Is it at least possible that free will is entirely an illusion? It would seem so.

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posted on May, 1 2010 @ 05:38 AM
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I know and understand full well that this will be a divisive and controversial possibility to suggest. I assure you that I am at times deeply disturbed and frightened by the prospect that I, as an apparently free-thinking rational agent with apparent free agency and free will, might actually be somehow deluded into thinking that is the case. I respect (and even intermittently agree with!) those who hold the view that there is no question that we possess free agency and free will. Nevertheless, I frequently find myself wondering. In the end I always seem to come back to the notion that it is at least possible that we actually do not posses free will, at least as we have traditionally conceived of it.

Philosophers have debated throughout human history whether determinism, indeterminism (which does not necessarily preclude a lack of free will, owing to the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of quantum mechanics,) or some combination thereof dictate human behavior and, most relevant to this discussion, choices. This first occurred to me one day when thinking about the choice between two beverages: orange juice and cranberry juice. I have been known to like and drink both, and so I began to wonder what might cause me to choose one over the other in any given instance. Was it because I was really making a conscious choice, or because some combination of recalled experiences (flavors,) neurological states (mood,) biological states (cravings,) psychological states (mood, emotional relationship to the time of day, and innumerable other possible factors) and other factors inescapably led me to choose one rather than the other at that particular moment?

I then decided to conduct a thought experiment. I would attempt to decide to think of something. I decided upon a red balloon. However the question then occurred to me: why did I choose a red balloon? Why those parameters? So then I changed the parameters of the experiment. I would attempt to decide to think of something that did not exist in reality (as far as I know.) I decided to imagine a green, fuzzy pumpkin. However, again, the question occurred to me: why did I choose those parameters? Where did they originate from? They seemed to come out of nowhere, popping into my head at random. So, finally, I laid out the final parameters of the experiment: I would attempt to decide to imagine something, without the parameters thereof randomly popping into my head. Much to my surprise, I discovered that I was incapable of coming up with parameters that did not simply pop into my head without me specifically prompting it to do so. Any parameters I was able to "decide" to think up literally seemed to be cropping up from the ether of my unconscious mind.

At this point I was quite alarmed to say the least, as it was at least somewhat clear to me that this strongly resembled what we now think of as Emergent Behavior. Emergent behavior is essentially an organized system or behavior which arises unpredictably from the interaction of other systems with one another. The question I was forced to reluctantly ask myself reared its head like an unwanted house guest: Could my very consciousness - indeed, my every thought - be an illusion created by emergence from the interactions of the systems functioning in my brain, and my physiology as a whole?

When prompted to read about this possibility online (as you will see below) I found one quote from Wikipedia which most aptly describes the possibility I refer to:



In generative philosophy of cognitive sciences and evolutionary psychology, free will is assumed not to exist.[89][90] However, an illusion of free will is created, within this theoretical context, due to the generation of infinite or computationally complex behaviour from the interaction of a finite set of rules and parameters. Thus, the unpredictability of the emerging behaviour from deterministic processes leads to a perception of free will, even though free will as an ontological entity is assumed not to exist.[89][90] In this picture, even if the behavior could be computed ahead of time, no way of doing so will be simpler than just observing the outcome of the brain's own computations.[91]

As an illustration, some strategy board games have rigorous rules in which no information (such as cards' face values) is hidden from either player and no random events (such as dice rolling) occur in the game. Nevertheless, strategy games like chess and especially Go, with its simple deterministic rules, can have an extremely large number of unpredictable moves. By analogy, "emergentists" suggest that the experience of free will emerges from the interaction of finite rules and deterministic parameters that generate infinite and unpredictable behaviour. Yet, if all these events were accounted for, and there were a known way to evaluate these events, the seemingly unpredictable behavior would become predictable.[89][90]
Source

You must understand that as a spiritual person (though I am rationally skeptical, I do adhere to personal spiritual beliefs which I distinguish from facts, with the latter requiring empirical proof in my view) who believes strongly above all else in love and humanism, this is an outright terrifying thought. So before you dismiss this out of hand or attack the premise, please consider that I do not want this to be the case any more than you do.

Having now been confronted with this thought which I could not simply dismiss or wish away (in part because it was so frightening,) I embarked on some reading (I couldn't rightly call it research really) hoping to find some evidence of inexplicable phenomena or functions within the science and philosophy of human behavior and choices that might leave legitimate room for free will. What I found was both at times reassuring, and at others even more disturbing.

In Philosophy

In western philosophy there are several schools of thought.

Determinism is the philosophical stance that everything which occurs is causally determined by what has occured before the present moment, and that the future is thus likewise already determined. In essence, everything can, could, and will, only play out one way. This would suggest that free will as we traditionally conceive of it does not exist.

Indeterminism is the philosophical stance that events are not deterministic, and that the chance for many different possible causes, effects, and thus scenarios exists at any given moment in time. This would appear to guarantee free will if true, however there are forms of indeterminism which actually preclude free will as we traditionally conceive of it. For example, quantum mechanics postulates an inherent unpredictability - and therefore indeterminism - yet since we cannot control or even be aware of the quantum behavior theoretically governing the matter comprising our neurology, we still could not technically exercise consciously free will in such a universe.

Compatibilism is the philosophical stance that determinism and indeterminism are not mutually exclusive. For example, someone may make a choice and that choice is still a decision or selection being made, even if what that choice or selection ends up being is determined by conditions prior to it being made. Or, for instance, perhaps quantum mechanics are by nature indeterministic, but once processes reach the macro-scale of our brains, psychology, neurology etc. they (and thus our choices) have become deterministic.

Incompatibilism is the philosophical stance that determinism and indeterminism are completely incompatible. There are at least two varieties of incompatibilism. One holds that the universe is utterly deterministic, and that indeterminism is therefore impossible. The other holds that the universe is wholly indeterministic and unpredictable, predicated on free will and/or physical indeterminism.

Physicalism holds that everything is governed entirely by its physical properties and nothing beyond that. This has implications for free will because it suggests that if the universe is deterministic, or if quantum mechanical compatibilists are correct, then in the absence of a soul free will is not possible. However, so-called "Token physicalism" (essentially property dualism) allows for the possibility that there may exist mental properties distinct from or emerging as a consequence of purely physical properties, thus avoiding the strict physical limitations. For example, if consciousness is an emergent property in a sense distinct from the physical processes from which it emerged, then that consciousness may or may not be capable of self-determinism. Property dualism can be thought of as a form of dualism, while strict physicalism is sometimes thought of as a form of Monoism.

(Continued below...)

[edit on 5/1/2010 by AceWombat04]




posted on May, 1 2010 @ 05:38 AM
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Dualism is the philosophical stance that certain mental properties and/or processes are in some cases non-physical. Some interpretations of dualism allow for the prospect of free will through the existence of a soul, or the existence of emergent non-physical properties which may originate in the physical neurology, but become irreducibly non-physical to an extent (greater than the sum of their parts, or from the parts from which they emerged, in other words) once they exist.

In Science

Current theories of quantum mechanics seem to suggest the possibility of indeterminism, and even in some examples that indeterminism may extend well beyond the quantum realm and into the macroscopic.



Early scientific thought often portrayed the universe as deterministic,[64] and some thinkers claimed that the simple process of gathering sufficient information would allow them to predict future events with perfect accuracy. Modern science, on the other hand, is a mixture of deterministic and stochastic theories.[65] Quantum mechanics predicts events only in terms of probabilities, casting doubt on whether the universe is deterministic at all. Current physical theories cannot resolve the question of whether determinism is true of the world, being very far from a potential Final Theory, and open to many different interpretations.[66][67]

Assuming that an indeterministic interpretation of quantum mechanics is correct, one may still object that such indeterminism is for all practical purposes confined to microscopic phenomena.[68] However, many macroscopic phenomena are based on quantum effects, for instance, some hardware random number generators work by amplifying quantum effects into practically usable signals.

Source

However, this does not necessarily redeem or prove the existence of free will, because that very indeterminism renders us incapable of predicting, controlling, or in the case of our own consciousness and neurology, being fully aware of the processes underlying it. In that case, "free will" might be called possible under compatibilist interpretations wherein we cannot control the conditions leading to our choices deterministically, but can still make those choices. This is still not free will in the traditional sense that most of us probably conceive of it, however.



A more significant question is whether the indeterminism of quantum mechanics allows for the traditional idea of free will (based on a perception of free will - see Experimental Psychology below for distinction), when the laws of quantum mechanics provide a complete probabilistic account of the motion of particles regardless of whether or not free will exists.[69] Under the assumption of physicalism it has been argued that if an action is taken due to quantum randomness, this in itself would mean that traditional free will is absent, since such action cannot be controllable by a physical being claiming to possess such free will.[70] Following this argument, traditional free will would only be possible under the assumption of compatibilism; in a deterministic universe, or in an indeterministic universe where the human body is for all intents and neurological purposes deterministic.


Source

Experiments have been conducted in attempts to examine the causality between choice, conscious awareness of choice, and action. While the results are somewhat debatable, they would seem to suggest that there is at least some unconscious activity in the brain prior to the conscious awareness of a choice to take a particular action, and not merely prior to the act itself.

In the 1980s, physiologist Benjamin Libet discovered that the unconscious physical activity of the Readiness Potential, which is a neurological energy potential preceeding voluntary physical action, preceeded human subjects' conscious awareness of their intention to act.

Source

However, these experimental results drew controversy and debate because of the suggestion that part of the brain responsible for volition and consciousness, as well as at least one part of the part of the brain to which motor tasks appear to be delegated, are both in the frontal lobe of the brain. To some this suggested the possibility that volition and conscious awareness thereof are coincident or virtually simultaneous. Source In addition, Libet himself concluded that even if we are unable to physically act with free will, the conscious ability to veto physical action is at least within our conscious dominion.

More recent experiments' conclusions at least strongly suggest that this may not be the case, however. In addition to confirming Libet's findings, at least one experiment demonstrated that even when neurostimulation dictated which hand subjects moved, the subjective experience of free will was still unchanged. This at the very least suggests that free will can be illusory, even if it should be proved that it is not always.
Source

Another experiment sought to specifically study whether subjects could consciously veto physical acts, and discovered that the delay between instruction to act and action (already established by Libet to be associated with the readiness potential to physical volition delay time) was identical to the delay between instruction to decide freely and subjects' impulsive action. They then studied subjects' knowledge of their own decision making, and discovered that even when it was readily demonstrated that they acted impulsively, they still believed that they had made a conscious choice. The researchers concluded:



"(The results of the experiment) clearly argue against Libet’s assumption that a veto process can be consciously initiated. He used the veto in order to reintroduce the possibility to control the unconsciously initiated actions. But since the subjects are not very accurate in observing when they have not stopped, the act of vetoing cannot be consciously initiated".


Source

Finally, studies have shown that neurostimulation of the brain result in subjects subjectively experiencing the sense of conscious intention to act, and that beyond a certain point, physical action can even be unwittingly stimulated in subjects.



Scanning the brain in action, the readiness potential that indicates the beginning of movement genesis is recorded by an EEG applied to the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA). Directly stimulating the pre-SMA causes volunteers to report a feeling of intention, and sufficient stimulation of that same area causes physical movement [17]. This suggests that awareness of an intention to move may literally be the “sensation” of the body’s early movement, but certainly not the cause.


Source

Reason as Evidence of Free Will

Some argue that the best evidence for the existence of free will is our ability to reason. If we can reason, they argue, we can make rational choices based on pros and cons, available information, and analysis. This level of complex problem solving surely proves we have free will in these people's opinions. It even allows us to choose to act contrary to impetus and rationality, "just for the hell of it."

Is this sufficient proof, though? If the moment to moment processes underlying our reasoning are predicated upon unknowable and uncontrollable quantum mechanics, and/or if those moment to moment processes are on a macroscopic scale physically deterministic, could not even our ability to reason be an illusion caused by emergent behavior and self-perception?

(Continued below...)

[edit on 5/1/2010 by AceWombat04]



posted on May, 1 2010 @ 05:51 AM
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Conclusion and Personal Opinions

As you can see, human beings have pondered free will for a very long time, and modern science suggests a lot about its existence or the possible lack thereof. It is possible that free will is an illusion created by the subjective perception of awareness preceding action, which may not in reality be scientifically factual. It is possible that some mechanism we can imagine but cannot yet prove might allow the exercise of free will. It is possible that if a soul exists, it is merely along for the ride, experiencing a largely deterministic existence until death, at which point it departs with those experiences. There are just a minute handful of the countless theories and hypotheses pertaining to free will.

Personally, I choose to remain open-minded to all possibilities, although I will admit that I now personally lean toward quantum mechanical compatibilism in which the complex systems from which our consciousnesses emerge do make choices and selections, and those choices and selections are largely unpredictable, but in which those choices and selections are ultimately determined beyond the will of an "I" or "ego" as we traditionally imagine it. I also personally allow for the possibility of a soul which is either "along for deterministic the ride," or perhaps having some influence on the quantum mechanical indeterministic engine "beneath" everything. Those are only my feelings and opinions however and as I said, I remain open to all of the possibilities (including those we may not be capable of conceiving of - we always have to allow for that one as well, in my opinion.)

The possibility that we lack free will raises an interesting question: If we have no free will, do our choices matter at all? I would argue that they do. Whether "I" make my choices or they are determined, they are still made, and their effects are measurable and in many (if not all!) cases unpredictable. In effect, whether I feel choices are important are not, they still get made, and so the complex system that is "me" feels compelled to carry them out to the best of its - potentially deterministic - abilities.

That may sound like a contradiction in terms, but as demonstrated by the aforementioned studies, subjectively the experience of volition remains intact. Our reality and our sense of self need not be done away with or lost if we should discover one day that free will is, with certainty, not a real property of human consciousness. It simply means that we must expand our concept of self to include a complex system of myriad properties and components, not all of which we are or even can be consciously aware of. It may also require us to reexamine our concepts of responsibility, punishment, vengeance, and forgiveness. If we have no free will in the traditional sense, should we not seek to better one another and each other through the exchange of information and knowledge which would presumably strengthen the breadth of options available to our systems as they make choices and selections (whether the "I" entity we traditionally imagine is making them or not,) rather than seek to punish systems (each other) for what we perceive as hurtful mistakes?

In short, if true, it would mean that we are not somehow magically distinct from the procession of the rest of the universe, but rather a part of a contiguous totality of events and interactions. It would mean that we are a part of something more massive, unpredictable, and in a sense, creative, than we are likely capable of imagining. It would mean that choices may be made, but that we are a part of a system which results in them. And that, to me at least, is somehow comforting. Even in the face of the possibility that I can't choose to feel that comfort for myself.


NOTE: I apologize for the delay between posts above. I had to correct a lot of typos and HTML formatting mistakes.

This concludes the posts. You are now welcome to reply.


[edit on 5/1/2010 by AceWombat04]



posted on May, 1 2010 @ 07:05 AM
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Hello.

I love the well laid out subject and arguments. S&F.

I have read the whole thing.

I would ask you what is the difference between free-will and non free-will?
For you. What does it matter to you. You are willing to write quite an extensive thread about it. That is fine, but to me the real question is what do you want to know, understand, accept, reject ect ect..

You exist.... you experience.... you desire.... is it free wil or is it all pre determined? Does it change anything. Can we even know it? ever?
Since every experience is experienced subjectively even so called facts and experiments.

Just think about the questions if you wish, hope it provokes some thoughts and understandings.

My personal believe is everything must be infinite in every kind of infinite way to make us exist. I believe that finite things and contradictions can only emerge from something infinite. Therefore free wil or not dissolves within infinity. Just like any onther seemingly dualistic structure.
On an even more humuristic personal note I believe that infinity has an endless sense of humor, because its true nature is reflected in every single thing in the universe. Like everything can be just that what it is, and we just dont see it and the universe or infinity just keeps blinking at us like looky here you cant see me hahaha.

Anyways we all just want te be what we are to the fullest at any given moment. Enough said for me anyhow.

Best of luck in finding what you are searching for. What many people are searching for I guess that bit of understanding that makes us happy, although that is alot of speculation on my part. Endless.

Kind regards.



posted on May, 1 2010 @ 07:11 AM
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Although I haven't read everything, if we don't make choices, no freewill, than what is the purpose to our existence?

Anyway, I'll read more tomorrow, it's late and I chose not to comment right now......... whoops



posted on May, 1 2010 @ 08:21 AM
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reply to post by GamleGamle
 


Thank-you for the reply! I appreciate it.

I agree that ultimately free will and the lack thereof may be completely indistinguishable in any practical sense. That's why, despite being initially terrified by the prospect of having no free will (as we traditionally conceive of it at least,) I have now actually warmed up to the idea. And not in the self-deluding, cognitive dissonance sort of way. I actually find the idea of subjectively having free will while in actuality not having free will sort of paradoxically comforting in some sense.

It's interesting that you should mention the infinite and its potentially dualistic nature. As I mentioned in my post, I distinguish between so-called facts which I believe require empirical proof, and my own personal form of spirituality. That personal belief system is actually rooted in the belief that there exists an infinite "oneness" of all things, all possibilities, etc. as a singular yet simultaneously granular totality of which everything is an aspect, and that somehow both free will and determinism are simultaneously illusions, but also mutually dependent in a sense.

You asked what free will would be constituted by for me personally. My personal definition of free will would be the ability to choose to do something without external deterministic factors causing me to have no other choice. As for what I would accept, reject, want, etc. I would accept whatever appears to be the reality, as it would seem I have little choice in the matter (including the possibility that there may be no one, "true" reality.) I don't reject much, and am more or less open to all the possibilities. I am alternately at times both afraid and comfortable with the idea of a lack of free agency, but all I really want is to ponder the possibilities and discuss them with fellow intelligences lol. And, hopefully, to persist in existing lol. (That's open for discussion too though, I feel.)



posted on May, 1 2010 @ 08:21 AM
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reply to post by rogi22
 


Perhaps simply to facilitate the experiencing of all possibilities? Or perhaps there is no purpose. I don't like the second possibility, but I must at least consider it. I appreciate the response and the read!



posted on May, 1 2010 @ 12:26 PM
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Originally posted by AceWombat04
I would attempt to decide to think of something that did not exist in reality (as far as I know.) I decided to imagine a green, fuzzy pumpkin. However, again, the question occurred to me: why did I choose those parameters? Where did they originate from?


Rather than asking where these parameters came from, look at the parameters themselves. "Green", "Fuzzy" and "Pumpkin". You tried to think of something outside of reality, but all your concious, or subconscious, could muster is a combination of three parameters that are already based in reality. This is where I think us humans are limited. We can only imagine something that we have already experienced, or combinations of multiple experiences.
Think about Plato's Allegory of the Cave. If you have never seen the colour green, a pumpkin, or something with a fuzzy characteristic, it is unlikely that you would be able to imagine them, because your mind has nothing to make a reference to. If you see the colour green, your mind suddenly has a new parameter to make a reference to, therefore your mind can conjure up more images with this new parameter.
We are limited to what we know or have experienced I feel.



posted on May, 1 2010 @ 12:42 PM
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Look at it this way.

You can't choose where you come from, but you can choose where you end up.

Every decision we make is as simple as a Yes or No. And we in a sense, have two choices on where we end up on that day and for that life.

We can't control the emotions we feel or who else enters our life, we can merely choose which road to take and hope and prepare for the best.

Saying things like "I have no free will" is just evidence that you need to do something different with you life. That you feel like your stuck in wet cement and can't get out.

Good Luck



posted on May, 1 2010 @ 01:32 PM
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reply to post by AceWombat04
 


Ah I see.
We are of the same mind then.

I believe that the infinite oneness does not distinguish between free wil and determenism. In the end they will be 2 sides of the same coin 2 expressions of the same source. So their wil be no 2 only one.

i believe that what is real depends on what level/perspective you look at it. I have thought that on one level you have free wil and on another you do not. I also believe that these "states" trade places endlessly, but that conscious intervention can and does happen.

It is like this in my eyes. Take all laws of physics, boil it down to a universal law, let another dictate that law and another higher law that one extending infinitly. You will have endless laws dictating existence and yet everything goes, because of infinite crossings of universal laws and sub laws. Like a ruling body that has so many laws that you can do practically everything and their will be a law that allows it to happen. Inside the happning another set of endless laws may apply changing the whole thing constantly.

I believe such laws do transcend time itself. Meaning from our perspective that a past experience can first be experienced as a free wilish experience later on through new insights guided by laws we could experience the same past experience has predetermined and later on through even greater insights we could once again experience the past experience as an act of free wil.

To react to another brought up subject. Is their really a difference between purpose and not having purpose?. If the infinite oneness applys as i believe even that will become one in the same. Existence exists. Existence is an experience. It is what it is. Purpose or not it is and that is it. The Sum Of All.

Why fear existence? Their is ample amunition that states that reality can be whatever you wish it to be and insight has tought me that we always are exactly where we want to be by infinite design. So fear is then part of your existence and at the same time you could lift the fear at any moment. The beauty is because you fear it can be instantly be wiped out of existence as soon as you find "peace" with your existence in relation to free wil/non free will.

I think I am rambling, but I will learn if what I am saying resonates.

As for science. Ha what do they know.

As far as I am concerned science lags behind infinitly compared to human intuition and the ability for a human to comphrehend their surrounding world on an abstract level. Science is, but another expression of the infinite oneness.

Kind Regards.
Edit forgot the Kind Regards.

[edit on 1-5-2010 by GamleGamle]



posted on May, 1 2010 @ 01:54 PM
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There are also other such considerations which I ponder about free-will, and the every so commonly said "I will" ...

If we go back to our creaturehood roots and examine our inherant instincts, at a time when consciousness was first beginning to arise from ourselves, a phase of our evolution, complete where our physical bodies had developed to a stage where now the psychological 'body' was emerging, rising into consciousness - it sets the stage for our instincts to be over riden as they hinder the process of growth, like a limitation. That which was instinct gave way to 'suggestions' instead of 'rules'. The act of evolving Consciousness created the endless field of consideration. To consider something beyond instinct leads to examine and question - which in a sense is 'freedom', as apposed to instinct. Consciously knowing or not, it also lead to the realization of such things as responsibility of action, and the birth of guilt and compassion, and (development of 'conscience').

Free will is governed in form by our beliefs - our percieved reality, our actual reality, feelings and use of imagination. We are self restricting and self expanding on both an unconscious and concsious level. We in a sense monitor our spontinaity (sp?) consciously. We make distinctions from the vast and endless wells of unconscious material, picking and sorting, distinguishing what is necessary and what is not, and then retrieving the desired inner elements until we present ourselves with select data - and consciously before us we examine and determine a self presented physical choice.

I was thinking about the juices that you laid before you, and the amount of choices and data you dealt with to eventually have those 2 items in front of you. Its not just the fact that they were there, but the miriad of choices you made to get them there on that day at that time together.

This possibly hasnt explained free will as much as I think about it, but its just a perspective presented (like the juices) of a myriad of answers which have come to me on this.

Smigs



posted on May, 2 2010 @ 03:00 AM
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Originally posted by dPD89

Originally posted by AceWombat04
I would attempt to decide to think of something that did not exist in reality (as far as I know.) I decided to imagine a green, fuzzy pumpkin. However, again, the question occurred to me: why did I choose those parameters? Where did they originate from?


Rather than asking where these parameters came from, look at the parameters themselves. "Green", "Fuzzy" and "Pumpkin". You tried to think of something outside of reality, but all your concious, or subconscious, could muster is a combination of three parameters that are already based in reality. This is where I think us humans are limited. We can only imagine something that we have already experienced, or combinations of multiple experiences.
Think about Plato's Allegory of the Cave. If you have never seen the colour green, a pumpkin, or something with a fuzzy characteristic, it is unlikely that you would be able to imagine them, because your mind has nothing to make a reference to. If you see the colour green, your mind suddenly has a new parameter to make a reference to, therefore your mind can conjure up more images with this new parameter.
We are limited to what we know or have experienced I feel.


Oh, I agree. But that still leaves me the question of whether or not it is possible to choose the parameters. I was never able to. If I tried to cut my thought process off from seemingly deterministic causality by trying to establish parameters without preexisting ones already in place, the best I could do was for something to pop into my head seemingly at random (from the, as you point out, already established "database" of what my brain has been exposed to, if you will.)



posted on May, 2 2010 @ 03:11 AM
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Originally posted by Nostradumbass
Look at it this way.

You can't choose where you come from, but you can choose where you end up.


That may well be the case, but that is the question I'm posing. I can see no definitive proof that we do not live in a deterministic universe, or one which is indeterministic but lacks free will in the sense we traditionally conceive of it.


Every decision we make is as simple as a Yes or No. And we in a sense, have two choices on where we end up on that day and for that life.


But what leads us to make those choices? Are "we" really making them, or are they the end result of a deterministic or indeterministic yet uncontrollable and unknowable process within our minds? If I choose "yes" instead of "no," are there not factors, both that I am aware of consciously as well as unconscious ones, which assign weight and importance psychologically to that selection of "yes?" Are not many of those factors beyond my control, or in many instances, my knowledge?


We can't control the emotions we feel or who else enters our life, we can merely choose which road to take and hope and prepare for the best.


It is at least possible that we cannot even choose that much in my opinion. Are we really choosing to go left instead of right, or are we just following a chain of causality? If I'm honest with myself, I can't answer that definitively. I can say what I feel subjectively, but as discussed, that could be an illusion.

For example: if I "choose" to go left instead of right because I suspect one path will lead me to where I want to go, because I simply like the way that path looks more than the right one, because I'm just choosing at random, or for any other reason imaginable, what is the cause of that choice? What innumerable, unpredictable, uncontrollable, and arguably unknowable factors within my neurology, psychology - both conscious and unconscious - surroundings, memories, experiences, expectations, etc. etc. etc. made that choice appear to be the one that I "should choose?"

It hasn't been definitively demonstrated to me that that larger system at work isn't deterministic, or at the very least beyond my control.


Saying things like "I have no free will" is just evidence that you need to do something different with you life. That you feel like your stuck in wet cement and can't get out.

Good Luck


I respectfully disagree. The opinion that one lacks free will is a perfectly valid opinion (though not one that I personally hold... yet) and I can imagine some people being quite happy and fulfilled even while holding it. I'm not saying that I (or we) lack free will, though. I'm asking whether it's possible, and inviting discussion.

As of yet, I don't know for certain, and I'm not sure we even can.



posted on May, 2 2010 @ 03:18 AM
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reply to post by GamleGamle
 


Your thoughts are much along the same lines as mine, at least in terms of my beliefs. I've also often wondered if perhaps in the "totality" for lack of a better term, everything might not simply already have happened. i.e. that time and relative motion might even be an illusion based on our four dimensional state. That's a whole different topic, though lol. Those are just my personal beliefs, which as I said, I distinguish from empirical facts. Just because I believe something doesn't mean I know it yet for certain, or that I might not be completely incorrect.

Which brings me to your comment re: scientists. I give them more credit than that, personally. Science is a methodology. True scientists are keen observers of - at the very least - that part of the universe which we can observe and intelligently hypothesize about. I think the reason those with seemingly unscientific beliefs and those who pride themselves on ostensible skepticism and science often butt heads (and this is why I delineate between facts and beliefs) is because pseudo-skeptics feel that they are practicing skepticism by dismissing possibilities which in reality have yet to be disproved through the scientific process. A truly scientific and skeptical person cannot honestly say, "_________ does not exist/occur," unless they have unequivocal evidence constituting proof that it does not. The pseudo-skeptic on the other hand can easily say, "_______ does not exist, and if you even entertain the possibility, you are wrong." I think a lot of "believers" fail to distinguish between what they believe and what they know, and a lot of "scientists" fail to remember the true nature of skepticism works both ways and that without proof they cannot invalidate beliefs.

That's just my personal view on it, though.

[edit on 5/2/2010 by AceWombat04]



posted on May, 2 2010 @ 03:25 AM
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reply to post by Smiggle
 


I feel you're correct, and those are the sorts of processes and complex systems of information and selection that led me to think about all of this in the first place. I particularly appreciate your use of the term "field of consideration." That's very similar to how I imagine our choice making processes. Whether we truly exercise any level of free agency within those "fields" or whether that's an illusion created by our subjective perception of conscious thought preceding action, and thus whether they're self-deterministic, deterministic, or indeterministic but beyond our ability to control, I don't know, and that's the question that my mind continues to play with.



[edit on 5/2/2010 by AceWombat04]



posted on May, 2 2010 @ 03:26 AM
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"free-will" versus "non-free-will" is not a valid question. That is to say, its grammatically possible to formulate this question but there is no real meaning behind it.

The funniest thing of all about it is how some of the best philosophers and human minds in history have tormented themselves so unnecessarily about this non-question!

To use an analogy, its a bit like asking: "When a man is walking down a road, which one is the "real" viewpoint: A)the view he sees out of his eyes; or B) a "bird's-eye-view" of the same man and road?"

Obviously both views are simultaneously possible and in no way contradict each other. What the man sees is akin to "free will." Viewed on a macro-scale outside time, its simply part of a "determined" reality. Both views are perfectly valid perspectives on the same exact thing.

The problem comes because our brains have trouble equating something that takes place in time with a perspective that takes place out of time. Because of the way our nervous systems are wired, we can view a situation from either perspective, but jumping back and forth between an in-time and and an out-of-time perspective quickly is tricky on an "emotional" or gut level, so people make false assumptions about the situation almost automatically. These false assumptions lead to a false sense of opposition or contradiction between "free will" and "determinism."



posted on May, 2 2010 @ 03:42 AM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 


As discussed above, I'm amenable to the concept of free will and determinism being compatible for precisely the reason you suggest - the subjective and objective both being true simultaneously.

That said, I often wonder if the subjective experience of "free will" really is only subjective. In other words, while I agree that the two don't have to be mutually exclusive, is it possible that our perception that there is even an "us" to experience that subjective "free will" is actually an illusion? Is it possible that what we experience as consciousness and awareness are the result of emergent behavior stemming from the interaction of the physiological functions of our brains, and the delays inherent in their physical transmission of information?

We assume that "life," "consciousness," and "awareness" are ontological realities based on our subjective existence and because they seem testable. What if they are illusions caused by the aforementioned emergent behavior? What if we are simply incapable of perceiving this (although we can conceive of it) because we (by "we" I mean, our subjective ego; our sense of self) are that emergent behavior? What if they're illusory byproducts of complex interactions of otherwise inert biological matter and energy?

Perhaps I shouldn't be disturbed by the possibility, and as I have said earlier in this thread, at times I'm actually not at all. But at other moments I am.
Then I become aware that that's simply because some facet of my psyche just "doesn't like" the prospect, and the inner debate regarding free will begins all over again. LOL.



posted on May, 2 2010 @ 04:27 AM
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Thanks for the reply - I would have posted a few threads abck except for the computer crashing on me ... though I'll add to your comments too - great discussion, by the way.



Oh, I agree. But that still leaves me the question of whether or not it is possible to choose the parameters. I was never able to. If I tried to cut my thought process off from seemingly deterministic causality by trying to establish parameters without preexisting ones already in place, the best I could do was for something to pop into my head seemingly at random (from the, as you point out, already established "database" of what my brain has been exposed to, if you will.)


I think that you may have been presented with a huge amount of data or parameters as you see them - unconsciously your inner self knows what they are and can distinguish them perfectly for what they are - but consciously as they present themselves to you, you selectively take what you think parameters are as you understand them and that is predetermined by you on a sub conscious level. You self determine the information by choice and by the way you have preprogrammed your way to choose things. The ego is a great critic of such information and subjectively filters those images and symbols arising from the unconscious - it has a predetermined agenda becasue of what you believe - if you have limiting beliefs, these are filtered through the choice mechanism you have set up and the limitation extends to what parameters you put up. They are your perameters - you are not restricted to the universal knowledge, but you may want to examine the beliefs that you hold where you feel you find you are restricted.

Freewill, which we are equipt with, is an evolved mechanism which enables us to be free of restrictions through recognition of what we percieve - we can realize ourselves and our beliefs (from which we base our choices and engineer our reality). It is a necessary part of our consciousness and its development and a marker of who we recognize ourself to be individually.

I think we make choices based on our beleifs we have - we are free to make these choices, make the decisions that we recognize as being part of a chain of decisions that leads us to the experience we want to materialize. Throughout that process we have the ability to 'reflect' on those choices - speed of consciousness analysis of data and conscequence - we are choosing as freely as we can as our restrcitions mechanisms we have put in place, enable us to.

The parameters we set up are like those office dividers that restrict seeing beyond a certain point, and they can tunnel you in a certain direction so that the end result (that you have predetermined for what ever reason you need to experience) is of your choice. Its like living in feedback - those perameters were being set up by you prior to your experience of walking through them and they were put there, as directed, through your beliefs. By the time we make a choice, we have already made choices prior as to how we will see what we are trying to discover.

if you are going to change those parameters you will need to become conscious of your limiting beliefs. This is freeing the structures set up so you can determine and examine what consequences come from such expansion - you can reflect - you can make choices to expand the freedom of 'will'. As in 'I will' (I bring to myself - I materialize - I experience - I choose).

Just some thoughts
Smigs



posted on May, 3 2010 @ 11:12 AM
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reply to post by Smiggle
 


Interesting.

Even if we could eliminate all psychologically derived limiting beliefs however, could there not remain external deterministic factors resulting in causal chains of input which, combined with other deterministic (or indeterministic but uncontrollable by us) processes inherent to our the systems which produce our experience of consciousness that render our apparent choices beyond our control in the sense we typically think of it?



posted on May, 3 2010 @ 11:56 AM
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Originally posted by AceWombat04
reply to post by Smiggle
 


Interesting.

Even if we could eliminate all psychologically derived limiting beliefs however, could there not remain external deterministic factors resulting in causal chains of input which, combined with other deterministic (or indeterministic but uncontrollable by us) processes inherent to our the systems which produce our experience of consciousness that render our apparent choices beyond our control in the sense we typically think of it?


I think we examine and continually manipulate our beliefs by which our experience and perception changes, but they in term belong to our root assumptions - we dont eliminate as such as I think we devlop and evolve from them as they they become apparent, and we need change for our conscious expansion and development - as we are creators, this is part of the creation/ive process. We are never beyond our own control to make choice, to have free will is the taking of self responsibility, the recognition that what we experience is our own choice - we draw from the internal to experience the expternal - to have the capacity to reflect and see what our believes hold that make us choose the choices that we do.

There is also Mass Consciousness - the dance in which we all participate in this time and in this term of life in this reality plane. Maybe asking why you chose (or me or anyone) this time and this life, in the body your consciousness created and rests upon, in the country you reside, using the language that you do, in an era on earth under the 'restrictions and freedoms' that contain or release you ... under certain political rules, religions, cultures, somewhere, you made a choice, and you made that life contract with others in a time and space where you could experience all the conditions you needed to learn within. Considering the billions and billions of people (and consciousness creations) on this planet, why do have the friends, family, even enemies, and unknowns that you live amongst, and are yet to meet - there numbers are only like grains of sand on a long beach. You are experiencing what you set out to in this world, by the realization and choices you make - Freewill enables you to reflect on that - if you examine your beliefs you will see where your choice are made within you and why you make them. Freewill starts that process and enables you to present it back to the self for examination.

It isn't the first nor the last time you Spirit will do this, and you have other aspects and sub personalities (like branches) of yourself still expanding as you create them - every thought is alive and continuous, nothing being anihalated, only changing matter and form, working past, present, future - beside you in front of you behind you.

We're all in this together





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