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  #21  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 02:42 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

Quote:
Tom said: 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.
I never said our intellectual conclusions don't affect our decisions. And in most decisions we make they have a great effect. Those would be the thousands of decisions we make every day (like solving a mathematical problem) where our identity beliefs are not at stake (except perhaps our belief that we are a competent mathemetician). We make those decisions all the time. In fact, that constant activity of our intellect creates the illusion that it is driving the bus.

But sometimes we make more important decisions, like whether to take our sick child to the doctor or pray for their health. It is those identity related decisions where our intellect is somtimes at a disadvantage.

If you see yourself as a child of God who loves most those who believe in Him and whose destiny is in His hands - or you see yourself as subject to natural laws for which medical science provides the best current explanation - will greatly determine your decision. And it will be determined by the strength of the emotional markers that are attached to those identity beliefs in your mind weighed against those of your other instincts, dispositions and intellectual conclusions.

The reason that our intellect is so powerful is that it can operate logically (without emotion) outside our decision making process. It's an objective rather than subjective tool which gives us two complimentary ways to look at reality. And that really is very cool.

In each mind and in each context it will be given more or less weight to affect our decisions. That's good, not bad - and even though we humans often make spectacular judgement errors I believe that mechanism is the best that evolution has yet devised for any creature coping with the hostile and seemingly chaotic world that we live in.

(Fred's reply will take a little longer.)

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; February 17th, 2006 at 02:43 PM. Reason: Grammar
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  #22  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 03:07 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

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Originally Posted by Margaret McGhee
I never said our intellectual conclusions don't affect our decisions.
Then how can you say
Quote:
Originally Posted by Margaret McGhee
So, we are still entirely emotional decision-making creatures.
? That's the sort of stuff that gives me headaches.
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  #23  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 03:18 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

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Tom said: That's the sort of stuff that gives me headaches.

When I say "So, we are still entirely emotional decision-making creatures." . .

. . I am of course, referring to the decison process itself, which remains as the weighing of various emotional inputs. That's my premise that I've explained several times. I'm not referring to the prior conscious act of creating and considering an intellectual conclusion and subconsciosuly applying an emotional marker to it.

I believe your headache is caused by even considering the possibility that your intellect is not driving the bus - not from those two statements which don't need to be seen as contradictory.

Margaret
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  #24  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 03:41 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

On the contrary. I fully accept your idea that

Quote:
Originally Posted by Margaret McGhee
your intellect is not driving the bus
Margaret
I just think the words you use to express it are sometimes as confusing as "It's sunny outside but it's nighttime" or "intellect has an effect but the decision is entirely emotional". I know what you were trying to say, in fact, I think I even said it. I'm just saying that using those two sentences on the same page sound completely contradictory to anyone who doesn't understand your POV. If you don't want to change them then that's OK by me; I just think you should expect some more confusion on the part of others down the road. It seems like a lot of people put out words like these without considering the ramifications to literalists like me.

I'll drop it. I know what you mean and can see what you're saying; that they don't match is not that important. OK, I can add "after the intellectual input is converted to an emotional input", and be fine with what you're saying...

Plus, what emotion are you expecting to convey with the 'roll eyes' icon?
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  #25  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 04:16 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

Quote:
Tom said:
Plus, what emotion are you expecting to convey with the 'roll eyes' icon?
My frustration that I can't seem to convey to you what I'm trying to convey. That was the closest icon available to what I was feeling.

These forum sessions make it difficult to convey complex things that we often communicate in person with the help of body language and facial expressions and instant clarifications when we see a look of puzzlement of the other person's face. I suspect that in the absense of those other channels that we imagine from inadequate clues how the other person is interpreting our written words - and we're often wrong.

I try very hard to say specifically what I mean but that is so hard to do some times. It also makes my posts appear pedantic which I hate. The recipient is not a person standing next to me drinking a beer. It is a bunch of folks who I can only imagine and who all probably get somewhat different meanings from my words. Aaaargh!

Margaret
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  #26  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 04:29 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Margaret McGhee
I try very hard to say specifically what I mean but that is so hard to do some times. It also makes my posts appear pedantic which I hate. The recipient is not a person standing next to me drinking a beer. It is a bunch of folks who I can only imagine and who all probably get somewhat different meanings from my words. Aaaargh!
Margaret
That being the only thing that confused me in all you've written shows that you're much more clear to me than I'd ever expect anyone to be.

The aggravation is obnoxious but this is still great fun. JimB, we need a 'pulling hair out' emoticon!
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  #27  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 04:52 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

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Fred: 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.
I believe there is objective truth, at least as far it exists for the purpose of defining the reality we inhabit - and that's a pretty important purpose. It all could be an illusion on some matephysical level but I'll leave those questions to Alexandra.

But our intellect is not the only way we can "know" anything. That is an illusion created by our intellect (conscious mind) on its own behalf. Long before we had intellect we had emotion and that is how we know most things - but sometimes our intellect adds another dimension to that "knowing".

Quote:
Fred: 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.
You are putting beliefs into my mind to make your point. I have repeatedly stated that our intellectual conclusions are (sometimes very) objective views of reality that we have access to. So I am not saying that our subjective ways of knowing are all there is. I'm just saying that our sometimes imperfect objective views have to submit (by way of their emotional tags) to our decision-making process, like all our other inputs which may be stronger or not depending on the context.

I think your intellect which believes it has some open channel to the mind of God is offended that your emotions would have some ability to interfere with your (spiritually informed) decisions. So it has placed the concept of free will into your belief system and attached it there with strong emotions so that you will even put beliefs into other people's minds if that's what it takes to defend it.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; February 17th, 2006 at 05:33 PM. Reason: Typo
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  #28  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 05:38 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

I notice that sometimes my meaning gets through better when I try to describe my emotions rather than my thoughts. And that feels soooo good!

Margaret
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  #29  
Unread February 17th, 2006, 06:57 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: A Free Will Challenge

Quote:
MM: I believe there is objective truth, at least as far it exists for the purpose of defining the reality we inhabit - and that's a pretty important purpose. It all could be an illusion on some matephysical level but I'll leave those questions to Alexandra.
“Objective truth, as far as it exists . . . it could all be an illusion?”—That’s nothing, nothing like the objective (mathematical truth) that I refer to. What value could your mushy meandering sentiment possibly have in any consistently meaningful and objective sense? None. And that’s the essential issue. We completely disagree.

Quote:
MM: Long before we had intellect we had emotion and that is how we know most things - but sometimes our intellect adds another dimension to that "knowing".
So creatures with only emotion and no intellect “know most things?” What, like insects, fish, reptiles, alley cats? Yeah, right.

Quote:
MM: So it has placed the concept of free will into your belief system and attached it there with strong emotions so that you will even put beliefs into other people's minds if that's what it takes to defend it.
Sounds like you may be projecting. I find your lack of rigor to be insurmountable. Notice I didn’t also say your lack of honesty b/c I think you truly do see things the way you say you do. (However, we do seem to agree, more or less, on the dominance that our primitive subconscious motivation/emotional systems generally have over our conscious cognitions/perceptions; and that’s something that’s often not truly understood or appreciated by most.) I think we’re done. Have a beer on me.

Last edited by Fred H.; February 17th, 2006 at 09:02 PM.
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  #30  
Unread February 18th, 2006, 12:13 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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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,

Margaret

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