignoring my point of view is not a counter argument.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.25  Nerm_L  replied to  Gordy327 @8.1.21    2 years ago
Any stimuli the brain receives can affect the "choices' we make. This stimuli can influence and  push us toward one choice over another. Even those we think we are consciously making of our own volition. However, true free will means we are no being influenced to decide one way or another.

Bur humans do have a rational mind that will ignore internal and external stimuli to make decisions that guide actions.  That human characteristic is embedded in our language as willpower, an act of will, force of will, free will, and volition.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.26  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.24    2 years ago

I am done wasting my time with you Nerm.   All I can do at this point is repeat the questions I have posed and watch you avoid them again.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.27  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.22    2 years ago
So are you suggesting factors external to the body are part of the rational mind?

There may be factors external to the brain that are part of the rational mind.  And that could include factors external to the body, as well.  I do not know but do not reject that prospect out of hand.

Nerm you totally missed the point I made.   I spent time carefully describing the notion of state and you completely missed it.

You described a deterministic state and argued that response to a desire for an omelet would be predictable.  I provided a counter example that directly addressed your notion beyond a deterministic state.  I did not stay inside your constraints and presented a argument that suggests those constraints are arbitrary and overly confining to adequately describe reality.

So, yes, I didn't stay inside the box you drew.  I am truly guilty of thinking outside your box.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.28  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.27    2 years ago
There may be factors external to the brain that are part of the rational mind.  And that could include factors external to the body, as well.  I do not know but do not reject that prospect out of hand.

If you were to pursue the mind extending beyond the physical body then you move into the supernatural with absolutely nothing whatsoever to go on.  Yet, somehow, if the physical brain is damaged by a tumor, for example, this can disable the non-physical aspect of the mind.   The overwhelming evidence is that a minds is an emergent factors of our brain attached to a body.    And that the state of our brain-body-environment determines our decisions.   You continue to fail to show where the magic occurs that causes a brain-body-environment in a particular state to produce different decisions.   What is the non-deterministic factor that creates these alternatives?

So, yes, I didn't stay inside the box you drew.  I am truly guilty of thinking outside your box.

You flatter yourself.   You simply declared that the rational mind is not deterministic without explaining how this is possible.   You colorfully wrote the equivalent of 'it just is'.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.29  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.27    2 years ago
I am truly guilty of thinking outside your box.

Yes, some people can survive as a herd of one, but those people are the outliers - not the norm.

Human Herding: How People are Like Guppies | Psychology Today In human societies, herding often involves people using the actions of others as a guide to sensible behavior, instead of independently seeking out high-quality information about the likely outcomes of these actions. Herding can be particularly destructive in market contexts, because blind faith in market trends by a swarm of individuals can lead to huge bubbles and devastating crashes. But if herding can lead to outcomes that are so damaging and maladaptive at the level of the society, then why did it evolve in the first place? Because herding evolved to benefit individuals, not groups or societies.

and

Herd Mentality Explained (psychcentral.com)

A new research study sheds light on a behavior that is consistent among many species — that is, making decisions based upon the actions of others.

Scientists at the University of Leeds believe they may have found why humans flock like sheep and birds, subconsciously following a minority of individuals.

Researchers discovered that it takes a minority of just five percent to influence a crowd’s direction — and that the other 95 percent follow without realizing it.

The findings could have major implications for directing the flow of large crowds, such as sporting events or public rallies or gatherings. The results may also be particularly useful in disaster scenarios where verbal communication may be difficult.

“There are many situations where this information could be used to good effect,” says Professor Jens Krause of the University’s Faculty of Biological Sciences.

The paper relating to this research, entitled Consensus decision making in human crowds is published in the current issue ofAnimal Behavior Journal.

A related study conducted in 2013 examined herd mentality in online communities. The researchers (Taylor et al., 2013) examined comments they manipulated on a single website with up and down votes. If a comment had been given a fake up-vote, the first person reading the comment would add an additional up-vote to the comment. This effect only translated to up-votes, not down-votes, however.

This more recent study suggests that ‘herd mentality’ also operates online and in online communities. People appear to be subconsciously swayed by the opinion of others.

One of my favorite quotes that I keep on my desk.  It reminds me that if I want to own myself then I must know myself well enough to understand my own thought processes.

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
―  Friedrich Nietzsche

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.30  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.28    2 years ago
If you were to pursue the mind extending beyond the physical body then you move into the supernatural with absolutely nothing whatsoever to go on.

Or the rational mind extending beyond the physical body has not yet been observed.  We may not have discovered the means to make such observations.  I don't know but I remain open to the prospect.

Yet, somehow, if the physical brain is damaged by a tumor, for example, this can disable the non-physical aspect of the mind.   The overwhelming evidence is that a minds is an emergent factors of our brain attached to a body.    And that the state of our brain-body-environment determines our decisions.   You continue to fail to show where the magic occurs that causes a brain-body-environment in a particular state to produce different decisions.   What is the non-deterministic factor that creates these alternatives?

How do we know that damaging the brain disables the non-physical aspects of the mind?  Brain damage impairs the brain's ability to respond to stimuli which separates the brain from reality.  And it shouldn't be surprising that separating the brain from reality impairs ability to make decisions about reality.  Does a damaged brain still have a subconscious mind?   Wouldn't loss of the subconscious mind break the causal chain?

Even people with damaged brains continue to make choices and decisions.  Even people with damaged brains continue to think in terms of abstractions.  In fact, abstractions can replace reality and allow the non-physical aspects of the mind to continue functioning.    

You flatter yourself.   You simply declared that the rational mind is not deterministic without explaining how this is possible.   You colorfully wrote the equivalent of 'it just is'.

No, I've also provided examples and logical arguments to support my contention that the rational mind is not deterministic.  Claiming that I've simply made a declaration is another false claim.

And you've carefully avoided addressing an important part of my proposition.  If there isn't free will then wouldn't the concepts of reason, logic, rational thought, and deliberation become meaningless?  If our thought is causally deterministic then how can there be free thought?  Enlightened thinking would also become another illusion.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.31  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.30    2 years ago
Even people with damaged brains continue to make choices and decisions.  Even people with damaged brains continue to think in terms of abstractions.  In fact, abstractions can replace reality and allow the non-physical aspects of the mind to continue functioning.   

Earlier I gave an example of a grade school teacher who developed pedophilia desires.   It turned out that his reasoning was influenced by a tumor and once remove he returned to normal.   We have countless cases of brain damage from physical trauma, disease, drugs, etc. that render the individual incapable of rational thought ... the rational mind (the term you use) is no longer functional.   The evidence is that the rational mind is an emergent property of the physical brain (and that can include extension into the body).   If the rational mind is indeed a function of the brain, etc. then for free will to exist the brain, etc. cannot be deterministic.   So where in this mess of atoms do we see a violation of the laws of physics to turn this system of atoms into something that is not based upon causal relationships?   (You have never answered this question.)

If there isn't free will then wouldn't the concepts of reason, logic, rational thought, and deliberation become meaningless? 

I did not avoid that at all.  I stated that it does not matter if you perceive free will to render those qualities meaningless.   That is simply your perception and has no bearing whatsoever on truth.   (Again, I repeat myself.)

No, I've also provided examples and logical arguments to support my contention that the rational mind is not deterministic. 

Claims of making an argument are not the same as actually making the argument.    That is a slimy tactic.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.32  Nerm_L  replied to  mocowgirl @8.1.29    2 years ago
Yes, some people can survive as a herd of one, but those people are the outliers - not the norm.

How does free will fit into a herd mentality?  Are we supposed to follow the herd?

We've heard the admonition that because everyone is doing something doesn't mean you must do the same thing.  That's an admonition to think independently and make our own choices.

People who think independently are not rare.  In fact, most people think independently.  We may be influenced by the herd but our free will allows us to not always follow the herd, doesn't it?

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.33  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.32    2 years ago
People who think independently are not rare.

My first thought was no way.  Then I reconsidered.   You might be right.  They might be a part of the "did not not vote (or care)" majority vs the "you must pick a side and support it" viva revolution minority.

I googled traits of independent people.

Do you really believe that the majority of people have the following traits?

9 Signs of a Truly Independent Person: Are You One? - Learning Mind (learning-mind.com)

Being an independent person doesn’t come from living an easy life. The trials of life  make you stronger .

1. You can live alone 

You’re so good with yourself that living alone is actually preferable at times.

 2. You’re a future planner   

While many people say “live in the moment”, an independent and solid person will always  plan for times to come . They see the big picture and not the temporary high of present fun and companionship.

3. Saying ‘no’ isn’t hard 

People of an independent nature  can easily say no  and not even give an explanation for their answer. They are bold and present an attitude that says, “I’m saying no just because I want to.”. Do you see?

 4. It’s hard to ask for help

Asking for help isn’t hard for some, but for independent and stubborn people, they hate charity. To independent individuals, asking for help means weakness.

5. You have few friends

When you’re independent, you have  fewer friends than most people . Truth be told, this is because you spend time with people expecting nothing in return.

6. You have an unshakable self-worth

When you’ve become an independent person,  you won’t have to get validation  from other people. No matter how many insults they use, you will still know who you really are. You will see your value, your beauty, and your loyalty, and nothing can change this.

7. You go out alone

Most of the time, you will go out alone. You love to shop for things alone because you can  go and leave as you please . You even like to eat at restaurants alone sometimes.

Being alone in public feels good to you, and it doesn’t leave you empty. You don’t have to  socialize with friends  out on the town, but you can still have a conversation with people who are already there. It’s an interesting trait.

8. You can lead

When independent, you can take the lead and  get difficult things done . You will notice both men and women taking charge of difficult situations, and this usually means they are pretty independent of others.

Sometimes men are intimidated by women who take charge, but unfortunately, this is because they are usually the dependent sort. Strong men aren’t intimidated, they rather help strong women succeed. This can be seen the other way around too but in a slightly different aspect.

9. You’re financially independent

Yes, we already know the independent sort are  people who live alone , and they are also those who refuse help. Well, if, for some reason, an independent person just happens to owe money, say for car payments or other financed things, they will most certainly be on time and try to pay off the debt as soon as possible.

They  hate owing people  anything. It feels like independence is being taken away when you have to borrow money against something.
 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.34  mocowgirl  replied to  mocowgirl @8.1.33    2 years ago

and here are more traits of independent people.    I really don't see the majority being independent.  Our species survival has depended on cooperation so I think that dependence and trust in others have more to do with how we evolved than what we can choose.

15 Things Independent People Don't Do (lifehack.org)

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
8.1.35  Gordy327  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.25    2 years ago
Bur humans do have a rational mind

Sometimes I wonder.

Bur humans do have a rational mind that will ignore internal and external stimuli to make decisions that guide actions.  That human characteristic is embedded in our language as willpower, an act of will, force of will, free will, and volition.

But mainly (simplistically speaking) on a conscious level. One can "learn" to adapt or react to a stimuli. But that does not mean the brain doesn't receive and process those stimuli. The brain cannot "ignore" stimuli unless it is rendered incapable of doing so.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.36  mocowgirl  replied to  Gordy327 @8.1.35    2 years ago

gordy, I just read an article on msn that I thought you might find interesting.  

I wonder how many "rational human minds" there will be when an asteroid wipes out a major city?  Sometimes, I take comfort in the premise that life is just a computer simulation.

A giant space rock demolished an ancient Middle Eastern city, possibly inspiring the Biblical story of Sodom (msn.com)

As the inhabitants of an ancient Middle Eastern city now called Tall el-Hammam went about their daily business one day about 3,600 years ago, they had no idea an unseen icy space rock was speeding toward them at about 38,000 mph (61,000 kph).

It's possible that an oral description of the city's destruction may have been handed down for generations until it was recorded as the story of Biblical Sodom. The Bible  describes the devastation of an urban center  near the Dead Sea —  stones and fire fell from the sky , more than one city was destroyed, thick smoke rose from the fires and city inhabitants were killed.

Could this be an ancient eyewitness account? If so, the destruction of Tall el-Hammam may be the second-oldest destruction of a human settlement by a cosmic impact event, after the village of  Abu Hureyra in Syria about 12,800 years ago . Importantly, it may the first written record of such a catastrophic event.

The scary thing is, it almost certainly won't be the last time a human city meets this fate.

Tunguska-sized airbursts, such as the one that occurred at Tall el-Hammam, can devastate entire cities and regions, and they pose a severe modern-day hazard. As of September 2021, there are  more than 26,000 known near-Earth asteroids  and a hundred short-period near-Earth comets. One will inevitably crash into the Earth. Millions more remain undetected, and some may be headed toward the Earth now.

Unless orbiting or ground-based telescopes detect these rogue objects, the world may have no warning, just like the people of Tall el-Hammam.
 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
8.1.37  Gordy327  replied to  mocowgirl @8.1.36    2 years ago
gordy, I just read an article on msn that I thought you might find interesting.  

Yes, I saw that, thank you. I included a link to it and cited sources in my article where I discussed Sodom & Gomorrah. It's easy to see why ancient people would see this event as a divine act rather than a natural phenomenon.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.38  Nerm_L  replied to  mocowgirl @8.1.33    2 years ago
My first thought was no way.  Then I reconsidered.   You might be right.  They might be a part of the "did not not vote (or care)" majority vs the "you must pick a side and support it" viva revolution minority.

I googled traits of independent people.

Do you really believe that the majority of people have the following traits?

Even an independent individual, according to your list, can succumb to groupthink.  Independent thinking doesn't require adopting the independent traits on your list.

Here's the $64 question:  Does the herd represent a rational mind that extends beyond the individual?  Does a group deliberating an issue to arrive at a conclusion represent a larger rational mind where individual brains become part of the whole just as neurons and synapses make up each individual brain?

Does the herd have free will?

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.39  Nerm_L  replied to  Gordy327 @8.1.35    2 years ago
But mainly (simplistically speaking) on a conscious level. One can "learn" to adapt or react to a stimuli. But that does not mean the brain doesn't receive and process those stimuli. The brain cannot "ignore" stimuli unless it is rendered incapable of doing so.

That's true, the brain cannot ignore internal and external stimuli.  The desire to eat is an internal stimuli.  But people do exert willpower to avoid eating in an attempt to lose weight.  What part of the brain is responsible for overruling that internal stimulus to eat?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.40  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.39    2 years ago
What part of the brain is responsible for overruling that internal stimulus to eat?

The frontal lobes.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.41  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.40    2 years ago
The frontal lobes.

So, the brain has a structure that does not respond to stimuli in a predictable deterministic manner.  The brain contains the mechanism to break the causal chain.

Doesn't that ability to break the causal chain allow free will?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.42  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.41    2 years ago

Why do you presume the frontal lobes are not deterministic?  

They are, as with all other parts of the body, a collection of atoms which (as far as we know) are entirely deterministic.    The frontal lobes are a collection of neurons, etc. which fire when they reach their action potential and contribute, in turn, to other neurons similarly firing.  

All of this complex machinery emerges (to us) as reason and it is entirely counterintuitive to hold that the reason we perceive could actually be a complex machine operating within (and influenced by) a much larger complex machine (the universe).

But it might be.   Ongoing research continues to point in the direction of a deterministic reality at the level perceived intuitively by our senses.   And this should not be too surprising.   The more we learn the more we find how reality (in the details) differs from our intuition;  the more we learn the more our perception of reality appears to be an illusion.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.43  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.38    2 years ago
Independent thinking doesn't require adopting the independent traits on your list.

I believe it does, but probably because of being orphaned, I did not have any blood ties to the people I was raised by or around.  I was always the one who did not belong, but did not truly understand because my origins and how I wound up with strangers was never explained to me until I was cast out at the age of 17 and met my mother's family, my sister and my father and his family.  Ewww, ewww and ewww.  I experienced a culture shock that impacted my life negatively for decades.

I don't know how much independent thinking is a construct of birth, but I do know I learned to think for myself at a very young age because my life depended on it.  Adversity is a factor in creating independent thinking.

Group think, herd mentality, and mob mentality all depend on people who can be swayed by coercion or charisma.  I view all of this as dangerous to my physical and mental well-being as there have been very few leaders in history who sought control of others in order to be benevolent to them.   

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.44  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.38    2 years ago
Does the herd have free will?

If an individual does not have free will, then I don't see any logic in thinking that a herd has free will.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
8.1.45  Gordy327  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.41    2 years ago

There is nothing that I can add which TiG has not already covered.

Thank you TiG.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.46  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.38    2 years ago
Does the herd represent a rational mind that extends beyond the individual?

Concrete example of herd mentality.

When I worked at Wally World in the 90s, employees were asked to sign a petition in support of federal legislation.  I was the only person in our department that refused and asked for more information on the legislation.  One of my co-workers piped up and said if it was good for our employer then it was good for us.  I informed them that wasn't necessarily true because I was an individual and not a corporation.

We were asked to sign on the last day to gather signatures.  There was only one person in the whole home office (of over 3000 employees) who was authorized to explain the legislation to us and she was on vacation that day.

I did not sign the petition.

This was in my first year of employment with this company.  I was identified as a maverick early on.  I was respected by some of my co-workers and management because I had the ability to openly question or address my (and their) concerns about clarifying the responsibilities and boundaries of our positions when it appeared we were being scapegoated by the management who tried to evade being responsible for their own bad decisions.

There have been many incidents in my life when I have been told to act like everyone else, act like a lady, do what I was told and quit making waves if I wanted to be successful in life.  Maybe unquestioned conformity and/or allegiance is what success means to some people.  To me, it is slavery.

Are any of us exercising free will or only doing what comes natural to us?  I don't know.  I do know that many people absolutely hate being held to the same standards that they impose upon others. 

Is imposing standards on others free will?  Is accepting standards imposed by others free will?  Is our thinking/planning centered on either controlling others or escaping being controlled by others or accepting be controlled by others?  What personality traits are genetic or natural to our species of mammal?

I don't know the answers, but I am grateful that we live in a time that we can ask the questions and have the technology to give some insight to the possible answers.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.47  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.42    2 years ago
Why do you presume the frontal lobes are not deterministic?   They are, as with all other parts of the body, a collection of atoms which (as far as we know) are entirely deterministic.    The frontal lobes are a collection of neurons, etc. which fire when they reach their action potential and contribute, in turn, to other neurons similarly firing. 

What you are positing seems to confuse form, described by determinate parameters and processes, with function.  A slot machine combines determinate processes to generate a random outcome.

Yes, inanimate physical processes, including chemical processes, are determinate.  Inanimate reality is determinate.  And we can observe those determinate processes using methods specifically designed to observe determinate processes.  We introduce a stimulus as cause and observe a result.  But that doesn't necessarily scale through induction.  Atoms may behave in a determinate manner but the behavior of atoms do not correspond to the behavior of planets.  The physics doesn't scale.

All of this complex machinery emerges (to us) as reason and it is entirely counterintuitive to hold that the reason we perceive could actually be a complex machine operating within (and influenced by) a much larger complex machine (the universe). But it might be.   Ongoing research continues to point in the direction of a deterministic reality at the level perceived intuitively by our senses.   And this should not be too surprising.   The more we learn the more we find how reality (in the details) differs from our intuition;  the more we learn the more our perception of reality appears to be an illusion.

Astrology is based upon the concept of a determinate reality imposing itself onto human behavior.  Human traits and behaviors are regulated by alignment of celestial bodies and outcomes can be predicted based on the determinate nature of the universe of which we are part, according to astrology.

The determinate nature of inanimate reality is not an illusion; it's an observation.  Yes, the brain is constructed of the same inanimate matter that can be found elsewhere in determinate reality.  Yes, the brain utilizes the same determinate chemical processes that can be found elsewhere in determinate reality.  But the determinate nature of the matter and processes making up the brain do not scale to the organ or  scale to the organism.  The determinate form doesn't describe the function or outcome.  The physics doesn't scale.

Our perception has evolved in a determinate reality for the purpose of observing that determinate reality.  We may not be capable of directly observing anything other than determinate reality because of the deterministic constraints imposed by inanimate reality.  But our evolution has not been determinate; mutations are not predictable even if they are traceable.  Mutations arise through disruption and interference with the determinate processes responsible for cell replication and combination into an organism.  Those determinate processes failed to function in a predictable manner.  Unpredictability has allowed evolution by breaking the causal chain. 

The presence and evolution of life depends upon breaking the causal chain of determinate reality.  Breaking the causal chain was a prerequisite for evolution of our brain.  Why would it be surprising that the capability to break the causal chain would be incorporated into the brain?  And why would it be surprising that breaking the causal chain would manifest itself as free will?

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.48  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.47    2 years ago
Why would it be surprising that the capability to break the causal chain would be incorporated into the brain?  And why would it be surprising that breaking the causal chain would manifest itself as free will?

How do you feel about compatibilism as related to free will?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.49  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.47    2 years ago
A slot machine combines determinate processes to generate a random outcome.

A slot machine is deterministic.   What it produces is not purely random.   In computer science we deal with 'random number generators' in various applications.   A random number generator is a misnomer since what it generates is pseudorandom.   At its core is a mathematical function that produces a near uniform distribution between 0 and 1.   The generation is based on factors such as the current time (in microseconds) and the identity of the processor.

A slot machine only appears to be random ... it is an illusion that results from complexities far beyond our abilities to comprehend.   That is, we simply cannot detect the pattern that is there so it appears to be random.    If you reset a slot machine back to a prior state, it will produce the exact same response.

Atoms may behave in a determinate manner but the behavior of atoms do not correspond to the behavior of planets.  The physics doesn't scale.

Well, professor, you might want to explain your theory because, if true, you will disrupt modern science.    Good grief Nerm, the bullshit ...

But our evolution has not been determinate; mutations are not predictable even if they are traceable. 

Don't conflate predictable by human beings with determinate.   A determinate reality would be impossible for us to completely predict.   Determinism means that it is possible (not by humans but by something substantially more capable) to compute the future.

The presence and evolution of life depends upon breaking the causal chain of determinate reality. 

Man, from where do pull this endless supply of utter bullshit?    How could you possibly know this?    Give me a break, Nerm.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
8.1.50  Gordy327  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.49    2 years ago
the bullshit ...

the understatement, Lol

Did he really just say physics is not uniform?

I remember back in science class looking at a chart depicting the orbits of the planets in the solar system and thinking, "that looks a lot like an atom." 

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.51  Nerm_L  replied to  mocowgirl @8.1.48    2 years ago
How do you feel about compatibilism as related to free will?

I see several problems with video that apparently are intended to avoid addressing the issue of free will.

Responsibility is assigned after the fact.  Responsibility is not a prediction.  A specific and unique outcome depending upon a sequence of events that could not have happened any other way should not be surprising.  But that doesn't necessarily mean the sequence of events could have been predicted forward through time.  The ability to trace a sequence of events back through time can create an illusion of determinism.  A defining characteristic of determinism is ability to predict a sequence of events forward through time to a specific outcome.

Responsibility does not depend upon whether a result or outcome was a matter of choice or compulsion.  An individual (human or animal) that has done an egregious act is responsible.  And whatever is done to address that responsibility serves to prevent the possibility that the individual will commit another egregious act in the future.  That possibility does not need to be predictable or determinate.  And it doesn't matter if that possibility is the result of choice or compulsion.  Responsibility does not address the issue of free will.

In the case of the individual with the tumor causing pedophilia tendencies, the individual indicated they were aware of the change and the compulsion.  The stimulus of awareness did not elicit a deterministic response.  Apparently the awareness by the individual did not elicit an attempt to exert control over the compulsion or seek advice and help to address the compulsion.  Determinism failed.

The example of the diver being pushed or jumping ignores the choice to engage in that activity.  The individual didn't end up on the diving board by accident.  And, I contend, it's difficult to argue that an individual deterministic compulsion would be specifically limited to water diving and not a compulsion to dive off anything.  If an individual is compelled to jump off things then I argue that free will allows that individual to indulge that compulsion in a safe manner by choosing water diving.

The presentation of compatibilism is presented using the same flawed logic to argue for determinism.  Our reality is determinate.  That's why physics works.  We evolved in a determinate universe.  And we evolved to perceive and interact with the determinate universe.  But that does not mean our choices and actions can be predicted into the future; fate does not control us.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.52  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.51    2 years ago
But that does not mean our choices and actions can be predicted into the future;

What about how we were trained to make choices and which actions were acceptable and which were punished?  Would that impact our ability to have free will and think of other choices and actions?

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.53  mocowgirl  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.49    2 years ago
A slot machine only appears to be random ... it is an illusion that results from complexities far beyond our abilities to comprehend.   That is, we simply cannot detect the pattern that is there so it appears to be random.    If you reset a slot machine back to a prior state, it will produce the exact same response.

I don't fully comprehend the above, but have tried for years to explain it to my husband to the best of my limited ability.  I kind of summed it up by a machine can only return a result that it was programmed to return.  A machine can not think.  (I did not add "at this time" because I did not want to open that can of worms.)

I did explain the gambler's fallacy to him when I was doing a Coursera course that explained it.  He is not capable of accepting it.  In his world, if he did not invent it, see it or do it, then it does not matter and has no relevance to life on the planet (in the past, present or future).  

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.54  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  mocowgirl @8.1.53    2 years ago

Modern slot machines (at least those that are not rigged) include software that generates a uniform pseudorandom number between 0 and 1.   That is the heart and sole of the randomness illusion.

There are many techniques developed over the years to produce what appears to be random to a human observer but in actuality is entirely computable.   It is very common for a pseudorandom number generator to perform a mathematical operation on the current time in milliseconds coupled with the unique binary identifier for the machine.   So let's just assume we have a generator that only uses those two pieces of environmental information.

If we were to force the clock for a particular machine to be set at 1:32 at 324 milliseconds and generate a random number, the machine would produce a particular real number between 0 and 1.   If we then reset the clock to that exact time and generate a pseudorandom number, the machine would produce the exact same real number.

The randomness is an illusion but we cannot detect it because the pattern is so complicated and the numbers change each millisecond.

The machines simply take the pseudorandom number generated and use that to determine the outcome in terms that the user understands (e.g. 3 cherries, a wild card and an orange).

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.55  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  mocowgirl @8.1.53    2 years ago
I did explain the gambler's fallacy to him when I was doing a Coursera course that explained it.  He is not capable of accepting it.

Given your husband is in Missouri, he surely knows that the St. Louis Cardinals have won the last 16 games in a row.

Does he think that this means they are more likely to lose their next game or more likely to win their next game?

In terms of probability alone (disregarding who they are playing, etc.) they are as likely to win their next game as lose it (probability of win = 0.5).

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.56  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.49    2 years ago
A slot machine is deterministic.   What it produces is not purely random.   In computer science we deal with 'random number generators' in various applications.   A random number generator is a misnomer since what it generates is pseudorandom.   At its core is a mathematical function that produces a near uniform distribution between 0 and 1.   The generation is based on factors such as the current time (in microseconds) and the identity of the processor. A slot machine only appears to be random ... it is an illusion that results from complexities far beyond our abilities to comprehend.   That is, we simply cannot detect the pattern that is there so it appears to be random.    If you reset a slot machine back to a prior state, it will produce the exact same response.

If resetting a slot machine would produce a repeating sequence of outcomes then all identical slot machines would produce the same sequence of outcomes which has not been observed.  Slot machines are tested and certified using tests that include resetting the machine.  Gambling proprietors would not accept a machine that produces predictable results.

A slot machine does not generate random numbers.  A slot machine randomly generates an outcome from a finite set of outcomes.  The slot machine is constrained by the number of outcomes it can generate.  And the machine is further constrained to producing outcomes that can be readily observed.  But the machine can randomly generate outcomes within those constraints. 

Simplifying the example to a coin toss might be more useful in addressing the posit.  A coin toss is constrained to two outcomes.  And it is certainly possible to predict that a coin toss will result in either a heads or tails outcome; that is the extent of the possibilities.  (The possibility of the coin landing on an edge can be eliminated.)  So the coin toss is predetermined to be one of those two outcomes by the constraints on the system.  

Every outcome is constrained by physical laws that describe determinate reality and no outcome can break those physical laws.  But the degrees of freedom within those constraints allows for an indeterminate outcome that cannot be predicted.  

I suppose an argument that the constraints impose determinism onto the system would be valid.  But that argument doesn't account for randomness within the constraints allowed by degrees of freedom.  And claiming that the constraints force the outcome to be controlled by determinism doesn't really provide any understanding of determinism or free will.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.57  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.56    2 years ago
If resetting a slot machine would produce a repeating sequence of outcomes then all identical slot machines would produce the same sequence of outcomes which has not been observed. 

Nerm you should try reading what I write before replying.   I put forth a very simple scenario in which TWO factors were involved in the generation:

  • The time in milliseconds
  • The unique identifier for the machine

I was clear in my explanation and you clearly did not read it.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.58  mocowgirl  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.55    2 years ago
Does he think that this means they are more likely to lose their next game or more likely to win their next game?

My husband does not follow baseball and rarely watches the news if he can avoid it.  I am serious that his world begins and ends within himself - always has and always will.  He feigns interest in other people and is the most agreeable person in the world when he thinks it will provide some kind of social or financial benefit to him. 

Until a person has lived with a person with this kind of personality, it is difficult to understand that there is little to no stability in their thought processes.  They are excellent mimickers because they don't possess any real emotion except for intense hatred and anger.  

In summation, what my husband says one minute, he denies the next.  His personality craves attention constantly - preferably negative attention in private because that is where he feels the most powerful.  He has spent 20 years trying to convince me that up is down, down is sideways, and sideways does not exist.  I thought he had Alzheimer's or a brain tumor or something physical.  So, ole "helpful" me mostly pandered to him and tried to solve all problems logically until I just couldn't any longer.  I probably would have handled things even far more logically had I not been going through menopause and dealing with hormones on a level that I have never experienced in my life.   Hormones and free will don't seem to mix well.

  Thankfully, Dean Moriarty clued me in to researching narcissistic personality disorder.  

It is difficult to admit that my husband has Brian Laundrie's attitude, demeanor and personality.  This is why I spend so much time trying to understand any of this.  I haven't watched all of the videos in this series and don't know that I will, but what I have watched is insightful into why law enforcement needs to be better trained to understand various personality disorders and quit siding with the abuser.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.59  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.57    2 years ago
Nerm you should try reading what I write before replying.   I put forth a very simple scenario in which TWO factors were involved in the generation:
  • The time in milliseconds
  • The unique identifier for the machine
I was clear in my explanation and you clearly did not read it.

Yes, you indicated that the seed conditions could be replicated.  And you extended that into an assumption that replicating the seed conditions would provide the same outcome.  But the system is more complex than is assumed.  And you ignored that the machines are tested and certified to avoid what was assumed.  And you ignored that proprietors would not accept machines that are predictable.

And you have used being piqued to avoid addressing the important part of my comment.  Just because determinism constrains and governs inanimate reality doesn't mean it can be assumed the determinism governs animate reality.  The emergence of life broke the causal chain of determinism.  The continuation of life depends upon ability to break the causal chain of determinism.  Evolution requires breaking the causal chain of determinism.  Life has introduced indeterminism into determinate reality.

The ability to trace a sequence of events from result back through time to find cause establishes an illusion of determinism.  Retracing the sequence of events back to cause can show that what happened could not have happened any other way but that is an illusion of determinism after the fact.  Even a purely random outcome can appear to be determinate backward through time because what happened has already happened; we already know the outcome.  An illusion of determinism is not sufficient basis for declaring that free will is an illusion.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
8.1.60  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.59    2 years ago
But the system is more complex than is assumed.

I did not assume anything Nerm.   I stated the conditions of my scenario.  

And you ignored that the machines are tested and certified to avoid what was assumed.  And you ignored that proprietors would not accept machines that are predictable.

You are trolling.   I created a hypothetical situation as a prop to illustrate pseudorandom behavior and you are here trying to find fault in the example.  

Further, your attempts to nit-pick are wrong.   You clearly do not understand how slot machines work.   All these machines are mathematically predictable.   Testing is done to ensure proper working order and being deterministic is proper.   How do you think manufacturers test a machine if they cannot determine the results it is supposed to deliver?  The machines are all based on pseudorandom numbers.   They cannot be predicted by the customer but they are absolutely predictable if one knows the seed(s) and the arguments used for randomization and has access to set same in the machine (i.e. the manufacturer can predict their own machines).   My simplified example had as arguments time in milliseconds and machine ID (extremely common in these machines).

This is a crystal clear example of what I have seen from you ... arguing just for the sake of arguing.

Go troll elsewhere.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.61  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @8.1.60    2 years ago
Further, your attempts to nit-pick are wrong.   You clearly do not understand how slot machines work.   All these machines are mathematically predictable.   Testing is done to ensure proper working order and being deterministic is proper.   How do you think manufacturers test a machine if they cannot determine the results it is supposed to deliver?  The machines are all based on pseudorandom numbers.   They cannot be predicted by the customer but they are absolutely predictable if one knows the seed(s) and the arguments used for randomization and has access to set same in the machine (i.e. the manufacturer can predict their own machines).   My simplified example had as arguments time in milliseconds and machine ID (extremely common in these machines).

Okay,  You're absolutely correct about slot machines and I'm absolutely incorrect about about slot machines.  Now what?

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.62  Nerm_L  replied to  mocowgirl @8.1.52    2 years ago
What about how we were trained to make choices and which actions were acceptable and which were punished?  Would that impact our ability to have free will and think of other choices and actions?

Isn't the video you posted also conditioning to reject the idea of free will?  The content being posted isn't balanced; there aren't examples of free will included to allow comparison or consideration.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.63  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.62    2 years ago
Isn't the video you posted also conditioning to reject the idea of free will?

How is anyone exempt from being conditioned from birth by their parents and the society they are born in and/or raised in?

We are born dependent on others to supply our basic needs for many years.   Unless we are somehow born into an excessively permissive society, then our survival depends on conforming.

If a person rejects that conditioning, then why do they do it?  What/who were the other influences?  Or were there no influences, and the person just decides to reject the will of the authority of the people around them for no discernible reason and we call that free will?  

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
8.1.64  Nerm_L  replied to  mocowgirl @8.1.63    2 years ago
How is anyone exempt from being conditioned from birth by their parents and the society they are born in and/or raised in?

We are born dependent on others to supply our basic needs for many years.   Unless we are somehow born into an excessively permissive society, then our survival depends on conforming.

If a person rejects that conditioning, then why do they do it?  What/who were the other influences?  Or were there no influences, and the person just decides to reject the will of the authority of the people around them for no discernible reason and we call that free will?  

IMO no one is exempt from conditioning.  Isn't it the nature of determinism that a stimulus will elicit a predictable response?  Conditioning allows predicting that when the bell rings, the dog will drool.  It's a predetermined and determinate response.

The inanimate universe made up of matter and energy is deterministic.  That's why physics can explain the way things work and allows physics to predict future outcomes.  Matter and energy do not have the ability to break the chain of causality.

Life is different.  The continuation of life depends upon ability to break the chain of causality.  Indeterminism is an intrinsic characteristic of life.  Life may be constrained by the determinate nature of matter and energy but the behavior of life is not predictable within those constraints.  Life has the ability to adapt and evolve which inanimate matter and energy does not possess.  Life has the ability to alter its environment that inanimate matter and energy does not possess.  

Humans, as far as we know, are unique in having the ability to consider various issues, compare viewpoints, analyze those viewpoints, and arrive at a conclusion through rational deliberation.  Of course, having that ability and using that ability are different things.  Following the herd and limiting oneself to a single viewpoint certainly requires less intellectual effort.  Being an independent individual, according to the list you provided, doesn't provide an exemption from conditioning either.

What makes a successful team?  What makes a valuable team member?  I contend that a group conditioned to follow the leader isn't a team at all.  They're a tribe and not a team.  That's a problem with a sports mentality; being successful at team sports requires conditioning.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
8.1.65  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @8.1.64    2 years ago
Being an independent individual, according to the list you provided, doesn't provide an exemption from conditioning either.

I totally agree.

I even agree that some humans seem to have unique abilities.  I know that I am kind of awed by the people who understand things that baffle me.  I am not quite sure if that makes them brilliant or me uneducated or just plain stupid.

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Guide
9  Hal A. Lujah    2 years ago

If I ultimately don’t have free will, then did the sperm that created me have free will, as well as the millions of sperm that lost the race to the egg that formed me?  Did all the sperm that lost the race zig at a crucial moment when they should have zagged, based on a predisposition of their will?  This exercise in philosophical gobbley gook could trace itself all the way back to the first moment of life that spawned on earth.  Seems like more of a pointless topic to waste time on that an enlightening discussion, imo.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
9.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @9    2 years ago
If I ultimately don’t have free will, then did the sperm that created me have free will, ...

I do not see how this question follows.   Cells are not considered sentient and certainly are not considered to have free will.

Seems like more of a pointless topic to waste time on that an enlightening discussion

Well some of us find this notion fascinating and have (happily) a wealth of research on the topic.   One thing one gets from exploring this is a better appreciation for how our brains work.   If that is of no interest then fine, but dismissing any such thinking as a waste of time seems short-sighted and close-minded to me.

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Guide
9.1.1  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  TᵢG @9.1    2 years ago

A cell is not sentient, but when enough of them randomly come together they form an organism that has no choice but to be sentient.  How could every decision the organism makes from that point on be preordained from such a random creation?  I’m not saying the subject is entirely uninteresting - more like it’s a pointless venture when you try any trace it down to its origin while maintaining some coherency.  It’s about as fruitful as estimating how many grains of sand are on the beach, then realizing your still nowhere near an estimate of the number of grains of sand on earth at any given moment.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
9.1.2  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @9.1.1    2 years ago
How could every decision the organism makes from that point on be preordained from such a random creation?

I would not think in terms of a single organism because everything is interconnected.   The organism is intrinsically tied to its environment and to its genetic past via its parents.

Think, rather, in terms of reality itself (alternatively you might use the label 'existence').   If reality/existence (and that means going to the lowest possible level) is deterministic (pure cause-and-effect) then (if this is true) is it possible for free will to exist?   If you answer 'yes' then explain to me how it is possible because you must have a very different definition for free will.

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Guide
9.1.3  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  TᵢG @9.1.2    2 years ago

The organism is intrinsically tied to its environment and to its genetic past via its parents.

Then why did you bring up sentiency in regards to my original comment?  

If reality/existence (and that means going to the lowest possible level) is deterministic (pure cause-and-effect) then (if this is true) is it possible for free will to exist?   If you answer 'yes' then explain to me how it is possible because you must have a very different definition for free will.

My original comment does drill down to the lowest possible level (first appearance of life that traces to human existence).  If nothing about the human condition is truly a reflection of free will at its most base level of real time existence, then even discussing it is rather pointless.  If I’m standing in front of the open freezer considering what to make for dinner between chicken and steak, and end up choosing chicken, only to open the chicken and find out it is freezer burned so I had to settle for steak, then I not only exercised my free will but had it negated by reality.

These exercises just give me a headache.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
9.1.4  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @9.1.3    2 years ago
Then why did you bring up sentiency in regards to my original comment?  

You spoke of a sperm cell having free will.

These exercises just give me a headache.

I am not forcing you to participate.  If this is a waste of time for you why bother typing anything?

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
10  mocowgirl    2 years ago

Thank you, T,G for seeding this.  I really enjoyed reading all of the discussion.

I was fortunate that you had introduced me to Dr. Sapolsky's Stanford course entitled Human Behavioral Biology on youtube to lay a logical foundation before I encountered the premise that we do not possess free will...or at least as much as we like to believe.   

I have been around people who earn their income by breeding and selling animals for specific purposes.  Bloodlines are traced and breeding certificates provided at sale to prove the animal's worthiness for the purpose the owner desired.  These same people will casually dismiss "bad" breeding in families by using the phrase "The apple didn't fall far from the tree."  Or if a person does better than their family, they have "risen above their raising".   There seems to be some innate understanding of the effects that breeding and environment have on humans and a total disconnect at the same time.  

Dr. Sapolsky is working on a book titled:  "Determined:  The Science of Life without Free Will".   I am hoping that I am around to listen to his interviews after the book's release.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
10.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  mocowgirl @10    2 years ago

I am ready to buy it as soon as it is available.   I thought Behave was brilliant and expect Determined to be even more interesting.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
11  mocowgirl    2 years ago

Sam Harris meanders through this short video to get to the point that we beat ourselves up by thinking without knowing that we are thinking.  If we have free will, then why aren't we in control of what we think?  Can we get control of our inner dialog?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
12  seeder  TᵢG    2 years ago

"There is no causeless cause":

Human behavior (in particular, that which causes us to make particular choices) is fascinating.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
13  mocowgirl    2 years ago

Because even if there is no "free will", there is still no reason to give abusers a pass on being abusers or wasting our lives trying to fix what we did not break in the first place....

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
14  mocowgirl    2 years ago

If we have free will, then why do so many movies/tv shows of the past eerily portray people's present days reactions?  And, if people's reactions are predictable, isn't that knowledge being used to control the masses in the present?  

 
 
 
AnonymousMillennial
Freshman Quiet
15  AnonymousMillennial     2 years ago

As a neuroscientist, I have heard this viewpoint before, and many neuro people will defend it tooth an nail. But not most. 

Most will tell you that, as higher functioning mammals, we have a very complex frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is responsible for making judgments and decisions. It’s kind of the executive branch of your brain. And with that, comes the power to veto. In the brain, this is called top down processing- it’s basically what happens every time you make a decision or judgment.

Now proponents of the “no free will” theory will say “but aren’t those neurons in the frontal lobe fixed in their ways? Aren’t they also part of this larger network that decides what you do before you do it?” And the answer is: no and yes. They are part of the network, but they most certainly are not fixed in their ways. The connections of the frontal lobe are complex and “plastic” - or constantly changing in response to learning. And with those changes will, inherently, come changes in your decision making: when I read a lot of liberal news, my pathways will be reinforced so that I probably will vote liberal. But so long as I maintain the conscious and observable ability to CHOOSE to pick up a right-wing book, I incorporate pathways that will add nuance to my decision-making, or even change my mind entirely. 

That is the essence of free will. Will your brain compute the info that it has received on its own to make a judgment based on that info? Yes. But the choice to make that change results from my ability to decide- even, perhaps, against my better judgement- to pick up something and learn a different viewpoint. 

We all have the ability to go on auto-pilot and make judgments without truly considering them. If you behave in such a manner, then sure- you aren’t exhibiting much in the way of free will. But we also all have the ability to overcome our most basic level of functioning - for pop psychologists: our “id” - and give free will a chance.

 

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
15.1  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  AnonymousMillennial @15    2 years ago

Thanks for that information. I am a believer in free will, as I see people as evolving in their opinions (after all this is an opinion site) and I don't believe in the future is deterministic and that can't really be proved either, so this is all theory right now. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
15.1.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @15.1    2 years ago
I am a believer in free will

I am a free-will agnostic.   I do not know if we have free will or not and I think it might just be unknowable.   But reality looks more like it is deterministic than nondeterministic to me.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
15.1.2  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  TᵢG @15.1.1    2 years ago
But reality looks more like it is deterministic than nondeterministic to me.

I think that it's probably a hybrid. Some things are out of our control, set in motion by an infinite number of factors, and some of them are in our control.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
15.1.3  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @15.1.2    2 years ago

A hybrid means reality is nondeterministic and thus free will can exist.    However, if the deterministic part in your hybrid encapsulates the human experience then in every practical sense we would be living in a deterministic reality and free will cannot possibly exist (for us, that is).

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
15.1.4  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  TᵢG @15.1.3    2 years ago

I think we are unaware which is deterministic and non-deterministic, and I am not sure how you arrived that we would then be only living a deterministic reality.  

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
15.1.5  JohnRussell  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @15.1.2    2 years ago

No one ever has or ever will have a single moment in their lives when they do not experience free will.   Discussions about it are just an intellectual exercise without any practical meaning. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
15.1.6  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @15.1.5    2 years ago

Almost every comment from you on this seed has suggested we are wasting our time discussing free will.

Would you find comments such as yours appropriate on your seeds?

Nobody is asking you to participate in this 'waste of time' John.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
15.1.7  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @15.1.4    2 years ago
I think we are unaware which is deterministic and non-deterministic, and I am not sure how you arrived that we would then be only living a deterministic reality

If your hybrid is true then at least part of reality is non-deterministic.   Thus, as a whole, reality is non-deterministic.   Even if parts are deterministic, the whole (per your definition) is not.

I then stated that IF the deterministic part in your hybrid encapsulates the human experience then in every practical sense we would be living in a deterministic reality and free will cannot possibly exist (for us, that is).

I stated a hypothetical situation given your notion of hybrid where we still might be within a deterministic reality (to us) even though the greater reality would be non-deterministic.

My comments were exploring your hybrid notion.

And we are indeed unaware of the nature of our reality ... we do not know if our reality is deterministic or non-deterministic.   Both look the same to us.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
15.2  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  AnonymousMillennial @15    2 years ago
Now proponents of the “no free will” theory will say “but aren’t those neurons in the frontal lobe fixed in their ways? Aren’t they also part of this larger network that decides what you do before you do it?” And the answer is: no and yes. They are part of the network, but they most certainly are not fixed in their ways. The connections of the frontal lobe are complex and “plastic” - or constantly changing in response to learning. And with those changes will, inherently, come changes in your decision making: when I read a lot of liberal news, my pathways will be reinforced so that I probably will vote liberal. But so long as I maintain the conscious and observable ability to CHOOSE to pick up a right-wing book, I incorporate pathways that will add nuance to my decision-making, or even change my mind entirely. 

I am surprised that some disagree with this.   From what I have read, the brain is seriously cross communicating.   For example the amygdala is sending immediate reactions which are then adjusted by higher reasoning in the frontal lobe which in turns communicates back to the amygdala and other lobes.  And that does not even consider the effects of hormones, etc.   The other impression I get is that with all the knowledge we have accumulated, we are still at the point where we are in awe at the complexity of our brains and recognize that there is more we do not know than what we do know.

The notion of our brains being one-way (not cross-communicating) and immutable did not come across in my readings.   So, in short, what you wrote makes perfect sense.

That is the essence of free will.

Is it?   The fact that our brains can make choices does not mean that we necessarily have free will.   Seems to me that to have free will, those choices are necessarily something that cannot be calculated no matter how much data and how intelligent the 'calculator'.    The source is truly the individual who is creating a brand new causal chain.

To me the question boils down to the nature of reality — well below neuroscience.    If reality is deterministic then free will is impossible.  (It does not matter what we know of the brain at this point.)   The reason, of course, is that a deterministic reality would be one wherein all atoms (let's just stop at this level of detail since everything is made of atoms) behave predictably.   Currently atoms are indeed held to be deterministic.   If something like Maxwell's demon (an entity capable of all knowledge and infinite computing power) knew the trajectory, energy state, weight, environmental influences, etc. of an atom, it could compute the atom's next state.  Thus if it had this information for every atom in the universe, it could predict the next state of the universe;  it could predict the next state of reality.  

To have free will —to truly make a choice whose source is indeed the individual— the individual cannot simply behave as the result of a causal chain.    The individual must (from somewhere) come up with a choice that does not depend upon their atomic state and the atomic state of their environment.   To wit, at time t I will get up from my desk and get a cup of coffee.   If reality is deterministic then (assuming time can be replayed) we can reset the state of the universe back to that at time t and I will yet again get up from my desk and get a cup of coffee.

If reality is nondeterministic then at time t, I might get up and stretch instead of make a cup of coffee.   

It is impossible at this point to know if reality is deterministic or nondeterministic.   Even if reality is deterministic, its complexity is so far beyond our ability to comprehend that we would not see a difference between free will and no free will.   Our choices will appear as free will to us.  

So let's now assume that reality is indeed nondeterministic.   That means Maxwell's Demon cannot calculate what I will do at time t because my action at time t is not a function of my state and the state of the universe in general at time t.   My question (rhetorical) now is what is the source of that which causes me to stretch instead of make a cup of coffee?

We could easily explain this by introducing random chance that is enabled by nondeterminism.  My choice might be a result of this randomness.   But if that is the case, I have a hard time calling that free will.   To me, free will means that I (not some randomness that I cannot control) extemporaneously take an action and that action cannot be explained by time, my state and the state of the universe.   So what part of the brain could operate differently when time is turned back to t and the brain state, body state and state of the universe are reset to that time?   What part of the brain causes a different response from the same universal state?   Where is the variable?   

All these are rhetorical questions.

 
 
 
evilgenius
Professor Guide
15.2.1  evilgenius  replied to  TᵢG @15.2    2 years ago
If reality is deterministic then (assuming time can be replayed) we can reset the state of the universe back to that at time t and I will yet again get up from my desk and get a cup of coffee.

And here we have an example of where time travel could only be possible in a deterministic reality. Unless you go way weird and start talking about my favorite subject - multiverse - where all possibilities exist simultaneously AND still be deterministic. Now that blows my mind!

Here's an interesting article on deterministic time travel -

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
15.2.2  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  evilgenius @15.2.1    2 years ago
Unless you go way weird and start talking about my favorite subject - multiverse - where all possibilities exist simultaneously AND still be deterministic. Now that blows my mind!

Definitely pushes past the bounds of our intuition.   Although I do not have any problem with a deterministic multiverse, the concept of multiverse itself is mind boggling.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
15.3  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  AnonymousMillennial @15    2 years ago

SIDEBAR:   Do you have an opinion on the work of Professor Robert Sapolsky?   He is one of the researchers / academics who holds that there is no free will based mostly on biological factors.

 
 

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