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  #21  
Unread February 12th, 2006, 06:44 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Free Will

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
You’ve probably heard of the Monty Hall problem, where there is a prize behind one of three doors and you guess which door—Monty then eliminates one of the two remaining doors (that obviously doesn’t have the prize) and asks if you now want to switch your choice to the other remaining door. A lot of people will strongly and emotionally argue that it doesn’t matter, that it’s a 50/50 chance whether you stay with your first choice or switch. However, many of those same people will, if they truly attempt to understand the statistics, eventually see that in fact their odds of winning will increase from 33% to 67% if they switch.
You have to add the fact that Monty must ALWAYS open a door; the show itself had him opening one some times and not others. That may have confused people but, you're right, some people can still not see it. And I'm glad that you, too, see that it works both ways.
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  #22  
Unread February 12th, 2006, 06:46 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Free Will

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Originally Posted by Fred H.
OTOH, if you’re convinced that there is no “objective truth” and/or that we humans lack free will, then I suppose that could effectively lock you into those beliefs. (Similar in some ways to fundamentalists convinced that their understanding of their “inerrant” scriptures and sovereign God is the only absolute truth; and why I generally view religious fundamentalism and most varieties of atheism to be equally small-minded and intolerant.)
You might have to help me follow this supposition. Even though I don't believe in objective truth and don't believe in free will; I assure you that I will be kneeling right beside you if God does show up, maybe even a little harder out of desperation. I used to call myself an agnostic before someone pointed out the definition (someone who believes god is unknowable), now I have to use my own term: unconfirmed atheist.

Last edited by TomJrzk; February 13th, 2006 at 10:10 AM.
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  #23  
Unread February 13th, 2006, 10:09 AM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Free Will

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexandra_k
the distinctions may seem dry and boring...
but i think it is more to the point that philosophy is HARD. it requires a lot of EFFORT to come to grasp the distinctions and grasp the terminology and what is meant by the terminology that is used.
Yes, too hard for me and my limited amount of time (and patience with redefined words). Especially when the 'definition' starts with a list of examples; examples are great for illuminating a definition but not such a good definition by themselves. It gets kinda wordy, which aggravates my estrogen-deprived brain. It would be nice if there were an understandable term for 'predetermined choices' without sounding so much like an oxymoron. But the fact that the concept is so foreign to our 'feelings' is probably why we don't already have one. So, I've summarized my thoughts on Free Will without even using the term, since we can't agree on its meaning. I'm going to edit this summary into the original post of this thread and update it as my thoughts change. If anyone wants their summary there, too, either post it or email it to me and I'll work with you on getting it added. I think it would be nice to have a list of summaries at the beginning so casual browsers can get our thoughts without having to wade through all the posts (leave it to an engineer ).

And, just one more 'clever point', just cuz my testosterone is acting up again: I've never heard of a clinical depression termed 'determinism'; I think anyone who can grasp determinism can also understand that it's not hopeless, they still have 'choice'. Can you imagine anyone actually thinking, "hmmm, my decision whether to get out of bed this morning is predetermined so it sounds like I don't really have a choice at all so why should I choose to get out of bed? I'll just lie here forever."? No, everyone still has to pee and then we get a bit hungry and then we start railing against the oppression by the capitalists! So, I see no reason, yet, to soften the language.

Here are my thoughts on free will in a nutshell:

Tom's current view:

1. All behaviors, personality, thoughts, feelings, and dreams come from our brains. There's nothing supernatural or spiritual.

2. Therefore, whatever choices we make are predetermined, they rely solely on the current conditions of our brains: memories/prior experiences, instincts/personality and what we sense from our environment; there's nothing else to tip the balance between 'yes' and 'no'.

3. Every individual's choices are essential to our collective predetermined future.

My predetermined choice to post this has changed your 'prior experiences'. Hopefully, enough of us will realize that we humans are the only beings that can consciously change our futures, and do so for the better. We are all cogs in the machine, there is no omniscient being that will straighten out whatever messes we make.
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  #24  
Unread February 13th, 2006, 12:53 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Free Will & Tom's amygdala

Quote:
TomJ: Your extrapolation of someone's idea of entropy to mean God the Father Who Art in Heaven, is somewhat LESS than objective, at least to me because I do not accept it….

Your precept of everyone sinning and needing to bend to your imaginary beliefs (or what???) is what is scary. And not only because it puts everyone in the position of unearned shame.
God the Father, sinning? You have an annoying habit of putting your words in my mouth. I suppose that might be indicative of your determinism and your lack of free will/moral choice, but I’m inclined to think it has more to do with dishonesty and/or delusion, and/or a lack of self-awareness.

Keep in mind, Tom, that when you experience fear (your “scary” feeling), it often has little to do with whatever you’ve consciously perceived to be the cause (e.g., Fred’s “precept”?). Fear is generated when stimuli subconsciously trigger your subcortical amygdala, which results in behavior, feeling, and then conscious interpretation—you don’t run b/c you’re afraid, you’re afraid b/c you run.

Now some here may read that and say, “Aha, we do lack free will!” But I prefer to think of these biological realities in this way: While the primitive subcortical and subconscious motivational/emotional neural mechanisms do indeed have tremendous influence on our behavior and conscious perceptions, we nevertheless can consciously and willfully discern, at least to some degree, the influence of these neural mechanisms and exercise at least some conscious and willful control (downward causation).

So anyway Tom, here’s Sigmoid Fred’s tough love diagnosis: Fred’s “precepts” are not what’s triggering your fear—you have other issues. Grow up, be more humble, become more self-aware of the influence of the subconscious primitive neural mechanisms on your conscious perceptions, and realize that you do indeed have at least some free will and that you can choose to be morally responsible (downward causation).

Sigmoid Fred
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  #25  
Unread February 13th, 2006, 01:06 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Free Will & Tom's amygdala

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
God the Father, sinning? You have an annoying habit of putting your words in my mouth. I suppose that might be indicative of your determinism and your lack of free will/moral choice, but I’m inclined to think it has more to do with dishonesty and/or delusion, and/or a lack of self-awareness.

Keep in mind, Tom, that when you experience fear (your “scary” feeling), it often has little to do with whatever you’ve consciously perceived to be the cause (e.g., Fred’s “precept”?).
You're right, I'm sorry. I should not have put thoughts in your head. Since you've not stated your beliefs I channeled my younger self and fell on my Catholic upbringing; I have to resist THAT temptation.

Certainly, instinctive, fight or flight fear is generated as you say. That's not what I'm suffering from. You are still scary but I feel neither compulsion, neither fight nor flight; I guess that's what you excluded by 'often'. I am glad that you're still reading, though.
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  #26  
Unread February 13th, 2006, 01:39 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Free Will

Fred, you said,


Quote:
While the primitive subcortical and subconscious motivational/emotional neural mechanisms do indeed have tremendous influence on our behavior and conscious perceptions, we nevertheless can consciously and willfully discern, at least to some degree, the influence of these neural mechanisms and exercise at least some conscious and willful control (downward causation).
This is a good descrption I think of what happens. The area where we might disagree is what happens next.

I would maintain that our intellectual conclusion that we should stay in class today instead of running off to the beach with our friends (as our more primitive emotions are urging us to do) has only as much power to control the decision as the emotional strength we grant it. And that this is an involuntary event. i.e. we will automatically give it the emotional power that our identity (higher level beliefs in the kind of person we believe ourselves to be) allows.

If we fancy ourselves to be serious about the profession we are pursuing we may feel bad (or less good) when we consider blowing off class. If we are going to school for less noble reasons we may not feel so bad at the prospect and may instead feel good.

But that feeling is what is considered, not the logical alternative itself. I propose that our decisions are made as the result of a summing of these emotional forces. Our logical conclusions have no force themselves other than what our identity (higher level beliefs) grants them in a specific context that must have some effect on our happiness or survival.

And in that sense, our decisions are still therefore "determined". If we are free we are only free to be ourselves, which means that we are free to consider whatever emotional value to our decision alternatives that our identity has established. And of course, the higher level beliefs of our identity were chosen in our past because they also felt good to our emotional computer.

They could have been chosen with emotional inputs from our intellect but that's dependent again on identity. Some people may tend to harbor only intellectually logical beliefs in their minds. Others may prefer (automatically give more emotional weight to) irrational religious inputs as mandated by the surf God, for example.

But freedom is hardly the best term to use for something that occurs subconsciously.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; February 13th, 2006 at 01:59 PM. Reason: Typos
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  #27  
Unread February 13th, 2006, 03:41 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Free Will

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
The eminent and former atheist Antony Flew is no longer an atheist—I think he was eighty when his beliefs changed.
Fred, do you have ToddStark's posts on Flew, which included Flew's interview? Seems to me that Todd's point was that Flew wasn't much of an atheist to start with and didn't actually change.

If you can't give me a link, maybe you or JimB can let me know how to find it. I did a search on the whole forum plus what I could see on the archives and didn't find Todd's post.

Thanks!!!


Never mind, I persevered and found his quote (and I had it backward):

"A shift of strict atheists to secularist deism as in the case of Flew wouldn't bother me at all".

It was the "secularist" that made it clear to me.

Last edited by TomJrzk; February 13th, 2006 at 03:59 PM.
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  #28  
Unread February 13th, 2006, 03:52 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Free Will

Quote:
MM: This is a good description I think of what happens. The area where we might disagree is what happens next.

I would maintain that our intellectual conclusion that we should stay in class today instead of running off to the beach with our friends (as our more primitive emotions are urging us to do) has only as much power to control the decision as the emotional strength we grant it. And that this is an involuntary event. i.e. we will automatically give it the emotional power that our identity (higher level beliefs in the kind of person we believe ourselves to be) allows.
Margaret---And I don’t necessarily find your conclusion here to be unreasonable. In fact Margaret, I’d not disagree that much of my own life almost certainly does operate at the more or less automatic level that you outline—if it didn’t I’d probably not have survived & reproduced.

Nevertheless, again b/c of the overwhelming evidence that we humans can and do discern objective truths to perceive and understand ourselves and our world, I’m also convinced that we do have at least some conscious/cognitive free will and some sort of objective moral discernment and choice/responsibility (downward causation).

Otherwise, no matter how you cut it, we’re essentially automatons, all subjects of a blind determinism and/or randomness, creatures with illusions that couldn’t possibly have any real objective moral discernment or moral choice/responsibility.

And if that’s how it is, and how you and Tom see things, fine. But then would you please try to explain to Tom (again) that with such a POV, there’s no rational reason for him to be whining about other automatons, that don’t share his atheism, being “scary”—b/c in such a world we’re all ultimately, well, automatons . . .
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  #29  
Unread February 13th, 2006, 04:04 PM
alexandra_k alexandra_k is offline
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Default Re: Free Will

just a brief post (OMG!!!)
i'm really busy organising relocation this week...
my tone was a little grouchy yesterday (sorry about that)
i got a little worried...
thanks for not getting pissed with me.
more next week!
:-)
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  #30  
Unread February 13th, 2006, 04:12 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Free Will

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
And if that’s how it is, and how you and Tom see things, fine. But then would you please try to explain to Tom (again) that with such a POV, there’s no rational reason for him to be whining about other automatons, that don’t share his atheism, being “scary”—b/c in such a world we’re all ultimately, well, automatons . . .
I'm afraid that you're missing the point. We're all automatons taking in what we hear, processing it in our brains (deterministically), and then acting on it. If the Fred automaton convinced enough automatons that whatever super-natural being is real; then this automaton is concerned. Further, if Fred's support of his supernatural beliefs supports others' beliefs, which are probably different from Fred's beliefs, they might act on their beliefs in such a way that I think is dangerous.

Also, I deeply pity your apparent inability to express your points without insulting me ("whining", this time). I know that must have made your life very difficult and whatever caused you to be that way must have been very uncomfortable. For that, I am sorry.
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