• BlueBanana
    920
    it will have a date of death.StreetlightX

    Not if it doesn't get disproven, in which case it'd be false. That statement could be done about any belief and is thus meaningless.
  • StreetlightX
    6.7k
    You don't disprove what doesn't make sense. Truth and falsity are the least of its worries.
  • BlueBanana
    920
    I can not simultaneously be subject and object in an analysis of my own behavior and thoughtsBitter Crank

    I can't see why not. It seems clear to me I can observe myself and my observations of myself. It doesn't seem to give any answers though.

    The material universe which would allegedly determine everything is infinitely more complicated than we can grasp. We can't obtain enough information, even if we could process it all, to show how the long history of the physical universe has determined that I will write these words.Bitter Crank

    We don't need to. Determinism would be proven by observing the space of just one human brain for a second and documenting the causal relationships between each state.
  • BlueBanana
    920
    Then it'd have died already and a lot earlier.
  • StreetlightX
    6.7k
    No. People are stupid.
  • All sight
    333
    There's a beautiful irony in that art is more literal than anything else. All of the metaphors of the bodily that proliferate it, conjoined with a suggestion of constitutional attitudes or dispositions of its association is completely literal. "I can" is necessary for comprehension, "I can do that with my body" applies to the range of emotions and attitudes. Like explaining color to a blind person, it is nearly a waste of time... but if the color perception were merely dormant, then that would be another story. Might be a way to jump start it.

    You don't know what you're capable of until you do it, a whole new domain of understanding becomes available to you. Just like with individual experiences. Not having had some food, you really can't enter the discussion about it. Or being at war and having killed someone, or given birth -- but emotions are different than specific experiences, they, like unlock a new dimension of color, or flavor to all experience, and introduce one to new levels and domains of discourse, that without, pass one right by. The sound of the celestial realm is silence.

    Related to will, there is being stuck in one's ways. Perfect contrition, or the repenting of those ways, the remorse and hatred of them is necessary to change, and a real regeneration, or rebirth follows. With the love of God, and for the sake of the good alone, this is supposed to bring about the complete destruction of those ways, but imperfect contrition or attrition weakens their hold, or reduces the cravings. In the bottom level of the Buddhist hell, one is entirely slave to craving, and is depicted as having a tiny mouth and huge gut, and just can't get enough.

    This is why it is said that one cannot really change, or is themselves helpless without the grace of God that renews the will, or the revaluation causes a reorientation towards better ways, to the best of one's knowledge known through their conscience.

    Though, I to reject the notion that this has nothing to do with the body, and much prefer the ancient notion of the "I can" rather than "I will", but the significance of why we can know the right things, and not do them is due to literal attachment, and hardening... which, can be worked out in gradually ways, over time, but can also be shattered in an instant.
  • BlueBanana
    920
    Then it won't die, unless proven false.

    What's your problem with free will anyway?
  • All sight
    333


    I was inspired there by your post on Augustine's influence. Really informative, I didn't know of those distinctions, and I learned, and agree with your criticism of it.
  • StreetlightX
    6.7k
    Cool. Yeah, people who haven't looked into the history of 'free will' - i.e almost everyone - don't tend to realize what a culturally partial, historically shallow, and conceptually empty idea it is. It was essentially a device for self-loathing Christians to address the problem of evil and subject human beings to the masochism of its sister-concept, God's grace. Its theological fetters have largely fallen away, and now the idea is rootless and even more nonsensical than ever. Those who ask whether or not we have free will today may as well be asking if colorless green ideas sleep either furiously or gently. It's all bollocks.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    Cool. Yeah, people who haven't looked into the history of 'free will' - i.e almost everyone - don't tend to realize what a limited, historically shallow, and conceptually empty idea it is. It was essentially a device for self-loathing Christians to address the problem of evil and subject human beings to the masochism of its sister-concept, God's grace. Its theological fetters have largely fallen away, and now the idea is rootless and even more nonsensical than ever.StreetlightX

    Old bad ideas die off and newer equally bad ideas take hold. What is becoming fashionable nowadays is to claim that autonomous rational agency and responsibility (either personal or collective, moral or political) are illusions that are being dispelled by cognitive sciences and that unconscious neurophysiological processes are the genuine sources of our choices and actions. It is being alleged that we don't know what our motives are and only science will enlighten us on the best way to pull our own strings. That seems to me more incoherent, and possibly more dangerous, than the rather innocuous religious accounts and myths that rather clumsily attempt to explain how or why animals such as us can be rationally and morally autonomous.
  • StreetlightX
    6.7k
    That seems to me more incoherent, and possibly more dangerous, than the rather innocuous religious accounts and myths that rather clumsily attempt to explain how or why animals such as us can be rationally and morally autonomous.Pierre-Normand

    I think there's a deep continuity between both though: the turn to agency and responsibility as illusory are essentially direct responses to the failure of 'free will' as a sensical philosophical position; yet the latter still governs the vocabulary and the grammar of the former, each playing on the same rotten terrain even as they negate each other. Personally, I see the issues stemming from an inadequate theorisation of the subject on both accounts: one offering the thinnest, most emaciated notion of what it is to be a subject ever proffered, the other, denying subjectivity altogether on account of the theoretical poverty of the former. The only way forward is out, to reject even the terms of the debate, let alone the answers to it.

    Also, there's a whole thing to be said about how freedom-as-liberal-choice feeds right into a liberal-capitalist worldview which is all too happy to keep such a debate running for as long as possible, all the better to deprive people from having even the barest of vocabulary to speak about questions of genuine human freedom. But that's another story.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    The only way forward is out, to reject even the terms of the debate, let alone the answers to it.StreetlightX

    I agree that the thinness of the disembodied subject, or of the rational soul, is a big part of the problem. On the Aristotelian conception of agency, the subject-agent is a rational animal, essentially embodied and encultured. Since the thorny questions of rational, moral and political autonomy, determinism and responsibility, can be discussed in the context where the thickness of the subject is acknowledged, I don't think those discussions are fruitless. Also, one must grant to the proponent of a crude scientism (e.g. Cartesian materialist), or of a naïve Cartesian dualism, some of her terms if only to be able to draw out the problems inherent to her view and then propose better terms, or better uses of those terms. (Oftentimes, it seems to me, it's not the terms themselves that are at fault but rather semi-technical uses made of them that import philosophical prejudice into the discourse and obscures the nuances of their ordinary usages).
  • StreetlightX
    6.7k
    A question of tactics then? I dunno, I think the corruption is too deep-set; I'm not convinced tinkering is the right way to go. We've had literal centuries of that. I'm not too crash-hot on the (re-)turn to Aristotle either. His hylomorphism, his inability to think either difference or singularity, his watered-down essentialism, his exclusionary (bio-?)politics, his taxonomic obsession, even his dominant 'method' or approach - his unwavering search for an arche of everything under the sun - the more I study Aristotle the more I find his philosophical influence to be detrimental.

    Agamben, whom I cited earlier on his work on the will, attributes to Aristotle the opening of the way to 'free will' precisely on account of his compromised take on potentiality and act (this follows after a discussion of the specifics of the problem): "Aristotle could not have in mind anything like the free will of the moderns—for this the words were lacking for him—but it is significant that, to cure in some way the split that he himself had introduced into potential, he had to introduce into the latter a “sovereign principle” that decides between doing and not doing, potential and impotential (or potential not to)". But this is straying from the topic.
  • CasKev
    411
    Maybe the problem is that determinism and free will are not mutually exclusive... at least as they are seeming to be defined in this discussion... autonomous ability to choose exists at least from the perspective of the self, even though everything feeding that choice has followed a chain of events over which the chooser had no input. Wait, maybe I'm saying they are mutually exclusive... :razz:
  • Christoffer
    692
    In other words, discussions of free will are determined by the limited capacities of our minds?Bitter Crank

    We are limited by what we know in science about the world and universe. The essential problem is at it's core about quantum mechanics and how it's seemingly randomizing a core foundation of the universe. Until we have a unification theory, it's a problem not just in philosophy but in science.

    However I think there are a few key premisses that needs to be taken into account. First, the universe, even though we don't know everything yet, seems to act out of probability. The smaller the scale, the more probabilities are possible, the larger things get, the more determined the probability gets. Humans, while seemingly small compared to the universe, are in fact quite large things in the universe in comparison to the scale in which probability gets hard to determine. If we exist on a scale where we could, with enough data on our hand, determine the full consequences of the a number of causes, meaning, with enough data to predict choices taken by an individual, we can see down a deterministic path and predict every choice. Even though it's possible that things gets deviant from that path, the probability is so low that it would only be an academic footnote that a free choice would be possible, even on paper. That free choice is as possible as us using seemingly impossible quantum physics on a larger scale, like for example, walk through a wall. Walking through a wall is indeed possible in quantum physics, but the improbability of it is so high on larger scales, that it's not even a calculable measurement of probability. It's like the different definitions of "infinite" in physics, they do not really apply to the real world.

    In conclusion, the probability to have free will is so low that it's pretty much unable to be a calculated as a viable point of measure. We are therefor slaves under determinism and do not have free will.

    There are plenty of scientists who agree that we do not have free will, both in psychology and neuroscience. The data we have, points to all decisions being formed by other things, genetics, experience, direct causes, chemistry etc. The combined consequence of all of these creates an illusion of free will, but they are all part of determining the exact choice that's being made. The best example is the traditional one about you wanting something, like ice-cream. Did you choose to eat chocolate ice-cream because you chose to by free will, or because it was a hot day, combined with you establishing a taste for chocolate ice-cream at the age of 4, combined with someone mentioning chocolate, a commercial showing someone eating ice-cream, a temporary dehydration that made you feel warmer than usual, a convenient distance to an ice-cream bar, the right exchange in your pocket and so on. It's easy to say that you chose to eat chocolate ice-cream, or maybe you chose not to. But none of those choices are free of deterministic causes, even the choice to not eat chocolate ice-cream.

    Another example is how our gut bacteria adjust our psychology. How if you transplant gut bacteria between two people, a noticeable shift in their psychology can be observed. So, are your gut bacteria part of your free will or another source that helps create the illusion of free will? Most would not give credit to bacteria for being part of their free will, yet it affects many of our choices.

    I think that by most accounts, it's already pretty much proven by deductive methods and science that humans do not have free will. But I think the discourse continues on the subject because there are philosophers who A) mix in spiritualism and abandon deductive arguments and rational thinking processes and B) Have problems distancing their own sense of self to that of the rational argument.

    In the sense of B, you are right, that our mental process is in our way of actually experiencing the conclusion of determinism as the truth. But just as with quantum mechanics, gravity, electro-magnetism, we do not experience or see any of these things, yet, we know they exist. Same goes for determinism, we pretty much know it's the truth, yet I think it's in a way the same kind of denial as with those back with Newton who couldn't accept his ideas about gravity or those who didn't accept the conclusions by Einstein because it didn't fit their narrative or something they could "see". The ones who argue for free will seems to either not know all the facts, lack in their deductive reasoning around the subject and be generally too bound to their subjective sense of self, without the ability to detach from their humanity when doing the argument.

    I have been pondering this subject ever since I started my interest in philosophy, but I have yet to see any viable arguments in favor of free will and the more I've discussed this subject, the less reasonable the arguments in favor of free will gets.
  • CasKev
    411
    generally too bound to their subjective sense of self, without the ability to detach from their humanity when doing the argumentChristoffer

    I agree. Accepting determinism is difficult because it lessens the sense of self we strive so hard to create and sustain.
  • frank
    6.2k
    The passage from the ancient world to modernity coincides with the passage from potential to will, from the predominance of the modal verb “I can” to that of the modal verb “I will” (and later, “I must”).StreetlightX

    This is kind of Nietzscheque in that it's drawing a captivating narrative out of a chunk of facts that can be just as easily used to draw the opposite conclusion.

    Cool.
  • StreetlightX
    6.7k
    This is kind of Nietzscheque in that it's drawing a captivating narrative out of a chunk of facts that can be just as easily used to draw the opposite conclusion.frank

    This is kinda Frankeque in that it's a random unsubstantiated assertion.

    Cool.
  • frank
    6.2k
    yea, well. I'm busy.
  • All sight
    333
    Another way to look at the problem of the will, is through care. How is it that you can know the right things, and not do them? Why can't you have the will? Because you don't care enough, and on top of that, the perfect way to care is for the right things in themselves. Any other target of affection is inferior in effect.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    A question of tactics then? I dunno, I think the corruption is too deep-set; I'm not convinced tinkering is the right way to go. We've had literal centuries of that.StreetlightX

    I'm doing what I can to separate the wheat from the shaff. @Aaron R attempted this also in a thread on scholasticism a little while ago. Any kind of a "return" to Aristotle, to Kant, to Frege, to Sellars, or to anyone else, must be done with discernement, of course. But it's not just a question of tactics. @Christoffer offered a defense of hard determinism above. While it concludes that free will is an illusion and that determinism is true, his post can be glossed, it seems to me, as an argument that the Sellarsian 'manifest image' is false while the 'scientific image' is true.

    I don't think most contemporary compatibilist attempts to reconcile the two images are successful, but I agree with you that the main impediment to the attempted reconciliation is a thin disembodied conception of the self. Maybe some elements of this thin conception already were inchoate in Aristotle and other pre-modern religious thinkers, as you argue. But they have been greatly buttressed and entrenched into contemporary scientifically informed thinking as a result a the movement away from Aristotle, and from scholasticism, which has been in part propelled by the rise of the mechanistic conception of the natural world. In a way, as a result of this, the wheat has been buried under the shaff.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    I think I'm fated to believe, always, that there is not now, has never been, and never will be, any purpose in discussing "free will" or "determinism."
  • Christoffer
    692
    I think I'm fated to believe, always, that there is not now, has never been, and never will be, any purpose in discussing "free will" or "determinism."Ciceronianus the White

    For two reasons; most likely hard determinism is true and second, it doesn't matter since it won't really change the human condition.

    However, I think that that the most important aspects of hard determinism is how it affects ideas in ethics. If our actions are a sum of conditions and causes, then crimes does not come out of any abstract concepts of evil, but a quantifiable sum of causes. Crime and punishment then becomes quite absurd and the punishment part very obvious in an eye for an eye concept rather than actually preventing or changing that crime happens in the first place.

    Free will and determinism has the most impact on these ethical questions and personally I'm in on the side that tries to convince about how determinism is true and why we need to move away from primal abstract ideas about crime and punishment that only focus on our desire to hurt the one's who hurt others, not prevent or reduce crime in society.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k

    Crime and punishment are functions of the law, and the law is one of the things we do.. And what we do, outside of philosophy classrooms and forums and other such places, has nothing to do with free will or determinism. We ignore them by living. We do things, with no consideration to determinism.
  • Christoffer
    692
    Crime and punishment are functions of the law, and the law is one of the things we do.. And what we do, outside of philosophy classrooms and forums and other such places, has nothing to do with free will or determinism. We ignore them by living. We do things, with no consideration to determinism.Ciceronianus the White

    True in the sense that we live without consideration of the argument, but crime and punishment are not functions of the law, since the law is based on the ideas found in philosophy. The entire section of ethics is the reason we even have the laws we have. Philosophy outside of classrooms is the only place in which philosophy has any meaning. The deterministic perspective is important when looking at the reason crimes exist. Most of the time I see people unable to see past their own emotions. There's some famous quote I can't find right now about a politician who tried to apply much more effective methods to handle crime and the question he got was "but what if it was your child, wouldn't you want to punish the offender" and he replied that if it was his child, he would like to kill the offender, but that it's the very reason we need methods outside of our emotional need for punishment and that it's therefor the point that it's not up to him.

    Crime and punishment as it is now, is flawed and based on emotional reactions to crimes, we want punishment, we want an eye for an eye, because it's based on the instincts we have. But through determinism we can see how crimes do not exist in a vacuum, that there are reasons for every such choice and that those reasons need to be understood in order to prevent crime. The ethics of this world right now is not based on preventing crime, it's based on punishment, it's based on us silently accepting that crimes exist in order to punish.

    If we had methods to prevent crimes in the first place, would we want to use them? Everyone would say yes, but no one is acting according to that agreement. This is because people still believe in the idea of free will, that a choice is made and we have no control over the choices people make. But if a person is through deterministic cause and effects, put on a path to make a criminal choice and we could interrupt that deterministic line of events to steer that person away from the consequences of it, we should. If arguments points out that the world and us humans are puppets of determinism and that any argument in favour of free will seem to fail, I think the answer is quite clear of what we actually need to do about crimes and punishment.

    Right now, people doesn't even seem to care for improvements to how we handle crime and punishment. They seem to subconsciously want crimes to continue, because punishment is satisfying emotionally. It's like we handle characters in a story, they follow their wants but in the end they get what they need. Most such characters are blind to what they need, they only see their wants, in a tragedy, they get what they want and loose what they need, in a good ending, they get what they need and give up what they want. That's an important lesson for most things about the human condition, which is why stories are told like this and has been for thousands of years. Yet, the power of stories doesn't seem to change people's wants into needs. Society needs a better handling of crime and punishment, but we want to continue punishing criminals. It's an addiction and we live in a tragedy.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k

    I've been practicing law for longer than I care to say, and have given it some thought. The law as a functioning system has little to do with ethics as philosophy, though practical ethics plays a larger role. I think it's a serious error to conflate law with morality.
  • Christoffer
    692
    I think it's a serious error to conflate law with morality.Ciceronianus the White

    But laws and morality didn't appear out of nothing. We invented morality through the need for the group to survive. Killing other people to take their belongings in order for yourself to survive was destroying the group and then the group dies from within. Morals were invented based on the well-being of the group and the self, but as society grew more complex, morals grew more complex. When society grew so large it needed a government, that it needed a system to keep society in order, it invented moral guidelines that formed into laws. Those laws has for thousands of years evolved to what we have today. Philosophy has always been there to form what laws we have, what rights people have in a society and what limits of power the authorities have. Nothing of this exists independent of each other. Philosophical ethics are not law, morals aren't law, but they exist in conjunction with each other. Ethics play a major role in forming what laws we have, how we view morality and morality forms what laws we have. Some nations have laws against homosexuals, does that mean those laws didn't come from the moral teachings of religion that governs the ideas about homosexuality? Does that not mean that 19th and 20th century philosophy, which opposed religious moral ethics and formed new ideas about how to view the morals that governs the laws that are formed, keep evolving which laws that we use in our legal system of our current society?

    The laws we have today did not appear out of nothing. Centuries, thousands of years of philosophy on morals and ethics have formed the laws we have today and it is still being formed by the philosophy of ethics. Laws aren't formed by the legal system, they are formed by the ideologies and ideas of the society in which they exist. How else do our legal system evolve? How else does laws change? The dialectic of ethics forms the laws we have, the legal system only represent the result of reasonable arguments. Unreasonable arguments form societies not worth living in.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k

    Well, certainly nobody can accuse you of understating the significance of philosophy. But I'm merely a practitioner of the law, and so can only know how it works in day to day life, not what it really is--which of course can only be known by a philosopher.
  • Christoffer
    692


    By the mere reason that you are in a philosophy forum shows that you have an open mind to philosophical dialectics about ethics, which means you are above most practitioners of law. That is in any sense of things, a very good thing :smile:
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k

    I must look into using philosophers as expert witnesses.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.