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Old 12-05-08, 10:59 AM   #1
UnsafeAlpine
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Serious discussion about free will

Ok Foosters, it's time to don the thinking caps and put your brain to work (since I know you aren't doing that at work ). The question of the day is this:

Do we have free will?

I would love to say we do, that our actions are governed by nothing but our own minds, our own choices. To have anything else would be antithetical to human nature. To absolutely know that we are, in fact, not controlled by ourselves, but by some unseeable force, would be devastating. Why would we want to continue on as we do if our choices are not our own?

But here's the thing. We don't have free will.

I'll pose two ideas about why this is, and then we can let the discussion flow.

First point: Scientists have found that long before we are consciously aware of making a decision, our minds has already made it.
This means that if you "decide" to suddenly raise your right hand, up to 7 seconds before you've made that decision, your brain already knows you're going to do it. 7 seconds. Count it off. 7....6....5....4....3....2....1....Pow. That's a long time. How does your brain know before you do? What is controlling that? You can't consciously make a decision without being directed by your unconscience.

Second point: Every moment in time has happened, is happening, and will happen. Just as the Tramalfodorians in the book, The Slaughterhouse Five, tried to explain to Billy Pilgrim, time does not exist as we think of it, with a beginning, an end, and a middle. Every moment that happens will always happen and has always happened. If you don't believe me, think about this. Again, count to 7 and lift your right hand, and then go back to reading this....................There, did you do it? Good. Where did that moment go? The one you just had. Did it just disappear? What happened to it? Many people are proposing that nothing just vanishes, it stays in that moment. If that's true, then everything that comes after that moment always has been.

These two points, when combined, provided a pretty secure idea that we do not have free will. But even if we don't, it's still much better to pretend.
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Old 12-05-08, 11:15 AM   #2
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The Universe is an incredibly complicated series of events that was set in motion roughly 13.5 billion years ago. The only controlling variables were the conditions in that singularity at that instant of creation. Everything since that moment and everything that will ever happen is the result of cause and effect. I guess that makes me a Determinist.
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Old 12-05-08, 11:16 AM   #3
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Come on UA, save that one for nerdforums.net and instead contemplate this picture of a lion riding a horse.

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Old 12-05-08, 11:18 AM   #4
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 12-05-08, 11:45 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
...But here's the thing. We don't have free will.

I'll pose two ideas about why this is, and then we can let the discussion flow.

First point: Scientists have found that long before we are consciously aware of making a decision, our minds has already made it.
This means that if you "decide" to suddenly raise your right hand, up to 7 seconds before you've made that decision, your brain already knows you're going to do it. 7 seconds. Count it off. 7....6....5....4....3....2....1....Pow. That's a long time. How does your brain know before you do? What is controlling that? You can't consciously make a decision without being directed by your unconscience.

Second point: Every moment in time has happened, is happening, and will happen. Just as the Tramalfodorians in the book, The Slaughterhouse Five, tried to explain to Billy Pilgrim, time does not exist as we think of it, with a beginning, an end, and a middle. Every moment that happens will always happen and has always happened. If you don't believe me, think about this. Again, count to 7 and lift your right hand, and then go back to reading this....................There, did you do it? Good. Where did that moment go? The one you just had. Did it just disappear? What happened to it? Many people are proposing that nothing just vanishes, it stays in that moment. If that's true, then everything that comes after that moment always has been.

These two points, when combined, provided a pretty secure idea that we do not have free will. But even if we don't, it's still much better to pretend.
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The Universe is an incredibly complicated series of events that was set in motion roughly 13.5 billion years ago. The only controlling variables were the conditions in that singularity at that instant of creation. Everything since that moment and everything that will ever happen is the result of cause and effect. I guess that makes me a Determinist.
UA - You're using fictional writing by a drug-addled individual as part of a scientific argument?

What those scientists have found in the brain is the contemplation of the act, not the determination that the act will occur. There's a huge difference between correlation and causality. Obviously, your hand can't raise without contemplating it. duh!

kila - as for you - I suppose you have some scientific proof for this bizarre notion?
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Old 12-05-08, 11:48 AM   #6
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I think Free Will is a great song
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Old 12-05-08, 11:48 AM   #7
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Come on UA, save that one for nerdforums.net and instead contemplate this picture of a lion riding a horse.

That is awesome
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Old 12-05-08, 11:50 AM   #8
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kila - as for you - I suppose you have some scientific proof for this bizarre notion?
I'm sure your equally unprovable notions of free will are as bizarre to me as mine are to you.
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Old 12-05-08, 11:51 AM   #9
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I enjoyed Fee Willy



seriously...
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Old 12-05-08, 11:52 AM   #10
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I'm sure your equally unprovable notions of free will are as bizarre to me as mine are to you.
Innocent until proven guilty - so to speak is my POV.

Feel free to carry on in your automatonic state.
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Old 12-05-08, 11:54 AM   #11
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Old 12-05-08, 12:00 PM   #12
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I enjoyed Fee Willy



seriously...
Okay, I LOL'd. I may have to go get a mouthful of milk so I can come back and read that again spit it all over my monitor.
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 12-05-08, 12:03 PM   #13
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This means that if you "decide" to suddenly raise your right hand, up to 7 seconds before you've made that decision, your brain already knows you're going to do it. 7 seconds. Count it off. 7....6....5....4....3....2....1....Pow. That's a long time. How does your brain know before you do?
No, that's not what it means at all. My "brain" doesn't know before "I" do, because my brain is also me. I made that arm go up. There is no "I" separate and apart from my brain.
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Old 12-05-08, 12:11 PM   #14
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The Universe is an incredibly complicated series of events that was set in motion roughly 13.5 billion years ago. The only controlling variables were the conditions in that singularity at that instant of creation. Everything since that moment and everything that will ever happen is the result of cause and effect. I guess that makes me a Determinist.
I used to be in your camp where I believed everything was predetermined cause and effect and we only had the illusion of free will.

Then I read some quantum physics and came to understand that as things are looked at from an infinitesmally small level, there is no cause or effect, just random chance. So now I'm in the opposite camp- We have free will and only the illusion of a cause-effect universe.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 12-05-08, 12:13 PM   #15
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In a deterministic world view, whether you believe in free will or not is already determined.

In a free will worldview, it's your choice which to believe.

On which is true, the answer is "Yes", but you're asking the wrong question...
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Old 12-05-08, 12:15 PM   #16
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No, that's not what it means at all. My "brain" doesn't know before "I" do, because my brain is also me. I made that arm go up. There is no "I" separate and apart from my brain.

+1

Nor is there any separation between "mind" and "brain". "You" are a vat of organic molecules exhibiting electro-chemical reactions. (As am "I".)

As Daniel Dennett pointed out a decade or two ago, the entire notion of the "Cartesian Theater", this place "inside the brain" (aka "the mind's eye") where things are "observed" and decisions are made prior to their execution is a complete & total myth.

I knew I was going to write that sentence 7 seconds ago!
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Old 12-05-08, 12:19 PM   #17
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You can choose from phantom fears, and kindness that can kill, I will choose a path thats clear I will choose freewill... rush
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Old 12-05-08, 12:47 PM   #18
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I used to be in your camp where I believed everything was predetermined cause and effect and we only had the illusion of free will.

Then I read some quantum physics and came to understand that as things are looked at from an infinitesmally small level, there is no cause or effect, just random chance. So now I'm in the opposite camp- We have free will and only the illusion of a cause-effect universe.
Perhaps the randomness of quantum mechanics only means that the cause of the effect isn't readily observable by us.
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Old 12-05-08, 01:00 PM   #19
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I don't know much about quantum physics, but it seems to me that there would be a difference between instinctual actions normally made throughout the course of one day and actions that take a lot of thought (ie. life choices). The decisions that UA speaks of in his first point seem more like they are involuntary motions that our bodies go through made either through habit or instinct. I think when it comes to decisions that we consciously think about, such as the decision to go to college and what major to pick we do have free will. Even when it comes to instinctual behavior, we can train ourselves to act differently. We have enough of a free will to make choices every day that will affect our happiness and health. We just need to have enough will power to go through with them.
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Old 12-05-08, 01:02 PM   #20
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I don't know much about quantum physics, but it seems to me that there would be a difference between actions normally made throughout the course of one day and actions that take a lot of thought (ie. life choices). The decisions that UA speaks of in his first point seem more like they are involuntary motions that our bodies go through made either through habit or instinct. I think when it comes to decisions that we consciously think about, such as the decision to go to college and what major to pick we do have free will. Even when it comes to instinctual behavior, we can train ourselves to act differently. We have enough of a free will to make choices every day that will affect our happiness and health. We just need to have enough will power to go through with them.
devil's advocate. Just how much does our past experience influence the decisions we make in the future? And if there is an influence, which there probably is, do we really have free will? Do we really have the ability to make decisions freely? Or are we just a summation of experiences resulting in a preprogrammed decision?
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Old 12-05-08, 01:08 PM   #21
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devil's advocate. Just how much does our past experience influence the decisions we make in the future? And if there is an influence, which there probably is, do we really have free will? Do we really have the ability to make decisions freely? Or are we just a summation of experiences resulting in a preprogrammed decision?
If my past experiences were dictating my life, then I would be like the rest of my family right now. Granted, I still think they affect my life today, how can past experiences not? They are what shape you as a person. Still, I think is it possible to make conscious decisions about your life every day. I don't think our lives are predestined and I don't believe in fate. Life is mostly random, but it is possible to shift the paradigm a bit by making specific decisions about how you want to live your life and sticking to them.
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Old 12-05-08, 01:12 PM   #22
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If my past experiences were dictating my life, then I would be like the rest of my family right now. Granted, I still think they affect my life today, how can past experiences not? They are what shape you as a person. Still, I think is it possible to make conscious decisions about your life every day. I don't think our lives are predestined and I don't believe in fate. Life is mostly random, but it is possible to shift the paradigm a bit by making specific decisions about how you want to live your life and sticking to them.
Right...your past experiences are still shaping your decisions. This does not mean everyone will be effected exactly the same, but will be effected. And because this is effecting your decisions now, are you really making these decisions out of free will?


*Brain exploded...be back later*
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Old 12-05-08, 01:15 PM   #23
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Quantum mechanics as applied to spirituality is a sort of new concept these days. It doesn't allow the laws of physics to be broken, but enters in the possibility of a scientific basis for what shamans and mystics have been doing for millennia. That is directing their lives through advanced inner visualization techniques. The miracles that are accomplished are not very theatrical, but, provided that the mental direction is there, one can literally change one's very chemistry. This is exceptionally useful in helping to eradicate negative emotional loops and in promoting self-healing. A concept whose time has come.

I'd call that free will.
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Old 12-05-08, 01:28 PM   #24
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I think I'm compromised in my thoughts. I'm watching Star Trek right now. I'll be back when I've had a chance to clear my head.
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Old 12-05-08, 01:38 PM   #25
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Right...your past experiences are still shaping your decisions. This does not mean everyone will be effected exactly the same, but will be effected. And because this is effecting your decisions now, are you really making these decisions out of free will?


*Brain exploded...be back later*
I am shaping my experiences. My decisions of the past are just that. They are in the past. I am who I am right now. I make decisions based on who I am and what I think is best for me. Yes, I have free will to shape who I want to be in the future by making decisions now.
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