• Abdul
    34
    Is free will an illusion? Are our lives already mapped out?

    Well ... allow me to explain a proposition.

    The possibility that our lives are already planned out cannot be proven or disproven. Let’s say God (or some other being) possesses the quality of omniscience (that is, he knows everything). Well, if he know everything then he know the future before it takes place.

    So, let's think of the following scenario:
    Someone offers you an option: want an apple or an orange? Well, God knows what you are going to choose before the options are even presented. Is it your choice then? How can I be 100% sure that it is me choosing and not God for me? In other words, if God knows the future is he creating it or is he just accessing it? Or do they mean the same thing? And how will we ever know?

    You can argue that such illusion don’t exist. But you would be falling prey to such illusion. Why? It might be so strong that it feels like your choice. Also pride further enhances the illusion as well. If you’re a businessman and have made a ton of good decisions for your company that resulted in heavy profits, would you really like to believe you didn't cause those profits? No, because it will take away both your sense of pride and sense of purpose.

    Side question:
    Well, if arguing against the illusion enhances it, does arguing for it diminish its effect?
  • JustSomeGuy
    307
    I was discussing this topic on here with a few people recently, and I wish I had more insight to share than I do. I left behind my religion in my early 20s, and since then I have believed in a deterministic universe. I'm not necessarily a materialist, but I don't see how free will could exist for a mind that is part of the universe, since everything that happens in the universe is a result of some cause, going all the way back to the beginning of time. This means that when you make a choice, in reality that choice isn't a result of free will, it's an effect of some cause(s) which were out of your control.

    What do you believe?
  • T Clark
    3k
    Is free will an illusion? Are our lives already mapped out?Abdul

    Keep in mind I am not religious and these thoughts are not based on any thoughts about participation by God.

    If you look through all my posts (not a suggestion) you'll see a theme that pops its head up over and over - metaphysics is not true or false. It's useful or not useful in a particular situation. Different metaphysical viewpoints are just different ways of looking at, talking about, the same things. Free will vs. determinism is a metaphysical issue. Sometimes it's useful to think one way, sometimes the other.

    To me, the question of whether or not I have free will is not relevant to whether or not I should be held responsible for my actions. If that's true, why does it matter?

    For what it's worth, not many people have agreed with my thoughts about metaphysics.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    If everything is determined, that includes illusions.

    If everything is determined, that includes determinism.

    Therefore, if determinism is assumed to be true, one's position on free will vs. determinism is determined.

    Finally, if everything is determined, that would include physicalism/materialism. What determined physicalism/materialism?
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    everything that happens in the universe is a result of some cause,JustSomeGuy

    How do you know?
  • Rich
    3.2k
    If everything is determined, that includes illusions.

    If everything is determined, that includes determinism.

    Therefore, if determinism is assumed to be true, one's position on free will vs. determinism is determined.

    Finally, if everything is determined, that would include physicalism/materialism. What determined physicalism/materialism?
    WISDOMfromPO-MO

    I was going to suggest that we just shut down the forum since all of the discussions were already determined, but then I remembered it was beyond our control since the bouncing particles are making all of the illusory decisions. The proceeding statement is in itself an illusion since everyone knows bouncing particles don't know how to write or talk to each other. They have no interest. They just like bouncing around.

    I guess the only remaining question that I have (everything is were clear) is why some bouncing particles (btw, there is no such thing as a particle) make some people think they have free will, while others create the opposite illusion. Is it because they have a sense of humor?
  • JustSomeGuy
    307

    Physics.

    I was going to suggest that we just shut down the forum since all of the discussions were already determined, but then I remembered it was beyond our control since the bouncing particles are making all of the illusory decisions. The proceeding statement is in itself an illusion since everyone knows bouncing particles don't know how to write or talk to each other. They have no interest. They just like bouncing around.

    I guess the only remaining question that I have (everything is were clear) is why some bouncing particles (btw, there is no such thing as a particle) make some people think they have free will, while others create the opposite illusion. Is it because they have a sense of humor?
    Rich

    You again! Haha, I had just mentioned to the OP that I was discussing this same topic here recently. Speak of the devil and he shall appear, as they say.
    This issue has been on my mind a lot since we talked last, and I'm trying to figure out how to make sense of things from a non-deterministic viewpoint. No breakthroughs yet, unfortunately.

    btw, there is no such thing as a particleRich

    Are you referencing some sort of religious belief? Or the fact that all matter is composed of electrons and the like--things that don't actually have mass? I've always found that fascinating.
  • TheMadFool
    2.4k
    Determinism rests on causality. Everything appears to have a cause. So why should we be an exception? But, of course, there are always exceptions. Are we an exception? I don't know.

    I've been thinking on causation and something doesn't seem right. Causation seems to be an inference. There is no deductive force behind causation. It isn't logically necessary that, say, temperature falling below zero leads to formation of ice. Rather, the connection between sub-zero temperatures and ice could be just a coincidence.

    Yes, multiple observations of the same connection (sub-zero temperatures and ice) is unlikely to be a coincidence but do focus on the word "unlikely". There's no actual certainty in what we think as causation. At worst, it's just a habit of mind. At best, it's a local Earthly phenomena.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    Physics.JustSomeGuy

    Please be specific.
  • JustSomeGuy
    307


    Example:
    You are sitting under a tree. An apple falls from the tree and hits you in the head. What set this event in motion?
    There are many lines of causality for this event (and all events) but let's just follow one. The apple was "caused" by the tree. The tree grew in that spot because an animal which had eaten an apple defecated apple seeds in that spot, and the conditions allowed the tree to grow. The animal defecated the seed because it had eaten an apple from another tree. That apple came from a tree which was also a product of an animal defecating seeds, and so on and so forth. Within all of these events there are numerous other events which allowed for things to happen specifically the way they did--the animals, what and where they ate, the weather conditions, the geological conditions...honestly too many factors to comprehend. All of these things create a sort of web of interconnected causality, so that everything that happens is caused by everything else that happens, all the way back to the beginning of the universe.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753

    "It is easy to sympathise with those philosophers who have come to regard causes as, well, a lost cause. The venerable idea that everything that happens is caused to happen by other, distinct and separate, previous happenings – going right back to the First Cause, the mysterious Uncaused Cause (God or the Big Bang according to taste) that got happening to happen – has been under increasing attack for nearly quarter of a millennium. While it has fought back valiantly (mainly by re-defining itself), things are looking pretty bad for the idea of causation...

    At any rate, physical reality is seamless and law-governed, (possibly) unfolding over time, not a chain or network of discrete events that have somehow to be connected by causal cement. Causes, far from being a constitutive stuff of the physical world, are things we postulate to re-connect that which has been teased apart..."
    -- Raymond Tallis, "Causes As (Local) Oomph", Philosophy Now, Issue 100
  • JustSomeGuy
    307
    At any rate, physical reality is seamless and law-governed, (possibly) unfolding over time, not a chain or network of discrete events that have somehow to be connected by causal cementWISDOMfromPO-MO

    I don't see the relevance of this distinction. Isn't saying "physical reality is seamless" just a more concise way of stating what I said? That everything in the universe is inescapably and necessarily interconnected?

    Causes, far from being a constitutive stuff of the physical world, are things we postulate to re-connect that which has been teased apartWISDOMfromPO-MO

    Can you elaborate on what you mean by this?
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    I don't see the relevance of this distinction. Isn't saying "physical reality is seamless" just a more concise way of stating what I said? That everything in the universe is inescapably and necessarily interconnected?JustSomeGuy

    Can you elaborate on what you mean by this?JustSomeGuy

    They are not my words.

    They are Raymond Tallis's words.

    Editing is being extremely difficult, but I have the complete quote and the link now.

    What about the quote do you not understand? It is basically saying that causation/causes do not exist in nature. It is saying that causation/causes are something that we humans create to make isolated observations fit together, when in reality everything is seamless and not steps in a chain.

    In a completely different article that I have read it was pointed out that we do not observe causes--we only observe relationships.

    Have you observed causes? Have you empirically sensed such a middle man between events? Please share the details with us.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    I guess somebody already said it, but I don't see how we could possibly figure out whether we have free will or not, IF we start from the idea that there is a long, winding chain of causation. The chain of causation would result in our ideas about causation and free will, whether either or both exist.

    Are there many chains of causation determining everything that happens, and clear causation (earth and apple attracting each other until the stem of the apple fails, falling on your face as you lay sleeping on your back under the heavily laden big-apple tree, breaking your glasses, and causing a severe injury to your eyes which causes you to go blind, preventing you from writing, etc...)? Can a system of causation create openings of non-determined situations which an animal can make a choice in?
  • Rich
    3.2k
    This issue has been on my mind a lot since we talked last, and I'm trying to figure out how to make sense of things from a non-deterministic viewpoint. No breakthroughs yet, unfortunately.JustSomeGuy

    There is no way to make sense of Determinism. It was simply a story made up hundreds of years ago when some scientist/atheists hoped that they could control the whole universe with Newton's Laws (never considering that under determinism there is nothing to control). There is much economic advantage for certain industries to perpetuate the myth of Determinism in academia so that is what is funded by Big Industries such as Big Pharma.

    Philosophically though, Determinism is farcical and to try to make sense of it (and why would bouncing particles which to make sense of themselves in the first place?), Is absolutely impossible. Why in heavens name would the Laws of Nature create a forum to discuss whether it exists?

    As a religion, Determinism makes all the sense in the world.
  • JustSomeGuy
    307


    Are you saying each individual event is isolated and unconnected, unrelated to all other events? When I eat, and then my hunger is satiated, those two events are unrelated? Despite happening one after the other, every time? And despite us knowing exactly how and why they happen in sequence thanks to our scientific understanding of how the body works?
  • Rich
    3.2k
    Are you saying each individual event is isolated and unconnected, unrelated to all other events?JustSomeGuy

    Determinism means much more than causality. It is exactly what it is named. Everything is determined. Causality, other than the Big Bang, is irrelevant, other than some amusement for the bouncing particles - that are following which Laws exactly?

    You can have causality and choice, which is exactly what we experience in our lives. A Mind is making choices based upon memory.
  • CasKev
    390
    Causation/determination exists, regardless of how many factors are interwoven. That is not to say that someone could predict even the simplest seemingly random event, such as the flip of a coin. Pre-determination could only exist if someone were capable of measuring all of the interwoven factors in real time, and using those measurements to predict an outcome, also in real time. No one I know can do that...
  • JustSomeGuy
    307
    You can have causality and choice, which is exactly what we experience in our lives. A Mind is making choices based upon memory.Rich

    That's not accurate. If everything is the result of a cause, there cannot be true freedom of choice. A choice in itself does not imply free will. We need to look at the choice and ask: if literally every single thing leading up to that choice were exactly the same, everything in the history of the universe had happened exactly the same, could you possibly have made a different choice than the one you made? If everything that happened is the result of causation, the answer would be no.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    That's not accurate. If everything is the result of a cause, there cannot be true freedom of choiceJustSomeGuy

    Sure there can be, it is just not determined.

    I want to cross the street. I look left and then I look right and I decide to go right. That is what happens. My mind makes the choice. Determinist reject this description because the reject mind, even their own mind that is doing the rejecting. They have transferred all decision making to some outside mystical forces, presumably the Laws of Nature, that is guiding and determining everything.

    Having a Mind that is making choices is exactly what we experience in life.
  • CasKev
    390
    Having a Mind that is making choices is exactly what we experience in life.Rich

    There's that magical Mind again, that is uninfluenced by the experiences it has experienced, and unaffected by the results it expects. Just because there are too many determinants, both conscious and sub-conscious, doesn't mean the determining factors don't exist. (To which Rich will reply, "There's that magical Determinism again, determining everything that happens. Mind is what you experience every day. It's what you are experiencing right now. Ruminate."

    By the way, are you standing on the median in this example?

    I want to cross the street. I look left and then I look right and I decide to go right.Rich

    Otherwise, I think you're still going to be walking on the sidewalk instead of crossing the street...
  • Rich
    3.2k
    There's that magical Mind again, that is uninfluenced by the experiences it has experiencedCasKev

    Isn't this totally opposite of what I wrote?

    Someone's bouncing particles are having a bad day.
  • CasKev
    390
    Isn't this totally opposite of what I wrote?Rich

    Maybe when taken out of context. You still attach some magical quality to Mind that is the final factor in decision-making, independent of the experiences and expected results.

    Someone's bouncing particles are having a bad day.Rich

    True, but my comments still stand! haha
  • tom
    1.5k
    That's not accurate. If everything is the result of a cause, there cannot be true freedom of choice. A choice in itself does not imply free will. We need to look at the choice and ask: if literally every single thing leading up to that choice were exactly the same, everything in the history of the universe had happened exactly the same, could you possibly have made a different choice than the one you made? If everything that happened is the result of causation, the answer would be no.JustSomeGuy

    According to physics, the answer is YES!

    I don't particularly like the flavour of quantum mechanics that the Free Will and the Strong Free Will Theorems are expressed in, but Kochen and Conway explicitely cover this. The freedom they claim to have identified is not a function of the past.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Causation/determination exists, regardless of how many factors are interwoven.CasKev

    You can't have determinism and causality. Quantum mechanics has shown them to be incompatible. In the language of entanglement and the Bell inequalities, local (i.e. causal) realism (i.e. determinism) is ruled out.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Maybe when taken out of context. You still attach some magical quality to Mind that is the final factor in decision-making, independent of the experiences and expected results.CasKev

    What if the mind is capable of setting its own initial conditions?
  • CasKev
    390
    What if the mind is capable of setting its own initial conditions?tom

    What information would be considered when choosing the initial conditions? It would have to rely on expected results based on existing information, once again leading to determinism...
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    Isn't saying "physical reality is seamless" just a more concise way of stating what I said? That everything in the universe is inescapably and necessarily interconnected?JustSomeGuy

    No.

    When something is seamless that means there are no gaps in it.

    You are saying that there are gaps with events being effects of events that preceded them.

    "There are no gaps in nature", Tallis says.

    And you are injecting necessity into nature. Tallis shows how necessity is highly questionable.

    Read the article.

    Are you saying each individual event is isolated and unconnected, unrelated to all other events?JustSomeGuy

    No.

    I am saying that causes exist only in the imaginations of humans. We observe an event, we observe another event, and we say that one caused the other. But that process of causing is never observed. Or have you empirically sensed/observed the process of causing? You see event E1, you see event E2, and you see P, the process of E1 causing E2, in a gap in between? Please share with us what P looks, smells, sounds, feels and/or tastes like.

    P does not exist in nature.

    The gaps that P supposedly fills do not exist.
  • CasKev
    390
    I am saying that causes exist only in the imaginations of humans.WISDOMfromPO-MO

    Am I not understanding your definition of 'cause'? If I grab a pin and poke myself in the arm, am I not causing myself to experience the pain of being poked by a pin?
  • tom
    1.5k
    What information would be considered when choosing the initial conditions? It would have to rely on expected results based on existing information, once again leading to determinism...CasKev

    If the mind operates in the manner of evolution (we know epistemology works that way, so why not) then there is no requirement for information, or expected results.

    If I recall, in genetics it is impossible to transfer information to the genome, which is called the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. If the mind operates in a similar fashion, there will be some kind of randomizer in the brain, whose output will require the attribution of meaning, which could also be random.
  • CasKev
    390
    If the mind operates in a similar fashion, there will be some kind of randomizer in the brain, whose output will require the attribution of meaning, which could also be random.tom

    If its actions are truly random, then the mind would not be "setting its own initial conditions". To set its own initial conditions in any coherent way, there would have to be some consideration of inputs and expected outputs. Even a random number generator requires a seed before it can generate a meaningless random number.
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