What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
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18-09-2013, 09:10 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(18-09-2013 01:59 PM)Raptor Jesus Wrote:  I never bothered to think about the concept of “free will” until a few years ago. It didn’t seen important a concept to me outside of religions. I have thought about the Christian’s concept of it a little, as it seems very problematic when adding “God” to the equation, but outside of religion, I just thought of it as actions we choose or choose not to take. Not a great mystery.

Then, a few years back I randomly started thinking about it in real life. The more I thought about it the more it seemed it couldn’t be real, but would still seem to feel real nonetheless. These where my basic thoughts.

Take any choice you’ve ever made in your live, no matter how small. In fact smaller ones are simpler to consider, because there’d be less to consider. I’ll use the example of a choice to purchase a package of pencils. I chose one over the other then took them and paid for them. Why did I pick package “A” over package “B”, and more importantly, did I really have a choice over it.

The answer seems to be an obvious, “yes, of course I had a choice”. But If I had it to do over again would I have made a different choice? Could I have even been able to make a different choice? Well, if I go to the store tomorrow then yeah, but what if I was in that exact same situation, I would be making a different choice under different conditions? To consider whether or not we really have “free will” we have to consider whether we can make a different choice in the exact same situation. What if every single factor in the universe was exactly the same as it had been at that moment. Every atom in the exact same place and all energy doing exactly the same thing as it was doing at that exact moment. Every atom of my body and every structure of my brain right down to the electrons in the exact same place. Exactly the same thoughts I had been thinking just prior to picking that package “A”. Every thought and experience I had had up until that moment in lead me to choice package A. The neurons in my brain were firing in a way that led me to pick package “A”.

The only way I could have made a different choice is if at some point, from the scenario of the universe being exactly as it was, at least one thing was different. A neuron didn’t fire, or an extra one did (just as an example). But even in that example the only way those neurons could have fired, or not fired would depend on the events that preceded them, but those would all be exactly the same as in the original scenario, so they couldn’t have fired in any different way. If in that exact same moment I could only have done exactly what I did. We all realize this really. We think sometimes, “If I could just relive that moment in my past I would have done it differently, said something else”. But if we got to relive that break up with that girlfriend or boyfriend, or that fight we go into with a coworker, or whatever it is to you, we would only have been able to do anything different if we could bring our current day thoughts and understanding of that situation, as we know it right now, back into that moment in the past. But that would be a different situation, not the same. If we were in the exact same situation we would do the exact same thing, and we know that because it’s what we did it already.

If you imagine a future you, reflecting on a choice you will make tomorrow for use, but in the past for him, that future you would realize that exact same thing about his past, your future, tomorrow. That choice you make tomorrow is the only choice you will make because given the conditions, it’s the only choice you can make.

It doesn’t matter too much though, as it all still feels like choices we make. We can’t tell a difference and as long as it feels like free will it doesn’t really make a difference.




There is on exception to this I've considered which is effected by quantum physics, but it will take more room to type out, and still lives you without actually having "free will". Makes no real difference.

Precisely why free will is complete hogwash. It's an illusion. Can quantum mechanics resurrect free will? Doubtfully. What can throwing in an aspect of randomness do to improve our ability to consciously choose our path through space and time?

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18-09-2013, 09:37 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
If you think free will is an illusion, the next time you have a choice to make that isn't all that important, don't make it.
Choose not to choose.

We can do that. We can choose to not move, to not react, to neither fight nor flight.
The impulses are all there and we can regulate those impulses through self control.
We can also choose to not act.

That choice of NOT doing anything, holding yourself still is an act of free will.
It lets everyone around you know that you make choices and if you don't make a choice, then nothing happens.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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18-09-2013, 09:50 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(18-09-2013 05:37 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  PS. If I had gone through all of the hour long video from Sam Harris, this post would be 5 pages long.

Then you might also have gotten far enough into it to see Harris answer your objections.


The man who 'chooses' to exercise instead of eating ice cream still doesn't have free will. Why not? Because he has no more control over the chemical processes and the neurons firing off in his brain that determine his desires and actions. If you cannot control what your brain (or your soul) does, and it determines your desire and actions, how much 'free will' do you really have? Now those chemical process are the product of a long line of determinism or chance, or some combination thereof.

He doesn't control the chemical processes that would make him conclude that flipping a coin would be the best option to determine his 'choices'. He doesn't have control over his genetics, or the world of cause and effect around him that influenced his actions in ways he cannot perceive.

"To say he could have done otherwise is really to say, he would have been in a different universe had he been in a different universe. Or that he would have been a different person had he been a different person." - Sam Harris

This was Harris' original point, and not even positing a soul save you from this (once again, if you don't know what your souls is doing and cannot control it).

He also has multiple talks on YouTube, I actually like the one he gave at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House back in 2012. This one more recent and he explains things a bit better, including taking on more direct objections and even tackling the philosophical 'compatibilism' posited by Daniel Dennet.





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18-09-2013, 10:21 PM (This post was last modified: 18-09-2013 10:25 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"









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19-09-2013, 12:13 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(18-09-2013 09:50 PM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(18-09-2013 05:37 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  PS. If I had gone through all of the hour long video from Sam Harris, this post would be 5 pages long.

Then you might also have gotten far enough into it to see Harris answer your objections.


The man who 'chooses' to exercise instead of eating ice cream still doesn't have free will. Why not? Because he has no more control over the chemical processes and the neurons firing off in his brain that determine his desires and actions. If you cannot control what your brain (or your soul) does, and it determines your desire and actions, how much 'free will' do you really have? Now those chemical process are the product of a long line of determinism or chance, or some combination thereof.

He doesn't control the chemical processes that would make him conclude that flipping a coin would be the best option to determine his 'choices'. He doesn't have control over his genetics, or the world of cause and effect around him that influenced his actions in ways he cannot perceive.

"To say he could have done otherwise is really to say, he would have been in a different universe had he been in a different universe. Or that he would have been a different person had he been a different person." - Sam Harris

This was Harris' original point, and not even positing a soul save you from this (once again, if you don't know what your souls is doing and cannot control it).

He also has multiple talks on YouTube, I actually like the one he gave at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House back in 2012. This one more recent and he explains things a bit better, including taking on more direct objections and even tackling the philosophical 'compatibilism' posited by Daniel Dennet.





Here is the thing though, we ARE our brains. These aren't separate entities.
To say free will is an illusion is to say WE (ourselves) don't exist.
If my thought process is a chemical process, then I am in control of that chemical process, even if I'm not directly aware of the chemical processes directly involved.

I can herd cattle into a new barn without directly controlling all of their chemical processes. I don't need direct control to effect control.

Those neurons firing off in my brain are ME.
I am moving my hand and deciding which letters to type.
The words I type are part of my creative process that is initiated by me.
I can stop this process at any point or I can continue.
My brain (ME). I determine my actions.
There are areas of my brain that I can access when I'm about to do a certain task.
On an MRI you can see certain areas light up as I remember how to bake a cake or build a tree house.
I can retrieve memories at my request.

There is a ME. That ME is my brain.

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19-09-2013, 12:40 AM (This post was last modified: 19-09-2013 03:26 AM by EvolutionKills.)
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(19-09-2013 12:13 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Here is the thing though, we ARE our brains.

But we don't control what our brains DO.


(19-09-2013 12:13 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  These aren't separate entities. To say free will is an illusion is to say WE (ourselves) don't exist.

I fail to see this as a problem. We give labels to things and compartmentalize things because that's how our brains have evolved. I'm alright with acknowledging that there is an almost unending line of causation leading up to the present moment that affects everything I do and the world around me, and that I am not conscious the author of my own thoughts. I am not perturbed by the thought that the 'self' is just a socially acceptable arbitrary demarcation in the line of causation.


(19-09-2013 12:13 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  If my thought process is a chemical process, then I am in control of that chemical process, even if I'm not directly aware of the chemical processes directly involved.

Can you make your heart stop beating just by willing it? Can you make your glands excrete endorphin or adrenaline by sheer force of will alone or on command? Then no, you do not consciously control your chemical reactions inside your brain. If you could, we'd make a large chunk of the pharmaceutical industry obsolete overnight. It would also imply that those suffering from clinical depression, psychopathy, and other metal maladies are not suffering from a chemical imbalance, but simply lack the 'will' to think themselves better. That is a very antiquated view of mental illness, and one that doesn't match our current understanding of neuroscience.


(19-09-2013 12:13 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  I can herd cattle into a new barn without directly controlling all of their chemical processes. I don't need direct control to effect control.

If you cannot control the events and desires that lead to your decision to herd the cattle into the barn, how is doing so an expression of 'freewill'?


(19-09-2013 12:13 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Those neurons firing off in my brain are ME.
I am moving my hand and deciding which letters to type.
The words I type are part of my creative process that is initiated by me.

No you aren't. Your thoughts are simply arising out of consciousness without your authorship. Freewill would require you chose your thoughts, or effectively to think about your thoughts before you think them. If you find that confusing, you are not responsible for that state of your brain either. You are reading these words and trying to concentrate on them to form a rebuttal, but even then there is a voice in your head that just says things. Or haven't you noticed?


(19-09-2013 12:13 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  I can stop this process at any point or I can continue.
My brain (ME). I determine my actions.
There are areas of my brain that I can access when I'm about to do a certain task.
On an MRI you can see certain areas light up as I remember how to bake a cake or build a tree house.
I can retrieve memories at my request.

There is a ME. That ME is my brain.

With an fMRI we can see those decision making parts of your brain activate and know what choice you will make before you are conscious of making it, often by several seconds. If you can't control your next thought, and you don't know what it will be until it appears, where is your freedom of will?

You don't control it, you simply have the illusion of control; you have the illusion of self.

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19-09-2013, 01:15 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
the major reason for not thinking right, as it appears from ur replies here, is wat u refuse to accept that u r doomed, fooled, abused, willingly ruined from ur obvious rights

so there are kind of supernatural powers over everyone and they are all against anyone right of being

of course it seems weird, how it could b possible, that the only reference of right since eternally more existing, is against existing rights

it is a fact, very hard to justify, so only who are really true would say even though they cant explain

like the example of picking pencils in a store, u see how u r attached to that choice, so u try to justify it, but u dont see how the fact to say it is the free will, u r free from the choice itself by knowing not making it, so u r beyond the choice when u can say choice source
but what u dont say, is how it is easy to fool u, by forcing u to that choice

when they can reach to limit the choices to products in stores, so not smthg that would involve more then one thing of urself conscious, it is very easy to put it in advance knowing how u would like that thing, or integrate the choice in urself life at the moment

what they cant do, is to relate more then one thing of ur being reality, only the being can give a sense of existing to a relation of different things around him
but when it is about one stupid choice, like picking things or meaning things it is very easy to force

that is why it is very important to conceive reality as a free end fact, even urself inn, so again as i said, b objective as much as u can, this is how u would gain true independant sense and positive free abilities to realize things differently
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19-09-2013, 01:42 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(18-09-2013 10:21 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  








Wow, that second Eagleman video, where he goes into talking about how schizophrenia is possibly a temporal calibration problem? That was amazing and enlightening, thanks for sharing Bucky. Thumbsup

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19-09-2013, 01:51 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(19-09-2013 01:15 AM)absols Wrote:  the major reason for not thinking right, as it appears from ur replies here, is wat u refuse to accept that u r doomed, fooled, abused, willingly ruined from ur obvious rights

so there are kind of supernatural powers over everyone and they are all against anyone right of being

of course it seems weird, how it could b possible, that the only reference of right since eternally more existing, is against existing rights

it is a fact, very hard to justify, so only who are really true would say even though they cant explain

like the example of picking pencils in a store, u see how u r attached to that choice, so u try to justify it, but u dont see how the fact to say it is the free will, u r free from the choice itself by knowing not making it, so u r beyond the choice when u can say choice source
but what u dont say, is how it is easy to fool u, by forcing u to that choice

when they can reach to limit the choices to products in stores, so not smthg that would involve more then one thing of urself conscious, it is very easy to put it in advance knowing how u would like that thing, or integrate the choice in urself life at the moment

what they cant do, is to relate more then one thing of ur being reality, only the being can give a sense of existing to a relation of different things around him
but when it is about one stupid choice, like picking things or meaning things it is very easy to force

that is why it is very important to conceive reality as a free end fact, even urself inn, so again as i said, b objective as much as u can, this is how u would gain true independant sense and positive free abilities to realize things differently


I...


I just...


I can't...


deal...


anymore...



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19-09-2013, 01:53 AM (This post was last modified: 19-09-2013 01:58 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
Humans are on no way, in control of the chemical processes in their brains, (except indirectly, maybe, in some very rare instances such as deep meditation states). What you perceive of as "present moment" consciousness, is actually ALREADY in the past, by the time your brain has "assembled" and organized all of what goes in to what you perceive as "now".

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