Something Instead of Nothing

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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Mad Man P » Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:00 am

gib wrote:You can say: I made that happen, I was in control of it. What you can't say with determinism is: I could have done otherwise.

But it's true that if you believe you could not have done otherwise, you don't really bear any responsibility for your actions, and so the determinist may be free of that.


You're overlooking something critically important here.

You cannot say "I could have done otherwise" but you can say something much more damning if you were to add one or more conditions.
Which is exactly what taking responsibility demands we do anyway...

I not only could but WOULD have done otherwise, If only I were stronger, if only I were better educated, if only I placed more value on it... etc

If that is not an imperative toward self-improvement and responsibility, then nothing is.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:30 pm

The only sense in which determinism entails no control over one's life is if one believes all the determining factors controlling one's self are outside one's self (or not one's self). But you can still say: it was me who did it, and yet think of yourself as just a cog in a wheel. You can still identify yourself as a link in the chain of cause and effect, and therefore any effect you have on the events that follow from your action comes from you. You can say: I made that happen, I was in control of it. What you can't say with determinism is: I could have done otherwise.
That assumes that the determinist is identifying an 'I' or 'self'. That's not necessarily the case. Does a billiard ball, a rock or a cog have a 'self'? No.

He can say that there is no one in control.

And even if he does identify a 'self', he can still say that his actions are entirely due to outside forces - forces which created him as he is (the properties of the rock or 'self') and forces currently acting on him (the present environment).

Which is what Iambig is saying.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby gib » Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:04 pm

MagsJ wrote:Only if, and only in this thread.. it is not an unconditional/applies to all threads consensus.


You're the best Mags... but I have a feeling Biggy will reject this enticing offer, or just ignore it. Until then, no psychoanalyzing!

Mad Man P wrote:I not only could but WOULD have done otherwise, If only I were stronger, if only I were better educated, if only I placed more value on it... etc


Yes, that's why I left that part out. To be free in the incompatible sense is to say "I could have done otherwise," period. Not if this was the case, or that condition was met, etc.

phyllo wrote:That assumes that the determinist is identifying an 'I' or 'self'. That's not necessarily the case. Does a billiard ball, a rock or a cog have a 'self'? No.

He can say that there is no one in control.

And even if he does identify a 'self', he can still say that his actions are entirely due to outside forces - forces which created him as he is (the properties of the rock or 'self') and forces currently acting on him (the present environment).

Which is what Iambig is saying.


That is correct, phyllo.

This is why I was trying to say that there can be two types of determinists--those who think we are participants in the chain of cause and effect and those who think we (or "we") are outside the system all together. Biggy keeps putting quotes around "I" so I think it's fair to say he's of the latter variety (plus he's out right said so on numerous occasions).

I think the "I" is just what it feels like to be the cog in the wheel; sure, we're nothing more than a system of neurons and chemicals processing information about the world, but that's just what we look like from the outside, as a third person, but it's still like something to be a system of neurons and chemicals, and that's just our thoughts, emotions, and inner experiences--the view from the inside.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Mad Man P » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:05 pm

gib wrote:
Mad Man P wrote:I not only could but WOULD have done otherwise, If only I were stronger, if only I were better educated, if only I placed more value on it... etc


Yes, that's why I left that part out. To be free in the incompatible sense is to say "I could have done otherwise," period. Not if this was the case, or that condition was met, etc.


I'm going to assume you've lost sight of the context... though I do not know how.

gib wrote:But it's true that if you believe you could not have done otherwise, you don't really bear any responsibility for your actions, and so the determinist may be free of that.


So put into context... what you say above does NOT hold true at all because of this fairly critical oversight. The determinist cannot escape responsibility by recourse to "I could not have done otherwise"

In the context of responsibility, I would argue the "I could have done otherwise" is a weaker claim.

The implication is I could have done otherwise AS I AM... no correction required, no flaw, nor excellence... no cause at all is recognized.



gib wrote:
phyllo wrote:That assumes that the determinist is identifying an 'I' or 'self'. That's not necessarily the case. Does a billiard ball, a rock or a cog have a 'self'? No.

He can say that there is no one in control.

And even if he does identify a 'self', he can still say that his actions are entirely due to outside forces - forces which created him as he is (the properties of the rock or 'self') and forces currently acting on him (the present environment).

Which is what Iambig is saying.


That is correct, phyllo.

This is why I was trying to say that there can be two types of determinists--those who think we are participants in the chain of cause and effect and those who think we (or "we") are outside the system all together. Biggy keeps putting quotes around "I" so I think it's fair to say he's of the latter variety (plus he's out right said so on numerous occasions).

I think the "I" is just what it feels like to be the cog in the wheel; sure, we're nothing more than a system of neurons and chemicals processing information about the world, but that's just what we look like from the outside, as a third person, but it's still like something to be a system of neurons and chemicals, and that's just our thoughts, emotions, and inner experiences--the view from the inside.


I have to comment on this confused mess..

Seriously Phyllo, Gib...
Do not mistake one person's failure to use language effectively with a variant of determinism, please.

What qualifies as "I" is a semantic issue, not a variant of determinism.

I could define identity in such a way to make it impossible outside of strict determinism... say something along the lines of anything that is not directly caused by my physical body's interacting with the environment is not "mine" or is "outside of me", thus making free will incompatible with the existence of an "I"

Though the classic conception is that there is a duality and in many cases (as a result) "I" is defined as the spirit or soul or otherwise immaterial entity that is in possession of the body, a body which is subject to this spirit's will...

But these are definitions that are custom designed to fit a particular conception. If you use the "wrong" definition while applying a different conception, you will be left without the ability to identify an "I"
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:46 pm

I have to comment on this confused mess..

Seriously Phyllo, Gib...
Do not mistake one person's failure to use language effectively with a variant of determinism, please.

What qualifies as "I" is a semantic issue, not a variant of determinism.
I'm noting a difference between a rock rolling down a hill and a person selecting a path by which to descend down the hill.

Both are reacting to the terrain based on their particular characteristics.

The person is choosing and the rock is not choosing. The person has control and the rock does not.

That's what choice is. Right?

If he slips and starts falling, then he loses control and choice.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Mad Man P » Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:13 pm

phyllo wrote:I'm noting a difference between a rock rolling down a hill and a person selecting a path by which to descend down the hill.

Both are reacting to the terrain based on their particular characteristics.

The person is choosing and the rock is not choosing. The person has control and the rock does not.

That's what choice is. Right?

If he slips and starts falling, then he loses control and choice.


Agreed.. but perhaps agency would be a better term than "choice"

You could make the same observation about a machine "selecting" how to steer down a hill...

A rudimentary version might be to simply detect and steer toward the most even topography within a short distance.. but in order to implement any agency it requires certain conditions. It needs to be oriented such that it's wheels touch the ground and the camera faces forward etc.

You might not consider that a "choice" but I would argue that's a matter of definition... selecting a path based on a preference, no matter how predictable, is no less a selection.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Thu Nov 15, 2018 7:15 pm

You could make the same observation about a machine "selecting" how to steer down a hill...
Sure. You could say that a human being is a very sophisticated 'machine'. It's a machine making decisions based on a huge number of inputs and stored memory. Some of those inputs are far removed from the physical terrain of the hill. For example, a recommendation heard about which path to take, avoiding stepping on plants and animals for ethical reasons, mistaken assessments of situation or danger involved, fear in general, etc.

This is significantly removed from a rock or even a simple machine doing down hill. Or at least, I choose to think so.

Therefore, I would talk about human decisions in a particular way.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Mad Man P » Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:38 pm

phyllo wrote:Therefore, I would talk about human decisions in a particular way.


That is what I imagine we all elect to do... for strictly pragmatic reason if nothing else.
It's way easier to model a goal seeking agent in our heads than a complex web of neural and chemical reactions as a result of stimuli past and present that ultimately result in something approximating said agent.

But I worry we've lost sight of any disagreement or topic at this point.

I was primarily interested in challenging your and Gib's agreement about the implications a deterministic view has on individual responsibility.

Your original claim seemed to make the mistake of conflating determinism with fatalism given your conclusions but I could be wrong.

Gib then boiled it down to well you can find some measure of escape by recourse to "I could not have done differently" which I believe I have countered quite strongly.

See I find these intuitions people have about the implications of determinism on personal responsibility distressing.
I don't think they have any logical basis, hence why I call them intuitions.

This is a view I encounter often as a determinist, and I don't know if it's caused by confusing determinism and fatalism or something else.
Granted I do not have a particularly strong attachment to determinism, it's a view I hold entirely for pragmatic reasons and do not regard at all as conclusively true or false...
Yet on this topic I find I am often faced with a failure of logic for some inexplicable reason... and I lack a good explanation for why it occurs.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:50 pm

But I worry we've lost sight of any disagreement or topic at this point.

I was primarily interested in challenging your and Gib's agreement about the implications a deterministic view has on individual responsibility.

Your original claim seemed to make the mistake of conflating determinism with fatalism given your conclusions but I could be wrong.
That's because the discussion was geared towards Iambig's particular "style" of determinism.

If you tell Iambig that he is not responding to posts, he uses determinism to rationalize it as "he could not have responded in any other way".

Talk about self-improvement or responsibility and he says that he has no control over that. Why? Determinism.

He appears to want to remove power, control and responsibility from the individual and place it somewhere else.

If I see a complex machine making decisions, then I would tend to assign it agency. Iambig seems to see a reason to take away agency from humans.

That's my reading of his position. :confusion-shrug:
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby gib » Fri Nov 16, 2018 3:05 pm

Mad Man P wrote:So put into context... what you say above does NOT hold true at all because of this fairly critical oversight. The determinist cannot escape responsibility by recourse to "I could not have done otherwise”


Sorry, poor wording. The determinist doesn’t escape responsibility just on his beliefs, but on whether he’s right.

Mad Man P wrote:I could define identity in such a way to make it impossible outside of strict determinism... say something along the lines of anything that is not directly caused by my physical body's interacting with the environment is not "mine" or is "outside of me", thus making free will incompatible with the existence of an “I”


How is this any different from what I said? Yeah, different definitions for the same term. Different definitions lead to different concepts. Different concepts lead to different “isms”. You get two variants of determinism—one that defines “I” as a participant in the system, the other that defines “I” as outside the system (or possibly non-existent).
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Mad Man P » Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:53 pm

gib wrote:
Mad Man P wrote:I could define identity in such a way to make it impossible outside of strict determinism... say something along the lines of anything that is not directly caused by my physical body's interacting with the environment is not "mine" or is "outside of me", thus making free will incompatible with the existence of an “I”


How is this any different from what I said? Yeah, different definitions for the same term. Different definitions lead to different concepts. Different concepts lead to different “isms”. You get two variants of determinism—one that defines “I” as a participant in the system, the other that defines “I” as outside the system (or possibly non-existent).


This is how you generate spaghetti in your head and then get lost trying to untangle the mess.

People playing fast and loose with semantics are not "generating new concepts" they are just confusing themselves and everyone else.

Let's say you've drawn a detailed true to life picture of a house. Along comes a dude and says something like "there's no door in your picture"
You then point to the door in the picture and go "that's a door" the guy then says "no that's just an arbitrary section of the house... there's nothing but a house in the picture"

Your take away from this should not be to say "there are two pictures and each of us is looking at a different picture" I mean It can be, but this is how you generate brain spaghetti...
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:59 pm

But the discussion is really about why Iambig doesn't see a door where others do see a door.

It's about why his "I" is fragmented, why he is in an existential hole, why he is 'obsessed' by what most people would call "determinism", why he responds as he does.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Mad Man P » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:55 pm

phyllo wrote:But the discussion is really about why Iambig doesn't see a door where others do see a door.


It's not that he is saying there is no door in the picture... he just won't call it a "door", he thinks the word "door" means something else, something that does not exist in the picture... but he is very much looking at the same picture.

In our language and in our brains we tile the world into categories of distinct objects and entities... this division is not how the world truly is, it's just our way of making sense of it for practical reasons.

This is a game you can play with ANY model of reality... or just a picture.

It sounds as though he is reiterating the idea that we are consciousness and concluding (correctly) that ideas and thoughts are brought into our awareness without any willful act that we are conscious of.
In this view we are slaves to the workings of our brains and are relegated to being spectators of ourselves.

You might find this view absurde, but it is only a description, and if you grant the definitions... it is describing roughly the same picture... just tiled differently.

Edit:
It's worth noting that this is a scientific claim about the nature of our brains and consciousness, which I think is on shaky ground.
There's a fairly strong case to be made for how and why our consciousness plays a very significant role and is not "merely an observer"
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:51 pm

iambiguous wrote:Here we are clearly stuck.


gib wrote: I don't think we were ever moving.


But where I am stuck in particular is in discerning "once and for all" if I was ever able to decide that I am not stuck instead. Autonomously, freely or whatever else one calls "I" making a choice in a world not entirely in sync with the laws of matter.

If the things I think, feel and do are all intertwined necessarily in a brain intertwined necessarily in the laws of matters, what is the point of making such a distinction? Other than because "I" was never able not to make it?


gib wrote: For you? None. For everyone else? Tons.


From my frame of mind, this doesn't make my point go away until someone is able to demonstrate that either for me or for "tons" of others, the things that we think, feel and do were or were not in fact the things that we were only able to think, feel and do. Psychologically, we seem able to convince ourselves that we choose freely. But how is this in and of itself demonstrated to not merely be an inherent manifestation of life evolving into the human brain on earth? Evolving wholly in sync with the laws of matter?

iambiguous wrote:I just don't grasp this "psychological freedom" the way you do.


gib wrote: Sure you do. You just don't like. So you block it out.


Same thing. Until it can be demonstrated that the choice I made to block it out was not the only choice I was ever able going to make, we just go around and around in circles. Why? Because we were never able not to.

Again, I'm not arguing that I believe this beyond all doubt. I'm only suggesting that my ambivalence here may well be "beyond my control". And that even the arguments that some make in concluding that it is not beyond their control is in fact beyond their control. In that they were never able to argue otherwise.

Here I often go back to dreams. In them, I think that I am calling the shots. But it is only my brain matter creating what seem to be very real experiences to me.

gib wrote: I haven't quite grasped what you're ultimate aim in pursuing this all-encompassing determinism is, but given your interest in bringing the topic to the lives and struggles of human beings competing with each other and making moral judgement on each other, I'm going to guess that you want to prove to the world that no one is at fault for anything... ever... and thereby undermine all moral judgements.


No, that's your assumption. My own aim instead revolves around grappling with human autonomy in a world where "free will" has been debated now for many, many centuries. There is no clear cut consesnsus by any means.

And, so, I am not pursuing determinism. I am not pursuing anything other than an attempt to come to grips with my own ambivalence. And to question those who actually do seem convinced that their own understanding of all this is the right one. That's the part where human psychology comes into play here for me. This need to believe that there is but one correct answer. Why? Well, because they have already found it. And that allows them to anchor "I" in a foundation that is able to sustain some measure of comfort and consolation.

gib wrote: And here I come with my proposal of alternate meanings of freedom and ruin everything. How can no one be at fault for anything if yet another form of freedom rears its ugly head, a form by which we can continue to make moral judgements?


How can you ruin something for me that does not even exist? I am not arguing as either an objectivist or as a determinist. I am acknowledging right from the start that my own frame of mind here is both an "existential contraption" ever subject to change given new information, knowledge and ideas, and, in turn, woefully incomplete given the gap between what I think I know here and now and all that can be known about the existence of existence itself.

After all, I haven't written a book that comes to certain -- certain? -- conclusions about mind and matter.

That would be you, right?

Mostly I am trying to grasp how you reconcile the psychological freedom of any particular individual in a world in which mind is matter and matter is in sync with necessary laws.

How can these not be understood as compatible only in the sense that you were never ever able not to make that distinction? Unless of course you can convince, among others, the philosophical and scientific communities that your conclusions are in fact the most reasonable. And that you either were or were not in fact free to come to that conclusion.

iambiguous wrote:My point here however is that I am conflicted.


I doubt that.


Perhaps because you were never able to not doubt it. But if, in fact, you were, how could you possibly even begin to truly grasp my motivations and intentions anymore than I could truly grasp your own? Try to even imagine the existential gap between your "I" and my "I" in this exhange.

I am of "two minds". A part of me is convinced that any autonomy we do possess in the is/ought world is circumscribed by the manner in which I construe the components of my own moral philosophy. But another part of me is not even convinced that we possess autonomy in the either/or world.


gib wrote: If I didn't know any better, I'd say it was the whole you.


And that is certainly in sync with an assumption of my own: that you actually are convinced that these are things you can in fact know. And how gratifying [psychologically] that must be.

You actually seem to think that I like thinking that we live in an essentially meaningless world on this side of the grave that ends in the obliteration of "I" for all time to come on the other side of it. And you think that I think about this as I think that you think about it.

But only one of us seems rather smug about it all.

Then this part:

iambiguous wrote:If I thought like that, I would never pursue my other aim here: groping with the existential parameters of this: How ought one to live?


gib wrote: Prove it to me. The next time you remind us that you do or say or think X because you could never have not done or said or thought X, try coupling that with a statement underscoring what you would do if free will were real. You can begin with "On the other hand..." But I'll bet my children's education fund, I'll never see you say it.


But I am not saying "that I do or say or think X only because I could never have not done or said or thought X." That is you saying what you insist I am saying. Instead, I'm pointing out that I read the arguments of the determinists and the nondeterminists and they both make points that the other side is not able to just make go away. Points that cannot be demonstrated to be necessarily irrational.

I'm pulled and tugged in both directions. And, in fact, if I were wholly convinced that determinism is the optimal or only rational frame of mind here, the only explanation for pursuing dasein, conflicting goods and political economy in my is/ought world discussions is because I was never able not to. But how exactly would I go about determining that?

Is "free will" real? Here and now I can only think I know this or that about the answer. But I can't determine if what I think I do know here and now is closer or farther away from what you think you know given that neither of us is probably even close to whatever the answer might be given an actual ontological understanding of existence itself.

iambiguous wrote:Yes, that's what we are attempting to come to grips with here: the extent to which any reactions from any of us were/are within our capacity to have been other than what they were/are instead.


gib wrote: Ah, but... are we attempting to come to grips with this because we are freely choosing to? Or is it because we could never have not attempted to come to grips with it?


Exactly! Some think that their own attempts are freely chosen, while others think that, in thinking this, the attempts in and of themselves are just another manifestation of what we still don't know about how mindless matter could have evolved into brain matter evolving into human minds.

Are memes and genes essentially interchangable in an existence that trudges on necessarily only as it ever could?

gib wrote: And BTW, why are you agreeing with me? What happened to the gap between what you think you know "in your head" and all that would be needed to know in order to say for sure what we are attempting to come to grips with?


Agreeing with you about what? We can both agree that we are exchanging posts here at ILP. We can both agree that we have different takes regarding the existential significance of "psychological freedom" given the choices that we make.

But how would anything that we either agree or disagree about not still be embedded in the gap between what we think we know about these things here and now and all that can be known in about them in order to assess the reality of existence essentially, necessarily?

I'm basically at a loss regarding why you can't own up to this profoundly significant chasm. Unless, of course, you were never really able to.

gib wrote:I would very much like an answer to my question: do you think that in order to have a subjective experience, one must be able to choose that subjective experience (this was the example about choosing to see a banana as blue).


But how does this not immediately take us on to the next question: do you think that what you do think here is something that you chose to think "of your own free will"?


gib wrote: Everything takes you to that question, Biggy.


No, everything takes me to the question of how it can be determined that "everything" -- "anything" -- here was or was not ever within my capacity to have chosen otherwise.

The banana is blue because someone painted it blue, or because you have taken LSD, or because your brain is diseased, or because you are dreaming it is blue.


gib wrote: Is this really your answer? Ha! You couldn't even answer the question!


Note to others:

What sort of answer is he after here? Please provide me with the manner in which you would answer him instead. So that I can make comparisons.

gib wrote: Your brain distorted what you read. In a panic over the prospect of being shown up, your brain convert this: "Do you think that in order to have a subjective experience, one must be able to choose that subjective experience?"... to this: "Why is the banana blue?"


Sure, maybe. But all I can do here is to respond to the best of my ability. For me, there is no question that we choose our subjective experiences. Instead, the question is the extent to which it is possible that "I" could have freely chosen another experience instead. Or that I could have freely chosen to react to the experiences of others otherwise.

Right now there is a part of me convinced I am freely choosing to type these words. That, in other words, I can stop doing so and freely choose to do something else instead.

But how can I determine this beyond all doubt? Is the fact that psychologically I "think" and I "feel" that I am free the same as actually being so? I think and feel that I am free in my dreams. But it's all brain matter creating a reality "in my head" to the best of my knowledge.

It still comes down to whether with respect to any of these contexts there is an element of autonomy present.


gib wrote: Not really.


So, that settles it?

iambiguous wrote:To the extent that anyone is able to point out the weaknesses of this assessment, I can only be grateful.


gib wrote: We're all human, Biggy, and I think we'd all take comfort in knowing that we'll be taken care of by a benevolent God after we die, but there are some things we cling to more than hope in a blissful afterlife. Stakes in an argument, for example. You've clung to your nihilistic position for so long, and spoke in defence of it so many times, I think at this point, you'd prefer to be right despite knowing the implications that has for your "I".


Again: To the extent that anyone is able to point out the weaknesses in my assessment, I can only be grateful.

Nothing that you've noted above changes that. Though, sure, you can think what you will in exposing "the real me" to others here.

But I'm the one who has to live from day to day with what I have "here and now" thought myself into believing is true about these things. And, your own contentions to the contrary, it is a really, really, really grim point of view.

iambiguous wrote:And I suspect that the peace of mind that you and "most others" are able to sustain here is embedded in a psychological defense mechinism that revolves around one or another rendition of this: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296


gib wrote:That doesn't sound too peaceful. If I may suggest, maybe it's just not having to be confused by how the world works. I have an understanding of how the world works on a fundamental metaphysical level. I may be right, I may be wrong. But once engraved into my mind, how can I undo this understanding? And why would I? Just for the sake of taking the hard road? Of being tormented by confusion and existential angst? <-- No thanks.


Bingo. You admit that your own answers here may be right, may be wrong. But [from my frame of mind] that's not the point. Instead, the point is that you have managed to convince yourself that there is a right answer to be had here. So, again, why not yours. It's the part about having an answer -- any answer -- that propels the objectivist mind.

Why would you want to "undo" the answer given that having one was the whole point in the first place?

That's the part where "comfort and consolation" comes in.

The arguments on this thread however revolve more around are the extent to which, psychologicaly and/or metaphysically, anything that we chose here was or was not only as we ever could have chosen it.

Not only do I not know the answer to this, I can't even imagine the minds of any mere mortals on this tiny little rock in the vastness of what may or may not be the multiverse, actually thinking that they have one!

The fucking answer!!!

To me, that's analogous to insisting that you believe in the existence of the fucking God! And then demonstrating that He does in fact fucking exist!!

iambiguous wrote:...in a way that really doesn't make much sense to me. I'm simply not free to make a ham and cheese sandwich if I was always ever going to make it. If thinking that I am free is in turn the only way I was ever able to think about it, then this feeling of "compatibilism" is in turn illusory.


gib wrote: Not if you understand what it's saying.

And again, the feeling of freedom is no more an illusion than a dark room is the illusion of emptiness.


Again, if the human brain is matter wholly in sync with the necessary laws of matter, human thoughts and feelings are either wholly in sync with that or there is something very, very special about human "minds".

Or, perhaps, souls?

If I could not not have made the sandwich and if I could not not have thought I was doing this freely...

What does freedom mean here? For all practical purposes?

iambiguous wrote:...is just another intellectual contraption that your brain was determined to concoct in order to sustain the illusion that a part of you -- the psychological "I" -- might have chosen something different.


gib wrote: The advantage of compatibilism is that you actually can say that.


In a determined universe [if that be the case] in which you were never able to not say it.

gib wrote: You phrase it: "I could have chosen different, if I wanted to."--the catch being that your wanting to is the determining force that decides your choosing one way or another. That we were destined to choose one way over another is neither here nor there with compatibilism.


But my wanting to is or is not no less entangled in my having to want to. My brain/mind is or is not compelled [by whatever brought into existence existence itself] to want or not want things only as it ever could have wanted or not wanted to.

My "sense of freedom" here in making the sandwich would seem to be interchangeable with the prisoner begging the guard for food. We both think and feel and behave as we do only because there was never any real possibility of it being otherwise.
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

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby gib » Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:03 am

Mad Man P wrote:People playing fast and loose with semantics are not "generating new concepts" they are just confusing themselves and everyone else.


I refuse to believe that in coming up with new definitions, we don't, in the same stroke, come up with new concepts. Definitions are concepts.

Mad Man P wrote:Let's say you've drawn a detailed true to life picture of a house. Along comes a dude and says something like "there's no door in your picture"
You then point to the door in the picture and go "that's a door" the guy then says "no that's just an arbitrary section of the house... there's nothing but a house in the picture"

Your take away from this should not be to say "there are two pictures and each of us is looking at a different picture" I mean It can be, but this is how you generate brain spaghetti...


What is the picture supposed to represent? The object in the world we refer to with our words? Or the concepts in our head denoted by our words? If the object in the world, then sure, there can only be one; but you still get a separate concept for every different definition. If the concept in the head, then no, there isn't one draw, there are as many drawings as there are definitions.

This should be obvious with many real world examples. Consider flat Earthers. One Earth, two concepts, two definitions. The flat Earthers think of the world as flat--that's how they define the Earth and that's how they conceptualize it. The rest of the world think of and define the Earth as round.

Obviously, there is this thing called the 'self', the 'I'--it's a real phenomenon in the world ('I' skeptics notwithstanding), but there is tons of disagreement about the true nature of the self. Is it just the body? Is it a soul within the body? Is it the software that runs on our neural hardware? Is it an illusion? Does it not exist? I don't think that just by pointing to Tom, for example, we've identified Tom's 'self' in such a way that we can answer these questions (although I think our ability to point to a person, or refer to ourselves in the mirror, shows that the self is at least the body, but that's just me).

Now, I do get the idea that we sometimes get definitions wrong. A foreigner who comes to the country and is just beginning to learn the language might point to an orange and say "banana". What do we usually say? Do we say: "Ah, so I guess that's a banana to you." Or do we say: "No, sorry, but you've made a mistake. That's an orange." <-- We usually say the latter. But this is because there's a clearly defined custom here--a rule of language that almost everyone in our culture abides by. This is not the case with every word though. When it comes to the 'self', we are woefully short of agreeing on a clearly defined meaning (at least when we get philosophical about it). Like I said above, some think the self is just the body, some think it's the soul, some think it doesn't exist. In this case, if you want to say a believer in the soul is mistaken, that's just your ordinary run-of-the-mill philosophical disagreement, not a statement about the person's poor use of the language.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Mad Man P » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:11 am

gib wrote:I refuse to believe that in coming up with new definitions, we don't, in the same stroke, come up with new concepts. Definitions are concepts.


Fair enough... you can frame it such that every word's meaning is a concept

So perhaps I can try to illustrate this a different way...

Determinism as a word has a meaning... that meaning is a question of semantics
Determinism as a concept is a model of reality wherein every event that plays out could be predicted given sufficient information.

"I/me/myself/self" are words... what they mean is a question of semantics
"The concept of self" is what is formed from that definition...

My point is, whatever that conception of self may or may not be, it has absolutely no bearing on the concept of determinism... it may be rendered impossible by determinism, it may be only possible given determinism... either way it does not constitute a change in the concept of determinism.

Obviously, there is this thing called the 'self', the 'I'--it's a real phenomenon in the world ('I' skeptics notwithstanding), but there is tons of disagreement about the true nature of the self. Is it just the body? Is it a soul within the body? Is it the software that runs on our neural hardware? Is it an illusion? Does it not exist? I don't think that just by pointing to Tom, for example, we've identified Tom's 'self' in such a way that we can answer these questions (although I think our ability to point to a person, or refer to ourselves in the mirror, shows that the self is at least the body, but that's just me).


There is a HUGE difference between arguing over what the definition of "self" ought to be (semantics) and how best to model the phenomenon that we choose to call self.
We have made great strides toward understanding the workings of our brain and there's a lot left that we do not know... but whether any of that information pertains to understanding the nature of "self" depends entirely on how we define "self".

When someone says they define self as being a person's soul and you define it as being their brain... the disagreement can be about SEMANTICS (an absolute waste of everyone's time) or it can be about the existence of souls and what role they play.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Sat Nov 17, 2018 2:12 pm

My point is, whatever that conception of self may or may not be, it has absolutely no bearing on the concept of determinism... it may be rendered impossible by determinism, it may be only possible given determinism... either way it does not constitute a change in the concept of determinism.
How did the "concept of determinism" become so powerful that it drives the existence of "concept of self"? Why doesn't the "concept of self" maybe render the "concept of determinism" impossible/possible?

After all, only conscious being with 'selves' can come up with the "concept of determinism" in the first place.
There is a HUGE difference between arguing over what the definition of "self" ought to be (semantics) and how best to model the phenomenon that we choose to call self.
It's probably not that huge.
When someone says they define self as being a person's soul and you define it as being their brain... the disagreement can be about SEMANTICS (an absolute waste of everyone's time) or it can be about the existence of souls and what role they play.
Then you have one person who sees a lot of souls in the world and another person who sees a lot of brains. And these people are going to act differently and they will change the world based on those actions.

It's like those who say that "animals have feelings" and those who say that "animals don't have feelings". Both are looking at exactly the same world/reality. They treat animals differently.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby phyllo » Sat Nov 17, 2018 2:40 pm

Iambig wrote :
Instead, the point is that you have managed to convince yourself that there is a right answer to be had here. So, again, why not yours. It's the part about having an answer -- any answer -- that propels the objectivist mind.

The right answer is that there is no right answer. Right?

No wait a minute, the correct attitude would seem to be "I don't know whether there is a right answer or not". That would lead to a calm peaceful state of mind. There would be no reason to attack 'objectivists' for their beliefs since you don't know if they are right or wrong.

Instead :
Iambig wrote:
Not only do I not know the answer to this, I can't even imagine the minds of any mere mortals on this tiny little rock in the vastness of what may or may not be the multiverse, actually thinking that they have one!

The fucking answer!!!
You've convinced yourself that a right answer is impossible for "mere mortals". How dare they think that there is a "fucking answer".

No uncertainty there. Never : maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong, maybe the concept of right and wrong is not applicable.
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:35 pm

phyllo wrote:What's the difference between a person who believes in determinism and one who believes in compatabilism/free will?

On the plus side:
The determinist feels that he is not responsible/accountable for his life.

The non-determinist feels that he has control of his life.

On the minus side:
The determinist feels that he lacks control of his life.

The non-determinist feels the pressure of responsibility and accountability.

Which feeling do you prefer to have?

To what extent do these beliefs alter a life?


Of course until we are able to determine the extent to which the feeling that we prefer is the feeling that we have freely chosen to prefer, we still seem stuck with taking an "intuitive leap" to one frame of mind or the other.

A leap that we are able to make with some measure of autonomy or not.

And, even in a non-determinist world, the choices that we make in the is/ought world are, in my view, circumscribed by the manner in which I construe the meaning of dasein, conflicting goods and political economy.

Our "control" here is embedded in a particular historical, cultural and experiential [individual] context understood from a particular point of view ever subject to change given new experiences, new relationships and access to new information and knowledge.
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

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:36 pm

duplicate post
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

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Meno_ » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:03 pm

But what if/when such differences follow /or become increasingly compatible to the point that they approach indiscernibility?
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:04 pm

gib wrote:
MagsJ wrote:Can we stick to debating and not psychoanalysing others.. thanks.


Aw, why you gotta ruin our fun, Mags?

Tell you what... Biggy, do you like psychoanalyzing me? I like psychoanalyzing you. If we both agree to accept each other's psychoanalyzations (because it's fun), can we continue?


Two points...

1] From my frame of mind, human psychology is important here because I see it as a crucial component of the objectivist mind. The objectivist has obviated an essentially meaningless world by subsuming "I" in one or another intellectual contraption that sustains some measure of comfort and consolation. Having an answer is the main point for them.

Thus, for example, the conservatives claim to have the answers in the political arena no more but no less than the liberals claim to. Then back to my arguments on this thread: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296

And then the part where the religious objectivists obviate the obliteration of "I" in death by subsuming it in one or another God and Salvation.

On the other hand...

2] Any particular individual's psychological bent can only be an enormously complex agglomeration of countless existential variables going all the way back to his or her birth. What are the odds then that we have any really true understanding and/or control over them?

Nature, nurture, genes, memes. All embedded in the trajectory of one particular life. "I" here can only scarcely be glimpsed I suspect. Let alone understood fully. Let alone in attempting to fully understand the psychology of another.

We exchange these hopelessly problematic arguments because, well, that's really all that is within our reach.

Unless of course I'm wrong.
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: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Meno_ » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:10 pm

iambiguous wrote:
gib wrote:
MagsJ wrote:Can we stick to debating and not psychoanalysing others.. thanks.


Aw, why you gotta ruin our fun, Mags?

Tell you what... Biggy, do you like psychoanalyzing me? I like psychoanalyzing you. If we both agree to accept each other's psychoanalyzations (because it's fun), can we continue?


Two points...

1] From my frame of mind, human psychology is important here because I see it as a crucial component of the objectivist mind. The objectivist has obviated an essentially meaningless world by subsuming "I" in one or another intellectual contraption that sustains some measure of comfort and consolation. Having an answer is the main point for them.

Thus, for example, the conservatives claim to have the answers in the political arena no more but no less than the liberals claim to. Then back to my arguments on this thread: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296

And then the part where the religious objectivists obviate the obliteration of "I" in death by subsuming it in one or another God and Salvation.

On the other hand...

2] Any particular individual's psychological bent can only be an enormously complex agglomeration of countless existential variables going all the way back to his or her birth. What are the odds then that we have any really true understanding and/or control over them?

Nature, nurture, genes, memes. All embedded in the trajectory of one particular life. "I" here can only scarcely be glimpsed I suspect. Let alone understood fully. Let alone in attempting to fully understand the psychology of another.

We exchange these hopelessly problematic arguments because, well, that's really all that is within our reach.

Unless of course I'm wrong.




But what if/when such differences follow /or become increasingly compatible to the point that they approach indiscernibility? Then You may be wrong, but only then, maybe way too far in the future perhaps never?
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:25 pm

gib wrote:
phyllo wrote:That assumes that the determinist is identifying an 'I' or 'self'. That's not necessarily the case. Does a billiard ball, a rock or a cog have a 'self'? No.

He can say that there is no one in control.

And even if he does identify a 'self', he can still say that his actions are entirely due to outside forces - forces which created him as he is (the properties of the rock or 'self') and forces currently acting on him (the present environment).

Which is what Iambig is saying.


That is correct, phyllo.

This is why I was trying to say that there can be two types of determinists--those who think we are participants in the chain of cause and effect and those who think we (or "we") are outside the system all together. Biggy keeps putting quotes around "I" so I think it's fair to say he's of the latter variety (plus he's out right said so on numerous occasions).

I think the "I" is just what it feels like to be the cog in the wheel; sure, we're nothing more than a system of neurons and chemicals processing information about the world, but that's just what we look like from the outside, as a third person, but it's still like something to be a system of neurons and chemicals, and that's just our thoughts, emotions, and inner experiences--the view from the inside.


Mostly what I am saying is that I do not seem to have access to the answer here. Even in the either/or world, "I" is still construed by me to be an existential contraption "thrown" fortuitously into being at birth and then ceaselessly configured and reconfigured all the way to the grave.

"I" seems in turn to be created and recreated in the gap between what I think I know is true here and now and all that can be known to be true about existence itself.

Some, of course, just shrug that part off. As though it were of little consequence. They have their answer about the relationship between matter and mind; and this works to sustain whatever measure of comfort and consolation that having an answer gives them.

It's just that some factor in God and relgion as well. That way "in their head" [and later "in their soul"] the answer can sustain them through all of eternity.
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

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
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Re: Something Instead of Nothing

Postby Ecmandu » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:40 pm

Iambiguous, you definitely have what's termed, a personality disorder.

They're basically incurable.

Everyone is defined by continuity of consciousness, you from a child to you now. There's no confusion to anyone who isn't trolling for attention. I'd almost be willing to think that you're a female, as they have the largest percentage of personality disorders.
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