• Piers
    7
    I would appreciate a refutation of this position:

    There is no such thing as freedom because everybody is enslaved to either ego or conscience.
  • Vaskane
    643
    Not exactly a refutation but less of a view that utilizes the tyranny of Black and White perspectives: Many are enslaved by their ego which reflects objective "thou shalts," but those are merely the week willed individuals. There are those with strong wills who become masters of themselves. Freedom is an illusion because we're bound to our strong or weak wills which is neither free or unfree. The will can drive a person even in unconscious.
  • unenlightened
    8.7k
    I would appreciate a refutationPiers

    everybody is enslaved to either ego or conscience.Piers

    No they ain't.

    Thinking can stop. In the silence of the mind is the freedom to respond, and in that responsibility is the creative freedom of the artist.
  • Piers
    7

    Thank you for your response. So what is this thing called "Free Will"?
    Seems to me that free will is the ability which everybody has to choose
    how to serve their Master, whether ego or conscience. Still enslaved.
  • Vaskane
    643
    Free from what? The body? Perhaps, a valid perspective, for someone who believes in body and soul dualism. So the perspective of a "free" will seems much less accurate than "strong" and "weak" wills, at least for those who feel the body and mind are complimentary elements of a whole system. Those with the will to self overcome, and those who prefer to rot away in complacency.
  • Vera Mont
    3k
    There is no such thing as freedomPiers

    Like other human conditions, there is no absolute freedom - only relative freedoms from various possible kinds of bondage, confinement, restraint, constraint, limitation and disability.

    because everybody is enslaved to either ego or conscience.Piers

    This does not follow. People may be enslaved from outside, by other people, circumstances or inside by personal commitments, as well as addictions, passions and obsessions.

    So what is this thing called "Free Will"?Piers

    A mythological concept regarding man's relationship with his creator deity, or a sociological theory regarding man's control responsibility for his actions, or a psychological idea of man's control over his own instincts and impulses.

    Seems to me that free will is the ability which everybody has to choose
    how to serve their Master, whether ego or conscience. Still enslaved.
    Piers

    There is no Master. There are imperatives of survival, social organization, natural, canon and civil laws to govern the range of choices each person has in each situation. These choices are always limited by various factors - never just one thing.
  • 180 Proof
    13.8k
    There is no such thing as freedom because everybody is enslaved to either ego or conscience.Piers
    Homunculus fallacy – "ego" and "conscience" are constraints on, or conditions of, volition and not agents which can "enslave" (i.e. act as masters). "Freedom" – minimally restricted state-of-affairs or phase-space – is not unconditional and to that degree, at minimum, 'agents are free'. See compatibilism¹.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism ¹
  • NOS4A2
    8.2k


    One cannot be both his own slave and his own master.
  • Philosophim
    2k
    It all depends on how you define freedom. Freedom can simply mean, "To be free to follow one's intentions without hinderance". Of course what creates those intentions is biological and thus you're not free from them. But such a definition works with many phrases.

    Financial freedom - The freedom to buy what you want without risk of harm.
    Freedom of speech - The freedom to say what you want without being stopped.
    Freedom of choice - The freedom to choose an action despite others opinions that you shouldn't.
  • Manuel
    3.9k
    Compare the people in Gaza vs. most people in Copenhagen. Then tell me there is no difference.
  • Lionino
    849
    Compare the people in Gaza vs. most people in Copenhagen. Then tell me there is no difference.Manuel

    People in Gaza have the freedom to ride APCs and wield AKs. Do the Danish have that?
  • 180 Proof
    13.8k
    :up: :up:

    Only an idiot can't tell – won't admit – the difference between a territorial concentration camp and a self-governing, cosmopolitan city.
  • Manuel
    3.9k


    Do they?

    Do they have the freedom not to get killed? There's no evidence for this.

    How is this even contentious?

    @180 Proof

    :ok:

    I can't believe I'm still surprised, but it still happens.
  • Hanover
    11.9k
    I used to tell my kids they were free to choose to get in the car to go to school or they could choose to have me throw them in there.

    Freedom exists, but within varying parameters.
  • L'éléphant
    1.4k
    One cannot be both his own slave and his own master.NOS4A2
    Good point. We are what our mind is -- which includes conscience and ego. So, we really can't say we are imprisoned by our own mind. That is our essence. The lions in the wilderness are said to be free. They're not trapped in their lionness.

    The only way we can assert freedom in this sense is to use the rational deliberation of our actions. The likes of Aristotle, Kant, and Mill argue for this kind of freedom. Even if one is physically imprisoned in a cell or shackled by chains, they can still think rationally.

    Consider insults, for example. Insults are effective at causing pain to some but not to others. Some people couldn't care less about what was said about them. They are free of the pain caused by the words directed at them.

    And this is really the gist or the point of talking about lack of freedom. If we have no freedom, for example, how does that affect us negatively? Are we locked up in a cell unable to do what we wish or need to do? Then we don't have freedom.

    Oh, we're not locked up and chained? Then we are talking about a different kind of freedom or the lack thereof.
  • unenlightened
    8.7k
    One cannot be both his own slave and his own master.NOS4A2

    Au contraire, one cannot be his own slave without at the same time being his own master. A slave must have a master.
  • Arne
    688
    There is freedom because nobody is slave to ego or conscience. Please note I offered as much support for my refutation as you did for your claim.
  • Manuel
    3.9k
    The point I tried to convey is that you are using freedom in common sense meaning, as in the freedom to drive a car or the freedom to spouse certain ideologies. OP is talking about metaphysical freedom — free will basically.

    Obviously "freedom to wield AK-47s" is a reply made in jest.
    Lionino

    It's an extension of freedom of the will. If you are in a war zone, your freedom is severely hampered. Sure, one could say that people have a choice to try and stay alive or they are free to walk to areas they know will be bombed and choose to die.

    Unless they deny free will, in which a person has no choice but to live or die.

    But, I do take this to very basic levels. Suppose you don't have free will. Ok. What's the point is trying to let people know about this? You can't change what they think and if they do change based on what you say, then there is freedom to choose based on reasons.

    If someone really believes that we do not have free will, then why do anything at all? Just stay in bed. Why bother doing things? Unless you suspect that there is something more than being forced all the time to do whatever circumstance dictates.
  • Lionino
    849
    Only an idiot would write or believe petty claims without any evidence to support them like the one quoted here.180 Proof

    Less than a month of activity on this forum seeing your "contributions" provides enough evidence to turn the claim into an axiom, troll.

    It's an extension of freedom of the will. If you are in a war zone, your freedom is severely hampered.Manuel

    The discussion is about control over mental operations, not about the electromagnetic force inhibiting your freedom to phase through walls or a valley hampering your freedom to bike to the neighbouring city. Social/physical freedom are not the same as metaphysical freedom. If you wanna make the opposite point however, I am open to hearing it. Otherwise, you are completely missing the point of the thread to take the opportunity to talk about modern politics.

    But, I do take this to very basic levels. Suppose you don't have free will. Ok. What's the point is trying to let people know about this?Manuel

    The utility or meaning of something bears no importance on its truth.

    One day the server where this website's data is hosted will come apart and your comment will be lost —at best 10 people will ever read your comment. What is the point of making comments?
  • Manuel
    3.9k
    The discussion is about control over mental operations, not about the electromagnetic force inhibiting your freedom to phase through walls or a valley hampering your freedom to bike to the neighbouring city. Social/physical freedom are not the same as metaphysical freedom. If you wanna make the opposite point however, I am open to hearing it. Otherwise, you are completely missing the point of the thread to take the opportunity to talk about modern politics.Lionino

    If you don't have metaphysical freedom, the freedom to move an arm or choose to get up now and read a book or not or any other trivial thing, how can you have any other freedom? So no, I certainly do not buy the notion that metaphysical freedom is opposite any other freedom, in fact, it presupposes it, as do the laws in the societies we live in.

    The utility or meaning of something bears no importance on its truth.

    One day the server where this website's data is hosted will come apart and your comment will be lost —at best 10 people will ever read your comment. What is the point of making comments?
    Lionino

    Yeah, and Newton's discoveries will fade, and we will all die.

    It bears just enough meaning to merit arguing we don't have it ...

    What is the point in saying we don't have it, if all of us, including the most die-hard determinist lives as if they do have free will?

    The point of coming to this site, is to discuss issues pertaining to philosophy - if people read great, if not, fantastic. But plainly you are making an effort which could be used for something else to attempt to convince people we don't have something we very much seem to have.
  • NotAristotle
    162
    There is ego and there is conscience. Therefore there is duality. Where there is duality there is choice. Where there is choice there is freedom. Therefore, there is freedom.
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    What's the point is trying to let people know about this?Manuel

    One point is suggested by this excerpt from the Amazon blurb on Sapolsky's Determined: A Science of Life without Free Will:

    Yet, as he acknowledges, it’s very hard, and at times impossible, to uncouple from our zeal to judge others and to judge ourselves. Sapolsky applies the new understanding of life beyond free will to some of our most essential questions around punishment, morality, and living well together. By the end, Sapolsky argues that while living our daily lives recognizing that we have no free will is going to be monumentally difficult, doing so is not going to result in anarchy, pointlessness, and existential malaise. Instead, it will make for a much more humane world.

    You can't change what they think and if they do change based on what you say, then there is freedom to choose based on reasons.Manuel

    It's not simple to change the way people think, but we certainly do effect each other's thinking, and we have fields such as education that would make no sense apart from an understanding that people's thinking can be changed. Perhaps your paradigm, for understanding changes in human thinking, is a bit unrealistic?
  • Manuel
    3.9k
    It's not simple to change the way people think, but we certainly do effect each other's thinking, and we have fields such as education that would make no sense apart from an understanding that people's thinking can be changed. Perhaps your paradigm, for understanding changes in human thinking, is a bit unrealistic?wonderer1

    Sure, we change our minds all the time, we thought we knew X and discovered something we didn't know, and now we believe Y. The deeper a belief is entrenched the harder it will be to change one's mind, but if it's not something deeply held, it can be done without much difficulty. Beyond that, it is very hard.

    But that quote you provided by Sapolsky looks like what others who deny free will say, especially the phrase:

    "it’s very hard, and at times impossible, to uncouple from our zeal to judge others and to judge ourselves."

    In other words, he lives and judges people as if we had free will (because if we really don't then how could we judge? It would be an illusion.), but then says we really don't have it.

    So, it becomes a kind of game of sorts, we don't have free will, even if almost all of us act as if we do, but then this could lead (the belief that free will is false) to a society in which people are more cognizant of that fact and hence we would have less severe laws for crime, we'd understand other people's faults better and so on.

    I agree that we can still be nicer to each other regardless of free will or not. But, if we act as if we have it, then I don't see how an argument against it, carries much force.
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    But that quote you provided by Sapolsky looks like what others who deny free will say, especially the phrase:

    "it’s very hard, and at times impossible, to uncouple from our zeal to judge others and to judge ourselves."

    In other words, he lives and judges people as if we had free will (because if we really don't then how could we judge? It would be an illusion.), but then says we really don't have it.
    Manuel

    I haven't read Sapolsky's book, so I can only speculate on the case he makes. However, I'd say that we judge because evolution endowed us with instincts which are adaptive for members of a social species in maintaining the benefits of social living.

    We do have natural impulses to see others and ourselves as blameworthy, and as the quote says, because of the instinctive nature of those impulses we can't be totally free of them. However, with a more accurate understanding of our own nature we can become more cognizant of that nature and develop skill at seeing beyond our kneejerk monkey-mindedness.

    So suppose blameworthiness is an illusion/projection and we have rationalized our view of each other as free willed agents, because although simplistic, it fits with the monkey-minded ways we tend to interact with each other. Wouldn't there still be value in recognizing our proneness to such illusions, and in developing skills at seeing through such illusions. I personally find it valuable to have at least some skill at that.

    Anyway, I recommend checking out what Sapolsky has to say, because I'm sure his case is a zillion times better than what I am able to say about it.
  • Manuel
    3.9k


    I mean, sure I can read Sapolsky but I prefer to see your arguments, reading we do in our own time this place is to discuss ideas.

    However, with a more accurate understanding of our own nature we can become more cognizant of that nature and develop skill at seeing beyond our kneejerk monkey-mindedness.wonderer1

    That's fine - yet I think we already have instances in which people do not automatically go with kneejerk reactions. Compare the Nordic justice system with the US'. They are just night and day, one of them is much more humane, the other is just punishment or mostly based on more primitive notions.

    But, as I understand it - especially the Nordic one - which is extremely little, is that both of them are based on the notion of freedom of the will, what changes is the way society reacts.

    So suppose blameworthiness is an illusion and we have rationalized our view of each other as free willed agents, because although simplistic, it fits with the monkey-minded ways we tend to interact with each other. Wouldn't there still be value in recognizing our proneness to such illusions, and in developing skills at seeing through such illusions. I personally find it valuable to have at least some skill in that.wonderer1

    Let's suppose it is an illusion. What changes? Not much. People will be prone to knee-jerk judgments and others will not. You could say that those who are more rational don't think free will is real, but then one would need evidence for this. I strongly suspect that even those who are less judgmental would not all fit into the camp of determinists, not that you are claiming this, I know.

    Either way, we need data for this.

    We can still aim for more humane treatment of people who commit crimes, irrespective of the belief in freedom of the will. Because you then have to attempt to explain the other side of the problem:

    A criminal will say I had no choice but to do what I did. But then the judge will reply, I have no choice but to condemn you as I will.

    Something is off here.
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    That's fine - yet I think we already have instances in which people do not automatically go with kneejerk reactions. Compare the Nordic justice system with the US'. They are just night and day, one of them is much more humane, the other is just punishment or mostly based on more primitive notions.

    But, as I understand it - especially the Nordic one - which is extremely little, is that both of them are based on the notion of freedom of the will, what changes is the way society reacts.
    Manuel

    Sure. There are many ways that humanity has culturally come up with, to deal with our innate tendedncies in a more prosocial way. Religions provide some such tools, for example Christianity and Buddhism. I wish I was more knowledgeable about the roots of the more enlightened Nordic perspectives, but I haven't looked into it and am open to reading recommendations.

    Let's suppose it is an illusion. What changes? Not much. People will be prone to knee-jerk judgments and others will not.Manuel

    The extent to which people are educated, to have a more accurate perspective on human nature and how to deal skillfully with having a human nature, might change. I think this is a reasonable hope that Sapolsky and I share.

    You could say that those who are more rational don't think free will is real, but then one would need evidence for this. I strongly suspect that even those who are less judgmental would not all fit into the camp of determinists, not that you are claiming this, I know.

    Either way, we need data for this
    Manuel

    Right, and the data would require a book length treatment to lay out well.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.9k
    There is no such thing as freedom because everybody is enslaved to either ego or conscience.Piers

    Which is merely to say that everybody is enslaved to themselves. It seems hardly worth while to consider, let alone refute, such a claim.
  • Piers
    7

    Thank you for your response. S o what is this thing called "Free Will"?
    Seems to me that free will is the ability which everybody has to choose
    how to serve their Master, whether ego or conscience. Still enslaved.

    I have no faith in being able to change the way people think. I simply try to offer a new way of thinking, that might and might not appeal to people. People are enslaved either to Ego, glorifying themselves, or glorifying Creation, Conscience.
  • Piers
    7


    Everybody is enslaved to either the self or to the Truth itself.
  • LuckyR
    374


    Nice illustration of the fact that folks are either lumpers or splitters. You're creating numerous selves such that our true self is "enslaved" to a lesser self, therefore everyone is enslaved ie not free. That's not an unreasonable way of looking at things, but not superior to others who view the same situation and lump your "ego" and their true selves into a single entity that is "free".
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