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Free will and perception...

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posted on May, 21 2005 @ 04:14 PM
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I've decided to post this in the science section of the forum because it pertains to psychology, which i beleive is a science. If needed, mods please move it to the appropriate section.

Having taken a couple of psych courses at my university, more specifically cognitive psychology, i have become increasingly interested at what "perception" actually is. I will get to the whole free will aspect a bit later after ive completed explaining this first. By all means this is not a religiuos discussion on the topic of free will or anything like that, so i would suggest not bringing any religous issues up please.

A theory by a psychologist named J.J Gibson kindled a very interesting point.

In his theory he states that the info available to a certain organism is not only based on its environment but the relationship between that organism and the environment. Sort of an animal-environment ecosystem, where an interaction of an organism will affect the environment and the environment affects the organism. Every living organism continously expereince's their environment and every animal, becasue of its unique sensory abilities, will relate to their environemnt in a unique way. The important thing here is that organisms dont only percieve objects and shapes as just that, but they somehow percieve "affordances" of those objects. Affordance meaning the acts and behaviuors permitted by those objects, places or events. In other words, the things offered by the environment to the organism.

For humans, as an example, a chair is for sitting and a handle or knob is for grasping. The affordance of an object is directly percieved; that is, we "see" a chair is for sitting, just as easily as we see a chair is 2 feet away or made of wood.

By the virtue of us exploring our environment and this goes for any organism, we pick up these affordances and act accordingly. Perception and action therefore go hand in hand.

This theory reminded me of free will. Many people have questioned: "what is free will"....well isnt free will the reaction to a certain set of environmental parametres. I chose to sit on the chair becasue its there for sitting. If i hadnt seen that chair i wouldnt have came up with that free will choice, whether to sit or not to sit. I choose to murder someone becasue the environment around me gave me that option.(maybe some one murdered my family). I know this is an extreme case, but its here for clariification.

To sum up what i am trying to say is that our so called free will is nothing more that a reaction to the environment around us. the environemment is there for us to react to and when we do it changes. And when it changes we react to it. Its all just a perpetual cycle. This also brings me to what i beleive is the meaning to life....its that we must react to what ever the environemnt gives us. I must drink this water becasue i am thirsty. I am thirsty becasue its hot out. I choose to drink water becasue the environment around me dictated it that way. We must always be changing to adapt to an ever changing environment.

I hope i didnt rant too much there....but i just thought it be interesting to see what people think of this.




posted on May, 21 2005 @ 04:25 PM
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Free will can also means that the person has a choice to either:
1- Participate (or react) with his/her environment
2- (jus) Observes his/her environment.

That's what I think...



posted on May, 21 2005 @ 04:27 PM
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The act of observing changes the environment. Observation is just another form of Participation yet passive.



posted on May, 21 2005 @ 05:51 PM
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I think our free will goes beyond just basic reactions. If its hot out and I'm thirsty, I'm not required to go through with the logical reaction of drinking. I have a choice to drink now, drink later, or--if I saw it as the best option--not at all.

The other aspect that unshackles us from the environment is imagination, which is very powerful free will. It doesn't just give me a choice of options, it makes new ones.



posted on May, 21 2005 @ 10:32 PM
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I see it, rather, as an exercise in imagination. An antelope may see a rock and think "rock" and a lion may see a rock and think "not-antelope" but a human will see a rock and think "rock. hard. hammer. weapon. i wonder if i left the tea kettle on?"

We see the chair/door handle, but we understand it, we understand its purpose, why its there. We can "see" ourselves sitting down, see ourselves opening the door, see ourselves using the rock to hit our enemies on the head and take over the tribe.

It's that ability to "see" that sets us apart from other species.



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 11:01 AM
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Amorymeltzer,

Are you leaning toward language then, as that which stes us apart from other animals? It seems to me that language (not as a means of communication, but as a system of representation, such a concepts) is what allows us to conceptualize, and extend beyond what is immediately in front of us.


Originally posted by Amorymeltzer
We see the chair/door handle, but we understand it, we understand its purpose, why its there. We can "see" ourselves sitting down, see ourselves opening the door, see ourselves using the rock to hit our enemies on the head and take over the tribe.

It's that ability to "see" that sets us apart from other species.



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 11:23 AM
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What sets humans apart from every other species is the ability to deny instinct. We can make choices, or choose not to make them. Besides, if we choose not to decide, we still have made a choice.
oh! Crap! I left the tea kettle on. Wait, nevermind. Or did i?...

By the way, this is a great discussion.



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 11:31 AM
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Originally posted by Tom Sawyer
What sets humans apart from every other species is the ability to deny instinct. We can make choices, or choose not to make them. Besides, if we choose not to decide, we still have made a choice.
oh! Crap! I left the tea kettle on. Wait, nevermind. Or did i?...

By the way, this is a great discussion.


This is true, Tom.
But what is it that enables us to deny instinct? What is it about us that allows us to make these choices.



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 11:35 AM
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Originally posted by parrhesia
This is true, Tom.
But what is it that enables us to deny instinct? What is it about us that allows us to make these choices.

Free will, what else!



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 11:51 AM
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Tom Sawyer brings up a very interesting point. The fact that animals cant deny instincts. well cant i say the same thing about humans. THe fact that i have a choice to sit down or not on a chair is driven by instincts, is it not?

I am probably wrong but arent decisions we make all related to instincts at the core level?

Is instinct and logic seperate or does one depend on the other. Isnt logic the ability to think through a problem? If that is the case then the solution to that problem has to be based on some past experience, or event which was probably driven by instict at some point. Isn't logic the ability to recognize which instinctive behaviuor worked out the best in the past and then following up on that?....

Maybe ia m completely wrong in my reasoning, but thats my take on it. If anyone wants to shed some light on this, by alll means...educate me, i am very interested in what other have to say.



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 11:54 AM
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I agree that we don't have any real free will, but not how LuDaCrIs put it. A chair or a door has no ingrained meaning or use before we learn to give them one. To an animal ,or a human who never saw a chair, that chair has nothing to do with sitting.

As Karl Popper said, when we are born we already posses certin perception and reactions to our enviroment. Those are ingrained in the DNA and manifest by how our body works. We are in built a flexible manner, so we can learn and change perception and reactions, but only basd on previous ones. We can never look at things 'out of context' and wight them objectively because we are never 'out of context' ourselves. Previous experiences always color how we see the world, up until birth were the DNA colors the very first experience. That's why there's no free will. It can never be truely free of our one life so far.



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 11:59 AM
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Originally posted by parrhesia
But what is it that enables us to deny instinct? What is it about us that allows us to make these choices.


Our mind is very flexible, and also not built as a single unit. That is what enable us to ignore the 'fixed' functions and do the bidding of the part that has learned from experience. It is no more free will than a chess program that respond to it's opponent.

[edit on 27-5-2005 by Parmenides]



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 12:04 PM
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Originally posted by Parmenides
Our mind is very flexible, and also not built as a single unit. That is what enable us to ignore the 'fixed' functions and do the bidding of the part that has learned from experience. It is no more free will than a chess program that respond to it's opponent.

[edit on 27-5-2005 by Parmenides]


That's sort of what I was getting at.

Your last sentence reminds me of Daniel Dennett's writing on Intensional stances, where humans are compared to chess programs. They/we are attributed beliefs, choices, and desires not necessarily because we really have them, but because it aids in explanation of actions.



[edit on 27-5-2005 by parrhesia]



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 01:47 PM
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Not to over-analyze this and throw the discussion to the proverbial wolves. But who are we to say that we can deny instinct but animals cannot. The only reason we know that we have abstract thinking is from communicating with others and realizing this. Just because we cannot establish a means of communication with other life forms does that mean that they cannot be capable of rational thinking or denial of instinct?



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 02:19 PM
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Originally posted by TheJeSta
Not to over-analyze this and throw the discussion to the proverbial wolves. But who are we to say that we can deny instinct but animals cannot. The only reason we know that we have abstract thinking is from communicating with others and realizing this. Just because we cannot establish a means of communication with other life forms does that mean that they cannot be capable of rational thinking or denial of instinct?


Actually, we can make inteligance tests for animals and we do. We know that their capacity for ratinal thinking is A LOT smaller than human. Memory, logical conections, understanding and conclution making procceses are considerably weaker.



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 02:33 PM
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Originally posted by LuDaCrIs
To sum up what i am trying to say is that our so called free will is nothing more that a reaction to the environment around us. the environemment is there for us to react to and when we do it changes. And when it changes we react to it. Its all just a perpetual cycle. This also brings me to what i beleive is the meaning to life....its that we must react to what ever the environemnt gives us. I must drink this water becasue i am thirsty. I am thirsty becasue its hot out. I choose to drink water becasue the environment around me dictated it that way. We must always be changing to adapt to an ever changing environment.

I hope i didnt rant too much there....but i just thought it be interesting to see what people think of this.


It may not be so much freewill as complexity of choice. For instance, whenever my dog is hungry, she goes to her bowl and eats dog food. When ever I am hungry I have to make decisions based on preparing the food myself or eating out. Then the decisions of what to eat based on available choices or cost, health concerns, and personal taste. Animals in the wild do not have this inner discussion, they get hungry, see a food source and eat it.

Reaction or responce is based on more than the action that causes us to respond. Complexity of thought allows humans to overcome instinct and make choices based on intellect, emotions and conscience. Otherwise, I'd probably be joining her at the doggy dish.



posted on May, 27 2005 @ 09:54 PM
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.
Now add to that the parasites that affect animal behavior even to suicide to promote the parasites life cycle and it brings everything you think, believe and feel into question.
www.bbc.co.uk...
(program from 26 May 2005)

We are constantly being bombarded with images of the 'right', 'good', or 'perfect' life by parents, friends, commerical advertisers, goverment/political promoters, religious influences, etc.

Exactly which images/ideas in your head about the way you should be and/or want to be are truly your own?

Who has ever spent any quiet time trying to separate what they actually think from what everyone else thinks?

Now imagine some species that has incredible technology and can influence or even embed an idea/thought/feeling/response in your nervous system.

If something can view you from the 4th dimension, they can have direct access to the interior of every single cell in your body. Sounds almost creepy. Probably we aren't of that much interest to beings with those capabilities, but you never know. Maybe they don't want us to be aware of them.

Is what you are thinking your own thought process or directed by or influenced by something else? Or are you just paranoid?

Maybe as more advanced technologies develope we need to be more paranoid, to some reasonable degree, as a sensible defense mechanism.

Ultimately we are at the mercy of time and circumstances anyway, but i would hope my internal experience is truly my own.
.



posted on May, 28 2005 @ 12:58 AM
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Originally posted by Parmenides

Actually, we can make inteligance tests for animals and we do. We know that their capacity for ratinal thinking is A LOT smaller than human. Memory, logical conections, understanding and conclution making procceses are considerably weaker.


Well, you say weaker. That doesn't mean they can't think abstractly.



posted on May, 28 2005 @ 10:14 AM
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Originally posted by parrhesia
Are you leaning toward language then, as that which stes us apart from other animals? It seems to me that language (not as a means of communication, but as a system of representation, such a concepts) is what allows us to conceptualize, and extend beyond what is immediately in front of us.


Sort of. The ability to, as sawyer said, deny some of our basic instincts is a large part of all this. Humans are pretty much unique in enduring pain for seemingly insignificant reasons. We've got an extremely complex society built up around us, and I have a number of ideas about the structure of it all, but in short, humans think, and we think differently from other animals. Language is a part of this, but much more of it is in the physical processes. Enduring intense physical and mental pain to raise children when most any animal would have long since ditched their young if they had to deal with a biker boyfriend.

The best example, I think, is this thread. (you can thank me later luda) We're discussing why we're different from other animals. A tiger will tell you (after eating you) that this is a waste of time - you should be hunting. A human will tell you that this is productive because we're bonding with other beings, we're discussing an important matter, and learning a lot in different ways. Not eating though.



posted on May, 28 2005 @ 12:31 PM
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.
We are living beings/animals.
We have and live on instincts and emotions.

We [sometimes] use rationality to temporarily suspend those instincts and emotions. This ability appears to give us advantages other species tend to lack. The only time we are absolutely rational is when we are dead.

We claim to be an [semi] intelligent species,
I argue we are an often clever, but rarely an intelligent species.

Intelligence would mean keeping the big(est) picture in mind. Mostly we are myopically focused on our own personal soap operas.
From time to time one or another of us has a genuinely intelligent insight, but they are pretty rare.
.




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