• Paul S
    114
    For reference, Albert Einstein's God was a God of philosophy, not religion. When asked many years later whether he believed in God, he replied: ‘I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.’

    Einstein once wrote that ‘God does not play dice’ when responding to a letter from the German physicist Max Born. Born argued that at the heart of quantum mechanics is randomness and uncertainly.

    Whereas physics before quantum mechanics had basically been



    afterwards it's more like



    , where Y is a set of possible outcomes.

    You could argue that at the heart of Einstein's statement about dice is his belief that the universe is deterministic. Einstein was basically saying that there exists some y in the set Y that is the outcome but this outcome is not chosen with any true randomness, - its selected through some as yet ununderstood underlying mechanical property of the universe which is not random; perhaps responding to Born's interpretation that there exists some y in the set Y, but that y is at least partly randomly selected or that its behavior is indeterministic.

    (I'm grossly simplifying and the y in this case has some weight attached to it also, so that not every member in the set has an equal probability of being selected, and the function is represented as a probability density function, but that's not my question here,)

    2.+The+Statistical+Interpretation.jpg

    Above is an example of Born's statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics. Einstein would have argued that no matter which point is selected, even if its not in the largest (most probable) area, there is still some other underlying deterministic reason why this value would emerge beyond just a throw of the dice, whereas Born would say it was part randomly selected. It's the probability amplitude that made Einstein uncomfortable.

    My question
    Do you believe the universe is inherently deterministic or indeterministic (and why)?

    (Do you believe God/the universe/your chosen deity plays dice?)

    Edit:

    For Tim Wood, yes it's open ended. You can describe 'you' as in the whole, or how different parts of your nervous system are interacting, or you can break down the distinct parts of a process you identify as deterministic or indeterministic from whatever perspective you want to project.
  • tim wood
    6.1k
    Do you believe the universe is inherently deterministic or indeterministic (and why)?Paul S
    Both, and any further understanding will be governed by how the terms of the question are defined (and not least the words "you" and "believe"). That is, if you throw dice, you both know and do not know exactly what the outcome will be.
  • Paul S
    114

    But what do you, Tim Wood, (believe or) understand to be happening when you throw the dice? From the moment you receive the dice in your hands to the moment the dice have stopped rolling, what aspects of the event are indeterministic?
  • litewave
    464
    Do you believe the universe is inherently deterministic or indeterministic (and why)?Paul S

    It seems that structurally, spacetime with the distribution of matter in it is a mathematical structure that exists timelessly, all at once. Does that make the universe deterministic or indeterministic? On one hand, it is deterministic in the sense that everything that will ever happen already exists and cannot change. On the other hand, if QM is right, it is indeterministic in the sense that it is not possible to logically derive a single outcome from initial conditions and laws of physics (laws of physics being regularities in the structure of spacetime and distribution of matter in it), which means that a single future state cannot be predicted from past states. If many-worlds interpretation of QM is right, it is deterministic in the sense that it is possible to predict all future states from past states (since all possible outcomes are realized) but indeterministic in the sense that it is not possible to predict the single future state that we will observe (since all the other possible future states are realized in parallel worlds which cannot interact with each other and we cannot predict in which world we will end up).
  • tim wood
    6.1k
    what aspects of the event are indeterministic?Paul S
    You need a precise definition of deterministic, because I can reasonably answer all or none.
  • Paul S
    114

    Why not constrain yourself with determinism through the eyes of Baruch Spinoza, start from there, if you like or have time to do so?
  • Paul S
    114
    On one hand, it is deterministic in the sense that everything that will ever happen already exists and cannot change.litewave

    Almost like we are in a movie, but just because we know the ending, we don't necessarily know the various plots and subplots yet, as if we still could potentially change the plot but no matter how much we change it we cannot change the ending, the ending that only light and the other waves know as they ripple through here.
  • Enrique
    391
    Einstein once wrote that ‘God does not play dice’ when responding to a letter from the German physicist Max Born. Born argued that at the heart of quantum mechanics is randomness and uncertainly.Paul S

    It is impossible to tell at this stage of science if existence is deterministic because perturbing a system in order to measure it changes the state of the system. If you measure a matter wave at a particular location, everything around it including what is beyond the context of measuring device gets driven out of its corresponding state and into an alternative state in a thus far unfathomably complex process. Theory will have to be advanced enough to register the full range of singular and plural effects before we can discern if happenings are at base chaotic. We may never know if this is even possible.

    From my reading, I get the impression that quantum occurrences must be more deterministic than modeled by graphs of total statistical probability.
  • Paul S
    114
    From my reading, I get the impression that quantum occurrences must be more deterministic than modeled by graphs of total statistical probability.Enrique

    I feel that if there is a probability distribution than can describe possible states of a system for waves (superposition) that is indeterministic, then that makes our lives indeterministic from a point of view. Our brains are also electrical and light literally moves around in waves inside our minds too. It would make make our thinking indeterministic too?

    Determinism is often contrasted with free will.
  • Enrique
    391
    I feel that if there is a probability distribution than can describe possible states of a system for waves (superposition) that is indeterministic, then that makes our lives indeterministic from a point of view. Our brains are also electrical and light literally moves around in waves inside our minds too. It would make make our thinking indeterministic too?Paul S

    In my assessment, it would make the measurement of those physical processes in terms of current quantum mechanics extremely probabilistic, but the processes themselves are more deterministic, though perhaps not absolutely deterministic. We shall see. The fate of free will hangs in the balance lol
  • Paul S
    114
    In my assessment, it would make the measurement of those physical processes in terms of current quantum mechanics extremely probabilisticEnrique

    I doubt the human mind could be approximated on any meaningful level without a vast statistical quantum network, so that maybe the creation of AI is the only true way could hope to understand it.

    We shall see. The fate of free will hangs in the balance lolEnrique

    I know, I wish I could share a lol about that part. It's very sad indeed.

    I suppose the opposite of a system that tries to control the free will of its people, is people who constrain their free will wilfully, using their own discipline and rote devotion to managing their will formally and precisely, logically, Vulcan in short.
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    Do you believe the universe is inherently deterministic or indeterministic (and why)?Paul S

    Undetermined, in some basic sense. There's always an element of serendipity, of chance, of what C.S. Pierce called 'tychism'. Within it there are also laws, principles and regularities, but they're not absolute or inviolable.

    Einstein was a staunch scientific realist, who wanted to believe that there is a way things truly are, and that it is the task of science to discern that. He couldn't accept that reality was not completely determined by laws, and also questioned the inclusion of the 'role of the observer' which became part of the fabric of quantum mechanics. That's why he asked the rhetorical question, "Does the moon still exist when nobody's looking at it?' - the implied answer being, of course it does! But he was still obliged to pose the question.
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    Incidentally I think there’s a strong sense in which the notion of natural law is derived from ‘God’s laws’. Newton and his contemporaries certainly understood ‘natural laws’ as ‘the handiwork of God’ although given his deism, this God was very much an abstract and remote principle. But there’s an element of this attitude in the commitment to absolute determinism. Whitehead in Science and the Modern World remarks that the laws of physics play the role of the ‘inexorable decrees of fate’ in Greek drama. Nancy Cartwright (the philosopher not the voice artist) has written a lot about it (e.g. here.)
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k
    My question
    Do you believe the universe is inherently deterministic or indeterministic (and why)?
    (Do you believe God/the universe/your chosen deity plays dice?)
    Paul S
    My question (as to both questions):
    What difference does it make to how we live, what we do?

    If he plays dice, nothing is different than it has been. If he doesn't, nothing is different than it has been.
  • 180 Proof
    2.3k
    Do you believe the universe is inherently deterministic or indeterministic (and why)?Paul S
    Sub specie aeternitatus the 'inflationary-relativistic' universe is deterministic. Sub specie durationis the 'planck-scale' universe is indeterministic. ("Why?" vide Epicurus-Lucretius, Spinoza, Schrödinger-Heisenberg-Everett, Meillassoux ...)

    (Do you believe God/the universe/your chosen deity plays dice?)
    Speculatively speaking, of course, I believe 'the dice themselves' are eternally rolling – determined – and that the number of dice and number of sides (i.e. size) of each die are indeterminate. (vide Rovelli, Deutsch, Tegmark ...)

    My question (as to both questions):
    What difference does it make to how we live, what we do?
    Ciceronianus the White
    :fire:

    If he plays dice, nothing is different than it has been. If he doesn't, nothing is different than it has been.
    :death: :flower:
  • Paul S
    114

    Sub specie durationis the 'planck-scale' universe is indeterministic.180 Proof
    Yes, but indeterministic in the context of measurement.

    If he plays dice, nothing is different than it has been. If he doesn't, nothing is different than it has been.

    A nice Buddhist like take on it!
  • Paul S
    114
    The difference though is in your journey to accept that.
  • 180 Proof
    2.3k
    Yes, but indeterministic in the context of measurement.Paul S
    And also in the context of ontology: vacuum fluctuations, spontaneous symmetry-breaking (Noether's Theorem), quantum tunneling, radioactivity, etc.
  • Olivier5
    1.7k
    I vote for indeterministic. The gods do play dice. They bet too, otherwise the game is boring.
  • Paul S
    114
    And also the context of ontology: vacuum fluctuations, spontaneous symmetry-breaking (Noether's Theorem), quantum tunneling, radioactivity, etc.180 Proof

    I tend to agree with you but it's not fully settled, and my never be. Is it not the case that space / space-time must be quantised if determinism has to break down at a certain point, and that leaves the paradox of what is space made of? Then even smaller quanta come back into relevance, ontologically speaking.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k
    he difference though is in your journey to accept that.Paul S

    Not much of a journey as we remain in the same place in either case.
  • Paul S
    114
    A journey through life, from infant to elderly.
  • 180 Proof
    2.3k
    Is it not the case that space / space-time must be quantised if determinism has to break down at a certain point, ...Paul S
    The jury is still out. LQG hasn't panned out yet. (Rovelli)

    ... and that leaves the paradox of what is space made of?
    Paradox? No, it's only an apparent one speaking in folk-terms (non-mathematically, classically); like time, "space" – void – isn't "made of" any thing.
  • Paul S
    114
    The jury is still out. LQG hasn't panned out yet. (Rovelli)180 Proof

    I don't believe it will, or maybe I just don't want it to.
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    Is it not the case that space / space-time must be quantised if determinism has to break down at a certain point, and that leaves the paradox of what is space made of?Paul S

    When you ask what something is 'made of' you presume it has constituents or elements - which surely must be in question with respect to space. The nature of the existence of space - whether it is inherently real, or whether it is in part constituted by cognition - is still an open, and possibly an unanswerable, question.
  • Paul S
    114
    When you ask what something is 'made of' you presume it has constituents or elements - which surely must be in question with respect to space. The nature of the existence of space - whether it is inherently real, or whether it is in part constituted by cognition - is still an open, and possibly an unanswerable, question.Wayfarer

    Yes. I should have stated "..what is space made of, if anything".
  • TheMadFool
    8.6k
    I expect @Harry Hindu to chime in right about here and endorse the great Albert Einstein's take on probability as simple a manifestation of (our) ignorance.

    I'm beginning to lean, I suspect very dangerously, close to Einstein's view on the matter because it appears that ignorance of deterministic systems and truly indeterministic systems can't be told apart by us. Take the example in your OP - dice - which are, if you really look at it, deterministic phenomena - if one has complete knowledge of the initital state of the dice and also of the nature of the force that you apply as your roll the dice, you can predict the outcome with 100% accuracy - and yet they behave as if they're truly indeterministic processes when in fact they aren't as explained above.

    To make the long story short, if you encounter a probabilistic phenomenon then you won't be able to tell for certain whether it's actually indeterministic or that it's deterministic and it just so happens that you don't have enough information to make an accurate prediction because both these situations will present themselves to you probabilistically.

    My two cents.
  • Paul S
    114
    Take the example in your OP - dice - which are, if you really look at it, deterministic phenomena - if one has complete knowledge of the initital state of the dice and also of the nature of the force that you apply as your roll the dice, you can predict the outcome with 100% accuracy - and yet they behave as if they're truly indeterministic processes when in fact they aren't as explained above.TheMadFool

    I agree that Einstein would see a dice roll as deterministic, and he was using the analogy more to say that he doesn't believe God would allow true randomness or indeterminism to play a part in the roll so to speak. But the act of rolling a die manifests from the central nervous system so the question is whether that the human mind and central nervous system is deterministic or not. But if the human mind and nervous system are deterministic, you can't escape from the reality that free will would be an illusion.
  • TheMadFool
    8.6k
    I agree that Einstein would see a dice roll as deterministic, and he was using the analogy more to say that he doesn't believe God would allow true randomness or indeterminism to play a part in the roll so to speak. But the act of rolling a die manifests from the central nervous system so the question is whether that the human mind and central nervous system is deterministic or not. But if the human mind and nervous system are deterministic, you can't escape from the reality that free will would be an illusion.Paul S

    That's an intriguing twist in the plot but I think robotic hands can also manage "random" dice rolls...I'm not sure though.
  • Paul S
    114
    That's an intriguing twist in the plot but I think robotic hands can also manage "random" dice rolls...I'm not sure though.TheMadFool

    I don't see why not if you have a source of "true" randomness like an unstable electrical field for example. But you could argue then that it would be the electrical field calling the shots, not the robot and its not for sure that there is truly such a thing as true randomness, but it is claimed.
  • TheMadFool
    8.6k
    I don't see why not if you have a source of "true" randomness like an unstable electrical field for example. But you could argue then that it would be the electrical field calling the shots, not the robot and its not for sure that there is truly such a thing as true randomness, but it is claimed.Paul S

    Well, how about this then. Imagine two tables X and Y.

    At table X is a person who has complete information of the initial states of dice, the force fae will apply on the dice, and the role of the surface of the table but fae uses this knowledge to simulate randomness. In other words, the person at table X deliberately causes each possible outcome of the dice roll to be 1/6.

    At table Y is a person who is faced with true randomness of the dice in which case, again, the probability of each outcome of a dice roll is 1/6.

    You are the observer. Can you tell the difference between tables X andY based on the outcomes of the dice roll?
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