Inverting Plato's chariot: An analogy of will and conscience for the scientific age
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13-12-2014, 12:48 PM
Inverting Plato's chariot: An analogy of will and conscience for the scientific age
The ancient greek philosopher Plato attempted in his work to give an analogy for how the human works, in this analogy he shows a chariot, a chariot with one charioteer, and two horses.

I will quote the wikipedia article on the subject as I think it adequately sums his ideas up

""First the charioteer of the human soul drives a pair, and secondly one of the horses is noble and of noble breed, but the other quite the opposite in breed and character. Therefore in our case the driving is necessarily difficult and troublesome."[1]

The Charioteer represents intellect, reason, or the part of the soul that must guide the soul to truth; one horse represents rational or moral impulse or the positive part of passionate nature (e.g., righteous indignation); while the other represents the soul's irrational passions, appetites, or concupiscent nature. The Charioteer directs the entire chariot/soul, trying to stop the horses from going different ways, and to proceed towards enlightenment."
(sic)

This post is an attempt to invert this analogy in a way, but before I do that I'm going to modify the original a little bit for the sake of simplicity. The distinction between these two "Horses" is simply him separating them by his preferences, and this is simply... odd, the desire to save a friend and the desire to indulge in far too much food may be "morally differentiated" but their fundamental nature as "horses" and as emotions is all the analogy needed they can both be adequately summed up as a single horse I will call "The Subconscious urge" or to put it into more basic language "The will".

Plato's implicit assertion here is that in this relationship is that "Reason" is the master, and that the "Will" simply pulls it, but I hope to demonstrate that this relationship is... the wrong way round... allow me to propose a thought experiment to you, explain it psychologically and neurologically and give a new, inverted analogy

A blind man "Bob" is standing at a crossing to a very busy road with his trusty and intelligent guide dog "Rex", the dog "Rex" is given commands by the blind man through a lead, and can his basic needs through to the dog this way. Applying this, Bob decides he wants to cross the road, so he does a symbolic pull with the lead, Rex is suddenly acutely aware that his master "Bob" wants to cross the road. Rex then proceeds to watch the road for any oncoming traffic, waiting until he can see no cars. When Rex see's no cars, he will then pull back on the lead, signalling to the Bob that it is safe to walk, and the two make their way across unharmed.

Let us relate this to you, sitting at home watching the television, and becoming hungry.

There is your subconscious brain, which receives a signal from making measurements of your body that you have not eaten in a while, through evolutionary processes an organism that is not aware it is starving to death will fail to reproduce, so, the subconscious (Acting as Bob did in the road crossing analogy" Sends a signal through Neurological pathways (The lead) that your conscious mind (Rex) immediately understands as hunger, and understands that the way to satisfy the hunger (Rex immediately understanding that Bob wants to cross the road), is to go to the kitchen and prepare a sandwich for himself (Rex watches the road and waits for their to be no traffic), the point is that both Rex and Bob have used rational processes to come to know how to satisfy the subconscious and Bob. At which point Bob will act on what he has rationally decided will satisfy his hunger (Rex takes Bob along the road).

The point is here that rather, as plato described it, as the charioteer being reason and the horse being the will. The charioteer is actually your subconscious desires, the horse is actually Reason, and the reason is bound forever to be merely a tool of the blind, rational, emotional and completely arbitrary charioteer which is the will.

You are in fact nothing more than a slave that attempts to use reason and rationality to satisfy some subconscious drive that is completely out of your control.

What do people think of this?

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13-12-2014, 01:16 PM
RE: Inverting Plato's chariot: An analogy of will and conscience for the scientific age
Dualism : Facepalm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism
Primates are capable of learning and re-training their responses.

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13-12-2014, 01:26 PM (This post was last modified: 13-12-2014 01:37 PM by tear151.)
RE: Inverting Plato's chariot: An analogy of will and conscience for the scientific age
(13-12-2014 01:16 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Dualism : Facepalm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism
Primates are capable of learning and re-training their responses.

But what makes them decide to retrain those responses?

What drives them to learn? Of course primates can learn and retrain their responses, just as Rex the rational guide dog can infer a green walking man sign is also a measure of whether it is safe to cross the road. The ability to interpret and use stimuli from the world to assist Bob is in fact the defining aspect of Rex for his use as a guide to the blind man.

Monism and dualism are irrelevant here, this is not a statement of how things are, merely an analogy of how you experience them, I am not suggesting that the conscious mind has some sort of metaphysical free will or that this mind is separate from body, far from it, it all comes down to scientific determinism within the brain, this is merely an account of the human as the conscious mind experiences itself, and how the functions of oneself appear to you within. The Human has an illusion of freedom in relation to their reason and their conscious brain, whether they are or not is another question, this is an account of human experience. The Human consciounse mind is one and the same with the will, but what the... "sense of self" experiences is of some free will, some illusion of the soul...

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13-12-2014, 01:37 PM
RE: Inverting Plato's chariot: An analogy of will and conscience for the scientific age
Because you come to perceive that a certain outcome has more value than other.
There are hundreds of horses, all at war with each other.




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13-12-2014, 01:40 PM (This post was last modified: 13-12-2014 01:47 PM by tear151.)
RE: Inverting Plato's chariot: An analogy of will and conscience for the scientific age
(13-12-2014 01:37 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Because you come to perceive that a certain outcome has more value than other.
There are hundreds of horses, all at war with each other.




You are correct, the example of hunger I gave is but a single example of an arbitrary will the man attempts to satisfy using reason and logic.

He could be thirsty as well, more thirsty, and drink some water first.

There is a hierarchy and a constant war between the wills, but no matter you are still compelled to serve the strongest, and before you say it, "The will to rebel and feel different by ignoring your more obvious impulses" is a transparent as any other.

In the context of the brain what you are going to "choose" is entirely predictable, there is no choice at all, only an illusion of one, as the bran is a physical object as any other, it is not exempt from the laws of physics and biochemistry.

(Also when posting videos can you at least tell me what point I'm looking for and where it is in the video, giving me a 30 minute video and saying "Look there" isn't very helpful, the first parts about delayed perception for some reason)

Again though though this is merely the mind as we perceive it, not how it actually is.

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14-12-2014, 11:29 AM (This post was last modified: 14-12-2014 11:32 AM by Pointwithinacircle.)
An anology of will and conscience
(13-12-2014 01:37 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  There are hundreds of horses, all at war with each other.
(13-12-2014 01:40 PM)tear151 Wrote:  There is a hierarchy and a constant war between the wills, but no matter you are still compelled to serve the strongest
This reminds me of that old riddle: If I train a brown dog and a gray dog to fight each other, which one will win? The answer is: the one I feed the most.

I propose the following:
I agree that there is a constant struggle between the parts (or urges) of the self. For ease of discussion we can even put these competing parts/urges into broad categories like: physical needs, emotional needs, intellectual needs. (Some people even have urges that they put in a special category called spiritual needs)

There are two points that I would like to address regarding this proposal. First, that assigning a particular urge to a certain category is a choice, and people sometimes choose incorrectly. For example: I know someone who is morbidly obese. It seems obvious to me that they are not eating to fulfill a physical desire for food. Rather, I suspect that they have mislabeled an urge for emotional comfort as an urge for physical comfort. (no, I am not a psychiatrist, it is just a layman's guess)

Second point, our choices and understanding are tremendously susceptible to outside influences. Even the answer I write to this question reveals more about myself, my knowledge and experiences, than about any objective standard of truth or reality. I only know that today I try to feed the part of myself that desires to know the truth, and desires to be strong enough to act in accordance with what truth tells me is the correct path.

All that being said: I enjoyed reading this thread. I enjoy reading ideas that give me new perspectives on the possibilities. I will take these ideas and toss them to the dog of truth and see if he eats them. Smile
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14-12-2014, 12:34 PM
RE: Inverting Plato's chariot: An analogy of will and conscience for the scientific age
That will may be emergent or illusory or both is not a new thought.

To characterise this as being a "slave" is nonsensical. Not least because if there's no ghost in the machine, there's no ghost in the machine, either as driver or prisoner.
(as bucky said - lol dualism)

It is entirely incontrovertible that we respond to stimuli. We are aware that we are responding to stimuli. We have the capacity for choice in that of several possible responses we will perform one of them. Our minds are messy, ad-hoc entities - that's what incremental evolution gets you. We have a gradually improving understanding of just how they work.

I would remind you that one of the choices we are capable of is denying our basic motivations.

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14-12-2014, 01:10 PM
RE: Inverting Plato's chariot: An analogy of will and conscience for the scientific age
(13-12-2014 01:40 PM)tear151 Wrote:  You are correct, the example of hunger I gave is but a single example of an arbitrary will the man attempts to satisfy using reason and logic.

He could be thirsty as well, more thirsty, and drink some water first.

Though I don't take issues with what you've said. I think your analogy would have worked better, if you illustrated your point with competing urges. Being hungry and thirsty wouldn't work as well.

A better analogy would be one along the lines of someone craving a cake, but is also trying to lose weight and be healthy, a man who has a desire to eat the cake, and at the same time a desire not to.
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14-12-2014, 02:13 PM (This post was last modified: 14-12-2014 02:34 PM by tear151.)
RE: Inverting Plato's chariot: An analogy of will and conscience for the scientific age
(14-12-2014 12:34 PM)cjlr Wrote:  That will may be emergent or illusory or both is not a new thought.

To characterise this as being a "slave" is nonsensical. Not least because if there's no ghost in the machine, there's no ghost in the machine, either as driver or prisoner.
(as bucky said - lol dualism)

It is entirely incontrovertible that we respond to stimuli. We are aware that we are responding to stimuli. We have the capacity for choice in that of several possible responses we will perform one of them. Our minds are messy, ad-hoc entities - that's what incremental evolution gets you. We have a gradually improving understanding of just how they work.

I would remind you that one of the choices we are capable of is denying our basic motivations.

I speak of a perceived dualism not an actual, a perceived ghost in the machine which is what you would call your sense of self, this ghost doesn't exist, that's why it's an analogy for the experience, not what it actually is.

Denying your basic motivation is also an equally transparent motive to deny your basic motivation to appear somehow more complex.

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14-12-2014, 02:38 PM
RE: Inverting Plato's chariot: An analogy of will and conscience for the scientific age
(14-12-2014 02:13 PM)tear151 Wrote:  I speak of a perceived dualism not an actual, a perceived ghost in the machine which is what you would call your sense of self, this ghost doesn't exist, that's why it's an analogy for the experience, not what it actually is.

In the future, I would recommend not using a bad analogy to make your point of disproving that very same bad analogy.

(14-12-2014 02:13 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Denying your basic motivation is also an equally transparent motive to deny your basic motivation to appear somehow more complex.

HAHAHAHA NO U.

That trivially is more complex, requiring, necessarily, a degree of self-awareness and self-actualisation. A dog cannot go on a hunger strike.

Like I said, if your point is just that will is emergent, illusory, or both - yes, and? So what?

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