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Thread: Thoughts on Determinism

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    Default Thoughts on Determinism

    Hey,
    this is the text I wrote about determinism. I planned to deal with the question of morality in it, but it actually turned out to be a short explanation including some examples and a few more or less obvious conclusions. So it's possibly old news for someone who has read about determinism before.

    The pdf can be found here.

    Read it if you want and if you do, please tell me where I got things wrong.
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    this is very well written and seems very thorough...I'll devote more time to it when I am more refreshed.

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    Thanks. I forgot to add that I'll answer any questions if I can.
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    I haven't checked whole text cause im in hurry now, but so far probability you mentioned is only one brach in probability. There are also calculations regarding continuum where dice example can't be used as it only comes up with finite, and defined by human logic outcomes, meta perspective or sumth. Also continuum probability has a rule, that 0% doesn't mean event can't happen. I will try to find more time to look through whole text and add few more thoughts after looking through my math notes. Also you might wanna check Aenesidemus for his attacks on causality, if you haven't used him as a source in rest of your work.

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    Makes me think of Zola.
    Looks good.

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    A very good summary and a very interesting collection of thoughts.

    I think if someone genuinely believed in determinism, it wouldn't necessarily affect their attitude towards something like guilt. It would possibly partly be affected on what grounds the person had such a belief: e.g. if the person believed they created everything that way, it would be completely different from a person who saw themselves as a subjective participant! But in both cases, both could still regret their actions whether because of uncertainty about their actions or because they feel negative actions necessarily have such connotations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davez View Post
    I haven't checked whole text cause im in hurry now, but so far probability you mentioned is only one brach in probability. There are also calculations regarding continuum where dice example can't be used as it only comes up with finite, and defined by human logic outcomes, meta perspective or sumth. Also continuum probability has a rule, that 0% doesn't mean event can't happen.
    Could you please explain how the other branches of probabilities are different and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Subteigh View Post
    I think if someone genuinely believed in determinism, it wouldn't necessarily affect their attitude towards something like guilt. It would possibly partly be affected on what grounds the person had such a belief: e.g. if the person believed they created everything that way, it would be completely different from a person who saw themselves as a subjective participant! But in both cases, both could still regret their actions whether because of uncertainty about their actions or because they feel negative actions necessarily have such connotations.
    I've also thought that ones emotional reaction largely depends on how much they know. A movie is much less exciting if you've seen it a couple of times before. But if one truly believed in determinism, they *should* not believe in concepts like guilt anymore. But as you said, this will most likely not happen. The only explanation I can think of is simply that it is perhaps not humanely possible to completely accept determinism including every consequence. Maybe our brains are not able to grasp this or won't allow us to.

    Determinism reduces our existence to a state which similar to the role of a character in a movie. The character is not aware that they're in a movie (in-universe) and yet, everything that happens is determined by the director. As a viewer, we are even aware of this fact and still, we react emotionally to what happens on the screen. This is actually ridiculous if you think about it. We're like cats chasing after a laser dot.

    As Kant said (regarding fatalism): it is hard to completely give up being human.

    ---
     
    Btw, here's a recent, practical example (regarding perception/emotional reactions/life goals, ect.):

    Lately, I've been playing a game which depends very much on skill, everybody seems to acknowledge that. Usually, I'm not bad at computer games due to years of playing. But since I picked it up again, I seem to lose continuously. And it pisses me off to no end that I'm not able to succeed despite my best efforts. I kept playing and asked myself why. Why would something so irrelevant trigger an emotional response? I think it does because I feel satisfaction once I win. If this satisfaction did not exist, I would be indifferent to the game and its results, I would not even play it.

    It's the same thing with, say, a Ferrari. Many people would invest much time and money to get one, because they will feel a certain level of satisfaction once they have it. But if they don't get a Ferrari, they might suffer from that situation as well. I've always been indifferent to cars so if I magically got one it would do nothing to me. But I also wouldn't suffer from not having the car.


    The question now is: What is better? Having a need which grants a positive feeling upon its fulfillment but with the risk of a negative feeling if it doesn't get fulfilled OR complete indifference with neither the chance of positive or negative feelings? (It's basically a pointless question as you are not able to choose what you care about and what not. Cheers.)
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    I've been trying to figure out what bothers me about determinism and it has to do with meaning. For example, I can see meaning to aspects of objective reality, such as the meaning that I exist in some form or fashion in various ways, that I have an identity. But if you looked at the neurons firing in my head, there is just a bunch of neurons reacting with each other. Yet subjectively, those neurons hold abstract interpretations and thoughts about reality, which can't be understood by looking at them empirically because all you'd see is their interaction and not what that interaction means to me. Course, you could make the argument that objectively messing with my neurons changes my thoughts; and I'd agree, but then I'd also have to wonder, if those abstractions can be influenced by modifying my neurons, then why can't those neurons be modified by those abstract thoughts as well (to some degree anyway)? Because after all, they are inextricably tied together.

    Not sure how you would resolve that other than to say that the subjective is an illusion. But yet most of us are aware that we exist, so it would be a seeming contradiction to say so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowball View Post
    I've been trying to figure out what bothers me about determinism and it has to do with meaning. For example, I can see meaning to aspects of objective reality, such as the meaning that I exist in some form or fashion in various ways, that I have an identity. But if you looked at the neurons firing in my head, there is just a bunch of neurons reacting with each other. Yet subjectively, those neurons hold abstract interpretations and thoughts about reality, which can't be understood by looking at them empirically because all you'd see is their interaction and not what that interaction means to me. Course, you could make the argument that objectively messing with my neurons changes my thoughts; and I'd agree, but then I'd also have to wonder, if those abstractions can be influenced by modifying my neurons, then why can't those neurons be modified by those abstract thoughts as well (to some degree anyway)? Because after all, they are inextricably tied together.

    Not sure how you would resolve that other than to say that the subjective is an illusion. But yet most of us are aware that we exist, so it would be a seeming contradiction to say so.
    It's not really a contradiction if you think about it. Illusions might not be what they appear to be (hence the term), but their existence is undisputed.

    You could say that these neurons objectively hold abstract interpretations and thoughts about reality and not just subjectively. This is an important difference. According to determinism, these information/thoughts must be regarded as effects of the brain function. That means they are the product of your interacting neurons.

    You said neuronal interaction is observable, but not what this interaction means to you. To me, this sounds as if it would depend on you (your psychological ego) to make sense of the objective brain function, as if it was a willful act. If this is the case, I'd disagree. To be honest (and this is something I was thinking right now and never before), we could assume that thoughts and feelings are no less objective than anything else, because we are bound to the thoughts we have and the feelings we feel due to our biological makeup. So if you won 1000$, your reaction as a whole would be the objective effect according to all predefined circumstances. Somebody else would react differently, but this would still be the objective result. It's like having two identical-looking cans of spray paint without labels. Same can, same effect, right? But just because one sprays red paint and the other sprays blue paint we don't consider the colour of the paint to be subjective.

    Perhaps not the thoughts/feelings themselves are subjective, but their subjectiveness is actually an illusion. Different people have different thoughts/feelings about the same subject (let's say it's something controversial like abortion) because they are not identical (I mean physically, their neurons ect.). But each individual opinion is objective, as stated above. What makes it subjective to us is the fact that people are considered to be one species and all people "in their right mind" should come to the same conclusions, which is a silly thing to say, of course.


    PS: The fact that I was sitting here for about an hour, thinking about a correct answer to this post shows that this topic is extremely confusing.
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    Okay, I guess this is how I've come to understand then:

    If we take a computer, it has hardware and software. The hardware is capable of dealing with quantifiable information that could be empirically observed; it's designed to run software and to an extent limits how that software will run, similar to how processors have instruction sets. And this software comes in some kind of encoded language that the hardware is capable of executing with its instructions. Those things could be argued observable.

    But what happens when the software is designed to rewrite itself? Looking at the hardware and how it executes instructions won't elucidate the nature of the software because its behavior is not a static quantity, but a continuous change. Theoretically speaking then, any attempts to define it in a deterministic sense requires an understanding of all the change that's going on at once. And I guess if someone believes that there are basic laws of change to everything, such as seems to be the goal of physics, and finds those laws, then determinism could be thought of as true and people aren't much more than a result of physics. On the other hand, if there are no basic laws, but relative ones, then there is a pool of relative change, where an absolute cause can not be determined. And then one could imagine determinism as false. I think I prefer this view because it allows life to have the meaning of helping to define a world that would be otherwise undefined. Of course, this can get overly complicated, where one suggests that the sum of all relative change could equal an absolute change (as I think you mentioned by suggesting that knowing all the properties of every aspect of the universe could make it determined), but I'm using relative to mean divergence of how things change with one another, rather than convergence. Physics does seem to look for convergence. That's probably the basis behind the scientific method, anyway.

    And sorry if this seems not understandable; you have very clear and explicable thoughts on determinism, but I just wanted to argue against it a bit.

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    I like your paper. It reminded me of determinism (and non-determinism) in theory of computation, the branch of computer science that deals with automata and computational complexity.
    “Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly
    You've done yourself a huge favor developmentally by mustering the balls to do something really fucking scary... in about the most vulnerable situation possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowball View Post
    If we take a computer, it has hardware and software. The hardware is capable of dealing with quantifiable information that could be empirically observed; it's designed to run software and to an extent limits how that software will run, similar to how processors have instruction sets. And this software comes in some kind of encoded language that the hardware is capable of executing with its instructions. Those things could be argued observable.
    Yeah, I think that would also work as a metaphor for humans.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowball View Post
    But what happens when the software is designed to rewrite itself? Looking at the hardware and how it executes instructions won't elucidate the nature of the software because its behavior is not a static quantity, but a continuous change. Theoretically speaking then, any attempts to define it in a deterministic sense requires an understanding of all the change that's going on at once. And I guess if someone believes that there are basic laws of change to everything, such as seems to be the goal of physics, and finds those laws, then determinism could be thought of as true and people aren't much more than a result of physics.
    You've addressed the bolded part in your last post already (if thoughts/abstractions could influence the neurons as well), but I forgot to reply to it. I think it's definitely possible for a thought or a piece of software to influence or change the brain/hardware. The software might also rewrite itself, the cause for this then lies in the software itself. I don't really see a problem or confliction situation in that, but please tell me if I missed a critical fact.

    However, it's important to note that just because we can't empirically prove determinist relation between things, it doesn't mean they are not objectively present. It's certainly not very satisfying to resort to a mere belief once our understanding is pushed to the limit, but I doubt it will ever be possible to prove it (or to find all the basic laws).

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowball View Post
    On the other hand, if there are no basic laws, but relative ones, then there is a pool of relative change, where an absolute cause can not be determined. And then one could imagine determinism as false. I think I prefer this view because it allows life to have the meaning of helping to define a world that would be otherwise undefined. Of course, this can get overly complicated, where one suggests that the sum of all relative change could equal an absolute change (as I think you mentioned by suggesting that knowing all the properties of every aspect of the universe could make it determined), but I'm using relative to mean divergence of how things change with one another, rather than convergence. Physics does seem to look for convergence. That's probably the basis behind the scientific method, anyway.
    What exactly do you mean by relative laws? Are you referring to laws that can could lead to different results even if the initial conditions were identical? If yes, it would indeed make determinism impossible.

    Bolded part: Not the knowledge about all properties of the universe (if it was achieveable) would make it determined, it would have been determined all along. The nature of the universe does not depend on how much we know about it. Perhaps you wanted to say that and this is just a misunderstanding, I just wanted to make it clear.


    Quote Originally Posted by Park View Post
    I like your paper. It reminded me of determinism (and non-determinism) in theory of computation, the branch of computer science that deals with automata and computational complexity.
    Thanks!
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    Hey,
    this is the text I wrote about determinism. I planned to deal with the question of morality in it, but it actually turned out to be a short explanation including some examples and a few more or less obvious conclusions. So it's possibly old news for someone who has read about determinism before.

    The pdf can be found here.

    Read it if you want and if you do, please tell me where I got things wrong.
    There's a lot of grammatical and punctuation errors that need to be fixed. If you want to deal with the aspect of morality in determinism more closely, you can write an additional section or expand Section 3, and then append one or two paragraphs to the conclusion.
    “Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly
    You've done yourself a huge favor developmentally by mustering the balls to do something really fucking scary... in about the most vulnerable situation possible.

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    “Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly
    You've done yourself a huge favor developmentally by mustering the balls to do something really fucking scary... in about the most vulnerable situation possible.

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    However, it's important to note that just because we can't empirically prove determinist relation between things, it doesn't mean they are not objectively present. It's certainly not very satisfying to resort to a mere belief once our understanding is pushed to the limit, but I doubt it will ever be possible to prove it (or to find all the basic laws).
    I, personally, don't have a need to believe (nor disbelieve) something that hasn't or cannot be proven. I don't think I build and act upon convictions based on any such thing, either.

    But can this perspective of mine be also considered a belief (or a conviction)? Hmm.
    Last edited by Park; 10-18-2014 at 02:31 PM.
    “Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly
    You've done yourself a huge favor developmentally by mustering the balls to do something really fucking scary... in about the most vulnerable situation possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    Could you please explain how the other branches of probabilities are different and why?
    I used wrong word, because branch sounded like its totally different way of comprehending event. In fact it's the same 'branch'. Problem comes up with particular events. Roll of a classic dice has 6 different outcomes. If you roll a dice, it is 100% chance of one of six outcomes. But if you wanted to measure your chance of becoming president there seems to be a problem using the model before. This is where continuum in probability most likely comes. But don't quote me on that, I don't have a lot in my notes and I guess my prof just mentioned that stuff as extra interesting and out of level for my group.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Park View Post
    There's a lot of grammatical and punctuation errors that need to be fixed. If you want to deal with the aspect of morality in determinism more closely, you can write an additional section or expand Section 3, and then append one or two paragraphs to the conclusion.
    Yeah, I was using google translate first to translate the bulk of it. But then I read the whole text and corrected it sentence by sentence (at least I tried). I don't want to post it anywhere else than a few places on the internet, so it doesn't need to be perfect. What matters most is the message. Regarding morality: I read an introduction to stoicism because I know they also believed in determinism, but many central aspects I read seemed contradictory to me. Based on what I think of it right now, it might not even be possible to derive any ethical guidelines from determinism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Park View Post
    I, personally, don't have a need to belief (nor disbelieve) something that hasn't or cannot be proven. I don't think I build and act upon convictions based on any such thing, either.

    But can this perspective of mine be also considered a belief (or a conviction)? Hmm.
    I think so. That's what agnosticism is all about.

    Quote Originally Posted by davez View Post
    I used wrong word, because branch sounded like its totally different way of comprehending event. In fact it's the same 'branch'. Problem comes up with particular events. Roll of a classic dice has 6 different outcomes. If you roll a dice, it is 100% chance of one of six outcomes. But if you wanted to measure your chance of becoming president there seems to be a problem using the model before. This is where continuum in probability most likely comes. But don't quote me on that, I don't have a lot in my notes and I guess my prof just mentioned that stuff as extra interesting and out of level for my group.
    Of course, you're right that casting a die only has six possible results and no matter what it will be, there's a 100% chance that one of the numbers will be the outcome (and statsistically, 16,67% for each number). My chances of becoming president are certainly more difficult to calculate, but they must lie somewhere in between 0% and 100% (from our perspective). However, I still don't see much difference because even the question "Will I become president?" has a 100% chance of getting one result out of two. After I died people can assess if I ever was president or not and the result will either be yes or no (if you don't consider postmortem presidency as it is employed by North Korea).
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    Of course, you're right that casting a die only has six possible results and no matter what it will be, there's a 100% chance that one of the numbers will be the outcome (and statsistically, 16,67% for each number). My chances of becoming president are certainly more difficult to calculate, but they must lie somewhere in between 0% and 100% (from our perspective). However, I still don't see much difference because even the question "Will I become president?" has a 100% chance of getting one result out of two. After I died people can assess if I ever was president or not and the result will either be yes or no (if you don't consider postmortem presidency as it is employed by North Korea).

    Probability is concerned with likeliness of event occuring. It's more focused on process of measuring the outcome. It is also important to remember that becoming president isn't a Sample Space. This question limits us to yes/no, which ironically brings up topic of logic. Though in context of determinism brought up in our exchange i wouldn't really go there. Science requires individual to ask proper questions to make sense. In this case i'd go with "What are my chances of becoming president?".
    Last edited by davez; 10-18-2014 at 03:33 AM. Reason: aesthetic correction

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    Quote Originally Posted by davez View Post
    Probability is concerned with likeliness of event occuring. It's more focused on process of measuring the outcome. It is also important to remember that becoming president isn't a Sample Space. This question limits us to yes/no, which ironically brings up topic of logic. Though in context of determinism brought up in our exchange i wouldn't really go there. Science requires individual to ask proper questions to make sense. In this case i'd go with "What are my chances of becoming president?".
    Alright, I can see that you specifically ask for a probability in the question you suggested. It is similar to "How likely will this coin show heads if tossed?", which would be 50%. Based on the things we know, we could also calculate my chances of becoming president. Because there are much more aspects to include, this would be very difficult. However, depending on how much we know, the answer is not always the same. Let's say I'd run for the US-president. The fact that I wasn't born in the USA reduces my chances immensely (not to 0% though, because it's not impossible that the rule will change). But if you didn't know that important fact, you would probably rate my chances higher.

    What I was trying to say in my text was that probabilities of any kind are nothing but abstractions based on imperfect knowledge. If you ask for the chance of an event to happen, you ask for something that doesn't really exist. No matter what the calculations tell you, determinism suggests that the result (whatever it will be) is certain at any time.
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    i'm not entirely sure how to verbalize this because i've thought about this more in concretized and metaphorical terms. i mean, at a certain point i did believe everything had to be deterministic by principle but that's not really necessarily true IMO anymore. certain things that made me reconsider my position:

    1. afaik, hard determinism takes an issue with the idea of free will, and that agency can exist independently of external conditions, context or stimuli (aka "little gods hypothesis"). i don't necessarily believe in this sort of literal idea of agency, but i think there are also problems with the idea of being predictable. firstly, i do agree with determinism on this:

    i. how do we know that our desire for agency isn't an exclusively human (i.e. intelligent) trait? the fact that we want free will to be true is perhaps a corollary to the fact that we have the meta-cognitive ability to think about thinking.*

    but also

    ii. how do we solve the problem of the cognition blackbox? how do we accept the claim that hard determinism makes, that human cognition is completely predicated by events preceding it, without being able to observe or understand how cognition works? this sort of claim makes too many assumptions about the internal workings of the brain based on exclusively external factors.

    2. how do we know that our desire for narrative consistency isn't an exclusively human (i.e. intelligent) trait? that is, how do we know causality doesn't only exist because we want it to exist, and that things seem to happen as a consequence of one another because we expect that to unfold that way, and gloss over any inconsistencies? the human brain is known to do that.

    keep in mind i'm not asking you to change your mind about this because of course people end up believing what they're inclined to believe by nature, but i thought this would be an interesting addition to the discussion after mentions of "ethics" and "meaning", things which have little to do with philosophy anyhow.

    * i don't agree free will "exists" in the sense of omniscient agency, but i do think there is enough randomness in the brain and enough desire for consistency between our actions that irrational and illogical actions for instance are rationalized as part of an agenda, and this randomness and instinctive nature is ironed out by the prefrontal cortex. this is nor here nor there tho.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    I think so. That's what agnosticism is all about.
    I guess I just don't have the psychological need to form beliefs about things that aren't directly observable and quantifiable, or to have any strong beliefs around which I would operate really. And even though I tend to seek closure on things and problems I find solvable in everyday life, I am fine with certain things being inconclusive and only defined by what is known and provable.
    “Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly
    You've done yourself a huge favor developmentally by mustering the balls to do something really fucking scary... in about the most vulnerable situation possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    What exactly do you mean by relative laws? Are you referring to laws that can could lead to different results even if the initial conditions were identical? If yes, it would indeed make determinism impossible.

    Bolded part: Not the knowledge about all properties of the universe (if it was achieveable) would make it determined, it would have been determined all along. The nature of the universe does not depend on how much we know about it. Perhaps you wanted to say that and this is just a misunderstanding, I just wanted to make it clear.
    I think that the simplest way of putting it is to say that time is uncountable (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncountable_set), as it is the set of real numbers. It elucidates that time doesn't move forward in increments, but that time is perceived, depending on how one counts the uncountable. Thus, how we come to traverse or count time is not representative of its functioning, but of our relative position in perceiving its change. In other words, the universe would be inherently lawless or unbounded in how it changes, but relatively bounded or lawful by an observer, who can find and imagine as best as possible through The Scientific Method, incremental, relative changes, because anything else would not make sense.

    This is very hard thing to try and explain because I think it's much easier for someone to think of time as moving forward, rather than existing statically in an infinite continuum where all things are relatively possible and yet exist in the same time, but in a different relation to one another. But this is how I've come to understand time.

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    I think that determinism exists in the degree in which the person believes in it. The same goes for free will. I think we can all see how this works in real life. Think of someone you know that no matter what seems to never be able to get themselves out of bad circumstances. You may see possibilities that they don't see, see how they could improve their situation, but it futile if the person believes that every choice they make is the only one available to them. They may view the possibilities you suggest as not possible for them.

    So, some people behave as if hard determinism was true, some in its complete opposite(absolute free will), and I would bet that most people sensically believe it is somewhere inbetween.

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    I'm sorry I took so long to reply, but first, I was too busy/lazy and then I just forgot about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Radio View Post
    *post*
    If I understood you correctly, you seem to believe that neither of the extreme positions of free will vs. determinism is true. Regarding your arguments: Determinism is not much more than a hypothesis and it will most likely never be "proven" (not that anything could ever be conclusively proven). So yes, it assumes a lot.

    Free will, on the other handside, seems like the more "natural" choice. It's as if we're born with the conviction of having free will. But if you look closely, you will see that this theory assumes just as much and some necessary preconditions even defy laws of nature (from a certain point of view that is).

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowball View Post
    I think that the simplest way of putting it is to say that time is uncountable (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncountable_set), as it is the set of real numbers. It elucidates that time doesn't move forward in increments, but that time is perceived, depending on how one counts the uncountable. Thus, how we come to traverse or count time is not representative of its functioning, but of our relative position in perceiving its change. In other words, the universe would be inherently lawless or unbounded in how it changes, but relatively bounded or lawful by an observer, who can find and imagine as best as possible through The Scientific Method, incremental, relative changes, because anything else would not make sense.

    This is very hard thing to try and explain because I think it's much easier for someone to think of time as moving forward, rather than existing statically in an infinite continuum where all things are relatively possible and yet exist in the same time, but in a different relation to one another. But this is how I've come to understand time.
    You're right, this is hard to understand. I'm not saying you're wrong about that, but if you start thinking about (and challenging) these "levels" of existence, there is not much point in discussing determinism or free will anymore. Because if this was true, it could mean that everything we are able to observe and experience as humans could also be a subjective illusion and irrelevant if one truly wants to find out how the universe works. Of course, it is still an interesting idea to think about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmers View Post
    I think that determinism exists in the degree in which the person believes in it. The same goes for free will. I think we can all see how this works in real life. Think of someone you know that no matter what seems to never be able to get themselves out of bad circumstances. You may see possibilities that they don't see, see how they could improve their situation, but it futile if the person believes that every choice they make is the only one available to them. They may view the possibilities you suggest as not possible for them.

    So, some people behave as if hard determinism was true, some in its complete opposite(absolute free will), and I would bet that most people sensically believe it is somewhere inbetween.
    I think what you have in mind is not determinism, but fatalism (i.e. the belief in an unchangeable faith). If a person believes that they were "born unlucky" it might actually lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy because it changes the way they act. I'd agree that a person with such a belief would be less likely to actively work on improving their lives compared to someone who beliefs in free will.

    But determinism must be understood from a meta-perspective. Fatalism has a religious element in it, but determinism is value-neutral. Determinism does not suggest that a person's situation can't change. Because you don't know what will happen, you're just as free as a person who believes in free will.

    If two people decide on something, while person A beliefs in free will and person B is a determinist, only their explanation of the decision-making process will be different, but there's no reason to assume that their belief changed their decision (unlike fatalism!).

    It would probably sound like that:
    Person A: "I chose option 1, even though I could have chosen every other option as well."
    Person B: "I chose option 1, because all preceding events determined my choice."

    While person B believes that, it is still "their" choice, because the disbelief in free will also means that every decision is made this way.
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post


    I think what you have in mind is not determinism, but fatalism (i.e. the belief in an unchangeable faith). If a person believes that they were "born unlucky" it might actually lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy because it changes the way they act. I'd agree that a person with such a belief would be less likely to actively work on improving their lives compared to someone who beliefs in free will.

    But determinism must be understood from a meta-perspective. Fatalism has a religious element in it, but determinism is value-neutral. Determinism does not suggest that a person's situation can't change. Because you don't know what will happen, you're just as free as a person who believes in free will.

    If two people decide on something, while person A beliefs in free will and person B is a determinist, only their explanation of the decision-making process will be different, but there's no reason to assume that their belief changed their decision (unlike fatalism!).

    It would probably sound like that:
    Person A: "I chose option 1, even though I could have chosen every other option as well."
    Person B: "I chose option 1, because all preceding events determined my choice."

    While person B believes that, it is still "their" choice, because the disbelief in free will also means that every decision is made this way.
    Sorry, I should've been more specific. I was speaking of determinism as "hard determinism", which does tend toward fatalism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmers View Post
    Sorry, I should've been more specific. I was speaking of determinism as "hard determinism", which does tend toward fatalism.
    Well, hard determinism is also the kind of determinism I was talking about.

    I still see determinism and fatalism as different concepts, though. As far as I understood it, both pretty much say that everyone's life will proceed in one specific way which can not be changed.

    The difference is causality. For determinists, causality is the one and only reason why things are the way they are. The sum of all past events determines the future (and thus, the future is predefined because there is only one way the events can unfold). For fatalists, the crucial element is not causality, but the fate, which is predetermined by god(s) or some unspecific powers.

    A determinists belives that the laws of nature are the only factors which control their lives (and may reject the idea that life has an inherent purpose or meaning), whereas fatalists believe in some kind of "instance" which is also responsible for giving life its meaning.

    If a person looks back on their life and sees how every attempt to improve it was a failure, it can appear logical for a fatalist to regard it as the personal fate (that's what I meant by "born unlucky"). If you believe that a god decided upon your fate, you might believe that god does not "want" you to have a good life. This extrapolation, however, is illogical to a determinist (no matter if they believe in hard or soft determinism). Determinists will say that the universe is too complex to accurately predict most things, let alone what happens in their lives.

    The difference between hard and soft determinism is the question if free will is compatible with it or not. Hard determinists are incompatibilists, soft determinists compatibilists. I think this is largely a matter of interpretation.
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    Well, hard determinism is also the kind of determinism I was talking about.

    I still see determinism and fatalism as different concepts, though. As far as I understood it, both pretty much say that everyone's life will proceed in one specific way which can not be changed.

    The difference is causality. For determinists, causality is the one and only reason why things are the way they are. The sum of all past events determines the future (and thus, the future is predefined because there is only one way the events can unfold). For fatalists, the crucial element is not causality, but the fate, which is predetermined by god(s) or some unspecific powers.

    A determinists belives that the laws of nature are the only factors which control their lives (and may reject the idea that life has an inherent purpose or meaning), whereas fatalists believe in some kind of "instance" which is also responsible for giving life its meaning.

    If a person looks back on their life and sees how every attempt to improve it was a failure, it can appear logical for a fatalist to regard it as the personal fate (that's what I meant by "born unlucky"). If you believe that a god decided upon your fate, you might believe that god does not "want" you to have a good life. This extrapolation, however, is illogical to a determinist (no matter if they believe in hard or soft determinism). Determinists will say that the universe is too complex to accurately predict most things, let alone what happens in their lives.

    The difference between hard and soft determinism is the question if free will is compatible with it or not. Hard determinists are incompatibilists, soft determinists compatibilists. I think this is largely a matter of interpretation.
    I do think they could very well be different concepts, but they could also be different shades of the same concept. There seems to be some trouble in defining what exactly what the two are, and how they are different, as there seems to be some overlap that muddies the definitions some.

    For instance, when I think of hard determinism, I think of it as very similar, if not identical to predeterminism, in which all current events originate to a single cause. If every current incident is the result of a long chain of prior events, then all future occurrences are an extension of that chain of events. So while the future is known, it could be predicted if every single variable was taken into consideration.

    While fatalism is in a sense exactly as you said, a consignment of fate to an individual by some conscious being, it's relationship to determinism is at least analogous in that the future is unavoidable by a chain of events outside one's control. But, it is not necessarily confined to a conscious agent. It is often just the feeling that what has happened, or will happen is "destiny" whether it is by naturalistic or supernaturalistic means.

    One way of looking at it is that determinism is fatalism without a god and/or without applying a meaning, and is often more philosophically naturalistic, but I see them as two concepts that are both the same, yet different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmers View Post
    One way of looking at it is that determinism is fatalism without a god and/or without applying a meaning, and is often more philosophically naturalistic, but I see them as two concepts that are both the same, yet different.
    I think that's fair to say. Fatalism is deterministic by nature, but causal determinism is not identical to fatalism.

    Another thing: I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned that yet, but if I'm not mistaken a fatalist may actually believe in free will as much as any indeterminist. But there's a catch, because it wouldn't matter anyway since the fate is already determined. An incompatibilist determinist, however, would say that free will is an illusion/not even possible (according to its common definition).
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    Events without objective cause or causal relationship are referred to as random, while the events of a chaotic system
    can not be predicted even with absolute knowledge. Both concepts are incompatible with the principle of determinism, according to which the universe resembles a perfect machine, which works incessantly by rigid laws and produces results which have no alternatives. These, in turn, form the basis and cause of subsequent events.
    Quote Originally Posted by wiki
    Chaos theory is a field of study in mathematics, with applications in several disciplines including meteorology, sociology, physics, engineering, economics, biology, and philosophy. Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions—a response popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for such dynamical systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general.[1] This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved.[2] In other words, the deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable.
    In laziness I assume that for that last part in wiki it is talked about "not practically predictable" because theoretically with god powers you could make absolute copy of the universe and run it forward to get the prediction.(if the world was chaotically deterministic)

    Will be reading forward.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Esaman View Post
    In laziness I assume that for that last part in wiki it is talked about "not practically predictable" because theoretically with god powers you could make absolute copy of the universe and run it forward to get the prediction.(if the world was chaotically deterministic)

    Will be reading forward.
    Yes, I agree. Otherwise, these statements would contradict each other. Laplace's Demon is also about theoretical predictability since it wouldn't be practically possible in any case.
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    And because it is unreasonable to hold the individual responsible for these defects (since they can not be
    influenced)
    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    The clear definition of human qualities and actions goes hand in hand with the unambiguous
    definition of the environmental reactions, and therefore, the change of human qualities and
    characteristics as well. No influence can be exerted on that at all.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    Nevertheless, both intelligence and
    personal motivation can not be objectively influenced.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    an is like a plant that sprouts, grows, blooms, bears fruit and dies
    according to a predetermined (albeit unknown) pattern. Nothing can influence this process.
    This is bad. Living beings are in no way closed systems. What makes human special is exactly how easy they can receive even abstract formation and concepts and implement them as part of their decision making process.
    There reason we don't punish a lion that kills a dumbass is because the lion is what we want it to be. We would likely kill a dog that killed a dumbass. Dogs are social and know guilt and shame, but we would not bother to jail or something a single killer dog because they largely operate on instinct and it would be just training that single dog. Humans are informed and ideological. Taking societal action towards one person is making a lesson/message to all of them. Which is why we generally jail people not erase them. Because the message and myth that is wanted to be impressed (myth not because it is not true but because it is poetic, archetypal construct to enter your subconscious and become your software) is that we treat people good because they have value and potential to be good and can be interacted, communicated, negotiated or at least coerced to be so.
    Insane people a treated differently because the example, the deterrent, the message/myth is not expected to properly enter the decision making process to affect their determinations (in this context better word for choices).
    This is how it would work, does work in fully deterministic world or partially so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    Yes, I agree. Otherwise, these statements would contradict each other. Laplace's Demon is also about theoretical predictability since it wouldn't be practically possible in any case.
    Do you agree that chaotic system is compatible with determinism?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    Some people hold the opinion that national pride has no logical basis. This is quite understandable.
    Why should I be proud of my country, although I could not influence the place of my birth? Why
    should I be proud of the achievements of German citizens, if I have contributed nothing significant
    to it? Instead of their country, people should be proud of themselves and their own individual
    success. But is there really any difference? The notion that one could be justifiably proud of their
    personal successes, but not on their nationality is difficult to understand from a deterministic
    perspective. Although other characteristics of humans are apparently (more) individual, because
    they do not apply to so many other people in exactly the same way, it is still not logically possible to
    derive the feeling of pride from them. Nothing is ever really earned, as everything is eventually only
    the product of the sum of all ongoing processes, which man can not control.
    Pride– as well as its antonym shame – are therefore also part of the first level of existence which is applicable only in the subjective context. From an objective point of view, both emotions lack a reasonable basis.
    Starting easy. Pain. It is both just a signal in neurons and subjective experience. Obviously possible and beneficial in deterministic system. Helps avoiding dangerous and detrimental things and propagate the genes.
    Pride and shame are just variations of pain and pleasure on the level of identity and ego instead of body. Ego and identity are perceptual constructs and one could say organs that we have evolved to orient and succeed in the social world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    Although a person agrees with, for example, the objective non-existence of "guilt",.
    Will, choice, blame, guilt.... work in fully deterministic universe.
    Before making some kind of action one makes a deterministic process/calculation experienced by us as experiencing and thinking.That calculation involves interaction of myriads of know or unknown factors, including you motivation, experiences, tastes, worldview, view of self, morality, rationality whatever. That calculation with it's arguments and formulation are the most substantially and objectively "you" thing there is. Results of that calculation reflect who you are and may reflect what you want-your will.
    Freedom is the options you had for consideration and the fact that calculation is not constant but dynamically in interaction with itself, the world and and consequences of it actions, changing in some regards, possibly intentionally so.
    You still can and should feel responsible for consequences of your actions and those feelings and opinions can influence what happens next.
    You can feel trapped by some past circumstances and who you think you are or you can see the options in front of you balanced on the on the blade of calculation by your intelligence and will. So business as usual.
    One difference of that perspective is that you may hate someone but you more obviously would have to forgive them if they change.
    Accepting quantum randomness does not really change the correctness of approaching most things in the above fashion, I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Esaman View Post
    This is bad. Living beings are in no way closed systems. What makes human special is exactly how easy they can receive even abstract formation and concepts and implement them as part of their decision making process.
    There reason we don't punish a lion that kills a dumbass is because the lion is what we want it to be. We would likely kill a dog that killed a dumbass. Dogs are social and know guilt and shame, but we would not bother to jail or something a single killer dog because they largely operate on instinct and it would be just training that single dog. Humans are informed and ideological. Taking societal action towards one person is making a lesson/message to all of them. Which is why we generally jail people not erase them. Because the message and myth that is wanted to be impressed (myth not because it is not true but because it is poetic, archetypal construct to enter your subconscious and become your software) is that we treat people good because they have value and potential to be good and can be interacted, communicated, negotiated or at least coerced to be so.
    Insane people a treated differently because the example, the deterrent, the message/myth is not expected to properly enter the decision making process to affect their determinations (in this context better word for choices).
    This is how it would work, does work in fully deterministic world or partially so.
    The problem is that you describe the situation from a human point of view, while I tried to see it from a meta-perspective. You're right about what you said regarding punishing criminals and what we hope to accomplish by that and why we don't punish insane people. But as humans, we assume people have free will which is, as you know, not supported by determinism.

    We punish a criminal because we assume that he could have acted differently, whereas we believe that a lion or an insane person has no choice (and don't punish them). This is the only reason why the punishment of a (sane) human being would be justified from our point of view. But determinism suggests that a murderer is born a murderer and that they did not have a choice about that at any point in their life. How could a punishment be fair, then? It's like punishing a person for being born blind.

    You said people are able to implement abstract information and concepts in their decision-making process. But you mustn't forget that anyone, no matter how smart or stupid they are, is bound to the conclusion they reach. That means our "decision-making process" is just a complicated way of letting your instincts (i.e. your determined self) decide what to do. Or in other words: How can your (carefully thought-out) moral decisions be objective if your self is biased by your genes, personality ect.?

    However, at the same time, determinism does not suggest that we should stop punishing criminals because their actions are determined. You also have to see the punishment as the determined result of a person's crime. This makes perfect sense considering that not only the culprit, but also the judge is determined in their actions. What we can conclude from that is that human society works exactly like any given animal's society, even if it's much more complicated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Esaman View Post
    Do you agree that chaotic system is compatible with determinism?
    Yes. They are compatible as long as these systems are theoretically predictable. Practical predictability is irrelevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Esaman View Post
    Starting easy. Pain. It is both just a signal in neurons and subjective experience. Obviously possible and beneficial in deterministic system. Helps avoiding dangerous and detrimental things and propagate the genes.
    Pride and shame are just variations of pain and pleasure on the level of identity and ego instead of body. Ego and identity are perceptual constructs and one could say organs that we have evolved to orient and succeed in the social world.
    I think this is related to something I wrote in post #9 in this thread. Emotions and perceptions do have a reasonable and objective basis. But it is different for every individual, hence the different reactions in the same situation (even though no situation is ever identical to another one.) Being proud of personal successes only appears to be more justified than being proud of your nation because we assume that we have free will.

    I don't disagree with you if you want to say that there is no fundamental difference between perceptions like pain and emotions like pride and shame.

    Quote Originally Posted by Esaman View Post
    Will, choice, blame, guilt.... work in fully deterministic universe.
    Before making some kind of action one makes a deterministic process/calculation experienced by us as experiencing and thinking.That calculation involves interaction of myriads of know or unknown factors, including you motivation, experiences, tastes, worldview, view of self, morality, rationality whatever. That calculation with it's arguments and formulation are the most substantially and objectively "you" thing there is. Results of that calculation reflect who you are and may reflect what you want-your will.
    All of this is correct. But the choice you make has no alternatives (so the term does not actually apply) and your resulting will is not free. It is your will, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Esaman View Post
    Freedom is the options you had for consideration and the fact that calculation is not constant but dynamically in interaction with itself, the world and and consequences of it actions, changing in some regards, possibly intentionally so.
    You still can and should feel responsible for consequences of your actions and those feelings and opinions can influence what happens next.
    You can feel trapped by some past circumstances and who you think you are or you can see the options in front of you balanced on the on the blade of calculation by your intelligence and will. So business as usual.
    One difference of that perspective is that you may hate someone but you more obviously would have to forgive them if they change.
    Accepting quantum randomness does not really change the correctness of approaching most things in the above fashion, I think.
    But there is no freedom because you only ever have one option, any other one is illusory. Your calculation might be dynamic, but its result is still invariable. Your intelligence influences your decisions but they are still no less determined as the actions of any given animal. Your feelings are just the necessary results of your determined actions.
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    All of this is correct. But the choice you make has no alternatives (so the term does not actually apply) and your resulting will is not free. It is your will, though.

    But there is no freedom because you only ever have one option, any other one is illusory. Your calculation might be dynamic, but its result is still invariable. Your intelligence influences your decisions but they are still no less determined as the actions of any given animal. Your feelings are just the necessary results of your determined actions.
    As far as you are concerned they are real alternatives. Your will determines them, so what? Are your "free will" is supposed to be free from itself? Ding,ding, ding ad absurdum.
    "Free will" is an empty magical tourniquet of an idea from the theistic paradigm. If there is no all knowing and all powerful creator deterministic system does not make farce of your will.
    I guess it could still be a downer to objectively think that end result is determined, so hurray for quantum dice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Esaman View Post
    As far as you are concerned they are real alternatives. Your will determines them, so what? Are your "free will" is supposed to be free from itself? Ding,ding, ding ad absurdum.
    Yes, indeed. If you believe in determinism, free will does not only become untrue, but outright impossible. Free will itself becomes a paradox, as you already said, because if your will is not influenced by anything, how can it be your will?

    Soft and hard determinism believe in the same thing. The only actual difference between them is the fact that hard determinists just say free will is impossible (according to the common definition) and reject it completely, whereas soft determinists adapt and redefine free will as a will which is determined by "you" alone.
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    Yes, indeed. If you believe in determinism, free will does not only become untrue, but outright impossible. Free will itself becomes a paradox, as you already said, because if your will is not influenced by anything, how can it be your will?
    That contradiction is not dependent on determinism, but on existence of any causality and relationship between things at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Esaman View Post
    That contradiction is not dependent on determinism, but on existence of any causality and relationship between things at all.
    Yeah, you're right. The way I said it makes it look like it is connected to determinism, but it's a separate paradox people can rack their brains over.
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    it's a separate paradox people can rack their brains over.
    Yeah,I sure got as much as I wanted from revisiting the topic. Thanks for bringing it up and the discussion.

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    Robot Assassin Pa3s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Esaman View Post
    Yeah,I sure got as much as I wanted from revisiting the topic. Thanks for bringing it up and the discussion.
    Thank you, too! It helps a lot if you have someone to discuss these things with.
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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