• TheMadFool
    2.4k
    To have free will is to have the ability to make choices which are not influenced by factors unknown to us. That's to say we're fully in control of our lives.

    Free will is defined in terms of the ability to choose freely.

    Said differently, no choice no free will.

    Choice, the ability to make one is the cornerstone into any investigation of free will.

    What is choice?

    I undersand it's a road crossing. There is more than one path to take and, if we have free will, we can choose, unaffected by any factors, to travel down any one of those paths.

    In short, free will is existentially dependent on a decision tree. I used a computer term (''decision tree'') intentionally because it is important to what I think is wrong with either the definition of free will or, more vitally, to our ability to solve this riddle.

    Decision trees are basically algorithms which are step-by-step processes that guide a computer through multiple choice scenarios. What is important to note is that decision trees can be coded/programmed enforced by an another which means the ability to make choices, the key component of our definition of free will, can arise from outside and unknown to us.

    To emphasize it is possible to program a computer with the ability to make choices BUT the computer would NOT have free will.

    In other words, the operational definition of free will, as an ability to make choices suffers a critical failure.

    Remind yourself of the fact that the ability to make choices is the term that is essential to the definition of free will and free is just a qualifying adjective. If the ability to make choices, as defining free will, is programmable (without our knowledge), then the definition of free will is, to take it lightly, problematic.

    So, at a very basic level, the idea of free will is flawed for the reason I outlined above.

    Your thoughts...
  • jajsfaye
    10
    Perhaps the mysterious decision making process of free will is more of an illusion than we realize? Can you think of a time when you willingly chose an option that was not what you most wanted to do at that moment?

    I remember as a child, I told my older brother that it was impossible to choose to do something that is not what you most want to do at that moment. He tried to prove me wrong by slapping his head and said "See, I didn't want to slap my head by I did it.", and I explained that he wanted to prove me wrong so that is what he most wanted to do at that moment.

    With this, it would seem that a computer program could have a function, Desirability(X) that returns a measure of desirability of a choice, X. It could be written like this: IF X == "eating a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie" THEN return 1000000, ELSE IF X == "eating moldy green bread" THEN return -2000. Then it could have a higher level function, FreeWill(Y) where Y is a set of choices, that simply walks through all the elements within Y and returns the one that returns the highest value of Desirability().

    We can expand on this with more complexity, with many more choices. Perhaps it has internal state that it uses in the desirability function. For example, if it is very hungry, then the desirability of eating the chocolate chip cookie goes way up, while eating the moldy green bread might go up just a little bit.

    Wouldn't this computer program look like it is making free will choices?
  • InternetStranger
    155


    Expressive answer, dedicated to Chinese language learners:

    "To have free will is to have the ability to make choices which are not influenced by factors unknown to us. That's to say we're fully in control of our lives."

    This is too excessive for me. However, it is also questionable. I call free will deciding to go to an Antonioni film, rather than a Bergman film, since I enjoy Antonioni more. However, based on the truth that I missed the Antonioni film, I still feel, somewhat free, in that I choose to see the Bergman film, though, with less enthusiasm to be sure! In this, my past is part of the decision making. Now, why would knowing about something in my past, rather than if they were not known, make them more free? That part of your definition seems bizarre.

    For instance, say I want to read Chinese texts, concerning Chuang Tzu's anecdotes about Confucius. What good does it do to tell me that I know my not having learned Chinese prevents this? How could I know every last thing that ever happened in the universe that led to me not having that positive freedom!!!? You are excessive. Instead, if I ask, what is it I call freedom, I start looking from the truth.

    Man is limited, knowledge is vast as hell!
  • Heiko
    144
    Free will is defined in terms of the ability to choose freely.TheMadFool

    That is popular yet not suitable for an elaborate discussion about the subject.
    I'll argue it is more accurate to think of that, which sets purposes. This is important insofar as this is different from choosing means.
    A decision tree is indeed a good illustration for formal freedom of decision. But even if there is only one decision it is easy to see and say that you can want to do so or not.
    Kant's categorial imperative for example really is meant to concretize itself in the form of purposes no rational being could not want. This is when it's free will, as it is free and rooted in pure reason, is at the same time it's duty. He never says you could not act in a way that, with a lillte more thought on it, would have turned out to achieve a diametral outcome. The other way around there may be a hypothetical situation where your will, as it is at the same time your duty, does not leave any choices.
  • InternetStranger
    155


    Yes, in Kant's sense, unconstrained choice-worthiness is freedom. I.e., human bliss. The beautiful, therefor, is the free. For beauty is as such desirable and nothing more is to be known of it, but that it is what one favors as such. It is practical glamour par excellence. Exalt and rejoice, dwelling place of the internet, great is freedom in your midst! For I speak with genuinely comely felicity. On the other hand, perhaps intelligence is most choice-worthy, or strength? Or, was it rather health? Is to be healthy, to be free, since one would always choose health? Or, is being in bliss true knowledge?

    And yet, knowledge of blind nature, and its freedoms, do not care for bliss at all. Liberty is then power to effect what is.
  • Heiko
    144

    Dignity arises from the subject's reflection of itself. Freedom has always been bought at the price of estrangement.
  • FreeEmotion
    122
    Is there a test for free will? Is it undetectable like gravity waves?
  • InternetStranger
    155


    Not sure what this has to do with philosophy. Sounds like naive personal reflections...
  • Heiko
    144
    Of course. The essence of human freedom is manifold.
  • InternetStranger
    155


    Don't you think Kant considers non-estrangement as more free? The true and proper shoemaker is free only because he works according to the laws of shoemaking spontaneously. Kant calls spontaneous knowledge of the good freedom.
  • Heiko
    144
    So, how would you think this relates to the decision tree?
  • InternetStranger
    155


    When people dance, do they make "decisions"?, not when they are free. Or, the less the more they are free. To know every "factor" sounds the the privation of freedom.
  • Heiko
    144
    But it is quite easy to draw a decision tree with millions of nodes enumerating all the things they do not do.
  • InternetStranger
    155


    I doesn't seem to make sense to say freedom and deliberation are the same, as your notion of freedom implies. If I know, then I am certain of the outcome, and therefor not free.
  • Heiko
    144
    Yet it seems philosophical trivia that freedom is not to be confused with arbitrariness.
  • Marcus de Brun
    450
    Freedom is the doing of something that does not HAVE to be done.

    The fact that we continue to ask questions that have effectively been answered, suggests (to me at least) that the answer already tendered by Shopenhauer (we do not have free will) is entirely correct.

    If indeed we had a choice we would not continue to ask the same question, and in this case philosophy and reason would rule the world.

    M
  • InternetStranger
    155


    Not sure how anything involving a decision tree, based on blind causal outcomes, could be other than arbitrary. Unless the knowing was extended to mean wisdom, i.e., knowing that some state of affairs was wholly choice-worthy for its own sake, the knowing is fundamentally arbitrary.
  • InternetStranger
    155


    That seems upside down. Since, if one asks about free will from experience, it means choices we make all day long, freely. Ergo, it names an undeniable feature of daily life.
  • Marcus de Brun
    450


    In respect of free will, we are ultimately asking from whence thought comes.

    Schopenhauer writes:

    "Now if we ask whether the will itself is free, we are asking whether it is in conformity with itself; and this of course is self evident, but it also tells us nothing. As a result of the empirical concept of freedom we have: I am free if I can do what I will, and the freedom is decided by this 'what I will'. But now since we are asking about the freedom of willing itself, this question should accordingly be expressed as follows: 'Can you also will what you will?' This appears as if the willing depended on yet another willing lying behind it. And supposing that this question were answered in the affirmative , there would soon arise the second question: Can you also will what you will to will?' And thus it would be pushed back to an infinity..."

    The will is antecedant to both the thought and the subsequent deed, and therefore cannot logically be deemed free.

    When are we going to get over it?

    Perhaps we cannot get over it because we have no choice but to follow our will's regardless of logic and reason.

    The supreme freedom may lie the realization that freedom is a delusion.
    M
  • InternetStranger
    155


    This is an error. Judging what is by the standard of the law of thought, called consistency, or non-contradiction. A performative contradiction results! As you see, I freely will to controvert this topic.

    Now, there is something one calls freedom. What is it? Or, shall we say, free will?

    Schopenhauer wills that we call into question the human being, is there a human being? Yes, Ronell says, when will the overman come, the getting over? Ergo, she wills to make a ramshackle house of this inquiry.

    There is something we call free will, what is it? I don't see what "getting over it" could mean beside from no longer freely willing to question what is. However, that is unlikely, for humans are, by their essence, questioning, ergo, free, beings.

    I don't agree with this notion of regress. In truth, one looks into the future, say, looking at what will happen when I send the post, and one wills out of this vision. So there is no regress, it is the living going beyond of past and future, of the ground of what has been as it now stands here, and what will be, as it guides what is to be willed that is willed in the willing of will. Although, true, Nietzsche did not see it this way. For, he was, I fear, far too into that genuine Rausch!
  • Heiko
    144
    Matter does not think, yet water does not flow into arbitrary directions.
    If opting for something you do not deem reasonable you're not acting rationally.
  • BrianW
    333
    The biggest deterrent to solving philosophical or metaphysical problems is the incongruity between the universal and individual scales or between the absolute and the relative; also between the objective and subjective. Free Will or Freedom is a factor of the ABSOLUTE. It only applies to the relative in limited and defined parameters. [For example: Even prisoners have free will, they just can't apply it to overcome their boundaries. However, there have been a few who have attempted and succeeded.] We all have free will, we just do not understand the full measure of it. Hence we are 'limited beings with limited lives'. Matter and other ingredients of life only provide conditions which influence how we choose to apply our free will. Though it could never be eliminated.
  • Heiko
    144
    Free will is will under the reign of reason. Schopenhauer seems right that this does not match the "empirical concept" of freedom. The dialectical one seems more appropriate when trying to grasp the idea: Freedom implies authority. Another question would be: Is it worth it?
  • BrianW
    333
    Before 'Free Will' shouldn't we define 'Will' first? Then determine what is meant by it being 'Free'.
  • Heiko
    144
    Do you want to? That didn't seem to be such a problem...
  • Marcus de Brun
    450


    Holy shit- what is all this mumbo-jumbo?

    "This is an error. Judging what is by the standard of the law of thought, called consistency, or non-contradiction. A performative contradiction results! As you see, I freely will to controvert this topic."

    What is this "law of thought" that you refer to, is it a law of your own making?

    "As you see I freely will to controvert this topic"

    No: As I see it, you lack the freedom to do anything other than that which you do.

    "Schopenhauer wills that we call into question the human being, is there a human being? Yes, Ronell says, when will the overman come, the getting over? Ergo, she wills to make a ramshackle house of this inquiry."

    What does any of this mean? Are you drunk? Speak or write in plain english and make your point if you have one.

    "There is something we call free will, what is it? I don't see what "getting over it" could mean beside from no longer freely willing to question what is. However, that is unlikely, for humans are, by their essence, questioning, ergo, free, beings."


    "by their essence questioning ergo free beings"

    That is not a philosophical statement it is perhaps a 'spiritual' one. Spirituality or 'essences'... entirely illogical and have no place in Philosophical dialogue as a reasoning tool. Again one questions the influence of a narcotic behind this assertion.

    "I don't agree with this notion of regress. In truth, one looks into the future, say, looking at what will happen when I send the post, and one wills out of this vision. So there is no regress, it is the living going beyond of past and future, of the ground of what has been as it now stands here, and what will be, as it guides what is to be willed that is willed in the willing of will. Although, true, Nietzsche did not see it this way. For, he was, I fear, far too into that genuine Rausch!"

    Absolute mumbo jumbo... you have offered nothing here, no counter-reasoning and no basis for counter reasoning.. just makey-uppy silly stuff. If you disagree with something the fact that you disagree in itself provides no evidence as to the logic or reasoning upon which you found your disagreement. It simply basis your disagreement upon a rather inflated notion of that which constitutes your notion of what an "I" is. It is philosophy and not you or "I" that are important here.

    Neitzsche would no doubt find your fear upon his behalf, to be quite ridiculous!

    I can't go on....tis too painful

    Moderator where art thou?

    We are here for philosophy, not for the worship of the "I"

    M
  • Marcus de Brun
    450
    Before 'Free Will' shouldn't we define 'Will' first? Then determine what is meant by it being 'Free'.BrianW

    Well stated Brian. Voltaire would be proud.

    "if you wish to converse with me: define your terms "

    What is 'will' in the context of having 'free will'.

    'Will' if we are to locate it, must be THE fundamental basis of thought, its origin or initiator. The fact that it (will) must precede the formation of the notional construct "I" in order to effect the construction of the "I" itself, exposes the uncomfortable reality that it (the will) exists prior to the personal construct that is the "I".

    If wecan state for example 'all human behaviour is motivated by instinct', and this statement is true (I believe it is true). Then we might equate human will with instinct or innate primordial imperative.

    Therefore when we 'ask what is will?'' one might reply that it might be equated with the deepest instinctual imperatives, which are the basis of all desires and the motivation of all behaviours.

    I cannot offer a definition for 'freedom' in this context as I do not believe there is such a thing as 'free-instinct'. Instincts are innate imperatives that may have deriviations themselves but these must lie outside of the individual or species within the overall construct of nature itself.
  • litewave
    408
    When are we going to get over it?Marcus de Brun

    I agree with Schopenhauer that our supposedly free acts are ultimately determined by factors that determine our desires, needs and intentions, and we cannot control these factors because we are not even conscious of them.

    Now, the question is why some people still refuse to acknowledge this. Maybe that's because there is a resistance in people to widen their views, and in this case you must widen your view in order to include those factors that are behind our desires, needs or intentions. There is probably an evolutionary pressure not to open your mind too much because focusing on the big picture makes you lose sight of the details, in this case the practical everyday details, which paralyzes you and decreases your chances of survival and reproduction.

    Of course, having your mind too closed has its disadvantages too, so one needs to be flexible in widening and narrowing one's perspective depending on the situation.
  • Heiko
    144
    There is probably an evolutionary pressure not to open your mind too much because focusing on the big picture makes you lose sight of the details, in this case the practical everyday details, which paralyzes you and decreases your chances of survival and reproduction.litewave
    I guess the evolutionary pressure in modern societies has more to do with the need to think twice - hard - before doing something foolish. It only gets as good as it gets but this should better be "good enough".
  • Heiko
    144
    I cannot offer a definition for 'freedom' in this context as I do not believe there is such a thing as 'free-instinct'.Marcus de Brun
    Domination is conceptually absolute.
  • BrianW
    333
    Allow me to begin with the first principles as it will make it easier to follow my explanation. I believe LIFE has three fundamental principles. (There can be more or less but I use three as a kind of triangulation method. Two do not give a well defined position and more than three seems to me a bit superfluous.) These fundamentals are Form (Being), Influence (Power/Ability/Capacity) and Activity (Work/Motion). These three fundamental qualities are inseparable in LIFE where each co-exists with the other two. However, we can focus our perception into taking each into consideration. (Kind of like how we can consider a singular factor, an appendage, within a whole without separating it from the whole.)

    I define 'Will' as the Influence generated by a Being towards an Activity. I also consider 'Will' to be synonymous with 'Impulse' or 'Cause' though our use of them in daily occurrences may imply the latter are of lesser degrees.

    I state that 'Freedom' is the ultimate attribute of LIFE. To me, the word 'freedom' is synonymous with 'absolute'. It is the adjective which best describes LIFE. Scientists state that: "Energy can neither be created nor destroyed." Thus, they imply 'Energy is Omni-Scient/Potent/Present', which is the same definition given for 'GOD' by those who claim such faith. It is the definition I give to LIFE.

    From all that, I would posit that 'Will' is a tool/mechanism which LIFE employs. It may be that in the hierarchy/order of things, 'Will' is second only to LIFE. Since LIFE is essentially 'Free' (without constrains), I believe the term 'Free-Will' to be the human way of stating the realisation of that profound truth as well as an attempt to put it into practice by working it through our awareness first.
    @Marcus de Brun
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