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Unread February 18th, 2006, 12:13 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 271
Thumbs up Re: A Free Will Challenge

As Tom mentioned yesterday, these forum exchanges are a lot of fun. And this one about Free Will, after a lot of verbal combat seems to be reaching exhaustion - or maybe we are just gathering our strength for the next battle.

But before we go on to something else I'd like to add a few ideas here. First, people often get a bit bent in these discussions. I did that when I first jumped in to the EP zone. Not just because I was guilty of that but generally I'd like to say that that is understandable. What we are doing here is far more compelling than the best designed on-line game (I think that's true but I've never played any of those).

We are bringing our most important personal beliefs out in front of others and inviting them to knock them down. We are giving a bunch of strangers who we'll probably never meet the opportunitiy to tell us that the beliefs that make up the most important elements of our identity are full of crap.

That takes some courage I believe. Also it's easy enough at this level of discourse to see when someone is not being sincere - so we all get to be our own referees and it's pretty hard to cheat. No matter what position we take on things like Free Will, I would say that everyone here is at least in the 95+ percentile when it comes to abstract intelligence. People below that level just don't think about these things very much.

I'd love to think that I made my case against the existence of Free Will and that I successfully defended my high level belief that supernatural forces don't exist in the universe, but I'm sure Fred believes he made his case that they do just as strongly. I think we have only refined the question a bit.

Does our intellect participate in our behavior decisions as just another emotional input into our ancient evolved decision computer as I have proposed - or does our intellect sit above our ancient self and through its enlightened will, wrest control from our animal emotions and thereby allow us to become a better being, a moral animal as Robert Wright would put it.

I actually accept the idea of downward causation but not in the way Fred would like because I also see upward causation. I think it depends on the strength of the emotions being weighed and whether the stronger ones come from below or above in any particular instance. And I reject the idea that a logical conclusion, without an attached emotion to make it relevant to our happiness, and thereby visible to our decision computer, can have any effect on our decisions.

Which is pretty much where we started. As much as I'd like to believe otherwise I don't believe I have made my case. I think to go further on this we'd have to come up with a test that would show that one of these views is correct and the other incorrect. Please let me (us) know if you come up with something.

Thanks for helping me think about this terribly interesting stuff,


Last edited by Margaret McGhee; February 18th, 2006 at 11:29 PM. Reason: Typo
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