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  #11  
Unread February 16th, 2006, 12:00 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Free Will Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
To be recognized by one’s peers . . . it just doesn’t get any better. I’m honored Tom. Thank you, thank you, thank you very much.
Hmmm. Interesting. I really don't know what is actually going on in your head. If you truly believe that readers would appreciate everything you've written then, Fred, I'm glad that I could make you feel better about yourself.

And I really appreciate that you accept me as your peer. And I'm not being facetious.
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  #12  
Unread February 16th, 2006, 12:35 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

Hi Tom,

Please don't concern yourself about me hanging around. I think Fred's last response illustrates very well my premise that our strong beliefs have far more power to determine how we see the world, our conclusions about what we see and our behavior, than our intellect. Without someone here so committed to their beliefs as Fred, so unphased by reasonable arguments, it would be more difficult to make my point.

Fred, this is not an underhanded insult. The world is full of people with such strong beliefs as yours who are ready to defend them at all costs. The cost of unreasonable discourse is not a high price to pay when one's strong identity beliefs are at stake. Whatever any of us believes, no matter how reasonable, it can turn into dogma if we or it is attacked and our identity feels threatened.

At first I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt that you were here to open yourself to opposing views and test your own. I now see that your motive is more likely to carry the banner of your beliefs into battle in the den of the atheists and to show no quarter. But that's OK because I still think you illustrate my EP premise very well.

Note: I am a little disappointed that others here would rather debate the existence of God with you than discuss these EP concepts that I have tried to bring in to the discussion.

So far you have not elicited in me the need to defend my beliefs at all costs. If that happened I probably would leave, humiliated. However, I am definitely subject to those feelings under the right conditions. When I first joined here some of my identity beliefs were threatened by some things that JimB said in a couple of his posts. And I responded in a very unreasonable way.

Perhaps the difference between us is that I see the danger in that and I regret it. Maybe some day you can get there too. You'll find that life is far more pleasant when everyone in the world is not either an enemy or an ally. However, I understand that for you right now, your beliefs are terribly threatened by the Godless world around you and having a pleasant life is the least of your concerns.

I hope this post does not sound too condenscending but I'm really trying to be honest. I don't see the point of these forums if a person hides their true observations and conclusions.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; February 16th, 2006 at 12:36 PM. Reason: Spelling
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  #13  
Unread February 16th, 2006, 01:59 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Free--can Fred get there too?

Quote:
MM: I hope this post does not sound too condescending but I'm really trying to be honest.
I’m delighted that you’re trying to be honest. And now I’m left wondering if perhaps LeDoux also may be too “committed to [his] beliefs as Fred, so un-phased by reasonable arguments,” with “such strong beliefs as [Fred’s], ready to defend them at all costs?”

Alas, perhaps “some day [i] can get there too,” and “find that life is far more pleasant when everyone in the world is not either an enemy or an ally.” Thank you so much Margaret.
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  #14  
Unread February 16th, 2006, 02:34 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

Fred, I was just getting ready to write this but saw your last post.

Despite the dismissive tone of my last post, I wanted to say that even though your reference to LeDoux doesn't rebut my negation of your assertion that similarity of bahavior indicates lack of free will, I think it (downward causation) is an interesting point on its own that deserves consideration.

BTW - Thanks for turning me on to LeDoux. I'm about half way through Synaptic Self. I'd be further along but I am stuck like an old scratched 78 on Chapter 9, The Lost World, which I have now re-read several times. (That was you wasn't it. I'm sorry to whoever I failed to credit if I got that wrong.)

I'm very busy on a project right now but I'll try to think some more about "downward causation" and get back in the next day or two.

Regards, Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; February 16th, 2006 at 02:47 PM. Reason: Question arose
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  #15  
Unread February 16th, 2006, 08:56 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

Quote:
MM: BTW - Thanks for turning me on to LeDoux. I'm about half way through Synaptic Self. I'd be further along but I am stuck like an old scratched 78 on Chapter 9, The Lost World, which I have now re-read several times. (That was you wasn't it. I'm sorry to whoever I failed to credit if I got that wrong.)
Sure Margaret, you’re welcome. And yes, the “lost world of motivation” is a great chapter with lots of fascinating info to digest—I’ve many underlined areas and notes in that chapter. And when you’re finished you may well be even more convinced that free will is an illusion. Oh well.

But keep reading. In his final chapter, “Who Are You,” LeDoux writes:
Quote:
In the end, then, the self is maintained by systems that function both explicitly and implicitly. Through explicit systems, we try to willfully dictate who we are, and how we behave.
Not that I’d expect that “someone here so committed to their beliefs,” as you seem to be regarding free will, could ever be swayed by the neuroscience of LeDoux.
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  #16  
Unread February 16th, 2006, 10:05 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

Hi Fred,

You are right that I have a belief that free will does not exist. Actually, I have a strong higher level identity belief that supernatural forces do not exist - and the free will you speak of seems to require some of those. So my tendency is to look for reasons you must be wrong rather than reasons you could be right.

But my current belief that free will does not exist is a good example of how higher order beliefs determine what new beliefs we will admit into our minds. They've gotta feel good in there with what I already believe. Otherwise I'll have to deal with cognitive dissonance - and maybe even the pain of psoriasis.

I have an emotional attachment to ideas that are falsifiable but survive all attempts. Give me a definition of free will that survives that test and I'll be on your side.

Margaret
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  #17  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 10:56 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

Quote:
MM: . . . and the free will you speak of seems to require some [“supernatural forces”].
Perhaps. Certainly the fact that we humans can discern objective mathematical truth, and then use that truth to understand ourselves and our universe, might suggest something “supernatural.”

Quote:
MM: I have an emotional attachment to ideas that are falsifiable but survive all attempts. Give me a definition of free will that survives that test and I'll be on your side.
Sure, but you’ll have to use a kind of reductio ad absurdum.

Take your own definition of human “illusion of free will,” or whatever you’d call it, and show that it is indeed falsifiable, and then that it survives all attempts. Additionally, if indeed we do lack free will, and all we have are our subjective mental constructs, you’ll also have to show how we could ever “know” what’s real and unreal, what’s true and untrue, and how we could ever “know” whether a definition of something is truly falsifiable.

Now once you’ve proved to yourself that you can’t do any of that, you’ll then see that the opposite is true, that we do have some amount of free will.

But I doubt you’ll attempt any of that b/c, as you’ve noted, your “higher order beliefs” seem to preclude human free will; you’re effectively locked in. And I doubt that LeDoux’s “downward causation” will have any impact on you. Oh well.
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  #18  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 12:32 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

Fred, This is my follow up to "downward causation". As I expected this is very interesting and relevant to the concept of free will. (Much more than your "similarity of behavior" hypothesis.

I'm putting it here so I can find it easier. I'll address your "Falsify your own beliefs, Pookie (a gratuitous Soupy Sales reference)" argument later.

From your post Feb. 15 at 5:55 AM

LeDoux
Quote:
Our brain has not evolved to the point where the new systems that make complex thinking possible can easily control the old systems that give rise to our base needs and motives, and emotional reactions. This doesn’t mean that we’re simply victims of our brains and should just give in to our urges. It means that downward causation is sometimes hard work. ‘Doing’ the right thing doesn’t always flow naturally form ‘knowing’ what the right thing to do is. [From LeDoux’s Synaptic Self, (2001), pgs. 322-323]
(I'm going to have to start buying highlighters by the case.)

This statement encapsulates several things that deserve examination IMO. The main one is that LeDoux assumes that in the Trilogy our thinking brain deserves to be in a position of control over our base emotions and motivations. He believes like everyone that disfunction, unhappines and strife in human affairs is caused when we don't think good enough or when we ignore our good thinking and follow those base emotions and motivations instead. This is the paradigm that exists in our culture and probably has since our intellect became self aware. It forms the basis of almost every school of human psychology and much of philosophy. It is the BIG MEME of western and even much eastern thought.

I know I'm yelling into a hurricane here but I think that it is wrong. Our intellect is a late addition to our CNS. It only adds another input (albeit a highly refined and useful one) to our emotional decision computer - the same basic system all our mammalian relatives have. And that input isn't our logical conclusions, it's the emotional markers we subconsciously give to them. So, we are still entirely emotional decision-making creatures. The reason we have that BIG MEME belief is because it matches what our conscious minds experience and it feeds such pleasurable emotions into our emotional decision computer when we contemplate our existence.

We have that BIG MEME because our conscious mind only sees it's own activity. It doesn't see our subconscious emotional decision process as it works. So it thinks IT is in charge. After we decide not to jump from a tall building to prove that God exists it says, "I really could have done it if I wanted to." It is lying because that lie feels so good and maintains our illusion of intellectual control. The truth is, if the sum of our emotional inputs said jump only then would we have done it and our intellect and it's silly ego would have gone along for the ride.

We can do no other than what the sum of our emotional inputs dictate. (My hypothesis.)

The BIG MEME does make a case for free will. It says that if we think good enough, perhaps informed by a God who put us here and knows what's best, then we can wrest control from our animal selves and go on to lead the good and moral life - i.e. not screwing everything that comes along, as you put it.

But I still say the BIG MEME is a conceit of our conscious mind who so wants to believe that it is in control - because it feels so damned good. Even LeDoux buys in although I suspect that's just because he hasn't met me yet.

Actually, I'm sure he bought in as a child and has held that belief all his life as almost everyone in our culture has. As a scientist he has no choice now but to integrate it somehow into his theories. Although I don't think he has thought this one meme through very rigorously it doesn't distract much from the very objective and valuable work he has done on The Synaptic Self - and it offers a fairly harmless paean to his more philosophicly inclined readers.

I know I'm just stating what I believe and trying to show why it is plausible. I know I'm not proving anything. I'm working on that though and this discussion is helping me figure that out. Thanks everyone for humoring me.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; February 17th, 2006 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Typo
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  #19  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 01:59 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

Quote:
MM: Fred, This is my follow up to "downward causation". As I expected this is very interesting and relevant to the concept of free will.
Actually Margaret, this ultimately boils down to only one essential issue: whether there is objective (mathematical) truth and whether we humans can consciously discern it and use it to understand the reality of the physical world and ourselves. And as I’ve noted elsewhere, the evidence that that is indeed the case is (IMO) overwhelming—and it’s the only way that we could ever “know” anything.

But if you’re convinced otherwise, then so be it. However, in a world as you perceive it, all there can ever be are our illusions, our subjective constructs; and even if we happen to agree on something, like “BIG MEMES,” so what? It’d be nothing more than a consensus of our illusions, our subjective constructs. Or, as Shakespeare’s Macbeth opined:
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
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  #20  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 02:00 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

OK, I'll play the part of the Hurricane for the first act. I can't get behind your saying:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Margaret McGhee
Our intellect...adds another input (albeit a highly refined and useful one) to our emotional decision computer - the same basic system all our mammalian relatives have.
and then:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Margaret McGhee
So, we are still entirely emotional decision-making creatures.
Including 'entirely' in that last sentence makes sense from what you've said but knocks my mathematical skills for a loop. I accept that the conscious mind is not guaranteed to be even aware of reality, much less a perfect merger of all that comes through our senses, even if our senses were perfect; but to relegate it to an emotional input seems a step too far. Yes, you call it a 'marker' but, to me, it's based on at least some logic/reasoning and therefore the final decision is not 'entirely' emotional.

Yes, you're saying that the final decision is entirely emotional and the intellect reasons (perhaps without emotion) outside the decision-making process; but that still means that it has an effect on the final decision.
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