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Alan Fox



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Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,12:30   

As there seem to be one or two interested in the questions:

What is free will?

Is free will real or illusory?

What bearing does free will have on the validity of intelligent design?

It seems to make sense to have a separate thread.

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,12:34   

Thank you, Alan. Also, we've branched out into can it be reconciled with predestination in a religious sense.

edit to change Allen to Alan.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,12:35   

Okay, so I've just moved a highlighter across my desk from one spot to another simply because I have free will, or I think I do. There was no motivation or utility to it..unless I wanted to feel good about my free will?

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,12:48   

Wikipedia qualifies free will to the 'rational' agent's freedom to choose. But if it's got to be 'rational', how free is it?

I guess everybody would concede that humans - like all other life forms - have quite limited degrees of freedom per their actions. A plant just can't pack up and move when the neighborhood turns ugly. And all our choices are shaped strongly by our experiences, our circumstances, our knowledge, our range of options, and our abilities. Sum of histories sort of thing...

I've occasionally considered that there may be only one really free choice available to humans - the choice not to exist. And even that choice is predicated on conditions and circumstance, and isn't generally considered 'rational' at all.

  
Mark Frank



Posts: 46
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,13:20   

If you haven't done it already read Daniel Dennett on free will - particularly Freedom Evolves. He is a compatabilist and I think he is pretty much right.  We choose according to our desires which is quite compatible with our desires causing our choices.

  
Badger3k



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,13:26   

Quote (Mark Frank @ Feb. 18 2010,13:20)
If you haven't done it already read Daniel Dennett on free will - particularly Freedom Evolves. He is a compatabilist and I think he is pretty much right.  We choose according to our desires which is quite compatible with our desires causing our choices.

But who chooses our desires?  

I do have Dennett on my list to read, but after trying to slog through Consciousness (Understood? - I forget) - it was way beyond my present understanding, and I kept getting caught by 'qualia' and the like.  Still have it, and mean to go back once I can follow the evidence and arguments better.

My problem is that every definition of Free Will that I have heard tends to be inadequate in one way or another, and the usefulness of the term is debatable for me.  I don't think we have what most people think of as free will, but I do agree that we have apparent free will, and (have to?) act as if we did.  I'm not sure it matters, although the debates can be fun.

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"Just think if every species had a different genetic code We would have to eat other humans to survive.." : Joe G

  
dheddle



Posts: 540
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,13:37   

Quote (Badger3k @ Feb. 18 2010,13:26)
Quote (Mark Frank @ Feb. 18 2010,13:20)
If you haven't done it already read Daniel Dennett on free will - particularly Freedom Evolves. He is a compatabilist and I think he is pretty much right.  We choose according to our desires which is quite compatible with our desires causing our choices.

But who chooses our desires?  

I do have Dennett on my list to read, but after trying to slog through Consciousness (Understood? - I forget) - it was way beyond my present understanding, and I kept getting caught by 'qualia' and the like.  Still have it, and mean to go back once I can follow the evidence and arguments better.

My problem is that every definition of Free Will that I have heard tends to be inadequate in one way or another, and the usefulness of the term is debatable for me.  I don't think we have what most people think of as free will, but I do agree that we have apparent free will, and (have to?) act as if we did.  I'm not sure it matters, although the debates can be fun.

That's exactly where the supernatural diverges. The desires are, if you will, part of your "soul." They can be modified via non-natural means (in theory) such as divine intervention or answered prayer or what have you.

Without that, you desires are just chemical reactions, and we are back to the differential equation.

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Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

   
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,13:53   

Mark Frank:
Quote
He is a compatabilist and I think he is pretty much right.  We choose according to our desires which is quite compatible with our desires causing our choices.


I'll have to look up compatablism to get a feel for it. But I'm not the least bit convinced we choose according to our desires, since too many of us choose undesirable options in our lives.

For example, say your teenage daughter is pregnant, it's late for abortion by the time she decides you need to know. Boyfriend's long gone. There's a number of options for you, some relatively worse (or just meaner) than others based on the situation and your adopted 'morality' and ethics and relationship with said daughter.

After careful consideration, you offer to raise the child (and continue to support daughter) even though you thought you were done raising kids, you absolutely don't want more (and got that fixed long ago to make sure), you'll be retirement age when the kid gets out of school (meaning your savings for retirement will be nil by the time he's on his own).

The choice isn't one you wanted to make. Nothing you decide will be particularly desirable. There are other options that would allow you to continue living your life as you'd planned to live it - desired to. You'll be giving up hopes and dreams (a lot of self-interest) that you'll ever have any extra cash to do anything for yourself. And maybe you don't even particularly like kids.

But you make your choice, offer it as an option for someone else's choice (daughter) and then you have to live with it despite whatever it costs you on the self-interest and desires end.

Now, it could turn out that the child is the light of your life, and ends up rich and famous and takes great care of you in your old age. Or he could grow up to be a loser and you'll never be free of either him or his mom due to setting up a dependency cycle they won't or can't escape. However it turns out, how is that choice not 'free' even though it did require consideration of multiple factors and future considerations?

  
Albatrossity2



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,13:54   

So free will = "the ability to make a choice that was not predetermined, coerced by an external agent, or random"

"Pre-determined" simply smuggles in the supernatural as part of the definition, I'd say.

Ditto for "coerced by an external agent".

For actions like choosing to move a highlighter across a table, there is no way that I can imagine that an external agent or predetermination would be able to cause that without supernatural abilities.

So two of the three options condense into one, and we have a typical dichotomy - deity or random.

A false dichotomy, per usual.

--------------
Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

   
Richardthughes



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,13:54   

MidwifeToad writes:

Quote

Quote
If the natural world is all there is, then what causes a given choice? It can only be the laws of physics.


I will repeat myself, moving one step closer to my own definition of insanity.

Choices are probabilistic. Makes no difference if they are quantum events or merely analog computations resulting from neuronal firing rates.

There is no reason to posit a ghost in the machine. The machine itself weighs the consequences of decisions.

What makes "will" so fascinating is that behavior is based on a prediction of the future, something that can be known only probabilistically.

Again, it isn't necessary to posit a ghost making the prediction. The prediction is embodied in the state of the predictor. Animals anticipate consequences, not as effectively as humans, but they nevertheless anticipate.



which lead me here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_in_the_machine

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
midwifetoad



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Joined: Mar. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,14:10   

Quote
One of the book's central concepts is that as the human brain has grown, it has built upon earlier, more primitive brain structures, and that these are the "ghost in the machine" of the title. Koestler's theory is that at times these structures can overpower higher logical functions, and are responsible for hate, anger and other such destructive impulses.


Computers have higher logical functions, but not much will. (I will step aside on this if we have any AI wizards in residence.)

Logic can serve the primitive brain structures, but the "I-ness" in in the alligator brain.

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Any version of ID consistent with all the evidence is indistinguishable from evolution.

  
dheddle



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Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,14:11   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 18 2010,13:53)
Mark Frank:
 
Quote
He is a compatabilist and I think he is pretty much right.  We choose according to our desires which is quite compatible with our desires causing our choices.


I'll have to look up compatablism to get a feel for it. But I'm not the least bit convinced we choose according to our desires, since too many of us choose undesirable options in our lives.

For example, say your teenage daughter is pregnant, it's late for abortion by the time she decides you need to know. Boyfriend's long gone. There's a number of options for you, some relatively worse (or just meaner) than others based on the situation and your adopted 'morality' and ethics and relationship with said daughter.

After careful consideration, you offer to raise the child (and continue to support daughter) even though you thought you were done raising kids, you absolutely don't want more (and got that fixed long ago to make sure), you'll be retirement age when the kid gets out of school (meaning your savings for retirement will be nil by the time he's on his own).

The choice isn't one you wanted to make. Nothing you decide will be particularly desirable. There are other options that would allow you to continue living your life as you'd planned to live it - desired to. You'll be giving up hopes and dreams (a lot of self-interest) that you'll ever have any extra cash to do anything for yourself. And maybe you don't even particularly like kids.

But you make your choice, offer it as an option for someone else's choice (daughter) and then you have to live with it despite whatever it costs you on the self-interest and desires end.

Now, it could turn out that the child is the light of your life, and ends up rich and famous and takes great care of you in your old age. Or he could grow up to be a loser and you'll never be free of either him or his mom due to setting up a dependency cycle they won't or can't escape. However it turns out, how is that choice not 'free' even though it did require consideration of multiple factors and future considerations?

It is exactly the choice you want to make most, all things considered. Simplify it down to two choices.

A) You can choice to raise the child, with all the attendant responsibilities and problems but with the prospect of a brighter future for the child, or

B) You can choose not to, have lots more money and freedom, but possibly a great deal of remorse and guilt.

If you chose A it is because, all things considered, you want A more than B. At least at that moment.

--------------
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

   
Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,14:14   

Quote
It is exactly the choice you want to make most, all things considered. Simplify it down to two choices.


So free will is real?

Who disagrees?

  
dheddle



Posts: 540
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,14:17   

Quote (Albatrossity2 @ Feb. 18 2010,13:54)
So free will = "the ability to make a choice that was not predetermined, coerced by an external agent, or random"

"Pre-determined" simply smuggles in the supernatural as part of the definition, I'd say.

Ditto for "coerced by an external agent".

For actions like choosing to move a highlighter across a table, there is no way that I can imagine that an external agent or predetermination would be able to cause that without supernatural abilities.

So two of the three options condense into one, and we have a typical dichotomy - deity or random.

A false dichotomy, per usual.

Exactly how does "not predetermined" or "not coerced" smuggle in a deity? And why do you need the snarky "false dichotomy, per usual?"

To me, "not predetermined" and "not coerced" are generic features of free-will. I'm assuming instead of just charging "false dichotomy!" you'll provide an alternative definition free will and its mechanism? I'm willing to listen. Or did I miss it?

--------------
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

   
Mark Frank



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,14:21   

Joy

Quote
I'll have to look up compatablism to get a feel for it. But I'm not the least bit convinced we choose according to our desires, since too many of us choose undesirable options in our lives.


Desires is too simple a word.  I was struggling to be brief.  Let us say we choose among the external options available to us based on our desires, needs and other motivations (e.g. parental instinct, sense of duty).  But all these things can be quite physical and be causes of our eventual choice as well as reasons for our choice.  They are just two ways of describing the same thing.

Suppose confronted with a choice (make it trivial - what to do for dinner) you spend a long time exercising your free will - debating options - determined that you will choose and not just be the plaything of the universe. Finally you choose. But suppose once you have made your choice a superpsychiatrist reveals that he predicted (based on his knowledge of your brain state) exactly that you would spend a long time debating options and then make that choice.  Does that mean your choice was not actually a free one? Why?  What was the missing element that prevented it being free?  We already can predict people's free choices with quite a lot of accuracy.

  
dheddle



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Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,14:21   

Quote (Alan Fox @ Feb. 18 2010,14:14)
Quote
It is exactly the choice you want to make most, all things considered. Simplify it down to two choices.


So free will is real?

Who disagrees?

Well, Cornell biologist William Provine for one. Any many others.

But if you don't believe in the supernatural, then you just can't say "free will exists". You have to postulate how it works, and (I think) why people should be morally culpable for their choices.

Provine, in my opinion is simply being honest.

--------------
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

   
Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,14:24   

Quote (dheddle @ Feb. 18 2010,09:21)
Quote (Alan Fox @ Feb. 18 2010,14:14)
 
Quote
It is exactly the choice you want to make most, all things considered. Simplify it down to two choices.


So free will is real?

Who disagrees?

Well, Cornell biologist William Provine for one. Any many others.

But if you don't believe in the supernatural, then you just can't say "free will exists". You have to postulate how it works, and (I think) why people should be morally culpable for their choices.

Provine, in my opinion is simply being honest.

linky for Provine?

  
Alan Fox



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Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,14:27   

Quote
But if you don't believe in the supernatural, then you just can't say "free will exists".


Well, I don't "believe" in the supernatural (Qualification available on request) and I do say free will exists. I suspect we need definitions.

  
Albatrossity2



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,14:37   

Quote (dheddle @ Feb. 18 2010,14:17)
Exactly how does "not predetermined" or "not coerced" smuggle in a deity?

If you don't see how it smuggles in a supernatural explanation, please tell me how moving a highlighter across a desk, or taking a sip of coffee (like I did just now) can be accomplished by predetermination or coercion that does not involve a supernatural explanation.

I'll be waiting.
Quote
And why do you need the snarky "false dichotomy, per usual?"

Because I was hopeful that this discussion would not require the invocation of a deity, and I was disappointed. So I snarked. Mea culpa.
Quote
To me, "not predetermined" and "not coerced" are generic features of free-will. I'm assuming instead of just charging "false dichotomy!" you'll provide an alternative definition free will and its mechanism? I'm willing to listen. Or did I miss it?


Free will is a theological construction invoked to explain behaviors which have a perfectly acceptable natural explanation.

--------------
Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

   
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,14:40   

dheddle:
   
Quote
If you chose A it is because, all things considered, you want A more than B. At least at that moment.


Want? ...WANT? There is no "want" here. There is a situation that exists in reality, for which a decision must be made. In my example, it's not even the FINAL decision - it's just a decision from one interested party to offer as option to the one who actually must decide. No less a choice for the one who makes it, of course, but hardly predicated on wants or desires. In such a case the most prominent want/desire would be for the daughter not to be pregnant. And I'm pretty sure a lot of real-life decisions for abortion are indeed predicated on that desire. In which case the parents' half-assed decision (that costs them no more than the procedure) is still an offered option.

Let's instead apply the situational example to an individual woman's constitutionally recognized right to free choice of who comes to or from her body. Can be a happily married woman with children already (as in one situation I know of). The availability of birth control and abortion has allowed this choice to women, the question of how 'free' the choice is still pertains.

Of course one must consider all pertinent past, present and possible future conditions in making such a choice. Those will differ among individuals quite widely. A parent who offers another option for a teenager is just an outlier in the overall issue.

In the case of the situation alluded to above, she chose abortion. She was well-situated, she loved kids and was a great Mom, hubby well employed and only somewhat unhealthy (diabetic), obviously not unable. She was taking birth control - another choice she'd already made factoring into her choice of what to do. Six months after the abortion her husband died of sudden stroke (mid-30s). As friend/counselor I got to listen to her regrets - 'free' choices can be regretful, the future considerations when making them often don't turn out to be reality. [my counsel was that she should be glad she wasn't nine months along or nursing a newborn during the funeral.]

Is the choice - for all the reasons it was made - any less 'free' if it turns out badly? Any more 'free' if it turns out well? Who gets to decide?

...or is the concept of "free" just a sociopolitical construct? And if so, how does that impact the so-called justice system?

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,14:51   

Though it just might be that...

freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. §;o)

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,15:05   

Mark Frank:
Quote
Suppose confronted with a choice (make it trivial - what to do for dinner) you spend a long time exercising your free will - debating options - determined that you will choose and not just be the plaything of the universe. Finally you choose. But suppose once you have made your choice a superpsychiatrist reveals that he predicted (based on his knowledge of your brain state) exactly that you would spend a long time debating options and then make that choice.


Oh, I've seen such things get much more complicated. Let's say you debate on what's for dinner - NOT based purely on what ingredients you've got on hand, store's only a block away - and decide to spent a lot of time and energy on fancy veggie lasagne. Maybe even because that's the LAST thing your family expects tonight for dinner, you want to surprise them. Then it's done, smells delicious, and... nobody decides to eat it, including you. Spur of the moment, you're just not hungry (but make yourself a sandwich instead), whatever.

The Superpsychiatrist might have been able to predict veggie lasagne, but did he predict nobody eating it?

  
dheddle



Posts: 540
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,15:07   

From Dr. Provine

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.

Free Will

The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will.

Without free will, moral responsibility seems impossible. But I will argue that moral responsibility is actually based upon the lack of free will.

Free will is a disastrous and mean social myth. Using free will as an excuse, we condone a vicious attitude of revenge toward anyone who does wrong in our society. Most of the movies in a video store are based upon getting even with some nasty person. This attitude leads to a gross ly expensive and hopeless systems of punishment in America , though much the same attitude can be found in most countries around the world.

Without free will, justification for revenge disappears and rehabilitation is the main job of judicial systems and prisons. We will all live in a better society when the myth of free will is dispelled.

Devout Christians also believe in forgiveness and rehabilitation. Agreement here is possible between atheism and religion.

Meaning in Life

How can we have meaning in life? When we die we are really dead; nothing of us survives. Natural selection is a process leading every species almost certainly to extinction and "cares" as much for the HIV virus as for humans. Nothing could be more uncaring than the entire process of organic evolution. Life has been on earth for about 3.6 billion years. In less that one billion more years our sun will turn into a red giant. All life on earth will be burnt to a crisp. Other cosmic processes absolutely guarantee the extinction of all life anywhere in the universe. When all life is extinguished, no memory whatsoever will be left that life ever existed.

Yet our lives are filled with meaning. Proximate meaning is more important than ultimate. Even if we die, we can have deeply meaningful lives.

Meaning in life is shared. We cannot have even proximate meaning except in the context of culture. This is true for religious people as for agnostics or atheists. No group can cut out the others.

Evolution in the classroom

Evolution is of interest to all. 50% of Americans believe humans were created by God in the last 10,000 years. Most other Americans who do believe in evolution think that God guided it. But a small group of powerful naturalist evolutionists have taken control of our schools. They want to stifle discussion of evolution in the classroom by everyone according to his or her beliefs Discussion may then change minds. Evolutionists are their own worst enemies by preventing free discussion of all views in the biology classroom.

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Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

   
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,15:46   

David, citing Provine:
Quote
Evolutionists are their own worst enemies by preventing free discussion of all views in the biology classroom.


Semi-Wow. Thanks for the link.

Seems to me like "free discussion" would allow students to ask pointed questions, and require response from teachers. Which would come colored with that teacher's personal views. Since "most" Americans who believe evolution occurred believe that God guided it, what would such questions and responses amount to in, say, a required high school biology course that includes evolution?

1. "Most" teachers of biology in high school aren't biologists (one I know of is a track coach, majored in phys-ed). Wouldn't this allow him/her to take a stand that would come with implied State approval, on a metaphysical question? Thus uncork that vial of deadly influence taped to his/her leg?

2. What 'scientific' issue do the "small group of powerful naturalist evolutionists" have with what any member of the public cares to believe about ultimate/final causation? i.e., the metaphysical question?

3. Wouldn't "free discussion" of all [metaphysical] views in the biology classroom dent the limited time allowed for indoctrinating the required test answers into students heads, thus possibly harming the standing (for accreditation and funding) of both teacher and school?

  
Thought Provoker



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,15:51   

Excuse me for belaboring my quantum quackery but I suggest if there is such a thing as "free will" it is non-deterministic and non-random.

After all the fancy semantic exercises are finished, unless there is an appeal to the supernatural, quantum uncertainty and/or some true random source the bottom line is “free will” is a complicated algorithmic system that gives an appearance of free will, similar to an AI using a random number generator for an illusion of unpredictability.

My bias is towards a presumption Free Will is based on macro expressions of quantum effects.  Even if God is behind it all, he/she/it would have complete control through the manipulation of Quantum Mechanics.  I will leave it to the theologians to explain how and why an omniscient, omnipotent God granted man the ability to act outside his/her/its direct control.

While I suspect most people wouldn’t consider a random source the key to Free Will, it could give that appearance.  Most things could be logical and deterministic but every now and then a random neuron fires and the next thing you know we move a highlighter or make veggie lasagna.

But back to one of Alan’s main questions, yes, I believe this is a main issue in the ID/evolution debate.  People want to believe they are special.  They want to believe they have Free Will.  They will use that Free Will to reject uncomfortable evidence and readily accept an alternative that is consistent with feeling special.

  
dheddle



Posts: 540
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,16:04   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 18 2010,15:51)
Excuse me for belaboring my quantum quackery but I suggest if there is such a thing as "free will" it is non-deterministic and non-random.

After all the fancy semantic exercises are finished, unless there is an appeal to the supernatural, quantum uncertainty and/or some true random source the bottom line is “free will” is a complicated algorithmic system that gives an appearance of free will, similar to an AI using a random number generator for an illusion of unpredictability.

My bias is towards a presumption Free Will is based on macro expressions of quantum effects.  Even if God is behind it all, he/she/it would have complete control through the manipulation of Quantum Mechanics.  I will leave it to the theologians to explain how and why an omniscient, omnipotent God granted man the ability to act outside his/her/its direct control.

While I suspect most people wouldn’t consider a random source the key to Free Will, it could give that appearance.  Most things could be logical and deterministic but every now and then a random neuron fires and the next thing you know we move a highlighter or make veggie lasagna.

But back to one of Alan’s main questions, yes, I believe this is a main issue in the ID/evolution debate.  People want to believe they are special.  They want to believe they have Free Will.  They will use that Free Will to reject uncomfortable evidence and readily accept an alternative that is consistent with feeling special.

I don't see what free will has to do with the ID debate--except that it exposes their lie that ID has nothing to do with religion. That is, as theists they tend to line up on the "real free will" as opposed to "apparent free will" side.

After all, a designer-who-could-be-anybody-no-really-he-doesn't-have-to-be-god-I'm-not-kidding-trust-me could design us as automatons, could he not? So why should, in theory, the free will question have anything to do with ID?

--------------
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

   
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,16:13   

TP:
Quote
My bias is towards a presumption Free Will is based on macro expressions of quantum effects.  Even if God is behind it all, he/she/it would have complete control through the manipulation of Quantum Mechanics.  I will leave it to the theologians to explain how and why an omniscient, omnipotent God granted man the ability to act outside his/her/its direct control.


LOL!!! Oh, my! I would rather posit that actual freedom of choice would EXCLUDE a god/godling from controlling any possible quantum computational capabilities in those PCCs! I mean, if God's controlling our 'free will' it surely ain't free.

The "why" question is of course theological, if you believe in a god that allows free will. Maybe he/she/it/they wanted to occasionally be surprised by his/her/its/their creation, eh?

  
CeilingCat



Posts: 1995
Joined: Dec. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,19:02   

Haven't had a chance to read all of the postings yet, but I had to print this because it seems to appropriate to the discussion:

(From The Princess Bride)    
Quote
Man in Black: All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right... and who is dead.
Vizzini: But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy's? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You've made your decision then?
Vizzini: Not remotely. Because iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.
Man in Black: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.
Vizzini: Wait til I get going! Now, where was I?
Man in Black: Australia.
Vizzini: Yes, Australia. And you must have suspected I would have known the powder's origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You're just stalling now.
Vizzini: You'd like to think that, wouldn't you? You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong, so you could've put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you've also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You're trying to trick me into giving away something. It won't work.
Vizzini: IT HAS WORKED! YOU'VE GIVEN EVERYTHING AWAY! I KNOW WHERE THE POISON IS!
Man in Black: Then make your choice.
Vizzini: I will, and I choose - What in the world can that be?
Vizzini: [Vizzini gestures up and away from the table. Roberts looks. Vizzini swaps the goblets]
Man in Black: What? Where? I don't see anything.
Vizzini: Well, I- I could have sworn I saw something. No matter.First, let's drink. Me from my glass, and you from yours.
Man in Black, Vizzini: [Vizzini and the Man in Black drink ]
Man in Black: You guessed wrong.
Vizzini: You only think I guessed wrong! That's what's so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line"! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha...
Vizzini: [Vizzini stops suddenly,his smile frozen on his face and falls to the right out of camera dead]
Buttercup: And to think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned.
Man in Black: They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.

I've spent the last few years trying to build up an immunity to tard.  Hasn't worked so far.

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...after reviewing the arguments, I’m inclined to believe that the critics of ENCODE’s bold claim were mostly right, and that the proportion of our genome which is functional is probably between 10 and 20%.  --Vincent Torley, uncommondescent.com 1/1/2016

  
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,19:59   

"Free will" begs other questions, not the least of which being that "will" of any kind has a meaning amenable to being pinned down.

I wonder whether "willing" is to motor action as qualia are to sensory information: in essence, the sense of willing is the "qualia" of motor action. So in addition to stirring up problems vis determinism, willing is also intimately tied to the problem of consciousness.  

(Why anyone thinks that dualist ontologies solve any of these problems is beyond me.)

[one eeeny weeeny edit]

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
jswilkins



Posts: 50
Joined: June 2009

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2010,22:46   

Quote (CeilingCat @ Feb. 19 2010,10:02)
Haven't had a chance to read all of the postings yet, but I had to print this because it seems to appropriate to the discussion:

(From The Princess Bride)      
Quote
...
Buttercup: And to think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned.
Man in Black: They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.

I've spent the last few years trying to build up an immunity to tard.  Hasn't worked so far.

Sure it has. You can read it and retain functioning brain cells. That looks like an immunity to iocane^W tard to me.

But I'm from Australia, and as we know...

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Boldly staying where no man has stayed before.

   
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,05:02   

Daniel Dennet
Quote
"We're made, in fact, of trillions of mindless little robots, and they don't have free will. Not one of them knows or cares who we are," he said. "But we know, and we care. And the question is: How come? How can that happen?"

Dennett drew an analogy with another, difficult-to-define characteristic: "We can explain why things are alive even though their smallest parts aren't alive," he said. "Why couldn't we explain why something's free even though their parts aren't free?"
link

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,05:04   

Allen MacNeill offers a course on free will!

Quote
Some evolutionary biologists, notably William Provine of Cornell University, have followed Darwin’s lead and asserted that human free will is an illusion. Most philosophers disagree, asserting that free will is the principle difference between humans and non-human animals. Many Christian theologians go further, asserting that free will is the foundation of all human action, without which no rational ethics or theology is possible.
link

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,05:44   

Quote (Badger3k @ Feb. 18 2010,11:26)
Quote (Mark Frank @ Feb. 18 2010,13:20)
If you haven't done it already read Daniel Dennett on free will - particularly Freedom Evolves. He is a compatabilist and I think he is pretty much right.  We choose according to our desires which is quite compatible with our desires causing our choices.

But who chooses our desires?  

I do have Dennett on my list to read, but after trying to slog through Consciousness (Understood? - I forget) - it was way beyond my present understanding, and I kept getting caught by 'qualia' and the like.  Still have it, and mean to go back once I can follow the evidence and arguments better.

My problem is that every definition of Free Will that I have heard tends to be inadequate in one way or another, and the usefulness of the term is debatable for me.  I don't think we have what most people think of as free will, but I do agree that we have apparent free will, and (have to?) act as if we did.  I'm not sure it matters, although the debates can be fun.

freedom evolves is way better than consciousness explained.

However, if the word 'qualia' threw you in CE, then FE might not work for you either.

CE is a very odd argument in many ways. In it, he's taking huge offense to remarks made by a philosopher who's been dead several hundred years.

It makes a lot more sense if you retitle CE in your mind to "building consciousness", it doesn't explain it any more than a shop manual's schematic explains a vehicle.

But his freewill argument in freedom evolves is very good. If a system is chaotic enough, it might as well be random.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
midwifetoad



Posts: 3992
Joined: Mar. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,07:19   

Quote
free will is the foundation of all human action, without which no rational ethics or theology is possible.


Don't know anything about theology, but ethics is based on the consequenses of actions.

Any system, human, animal, machine that learns as a result of outcomes or consequenses can be bound by ethics.

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Any version of ID consistent with all the evidence is indistinguishable from evolution.

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,11:07   

BWE:
Quote
But his freewill argument in freedom evolves is very good. If a system is chaotic enough, it might as well be random.


Not familiar with Dennett's argument. What does "free" have to do with "random"?

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,11:36   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,11:07)
BWE:
 
Quote
But his freewill argument in freedom evolves is very good. If a system is chaotic enough, it might as well be random.


Not familiar with Dennett's argument. What does "free" have to do with "random"?

Joy is getting quite prolific at "the swamp". Didn't someone call for summary bannination at Telic Tards for such types?

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Alan Fox



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Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,11:43   

random= not predictable?

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,11:52   

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/illusion-free-will-14392.html

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
midwifetoad



Posts: 3992
Joined: Mar. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,12:04   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,11:07)
BWE:
 
Quote
But his freewill argument in freedom evolves is very good. If a system is chaotic enough, it might as well be random.


Not familiar with Dennett's argument. What does "free" have to do with "random"?

"Random" seems to have a lot in common with "designed."

If it looks like it, it is.

We certainly wouldn't want to test any claims regarding randomness.

--------------
Any version of ID consistent with all the evidence is indistinguishable from evolution.

  
Henry J



Posts: 4565
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,12:37   

If wills were free, lawyers wouldn't make any money helping people write them.

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,12:58   

Alan Fox:
 
Quote
random= not predictable?


That's what I'm suspecting. In the matter of conscious [free] will, I don't think it's valid.

In Richard's link [above] to the post on ScienceBlog, the author identifies the "real question" as being the identity of the agent. S/he then characterizes the position of the 'no free will' advocates as necessitating an external causal agent. Whereas a free will advocate would presume the agent is internal - the person who decided to move the highlighter across Richard's desk.

Just because a team of sci-spies couldn't predict Richard moving the highlighter across the desk, it doesn't mean his decision or action was 'random'. He moved it because he wanted to move it.

It's not the least bit farfetched that my consciousness is the agent of my thoughts and actions. Sure, those thoughts and actions may be in response to something I see, hear, taste, feel or smell (sensory data about exterior things, which my brain processes and analyzes), but that doesn't mean my responses are deterministically caused by the sensory data. I am under no obligation to think about or act on any incoming sensory data. I could as easily decide to act or not act about something I think up entirely de novo that is not based on processed sensory data from the outside. IOW, I could be writing a sci-fi novel or a letter to my mother or...

I can't figure out why anyone would want to deny the existence of consciousness and/or free will, as these things are self-evident even if science can't quantify them precisely. Maybe someday it will, but that won't make people's decisions more deterministic. That the sun appears in the east every morning, crosses the sky, and sets in the west before a similarly extended period of darkness ensues are self-evident facts. Humans - and scientists - have never attempted to assert that these self-evident facts aren't 'real' or don't actually exist, they've just come up with a number of explanations over the millennia to account for them.

But now, when the scientific project to quantify the nature and mechanisms of consciousness is taking off, we get a whole school of self-designated 'experts' trying to deny the existence of the self-evident phenomenon being investigated! Why?

The author frames it thusly:
 
Quote
Nothing we know about physics or chemistry allows for causes to be internal to a person in the sense that we mean when we say "free will". This makes many people feel that free will can only exist if there is a non-corporeal mind operating outside the constraints of physics."


It looks to me like it's the nay-sayers (Dennett, et al.) who are convinced that "free will" necessitates an outside consciousness as puppeteer. And they're so frightened of that [erroneous, IMO] conclusion that they're prepared to deny the existence of mind, consciousness and free will altogether. Yet by their own admission they've no minds, consciousness or free will to work with, why should anybody who does have mind, consciousness and will believe them?

Talk about 'Woo'!!!

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,13:07   

blatant quotemine ahead:

Quote
these things are self-evident even if science can't quantify them precisely.


Generally such notions are given short change 'round these parts.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,13:17   

Richardthughes:
Quote
Generally such notions are given short change 'round these parts.


So... am I to presume that you didn't move the highlighter because you decided to move the highlighter? That some exterior, disembodied mind forced you to move the highlighter? That you're just some ghost's puppet?

Huh. I just moved the gargoyle from on top of my computer to on top of the perpetual calendar. I did it because I decided to do it. No ghost required.

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,13:21   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,13:17)
Richardthughes:
 
Quote
Generally such notions are given short change 'round these parts.


So... am I to presume that you didn't move the highlighter because you decided to move the highlighter? That some exterior, disembodied mind forced you to move the highlighter? That you're just some ghost's puppet?

Huh. I just moved the gargoyle from on top of my computer to on top of the perpetual calendar. I did it because I decided to do it. No ghost required.

People fools themselves often with notions that seem to be 'self evident'. Some things are counter-intuitive. While we all use abductive reasoning daily, "having a feeling" wont cut it here. It goes down great on ID boards, though. Any fool can see... etc etc.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,13:29   

Richardthughes:
Quote
People fools themselves often with notions that seem to be 'self evident'.


Um... if you don't think consciousness is an actually existent phenomenon, what made you type that? And why do you think I should believe it?

Quote
Some things are counter-intuitive.


Yeah. But not the idea that consciousness exists and we are conscious agents. What's "counter-intuitive" here is the Occam-violating notion that some exterior conscious agent manipulates your body like a puppeteer for its own purposes. I'd like some real physical evidence of that. Along with some real physical evidence that physics and chemistry preclude interior agency. Thanks.

  
ppb



Posts: 325
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,13:33   

Quote (Henry J @ Feb. 19 2010,13:37)
If wills were free, lawyers wouldn't make any money helping people write them.

http://www.freewills.com/

--------------
"[A scientific theory] describes Nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiment. So I hope you can accept Nature as She is - absurd."
- Richard P. Feynman

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,13:46   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,13:29)
Richardthughes:
 
Quote
People fools themselves often with notions that seem to be 'self evident'.


Um... if you don't think consciousness is an actually existent phenomenon, what made you type that? And why do you think I should believe it?

 
Quote
Some things are counter-intuitive.


Yeah. But not the idea that consciousness exists and we are conscious agents. What's "counter-intuitive" here is the Occam-violating notion that some exterior conscious agent manipulates your body like a puppeteer for its own purposes. I'd like some real physical evidence of that. Along with some real physical evidence that physics and chemistry preclude interior agency. Thanks.

Joy, I'm not arguing for or against free will, simply suggesting that "it's self evident" is a non-starter ontologically.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,13:47   

Hi Richardthughes,
 
Quote (Richardthughes @ Feb. 19 2010,13:21)
People fools themselves often with notions that seem to be 'self evident'. Some things are counter-intuitive. While we all use abductive reasoning daily, "having a feeling" wont cut it here. It goes down great on ID boards, though. Any fool can see... etc etc.

Is it "self evident" that science gives you insight into reality?

Do you have a "feeling" that matter is more than just wavefunctions in the nothingness of space-time?

We all make leaps in logic.  We all have to start with metaphysical presumptions.  An example of a big one is that reality must be logically consistent.

Another big one is "I think, therefore I am".

Questions about Free Will challenges this assumption.

Which assumption do you hold most dear?

That you exist or that your logic isn't faulty?

Let me add my voice into saying Free Will doesn't automatically lead to dualism.  Quantum Consciousness may allow for dualism but doesn't require it.

Kind of like Evolution allows for no God but it doesn't require it.

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,14:54   

TP:
Quote
Let me add my voice into saying Free Will doesn't automatically lead to dualism.  Quantum Consciousness may allow for dualism but doesn't require it.

Kind of like Evolution allows for no God but it doesn't require it.


Yet we see a lot of argumentation from people who look to be quite terrified that science's built in limitations might allow someone to believe in both God and evolution. Obviously, that's not a problem for a great many people, regardless of what the fearful assert.

What I can't figure out is why the existence of consciousness and free will threatens the materialistic/physicalist worldview enough to make them insist their own consciousness and free will can't exist. As if such a ridiculous argument were somehow supposed to appear rational to conscious, rational people.

Seems to me it should be perfectly reasonable in a materialist/physicalist philosophy to hold that consciousness and its considerable degrees of freedom are generated internally - that the "I" doing the thinking and acting is the causal agent of the thinking and acting. What, other than their fear of someone else's ghosts, would necessitate a denial of their own consciousness? That's just plain... bizarre.

  
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,15:00   

In the other thread Heddle cited "moral culpability" as an example of the philosophical quagmire that results from an absence of free will.

I understand that without free will our ideas about moral culpability are invalid. But why does this have any bearing whatsoever on the nature, or existence of conscious or "free" will?

Does our need to feel righteous in our punishment of or assignment of blame to evil-doers have any bearing whatsoever on the free agency of the doer-of-evil?

(I'll remind you that punishment of "immoral" behavior is not limited to humans--many creatures we'd normally not think of as having conscious or free will do in fact punish cheaters, presumably without invoking notions of moral culpability.)

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,15:14   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,12:54)
Yet we see a lot of argumentation from people who look to be quite terrified that science's built in limitations might allow someone to believe in both God and evolution. Obviously, that's not a problem for a great many people, regardless of what the fearful assert.

What I can't figure out is why the existence of consciousness and free will threatens the materialistic/physicalist worldview enough to make them insist their own consciousness and free will can't exist. As if such a ridiculous argument were somehow supposed to appear rational to conscious, rational people.

Seems to me it should be perfectly reasonable in a materialist/physicalist philosophy to hold that consciousness and its considerable degrees of freedom are generated internally - that the "I" doing the thinking and acting is the causal agent of the thinking and acting. What, other than their fear of someone else's ghosts, would necessitate a denial of their own consciousness? That's just plain... bizarre.

You seem to feel comfortable ascribing motives and states-of-mind (terrified/fearful, threatened, insisting) to those who simply argue different points from those you accept.

Does this help advance the discussion, or does it move it more towards the kind of "culture war" argumentation that leads nowhere? Might it not be more fruitful to put forward an argument in favor of your position, rather than commenting on how bizarre you find the other viewpoint to be?

It might help to try to understand these viewpoints and the ACTUAL motivations behind them, rather than dismissing them all as pathological.

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
midwifetoad



Posts: 3992
Joined: Mar. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,15:27   

Quote
(I'll remind you that punishment of "immoral" behavior is not limited to humans--many creatures we'd normally not think of as having conscious or free will do in fact punish cheaters, presumably without invoking notions of moral culpability.)


Ethics and morality have social utility. The philosophy and theology of morality and ethics have very little utility.

When you drop all the philosophical baggage and concentrate on the utility of morality, you are free to invent and devise more effective and less draconian incentives for good behavior.

--------------
Any version of ID consistent with all the evidence is indistinguishable from evolution.

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,15:31   

Tom Ames:
Quote
I understand that without free will our ideas about moral culpability are invalid. But why does this have any bearing whatsoever on the nature, or existence of conscious or "free" will?


Well, it would pose the quandry of why it is humans believe they are responsible for their own actions, wouldn't it? Which has been "self-evident" to most humans since there have been humans, who are even capable of discerning when certain individuals are NOT responsible for their own actions [i.e., "insane"].

I do think that attaching the "moral" qualification is entirely sociopolitical, and dependent on whatever the cultural milieu collectively deems 'moral' or 'immoral'. In some human cultures historically it's not the least bit 'immoral' to eat other humans. Or to burn a woman alive because her husband died. I think you probably know of other egregious examples.

But the relative 'morality' of any given culture in any period of time doesn't magically determine whether or not self-consciousness and self-determination exist. It seems to me that all self-aware (conscious) humans who choose their actions - 'right' or 'wrong' in the culture's view - directly experience the existence of consciousness and self-determination. I would posit that any other self-aware organism directly experiences their own consciousness and degrees of freedom to act too.

  
bfish



Posts: 267
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,15:32   

Quote (Alan Fox @ Feb. 19 2010,03:04)
Allen MacNeill offers a course on free will!

 
Quote
[snip]Most philosophers disagree, asserting that free will is the principle difference between humans and non-human animals.
link

That sounds sort of species-ist  to me.

I have a video that I show to various groups of students and teachers that tour the lab I work in. It shows a pair of male Drosophila Melanogaster that have been selected for aggression over many generations. They are fighting over a spot of yeast which is apparently not big enough for the both of them. (In a perfect world, I would link the video to this song). They chase each other around, collide a few times, harass each other, and occasionally rear up on their hind legs and rassle. But the thing is, flies don't really have any means to actually hurt each other. The joust could go on forever. But eventually one fly chooses to fight another day. He runs off. The other chases him a small distance, then returns to his hard-earned yeast.

Now, you could argue, and reasonably so, that that fly's brain is just churning through algorithms until finally the output suggested "time to stop." But maybe he just decided, "screw it, I'll find some more yeast somewhere else." At any rate, I'm not sure why we would draw a free will dividing line between our behaviors and fly behaviors. And flies hardly have the most complicated behaviors in the non-human animal kingdom.

Here's a video that clearly was made in the same lab that made the video I show.

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,15:38   

Hi Tom Ames,
Quote (Tom Ames @ Feb. 19 2010,15:00)
...many creatures we'd normally not think of as having conscious or free will do in fact punish cheaters...


It is not my intent to jump on your comment here.  There appears to be many people who share this view.

I honestly do not understand it.  How can an animal make decisions and CHEAT yet have it be presumed it isn't conscious and/or doesn't have Free Will?

The only thing that makes any sense is that humans are so prejudice they discount everything that isn't human-like as being inherently inferior.  IOW, humans are "special".

EDIT - I see bfish beat me to it.  It sucks to have work get in the way.

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,15:39   

Consider gravity as a condition of existence so self-evident that myriad forms of life that evolved in this particular gravity field 'know' it directly without ever having any knowledge or understanding of Newton or Einstein. The squirrel who does such hilarious gymnastics on the far tiny branches of the dogwood outside my window to get at the ripe berries 'knows' all about gravity. The raven that just flew from the garden fence to the top of a tree on top of the knob 'knows' gravity intimately. That gravity even needed quantification in the first place is something only humans could have decided was "important," and only after somebody asked himself 'what' it was and decided to define it. Until then, nobody asked because nobody thought to ask. Gravity just *is*.

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,15:44   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,15:39)
Consider gravity as a condition of existence so self-evident that myriad forms of life that evolved in this particular gravity field 'know' it directly without ever having any knowledge or understanding of Newton or Einstein. The squirrel who does such hilarious gymnastics on the far tiny branches of the dogwood outside my window to get at the ripe berries 'knows' all about gravity. The raven that just flew from the garden fence to the top of a tree on top of the knob 'knows' gravity intimately. That gravity even needed quantification in the first place is something only humans could have decided was "important," and only after somebody asked himself 'what' it was and decided to define it. Until then, nobody asked because nobody thought to ask. Gravity just *is*.

And the guy spinning the outer arm of a large space station knows what gravity is... except it is centripetal acceleration.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,15:47   

Tom Ames:
Quote
It might help to try to understand these viewpoints and the ACTUAL motivations behind them, rather than dismissing them all as pathological.


And what is the viewpoint and motivation of someone who insists his/her own consciousness doesn't exist? And if I were to accept that their consciousness doesn't exist, why should I believe they've got any viewpoint or motivation?

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,15:49   

Hi Richardthughes,
 
Quote (Richardthughes @ Feb. 19 2010,15:44)
And the guy spinning the outer arm of a large space station knows what gravity is... except it is centripetal acceleration.


However, since space-time is curved the only diffence is one is moving in the space dimension and the other in the time dimension.

Making it essentially the same thing.  ;)

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,15:57   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,15:47)
Tom Ames:
 
Quote
It might help to try to understand these viewpoints and the ACTUAL motivations behind them, rather than dismissing them all as pathological.


And what is the viewpoint and motivation of someone who insists his/her own consciousness doesn't exist? And if I were to accept that their consciousness doesn't exist, why should I believe they've got any viewpoint or motivation?

And if no god...where does morality come from!!!!1111oneoneeleventy

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,16:00   

Richardthughes:
Quote
And the guy spinning the outer arm of a large space station knows what gravity is... except it is centripetal acceleration.


Yup. Just look at how much we've been able to do for fun since defining gravity! But what does that have to do with a squirrel or a raven and THEIR 'knowledge' of gravity from direct experience? I hardly think it's valid to suggest that because a squirrel can't launch itself into space and produce a synthetic gravitational effect while out in space, it must mean the squirrel has no innate 'knowledge' of gravity. Have you ever seen a squirrel examine the treetop terrain and then launch itself from one branch of a tree to another branch on a different tree? I'm pretty sure it's figuring out whether or not it can make the leap without ending up dead on the ground.

In other matters squirrels are not so bright. Like when to run across the road, a situation that doesn't end well for an awful lot of Kamikazi squirrels... §;o)

  
keiths



Posts: 2041
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,16:12   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 19 2010,13:49)
Hi Richardthughes,
Quote (Richardthughes @ Feb. 19 2010,15:44)
And the guy spinning the outer arm of a large space station knows what gravity is... except it is centripetal acceleration.

However, since space-time is curved the only diffence is one is moving in the space dimension and the other in the time dimension.

Making it essentially the same thing.  ;)

No, both are moving through both time and space.

I think what you were trying to say is that acceleration is indistinguishable from gravity under the theory of general relativity.

--------------
And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number.  -- Joe G

Please stop putting words into my mouth that don't belong there and thoughts into my mind that don't belong there. -- KF

  
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,16:15   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 19 2010,13:38)
Hi Tom Ames,
 
Quote (Tom Ames @ Feb. 19 2010,15:00)
...many creatures we'd normally not think of as having conscious or free will do in fact punish cheaters...


It is not my intent to jump on your comment here.  There appears to be many people who share this view.

I honestly do not understand it.  How can an animal make decisions and CHEAT yet have it be presumed it isn't conscious and/or doesn't have Free Will?

The only thing that makes any sense is that humans are so prejudice they discount everything that isn't human-like as being inherently inferior.  IOW, humans are "special".

EDIT - I see bfish beat me to it.  It sucks to have work get in the way.

Hi TP,

If you define "cheating" operationally, no invocation of free will is necessary. One definition might come from game theory: cheating is the behavior that, if adopted by all would result in an equilibrium that would be disadvantageous to all.

As a society we may lock up psychopaths because they are dangerous, or because we have some sense that we are applying justice via punishment. Whatever we think our motivations are, this has no bearing on whether the psychopath has free agency.

Also: this thread is suffering a bit from a conflation between two distinct concepts. The first is consciousness, as in conscious awareness of oneself and one's environment. The other is conscious will, as in the ability to effect some outcome within or without oneself. These are not the same ideas. I could be an automaton in my actions, and yet be fully aware of my actions.

In some cases, this literally happens, even to humans: we act in ways that we don't expect or make "choices" that we don't feel are ours. Wegner (see "The Illusion of Conscious Will") has examples suggesting that many more of our actions follow this pattern than we might think.

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Joy



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Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,16:20   

Richardthughes:
   
Quote
And if no god...where does morality come from!!!!1111oneoneeleventy


What is that supposed to mean? I consider myself to be a self-conscious agent with a certain amount of freedom to choose my actions. That is what I directly experience myself to be.

So anyone who tells me I cannot be a self-conscious agent with a certain amount of freedom to choose my actions must provide some evidence of that, and it better be darned good evidence - i.e., NOT just their personal philosophy and metaphysics. Since their personal philosophy and metaphysics is of exactly zip importance to me or to science.

Conversely, my self-conscious self sees absolutely no point in trying to convince someone else that they are a self-conscious agent if they honestly don't believe so. For all I know, they might be a Zombie. All I can know for sure is that I'm not. FAPP.

  
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,16:23   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,13:31)
But the relative 'morality' of any given culture in any period of time doesn't magically determine whether or not self-consciousness and self-determination exist. It seems to me that all self-aware (conscious) humans who choose their actions - 'right' or 'wrong' in the culture's view - directly experience the existence of consciousness and self-determination.

I agree with your first sentence. But I think your second sentence essentially says: "All conscious beings who choose their actions experience choice", which to me sounds circular. Furthermore, it elides the differences between consciousness (as awareness) and agency or self-determination (see my post above).

We may be fully conscious and self aware and it STILL may be the case that free will is an illusion.

(And as you say, moral culpability is irrelevant to that question.)

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,16:26   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,16:20)
I consider myself to be a self-conscious agent with a certain amount of freedom to choose my actions. That is what I directly experience myself to be.

No one is suggesting you don't feel that. I think some postulate 'the illusion of free will'.

If free will is non-deterministic, does it have to be supernatural?

Lots of folks like this because you can get freewill = god with a bit of jiggery pokery. But you might just have a Chinese room in your noggin.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Tom Ames



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,16:47   

One problem with discussing free will is the eventual emergence of the "self-evidence" gambit. It's claimed that the reality of free will (definition unexplored) is self-evident from the fact that we're asking the question.

Not only is this a conversation-stopper, it ignores the fact that many things that are "self-evident" (the perfection of the celestial sphere, to give one example) are also WRONG.

At its best, science is a discipline for asking questions about things even (or maybe especially) if the answers are "self-evident".

Am I deliberately typing this sentence and am I conscious of doing so? It seems self-evident to me that I am. But "self-evidence" is not evidence at all. Instead, it's a technique for ending further probing, before the questions get too distressing.

(Closely akin to "self-evidence" is the theological concept of "natural law" which, as far as I can tell, is simply a fancy way of saying "shut up and do what I tell you to.")

Edited by Tom Ames on Feb. 19 2010,14:47

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Joy



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Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,16:56   

Tom Ames:
 
Quote
Also: this thread is suffering a bit from a conflation between two distinct concepts. The first is consciousness, as in conscious awareness of oneself and one's environment. The other is conscious will, as in the ability to effect some outcome within or without oneself. These are not the same ideas. I could be an automaton in my actions, and yet be fully aware of my actions.


The conflation of consciousness itself with free agency is the result of the ongoing scientific effort to define and quantify consciousness, and the fact that this quest has drawn the attention of some philosophers who insist that neither of these things exist in reality. So we shouldn't be trying to define and quantify it. IOW, the subject of free choice presupposes the existence of self-consciousness, and consciousness itself. If consciousness doesn't exist - is an illusion - then the question of whether or not our will enjoys degrees of freedom is irrelevant. If consciousness does exist, then the question is relevant.

Deal is, free agency is a subdivision of consciousness - a single quality. I think everybody here acknowledges that we don't enjoy all that much freedom of action, given the various limitations of our form and abilities, as well as behavioral programming we've learned and assimilated during our lives in time. We know we can't [rationally, normally] choose to fly off the top of a tall building. But I've met more than a few toddlers who were absolutely convinced that if they just tried hard enough, they could fly.

Learning our limitations is evidence of self-consciousness. Limitations affect our freedom of action (and options of choice), but limited options doesn't mean our choices aren't free. Quite a few people trapped in the upper floors of the Twin Towers on 9-11 chose to fly, even knowing very well they'd be flying to their death. None of them could have known the building would later implode and wipe out all physical evidence of their existence, so "leaving a corpse to bury" is an unlikely motivation [I think they just chose how they would die]. How was their choice to fly not free?

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,17:06   

Richardthughes:
Quote
If free will is non-deterministic, does it have to be supernatural?


Of course not. Unless I consider myself to be supernatural. But that would be pretty hard, since while I don't actually remember being born in the usual way, I was assured by my parents that I indeed was born just like other people are born. They offered a birth certificate as evidence of that. And while there are some people out there who don't believe that a birth certificate is good evidence of birth, I'm not one of 'em. If people are natural organisms, then so am I.

And because I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that I am a natural organism (classified: Human) who got here in a natural way, I am inclined to believe that my consciousness is as natural as I am. If I were thinking thoughts and doing things that I did not recognize as originating in myself, then I'd be seeking medical care. Or a tin foil hat to keep 'em out. Or maybe an exorcist!

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,17:21   

Hi Tom,

At least one thing has gotten cleared up.  It isn't that you think humans are conscious and have free will but animals don't, you are arguing there isn't such a thing as consciousness and/or free will.

Or at least there is insufficient empirical evidence to support the claim.

This takes us back to the basic metaphysical assumptions.

I suggest you have the following assumptions...

1. reality in inherently logical.

2. there is only one reality

3. science is an instrument by which the one and only reality can be known


Not everyone makes these assumptions.  For example...

1. My reality is what I understand reality to be

2. Other people can, and do, understand things differently than I do

3. Science is like a game with rules.  It is a helpful tool in generating commonality between different people's realities.



The only thing I KNOW is real are my thoughts.

My body may be a Matrix-like illusion.  You all may be in on a wide conspiracy to test my resolve.

I continue to play by the science game rules because they have been helpful in assisting me in creating my reality.  My presumption that others are like me is also helpful as long as I guard against letting them do my thinking for me.

Because if I no longer understand what and why I think what I do, I am no longer me.

While this is hyperbole, it gets to the crux of the problem.  If everything we think is an illusion, then reality is an illusion for all practical purposes.

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,17:23   

"where consciousness is concerned, the existence of the appearance is the reality." - John Searle.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,17:24   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,17:06)
Of course not.... [snip]

So nature, operating alone could make consciousness?

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Albatrossity2



Posts: 2780
Joined: Mar. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,17:24   

I'm sticking with my definition
 
Quote
Free will is a theological construction invoked to explain behaviors which have a perfectly acceptable natural explanation.

and I'm still waiting for heddle to tell me how moving a highlighter across a desk, or taking a sip of coffee can be accomplished by predetermination or coercion that does not involve a supernatural explanation.

--------------
Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

   
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,17:25   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,14:56)
IOW, the subject of free choice presupposes the existence of self-consciousness, and consciousness itself. If consciousness doesn't exist - is an illusion - then the question of whether or not our will enjoys degrees of freedom is irrelevant. If consciousness does exist, then the question is relevant.

I agree. But quite often when the question is asked "does free will exist?" the respondent will answer as if the question is "does consciousness exist?"

They are, as you say, related, but they're not the same. We can't imagine having free will without consciousness. However, consciousness does not imply free will.

I interpret most of the discussion here to be an exploration of the extent to which we exert free will, if indeed we exert any.

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,17:56   

Tom Ames:
Quote
I interpret most of the discussion here to be an exploration of the extent to which we exert free will, if indeed we exert any.


I'd suggest that the discussion here is itself evidence of free will by all the participants. It seems highly doubtful to me that some disembodied spirits are using us all to have their own discussion of a subject they probably already know about. What would be the point of that?

My grandson just informed me I've been 'volunteered' for a game of Monopoly this evening. I hate Monopoly, almost as much as I hate Risk. Because I never win, and it's no fun to play a game you never win. Now, I'll probably have to play anyway, but not because "I" volunteered myself or because it was my idea. And surely not because I desire to play Monopoly (Star Wars version). But because my grandsons are wanting to play and they need somebody willing to count out the money and keep up with the deeds. How "free" a choice is it? We'll see after I field my alternative suggestion of playing War On Terror instead...

I don't know if you noticed my "FAPP" closing to the 16:20 post, iterated again later by TP in his 17:21 post. "For All Practical Purposes."

It may well be that we're completely wrong about the nature of space-time, matter/energy, and existence itself. I am aware of some of the strangest directions that current physical theory could take us in, and am personally quite thankful that most scientists avoid that sort of speculation wherever possible. I see this whole bruhaha about the existence or non-existence of consciousness and free will as just another of the speculative tangents that can be argued from the science, but are much better left to stew in their own juices.

For All Practical Purposes of existence here in 4-D space-time, we are conscious agents with certain degrees of freedom of choice and will. Unless we are suffering some organic issue that renders us unable to exercise such things, we should properly operate as if we do enjoy these things. Evolution obviously designed us so (no matter who did or didn't design evolution). I presume there is survival value in experiencing ourselves as conscious agents with free will.

Worse, that makes my belief in consciousness and free will perfectly natural. §;o)

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,18:12   

Quote (Tom Ames @ Feb. 19 2010,17:47)
One problem with discussing free will is the eventual emergence of the "self-evidence" gambit. It's claimed that the reality of free will (definition unexplored) is self-evident from the fact that we're asking the question.

Not only is this a conversation-stopper, it ignores the fact that many things that are "self-evident" (the perfection of the celestial sphere, to give one example) are also WRONG.

I believe Rich was making just this point, which Joy missed spectacularly.

--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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Joy



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,18:21   

Lou:
Quote
I believe Rich was making just this point, which Joy missed spectacularly.


"Point" being [Tom Ames]:
Quote
Not only is this a conversation-stopper, it ignores the fact that many things that are "self-evident" (the perfection of the celestial sphere, to give one example) are also WRONG.


Well, since I never believed in anything resembling "the perfection of the celestial sphere," I wouldn't consider that notion to be "self-evident." At least, not as self-evident to me as my self is. Nor would I expect you to externalize what is to be self-evident either, since the only thing that can be self-evident to you is your direct experience of reality. You don't experience a "perfect celestial sphere." Do you?

  
rhmc



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,18:23   

SWING....and a miss

  
Joy



Posts: 188
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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,18:31   

rhmc...

I don't know why, but every time I see your moniker I think of Dudley Dooright. With a big-brimmed hat, riding a moose...

No, "rhmc" isn't "rcmp." But I just can't help myself... is that some disembodied spirit (who used to be a clown) taking over my mind?

  
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,18:40   

Quote (rhmc @ Feb. 19 2010,19:23)
SWING....and a miss

Fortunately, this isn't baseball.

--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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Joy



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,18:46   

Okay, just consider that "perfect celestial sphere" for a moment. Let's simplify it to "the earth is flat." Since what passed for human science once believed these things self-evident.

Is it self-evident that the earth rotates, and revolves around the sun? Or is it self-evident that we have day/night cycles and seasons? I'd say the latter is self-evident, since most people experience day/night and seasons where they exist, directly. The stories we invent from our minds to explain what is self-evident changes with our level of psychological sophistication and the extended range of (invented) tools at our disposal.

Yes, the information comes in via sensory (or expanded technological) data our brains process and analyze, but processed data is all we have for the purpose of experiencing the exterior world. We need nothing more than a mind to experience our 'selves'. Which I posit must then be the most self-evident phenomenon we ever get to 'know' for sure.

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,18:49   

As if I could resist, and as if you couldn't see it coming...

Quote
The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they'd a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.

"Phin"


--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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Tom Ames



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,19:01   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,16:46)
Okay, just consider that "perfect celestial sphere" for a moment. Let's simplify it to "the earth is flat." Since what passed for human science once believed these things self-evident.

Is it self-evident that the earth rotates, and revolves around the sun? Or is it self-evident that we have day/night cycles and seasons? I'd say the latter is self-evident, since most people experience day/night and seasons where they exist, directly. The stories we invent from our minds to explain what is self-evident changes with our level of psychological sophistication and the extended range of (invented) tools at our disposal.

Yes, the information comes in via sensory (or expanded technological) data our brains process and analyze, but processed data is all we have for the purpose of experiencing the exterior world. We need nothing more than a mind to experience our 'selves'. Which I posit must then be the most self-evident phenomenon we ever get to 'know' for sure.

Let's please not get caught up in the detail of my example. My point was simply that a claim of self-evidence is not sufficient warrant for belief.

BTW, I don't believe that the earth rotates because it's "self-evident". I believe it because there is actual evidence that it rotates, and because the balance of that evidence outweighs the "self-evidence" of a stationary earth.

Similarly, I see this discussion as a plea for EVIDENCE of free will, rather than claims that the existence of free will is "self-evident".

I know that unconscious will exists--we all engage in this all of the time. What I'd like to know is whether or not free will, in the sense of consciously decided initiation of an action, also exists, or if it's simply an illusion.

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,19:19   

Tom Ames:
 
Quote
Let's please not get caught up in the detail of my example. My point was simply that a claim of self-evidence is not sufficient warrant for belief.


The simple claim, of course. Lots of things we believe are "self-evident" are no such thing. Consciousness isn't one of them, IMO.

 
Quote
BTW, I don't believe that the earth rotates because it's "self-evident". I believe it because there is actual evidence that it rotates, and because the balance of that evidence outweighs the "self-evidence" of a stationary earth.


But my point is that you personally do not directly experience the earth's rotation. You believe it rotates because you believe the extended technological evidence that it rotates. FWIW, so do I.

A "stationary earth" is not self-evident and never was. What WAS evident, and no doubt contributed to the misconception that the sun orbited the earth, is that lots of people were [relatively] stationary on the earth.

 
Quote
Similarly, I see this discussion as a plea for EVIDENCE of free will, rather than claims that the existence of free will is "self-evident".


Evidence is present in the fact that I am still here and not playing Star Wars Monopoly with my grandsons. I'd go ahead and accept your presence as evidence of your freedom of will.

 
Quote
I know that unconscious will exists--we all engage in this all of the time. What I'd like to know is whether or not free will, in the sense of consciously decided initiation of an action, also exists, or if it's simply an illusion.


What qualifies as "unconscious will?" Automatic, unconscious levels of my consciousness keep my heart beating, but is that really a will, or just a function?

And if you think unconscious will is an actual phenomenon, doesn't it then follow that conscious will is an actual phenomenon? And if it's an actual phenomenon, why does it not enjoy some degrees of freedom?

  
rhmc



Posts: 340
Joined: Dec. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,19:22   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,19:31)
rhmc...

I don't know why, but every time I see your moniker I think of Dudley Dooright. With a big-brimmed hat, riding a moose...

No, "rhmc" isn't "rcmp." But I just can't help myself... is that some disembodied spirit (who used to be a clown) taking over my mind?

you may think of me as "who IS right" rather than dudley do right.

(as an aside, to me the name Dudley brings to mind Dudley Morton, known to many as "Deadly Dudley")

personally, i tend to agree with Tracy P. Hamilton in "I have not read philosophy (translation: bullshit) on free will, but most of the intarweb arguments are looking at the matter from the wrong perspective."

your blatherings have not changed my view.

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,19:24   

Hi Tom,

Ok, I'll bite.

What would constitute evidence of free will?

The ability to think and act illogically?

An aversion to constantly responding the same way to the same stimulus and acting on it?  (getting out of the rut)

An inability to falsify the hypothesis with even a simple example of Artificial Intelligence?

I suspect you are requesting evidence of a mechanism.

Predictably, I am going to suggest evidence exists for macro expressions of quantum effects in living entities.

Furthermore, I suggest that Quantum Mechanics is the only known mechanism where two mutually exclusive "realities" can exist at the same time (quantum superposition).

If Free Will exists, it has to be able to be illogical, otherwise it would be deterministic and algorithmic and, therefore, not "free".

I suggest there is plenty of evidence of life thinking and acting illogically.  Quantum Physics would be the obvious source for non-deterministic yet non-random effects.

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,19:26   

rhmc:
Quote
your blatherings have not changed my view.


I may well be blathering. Seems to be something my consciousness is good at. But now I've just gotta ask...

What is your view?

  
rhmc



Posts: 340
Joined: Dec. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,19:29   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,20:26)
rhmc:
 
Quote
your blatherings have not changed my view.


I may well be blathering. Seems to be something my consciousness is good at. But now I've just gotta ask...

What is your view?

i am not here to educate your ilk.

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,19:39   

rhmc:
 
Quote
am not here to educate your ilk.


LOL!!!!! Wow. Now a question about what you believe requires an "education?" Because what you personally believe must be the 'correct' view? That's positively discussion-ending!

I guess the rest of us will just have to carry on without your great junior-godling level wisdom and knowledge, then. S'alright by me.

BTW, did you intend "ilk" to designate "family," "class" or "kind?" I don't know about you, but I am human. Homo Sapien Sapien. What are you? [rhetorical question, don't bother]

  
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,19:56   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 19 2010,17:24)
What would constitute evidence of free will?

I don't know what such evidence would look like. There is copious evidence for non-conscious or automatic action, though. Which makes me think that free will, even if true, should not simply be accepted as a given. Even if it makes us feel good to believe in it.

It's a lot like god, actually.

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,20:02   

Tom Ames to TP:
Quote
It's a lot like god, actually.


Why isn't it a lot like self?

  
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,20:06   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 19 2010,17:24)

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 19 2010,17:24)
Furthermore, I suggest that Quantum Mechanics is the only known mechanism where two mutually exclusive "realities" can exist at the same time (quantum superposition).


When someone can make this into a coherent argument, and not merely deploy the phrase "quantum mechanics" and implying a self-evident connection, then I'll pay attention. Roger Penrose is a hell of a lot smarter than I am, but that doesn't mean he's immune to handwaving. Or that he knows anything about cell biology.

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 19 2010,17:24)
If Free Will exists, it has to be able to be illogical, otherwise it would be deterministic and algorithmic and, therefore, not "free".


Why is this necessarily so? Shouldn't a freely acting agent be able to choose a logical, algorithmic course of action?

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,20:10   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,18:02)
Tom Ames to TP:
 
Quote
It's a lot like god, actually.


Why isn't it a lot like self?

Well, because I have personal experience of my self. And it's pretty compelling, too, even if it is an illusion.

It might be like your-self, though, which I'm accepting on faith as existing in a form beyond the mere ordering of pixels shaped into words on a monitor.

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,20:22   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,17:19)

Quote

What qualifies as "unconscious will?" Automatic, unconscious levels of my consciousness keep my heart beating, but is that really a will, or just a function?


We quite frequently do things without conscious initiation of the casual chain. I just now turned and looked out the window of my office--an action for which there was no conscious intent. When I see a pedestrian in a crosswalk, I step on the brake pedal. When I see my daughters I hug them.

I can offer a post-hoc rationalization that those actions are what I decided to do, but in all honesty there was no conscious initiating act. Maybe these are just "functions" like a heartbeat, except that they're fairly complex and learned.

There have been some elegant experiments suggesting that, as in dreams, we can "backfill" our memories to make it seem like we initiated these actions. It's really staggering how much we project retrospective accounts of agency onto events over which we can have had no control.

Quote

And if you think unconscious will is an actual phenomenon, doesn't it then follow that conscious will is an actual phenomenon?


I don't see how that necessarily follows, except semantically.

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,20:32   

Tom Ames:
Quote
Or that he knows anything about cell biology.


Actually, he [Roger Penrose] didn't have to. His OR model pertained to the 'cosmos', what collapses wavefunction where no observers are observing (that we know of). For the Orch-OR model, the biological application came from Stuart Hameroff, M.D. A professor of anesthesiology at UA who did quite extensive research in the past on the effects and mechanisms of anesthetic agents in the suppression of consciousness.

I suspect that someone for whom the suppression and restoration of consciousness is a routine daily activity qualifies as an 'expert' on the phenomenon. At least, on how chemicals work to suppress consciousness and the specific cellular constructs they act upon to accomplish that.

Quote
Shouldn't a freely acting agent be able to choose a logical, algorithmic course of action?


Of course. The point is that they don't always do so. If they did, it would indicate the presence of an automaton/Zombie.

Quote
I don't see how that necessarily follows, except semantically.


Now I'm confused. Are you saying that unconscious will is conscious will, or that unconscious will is an illusion too?

Caveat, I don't believe unconscious will exists. That's just behaviorisms set up by our sociocultural imprinting and habits. I would posit "will" firmly in the realm of the conscious.

  
jswilkins



Posts: 50
Joined: June 2009

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,20:40   

Isn't ilk a kind of ruminant that one may only hunt in a specific season?

"Be vewy vewy qwiet. I'm ilk hunting..."

--------------
Boldly staying where no man has stayed before.

   
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,20:48   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,18:32)

I suspect that someone for whom the suppression and restoration of consciousness is a routine daily activity qualifies as an 'expert' on the phenomenon. At least, on how chemicals work to suppress consciousness and the specific cellular constructs they act upon to accomplish that.


To reiterate: consciousness and "free will" are not the same thing. (And understanding the practical application of anesthetic does NOT, I believe, impart any special understanding of the nature of free will.)

 
Quote

Now I'm confused. Are you saying that unconscious will is conscious will, or that unconscious will is an illusion too?


I thought you were saying that the presence of unconscious will (or, if you prefer, action that is initiated without conscious thought) necessarily implies the existence of conscious will. I don't think that follows.

Edited by Tom Ames on Feb. 19 2010,18:49

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-Tom Ames

  
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,20:50   

Quote (jswilkins @ Feb. 19 2010,18:40)
Isn't ilk a kind of ruminant that one may only hunt in a specific season?

"Be vewy vewy qwiet. I'm ilk hunting..."

You're thinking of "wilks". (Although aren't these a kind of mollusk?)

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,20:54   

Tom Ames:
Quote
I thought you were saying that the presence of unconscious will (or, if you prefer, action that is initiated without conscious thought) necessarily implies the existence of conscious will. I don't think that follows.


Well, since it's our consciousness doing the communicating and formulating of questions/responses, I'd suggest it's a moot point.

  
rhmc



Posts: 340
Joined: Dec. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,21:07   

i've herd of that shell game

  
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,21:21   

At some point, the Mighty Casey had the good grace to gtfo the batter's box.

--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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NSFW photography

   
rhmc



Posts: 340
Joined: Dec. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,21:23   

of his own free will or due to the rules of the game?

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,21:25   

I suspect it was self-awareness, or possibly shame.

--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

Work-friendly photography
NSFW photography

   
rhmc



Posts: 340
Joined: Dec. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,21:35   

suspicions....

  
jswilkins



Posts: 50
Joined: June 2009

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,21:47   

Quote (Tom Ames @ Feb. 20 2010,11:50)
Quote (jswilkins @ Feb. 19 2010,18:40)
Isn't ilk a kind of ruminant that one may only hunt in a specific season?

"Be vewy vewy qwiet. I'm ilk hunting..."

You're thinking of "wilks". (Although aren't these a kind of mollusk?)

No, I think they are "winks", diminutive "winkle". As in "She gave us all a winkle, so we made her President".

--------------
Boldly staying where no man has stayed before.

   
Badger3k



Posts: 861
Joined: Mar. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,00:38   

Quote (jswilkins @ Feb. 19 2010,20:40)
Isn't ilk a kind of ruminant that one may only hunt in a specific season?

"Be vewy vewy qwiet. I'm ilk hunting..."

My Grandmother was bitten by an Ilk once, or was it a Moot?

--------------
"Just think if every species had a different genetic code We would have to eat other humans to survive.." : Joe G

  
Badger3k



Posts: 861
Joined: Mar. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,00:41   

Quote (jswilkins @ Feb. 19 2010,21:47)
Quote (Tom Ames @ Feb. 20 2010,11:50)
Quote (jswilkins @ Feb. 19 2010,18:40)
Isn't ilk a kind of ruminant that one may only hunt in a specific season?

"Be vewy vewy qwiet. I'm ilk hunting..."

You're thinking of "wilks". (Although aren't these a kind of mollusk?)

No, I think they are "winks", diminutive "winkle". As in "She gave us all a winkle, so we made her President".

I thought Winkles were a cross-breed of Tinkles and Twinkies?

Nah, that's a Twinkle.

Of course, it is suspicious that a discussion of "wilks" gets sidetracked by an individual named jsWILKins - hmm!!!!  I smell Illuminati!

--------------
"Just think if every species had a different genetic code We would have to eat other humans to survive.." : Joe G

  
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,02:01   

Quote (Badger3k @ Feb. 19 2010,22:38)
Quote (jswilkins @ Feb. 19 2010,20:40)
Isn't ilk a kind of ruminant that one may only hunt in a specific season?

"Be vewy vewy qwiet. I'm ilk hunting..."

My Grandmother was bitten by an Ilk once, or was it a Moot?

A Møøt once bit my sister, I think is what you meant.

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,02:06   

I have to wonder if Wilkins showing up to make silly jokes is his way of politely telling me to stop embarrassing myself talking about free will.

Anyone up for a game of Mornington Crescent? I'll start: Gresham College.

Edited by Tom Ames on Feb. 20 2010,00:09

--------------
-Tom Ames

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,03:14   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,10:58)
Alan Fox:
 
Quote
random= not predictable?


That's what I'm suspecting. In the matter of conscious [free] will, I don't think it's valid.

In Richard's link [above] to the post on ScienceBlog, the author identifies the "real question" as being the identity of the agent. S/he then characterizes the position of the 'no free will' advocates as necessitating an external causal agent. Whereas a free will advocate would presume the agent is internal - the person who decided to move the highlighter across Richard's desk.

Just because a team of sci-spies couldn't predict Richard moving the highlighter across the desk, it doesn't mean his decision or action was 'random'. He moved it because he wanted to move it.

It's not the least bit farfetched that my consciousness is the agent of my thoughts and actions. Sure, those thoughts and actions may be in response to something I see, hear, taste, feel or smell (sensory data about exterior things, which my brain processes and analyzes), but that doesn't mean my responses are deterministically caused by the sensory data. I am under no obligation to think about or act on any incoming sensory data. I could as easily decide to act or not act about something I think up entirely de novo that is not based on processed sensory data from the outside. IOW, I could be writing a sci-fi novel or a letter to my mother or...

I can't figure out why anyone would want to deny the existence of consciousness and/or free will, as these things are self-evident even if science can't quantify them precisely. Maybe someday it will, but that won't make people's decisions more deterministic. That the sun appears in the east every morning, crosses the sky, and sets in the west before a similarly extended period of darkness ensues are self-evident facts. Humans - and scientists - have never attempted to assert that these self-evident facts aren't 'real' or don't actually exist, they've just come up with a number of explanations over the millennia to account for them.

But now, when the scientific project to quantify the nature and mechanisms of consciousness is taking off, we get a whole school of self-designated 'experts' trying to deny the existence of the self-evident phenomenon being investigated! Why?

The author frames it thusly:
 
Quote
Nothing we know about physics or chemistry allows for causes to be internal to a person in the sense that we mean when we say "free will". This makes many people feel that free will can only exist if there is a non-corporeal mind operating outside the constraints of physics."


It looks to me like it's the nay-sayers (Dennett, et al.) who are convinced that "free will" necessitates an outside consciousness as puppeteer. And they're so frightened of that [erroneous, IMO] conclusion that they're prepared to deny the existence of mind, consciousness and free will altogether. Yet by their own admission they've no minds, consciousness or free will to work with, why should anybody who does have mind, consciousness and will believe them?

Talk about 'Woo'!!!

Hi Joy, I don't believe we've met. I'm BWE. This is a nice essay. As much as I generally dislike Dennett's form of framing his questions using his axioms as fundamental units of 'reality' - for example in consciousness explained when he describes the fireworks example or shakey the computer if you are familiar with that book - in Freedom Evolves he makes a very very good argument for a rigorous definition of the idea that we use when we talk about free-will. And he does not conclude what you appear to think he concludes. It's actually kind of touching and elegant and he doesn't say we don't have it. In fact he says we do. He just forces some meaning onto the idea. As a religious term is literally means nothing at all other than as the answer to our old friend Epicurus' question of explaining evil.

The definition was, until dennett really although he borrows from lots of people (Louis could tell you more about who), literally "The answer to the problem of evil." We can choose. Therefore we are not able to be protected by god or whatever.

Dennett actually goes on to propose a system whereby it actually means something to choose and why it really is free-will in the functional sense even when you boil it down to it's salts and proteins and pineal glands or what have you.

He may poke a little fun at people who take themselves too seriously but if it makes you feel better, he takes himself too seriously usually too so you are probably welcome to poke back.

When you do, tell them it's Quine's fault. He'll know what you mean.

Anyway, it's a very moving book and you would probably really like it judging by your well-formed sentences in your post. The agent part is relatively consistent but not necessarily with action. It turns out the parts have an awful lot of autonomy. But that isn't a negative really.

It is ignorant to say consciousness is the brain or the senses. If you are arguing with these guys about it I'll help you out because they should know better. You should red the book. It's very good in places.

Again, it's a pleasure to virtually meet you.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,03:32   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 19 2010,17:24)
Furthermore, I suggest that Quantum Mechanics is the only known mechanism where two mutually exclusive "realities" can exist at the same time (quantum superposition).


But wait... Isn't that exactly what they don't do is exist in multiple realities at the same time? I thought that you had to choose whether you want to look at them in space (position) or time (momentum) and that the reason you couldn't get both is because they don't do both simultaneously.
I'm probably wrong. I just learned Schroedinger's equations and Feynman diagrams last year and I'm miss-applying them all over the place,

But I met Freeman Dyson just a couple months ago. (well, he said hello and signed a book. And he's pretty darn old so he might not remember. There a few hundred other people there too.) He gave a dialog style lecture that was all over the mental map. whew. The man can do some serious pretending to be senile. But he really is brilliant if not orthodox or right. He doesn't care. That's what I like about him.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,03:36   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 19 2010,18:32)
Tom Ames:
 
Quote
Or that he knows anything about cell biology.


Actually, he [Roger Penrose] didn't have to. His OR model pertained to the 'cosmos', what collapses wavefunction where no observers are observing (that we know of). For the Orch-OR model, the biological application came from Stuart Hameroff, M.D. A professor of anesthesiology at UA who did quite extensive research in the past on the effects and mechanisms of anesthetic agents in the suppression of consciousness.

I suspect that someone for whom the suppression and restoration of consciousness is a routine daily activity qualifies as an 'expert' on the phenomenon. At least, on how chemicals work to suppress consciousness and the specific cellular constructs they act upon to accomplish that.

 
Quote
Shouldn't a freely acting agent be able to choose a logical, algorithmic course of action?


Of course. The point is that they don't always do so. If they did, it would indicate the presence of an automaton/Zombie.

 
Quote
I don't see how that necessarily follows, except semantically.


Now I'm confused. Are you saying that unconscious will is conscious will, or that unconscious will is an illusion too?

Caveat, I don't believe unconscious will exists. That's just behaviorisms set up by our sociocultural imprinting and habits. I would posit "will" firmly in the realm of the conscious.

hmmm. Well, I've had a little too much.. not enough sleep and so I will just have to say that this posts appears to show a divergence between train and its tracks.

First, I absolutely loved Penrose's Emperor's new mind and so I went and bought Shadows of the mind and I was sorry. But regardless, the thing about Penrose that really will come back to bite you if you want to go down that road, is that he simply provides a more complicated mathematical model. He proposed tests and wouled protest mightily if you were to suggest it is unfalsifiable.

It's not really all that different from dennett in a lot of ways.

But maybe it's bedtime for me now.

It was night to meet you new people.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,03:39   

and... zombies are ridiculous ideas. I would pee in a room that spoke chinese to me.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
jswilkins



Posts: 50
Joined: June 2009

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,03:41   

Quote (Tom Ames @ Feb. 20 2010,17:06)
I have to wonder if Wilkins showing up to make silly jokes is his way of politely telling me to stop embarrassing myself talking about free will.

Anyone up for a game of Mornington Crescent? I'll start: Gresham College.

There is no other reason for my making silly jokes than the silly jokes themselves - they are an end in themselves.

And it's easily 25 years since I thought much about this, largely because I decided

1. I am a determinist, in the sense of physical causes causes the effects they do, and I am entirely physical;

2. The legal and moral conception of "free will" has to do with a lack of coercion by other legal or moral agents, not a question of a lack of physical determinism: you are free in your actions if nobody else has coerced them;

3. The relation between physical determinism and legal/moral freedom is the relation between one's "causal nature" (what you are) and the outcomes that one might plausibly be expected to realise in social contexts. I choose according to my nature because, after all, that is who I am, but that merely means that there is a class of outcomes that can be so realised. Punishment and sanctions in general are designed to ensure that sufficient numbers of social agents bias their outcomes in acceptable ways, that's all.

So far as I know this is not incoherent, and it is most likely not original.

Can you do Gresham College as a starting move? I thought the rules of 1666 prohibited that.

--------------
Boldly staying where no man has stayed before.

   
Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,07:00   

Rules of 1666? Was Mornington Crescent invented as a pastime to play while London burned?

--------------
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,07:31   

Quote (Tom Ames @ Feb. 19 2010,21:22)
It's really staggering how much we project retrospective accounts of agency onto events over which we can have had no control.

This is a key observation that bears reinforcement. Human social perception and cognition is structured such that we are virtually compelled represent one another as agents. We are immersed throughut our lives in representations of ourselves and others as agents engaging in acts (not just behaving) for "reasons" (not just "causes") arising from a belief-desire psychology. Moreover, considerable data suggests that this representational system is wired into us, a key human adaptation evident in elements of infant behavior and perception. It is inherent in language use as well. We whisper "agency" to ourselves each time we silently deploy the indexial "I" to represent possible future behaviors and practice the justification of same. Moreover, all human cultures are built upon variations on the attribution of agency and belief-desire psychology. We employ this system of representation to cognize behavior past, present and future - including the immediate past.

It follows, ironically, that subjective "intuitions" about ourselves as free agents are a very problematic source of knowledge regarding the nature of agency. While such intuitions may disclose to us the texture of our lifelong participation in this essential human adaptation, the actual facts regarding the bases of this sense of agency may be obscured by that same experience. What we can be absolutely certain of by means of introspection is that we absolutely do represent ourselves and others as agents, and do not easily experience human acts otherwise. It does not follow from that intuition that we ARE agents (or from these difficulties that we are not).

The flight of birds, as an adaptation, is neither true nor false. Similarly, human adeptness with the representation of agency, as an adaptation, is neither true nor false.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
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Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,07:49   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ Feb. 20 2010,07:00)
Rules of 1666? Was Mornington Crescent invented as a pastime to play while London burned?

1666 brought in a monumental edition that was red hot at the time.

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,10:36   

BWE:
Quote
This is a nice essay.


Hi, BWE. Nice to make your virtual acquaintance too. And thanks! I have not read any of Dennett's books, but will look for FE in the future. All I know of it is what others have said, which may well be an unfair representation.

My interest in the quest for consciousness has been mostly a pastime. I like the Penrose-Hameroff model better than several others (like JJ McFadden's EM model), and certainly better than the nay-saying of any philosophers whose job in this field appears to be one of simply denying the existence of the phenomena at issue (and often making themselves look silly and dismissible). I took the UA course in quantum consciousness some years ago and had a great time, even with the AI-guys (computer scientists) representing those who are primarily funding the quest. It required a lengthy list of required reading to refresh too long unused knowledge and skills, so was good for me (maybe).

There are other, lesser known models that are intriguing in the extreme, though thick as a brick to wade through (like Matti Pitkaanan's TGD model, based on a developed p-adic prime mathematics). I noted that Penrose did give Matti a small hat tip in a footnote of his tome Road to Reality. Penrose's model was intended to be defensible and fairly accessible, so of course he couldn't have gone whole hog into a strange mathematics. The solutions to which can be quite bizarre and surprising. That said, we humans are entirely unlikely to ever 'see' a graviton. I personally don't believe they exist at all, but maybe someday they'll at least produce Wiggly Higgly [Higgs, the "God Particle"]. We shall see. Any significant experimental confirmation of the OR model will have to come from tests on predicted effects rather than from producing the 'prime mover' the theory postulates.

Hameroff's end of the theory (application to life and mind) will be easier - relatively speaking - to confirm. It seems to me that if consciousness is a 'real' phenomenon, then it must of course have physical correlates. Structures, mechanisms, processes that can be identified. The "More Neural Than Thou" folks - those who pin it all on neurons and synapses and dendrites without caring to look further into how those structures operate - have long been on the wrong track, IMO. Of course we need to look closer. Apparently many researchers are, though I wish they weren't so quickly snapped up by Big Pharma, which is not known to be exactly egalitarian with its proprietary research.

I find consciousness a fascinating subject, even if slightly solipsistic. I am a synesthete, something that runs in my family, so certain anomalies of thought and perception hold great interest for me. Thanks again!

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,22:51   

Hi Joy, I'm in slightly better shape today. Penrose is pretty cool but it still belongs in the what if department. It hinges completely on a neurological model requiring that the basic process of thinking is algorithmic. His argument for the necessity of his approach relies on Godel's 2nd theorem (very different from Hofstadter's use of the first theorem. Have you read Hofstadter's GEB?) Anyway, the issue he raises goes something like this (please correct me if I am wrong): In order to have confidence in any system (of algorithmic first order logic), the system needs to be viewed from outside to see its truth or falsehood. He claims that the existence of math is evidence that we do this. Since that violates Godel's second theorem, (a system can not prove it's own consistency)  he deduces the existence of a different, non algorithmic system which functions using some kind of superposition to explore all options at once and settle into one state.

-is there a thread here on the new quantum experiments on photosynthesis? wow oh wow. -

But Hofstadter already explained why this wasn't a necessary conclusion. If the system is operating algorithmically, and one of the algorithmic axioms allows a dynamic system of self organization, sufficient amounts of looping between recursive levels of complexity will make each level look like 'outside the system'. If Hofstadter is right, there is a level beyond which we cannot model reality and that limit is determined by brainpower. Simple as that.

Also, embodied intelligence and the revolution in AI heralded by Brook's Subsumption architecture* makes it even dicier because it isn't clear that we are even integrating all the parts of our own system, let alone transcending the whole thing.

Anyway, good to meet you.


*http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/cogarch3/Brooks/Brooks.html

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

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Tom Ames



Posts: 238
Joined: Dec. 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,23:53   

Quote (jswilkins @ Feb. 20 2010,01:41)
Can you do Gresham College as a starting move? I thought the rules of 1666 prohibited that.

Only if I try to follow up with Salisbury Court.

In any case, my next move was going to be Seething Lane, which sidetracks over to the reconstitution of 1669.

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-Tom Ames

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,23:58   

But doing that takes you straight to mornington crescent.  ;)

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

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Henry J



Posts: 4565
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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,00:32   

But isn't that the point? :p

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,07:58   

I see. :) Well played sir.

Do you think joy or thought provoker will be back?

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

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Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,11:21   

BWE:
Quote
Penrose is pretty cool but it still belongs in the what if department. It hinges completely on a neurological model requiring that the basic process of thinking is algorithmic.


Seems to me he's challenging the algorithmic model, at least for higher functions (most automatic and subconscious processing/response probably is algorithmic or primarily so). Sure, quantum computation is still computation, but he makes a big enough issue of "non-computability" to highlight a different approach.

Quote
Anyway, the issue he raises goes something like this (please correct me if I am wrong): In order to have confidence in any system (of algorithmic first order logic), the system needs to be viewed from outside to see its truth or falsehood. He claims that the existence of math is evidence that we do this. Since that violates Godel's second theorem, (a system can not prove it's own consistency)  he deduces the existence of a different, non algorithmic system which functions using some kind of superposition to explore all options at once and settle into one state.


Not quite sure how to parse that in terms of what (little, given my shortcomings) I learned. The way I grok the gist...

The only 'outside' system that might be said to 'observe' the workings of the cosmos and the mind would have to be something fundamental to the nature of cosmos and mind - a quality or parameter of the universe itself. Hameroff suggests this is consciousness (he's a bit of a panentheist or something) that seeks ever greater and more orderly expression of itself. Penrose doesn't go that far, though allows the suggestion to stand on the organic level - that which concentrates and experiences consciousness.

His process involves a separation of reality, not quite the same thing as a simple superpositioned reality. I analogized it to time for my own understanding, which Penrose probably wouldn't approve of but fits with my suspicion that nobody's paid enough attention to that factor in the overall scheme of things. As if there's a static universal 'reality' representing the collective *now* that is constantly slipping into to the next *now* as individual wavefunctions diverge from the previous measurement. When the separation of the THEN *now* and the COMING *now* reaches Planck distance, gravity serves as the collapse operator.

This would make time reducible to Plank scale 'ticks' of the cosmic clock, though, and that is much too swift for any consciousness we know of to ever keep track - our awareness time-lags are immensely longer than that. IOW, consciousness experiences itself and the universe in the (relatively distant) past instead of the measurement present. Which means our awareness is always of the reality that was measured some microseconds previously.

Penrose is a Platonist. Thus he believes in the existence of 'model' worlds where all the big-t True things reside, and this lesser manifestation is shaped (is there a better word?) in its event trajectory according to that superior model. Which people like him can describe with mathematics. Nobody - least of all Penrose - ever suggested mathematicians don't believe themselves god-like! §;o)

There are no "all options" in that process. Sum of histories (*past*) and actual state (*now*) represent everything that need be represented to accomplish the next state - the universe can't phase change into something entirely 'other', even if isolated weirdness can be tolerated in the system. The process is habitual, automatic, and governed by gravity - no truly chaotic degrees of freedom.

Quote
If Hofstadter is right, there is a level beyond which we cannot model reality and that limit is determined by brainpower. Simple as that.


Perhaps he is right. I am unfamiliar with his work, so can't say. But I'm fairly convinced that we DON'T model reality as-it-is because we don't know enough about reality to do so. Theorists make a mighty effort, then invest so much emotion into their provisional models that they convince themselves they do know it all and nobody can rightfully challenge. That seems to be a significant limitation. Sort of dueling wannabe godlings...

At any rate, I previously expressed my personal suspicion that Penrose's model is indeed insufficient. He suspects so himself. It may be a step in the right direction, at least to facilitate what may come from theorists 'someday'. But that obscure model I mentioned with the p-adic mathematics looks to account for more of the anomalies than Penrose's can. It's got 8 dimensions plus a "many-sheeted" spacetime! Plus: no pesky singularities. Minus: it's thick as a brick, unspecified extremal for collapse (looks to be a hedgehog). Penrose's extremal - the graviton - is not postulated to need more than a single step to align all vectors.

I am not so sure mathematics is some sort of miraculous manifestation of a Platonic realm of Absolute Truth as mathematicians are. But then, I'm not a mathematician.

Quote
Also, embodied intelligence and the revolution in AI heralded by Brook's Subsumption architecture* makes it even dicier because it isn't clear that we are even integrating all the parts of our own system, let alone transcending the whole thing.


Of course we aren't transcending "the whole thing"! BTW, I expect an "intelligent" machine isn't all that difficult, we'll see it relatively soon. What do you think of the idea that someday they'll create a "conscious" machine?

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,11:59   

Hi BWE,

 
Quote (BWE @ Feb. 20 2010,03:32)
 
Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 19 2010,17:24)
Furthermore, I suggest that Quantum Mechanics is the only known mechanism where two mutually exclusive "realities" can exist at the same time (quantum superposition).


But wait... Isn't that exactly what they don't do is exist in multiple realities at the same time? I thought that you had to choose whether you want to look at them in space (position) or time (momentum) and that the reason you couldn't get both is because they don't do both simultaneously.
I'm probably wrong. I just learned Schroedinger's equations and Feynman diagrams last year and I'm miss-applying them all over the place,


Yes, I'm still around.  Excuse me for not responding to you earlier.  I didn't want to head down a off-topic trail.

But what the heck!

While I enjoy provoking though by making bold statement about Quantum Mechanics, I am really just a "physicist wannabe".  That being said, the sense I get from trying to understand how Roger Penrose sees reality is that the apparent quantum superposition actually exists until Objective Reduction occurs.

A simple example is a qubit.  from Wikipedia...

"A qubit has some similarities to a classical bit, but is overall very different. Like a bit, a qubit can have two possible values—normally a 0 or a 1. The difference is that whereas a bit must be either 0 or 1, a qubit can be 0, 1, or a superposition of both."

Initially, the presumption was that superposition wasn't real.  As you said "...they don't do both simultaneously".  However, after nearly 100 years of experiments, "spooky action at a distance" still confounds general acceptance.

Penrose coined the term Quanglement.  Here is a reasonably sounding summary I could conveniently cut and paste...

"In quantum theory, one of the most paradoxical issues is the entanglement of multiple particles in superposed states, which Schrödinger illustrated with his cat and which Einstein considered a reductio ad absurdum of quantum mechanics. Penrose calls quantum entanglement quanglement (2004, p. 407). ... The problem with quanglement is that almost every particle in the universe may be quangled with innumerable others. Quanglement may even create the classical surface of our phenomenal reality. Although physical reality may contain infinities of possible worlds, the fact remains that all we see is a unique classical world. That may be because we quangle with anything we touch and thus force it to join our world (Aczel, 2001)."

What this reviewer sees as a "problem", I see as a likely explaination of reality.  That is that quantum effects are quangled with innumerable others in space-time (IOW in both space and time).

With quanglement, future causes can create past effects.  This is a parsimonious explaination of Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser experiments (link).

We tend to instinctively reject such retrocausality because of causal paradoxes (e.g. killing ones ancestors).  However, with quanglement classical paradoxes are prevented from happening.

With "spooky action at a distance" the answer is either faster than light communication or retrocausality.  Frankly, it is a matter of semantics because they mean the same thing in Minkowskian geometry.

The metaphysical argument of Many Worlds has been offered but, to me, you might as well argue GodDidIt.  It is just as valid a possibility and has the advantage of extreme popularity.

As an attempt to make this topical, when the reviewer talks about "anything we touch", it really is anything our conscious mind perceives.

This is why Penrose has been very interested in the possibility of Quantum Consciousness.  It is necessary in order to complete his view of reality.

As for Free Will being a separate issue from Consciousness (h/t Tom Ames), I suggest if consciousness is directly linked to creating reality and vice versa, it is pretty much a moot point.  We think, therefore we are…  so is the universe.

And if you want to call me a Quantum Quack for thinking this, go ahead.  You won’t be the first.

EDIT - I see Joy and I posted at the same time.  Now you can compare and contrast Joy's beautify prose verses my crude engineering ramblings.

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,12:09   

I think there will be recognized AI very soon. I meant that the thing the system works with is algorithmic. That Penrose claims consciousness is an outer or other process than thinking or pattern recognition.

Also the reality 'out there has next to nothing to do with how we perceive it in terms of isomorphisms because we aren't designed to understand it but to be little entropy generators within the larger thing. Different kinds of eyes see different em spectrums for example. Also, in terms of time lag:
http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/080602-foresee-future.html

Also, have you heard of Max Tegmark? Read this:
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0704/0704.0646v2.pdf

I don't necesarily buy it but it's pretty interesting if you are into that stuff.

The real problem I have with penrose's idea is that it isn't necessary to explain the phenomena related to consciousness. There are certainly many levels to reality, whatever that may be, but the level of mechanics which best describe a system tend to be the units it uses to build rather than the units those units use. A mechanic doesn't have to understand metallurgy to fix a car or to understand how it generates that transcendental state called driving.

The metallurgy is interesting though and ultimately responsible for the driving but not necessary to explain it. Have you read Edelman?

If you can manage Penrose, you can probably manage Hofstadter. I highly recommend Godel Escher Bach.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

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BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,12:21   

Thought provoker, anyone who has ever taken the time to learn how to solve Schrodinger's equations ought to be a quantum quack of some sort in my opinion.

It's too weird to think of as if it makes sense. I would only add that equations are models of, not the source of sense data. Superposition describes what we expect to see happen. I'm pretty sure (I'm a wannabe too so no worries there) that the dual nature of position/momentum are not modeled successfully as particles which they need to be in order to have both at all times. I think that we hit a technical issue there.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,12:53   

BWE:
Quote
I think there will be recognized AI very soon. I meant that the thing the system works with is algorithmic. That Penrose claims consciousness is an outer or other process than thinking or pattern recognition.


Well, I obviously disagree with the idea that the [entire] system is algorithmic and cannot be anything else. What Penrose and Hameroff are describing when they say consciousness may be a parameter of the universe is that it's like a Planck (or maybe sub-Planck) level 'matrix'. Which sort of suggests dimensionality (as in our 3-D space but not time, which is just a distance factor in that model), but I don't think that quite captures it either.

Its existence 'out there' would have little or nothing to do with what we call consciousness 'in here'. We're just eddies in the current, so to speak, some of the critters evolved to concentrate and experience consciousness.

Quote
Also, have you heard of Max Tegmark? Read this:


Yeah, I've read Tegmark. Looks to be essentially a Platonist too, but with less room in his wannabe godling-ness for the freedom required for something like "free will." I thought his multiverses were imaginative fodder for sci-fi (though the good sci-fi authors were doing alternate universes long before Max was out of knee pants), but not particularly relevant to anything arguably real. I did enjoy Tuszynski's take-down of Tegmark's critique of Orch-OR on the decoherence issues. In your link I didn't have to get past the abstract before knowing this hypothesis wouldn't appeal to me. Sorry. I've seen too many anomalies to buy a model that doesn't allow for them.

I'll read the whole thing when I've time, it's been downloaded.

Quote
The real problem I have with penrose's idea is that it isn't necessary to explain the phenomena related to consciousness. There are certainly many levels to reality, whatever that may be, but the level of mechanics which best describe a system tend to be the units it uses to build rather than the units those units use. A mechanic doesn't have to understand metallurgy to fix a car or to understand how it generates that transcendental state called driving.


Nice analogy, but why would it be scientifically sound to simply cut off any level of investigation just because someone (or a consensus of someones) think they already know everything that needs to be known? We're talking reality, consciousness and free will here, not cars or the metals that go into engines. Yet even there some understanding of the metal's tolerances and the thermodynamics at issue goes into being a mechanic. Otherwise you might get hold of a mechanic who thinks it's a good idea to pump cold water onto an overheated block!

I personally want to get all the way to PCCs and their processes and mechanisms because I'd like some rational explanation of some of the anomalies I've seen/experienced. It might not matter to you because your level of understanding and favorite model are "good enough for gub'ment work" but please don't presume that's enough for everyone. Or for science, since it does have a job to do.

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,13:44   

Hi BWE,
 
Quote (BWE @ Feb. 21 2010,12:21)
I'm pretty sure (I'm a wannabe too so no worries there) that the dual nature of position/momentum are not modeled successfully as particles which they need to be in order to have both at all times. I think that we hit a technical issue there.

You would not be the first person to argue we just don't understand the logical solution but, someday, we will come up with a sensible answer.

I don't know if you meant it or not, I think you hit the nail on the head with your use of the word "particle".

For the longest time, science has been looking for the fundamental piece(s) of solid matter from which everything is made.

Even String Theory has the connotation of something tangible that can only be in one place at one time.

Penrose makes it clear he is comfortable with the idea that "particles" are nothing more than artifacts from wavefunction effects in the nothingness of relativistic space-time geometry.

Here is a link to a presentation on Twistor Space I have only begun to understand.  

The first slide is reasonably clear as to how Penrose sees "particles".

While Penrose's view is internally consistent with observations, it is too woo-like for Tegmark and others.

Especially when it is clear consciousness has to play a direct role in order for it to be complete.

To poke a stick at a bee hive, there is some merit in the ID proponents’ claim a materialistic bias exists.

The funny part is when they accuse me of being a materialist, especially if it is clear they believe Jesus (Yeshua ben Yosef) PHYSICALLY ascended to heaven.

  
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,14:04   

Hahaha!!! [wipes eyes]. Well, if you're 'beginning' to understand it, you're light-years ahead of me!

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,15:22   

Hi Joy,
 
Quote (Joy @ Feb. 21 2010,14:04)
Hahaha!!! [wipes eyes]. Well, if you're 'beginning' to understand it, you're light-years ahead of me!

We all have are strengths.  You can write pretty and I can think like an engineer.

I humbly submit I'm rather adept at figuring out solutions to problems.  Sometimes, I don't even know how I do it but I do.  One of the keys is to presume the solution will be as simple as possible (which still can be quite complicated).

Penrose strikes me as someone who thinks similar to this.  Of course he is doing it at a much higher plane.  He has indicated the previously standard String Theory doesn't make sense to him.  From a Radio Interview...

"...the way string theory requires all these extra dimensions and this comes from certain consistency requirements about how string should behave and so on. Now twistor theory is something quite different. It’s an approach to understanding how spacetime and quantum mechanics might fit together in some way. The basic theory in twistor theory is not to add extra dimensions. In fact, it is only crucially only three space dimensions and one time dimension. It’s the the number of dimensions we experience. But instead of adding extra dimensions, it’s a reformulation of spacetime as we understand it."

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,15:45   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 21 2010,10:53)
BWE:
   
Quote
I think there will be recognized AI very soon. I meant that the thing the system works with is algorithmic. That Penrose claims consciousness is an outer or other process than thinking or pattern recognition.


Well, I obviously disagree with the idea that the [entire] system is algorithmic and cannot be anything else.


Oh woah! Sorry, my bad, I meant 'subject to Godel's theorems'. Most math isn't. Only sufficiently powerful recursive first order algorithmic systems are subject to them. There are several axiomatic and powerful logic systems to which they do not apply. It's just that they do apply to first order Peano arithmetic which is a fairly important part of the way we represent using math.

For Penrose to be right, consciousness must be a quality that is outside Newtonian mechanics so that it can be outside all algorithmic modeling done in the brain to see its accuracy. Consciousness must NOT be able to arise in a computer running only algorithmic processes. That was my point.

Which means, time will tell if a falsification turns up in the form of strong AI.


I'll have to come back later to get you a series of links on people building arithmetic which doesn't fall victim to incompleteness. The successor axiom plays a key role it turns out. There are ways to construct arithmetics without it.

 
Quote

What Penrose and Hameroff are describing when they say consciousness may be a parameter of the universe is that it's like a Planck (or maybe sub-Planck) level 'matrix'.
Sure, but it's not a better model yet, just an interesting one. It has to predict something first before we should assign any kind of qualitative  status to it. Right?

   
Quote

Yeah, I've read Tegmark. Looks to be essentially a Platonist too,

of the worst kind. :) I just thought if you were into Penrose you might like him. I think it's interesting and he does make a good case it's just that it falls flat when you put actors in it.

 
Quote
   
Quote
The real problem I have with penrose's idea is that it isn't necessary to explain the phenomena related to consciousness. There are certainly many levels to reality, whatever that may be, but the level of mechanics which best describe a system tend to be the units it uses to build rather than the units those units use. A mechanic doesn't have to understand metallurgy to fix a car or to understand how it generates that transcendental state called driving.


Nice analogy, but why would it be scientifically sound to simply cut off any level of investigation just because someone (or a consensus of someones) think they already know everything that needs to be known?


Whoah there Nellie!!! Stop the presses. Where did I say that? I didn't. That's where. Speculation is the stuff of dreams and imagination leads us to the future. Resting on our laurels isn't something that should be done in the first 50 years of the greatest tool humanity has ever developed, bar none, for learning.

I would even go so far as to say that any certainty in a model at all is an impediment at this point in our history. But when we are talking about philosophical questions relating to agency, free will, self-awareness and the like, it seems to me that nailing down patterns at this particular level of resolution is something of a necessity before we speculate on the actions causes and effects which produce the fuzz at the edges of the system.

I think that we can produce consciousness through algorithmic processes. That does not close any doors at all. It's a big old world out there and if Godel's theorems do apply, it's an infinite ladder of complexity, each one holding entire universes invisible to us now but visible with each new godelization and we are simply at one particular level. The only rule if that were the case is that all bigger or outer levels must contain the inner ones. So you always keep what you have, you just get more.


 
Quote
We're talking reality, consciousness and free will here, not cars or the metals that go into engines. Yet even there some understanding of the metal's tolerances and the thermodynamics at issue goes into being a mechanic. Otherwise you might get hold of a mechanic who thinks it's a good idea to pump cold water onto an overheated block!.

Don't need any thermodynamics to know that if you pour cold water into a hot block it might crack. I could tell that to a 5 year old and they would nod and understand. Just sayin.

 
Quote
I personally want to get all the way to PCCs and their processes and mechanisms because I'd like some rational explanation of some of the anomalies I've seen/experienced. It might not matter to you because your level of understanding and favorite model are "good enough for gub'ment work" but please don't presume that's enough for everyone. Or for science, since it does have a job to do.
[/quote]
If I weren't a scoundrel at heart I'd be offended by that remark. I think our knowledge just took the curve straight up. In ten years our world will be unrecognizable and in 20 humans may be unrecognizable. The depth of the power instant access to information has given us makes GR look like learning to make arrowheads from obsidian. The state of the art today was literally impossible in 1985 because the technology to crunch the numbers simply couldn't be built.

I entertain any idea at all and accept none as truth. I just like to evaluate claims is all. When claims aren't yet useful they sit there, when they get support it goes in the matrix. When they get refuted, that too gets stored. But I would never ever stop at some level and say good enough. I would however say that no one will ever make a toyota one atom at a time. We have to take advantage of the rules at a given resolution level.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,15:57   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 21 2010,11:44)
Hi BWE,
   
Quote (BWE @ Feb. 21 2010,12:21)
I'm pretty sure (I'm a wannabe too so no worries there) that the dual nature of position/momentum are not modeled successfully as particles which they need to be in order to have both at all times. I think that we hit a technical issue there.

You would not be the first person to argue we just don't understand the logical solution but, someday, we will come up with a sensible answer.

I don't know if you meant it or not, I think you hit the nail on the head with your use of the word "particle".

yep. I meant to and for that reason. But I don't think many physicists really think of the bohrs model any more.

Quote

While Penrose's view is internally consistent with observations, it is too woo-like for Tegmark and others.

Especially when it is clear consciousness has to play a direct role in order for it to be complete.

To poke a stick at a bee hive, there is some merit in the ID proponents’ claim a materialistic bias exists.

The funny part is when they accuse me of being a materialist, especially if it is clear they believe Jesus (Yeshua ben Yosef) PHYSICALLY ascended to heaven.

Reality without consciousness is the greatest of small minded thoughts I think. Sound without ears is not sound. Reality is inside, not outside so it's an oddly irrelevant concept. What is 'out there' is blocked forever from our internal mental worlds by our senses as they try to be helpful and organize the stuff they sense. But that is no excuse to dump what we have and hurry to the next level. The train is moving faster every day. Nothing will ever be 'truth'. All we get are models which predict the next sense data with greater or poorer precision. Eqach equally as untrue as each other but successively more accurate at predicting.

That is all. So it seems to me that dreaming is great but we should just assume the state of the art hovers aropund the zeitgeist and that it will change in the direction of accuracy. Sooner rather than later. I would challenge any world view only on its predictive quality.
:)

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Joy



Posts: 188
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,19:28   

BWE:
Quote
We have to take advantage of the rules at a given resolution level.


Then I'd go ahead and suggest that means we've got free will, FAPP.

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,20:40   

Quote (Joy @ Feb. 21 2010,17:28)
BWE:
 
Quote
We have to take advantage of the rules at a given resolution level.


Then I'd go ahead and suggest that means we've got free will, FAPP.

so would dennett for exactly that reason. You'd like freedom evolves I bet.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2010,15:58   

http://www.physorg.com/news186830615.html

Quote
Three different models explain the causal mechanism of free will and the flow of information between unconscious neural activity and conscious thought (GES = genes, environment, stochasticism). ...


--------------
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"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
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J-Dog



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2010,16:52   

Quote (Richardthughes @ Mar. 04 2010,15:58)
http://www.physorg.com/news186830615.html

Quote
Three different models explain the causal mechanism of free will and the flow of information between unconscious neural activity and conscious thought (GES = genes, environment, stochasticism). ...

John Calvin and David Heddle knew that you were gonna post that...

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Come on Tough Guy, do the little dance of ID impotence you do so well. - Louis to Joe G 2/10

Gullibility is not a virtue - Quidam on Dembski's belief in the Bible Code Faith Healers & ID 7/08

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Badger3k



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Joined: Mar. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2010,18:38   

Quote (Richardthughes @ Mar. 04 2010,15:58)
http://www.physorg.com/news186830615.html

Quote
Three different models explain the causal mechanism of free will and the flow of information between unconscious neural activity and conscious thought (GES = genes, environment, stochasticism). ...

I saw that elsewhere, but I can't find the one marked "God" or, "The Fall" - where does that fit into the model?

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"Just think if every species had a different genetic code We would have to eat other humans to survive.." : Joe G

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2010,18:49   

Quote (Badger3k @ Mar. 04 2010,19:38)
Quote (Richardthughes @ Mar. 04 2010,15:58)
http://www.physorg.com/news186830615.html

 
Quote
Three different models explain the causal mechanism of free will and the flow of information between unconscious neural activity and conscious thought (GES = genes, environment, stochasticism). ...

I saw that elsewhere, but I can't find the one marked "God" or, "The Fall" - where does that fit into the model?

In the gaps, as usual.

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Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

Work-friendly photography
NSFW photography

   
Badger3k



Posts: 861
Joined: Mar. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2010,19:02   

Quote (Lou FCD @ Mar. 04 2010,18:49)
Quote (Badger3k @ Mar. 04 2010,19:38)
Quote (Richardthughes @ Mar. 04 2010,15:58)
http://www.physorg.com/news186830615.html

 
Quote
Three different models explain the causal mechanism of free will and the flow of information between unconscious neural activity and conscious thought (GES = genes, environment, stochasticism). ...

I saw that elsewhere, but I can't find the one marked "God" or, "The Fall" - where does that fit into the model?

In the gaps, as usual.

But, I gets my pants at the gaps, so does that mean that God is in my jeans?  Like a priest? :D

--------------
"Just think if every species had a different genetic code We would have to eat other humans to survive.." : Joe G

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2010,20:01   



Quote
Mind the gap, by Márcio Cabral


--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

Work-friendly photography
NSFW photography

   
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 09 2010,10:22   

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/04/is-free-will-an/

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"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
carlsonjok



Posts: 3324
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 09 2010,10:26   

Quote (Badger3k @ Mar. 04 2010,19:02)
Quote (Lou FCD @ Mar. 04 2010,18:49)
 
Quote (Badger3k @ Mar. 04 2010,19:38)
 
Quote (Richardthughes @ Mar. 04 2010,15:58)
http://www.physorg.com/news186830615.html

   
Quote
Three different models explain the causal mechanism of free will and the flow of information between unconscious neural activity and conscious thought (GES = genes, environment, stochasticism). ...

I saw that elsewhere, but I can't find the one marked "God" or, "The Fall" - where does that fit into the model?

In the gaps, as usual.

But, I gets my pants at the gaps, so does that mean that God is in my jeans?  Like a priest? :D



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It's natural to be curious about our world, but the scientific method is just one theory about how to best understand it.  We live in a democracy, which means we should treat every theory equally. - Steven Colbert, I Am America (and So Can You!)

  
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