Determinism

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Re: Determinism

Postby Serendipper » Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:27 am

peacegirl wrote:I gave this as an example as to how schizophrenic this becomes when scientists use the idea that neuronal impulses are making choices before we consciously make them. The motivation for a choice that may be hidden in the subconscious mind does not remove the conscious mind from the equation because the choice is still up to the agent or the "I" that the brain is contained in. It takes the conscious mind to say "yes" to an action even if there is a gap of 7 seconds where the brain has already made a decision. The agent can veto that decision if within those 7 seconds something changes the mind of the agent where he chooses not to act on that impulse. I don't know if there ever will be a time that scientists will know exactly what choice you will make before you make it having a 7 second delay. More importantly, it wouldn't matter what choice was made if the choice hurt no one. What scientists are trying to work on is determining if a person is a high risk, thus the intervention by scientists would be employed to identify those people and quarantine them. But this would be unnecessary if we knew that we could never desire to hurt anyone as a preferable choice under changed conditions of the new world.

But something engenders the conscious mind like an illusion. The conscious mind can't be its own cause.
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:03 pm

"Compatibilism"

Craig Ross in Philosophy Now magazine

...as individuals when we undertake an action from some motive we imagine that in the exactly the same circumstances we could have chosen to do something else. We do not think we act of necessity. But, as Hume notes, if we try to prove our absolute liberty by doing something ‘unpredictable’ then we are still acting from a straightforward motive: our motive is the desire not to be seen to be acting from predictable motives. When we look at other people and fail to predict their behaviour, particularly someone we know well, then we assume that we are ignorant about some fact, and that their behaviour is in principle intelligible and predictable, rather than that the person has suddenly become incomprehensible. For Hume and other compatibilists, liberty means being free to act as we will, but this does not mean that our actions come from nowhere: our passions, motives and desires provide us with the impulse which our reason (prudence) tries to satisfy. To be at liberty cannot mean acting without a motive, because that’s the definition of madness.


Here is [once again] where I get stuck.

If our "passions, motives and desires" do not come out of nowhere but are integral to a brain/mind wholly in sync with the laws of matter, how is what we "will" not just another manifestation of that in turn? Always wholly in sync as well with our "reason [prudence]" to produce choices/behaviors that could only ever have been what they were, are and will be?

Dennett defends this broad thesis of motivated freedom with a range of interesting arguments. Consider for example the difference between a human being and the Sphex wasp. If this wasp is repeatedly disturbed during its egg laying it will simply continue its instinctive behaviour, apparently unaware of the source of the interruption or the likely futility of continuing with the egg laying. Yet humans can respond flexibly and imaginatively to equivalent difficulties, which indicates that we have a kind of freedom that a simple creature like the wasp does not have.


Okay, the wasp is at a point in the evolution of life on earth where its brain is not nearly as sophisticated as our own. It is not "self-conscious" in the manner that we are. There are no historical or cultural or experiential memes complicating what is basically instinctual behavior. Biological imperatives propel it from moment to moment.

But how can we pin down definitively whether our own brain has evolved to the point where biological imperatives give way to an "I" actually able to will behaviors freely, autonomously?

To call that a "kind of freedom" is one thing. But it may well be just a complex "psychological freedom" that our brain has somehow come to trick us into believing is the real thing.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:34 pm

"Compatibilism"

Craig Ross in Philosophy Now magazine

For Dennett there is also a meaningful distinction between determinism and inevitability. The Earth, for example, has undergone a recent explosion of ‘evitability’. Once it might have been in evitable that the Earth should be struck by an asteroid. But the planet has, perhaps deterministically, evolved human beings, who may conceivably destroy an incoming rock. It is no longer inevitable, so it is evitable. In the same way it is not inevitable that those disposed to heart disease will go on to develop it. We have, perhaps deterministically, produced an understanding of the causes of heart disease, and we can modify our behaviour on this basis. Again, what was once inevitable is no longer so.


This is interesting. Had matter not evolved into life evolving into mammals evolving into self-conscious human beings, it seemingly was inevitable that the Big One would smash into earth precipitating another extinction event for all other life forms.

But instead it did evolve into us and we are matter able to actually attempt to avoid that collision.

And while it seems that sooner or later an asteroid big enough to wipe us out is inevitable there may be strikes that we can prevent.

But how do we wrap our minds around that? Besides, whether we do or do not put a dent in the inevitable part with any particular asteroid, that would not seem to change the fact that, in a wholly determined universe, what does unfold could only ever have unfolded as it did.

Isn't that inevitable?

Same with heart disease. We may one day all but eliminate it. But only because nature "willed" that to be only as it could be. We just don't know if there is any measure of teleology "behind" nature itself. God or No God.

So we may not have what Dennett calls ‘behavioural choice’, the absolute and unimpeded God-like ability to choose out of nothing – but we can flexibly respond to and change our environment, an environment that among other things contains knowledge of how other people have acted and thought.


How flexible can any response be that can only be the embodiment of inflexible laws of matter.

If these laws are inflexible. And how do we determine that? By choosing freely among alternatives or not?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:19 pm

peacegirl wrote:
surreptitious75 wrote:
Serendipper wrote:
Scientists can be aware of your choices before you are and by a margin of 7 seconds !

So if you ve made your decision before you even knew it then how could you be in control of making it ?

The sub conscious mind that makes decisions is still part of you and in that respect you are still in control of them


Agreed.

Surreptitious75 wrote:The mistake is to assume all major decisions are made by the conscious mind simply because that is the only one we actually experience


There may be subconscious factors involved, but the conscious mind has the ultimate say as to whether an action is to be performed or not. In fact, all major decisions involve the conscious mind in order to give permission for an action to be performed (based on that decision) or else someone could easily say, "I didn't make that choice, my unconscious mind did." Not only is that false, but how would that fly in a court of law?


Surreptitious75 wrote:Because having laws is what helps determine the behavior of people and if it "flew in court" it would undermine the deterrent. I think the legal system holds its nose and looks the other way on this.


That is true, and that's why Daniel Dennett doesn't think a slap on the wrist would be advantageous because the deterrent would be undermined. That's what he means when he says: "a free will worth wanting." That's where we're at right now in our development as a species.

The Brain on Trial

DOES THE DISCOVERY of Charles Whitman’s brain tumor modify your feelings about the senseless murders he committed? Does it affect the sentence you would find appropriate for him, had he survived that day? Does the tumor change the degree to which you consider the killings “his fault”? Couldn’t you just as easily be unlucky enough to develop a tumor and lose control of your behavior?

On the other hand, wouldn’t it be dangerous to conclude that people with a tumor are free of guilt, and that they should be let off the hook for their crimes?

As our understanding of the human brain improves, juries are increasingly challenged with these sorts of questions. When a criminal stands in front of the judge’s bench today, the legal system wants to know whether he is blameworthy. Was it his fault, or his biology’s fault?


http://www.dailytexanonline.com/2016/07 ... rain-tumor

Free will may exist (it may simply be beyond our current science), but one thing seems clear: if free will does exist, it has little room in which to operate. It can at best be a small factor riding on top of vast neural networks shaped by genes and environment. In fact, free will may end up being so small that we eventually think about bad decision-making in the same way we think about any physical process, such as diabetes or lung disease.[/i] https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... al/308520/


Once we understand that what we do is not of our own free will, then we cannot separate a person who is not guilty due to a tumor from a person who is guilty because he killed without a tumor. Both are not free.
Last edited by peacegirl on Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:57 pm

For those of you who may have recently found this thread, here are the first three chapters. This should give you enough information to know whether you find this knowledge compelling.

http://www.declineandfallofallevil.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Decline-and-Fall-of-All-Evil-2-13-2019-THREE-CHAPTERS.pdf
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
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information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Fri Feb 15, 2019 9:00 pm

"Compatibilism"

Craig Ross in Philosophy Now magazine

Why Compatibilism Is Mistaken.

There are some major difficulties in compatibilism, which I think damage it irreparably.

Take Hobbes’ claim, largely accepted by Hume, that freedom is to act at will while coercion is to be compelled to act by others. This does not give us a sure reason to choose this ‘freedom’.

Imagine that you were a free-floating spirit, equal to God in your capacity to choose. God gives you the unwelcome news that shortly you are to be placed on Earth, and that you will be endowed with a range of fundamental passions, chosen entirely at the caprice of God. Would you choose to be free, in Hobbes’sense of acting at will, or might you consent to being coerced?


This is precisely the sort of speculation I am not able to grapple with effectively. In other words, in a way that allows me to grasp what the compatibilists are telling us about the alleged "freedom" emobodied in fact that while rocks don't choose to tumble down a mountain in a landslide, human beings do choose to ski down a mountain.

Just as the rocks could not not tumble down the mountain in a landslide, skiers could not not choose to go down the slope.

In either context, different configurations of matter are doing only that which matter obeying immutable laws [if this is the case] could have done.

No other human being coerced you to choose to ski but your "will" to choose is merely another inherent manifestation of nature.

With God the coercion would seem to revolve around that fact that nothing you will ever do is not already known by God. The only question that pops into my mind here is that, in a wholly determined universe, could God Himself have ever not placed you on Earth? Is God in turn inherently capricious? And thus only seemingly capricious in an existence where everything that even He does is only as it ever could have been.

Unless, of course, there is some crucial factor here that I keep missing.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Sat Feb 16, 2019 12:55 pm

iambiguous wrote:"Compatibilism"

Craig Ross in Philosophy Now magazine

Why Compatibilism Is Mistaken.

There are some major difficulties in compatibilism, which I think damage it irreparably.

Take Hobbes’ claim, largely accepted by Hume, that freedom is to act at will while coercion is to be compelled to act by others. This does not give us a sure reason to choose this ‘freedom’.


All Hobbes' and Hume did was differentiate between physical coercion and having a choice without physical coercion. The latter is what most people consider to be free will, and that is where compatibilism tries but fails to reconcile. Just because we have choices without physical constraint does not mean our choices are free. It's all an illusion since we can only go in one direction, the direction of that offers us the greater satisfaction (or the most preferable choice based on our particular circumstances) when two or more alternatives are being compared.

Before I show how it is possible to resolve the implications (i.e., the
impasse of blame), it is necessary to repeat that I will proceed in a step
by step manner. This dragon has been guarding an invisible key and door
for many years, and this could never be made visible except for someone
who saw these undeniable relations. If, therefore, you would like to learn
that Man Does Not Stand Alone as Morrison understood from his scientific
observations; that God, this Supreme Intelligence, is a mathematical
reality of infinite wisdom, then what do you say we begin our voyage
that will literally change the entire world. We are not interested in
opinions and theories regardless of where they originate, just in the
truth, so let’s proceed to the next step and prove conclusively, beyond
a shadow of doubt, that what we do of our own free will (of our own
desire because we want to) is done absolutely and positively not of our
own free will. Remember, by proving that determinism, as the
opposite of free will, is true, we also establish undeniable proof that
free will is false.”

<snip>

The term ‘free will’
contains an assumption or fallacy for it implies that if man is not
caused or compelled to do anything against his will, it must be
preferred of his own free will. This is one of those logical, not
mathematical conclusions. The expression, ‘I did it of my own free
will’ is perfectly correct when it is understood to mean ‘I did it because
I wanted to; nothing compelled or caused me to do it since I could
have acted otherwise had I desired.’ This expression was necessarily
misinterpreted because of the general ignorance that prevailed for
although it is correct in the sense that a person did something because
he wanted to, this in no way indicates that his will is free. In fact I
shall use the expression ‘of my own free will’ frequently myself which
only means ‘of my own desire.’ Are you beginning to see how words
have deceived everyone?

“You must be kidding? Here you are in the process of
demonstrating why the will of man is not free, and in the same breath
you tell me you’re doing this of your own free will.”

This is clarified somewhat when you understand that man is free
to choose what he prefers, what he desires, what he wants, what he
considers better for himself and his family. But the moment he
prefers or desires anything is an indication that he is compelled to this
action because of some dissatisfaction, which is the natural
compulsion of his nature. Because of this misinterpretation of the
expression ‘man’s will is free,’ great confusion continues to exist in
any discussion surrounding this issue, for although it is true man has
to make choices he must always prefer that which he considers good
not evil for himself when the former is offered as an alternative.


iambiguous wrote:Imagine that you were a free-floating spirit, equal to God in your capacity to choose. God gives you the unwelcome news that shortly you are to be placed on Earth, and that you will be endowed with a range of fundamental passions, chosen entirely at the caprice of God. Would you choose to be free, in Hobbes’sense of acting at will, or might you consent to being coerced?


We have been given certain genetics (as per your example) which then combines with our environment to make us who we are. This is not coercion in the sense that most people think of it. We are not being coerced in the compatibilist sense (such as having a gun to our head). And we are not free in in Hobbe's sense just because we are acting at will. This is a false dichotomy which is causing lots of confusion in this longstanding debate. Definitions mean nothing where reality is concerned unless it reflects the real world.

iambiguous wrote:This is precisely the sort of speculation I am not able to grapple with effectively. In other words, in a way that allows me to grasp what the compatibilists are telling us about the alleged "freedom" embodied in fact that while rocks don't choose to tumble down a mountain in a landslide, human beings do choose to ski down a mountain.

Just as the rocks could not not tumble down the mountain in a landslide, skiers could not not choose to go down the slope.

In either context, different configurations of matter are doing only that which matter obeying immutable laws [if this is the case] could have done.


True, but rocks cannot contemplate therefore the configuration is different as you mentioned, thus people think of free will as having choices. Once again, having choices does not grant us freedom of the will. It just gives the appearance of giving us free will and what most lay people think free will is. "I can choose, therefore I have free will."

iambiguous wrote:No other human being coerced you to choose to ski but your "will" to choose is merely another inherent manifestation of nature.


It is just merely another inherent manifestation of nature. But the truth of determinism in and of itself is not going to better our world. We have to extend this knowledge to see where it leads.

iambiguous wrote:With God the coercion would seem to revolve around that fact that nothing you will ever do is not already known by God. The only question that pops into my mind here is that, in a wholly determined universe, could God Himself have ever not placed you on Earth? Is God in turn inherently capricious? And thus only seemingly capricious in an existence where everything that even He does is only as it ever could have been.

Unless, of course, there is some crucial factor here that I keep missing.


Whether God is inherently capricious or controlled by natural law begins with the assumption that God is a thinking being like humans. Isn't this called anthropomorphism? In the book, Decline and Fall of All Evil, the author personalized the word God to make the writing less dry, but he clarified that God only means the laws that govern our universe. To speculate beyond that is counter-productive IMO as far as this discussion goes because it's a distraction.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
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lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Sun Feb 17, 2019 8:24 pm

peacegirl wrote:
All Hobbes' and Hume did was differentiate between physical coercion and having a choice without physical coercion. The latter is what most people consider to be free will, and that is where compatibilism tries but fails to reconcile.


Indeed, and what could be construed more as "physical coercion" than in being compelled to choose as but one more inherent component of nature's material/phenomenal laws?

And even if we choose because others coerce us to choose are they not in turn coerced by natural laws to coerce us?

peacegirl wrote:Just because we have choices without physical constraint does not mean our choices are free. It's all an illusion since we can only go in one direction, the direction of that offers us the greater satisfaction (or the most preferable choice based on our particular circumstances) when two or more alternatives are being compared.


But is not the satisfaction that we feel but one more aspect of what could only ever be?

The expression, ‘I did it of my own free will’ is perfectly correct when it is understood to mean ‘I did it because I wanted to; nothing compelled or caused me to do it since I could have acted otherwise had I desired.’


But you could not have desired otherwise in a wholly determined universe. Or, rather, that's how I think about it. I could never have not wanted to do the things that I think, feel, say or do.

This part:

This expression was necessarily misinterpreted because of the general ignorance that prevailed for although it is correct in the sense that a person did something because he wanted to, this in no way indicates that his will is free. In fact I shall use the expression ‘of my own free will’ frequently myself which only means ‘of my own desire.’ Are you beginning to see how words have deceived everyone?


Again: In a wholly determined unverse how could they have not been deceived by these words? Like those folks could have freely choosen to grasp the words such that they were not deceived by them.

This part:

“You must be kidding? Here you are in the process of demonstrating why the will of man is not free, and in the same breath you tell me you’re doing this of your own free will.”

This is clarified somewhat when you understand that man is free to choose what he prefers, what he desires, what he wants, what he considers better for himself and his family. But the moment he prefers or desires anything is an indication that he is compelled to this action because of some dissatisfaction, which is the natural compulsion of his nature. Because of this misinterpretation of the expression ‘man’s will is free,’ great confusion continues to exist in any discussion surrounding this issue, for although it is true man has to make choices he must always prefer that which he considers good not evil for himself when the former is offered as an alternative.


Some may construe this as a "clarification" but I'm not one of them. To me, this is but one more "general description" encompassed in a "world of words" defining and defending each other. How does this assessment "work" for all practical purposes when the discussion shifts to actual human interactions in a particular context.

For example, of late the news here in America has been splattered with accounts of Trump's national emergency aimed at building a wall on the border with Mexico.

Given the assessment above what are the players in this political conflict actually choosing autonomously [freely] to think, feel, say or do.

Is this all unfolding necessarily per nature's immutable laws or can minds be changed and new policies pursued. Me, I situate human interactions of this sort in my own understanding of dasein, conflicting goods and political economy. Out in a No God world in which I take my leap to some measure of autonomy.

craig ross wrote:Imagine that you were a free-floating spirit, equal to God in your capacity to choose. God gives you the unwelcome news that shortly you are to be placed on Earth, and that you will be endowed with a range of fundamental passions, chosen entirely at the caprice of God. Would you choose to be free, in Hobbes’sense of acting at will, or might you consent to being coerced?


peacegirl wrote:We have been given certain genetics (as per your example) which then combines with our environment to make us who we are. This is not coercion in the sense that most people think of it. We are not being coerced in the compatibilist sense (such as having a gun to our head). And we are not free in in Hobbe's sense just because we are acting at will. This is a false dichotomy which is causing lots of confusion in this longstanding debate. Definitions mean nothing where reality is concerned unless it reflects the real world.


Over and over again: if you are only able to "choose" to make this point on this thread, then it is but one more necessary component of a real world subsumed in a wholly determined universe. No one posting here, no one following the exchange was ever really free to not do so.

Or, rather, that is still how I have come to understand it "here and now".

Then...

iambiguous wrote:This is precisely the sort of speculation I am not able to grapple with effectively. In other words, in a way that allows me to grasp what the compatibilists are telling us about the alleged "freedom" embodied in the fact that while rocks don't choose to tumble down a mountain in a landslide, human beings do choose to ski down a mountain.

Just as the rocks could not not tumble down the mountain in a landslide, skiers could not not choose to go down the slope.

In either context, different configurations of matter are doing only that which matter obeying immutable laws [if this is the case] could have done.


peacegirl wrote:True, but rocks cannot contemplate therefore the configuration is different as you mentioned, thus people think of free will as having choices.


But if what we do contemplate is only that which we were ever able to contemplate, how are we not but rocks with brains?

Then back again to understanding how [given an understanding of the existence of existence itself] matter evolves into brains evolving in minds evolving into points of view able to dispute whether they were freely concocted.

peacegirl wrote:Once again, having choices does not grant us freedom of the will. It just gives the appearance of giving us free will and what most lay people think free will is. "I can choose, therefore I have free will."


Yeah, in a determined universe, that's what I think too. But clearly we are thinking about it differently.

iambiguous wrote:No other human being coerced you to choose to ski but your "will" to choose is merely another inherent manifestation of nature.


peacegirl wrote:It is just merely another inherent manifestation of nature. But the truth of determinism in and of itself is not going to better our world. We have to extend this knowledge to see where it leads.


But: how is choosing to extend this knowledge not in turn just another inherent manifestation of nature?

iambiguous wrote:With God the coercion would seem to revolve around that fact that nothing you will ever do is not already known by God. The only question that pops into my mind here is that, in a wholly determined universe, could God Himself have ever not placed you on Earth? Is God in turn inherently capricious? And thus only seemingly capricious in an existence where everything that even He does is only as it ever could have been.

Unless, of course, there is some crucial factor here that I keep missing.


peacegirl wrote:Whether God is inherently capricious or controlled by natural law begins with the assumption that God is a thinking being like humans.


God's thinking [in however He manages to think] is either autonomous or determined. Just as with those who equate God with the universe [the pantheists]: this intertwining either has some element of volition in it or it doesn't.

And for those who convince themselves that they are freely choosing to believe in God, He is anything but a distraction.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Sun Feb 17, 2019 9:39 pm

iambiguous wrote:
peacegirl wrote:
All Hobbes' and Hume did was differentiate between physical coercion and having a choice without physical coercion. The latter is what most people consider to be free will, and that is where compatibilism tries but fails to reconcile.


Indeed, and what could be construed more as "physical coercion" than in being compelled to choose as but one more inherent component of nature's material/phenomenal laws?

And even if we choose because others coerce us to choose are they not in turn coerced by natural laws to coerce us?


Again iambiguous, no one is debating that everyone is compelled to do what they do as one more inherent component of nature's material/phenomenal laws. The problem though is the fact that most lay people believe that having a choice IS free will. They do not consider choice without physical constraint as being unfree.

peacegirl wrote:Just because we have choices without physical constraint does not mean our choices are free. It's all an illusion since we can only go in one direction, the direction of that offers us the greater satisfaction (or the most preferable choice based on our particular circumstances) when two or more alternatives are being compared.

iambiguous wrote: But is not the satisfaction that we feel but one more aspect of what could only ever be?


Yes, that is true. Choice is part of natural law because only one choice is possible (i.e., the choice that offers greater satisfaction) at any given moment in time, which is one more aspect of what could ever be. The significance of this understanding becomes apparent in Chapter Two.

The expression, ‘I did it of my own free will’ is perfectly correct when it is understood to mean ‘I did it because I wanted to; nothing compelled or caused me to do it since I could have acted otherwise had I desired.’


iambiguous wrote:But you could not have desired otherwise in a wholly determined universe.


That is true.

iambiguous wrote: Or, rather, that's how I think about it. I could never have not wanted to do the things that I think, feel, say or do.


True, but again the significance of this becomes clear as it is shown how desire changes (i.e., the desire to strike a first blow of hurt) when the conditions of the environment change --- as part of what could ever be.

iambiguous wrote:This part:

This expression was necessarily misinterpreted because of the general ignorance that prevailed for although it is correct in the sense that a person did something because he wanted to, this in no way indicates that his will is free. In fact I shall use the expression ‘of my own free will’ frequently myself which only means ‘of my own desire.’ Are you beginning to see how words have deceived everyone?


iambiguous wrote:Again: In a wholly determined universe how could they have not been deceived by these words? Like those folks could have freely chosen to grasp the words such that they were not deceived by them.


They couldn't. No one is saying they could have. That's why it is being explained in a way that will help them understand these words [in a wholly determined universe].

iambiguous wrote:This part:

“You must be kidding? Here you are in the process of demonstrating why the will of man is not free, and in the same breath you tell me you’re doing this of your own free will.”

This is clarified somewhat when you understand that man is free to choose what he prefers, what he desires, what he wants, what he considers better for himself and his family. But the moment he prefers or desires anything is an indication that he is compelled to this action because of some dissatisfaction, which is the natural compulsion of his nature. Because of this misinterpretation of the expression ‘man’s will is free,’ great confusion continues to exist in any discussion surrounding this issue, for although it is true man has to make choices he must always prefer that which he considers good not evil for himself when the former is offered as an alternative.


iambiguous wrote:Some may construe this as a "clarification" but I'm not one of them. To me, this is but one more "general description" encompassed in a "world of words" defining and defending each other. How does this assessment "work" for all practical purposes when the discussion shifts to actual human interactions in a particular context.


This was anything but a general description encompassed in a world of words. This is not about defense. He was clarifying that saying "I did something of my own free will" is correct when it means "I did something of my own desire because I wanted to. It does not mean I did something because I was compelled to do it based on previous events that forced me to do it against my will. That is an important point because determinism, as it's presently defined, implies that we are forced, against our will, to do what we do based on antecedent factors, when NOTHING has the power to make us to anything against our will. We have absolute control over this.

The expression ‘I did it of my own
free will’ has been seriously misunderstood for although it is
impossible to do anything of one’s own free will, HE DOES
EVERYTHING BECAUSE HE WANTS TO since absolutely
nothing can make him do what he doesn’t want to. Think about this
once again. Was it humanly possible to make Gandhi and his
followers do what they did not want to do when unafraid of death
which was judged, according to their circumstances, the lesser of two
evils? In their eyes, death was the better choice if the alternative was
to lose their freedom. Many people are confused over this one point.
Just because no one on this earth can make you do anything against
your will does not mean your will is free. Gandhi wanted freedom for
his people and it was against his will to stop his nonviolent movement
even though he constantly faced the possibility of death, but this
doesn’t mean his will was free; it just means that it gave him greater
satisfaction to face death than to forego his fight for freedom.

Consequently, when any person says he was compelled to do what he
did against his will, that he really didn’t want to but had to because he
was being tortured, he is obviously confused and unconsciously
dishonest with himself and others because he could die before being
forced to do something against his will. What he actually means was
that he didn’t like being tortured because the pain was unbearable so
rather than continue suffering this way he preferred, as the lesser of
two evils, to tell his captors what they wanted to know, but he did this
because he wanted to not because some external force made him do
this against his will. If by talking he would know that someone he
loved would be instantly killed, pain and death might have been judged
the lesser of two evils. This is an extremely crucial point because
though it is true that will is not free, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
ON THIS EARTH CAN MAKE MAN DO ANYTHING
AGAINST HIS WILL. He might not like what he did — but he
wanted to do it because the alternative gave him no free or better
choice. It is extremely important that you clear this up in your mind
before proceeding.


iambiguous wrote:For example, of late the news here in America has been splattered with accounts of Trump's national emergency aimed at building a wall on the border with Mexico.

Given the assessment above what are the players in this political conflict actually choosing autonomously [freely] to think, feel, say or do.

iambiguous wrote:Is this all unfolding necessarily per nature's immutable laws or can minds be changed and new policies pursued.


Of course new policies can be changed per nature's immutable laws. Once again, you are using a definition of determinism that isn't accurate because being within the laws of our nature doesn't mean our choices are fixed in advance without our consent. This is why the above clarification is so important.

iambiguous wrote: Me, I situate human interactions of this sort in my own understanding of dasein, conflicting goods and political economy. Out in a No God world in which I take my leap to some measure of autonomy.


Having this type of autonomy does not step outside of natural law.

craig ross wrote:Imagine that you were a free-floating spirit, equal to God in your capacity to choose. God gives you the unwelcome news that shortly you are to be placed on Earth, and that you will be endowed with a range of fundamental passions, chosen entirely at the caprice of God. Would you choose to be free, in Hobbes’sense of acting at will, or might you consent to being coerced?


peacegirl wrote:We have been given certain genetics (as per your example) which then combines with our environment to make us who we are. This is not coercion in the sense that most people think of it. We are not being coerced in the compatibilist sense (such as having a gun to our head). And we are not free in in Hobbe's sense just because we are acting at will. This is a false dichotomy which is causing lots of confusion in this longstanding debate. Definitions mean nothing where reality is concerned unless it reflects the real world.


iambigouous wrote:Over and over again: if you are only able to "choose" to make this point on this thread, then it is but one more necessary component of a real world subsumed in a wholly determined universe. No one posting here, no one following the exchange was ever really free to not do so.


True, but we're not dominoes. My telling you that you keep making the same point may alter your next choice, as part of your consideration. You seem to think that there's no point to discuss anything because it's already fated. That's not what I'm saying at all because part of how fate turns out is dependent on our choices from moment to moment. We are co-creators, so to speak. We are not passive recipients to whatever takes place, even though what ends up taking place is beyond our ultimate control.

iambiguous wrote:Or, rather, that is still how I have come to understand it "here and now".

Then...

iambiguous wrote:This is precisely the sort of speculation I am not able to grapple with effectively. In other words, in a way that allows me to grasp what the compatibilists are telling us about the alleged "freedom" embodied in the fact that while rocks don't choose to tumble down a mountain in a landslide, human beings do choose to ski down a mountain.

Just as the rocks could not not tumble down the mountain in a landslide, skiers could not not choose to go down the slope.

In either context, different configurations of matter are doing only that which matter obeying immutable laws [if this is the case] could have done.


peacegirl wrote:True, but rocks cannot contemplate therefore the configuration is different as you mentioned, thus people think of free will as having choices.


But if what we do contemplate is only that which we were ever able to contemplate, how are we not but rocks with brains?

Then back again to understanding how [given an understanding of the existence of existence itself] matter evolves into brains evolving in minds evolving into points of view able to dispute whether they were freely concocted.


This is all true, but humans have the capacity to think, contemplate (rocks cannot) and progress as we develop as a species. In so doing, we can create a better world yet all within the framework of natural law.

peacegirl wrote:Once again, having choices does not grant us freedom of the will. It just gives the appearance of giving us free will and what most lay people think free will is. "I can choose, therefore I have free will."


iambiguous wrote:Yeah, in a determined universe, that's what I think too. But clearly we are thinking about it differently.


You are thinking that all choices are preprogrammed. We are not puppets on a string where we cannot do what we desire, but as I said earlier, what we will desire when the conditions of the environment are changed, changes the trajectory of where our world is headed yet still within a deterministic framework.

iambiguous wrote:No other human being coerced you to choose to ski but your "will" to choose is merely another inherent manifestation of nature.


peacegirl wrote:It is just merely another inherent manifestation of nature. But the truth of determinism in and of itself is not going to better our world. We have to extend this knowledge to see where it leads.


iambiguous wrote:But: how is choosing to extend this knowledge not in turn just another inherent manifestation of nature?


Who said it wasn't another inherent manifestation of nature? Whatever choice is made is what could never not have been made.

iambiguous wrote:With God the coercion would seem to revolve around that fact that nothing you will ever do is not already known by God. The only question that pops into my mind here is that, in a wholly determined universe, could God Himself have ever not placed you on Earth? Is God in turn inherently capricious? And thus only seemingly capricious in an existence where everything that even He does is only as it ever could have been.

Unless, of course, there is some crucial factor here that I keep missing.


peacegirl wrote:Whether God is inherently capricious or controlled by natural law begins with the assumption that God is a thinking being like humans.


God's thinking [in however He manages to think] is either autonomous or determined. Just as with those who equate God with the universe [the pantheists]: this intertwining either has some element of volition in it or it doesn't.


Volition is something we as humans have, but this does not grant us free will. I hope you're really listening to what I'm saying because people often half listen just so they can respond with their ideas without ever taking the necessary time to understand the other person's perspective.

iambiguous wrote:And for those who convince themselves that they are freely choosing to believe in God, He is anything but a distraction.


That is true. I am only saying for the purposes of this discussion because oftentimes a discussion gets sidetracked. I didn't want that to happen.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



peacegirl
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Re: Determinism

Postby promethean75 » Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:49 pm

i haven't read the book because i don't believe anything more can be said on the matter. the metaphysical subject of freewill was resolved centuries ago, and since then philosophers have only restated the matter in their own unique way... though none of this was really necessary. a quicker way would be to point those interested toward classic philosophers like hume, spinoza and nietzsche... and more modern philosophers like wittgenstein, chisholm, taylor and frankfurt. of course one can write their own book, and i don't doubt that it would sell somewhere, but there's really nothing new to be said in this matter, fortunately or unfortunately (whichever you prefer).

peacegirl wrote:That is an important point because determinism, as it's presently defined, implies that we are forced, against our will, to do what we do based on antecedent factors, when NOTHING has the power to make us to anything against our will. We have absolute control over this.


if i may point out here, forms of compatibilism or 'soft determinism' usually get their currency from distorting and/or importing into otherwise ordinary terms certain hidden premises which aren't made explicit. in the above instance, you're implying that the 'will' and the 'we' are somehow free from the causal constraints that the body is subject to. this would be to introduce a cartesian substance that is not subject to the same natural processes that the body, in which it exists, is subject to. your version of compatibilism dissolves when you realize that there is no such agency that is causally exempt from the forces that order everything else in nature. once you realize there is no 'we' in the sense of there being an 'I' that acts upon the body rather than through it - or i should say 'as it' -, whether or not a 'we' has 'absolute control' is a nonsensical question. there are not two separate entities working together here; it's not the 'self' and the self's 'body'. it's not the agency and the thing the agency acts upon. rather there is a single ontological substance, if you will, acting simpliciter.

and yet, we cannot get around the problem of having to decide in praxis. built into this causal chain of events is that peculiar situation involving our neurology... that lapse of time in which manifold processes are not brought to the foreground in consciousness. it's this peculiar detail in nature that gives rise to the illusion. you all know this already.

but now let's be clear. even though there is no freewill, we'd be mistaken to use the word 'determine' as an alternative. as you'll see (in the below quote), the meaning of this word in the various ways we've learned to use it and make sense out of it, cannot be counted on to describe the process without yielding confusions. we are finally forced to say that things 'just happen', and continue living and interacting with people as if we really did have freewill. what then is the function of the lie of freewill? i call it the most recent form of moral subterfuge; it serves no other purpose than as a means for giving praise or placing blame, depending on whether or not we find a person agreeable or not. in this way it is a form of control and/or manipulation. it solicits admiration from those who we favor with praise, and fear/guilt from those who we reprimand with blame. you could even say that the degree with which a person uses these means is proportionate to their power and understanding. the weaker and more confused a person is, the more they rely on these means to understand their valuing of others. one who truly understood the truth (a spinoza, for instance... an almost impossible height) would have nothing but praise for everything, since they recognize the perfect order of nature in its totality; that things must happen as they do and could not happen any other way. this of course does not render one into a passive stoic who resigns into quietism. one still 'wills', only they no longer blame, no longer dread, no longer fear. as i said, an almost impossible 'level' of wisdom to reach. what spinoza said was 'as difficult as it was rare.'

...

rosa lichtenstein wrote:Ok, here is my summary [of my ideas on 'determinism'], but comrades should not expect a water-tight solution to such a knotty problem in a few paragraphs. I am only posting this because I was asked to do so.

[I will however be publishing an essay specifically about this in the next few years, where I will substantiate what I have to say below far more fully.]

This issue has always revolved around the use of terminology drawn from traditional philosophy (such as "determined", "will", "free", and the like), the use of which bears no relation to how these words are employed in ordinary speech.

For example, "determine" and its cognates are typically used in sentences like this "The rules determine what you can do in chess", "The time of the next train can be determined from the timetable", or "I am determined to go on the demonstration" and so on. Hence this word is normally used in relation to what human beings can do, can apply, or can bring about.

As we will see, their use in traditional thought inverts this, making nature the agent and human beings the patient. No wonder then that the 'solution' to this artificial problem (i.e., 'determinism' and 'free will') has eluded us for over 2000 years.

To use an analogy, would we take seriously anyone who wondered when the King and Queen in chess got married, and then wanted to know who conducted the ceremony? Or, whether planning permission had been sought for that castle over in the corner? Such empty questions, of course, have no answer.

To be sure, this is more difficult to see in relation to the traditional question at hand, but it is nonetheless the result of similar confusions. So, it is my contention that this 'problem' has only arisen because ideologically-motivated theorists (from centuries ago) asked such empty questions, based on a misuse of language. [More on this below.]

When the details are worked out, 'determinism', for instance, can only be made to seem to work if nature is anthropomorphised, so that such things as 'natural law' 'determine' the course of events -- both in reality in general and in the central nervous system in particular -- thus 'controlling' what we do.

But, this is to take concepts that properly apply to what we do and can decide, and then impose them on natural events, suggesting that nature is controlled by a cosmic will of some sort. [Why this is so, I will outline presently.]

So, it's natural to ask: Where is this law written, and who passed it?

Of course, the answer to these questions is "No one" and "Nowhere", but then how can something that does not exist control anything?

It could be responded that natural law is just a summary of how things have so far gone up to now. In that case, such 'laws' are descriptive not prescriptive -- but it is the latter of these implications that determinists need.

Now, the introduction of modal notions here (such as 'must', or 'necessary') cannot be justified from this descriptive nature of 'law' without re-introducing the untoward anthropomorphic connotations mentioned above.

So, if we say that A has always followed B, we cannot now say A must follow B unless we attribute to B some form of control over A (and recall A has not yet happened, so what B is supposed to be controlling is somewhat obscure). And if we now try to say what we mean by 'control' (on lines such as 'could not be otherwise', or 'B made A happen') we need to explain how B prevented, say, C happening instead, and made sure that A, and only A took place.

The use of "obey" here would give the game away, since if this word is used with connotations that go beyond mere description, then this will imply that events like A understand the 'law' (like so many good citizens), and always do the same when B beckons, right across the entire universe --, and, indeed, that this 'law' must exist in some form to make things obey it. Of course, if it doesn't mean this, then what does it mean?

Now, I maintain that any attempt to fill in the details here will introduce notions of will and intelligence into the operation of B on A (and also on C) -- and that is why theorists have found they have had to drag in anthropomorphic concepts here (such as 'determine', 'obey' 'law' and 'control') to fill this gap, failing to note that the use of such words does indeed imply there is a will of some sort operating in nature. [But, note the qualification I introduce here, below. There were ideological reasons why these words were in fact used.]

If this is denied then 'determine' (etc.) can only be working descriptively, and we are back at square one.

Incidentally, the above problems are not to be avoided by the introduction of biochemical, neurological, and/or physiological objects and processes. The same questions apply here as elsewhere: how can, for example, a certain chemical 'control' what happens next unless it is intelligent in some way? Reducing this to physics is even worse; how can 'the field' (or whatever) control the future? 'The field' is a mathematical object and no more capable of controlling anything than a Hermite polynomial is. Of course, and once more, to argue otherwise would be to anthropomorphise such things -- which is why I made the argument above abstract, since it covers all bases.

This also explains why theorists (and particularly scientists who try to popularise their work) find they have to use 'scare quotes' and metaphor everywhere in this area.

As I noted earlier, this whole way of looking at 'the will' inverts things. We are denied a will (except formally) and nature is granted one. As many might now be able to see, this is yet another aspect of the alienating nature of traditional thought, where words are fetishised and we are dehumanised.

And this should not surprise us since such questions were originally posed theologically (and thus ideologically), where theorists were quite happy to alienate to 'god' such control over nature and our supposedly 'free' actions'. Hence, we too find that we have to appropriate such distorted terminology if we follow traditional patterns of thought in this area.
promethean75
 
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:43 pm

Determinism
Mon Feb 18, 2019 1:43 pm

promethean75 wrote:
i haven't read the book because i don't believe anything more can be said on the matter.

Just because you believe nothing more can be said on the matter doesn't make it so. Why sell yourself short?

promethean75 wrote:
... the metaphysical subject of freewill was resolved centuries ago,

No it wasn't. It has yet to be resolved.

promethean75 wrote:
... and since then philosophers have only restated the matter in their own unique way... though none of this was really necessary. a quicker way would be to point those interested toward classic philosophers like hume, spinoza and nietzsche... and more modern philosophers like wittgenstein, chisholm, taylor and frankfurt. of course one can write their own book, and i don't doubt that it would sell somewhere, but there's really nothing new to be said in this matter, fortunately or unfortunately (whichever you prefer).

So you're the last word on the subject? :-?

Determinism, as it's presently defined, implies that we are forced, against our will, to do what we do based on antecedent events, when NOTHING has the power to make us to anything against our will. We have absolute control over this.[i]

promethean75 wrote:
if i may point out here, forms of compatibilism or 'soft determinism' usually get their currency from distorting and/or importing into otherwise ordinary terms certain hidden premises which aren't made explicit. in the above instance, you're implying that the 'will' and the 'we' are somehow free from the causal constraints that the body is subject to.

[i]That's not what I said. I said most lay people, when they think of free will, believe that's what they have if there are no external constraints (such as a gun to their head).


promethean75 wrote:
this would be to introduce a cartesian substance that is not subject to the same natural processes that the body, in which it exists, is subject to. your version of compatibilism dissolves when you realize that there is no such agency that is causally exempt from the forces that order everything else in nature.

You could not have read what I posted because I never said that we are causally exempt from the forces that order everything in nature. What I did say is that nothing can make us do anything against our will, if we don't want to do something. Conversely, I said that our choices can only go in one direction, which is WHY will is not free. If it was free, we could choose either/or, but that would make a mockery of contemplation, which is for the sole purpose of deciding which choice, under our particular circumstances, is preferable.

promethean75 wrote:
once you realize there is no 'we' in the sense of there being an 'I' that acts upon the body rather than through it - or i should say 'as it' -, whether or not a 'we' has 'absolute control' is a nonsensical quest.

It is anything but a nonsensical quest. It is the most important quest of all time because it has the power to prevent from coming back that for which blame and punishment were previously necessary, as part of our development. At this juncture, it is important to clarify what is meant by responsibility. With your reasoning someone could say "I wasn't responsible for shooting that person because there is no "I";, ontologically speaking, I'm just part of a causal chain. Nature did what it wanted through me, but not of my own accord. Do you see a problem with this reasoning? Regardless of the reason for my pulling the trigger, the responsibility for making the choice (not the moral responsibility which invokes blame) was mine because nothing has the power to force me to do what I prefer not to do. Can you please sit with this for a moment before telling me I'm wrong? You have no conception at this point why this distinction is important.

promethean75 wrote:
there are not two separate entities working together here; it's not the 'self' and the self's 'body'. it's not the agency and the thing the agency acts upon. rather there is a single ontological substance, if you will, acting simpliciter.

The conventional definition implies that we are puppets on a string where we are forced to do what the software program (or natural law) tells us we must. In other words, the software program cannot make us do anything we don't want to do because the agent has the final say. That does not mean there are two separate entities just because there is an agent that decides. But ...(and here it is again) the choice not to perform an action is also part of the alignment with nature's law because this is an inherent attribute. We have absolute control to say no to an action (nothing can make us do anything against our will; you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink), but no control over our choice (whatever we find preferable among meaningful differences), rendering only one possible choice at any given moment in time.

prometheus75 wrote:
and yet, we cannot get around the problem of having to decide in praxis. built into this causal chain of events is that peculiar situation involving our neurology... that lapse of time in which manifold processes are not brought to the foreground in consciousness. it's this peculiar detail in nature that gives rise to the illusion. you all know this already.

Even though neuroscience tells us that things are going on below our conscious awareness, the choices we make (even if we're not sure of all the underlying reasons that we choose something) are done with our conscious awareness. Exceptions could be deep hypnosis where one is being controlled by another person's suggestion, but even here, I wonder if one would do something egregious and against his moral underpinning.

prometheus75 wrote:
but now let's be clear. even though there is no freewill, we'd be mistaken to use the word 'determine' as an alternative. as you'll see (in the below quote), the meaning of this word in the various ways we've learned to use it and make sense out of it, cannot be counted on to describe the process without yielding confusions. we are finally forced to say that things 'just happen', and continue living and interacting with people as if we really did have freewill. what then is the function of the lie of freewill? i call it the most recent form of moral subterfuge; it serves no other purpose than as a means for giving praise or placing blame, depending on whether or not we find a person agreeable or not.

Very true. Blame and praise are opposite sides of the coin.

prometheus75 wrote:
in this way it is a form of control and/or manipulation. it solicits admiration from those who we favor with praise, and fear/guilt from those who we reprimand with blame. you could even say that the degree with which a person uses these means is proportionate to their power and understanding. the weaker and more confused a person is, the more they rely on these means to understand their valuing of others. one who truly understood the truth (a spinoza, for instance... an almost impossible height) would have nothing but praise for everything, since they recognize the perfect order of nature in its totality; that things must happen as they do and could not happen any other way. this of course does not render one into a passive stoic who resigns into quietism. one still 'wills', only they no longer blame, no longer dread, no longer fear. as i said, an almost impossible 'level' of wisdom to reach. what spinoza said was 'as difficult as it was rare.'

Because Spinoza was dissatisfied with theology’s explanation of
good and evil, he opened the door of determinism and looked around
quite a bit but did not know how to slay the fiery dragon (the great
impasse of blame), so he pretended it wasn’t even there. He stated,
“We are men, not God. Evil is really not evil when seen in total
perspective,” and he rejected the principle of an eye for an eye. Will
Durant, not at all satisfied with this aspect of Spinoza’s philosophy,
although he loved him dearly, could not understand how it was
humanly possible to turn the other cheek in this kind of world. He
also went in and looked around very thoroughly and, he too, saw the
fiery dragon but unlike Spinoza he made no pretense of its
non-existence. He just didn’t know how to overcome the beast but
refused to agree with what common sense told him to deny.

The
implications really need no further clarification as to why free will is
in power. Nobody, including Spinoza and other philosophers, ever
discovered what it meant that man’s will is not free because they never
unlocked the second door which leads to my discovery. The belief in
free will was compelled to remain in power until the present time
because no one had conclusive proof that determinism was true, nor
could anyone slay the fiery dragon which seemed like an impossible
feat. Is it any wonder that Johnston didn’t want to get into this
matter any further? Is it any wonder Durant never went beyond the
vestibule? Are you beginning to recognize why it has been so difficult
to get this knowledge thoroughly investigated?


rosa lichtenstein wrote:Ok, here is my summary [of my ideas on 'determinism'], but comrades should not expect a water-tight solution to such a knotty problem in a few paragraphs. I am only posting this because I was asked to do so.

[I will however be publishing an essay specifically about this in the next few years, where I will substantiate what I have to say below far more fully.]

This issue has always revolved around the use of terminology drawn from traditional philosophy (such as "determined", "will", "free", and the like), the use of which bears no relation to how these words are employed in ordinary speech.

For example, "determine" and its cognates are typically used in sentences like this "The rules determine what you can do in chess", "The time of the next train can be determined from the timetable", or "I am determined to go on the demonstration" and so on. Hence this word is normally used in relation to what human beings can do, can apply, or can bring about.

As we will see, their use in traditional thought inverts this, making nature the agent and human beings the patient. No wonder then that the 'solution' to this artificial problem (i.e., 'determinism' and 'free will') has eluded us for over 2000 years.

To use an analogy, would we take seriously anyone who wondered when the King and Queen in chess got married, and then wanted to know who conducted the ceremony? Or, whether planning permission had been sought for that castle over in the corner? Such empty questions, of course, have no answer.

To be sure, this is more difficult to see in relation to the traditional question at hand, but it is nonetheless the result of similar confusions. So, it is my contention that this 'problem' has only arisen because ideologically-motivated theorists (from centuries ago) asked such empty questions, based on a misuse of language. [More on this below.]

When the details are worked out, 'determinism', for instance, can only be made to seem to work if nature is anthropomorphised, so that such things as 'natural law' 'determine' the course of events -- both in reality in general and in the central nervous system in particular -- thus 'controlling' what we do.

But, this is to take concepts that properly apply to what we do and can decide, and then impose them on natural events, suggesting that nature is controlled by a cosmic will of some sort. [Why this is so, I will outline presently.]

So, it's natural to ask: Where is this law written, and who passed it?

Of course, the answer to these questions is "No one" and "Nowhere", but then how can something that does not exist control anything?

It could be responded that natural law is just a summary of how things have so far gone up to now. In that case, such 'laws' are descriptive not prescriptive -- but it is the latter of these implications that determinists need.

Now, the introduction of modal notions here (such as 'must', or 'necessary') cannot be justified from this descriptive nature of 'law' without re-introducing the untoward anthropomorphic connotations mentioned above.

So, if we say that A has always followed B, we cannot now say A must follow B unless we attribute to B some form of control over A (and recall A has not yet happened, so what B is supposed to be controlling is somewhat obscure). And if we now try to say what we mean by 'control' (on lines such as 'could not be otherwise', or 'B made A happen') we need to explain how B prevented, say, C happening instead, and made sure that A, and only A took place.

The use of "obey" here would give the game away, since if this word is used with connotations that go beyond mere description, then this will imply that events like A understand the 'law' (like so many good citizens), and always do the same when B beckons, right across the entire universe --, and, indeed, that this 'law' must exist in some form to make things obey it. Of course, if it doesn't mean this, then what does it mean?

Now, I maintain that any attempt to fill in the details here will introduce notions of will and intelligence into the operation of B on A (and also on C) -- and that is why theorists have found they have had to drag in anthropomorphic concepts here (such as 'determine', 'obey' 'law' and 'control') to fill this gap, failing to note that the use of such words does indeed imply there is a will of some sort operating in nature. [But, note the qualification I introduce here, below. There were ideological reasons why these words were in fact used.]

If this is denied then 'determine' (etc.) can only be working descriptively, and we are back at square one.

Incidentally, the above problems are not to be avoided by the introduction of biochemical, neurological, and/or physiological objects and processes. The same questions apply here as elsewhere: how can, for example, a certain chemical 'control' what happens next unless it is intelligent in some way? Reducing this to physics is even worse; how can 'the field' (or whatever) control the future? 'The field' is a mathematical object and no more capable of controlling anything than a Hermite polynomial is. Of course, and once more, to argue otherwise would be to anthropomorphise such things -- which is why I made the argument above abstract, since it covers all bases.

This also explains why theorists (and particularly scientists who try to popularise their work) find they have to use 'scare quotes' and metaphor everywhere in this area.

As I noted earlier, this whole way of looking at 'the will' inverts things. We are denied a will (except formally) and nature is granted one. As many might now be able to see, this is yet another aspect of the alienating nature of traditional thought, where words are fetishised and we are dehumanised.

And this should not surprise us since such questions were originally posed theologically (and thus ideologically), where theorists were quite happy to alienate to 'god' such control over nature and our supposedly 'free' actions'. Hence, we too find that we have to appropriate such distorted terminology if we follow traditional patterns of thought in this area.


It is true that confusion arises due to definition only. There can be no meeting of the minds when everyone has a different definition of what determinism and free will mean. Definitions mean nothing where reality is concerned unless they reflect accurately what is going on in reality. For example, we are not denied a will in determinism. Moreover, the knowledge I am presenting is not prescriptive. It does not say we must choose so and so because determinism prescribed that this must be so. It is descriptive ONLY. It is also not anthropomorphic because we're not attributing man made characteristics to laws of nature; the laws of nature are given to us at birth. I'm not sure if my response will satisfy Rosa's take on the misuse of words because that is the crux of the problem but not in the way she's describing. I'm hoping that people will be interested in a more accurate definition of determinism. This correct definition, and the corollary that follows, reconciles determinism with moral responsibility. Will is not denied us, it's just not a free one. By keeping the will intact, it removes the alienating nature of traditional thought that has confused the free will/determinism debate up until the present day.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



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