• leo
    374
    Isn't it the case that as soon as we assume there is such a thing as an objective reality, a mind-independent world we are a part of, then we are necessarily assuming the absence of free will already?

    Because if we assume we belong to a mind-independent world, then that world doesn't depend on our minds, so our minds don't have an influence on it, and so we don't have free will.

    Is there anything wrong in this reasoning?
  • Banno
    5.4k
    That even if there is a mind-independent world, one can move things around in it.
  • leo
    374


    Sure, but if the world is mind-independent then it is not minds that move things around in it, it is the environment that acts on bodies which automatically react to their environment, no?
  • fishfry
    629
    Because if we assume we belong to a mind-independent world, then that world doesn't depend on our mindsleo

    I think there's a step missing. The world is out there and I can use my body to affect it. But how did my mind affect my body? Searle makes this point in a video. "I tell myself I'm going to raise my right arm and my right arm goes up. How does that happen?" I'm paraphrasing his quote. But that's the real point. The question isn't how my mind can affect the physical world. The question is first, how does my mind affect my body? Once my mind has control over my body, I already have a physical instrument, namely my body, with which to affect the world.

    Although I suppose if we say our bodies are part of what's "out there" in the world, then there's no difference. But my experience of my body is very different in nature from my experience of anything else in the world. For example I can not experience the pain of anything else other than my own body. I can have compassion and sadness and so forth, but I can never have an experience of the pain of anyone or anything else. So my body is different than the world; and therefore my point's valid. That the real mystery is how my mind can affect my own body, let alone anything else in the world.
  • Banno
    5.4k
    Consider direction of fit. The world is mind independent in that the cat is on the mat and nothing you can say will make that otherwise; except calling the cat for a feed, which will change the way the world is.
  • Schzophr
    78
    T'was four months ago I rekindled this subject from whatever grave it was in before, I regret it. There is will, a more proper subject for this forum, and free will a spook topic.

    Some parts of life resemble free will, and some parts don't.
  • leo
    374
    Once my mind has control over my body, I already have a physical instrument, namely my body, with which to affect the world.fishfry

    But if my mind controls my body, and my body is part of the mind-independent world, then my mind controls a part of the world, so that world is not mind-independent.

    It seems to me that if we assume our mind controls our body then we assume our mind has control on the world, while if we assume the world is mind-independent then we assume our mind has no control on the world, and then we just have the illusion of controlling our body.
  • leo
    374


    But if you call the cat for a feed, and in doing that you're saying you use your mind to change the way the world is, then what does it mean to say the world is mind-independent if minds are constantly changing it?
  • Banno
    5.4k
    Of course minds change the way the world is. Can a mind change the world so it has whatever it desires? No.

    Reality is the stuff that does not care what you say or think.

    change in italics.
  • leo
    374
    Of course minds change the way the world is. Can a mind change anything it desires? No.Banno

    How would we know that a mind cannot change what it desires?

    Reality is the stuff that does not care what you say or think.Banno

    But if "the cat is on the mat" is reality, why does the cat care about what you say and leave the mat when you call its name? Isn't it that your mind has an influence on reality?
  • Banno
    5.4k
    How would we know that a mind cannot change what it desires?leo

    So you have everything you desire?
  • leo
    374
    So you have everything you desire?Banno

    I don't, but that some things are harder to get or some desires are harder to change does not imply that we cannot change what we desire.

    I have some desires I didn't use to have and I used to have desires I don't have now. It seems to be a matter of belief whether we assume the outside world alone changes our desires or whether we participate in changing them.
  • Banno
    5.4k
    Hm. The argument slipped sideways. Not sure it is worth saving. I edited my post.
  • leo
    374
    Can a mind change the world so it has whatever it desires? No.Banno

    That's hard to say, maybe it is possible and we just haven't found out how? If we acknowledge that our minds change the world and that a mind might change at least some of what it desires, it is possible that our minds might change the world so they have what they desire.
  • Stephen Cook
    8
    In a universe run along classical principles, it's all just billiard balls. If one had a God's eye view and knew the position, velocity and direction of travel of all of the billiard balls at any arbitrary point in the universe's past, one would be able to predict, precisely, the position, velocity and direction of travel of all of the billiard balls at any arbitrary point in its future. Such a universe is both deterministic and predictable, at least in principle.

    All of the above precludes the existence of Free Will.

    In a universe run along quantum principles, it's still billiard balls. But, their existence now becomes probabilistic as opposed to absolute. In other words, at any arbitrary point in time, a billiard ball can wink into existence or wink out of existence. So, unlike a classical universe, although still fully deterministic, prediction become impossible in principle as well as in practice in such a universe. Even for God.

    All of the above precludes the existence of Free Will.

    Since we are a part of this material universe, we too are made of billiard balls. Therefore, the only way for Free Will to exist is for it to exist outside the time and space constraints of a material universe.

    But, then, I would say that, wouldn't I.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.9k
    Isn't it the case that as soon as we assume there is such a thing as an objective reality, a mind-independent world we are a part of, then we are necessarily assuming the absence of free will already?leo

    No.

    I wish all philosophical questions were this easy. ;-)

    Because if we assume we belong to a mind-independent world, then that world doesn't depend on our minds, so our minds don't have an influence on it, and so we don't have free will.leo

    Your mind primarily has an influence on it via the way it controls the rest of your body. For example, I think, "I'd like to push the 'n' key on my keyboard"--that's something mental, and so my brain sends a signal via my nervous system (of which it's a part), which activates muscles, tendons, etc., and results in my finger pushing the "n" key, which is an example of influencing the external world.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.9k
    bodies which automatically react to their environment, noleo

    That's what you were thinking for the first post, I suppose, but didn't say.

    You're assuming a thoroughgoing, strong causal determinism to be the case.

    Not everyone assumes that, and the conventional wisdom in the sciences rejects it, too. (Not that the conventional wisdom matters for whether it's justifiable to accept or reject something. It's just that the determinism side can't appeal to a consensus, as it often wants to do.)

    For some reason these free will debates always proceed as if we are in the mid 1800s re notions of what the consensus view is in the sciences. (Of course, given that some folks reading of "modern" philosophy doesn't seem to extend much past Kant (if not St. Thomas), I suppose this isn't surprising.)
  • Terrapin Station
    9.9k
    The question isn't how my mind can affect the physical world. The question is first, how does my mind affect my body?fishfry

    Mind is identical to a subset of brain function.
  • Coben
    105
    Is there anything wrong in this reasoning?leo

    If free will meant the ability to do anything at all with no limitations, then perhaps. But otherwise free will isn't about absolute power, but the not being caused by the previous moment or the state of things before this moment. Freely choosing between even two options would be enough if it wasn't inevitable. This is not me saying that free will is the case. I am just saying that other things existing independent of us might indicate a lack of some options and limits on power, but it says nothing about free will.
  • Shamshir
    425
    Why would a mind independent world impede your ability to act upon it freely?

    It just means that the world is self-sufficient and works regardless of free will.
  • StreetlightX
    3.7k
    "Mind controls body": what a strange phrase, as if 'mind' were a little man in the head with a bunch of control levers pushing the body about.

    But the mind is a tool in the body's arsenal for controlling - itself. Not minds but bodies are the bearers of freedom, freedoms to act and freedoms to do, both limited and enabled by circumstance. Forget 'will'. 'Will' is a bunch of Christian bullshit.
  • luckswallowsall
    46
    Yes, assuming you mean Libertarian free will ... it's just that most people fail to see that.

    Although ... Libertarian free will doesn't map onto a subjective reality either. But recognizing that reality is objective should reveal that free will doesn't exist from the perspective of anybody who thinks about it clearer. It merely takes a deeper thinker to see that Libertarian free will doesn't map onto any sort of reality whatsoever.
  • leo
    374
    Why would a mind independent world impede your ability to act upon it freely?Shamshir

    Precisely because that world would not depend on you?

    You're assuming a thoroughgoing, strong causal determinism to be the case.

    Not everyone assumes that
    Terrapin Station

    Let's take my original argument:

    1. Assume we belong to a mind-independent world
    2. Then that world doesn't depend on our minds (that's a tautology)
    3. So our minds don't have an influence on it
    4. So we don't have free will (we have the illusion of choice)

    Where does an underlying assumption of strong causal determinism happen?

    If we assume indeterminism instead, how does that change the argument?

    "Mind controls body": what a strange phrase, as if 'mind' were a little man in the head with a bunch of control levers pushing the body about.StreetlightX

    That's the thing, is there a little free man along with the brain, or is there only a brain enslaved to laws? It's a matter of belief.
  • StreetlightX
    3.7k
    That's the thing, is there a little free man along with the brain, or is there only a brain enslaved to laws? It's a matter of belief.leo

    My point is that this is a dumb dichotomy. Say there was a 'little free man'. What accounts for 'his' freedom? Another little free man? And so on ad infinitum? As if 'brains' were free or not free. Meaningless claptrap.

    The locus of freedom is not to be found centripetally, at some fine, singular point in the brain; it is to be found centrifugally, in the way in which one engages with the world and is so engaged by it in turn. The idea that freedom is a mental issue is philosophically damaging beyond all redemption.

    Anyway, I'll say nothing further. No one here knows how to talk about feedom with any coherency. I came to register a grumble is all.
  • leo
    374
    My point is that this is a dumb dichotomy. Say there was a 'little free man'. What accounts for 'his' freedom? Another little free man? And so on ad infinitum? As if 'brains' were free or not free. Meaningless claptrap.StreetlightX

    I just used your term, I wouldn't call it a man in the first place, that would prevent the infinite regress. More like there is some element to us that doesn't reduce to a brain or body, some element that gives us the potential ability to shape the world in the way we want, in a way that doesn't depend entirely on the state of our brain or body.
  • Shamshir
    425
    Precisely because that world would not depend on you?leo
    You don't depend on me and I can freely act upon you; same with the world.

    Isn't it obvious?
  • leo
    374
    You don't depend on me and I can freely act upon you; same with the world.Shamshir

    But then such a world is not mind-independent, it is not objective, which is my point.
  • Shamshir
    425
    It clearly is, but your perception of it is not mind independent - hence the first question.
  • leo
    374
    It clearly isShamshir

    You're saying the world is clearly mind-independent?
  • Shamshir
    425
    It clearly is, emphasis on clearly. The mind is a prism.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.9k
    1. Assume we belong to a mind-independent world
    2. Then that world doesn't depend on our minds (that's a tautology)
    3. So our minds don't have an influence on it
    leo

    "There is a mind-independent world" is another way of saying that there are things that exist aside from our minds. It's not saying that we can't influence the mind-independent world.

    C'mon. You've got to be capable of coming up with a better argument than one that depends on a ridiculous interpretation of language.
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