The self in a deterministic universe

We have explored how a lack of free will renders all individuals “guilt free” in the sense that their actions cannot truly be condemned by morality. This is a very ambiguous statement and I wish to clarify what all this means.

It is helpful to think of the body as a vessel, and one’s self-awareness as the passenger. This passenger is simply watching the vessel react with other phenomena in the universe. The passenger has no volition and no control over the vessel. It simply observes.

This analogy is helpful, but it is a bad one. It is one I have used often but I must repeat myself. It is not a good analogy. The reason being that even the passenger of this vessel—analogous to the self-awareness produced by one’s body—is a part of the vessel, not just an occupant. 

Your thoughts are also the result of physics beyond your volition. The analogy I have just described implies that there is a soul, or something that is separate from the natural world that is witnessing the natural world. This isn’t so. You are in a sense “witnessing” the physics of the universe, but this experience is not from outside the universe. It is from within.

From falling rocks, to neurons communicating information within the brain, all phenomena are reactions to the laws of physics. The self is a product of the universe, not the other way around (although the self is responsible for ones perceived universe). The universe is as responsible for my condition as it is responsible for your condition, and it assumes full responsibility.

 

-AD

 

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  19 comments for “The self in a deterministic universe

  1. July 17, 2014 at 4:36 am

    That’s an interesting take on free will I have not heard before. I have always held that of course we have free will, although up until recently that will has been mostly focused on survival. Who wouldn’t choose survival over extinction? I don’t think free will requires a soul or anything of the like. I think free will is a matter of choices, and has cognitive primates we have the ability to make choices in the world around us. In the words of the great Christopher Hitchens, “Of course we have free will, God insists upon it” 🙂

    • July 17, 2014 at 5:26 am

      I remember Hitchens saying, “I have no other choice” when asked if he believed in free will.

      In what sense do you believe in free will? Do you believe you think and make decisions? I would agree we think and make decisions, but these processes are explained by a mechanism not within our volition to affect.

      Thank you for reading!

      • July 18, 2014 at 9:14 pm

        What qualifies as free will? If you mean absolute free will in the sense we have the ability to control our environment, thoughts, and the universe then no, I don’t think that’s possible. I’m talking about free will in the sense that we are a conscious ape species with the ability to reason and make logical decisions in the world we live in and react to. In the grand scheme of things does free will matter? No, of course not. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a concept human beings are capable of perceiving.

      • July 19, 2014 at 1:58 am

        I actually agree with your definition of free will! Yes I was speaking in the absolute sense of the word.

        Well put my friend

  2. July 17, 2014 at 10:01 am

    “…The passenger has no volition and no control over the vessel. It simply observes.

    This analogy is helpful, but it is a bad one…”

    Bad analogies are not helpful, unless your aim is to deceive.

    “.. the self-awareness produced by one’s body…”

    This premise is merely an assumption, not a proven fact. Materialist science insists all matter is unconscious yet it claims consciousness simply arises from matter because in a materialistic universe there is only matter and yet we cannot deny consciousness exists and so it must arise from matter. This is not even logical enough to be classed as circular logic. It is no more rational than religious claims that God is everything therefore everything is proof of god…… including fossils and the complete lack of empirical evidence of God.

    There are plenty of repeatable experiments which demonstrate consciousness acting non locally (across time and space). If consciousness was just a product of brain matter it would be restricted to inside our heads, and it is provably not. Therefore your premise provably false.

    In any case if consciousness is the *product* of the material universe (brain matter) that still defines it as non material in nature, which according to materialists, makes it outside the bounds of reality.

    “…Your thoughts are also the result of physics beyond your volition….”

    This is a meaningless statement. You are just asserting volition is not part of nature. The very fact that you are CHOOSING to make that argument suggests otherwise. If the argument is not made with volition, then it is not an argument any more than a rock falling down a hill is an argument.

    Saying “Your thoughts are also the result of physics beyond your volition” is no different to saying “Your thoughts are the result of God’s will”. All you have done is replace the word ‘god’ with ‘physics’.

    And if you really believe we have no volition over our thoughts then you should not call them ‘your thoughts’. You are stating that they are NOT our thoughts. Again you might as well say “Your body is not really your body”.

    “..The analogy I have just described implies that there is a soul, or something that is separate from the natural world that is witnessing the natural world….”

    No it doesn’t, it simply implies that the natural world might extend beyond the bounds of current materialist science. There is no rational or scientific reason why non material phenomena need to be automatically classed as separate from nature. When radio waves were beyond the knowledge of even the smartest scientists of the day they still existed and they were still part of the (undiscovered) natural world. They were not separate from the natural world, they were just not included in the scientific text books of the day. Big deal.

    “..From falling rocks, to neurons communicating information within the brain, all phenomena are reactions to the laws of physics…”

    Laws are a social construct. ‘The laws of physics’ is a convenient metaphor but they do not actually exist. Your statement does not actually mean anything. It does not prove anything. You might as well say “All phenomena are manifestations of God’s love” … or “All phenomena are phenomena” …. or “all phenomena exist”.

    Using the phrase “the laws of physics” in a sentence does not actually prove anything just as using the phrase “the word of god” does not prove anything.

    “…The self is a product of the universe, not the other way around …”

    You need to define ‘self’. Do you mean consciousness, conscious awareness, identity, perception, the body, the mind, the person?

    “..The universe is as responsible for my condition as it is responsible for your condition, and it assumes full responsibility….”

    Again, you might as well substitute ‘the universe’ for ‘god’. This is just wishy washy feel-good religious mumbo jumbo masquerading as science/ philosophy.

    “..God is as responsible for my condition as He is responsible for your condition, and He assumes full responsibility….”

    Both sentences mean absolutely nothing.

    As for the Hitchens quote “I have no other choice” when asked if he believed in free will……

    A belief without free will is not a belief, it is merely a causal reaction.

    For Hitchens to *believe* in free will he must actually ‘choose’ or ‘prefer’ A over B.

    A I have free will
    B I do not have free will

    Whichever he chooses or prefers it is still an act of free will. If it is NOT an act of free will then by definition it is NOT a choice or a preference, and thus cannot be said to be a belief.

    Without free will it is merely a causally determined outcome and is no more a ‘belief’ than the path of a rock rolling down a hillside is a ‘belief’.

    • July 17, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      You’re back!

      That is a lot to address. Sorry if I don’t get it all

      First I must state that the laws of nature do exist and that of course they are not a social construct. A law of nature is not the same as the law of government, yes yes, these are very cheap semantics.

      We have been over how beliefs and debating still arise from a deterministic universe. I’ve said all I can about this one.

      I addressed how even if consciousness is found to not be entirely the result of the brain it does’t change anything in another post. Consciousness must be discovered beyond the natural world. Until this is so materialism seems to be the most accurate world view

      As for God…God is supposed to grant free will in the first place but I can see your point. But I must accuse you of the same thing. When you talk about thoughts and actions, I hear metaphysical connotations. When you speak of things having free will I hear religious mumbo jumbo. Your thoughts and actions can be broken down to processes beyond your control. You do not choose how many neurons go this way or that way. You do not choose what arises in your subconscious (the subconscious is really the best point there is for determinism). There are so many processes that make up a “thought” that I do not see where the free will comes in. You need the supernatural for it, you need a god, you need something beyond the material world. It might be out there, but we have no discovered it and in the meanwhile, the material world has given us a lot of understanding.

      The studies on the brain that I have read have pointed to my case. This is still a big topic of debate.

      I define the self as the collection of atoms that make up a person and the thoughts that are generated while the collection lasts.

      I can’t move any farther until you accept that humans can think choose and debate in a deterministic world. You can program a computer to do those exact things. Just like our molecules happened to line up to produce a person who does these things. Definitions are very important here

      • July 18, 2014 at 2:20 pm

        “..You’re back!…”

        Yay! 🙂

        “…First I must state that the laws of nature do exist and that of course they are not a social construct…”

        But the ARE a social construct. All laws are by definition. The so called ‘laws of nature’ were invented by scientists. These laws have been constantly changed or completely scrubbed as scientific knowledge has gradually increased.

        ‘Laws of nature’ are no more than convenient placeholders to represent our current level of understanding. But they are merely placeholders and should never be considered more real than nature itself.

        Putting laws of nature above nature itself (denying possibilities and even observations which do not conform to your ‘law’) is to turn science into religion.

        You have turned ‘laws of nature’ (ie convenient placeholders for commonly observed phenomena) into ‘Laws of Nature’ (ie the Word of God). In short, you have turned science into a religion.

        When you talk about ‘laws of nature’ you talking about fixed and unchanging laws, right?

        But there is nothing fixed in nature – at least not to the point that it can become ‘the law’. Are you aware that universal ‘constants’ like the speed of light and gravity fluctuate significantly over time?

        They fluctuated so much in the end they decided to fix those values arbitrarily in order to create ‘constants’ …. and thus make physicists’ lives easier!

        Can you explain how a universe which is fluid and flexible can have ‘laws’ which are fixed and inflexible?

        I’m not saying ‘laws of nature’ are not useful concepts which allow us to build ships and suspension bridges, but I am saying they cannot be placed above reality itself … to judge what is possible/ real and what is impossible/ unreal.

        “…Consciousness must be discovered beyond the natural world. …”

        You have hijacked the word ‘nature’. You cannot set the bounds of nature to your liking and then insist everything outside those bounds is not nature. That is not science.

        Consciousness has been measured operating beyond the materialist realm (across time and space). Therefore, by your personal criteria, consciousness is able to operate outside of nature (as you define nature).

        Obviously that is absurd. Consciousness is part of nature. It’s your definition of nature (reality) which is invalid.

        “..When you speak of things having free will I hear religious mumbo jumbo….”

        It doesn’t matter what your (or my) personal feelings are. I am only pointing out that our stance is contradictory.

        On the one hand you assert everything is causally determined and yet on the other hand you carry on using words and concepts that imply (and require) free will to exist. I am just pointing out that contradiction, that’s all.

        For example…

        “…Your thoughts and actions can be broken down to processes beyond your control. ….”

        OK so that is a claim. I would argue it is a logical contradiction in at least two fundamental ways.

        The first logical contradiction is that you are claiming we humans have the control required to break down our own thoughts and actions into their fundamental processes.

        If those processes are beyond our control how can you assert that we have the control required to break them down and assess them accurately in the first place?

        You are basically saying “I’ve driven to your house in my car to inform you that the roads are impassable by car”.

        The second logical contradiction is that you are referring to our thoughts and actions as ‘ours’ while simultaneously claiming they are beyond our control. And the fact that you are making an assertion at all implies (and in fact requires) you to have control of your thoughts and actions. Yet you deny this is the case.

        This is like walking ten miles to give a presentation where you assert humans do not have any control over their own legs. A presentation you give while pacing up and down a stage and avoiding any obstacles in your way.

        It is definitely convenient to talk about ‘my’ thoughts and actions vs ‘your’ thoughts and actions, just as it is convenient to talk about ‘my weather’ vs ‘your weather’.

        We might say “How’s your weather today?” but we do not mean to imply that person actually controls the weather.

        Determinism theory proposes ‘our’ thoughts and actions are no more controlled by us than ‘our’ weather. Therefore a determinist cannot claim his actions or thoughts are his choice or preference or under his control in any way, just as he also cannot claim the weather above his head is his choice or preference or under his control in any way.

        As a determinist if you claim to be presenting an argument for A over B, or choosing A over B, or claiming ownership (control) of any of your actions or thoughts this is as absurd as you claiming you are preferring or choosing what the weather is doing above his head, or controlling the weather surrounding you in any other way.

        The degree of control you have over any of these things is the same right? (ie none)

        Here, you said it yourself…

        “..Your thoughts and actions can be broken down to processes beyond your control. You do not choose how many neurons go this way or that way. You do not choose what arises in your subconscious…”

        So you are literally saying our thoughts and actions are beyond our control, just like the weather is. In which case….

        If the thoughts and actions you experience are beyond your control, how are you able to assert arguments for A over B and choose to take one stance over another, or perform one action instead of another?

        If the weather you experience is beyond your control how are you able to choose what the weather does, or make the weather do one thing and not another and call that your preference?

        It’s essentially the same question right? According to you the control you have over all of these things is the same.

        “…There are so many processes that make up a “thought” that I do not see where the free will comes in….”

        That is not an argument.

        “…You need the supernatural for it, you need a god, you need something beyond the material world. …”

        That’s just a way of acknowledging that the materialist world view cannot withstand the existence of free will. You cannot have free will AND cling to the materialist view of reality.

        I totally agree with that.

        You also cannot have ships circumnavigating the earth AND cling to the flat earth theory.

        (pause to let the penny drop….)

        Like everybody else, determinists are people who’s lives are filled to the brim with expressions of free will. This makes them like flat-earthers living aboard ships who spend their whole lives circumnavigating the earth…. around and around and around they go!

        Determinism theory is the modern day flat earth theory. Both are the result of an incomplete understanding of the nature of the universe…. and the dogged insistence that evidence of free will/ circumnavigation must be an illusion because otherwise we will have to admit our world view is wrong, or at least incomplete.

        To have free will is to sail your ship off the edge of the world!

        And to sail off one side of the earth and appear on the other side requires the supernatural!

        But there is no edge of the world. The world is not flat after all….. and nor is the universe only material in nature.

        “…I define the self as the collection of atoms that make up a person and the thoughts that are generated while the collection lasts….”

        Are you saying thoughts are a property of atoms?

        “..I can’t move any farther until you accept that humans can think choose and debate in a deterministic world….”

        In a deterministic universe at every moment here are the ‘choices’ available to me:

        1. The atoms that make up my ‘self’ are compelled to react to the sum totally of all causal factors leading up to that particular moment and I have absolutely no control over this process.

        2. …er……

        I cannot think of a second choice. There is no such thing as ‘one choice’. There are either two or more choices ….. or there is no choice at all.

        Thus is a deterministic universe there are no choices (unless you can think of a number 2 choice). You cannot ‘choose’ if there is only ever one ‘choice’ (ie no choice at all).

        “…You can PROGRAM a computer to do those exact things….” (Emphasis added)

        That’s like saying, “You can FORCE someone to behave voluntarily”. It is just another contradiction in terms.

        “…Definitions are very important here…”

        Agreed 🙂

      • July 18, 2014 at 5:27 pm

        I’m not saying the laws of nature are fixed and never changing. But they exist. They are there whether we look at them or not. And we do have some things down. The acceleration of gravity near the surface of the earth is 9.8 m/s/s, We’ve identified trends in the periodic table. There is a lot to discover and a lot we don’t know. But there is also a lot we have discovered and a lot we do know.

        And I would never want science to be a religion. These laws are most certainly not fixed and unchanging. Science textbooks change ever decade

        Consciousness has not been shown to be outside the natural world. It obeys the laws of nature we are aware of. Across time and space? I’d be interested to see that study. But time and space are part of this universe, they do not exceed it. Time is not independent, it is relative

        “Are you saying thoughts are the properties of atoms?”

        I have to be careful here. Thoughts do not arise until atoms are put together in a certain way (a human), that much we know. I wouldn’t say they are the properties of atoms, but thoughts happen when you put them together a certain way.

        I still don’t think you are getting the big picture. When a determinist uses the word choice and debate he is using the dictionary definition. It is simply to make the conversation intelligible. Whatever happens is a reaction to the forces of nature but we call a human being picking A over B a choice, it’s just the right verb for the job. Now he had no control over whether he picked A or B, but there were many cognitive processes that lead to it. Instead of saying ‘neurons to this part of the brain and…” we call it a choice. No the agent in question is not actually in control

        You are completely right, in the bigger sense now, there are no choices in a deterministic universe, but rather atoms reacting with one another.

        I disagree with your interpretation of my computer. You can program a computer to search it’s memory (think), you can program a computer to block certain software and accept certain software (choose). This is just like what is happening in the brain.

        You may not like the language but the concepts are consistent. I am a materialist, I deny the existence of God, souls, free will. Many things are explained by nature (not everything yet). But I have no choice in any of this. It is simply how my brain is reacting with this world. Again I have no control what so ever. Whatever I say next was beyond my control, whatever I say, or think is. Whatever my reply to is will be beyond my control.

        “Just because a puppet likes his strings does not mean he his free”

      • July 19, 2014 at 11:01 am

        “… I’m not saying the laws of nature are fixed and never changing…… These laws are most certainly not fixed and unchanging. Science textbooks change ever decade…”

        Then we agree. And this means your arguments using the idea of ‘laws of nature’ were invalid. You cannot say “X is impossible because it would violate the laws of nature”. That is totally unscientific.

        The ‘laws’ of nature (as well as legal laws) are always open to modification, enlargement or completely scrapping.

        “…Consciousness has not been shown to be outside the natural world. ..”

        No of course not. But it has been shown to operate outside the materialistic description of the world. I’m sure I linked to studies in a previous comment, as well as examples of the censorship of those studies by the scientific establishment. That is probably why you are not aware of them.

        “..I wouldn’t say they are the properties of atoms, but thoughts happen when you put them together a certain way…”

        So you basically have no idea what consciousness is or how it works then 😉

        (just like everyone else).

        “…When a determinist uses the word choice and debate he is using the dictionary definition. It is simply to make the conversation intelligible. …”

        Not true. The average dictionary does not assume a deterministic universe. I don’t know any dictionary that does.

        Here are the ‘choices’ available to me at any given moment in a deterministic universe:

        1. I am compelled to react to the sum total of causal factors leading up to that moment in time. I have no control over this process or its outcome (as you yourself stated in a previous comment)

        2. ….?

        Unless you can fill in number 2 then we will have to agree there is no choice available at any given moment in a deterministic universe.

        “…Instead of saying ‘neurons to this part of the brain and…” we call it a choice…”

        You have confused ‘choice’ with ‘uncertainty’. In a deterministic universe the agent had no choice about picking A or B, it is just that we as observers had uncertainty as to the outcome before it actually happened.

        ***Being uncertain about future outcomes in a complex but strictly causal universe is NOT the same as witnessing an act of choosing***

        It is like watching a rock roll down a hill and being uncertain which path it will take. That uncertainty is due to the complex variables at play. It is NOT due to the rock having a choice and making its mind up at the last moment.

        We do NOT refer to falling rocks ‘choosing’ their path,
        so there is absolutely no reason why determinists need to refer to people ‘choosing’ an ice cream or a career or any other action.

        The reasons why determinists continue to use words that describe free will such (like ‘choice’, ‘preference’, ‘argument’ etc) are:

        1. They do not really understand what determinism theory is and what its implications are
        2. They are only pretending to be determinists
        3. They are deliberately trying to misrepresent determinism theory

        “….No the agent in question is not actually in control…..You are completely right, in the bigger sense now, there are no choices in a deterministic universe, but rather atoms reacting with one another.”

        And yet despite this being the foundation of determinism theory just about every determinist out there insists they are capable of choosing, preferring, arguing, debating etc.

        The entire determinism ‘movement’ is really one continuous Monty Python sketch when you hold it up to logical scrutiny 😉

        “…I disagree with your interpretation of my computer…”

        But what does your computer think about my interpretation? 🙂

        … oh wait, I forgot…. it is completely incapable of thinking. All it can do is perform the actions which people program it to perform.

        “….. You can PROGRAM a computer to search it’s memory (think), you can PROGRAM a computer to block certain software and accept certain software (choose). This is just like what is happening in the brain…..”

        Except that being programmed to think is not the same as thinking, being programmed to choose is not the same as choosing, being forced to donate to charity is not the same as donating to charity, being winched up a tree is not the same as climbing a tree, being transported by train is not the same as walking by foot, running across the lawn while holding a model plane and going “Nnnnnneeeeeeoooowwwwww!” is not the same as flying……. (and so on).

        “… I have no control what so ever. Whatever I say next was beyond my control, whatever I say, or think is. Whatever my reply to is will be beyond my control….”

        If that is true then you are (along with rocks, the wind, clouds and ocean waves) completely incapable of choosing anything, preferring anything or making any argument or taking one stance and rejecting another, or differentiating between truth and falsehood because you have “no control what so ever”.

        Does your everyday experience of having lots of control in all of these areas not mean anything to you?

        Seems a bit weird to me…. like denying cats exist …… to a cat!

      • July 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm

        I’m sorry I can’t carry this conversation further. We disagree so deeply on many fundamental points. I’ve addressed many of your arguments and we are not just repeating ourselves

        “Does your everyday experience of having lots of control in all of these areas not mean anything to you?”

        It means a lot and its amazing I’m here. I just don’t believe I am the author of my own life

      • July 19, 2014 at 5:15 pm

        And I have to add, this bit about not being able to debate and choose…no you cannot literally choose in a deterministic universe. I’ve said several times that it’s helpful to just call the processes choosing. But in all it is only a reaction

  3. July 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    A friend of mine explained determinism with the analogy of being in a movie as it plays out — everything is already “written” and life will carry out according to the script that is already determined, but living within it is like getting caught up in the actors’ and actress’ plot pretending like our investment of care has some sort of control, which it does not

    • July 17, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      That sounds pretty close to it. Thank you for reading! We have a lot of posts on the subject haha

    • July 18, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      This is a good analogy for determinism theory. But it does highlight the contradictions made by determinists….

      A movie (as we experience them in the cinema) is a representation of the real world – a world of free will (as we experience it). The making of a movie itself is an (apparent) act of free will, as is the act of going to see it in the cinema. There is something decidedly dodgy about using such an obvious act of (apparent) free will to represent the concept of a world without free will!

      But more importantly the characters in a scripted movie cannot know they are in a movie, only actors in the real world (the ones being filmed) can know this.

      In other words, if a character in a movie (think Woody Allen) is aware they are in a scripted movie (ie aware that life is causally determined) then they are automatically asserting the movie is just a movie and that there is another world outside of the movie which is the real world (ie the world of free will).

      You cannot logically claim ‘this is a scripted movie’ without simultaneously claiming it is NOT a scripted movie!

      Likewise, you cannot claim ‘there is no free will’ without simultaneously claiming ‘there is free will’ in order to make that statement. Claiming there is no free will is itself an act of free will. If it is not an act of free will then the claim has no meaning anyway.

      If a character in a movie (or in real life) is simply delivering a pre-scripted line – exactly as scripted (exactly as causally determined) which says “This is all just a movie” (“the world is deterministic in nature”) then that line has no more meaning or validity than the rest of the scripted movie.

      BUT….

      To genuinely assert that “No really, this is just a movie” means you have gone off script (you have expressed free will) – in which case it is blatantly NOT just a scripted movie after all!

      It is a bone fide universe of free will.

      You cannot have it both ways.

      Think of it this way……. You cannot claim to KNOW you are in a dream, while also claiming the universe is a dream. Because as soon as you claim this is just a dream you are acknowledging that you are asleep in your bed dreaming it all. Therefore life is obviously NOT a dream after all.

      Swap ‘dream’ for ‘movie’ or ‘causally determined universe’ and you end up having to deal with the same logic 🙂

      • July 18, 2014 at 5:33 pm

        You cannot logically claim ‘this is a scripted movie’ without simultaneously claiming it is NOT a scripted movie!

        I would disagree. To say “this is a scripted movie” could be part of the script (it was determined).

        Just because the agent realizes what is going on doesn’t grant him free will. His next course of action is a reaction to that information.

        Have you heard frustraters? This is very interesting topic. In my interpretation it means we have no free will, but it creates a paradox because at the same time it causes us to react in a way that throws off whatever was determined.

        But back to the point. Everything is scripted and this is just a really really really really complex bizarre movie! One where the actors even acknowledge they are acting while on camera!

      • July 19, 2014 at 9:57 am

        “..I would disagree. To say “this is a scripted movie” could be part of the script (it was determined)…”

        Right, but as I already pointed out if that statement is scripted then the statement has no more meaning or validity than any other scripted statement, including all scripted statements which contradict it.

        In other words, in a deterministic (ie ‘scripted’) universe there can be no arguments, preferences, debates or choices made because these actions all require free will. They require you to assert that statement A is more valid than statement B. This is simply not possible if both statements are causally determined (ie ‘scripted’).

        To genuinely make a choice, make and argument, express a preference etc one must assert free will/ break the fourth wall/ deviate from script in order to assert than A is more valid or more preferable to you than B.

        This is why the moment anyone (including determinists) assert an argument, a preference, a stance in a debate or a choice they are asserting the existence of free will.

        Even arguing that free will does not exist is an admission of free will. This is because to make an argument you have to *chose* your stance from a variety of possible stances which is not the same as being bound by causality to the point that you had no control.

        If your ‘argument’ is just you adhering to ‘the script’ as per strict causality then, by definition, it is not an argument, or a stance or a choice. It is just a form of ‘weather’, if you will.

        “…Just because the agent realizes what is going on doesn’t grant him free will….”

        You’re basically saying “realising you’re on a plane does not mean you are on a plane”

        I’m sorry but yes it does!

        If you are not on a plane then (obviously) your realisation is a mistake, in which case it is not a realisation.

        You are literally telling me it’s possible to know the truth, but for that truth to not be true. That’s a logical contradiction.

        If you realise you are buried in a box underground that means you must know there is a world above ground. So you cannot claim being buried in a box underground is all there is. That’s a logical contradiction.

        If you realise you are in a dream then you can no longer honestly claim life is just that dream. Realising you are in a dream MEANS realising you are in bed asleep in the real world, and that this is just a dream. So if you realise it is a dream you cannot claim the dream is all there is. That’s another logical contradiction.

        “…Everything is scripted and this is just a really really really really complex bizarre movie! One where the actors even acknowledge they are acting while on camera!…”

        If you realise you are in a scripted movie then you can no longer honestly claim life is just a scripted movie. That very realisation is an admission that there exists something else other than the scripted movie. It’s another logical contradiction.

      • July 20, 2014 at 6:44 am

        So you are not a determinist? … There have been times that I have been dreaming, stopped myself in my dream, and said, “hey, I’m dreaming right now. This creature can’t eat me, and instead I’m going to fly because this is the only time I’m able to fly.” No kidding, it really happened. But you’re reply would be that I asserted free will within the dream to say that to myself?

      • July 21, 2014 at 10:03 am

        “..So you are not a determinist?..”

        Correct. I considered being a determinist for a while, but eventually choose not to 🙂

        “..But you’re reply would be that I asserted free will within the dream to say that to myself?…”

        Maybe. I wasn’t really arguing for free will as such. I was just pointing out the logical contradiction inherent to determinism theory.

        It started with the idea that reality is like a movie (ie scripted, fixed, determined), but a movie where we know we are in a movie and that movie is all there is.

        I was just pointing out that knowing you are in a movie automatically implies that the movie is not all there is.

        The same is true of being aware you are in a dream. You cannot claim to be aware you are in a dream and then insist the dream is all there is.

        Asserting that you are in a dream MEANS asserting that you are asleep in your bed outside of the dream.

        Asserting that you are in a movie MEANS asserting that you are on a movie set playing a role in a movie.

        And asserting that you have no free will in a strictly causal universe MEANS asserting that you are outside of that causal universe and have the free will necessary to assert such a thing in the first place.

  4. July 26, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Just to clear up a few things. Deterministic does not mean “scripted”. That implies an author writing the script.

    Determinism simply means that all events have causes, and that these causes themselves have causes, going back to the beginning of time.

    Therefore the current state of things is the inevitable effect of the previous state of things. And the current state of things is the inevitable cause of the future state of things.

    Determinism refers to the whole universe of possible causes, therefore there is nothing “outside” that can change the outcome. (If you wish to believe in God, then God would be a cause “inside” of determinism. And His behavior would be the result of prior causes as well.)

    Therefore, everything can unfold in precisely one way.

    So, how does this realization change things? It doesn’t. Deterministic inevitability is pretty much an interesting, but useless fact. It’s just a background thing. Like a constant on both sides of all equations, that makes itself irrelevant.

    It has no effect upon the mental process we call free will. If you have a choice to make, how does it help you to know that whatever you choose would have been inevitable? You still cannot know what the inevitable result is until you go through the process of choosing!

    And if you try to take it into account you end up in a loop. Because you then have to take into account the fact that you took it into account and the fact that you took taking it into account into account, etc.

    It provides you with no information that you can use other than what you already know, and that is that you’ll have to make a decision before you can know what that decision will be.

    Now, an outsider, with omniscient comprehension of all the causes and an omnipotent ability to instantly calculate their interactions, could, in theory, predict the result, and hand it to you in a sealed envelope before you started considering your options.

    But you’d still have to make the decision to see if it prediction was correct. And if you chose not to make the decision, but to open the envelope instead, the paper would be blank.

    Because determinism encompasses all causes, it must include the actions of intelligent beings alongside the actions of gravity. This means it must include the mental process of choosing what we will cause and what we will not cause.

    The fact that our choices are inevitable does not make them unnecessary. On the contrary, it makes them more important than ever.

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