• Janus
    8.2k
    OK, but I was referring specifically to your thought that events are "pre-made" and that consciousness "traverses already existent events previously carved" . I'm just pointing out that the events are not pre-made, already existent or previously carved from either the point of view of temporality or from the point of view of eternity. It seems as though you are trying to establish a temporal relation between temporality and eternity which would seem to be logically inapt in either context.
  • PoeticUniverse
    622
    I'm just pointing out that the events are not pre-made, already existent or previously carved from either the point of view of temporality or from the point of view of eternity.Janus

    In presentism, there is only the dynamic now, just generated from the past, with the past then totally gone, and the future not yet created. In eternalism, the future and the past both exist (block universe) and always did. General Relativity suggests the 4D static block universe made of events. We can't tell them apart, so far.
  • Echarmion
    647
    Well said. Freedom is not to be found in the list of a priori conceptions, that from which as you say, the very structure of the world is imposed by the mind. But causality is on the list, alongside possibility, necessity, existence, and so on.Mww

    But isn't it also the case that the concept of freedom is necessary to arrive at an understanding of the world, or parts of it, since without freedom providing starting points, causal chains run into an infinite regress / first cause problem?

    And while I agree it does not follow from that, that freedom is not real, I hesitate to agree that freedom is still an equally valid way to structure reality, for in which case it would seem to be in direct conflict with that which does so structure, and from which it is itself excluded.Mww

    I see your point. To equate freedom and causality as structure may be somewhat imprecise. Freedom is a constituent part of our internal, "actor" perspective. It's necessary for us to make choices.

    Nevertheless, because from some P it does not follow that freedom is not real, says nothing about how freedom is real, beyond the mere existence of the conception of it.Mww

    True. My position is mostly intended as a refutation of the "freedom is just an illusion" argument. As to the metaphysical reality of freedom, I am not sure whether it's ultimately even relevant.

    ...it would need to be determined what freedom is, in what manner or fashion it is real, in order to establish the equal validity for what it does.Mww

    What I mean by equally valid is that you're equally likely to be mistaken about the reality of causality than about the reality of freedom.

    Could you elaborate on what you mean when you say "freedom?" I want to make sure I understand clearly the basics of the case you are laying outrlclauer

    The ability of an actor to decide between two or more courses of action, based on that actors internal reasoning.
  • Possibility
    498
    All my references are to the block universe of eternalism derived from Einstein. I am for fixed will, but fairly trying to find if free will can be; I've only gotten as far as trying to make conscious free will instant and productive and thus not just showing what is past due to figurings having to take time.PoeticUniverse

    Your search for the will in action is a bit like looking for energy. I agree with you that what we understand to be the will appears ‘fixed’ in time, but that’s not much of a faculty, is it? I have empirical evidence that I have a will, that its effect on the universe is ‘caused’ by the sum of my subjective experience. What I struggle to verify is how that experience claims to be a ‘free’ agent based on what we can measure in time.

    My view is that subjective experience, and by extension, the will, is not bound or structured by spacetime. The concept of eternalism was derived from a single quote by Einstein, taken out of context from a personal letter which pertains not to physics or philosophy, but to his experience of life itself.

    Let’s put it back into context, and gain some perspective. Einstein writes, on the death of his dear friend, to the grieving sister:

    “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

    He’s not talking to fellow physicists or even philosophers about an objective physical structure of the universe. These are words of consolation, sharing his own experience of grief and a view of his own approaching mortality (only five weeks later, I might add).

    The disproportionate significance that philosophers have attached to this one Einstein quote is an example of how we experience the world: not as a sequence of events in time, but as an extended ‘now’ that interacts with whatever in our wealth of knowledge and awareness (experiencing past, present and future in a block universe) appears most significantly relevant, regardless of its temporality.

    It is in this experience that the will is not constrained by spacetime - that it enables us to determine and initiate an event in time based on how our awareness of, connection to and collaboration with past, present and future events interact. But the ‘experienced’ freedom of the will is relative, even here. We experience more freedom than the 4D actual universe suggests, but the will is still subject to the relative value and significance we place on events, objects, stimuli and information.

    It’s because we can also communicate our experiences, then recognise and critically examine other value systems, and even restructure our own through self-reflection, that the will gains even more freedom. And until we are capable of consciously exercising that amount of freedom with courage and wisdom, it really makes no sense to talk about any further sense of freedom at this stage, does it...?
  • Mww
    994
    But isn't it also the case that the concept of freedom is necessary to arrive at an understanding of the world, or parts of it, since without freedom providing starting points, causal chains run into an infinite regress / first cause problem?Echarmion

    Freedom as a starting point to alleviate infinite regress with respect to understanding the world.......not so much, methinks. The world, conceptually, makes explicit a posteriori conditions necessarily legislated by the principle of cause and effect, yet merely contingently understood within the confines of the principle of induction. This in turn makes explicit the inevitability of infinite regress and the unconditioned. Experience is required for understanding the world, and experience is at the mercy of the impossibility of its completion.

    That being said does not necessarily remove freedom from being a starting point for something other than the world. The problem arises from the fact that freedom as a starting point for something other than the world can never be proven with the relative certainty implicit in a posteriori conditions, for the simple reason that conformity to principle and law implicit in empirical conditions, from which relative certainty is even possible, cannot apply to conditions that are not empirical. The very best the human rational system can do with freedom as a starting point, is construct with it a paradigm that holds with no inherent contradiction, either within the construction itself or to the empirical conditions already deemed sufficiently proven without it. It is, I agree, as you say,
    a constituent part of our internal, "actor" perspective. It's necessary for us to make choices.Echarmion

    The kicker:

    All causality is meant to denote, is the means for a series of phenomena to be given in time. But the series, nor the time, are themselves causality. Therefore causality resides outside of and antecedent to, that which it describes, or implements, which implies if there is a form of causality for a series of phenomena in time, other than the form found in Nature, for another different class of objects, then it must be given equal validity.

    “.....The transcendental idea of freedom (...) presents us with the conception of spontaneity of action, as the proper ground for imputing freedom to the cause of a certain class of objects. It is, however, the true stumbling-stone to philosophy, which meets with unconquerable difficulties in the way of its admitting this kind of unconditioned causality. That element in the question of the freedom of the will, which has for so long a time placed speculative reason in such perplexity, is properly only transcendental, and concerns the question, whether there must be held to exist a faculty of spontaneous origination of a series of successive things or states. How such a faculty is possible is not a necessary inquiry; for we are obliged to content ourselves with the a priori knowledge that such a causality must be presupposed, although we are quite incapable of comprehending how the being of one thing is possible through the being of another, but must for this information look entirely to experience. (...) But we ought in this case not to allow ourselves to fall into a common misunderstanding, and to suppose that, because a successive series in the world can only have a comparatively first beginning—another state or condition of things always preceding—an absolutely first beginning of a series (...) is impossible....”

    Freedom as a starting point? Absolutely. But only if one thinks such a thing is both explanatorily sufficient, and theoretically necessary, and only as it relates to a thing as transcendental is itself.
    ———————

    As an aside, while I respect your derivation of freedom for a starting point for understanding the world, as it is proved in the third thesis/antithesis antinomy, I rather prefer the thesis in its application to the will. We are not permitted, nor are we capable of, arriving at the unconditioned in Nature, but it is absolutely necessary to arrive at the unconditioned in the formulation of a sustainable moral philosophy.
  • PoeticUniverse
    622
    What I struggle to verify is how that experience claims to be a ‘free’ agent based on what we can measure in time.Possibility

    I haven't been able to show consciousness to even be an agent, which I would have to first do, I guess, and then go on to show that the conscious will is 'free' from the will's directives based on the nature of the person.

    My view is that subjective experience, and by extension, the will, is not bound or structured by spacetime.Possibility

    The will is in an inner space, anyway, and space-time is just the gradational field, but maybe you mean that the will is spaceless and timeless, being more fundamental. Chalmers posits consciousness as be as fundamental as other elementals, with information in physical neural form automatically also being able to get represented in consciousness form. That explains the explanatory gap, a bit, but this doesn't seem to get us to be free of the information having to be such as it is for individual person's make-up and get followed accordingly.
  • Mww
    994
    Now I can respond properly. First, in context with your other comments, re: the process of elimination:

    So, then, as for free will, I'm figuring that its proponents want to have consciousness to be the cause of what one does, in real time, rather than any subconscious neural brain firings and figurings being already finished by the time their results get into consciousness as a product. (...) Consciousness will have to do it all, as it being the will, and we'll still have to get this conscious will not to be fixed, but to be 'free', providing we can define 'free'.PoeticUniverse

    I don’t hold with consciousness to be the cause of what one does, but I do agree that conscious subjectivity is not known to us as neural brain firings. THEY are the proverbial ghost in the machine.
    ——————

    So, there's not anything left, which means that 'free will' as a stand-alone something cannot be (...), and also that it cannot even be meant, such as the case we have with other words with no context, almost like 'Nothing' or 'Infinite', and although the latter have definitions, the definitions serve to undo the ability of the stand-alone words in themselves to be something extant. So, we have will, its constancy reflecting us and also benefiting us—toward having a future via its predictions.PoeticUniverse

    My sentiments pretty much. I would have used determinations rather than predictions, but that’s ok.

    Correct me if I misunderstood your position.
  • PoeticUniverse
    622
    THEY are the proverbial ghost in the machine.Mww

    In the otherworld of the haunts of thoughts, the neural activities go on in the dark, which we can't introspectively know, and don't like the idea of, but neurologists poked around and got some correlations and so we've been informed from that, but still not liking it, emotionally, and so we still wished for what sounded good, as free will, but couldn't logically define it deeper.

    The ghosts rise from the deep, into our conscious world as qualia, the results from the spooky unknown workings of the machine that is the will, and therein in the conscious mind ever float the mysterious objects in the sea in which we see, and also in our imaginations beyond the present as even more faint and ghostly 90% reduced qualia to the point of just barely appearing in our imaginings, so as not to be confused with the actual qualia of our present reckonings.

    We only ever 'see' the insides of our heads, as the mind, those specters already selectively painted in a useful way, as the glimmers, semblances, shadows, and whispers of reality, all toward the aim of us to be able to best continue on.
  • Mww
    994


    A pox on those high-falutin’ nurogis....neolog.....nuclur.....brain-pokers, I say!!!!
  • removedmembershiprc
    113
    The ability of an actor to decide between two or more courses of action, based on that actors internal reasoning.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that there is "internal deliberation," where does the information come from to initiate the deliberation process? Are there biological factors which influence the mental states, which are a function of brain activity (presumably)?
  • Janus
    8.2k
    In presentism, there is only the dynamic now, just generated from the past, with the past then totally gone, and the future not yet created. In eternalism, the future and the past both exist (block universe) and always did. General Relativity suggests the 4D static block universe made of events. We can't tell them apart, so far.PoeticUniverse

    I'm familiar with the ideas of presentism and eternalism. My concern is with trying to avoid inappropriate use of language like "the future and the past both exist...and always did". The logic inherent in the thoughts "future and past" and 'always did" is temporal and hence inappropriate to the logic of eternity, in my view.

    I think it would be more appropriate to avoid the language of temporality (as much as we are able to) and say something like that in eternity every moment exists without passing away. Is the idea of existence necessarily temporal also? Perhaps; it is hard for beings who are conditioned to think temporally to think eternity.

    I know what you mean, though. :smile:
  • Janus
    8.2k
    The block universe theory states that time may be considered a forth dimension additional to our three spatial dimensions, therefore the past and future extend from the present moment to their limits or to eternity. In this view the future and past already exist as they will exist and do not change.Pathogen

    I think you are falling into the same trap as @Poetic Universe when you say the future and past already exist as they will exist and do not change. This suggest that eternity is temporally prior to temporality, and I think this is an incoherent thought. How could there be a temporal relationship between something temporal and something a-temporal? I don't think that idea could ever be made to make sense.
  • Janus
    8.2k


    Your second post gets it I think. It makes no sense, in the context of eternity, to speak of the past as an infinite regression.There does not seem to be any reason why you could not have an eternity which consisted of a finite number of moments, for example. The general problem with thinking eternity is to conceive of what could distinguish the moments from one another if not spatiality or temporality. That is probably why eternalism is thought in spatial terms as a "block universe". The human mind has its limits no doubt!
  • PoeticUniverse
    622
    That is probably why eternalism is thought in spatial terms as a "block universe".Janus

    Externally, if one could see it from the outside, which one never can, the block universe is 4 distances with no time or change, as dddd, dimensionally, as a hypercube, the past and the future both real, but, somehow, internally, to us, in space-time, one of the distances converts to what we call 'time', as if the speed of light, d/t, was a fundamental dimensional equivalence ratio; so, then, dddd / d/t = dddt = space-time.

    It is to us as if the pages of a 3D flip book of 3D spaces are turning or a 3D DVD is playing. Each 3D image is as of a new 3D space, that is of a new universe going by. Our time, then, is as the differences of these spaces, making time to be a kind of index to these 3D spaces, although we can't use the index to go anywhere but have to always go on to the next 3D space.

    Others liken it to the expansion of the universe being the 4D part, somehow.

    Presentism looks the same to us, in that a whole new 3D space appears at every 'now', but that the 'now' was just manufactured from the immediate past, totally consuming the just past 'now'.

    Einstein's relativity of simultaneity puts a big dent in presentism's claim that it is 'now' everywhere.

    In my fun video below, a human in Tahiti asks a djinni to show him 'Eternity':

  • Janus
    8.2k
    Einstein's relativity of simultaneity puts a being dent in presentism's claim that it is 'now' everywhere.PoeticUniverse

    Thanks for your explanation. I'll watch your video when I have some time.

    Einstein's relativity of simultaneity puts a being dent in presentism's claim that it is 'now' everywhere.PoeticUniverse

    Yes, I understand that the idea of a universal "now" is inconsistent with relativity theory. Nows are local, and there is no absolute simultaneity. This leads me to wonder about McTaggart's "B-series" notion of time, though. If some events are, from a "universal" perspective, before others, say,in extremis the Big Bang is before the heat death for all observers, then the fact (if it is a fact) that there is no universal now is perhaps more of an artifact of our "fine-graining" than anything else. I don't know if I expressed that thought very well; I'm kind of groping here. :grin:
  • Janus
    8.2k
    I tend to agree with you that it seems more coherent and plausible to think that there are no actual infinities. But, we know so little! :yikes:
  • PoeticUniverse
    622
    Eternalism nor presentism serve the purposes of arguing for free will, so the notion of a growing block universe is what were left with. I can't claim to know how time actually works but since choice requires the future to be undetermined or not exist yet feel free to throw any other ideas that would fit the bill my way.Pathogen

    Yes, a growing block is a combination of presentism and eternalism, with the past being kept and the future not yet existent. Growing block is probably the theory some say is supported by the expansion of the universe. So far, no one really knows the mode of time.
  • Bartricks
    626
    I still don't see how indeterminism in the brain could give any mind associated with it free will.

    Free will has to be capable of grounding moral responsibility. But if I'm not morally responsible if everything I am and do is antecedently determined, how am I going to be if it turns out that to some extent what I am and do is indeterministic? Perhaps if it is indeterministic what some brain event will cause my mind to think or decide then there is a sense in which I am the originator of my decision. But it is not the robust sense necessary to make me free in a way that could plausibly make me morally responsible for my resulting decisions. For if it really was indeterministic, then it was just a brute matter of chance that the brain events caused me to make one decision rather than another.

    I still don't understand why you think physics will give you any answers to these questions - physicists are not studying free will. And although physical discoveries may have important implications for free will, we can't possibly know what those implications are until we know more about free will - something physics isn't even attempting to tell us about.
  • Echarmion
    647
    Externally, if one could see it from the outside, which one never can, the block universe is 4 distances with no time or change,PoeticUniverse

    How do we have information on how things look "from the outside"? That seems impossible to me.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that there is "internal deliberation," where does the information come from to initiate the deliberation process? Are there biological factors which influence the mental states, which are a function of brain activity (presumably)?rlclauer

    The information comes from previous mind-states. Whether these are reducible to brain states is part of the question.
  • removedmembershiprc
    113
    If a mental state results from a previous mental state, going all the way back to the first brain state, like when a baby is looking into a mirror for example and begins the first stages of "thought," is there a primary state which is not the result of prior mental states? if so where does the information come from for that primary state?
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