Rhizome 4/10/16 on the ongoing (and may the wrath of Professor Strunk rest in its grave (between me, Christopher Vaughanr, and Chris Doveton in which I find myself having to referee for the sake of de-escalating what could escalate into bloodsport –that is while exploiting the opportunity to bring in a quote from D.F. Wallace’s Infinite Jest:
“There is nothing to wrap up as you are refusing to address any questions I ask and have instead resorted to rather provocative remarks implying your superiority” –Christopher
“I've read back and I see you are absolutely right! Condescending etc...Sorry about that! Ok then, hope that's cleared up , Cya.” –Chris
“ D Edward Tarkington over to you Ed, to wrap things up here...” -Chris
First of all, guys, we need to take it a little easier here and ask ourselves how much life would be really changed if either side of the debate was finally declared, beyond question, to be the correct one. It’s like the joke I like to offer to hardcore determinists: if they were to give me the next winning lotto numbers I would be more than willing to admit they were right; that way they could have the satisfaction of being confirmed while I could have the satisfaction of being rich. A win-win by any criteria as far as I’m concerned.
But no one has to win here. Right?
Christopher, on these boards I have found myself in a kind of bloodlust with 2 types: hardcore Libertarians and Hardcore Materialists. They tend to come off as condescending and dismissive. But let’s give Chris a little credit for not doing so. He, for instance (as many materialists do, has not thrown out words like “objectivity” and “the scientific method” then made assertions that fit the criteria of neither. Thus far, to me, he has just been making his point. And I would note that he doesn’t baffle us with big words as you noted on another post that I have saved and plan to respond to.
Chris, having dealt with hardcore materialists as I have on these boards, I know perfectly well how easy it is for someone who holds out for some possibility of Free Will (or Participation (to develop a bit of a hairline trigger when it comes to how condescending those who argue from the Capitalist backed position of scientism can be. I would only ask that you be sensitive to that and keep in mind that the issue, as of yet, has not been conclusively determined.
“Son, you’re ten, and this is hard news for somebody ten, even if you’re almost five-eleven, a possible pituitary freak. Son, you’re a body, son. That quick little scientific-prodigy’s mind she’s so proud of and won’t quit twittering about: son, it’s just neural spasms, those thoughts in your mind are just the sound of your head revving, and head is still just body, Jim. Commit this to memory. Head is body. Jim, brace yourself against my shoulders here for this hard news, at ten: you’re a machine a body an object, Jim, no less than this rutilant Montclair, this coil of hose here or that rake there for the front yard’s gravel or sweet Jesus this nasty fat spider flexing in its web over there up next to the rake-handle, see it? See it?” -Wallace, David Foster (2009-04-03). Infinite Jest (p. 159). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.
Here, as we have seen with Spinoza, Deleuze, and Rorty, the value of accepting the materialist position for sake of a usable model that can help us explain the world and how to act in it. Still, choices seem to be being made. This is where I depart with you, Chris. You say:
“I first came to a skeptical position on free will after working through the homunculus or infinite regress argument. Even without the neuroscience, this seems to fairly damn free will in any traditional essentialist sense. There is certainly something irrefutable about "will" of course, but I imagine it in the way Schopenhauer or those sort of people wrote about it....Rorty writes very cogently about how Freud de-centered the self into a series of cyclic processes with no governing agency - like a machine as he put it...”
Now before I go on, I want to first make my own attempt to explain the Homunculus problem for Christopher and its relation to infinite regress:
From its perspective, Christopher, we start with a supposed little man that is in our brain that is, as Chris describes, acting as the captain of the ship: our body. The problem is that we then have to imagine yet another little man inside the head of the captain that must contain yet another little man and so on and so on until we end up with a kind of infinite regress.
And this is where I depart from Chris in questioning the linear nature of causality folded in to the argument when, as I see it, causality is more about non-linear feedback loops between the body, the brain (as well as the mind (consciousness as we experience it, and our environment. And I would respectfully ask Chris to consider the possibility that his embrace of homunculus argument is based on a questionable assumption: the linear model of causality. Also, I think we have to question why it is that an infinite regress automatically constitutes some kind of failure. To me, it seems to be the way things are: the strings of causality all receding and converging into the distance, into nothingness.
Humble yourself or the world will do it for you -it was either Russell or Whitehead. I can't remember which.
When I was young, I use to think the world was a messed up place so i was pissed off a lot. But now that I'm older, I know it is. So I just don't worry about it. -John Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten).
Anarchy through Capitalism -on a flyer thrown out during a Kottonmouth Kings concert.
First we read, then we write. -Emerson.
All poets are damned. But they are not blind. They see with the eyes of angels. -William Carlos Williams: in the introduction to Ginsberg's Howl.
You gotta love that moment when the work is done and all that is left to do is drink your beer and sip your jager and enjoy what you've done. It's why I do and love it.
I refuse to be taken seriously.
Once again: take care of your process and others will take care of theirs. No one needs a guru. Just someone to jam with.