Free will vs Determinism
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20-10-2012, 11:16 AM
Free will vs Determinism
Personally, I think this is the most interesting debate in philosophy. Recently I read a book by neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga which argues for free will.

Here's my definition of the traditional Christian idea of free will: that we have a soul outside of our body that makes voluntary choices. As an atheist, this idea is premised on a soul, so it is invalid.

The strict determinist says that all our choices are determined by the physical world, therefore free will does not exist, we are mindless robots acting out pre-determined algorithms. The key mistake in this logic is the word 'mind.'

Our minds, according to Gazzaniga, are very complex and act as a "black box" where input and a decision goes in, and a choice pops out. The complex (in a strictly mathematical sense of the word) nature of the mind makes it chaotic. How is a black box, where input goes in, and a decision pops out, but not always the same decision, different from free-will?

If the idea of free will must include a soul, then yes it does not exist. I am not sure if this entire debate is pointless, but if not, the chaotic nature of the mind as a decision-making machine is something worth thinking about.
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20-10-2012, 01:06 PM (This post was last modified: 20-10-2012 01:12 PM by Vosur.)
RE: Free will vs Determinism
(20-10-2012 11:16 AM)Funtheist Wrote:  Here's my definition of the traditional Christian idea of free will: that we have a soul outside of our body that makes voluntary choices. As an atheist, this idea is premised on a soul, so it is invalid.
Atheism and dualism are not mutually exclusive. Just sayin'.

I've argued about this topic with Bucky Ball before and we agreed that humans are not 100% in control of our future choices, but that they are partly influenced by subconscious processes in our brain. Whether or not this disproves free will depends on your definition of it. From what I've read about it, there are countless different ones. As for the rest, I dismiss the notion of souls, because I've never been presented with any evidence supporting their existence.

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20-10-2012, 01:42 PM
RE: Free will vs Determinism
(20-10-2012 01:06 PM)Vosur Wrote:  Atheism and dualism are not mutually exclusive. Just sayin'.

Though if one is possess the same scrutiny one has for God when analyzing the soul, one must come to the same conclusion. If one doesn't, they are intellectually dishonest.

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20-10-2012, 01:44 PM (This post was last modified: 20-10-2012 01:48 PM by Vosur.)
RE: Free will vs Determinism
(20-10-2012 01:42 PM)Logica Humano Wrote:  
(20-10-2012 01:06 PM)Vosur Wrote:  Atheism and dualism are not mutually exclusive. Just sayin'.

Though if one is possess the same scrutiny one has for God when analyzing the soul, one must come to the same conclusion. If one doesn't, they are intellectually dishonest.
I can't hear you over my personal experience.

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In all seriousness, not every atheist arrived at his position by thinking about the topic logically and rationally.

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20-10-2012, 05:36 PM
RE: Free will vs Determinism
I don't accept the definition of "free will" being used here.

I accept that the universe, humanity, and conciousness are just complex Pachinko machines.

Free will defined is simply no actor is consciously guiding your actions or thoughts. That's it.
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20-10-2012, 06:03 PM (This post was last modified: 21-10-2012 10:01 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Free will vs Determinism
(20-10-2012 01:06 PM)Vosur Wrote:  
(20-10-2012 11:16 AM)Funtheist Wrote:  Here's my definition of the traditional Christian idea of free will: that we have a soul outside of our body that makes voluntary choices. As an atheist, this idea is premised on a soul, so it is invalid.
Atheism and dualism are not mutually exclusive. Just sayin'.

I've argued about this topic with Bucky Ball before and we agreed that humans are not 100% in control of our future choices, but that they are partly influenced by subconscious processes in our brain. Whether or not this disproves free will depends on your definition of it. From what I've read about it, there are countless different ones. As for the rest, I dismiss the notion of souls, because I've never been presented with any evidence supporting their existence.

Can you point me to that last discussion. I added a post you may not have seen. Also the Nobel winners last week got, (I think), got prizes which partially changed my mind, AWAY from "free" even in the long term context. Also I recently heard a talk about memory influenced by genetics ... so I'm being even convinced, there IS no "free choice". (For example ALL you choices are 100 % constrained by your culture, and memory). Also, look at this :
(political beliefs are influenced by "taste", and "digust") !!!!

http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...ht=disgust

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Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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20-10-2012, 06:14 PM
RE: Free will vs Determinism
(20-10-2012 06:03 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Can you point me to that last discussion. I added a post you may not have seen. Also the Nobel winners last week got, (I think), got prizes which partially changed my mind, AWAY from "free" even in the long term context. Also I recently heard a talk about memory influenced by genetics ... so I'm being even convinced, there IS no "free choice". (For example ALL you choices are 100 % constrained by you culture, and memory). Also, look at this :
(political beliefs are influenced by "taste", and "digust") !!!!

http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...ht=disgust
I think it was this one.

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20-10-2012, 06:16 PM
RE: Free will vs Determinism
(20-10-2012 06:14 PM)Vosur Wrote:  
(20-10-2012 06:03 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Can you point me to that last discussion. I added a post you may not have seen. Also the Nobel winners last week got, (I think), got prizes which partially changed my mind, AWAY from "free" even in the long term context. Also I recently heard a talk about memory influenced by genetics ... so I'm being even convinced, there IS no "free choice". (For example ALL you choices are 100 % constrained by you culture, and memory). Also, look at this :
(political beliefs are influenced by "taste", and "digust") !!!!

http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...ht=disgust
I think it was this one.

Thanks. I need to organize my crap.

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Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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20-10-2012, 06:23 PM
RE: Free will vs Determinism
(20-10-2012 06:16 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Thanks. I need to organize my crap.
I love organizing stuff, epecially on computers. You should see my harddrive. Smile

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21-10-2012, 12:21 PM
RE: Free will vs Determinism
(20-10-2012 11:16 AM)Funtheist Wrote:  Personally, I think this is the most interesting debate in philosophy. Recently I read a book by neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga which argues for free will.

Here's my definition of the traditional Christian idea of free will: that we have a soul outside of our body that makes voluntary choices. As an atheist, this idea is premised on a soul, so it is invalid.

The strict determinist says that all our choices are determined by the physical world, therefore free will does not exist, we are mindless robots acting out pre-determined algorithms. The key mistake in this logic is the word 'mind.'

Our minds, according to Gazzaniga, are very complex and act as a "black box" where input and a decision goes in, and a choice pops out. The complex (in a strictly mathematical sense of the word) nature of the mind makes it chaotic. How is a black box, where input goes in, and a decision pops out, but not always the same decision, different from free-will?

If the idea of free will must include a soul, then yes it does not exist. I am not sure if this entire debate is pointless, but if not, the chaotic nature of the mind as a decision-making machine is something worth thinking about.
I think free will should not be challenged by impossible demands. We have a brain and the body with its organs and nerve system that does a lot of information processing too. We have a partial control over it and a partial lack of control. The conscious internal control we have over ourselves could be honestly called free will.

The internal influences and desires, plus of course the external ones imposed on us take away our free will.
Therefore, only disciplined people have free will, more of it than non-disciplined people. With discipline we can control ourselves and act freely from internal and external influences, with what intention, that is a different question.
I personally am not strong-willed enough to force myself to all that I should do in my best interest. I do something, but not nearly as much as I could. Somewhere I had read that the will is like a muscle, it gets tired if we use it for one thing and then we don't have enough strength for another. I respect self-disciplined people who rule over their small idiosyncrasies and command their time and energy behind their intention.

This is what I'd naturally call free will and I think it's fair. I wouldn't use the soul as a requirement for the free will. On the contrary, the soul's goals and the personality's desires may be at odds, in which case the soul would actually try to act against our free will, fight for control perhaps. It would be best to be disciplined AND follow the soul's intention, but that is not easy and also not a part of this discussion. My philosophy describes the soul as a transcendental element/experience in personality potentially found in all people, but relatively few actually experience it during their lifetime, fewer do it consciously, most of these interpret it within their religion.
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