• Piers
    7


    "Ain't"?

    Do you know what Ego is? Do you know what Conscience is?
  • Ciceronianus
    2.9k
    Everybody is enslaved to either the self or to the Truth itself.Piers

    Who's this "self" anyway? As for the Truth, I thought it was supposed to set me free.
  • Arne
    687


    If there is free will and you live as a slave to ego and conscience, then that is tragic.

    If there is no free will and you live as if there is, then you could not have done otherwise.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    1.8k


    I suppose it depends on how you define "ego" and "conscience." It would seem to me that saying, "people are not free because their actions are dependant on their self and their moral sense," is sort of getting things backwards. We are free precisely when these things determine our actions — when the self determines how it shall act, i.e. it is "self-determining." We would be unfree to whatever extent we are "enslaved to,"/"determined by," things other than the self and our moral sense.

    That is, this seems precisely like an inversion of most definitions of reflexive freedom.

    That said, there is a sense in which we might be said to have developed a "false" or "inauthentic," sense of self. Many philosophers write on this sort of thing, particularly in the existentialist tradition. But this would seem to be more a problem of the self being constrained by external forces, cultural preferences, etc. than really a problem with the self lacking freedom because its actions are determined by ego/self.

    After all, freedom cannot be when our actions are determined by absolutely nothing. If that was the case, freedom would simply be arbitrary and random action, no course being more likely than any other. Following one's conscience, what one really considers to be good, seems more like the fulfillment of freedom than its absence. Ego is important here as well because we can easily be divided against ourselves. We can have conflicting desires, etc. Only a unified self can thus act freely, which is sort of Plato's argument in the Republic.
  • unenlightened
    8.7k
    Thank you for your response. S↪unenlightened 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.
    Piers

    You were talking about freedom; now you are talking about free will.

    Do you know what Ego is? Do you know what Conscience is?Piers

    I think they are ideas that come to dominate the mind. Ideas always function by division and opposition, and that is why one part of the mind looks at the other as other and calls it 'master' or 'slave'.

    There is no freedom in thought, only this division, and no freedom in choice, which is just conflict, and no freedom in will, which is determination itself. But putting all that aside, in the silence of a mind that is alert and responsive there is freedom, because the division and conflict is ended.
  • Arne
    687
    Determinism is a tautology. If everything were exactly the same, then everything would be exactly the same. This is philosophy as industry. The freshmen love it.
  • Manuel
    3.9k
    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.wonderer1

    Yes, me too on the Nordic angle, have seen a few decent documentaries on YouTube, heard stories from reliable sources, but I'm sure there are books on the topic, which is very interesting, quiet removed from the US justice framework, which is on the whole, too harsh.

    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.wonderer1

    Sure - education is a never ending process which offers everybody plenty of benefits, we create better societies and the like.

    Now, there's something that's been indirectly tackled, does your view on us not having free will, include, say, that you are forced to reply (or not) to this sentence here and does that include the ability to merely lift a finger as well?

    I'm unsure if Sapolsky would agree that there is felt (perhaps illusory) difference between lifting one's finger right now, and then have someone tap your finger such that it raises out of reflex. This is important.

    Right, and the data would require a book length treatment to lay out well.wonderer1

    Agreed.
  • Vera Mont
    3k
    I don't see that the word "freedom" can have any meaning at all without presupposing an integral entity that is capable of being either free or not free. Enslavement to self is a semantic absurdity.
  • Lionino
    849
    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.Manuel

    Even without metaphysical (free will) freedom, there is such a thing as freedom as determined by the laws of physics (the freedom to phase through a wall). But even if I grant that to you, which I am willing to, you make a point about freedom existing because people in Copenhagen have more freedom than in Palestine. I show that this does not depend on metaphysical freedom and so much so that it is completely relative (Palestinians have the freedom to bear arms, Danes don't). Your point about modern politics is therefore completely unrelated to the discussion.

    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?Manuel

    Because, as I said, the point or meaning of a proposition is separate from whether it has truth value or not. You are doing what some other users here do and basically saying "Ok but so what?/Who cares?" in reply to a discussion topic. That is not philosophy.

    In any case, the OP is short and poorly formulated, it does not even fulfill the requirements to make a thread as put in the rules.
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    Now, there's something that's been indirectly tackled, does your view on us not having free will, include, say, that you are forced to reply (or not) to this sentence here and does that include the ability to merely lift a finger as well?Manuel

    Well, there is an issue of whether I would have remembered to reply, which I'd guess I likely wouldn't have if @Vera Mont hadn't subsequently replied in this thread, making Vera part of the causal web that resulted in this reply. :smile:

    I don't have strong objections to compatibilist notions of free will, as a matter of pragmatic necessity for beings as complex as we are. I just see a lot of value in awareness of what a compatibilist free will needs to be compatible with.

    I'm unsure if Sapolsky would agree that there is felt (perhaps illusory) difference between lifting one's finger right now, and then have someone tap your finger such that it raises out of reflex. This is important.Manuel

    I'm sure Sapolsky would recognize the difference, and perhaps would go into detail about how the reflex finger raise was a result of a chain of events that didn't go beyond nerve paths between brain and spine. Whereas in the case where the finger raise resulted from someone having written a post on TPF, the causal path was vastly more complicated. It seems clear to me that Sapolsky understands that most of us model the world with our thinking playing a starring role in what we do.
  • Manuel
    3.9k
    Even without metaphysical (free will) freedom, there is such a thing as freedom as determined by the laws of physics (the freedom to phase through a wall). But even if I grant that to you, which I am willing to, you make a point about freedom existing because people in Copenhagen have more freedom than in Palestine. I show that this does not depend on metaphysical freedom and so much so that it is completely relative (Palestinians have the freedom to bear arms, Danes don't). Your point about modern politics is therefore completely unrelated to the discussion.Lionino

    Wait what? The freedom to phase through a wall? That's not freedom, it's a fact about wat physics says can or can't be done, but either way it's not about choice and consequence in any relevant sense in which those words are used.

    If we have freedom to go to the left as opposed to turn to the right, if we have the freedom to say a sentence or not say a sentence, then political freedom of course follows.

    But let's put that aside, since you think it's entirely irrelevant.

    Because, as I said, the point or meaning of a proposition is separate from whether it has truth value or not. You are doing what some other users here do and basically saying "Ok but so what?/Who cares?" in reply to a discussion topic. That is not philosophy.

    In any case, the OP is short and poorly formulated, it does not even fulfill the requirements to make a thread as put in the rules.
    Lionino

    That happens, given the frequency of people posting similar questions, most times people are nice enough, sometimes they're not, that's normal.

    Sure, several threads don't meet the criteria asked here. If the discussion is decent, it's tolerated, though a better phrased OP would surely lead to a better discussion.

    By the way, I didn't say "who cares", I am asking the determinist to tell me what consequences follow from this belief, which is an appropriate question.
  • Manuel
    3.9k
    I don't have strong objections to compatibilist notions of free will, as a matter of pragmatic necessity for beings as complex as we are. I just see a lot of value in awareness of what a compatibilist free will needs to be compatible with.wonderer1

    That's fair enough.

    Nevertheless, keep in mind that the best theory we have in physics, quantum mechanics, suggests probability, not determinism, unless you follow someone like Sabine Hossenfelder.

    I'm sure Sapolsky would recognize the difference, and perhaps would go into detail about how the reflex finger raise was a result of a chain of events that didn't go beyond nerve paths between brain and spine. Whereas in the case where the finger raise resulted from someone having written a post on TPF, the causal path was vastly more complicated. It seems clear to me that Sapolsky understands that most of us model the world with our thinking playing a starring role in what we do.wonderer1

    Ah, ok. That is a step forward.
  • Lionino
    849
    Wait what? The freedom to phase through a wall? That's not freedom, it's a fact about wat physics says can or can't be doneManuel

    Yes, I brought that up a couple times. That is freedom, a freedom determined by physical facts. The freedom of Danes or Scots or Russians or Palestinians or Chinese are also ultimately determined by physical facts; that was ultimately my point as to why your original comment about modern politics is irrelevant here, and now you seem to agree.

    I don't feel like you are actually paying any mind to what I am saying and my original comment was just made in jest as a little criticism, so I am calling it for this thread — it should be deleted anyway.
  • boagie
    385
    This is a good case of the value of defining one's terms, freedom is a difficult one. Religion is invested in the concept of free will, its whole existence depends upon it, where would it be without SIN? In simpler times one can see where it might not be questioned; but, knowledge in general has exploded, as has the knowledge of our place in the universe. So, with the understanding of the absence of free will comes the knowledge that all life forms are reactive creatures, basically ungoverned by free will. This wreaks havoc with religion and the legal system, but it should not, we still need to protect society and the population from those who are a danger to both.

    Religion, well, there is little to no hope for traditional religions particularly of the West. Political freedom is understandable with or without free will, we just do not want to be oppressed and abused by others. Perhaps we might replace religion and free will with rationality, the direr enemy of religion, again, Western religions. In the absence of free will one is in touch with the proper way of being in the world. The world being the cause of all our reactions, and in turn our reactions become the causes of change in the world. One way or another one is subjugated by nature and/or human societies, for autonomy and morality are mutually exclusive.
  • Bob Ross
    1k


    There is no such thing as freedom because everybody is enslaved to either ego or conscience.

    Firstly, it is incredibly important to define what one means by freedom in philosophy of free will: I suspect this definition of 'freedom' is toto genere different than contemporary definitions. For me, as a compatibilist, I would say that 'free will' is 'the ability to choose in accordance with one's will'.

    Secondly, ego vs. conscience is a false dilemma--e.g., my conscience could force me to be egoistic and my ego could compel me to follow my conscience and, not to mention, I could be driven by neither.

    Fourthly, even if one was forced to either follow their 'ego' or their 'conscience', then it depends on what exactly one means by that whether my definition (above) of free will is compatible with it or not. If you just mean that they are abiding by their own will, which happens to be to follow their conscience or to be super egoistic, then I see no reason to accept, even if it weren't a false dilemma, that free will does not exist.
  • Arne
    687
    Seems to me that free will is the ability which everybody has to choose
    how to serve their Master, whether ego or conscience.
    Piers

    The self can be slave to ego or conscience, or the self can be master of ego or conscience. You have provided insufficient support for your claim that the former is necessarily the case.
  • Piers
    7
    The will rules. The will is not something we have invented and can play with.
    The will is our instinct for security: physical, emotional and spiritual. The will is our master instinct.
  • Arne
    687
    The will rulesPiers

    Substituting "the will" for "ego or conscience" changes nothing.

    The self can be slave to "the will" ego or conscience, or the self can be master of "the will" ego or conscience. You have provided insufficient support for your claim that the former is necessarily the case.

    You keep making the same unsupported claim using different terms. Repeating the claim will not make it true nor does it persuade.

    Where is your argument?
  • Arne
    687
    First everyone was enslaved by the "ego or conscience", both which you left undefined.

    Now everyone is enslaved by "the will", which you have also left undefined.

    You are simply repeating the same claim using different terms.

    Where is your argument?
  • Fire Ologist
    65
    I would appreciate a refutation of this position:

    There is no such thing as freedom because everybody is enslaved to either ego or conscience.
    Piers

    I greatly appreciate the concise, stark gauntlet you've laid down. I'd rather not be forced to play the adversary and refute your words, but in your spirit of directness and shear clarity, I humbly proceed on your terms.

    The clearest way to refute "there is no such thing as freedom" would be to demonstrate there is such a thing as freedom. I'll just look at this assertion here as the question "Is there such a thing as freedom?"

    The real content of your assertion is "everybody is enslaved to either ego or conscience."

    Let's break this down. "Everybody is enslaved." This, to me, restates we are focused on freedom, but in this case, we call it enslavement or a determinate not-freedom. So it's just an inverse restatement of the question. "Is there such a thing as freedom or are we enslaved?" (In a way you've sort of created a tautology, where you said "no such thing as freedom...because everybody is enslaved" which means the same as "everybody enslaved because no freedom", but that is why I just see all of this as the question.)

    The real, real content, then, is "enslaved to either ego or conscience."

    I have a real problem refuting this because I would say, I agree that, we are enslaved, thrown in a deterministic world of efficient necessity. I'd rather use different pivots than "ego" or "conscience" and simply say I agree that, because we become what we become, we are enslaved to either this or that. Always in chains, to either this, or that.

    I agree with "we are enslaved to either or."

    However, the "either or" seems to create a place for freedom. Maybe I am not free, and whether I "choose" this or I "choose" that, I am choosing this or that enslavement. But then is there really an "either or" at all? There is not this versus that, when there is either enslavement or enslavement. If instead I carve out a space where "either or" does exist, am I not forced to admit I've created a space for freedom at least?

    Freedom is a noun. You made it a thing, and called it freedom. You said, "There is no such thing as freedom." Freedom, the will, a choice - these are stagnant things.

    To see whether "everybody is enslaved" (an act) I think we should look at what is happening (an act) at the moment we think we might be acting freely.

    I look for freedom in an act of consent, consenting to whichever enslavement. We aren't necessarily freely choosing the things we choose, but we can give our consent to the choice anyway, and this consenting is the act of freedom. We are not free, we are free anyway, when we consent to this or that.

    The free act doesn't come from my will. I don't know what a will is. Freedom doesn't exist over there in my closet and sometimes I grab some freedom when I act, sometimes I don't. Freedom is created during the moments I am consenting to whatever else is, be that enslavement or something else. I consent anyway, and thereby am freely acting, (and thereby, I am). This consent creates the consenting subject who is then immediately chained back to its enslavement.

    It might be that moving to a new word, "consent" is just smoke and mirrors. The real either or in this discussion is: am I free to either consent or not consent? And we are really back to square one.

    Here is where the word "consent" is better than simply freedom. It does not matter if you are free or not, you can still create your own consent. This is where freedom might be.

    I think a surfer creates a perfect picture of where I think freedom lies. Picture yourself on a surfboard, riding a wave. You are not free to run, or maybe even sit down. Really you have limited options now.
    In fact, riding along, in total command, you are actually just carried along by the wave, pretending you are taming the wave while you ride at best; if you stand rigid and stiff the wave takes your balance and you are carried along by the wave; if you want to stop surfing and you dive off your board you are carried by the wave. Nowhere in this picture do you really have a choice if you seek to avoid the wave. There forever is the wave and the ocean enslaving the surfer. But while on this ride, for a few seconds or maybe a minute, the surfer is distinct from the wave. Only for these brief moments might there be freedom. During this time the surfer can admit "I know where this is all headed, just as I know how I'm going to get there (the enslavement of the ocean waves), but I consent to ride the board, or see how long I can sit on the board, or dive, each and either or being a rejoining oneself to being carried along by the wave carrying you all along with your consent, with you consenting.

    Those fleeting moments where we might give our mere consent to the next enslavement, be it even my own ego or conscience (riding the wave of my psyche), that is such a thing as freedom.

    I haven't really analyzed "ego" or "conscience". So I haven't really refuted anything . Or maybe my little surfer story caused a total 180 in your thinking and you think there really is such a thing as freedom now. I can't decide which is more likely (or can I?).
  • Clemon
    8


    Is it my imagination or are you just saying that people either think everyone is free or some are free, and just ignoring the idea that no people are free in the hope that no-one notices that it may be no more appealing than the other two options?

    However, I probably agree to an extent. We are free only to the extent that we begin to be agents that are struggling with how things are (rather than say recognizing how they are or being completely transcendent to them): no-one is completely free, not unless you want to dilute the meaning of that to something smaller than may be its intent.
  • Alkis Piskas
    2.1k
    There is no such thing as freedom because everybody is enslaved to either ego or conscience.Piers
    One may be "enslaved" by a lot of --and much more important and powerful-- things besides ego (in the sense of personal drives) and conscience (in a moral sense). These may influence a person's decisions, actions and behavior in general. But this doesn't mean that they limit a person's freedom.

    There are two kinds of freedom: freedom from and freedom to.
    My fears, prejudices, inhibitions, conscience, etc., are obstacles in my acting freely. If I can I get free of (from) them, I can act more freely.
    Abiding to rules, my rights and those of the other people, having the necessary means to do something, etc., restrict my actions in a similar way. The more I have and the better I use them, the more a can act freely.

    Freedom is absence of obstacles.

    And, if you had said "There is no such thing as absolute freedom" I would totally agree. There simply cannot be. There are always obstacles, which lead us to talk about our relative freedom. And we do have plenty of it! :smile:
  • javi2541997
    4.7k
    Very good points, Alkis. Hats off to your argument. :up:
  • Punshhh
    2.5k
    "There is no such thing as absolute freedom"


    That’s quite a claim, if the definition is “absence of obstacles”.

    Surely you mean to say, I, or philosophy, can’t conceive of absolute freedom.
  • Alkis Piskas
    2.1k
    "There is no such thing as absolute freedom"
    - Alkis Piskas
    That’s quite a claim, if the definition is “absence of obstacles”.
    Punshhh
    I know what you mean. But see, “obstacles” is something quite general and relative. E.g. on a road empty of other cars (no obstacles), you can drive freely as you wish. On a road with a few cars (i.e. few obstacles) your driving is restricted accordingly; there's some loss of freedom. And in a traffic jam, you are totally immobilized; there's a total loss of freedom.
    Your freedom is restricted according to the number and importance of the obstacles you encounter. And because all this is relative, freedom is also something relative.

    In other words, the expression "absence of obstacles" is indicative. It doesn't mean "total absence of obstacles".
  • Punshhh
    2.5k
    Yes I see that and agree. There is a situation where the absence of freedom due to obstacles can be challenged. It requires action for there to be an encounter with an obstacle.

    For example, someone who meditates seeks to disengage with obstacles. To achieve a state in which he/she is free of obstacles. When they achieve this state they are entirely free of obstacles and no less free than they were before they began meditating. A state of samadhi is entirely free of obstacles.

    So stillness is entirely free of obstacles and therefore entirely free.
  • Alkis Piskas
    2.1k

    Very interesting interpretation! And a very good example.

    ... And I was wondering ... where are those in this medium who have even the least interest in Eastern philosophies?
    You are a brave person. I normally avoid bringing up that kind of stuff in this medium! :smile:
  • javi2541997
    4.7k
    Thanks, Javi.Alkis Piskas

    :up:

    To achieve a state in which he/she is free of obstacles. When they achieve this state they are entirely free of obstacles and no less free than they were before they began meditating. A state of samadhi is entirely free of obstacles.

    So stillness is entirely free of obstacles and therefore entirely free.
    Punshhh

    I like your argument. It reminds me of Nirvana, but I don't want to mix or confuse your points.

    The translation of Nirvana into English is literally 'liberation' or 'freedom' and it is the state of mind that we achieve when we get rid of the disturbing mental elements. I think it goes the same way as your example.
    Generally, most of the Buddhist or Hinduism disciplines and practices want to achieve exactly that: freedom of mind obstacles.

    You are a brave person. I normally avoid bringing up that kind of stuff in this medium!Alkis Piskas

    Me too. I am scared of bringing these topics here and getting rejected - or even disrespected - because East philosophy, religion and culture are not really appreciated here... :confused:

    This is why I miss some users as @T Clark. He was very committed with East thought and he even started a Tao thread where we exchanged views and opinions for months...
  • Punshhh
    2.5k


    Please don’t feel you will be rejected if you bring up eastern philosophy on this site. There are a handful of people here with an interest. I am one of the resident mystics, one might say.

    Although if you start a thread, unless you find some like minded people to respond, it often stalls as the majority of posters tend to lose interest.
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