Entry #73621 on Free Will
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05-08-2011, 08:25 PM
Entry #73621 on Free Will
There are 2 threads about this in the Old Threads section and about 2 more spattered around the forum, but this time the discussion will be good because it's tinted with the comedic musings of one Buddy H. Christ. Plus the usual free will threads focus on "are we in control of our choices or is there a predetermined 'plan'... ie. are those choices and events already made and just waiting for the temporal 'us' to reach that point in time?"

My focus, however, will be that of Sam Harris' suggestion in Moral Landscape. Here's part 1 of 3.







The main thesis of this thread is this: isn't what we call "free will" or "choice" simply a product of our environment? Our genes, chemicals, upbringing, belief system, circumstance, demographics, everything that affects "who we are." Doesn't this decide our choices before we are even presented with the appearance of an "option?" If I "choose" a Mountain Dew instead of a water at a restaurant, isn't it because the chemical makeup in my brain is sensitive to caffeine and derives pleasure out of imbibing it? If I find a wallet filled with money on the street, aren't my 2 "choices" between taking the money or not taking the money really just a culmination on the ethics and guilt that were instilled in me during my upbringing?

If it were really a 50/50 choice that I made independent of everything else, then hypothetically given the exact same situation with the exact same life in 20 alternate universes, wouldn't you have some cases where I take the money and some where I decide to leave it? Obviously I can't prove this without 20 observable universes, but I'm certain that I would either take the money in all 20 instances or leave the money in all 20. If this is the case, then there really is no choice. Who I am and how my brain functions already made the choice for me long before I encountered the wallet.

Obviously, this might not sit well with people, since with this logic Hitler is completely blameless in his actions. But I believe this is actually an accurate statement. If Hitler as we knew him happen to be born in Brazil or was raised differently or perhaps had a brain that produced more serotonin, there would be no WW2. Because Hitler as a conscious "I" didn't choose anything, he was preconditioned with the appropriate chemicals and instilled with certain ideas and influences that caused his actions. (Yes there is a cause and effect element in this concept.)

And finally, taking an idea excerpt from the Harris video, I'm going to choose a word right now. I'm going to give myself 5 seconds to pick any word. Any word in the known languages. And.... go.

Pickle.

Now why did I "choose" pickle. I could have went with something meaningful or poetic, but my brain gave me as many words as it could conjure in 5 seconds and I "chose" the word pickle. Let's discuss this. I'm guessing that the reason half the words thought up were food items is because I mentioned a restaurant earlier, or perhaps because I eat constantly, because food is delicious and triggers chemicals in my brain that make me briefly happy. Why pickle? Probably because as I child, I told lots of jokes and was reinforced with laughter and being labeled "funny." This developed my comedic perception and I realize that the word "pickle" is humorous. I also don't like to make people feel bad, so words like "rape, suicide, and divorce" weren't even presented to me in my 5 second list, but might make an appearance in a brooding emo kid's list.

My point in this rambling is that we have no control over anything we do or say or believe. We are simply products of uncontrolled stimuli and circumstance.

I am an atheist Libertarian who hates police, government, and pop music because of my rebellious counterculture nature.

Why did I make this thread a mile long and not a quick blurb? Because my posts are generally met with agreement and positive reinforcement. If this thread is met with hostility and abuse, then most likely my next few posts will be shorter and lighter in nature, not through any choice of mine.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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05-08-2011, 09:47 PM
RE: Entry #73621 on Free Will
LOL. I just noticed that another Free Will thread was also started today in the Atheism section. Still, I don't see anyone addressing this specific aspect.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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05-08-2011, 11:18 PM (This post was last modified: 05-08-2011 11:22 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Entry #73621 on Free Will
(05-08-2011 09:47 PM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  LOL. I just noticed that another Free Will thread was also started today in the Atheism section.

Yeah, that was me. But I couldn't find a discussion of the implications of Libet's experiments when I did a search here so I started a new thread ... my bad ... should I change the title of the thread to "The Implications of Libet's Experiments on our Understanding of Free Will"?

I am us and we is me. ... bitches.
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