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Free Will vs Determinism in Humans: what's your view?

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posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 04:13 PM
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Hey ATS, this is my first thread so I hope it all goes well!

I've been thinking about free will and determinism today, because I don't know much about it apart from what I've been taught in my Psychology classes and my own research. Then the thought struck me that ATS members may be the best people to talk to about it!

I can't bring myself to a logical conclusion about whether free will exists in Human Beings, or whether all our behaviour is predetermined. The main problem in my head about free will is that it defies laws such as causality. The issue I have with determinism is: what is in control of which behaviours are expressed? Are they completely random, contradicting the deterministic theory, or is something in control of our behaviour?

I can't make my mind up between the two. The theory I have is that both free will and determism exist in human beings, I believe a train of thought known as 'compatibilism'. I'll expand:
I believe that we have free will over the mundane decisions in our life (what we eat for breakfast, when we cross the road, etc), however there are certain points where a something MUST happen. For example, when we marry (not necessarily who), when we reproduce, and finally our death. I also believe each individual has personal events where all branches join (see next paragraph). These are different for everyone, and may be getting fired from a job, contracting an illness, or simply meeting someone.

This leads to a constantly expanding tree diagram of behaviour, where one branch may split into three, four or four hundred seperate behaviours, and they in turn may split again multiple times, but all will lead back to one branch (a major behaviour that has been determined). This one branch then splits again into multiple behaviours, which again merge into one determined behaviour, and so forth.

Leave a reply about your views/any knowledge you may have and let's have a talk about the topic! It fascinates me and I'm sure there's some of you out there interested by it. Thank you for reading my post!
I've also put some wiki links of interest at the bottom, for further reading or whatever.

Also, I was debating whether to put this in Philosophy or The Gray Area, Philosophy won out in the end! Mods, feel free to move this thread into a different Forum if necessary.

en.wikipedia.org...
en.wikipedia.org...
en.wikipedia.org...
en.wikipedia.org...
en.wikipedia.org...

Thank you,
Ben.




posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 04:40 PM
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reply to post by BenTFH
 

Nice first thread BenTFH


Others, however, argue that if the universe itself is deterministic in nature, then human actions must also be deterministic - thus, modern determinism tends to be an outgrowth of modern science. If human actions simply follow the course of natural law, then it is difficult to hold that those actions can be "freely" chosen. Those who advocate determinism run into something of a contradiction, however, when they try to argue their point with those who argue for free will. If it is true that nothing is freely chosen, then those who believe in the existence of free will do not do so by choice - so what is the point of trying to convince them otherwise? Indeed, what is the point of trying to convince anyone of anything if all events are determined?

One thing to note about the debate between free will and determinism is that both terms tend to be defined in such a way as to explicitly exclude the other. But why must that be the case? The philosophical position of compatibilism argues that these concepts do not need to be defined in such a mutually exclusive manner and that, in fact, both free will and determinism can be compatible.

linas.org...
atheism.about.com...
It seems to me that a problem arises when we consider these two notions exclusive of one another. Instead, I think they both represent our complexity, moving through this complex world of energy and will. We also should factor in the effect of others intention too, imo. Individual minds continue to generate sway in our directions, for good and bad, but I am thinking along the lines of psychology and propaganda, with symbolism and subliminal messaging. Faith plays a part too, and ones beliefs, or lack of, may play a part in both how we view the world, and how the world unfolds around us.

Emergent behavior is a related factor too, and to me is just results of the dance between chaos and order. Labeling this action as one or another is subjective, so again faith/belief may play a part here. Algorithms exist, but are they already part of our world, or do we sometimes bring them to life out of necessity? Again I think it is all a dance between evolution and will, on the macro and micro levels. Funny, it either should be really simple or really complex, but my complex(?) mind keeps surfing the complexities, and for me, free will is genuinely free and an adaptive trait operating at physical, mental and spiritual levels.
Arguably however, is intent a free formed anomaly or determined reaction? Tit for tat....
I think I just went in circles here, but it is a complex subject, was it free will or determinism?


Peace,
spec
edit on 22-2-2012 by speculativeoptimist because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 04:56 PM
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reply to post by speculativeoptimist
 


Hi spec,

Thank you! It's funny, I was reading through your long exposure firefly thread only an hour ago!

It's an incredibly complex subject, and I think the fact that humans have got to the point where we're questioning our existence in ways like this show our development as a species.

A lot of the things you've said in your response make a lot of sense to me, and are similar to the way I think!


Algorithms exist, but are they already part of our world, or do we sometimes bring them to life out of necessity

Sometimes I get the feeling that our consciousness may be an illusion, and our existence is merely a series of incredibly complex inputs and outputs, running through algorithms of possibility. Then I stop watching The Matrix!


Of course, there's the other topic you brought up: faith! If the world was deterministic, I question why there is such a variety of religions and beliefs! However, the majority seem to say something about a divine being instilling humans with free will in some form or another, and that has to mean something!

I'm not going to pretend I understood everything you said, but I'm getting there, haha.

Thank you for your response, and the reading material!
Ben.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 05:04 PM
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Originally posted by BenTFH
Hey ATS, this is my first thread so I hope it all goes well!

I've been thinking about free will and determinism today, because I don't know much about it apart from what I've been taught in my Psychology classes and my own research. Then the thought struck me that ATS members may be the best people to talk to about it!

I can't bring myself to a logical conclusion about whether free will exists in Human Beings, or whether all our behaviour is predetermined. The main problem in my head about free will is that it defies laws such as causality. The issue I have with determinism is: what is in control of which behaviours are expressed? Are they completely random, contradicting the deterministic theory, or is something in control of our behaviour?

I can't make my mind up between the two. The theory I have is that both free will and determism exist in human beings, I believe a train of thought known as 'compatibilism'. I'll expand:
I believe that we have free will over the mundane decisions in our life (what we eat for breakfast, when we cross the road, etc), however there are certain points where a something MUST happen. For example, when we marry (not necessarily who), when we reproduce, and finally our death. I also believe each individual has personal events where all branches join (see next paragraph). These are different for everyone, and may be getting fired from a job, contracting an illness, or simply meeting someone.

This leads to a constantly expanding tree diagram of behaviour, where one branch may split into three, four or four hundred seperate behaviours, and they in turn may split again multiple times, but all will lead back to one branch (a major behaviour that has been determined). This one branch then splits again into multiple behaviours, which again merge into one determined behaviour, and so forth.

Leave a reply about your views/any knowledge you may have and let's have a talk about the topic! It fascinates me and I'm sure there's some of you out there interested by it. Thank you for reading my post!
I've also put some wiki links of interest at the bottom, for further reading or whatever.

Also, I was debating whether to put this in Philosophy or The Gray Area, Philosophy won out in the end! Mods, feel free to move this thread into a different Forum if necessary.

en.wikipedia.org...
en.wikipedia.org...
en.wikipedia.org...
en.wikipedia.org...
en.wikipedia.org...

Thank you,
Ben.



Just a quick reply.. but the answer does not exist in the context it's most often framed.

We need to understand WHO may or may not have free will before we ask whether or not they have free will. Do "i" have free will? Who am i? What am i? Is free will part of my identity?

Free will exists.. but it exists with the ONE that close to zero people on earth are fully identified with. Most people identify with a very deterministic conditional program rather than a true self that writes the program.

Free will exists in the context of being that is outside of time and what most people believe is individuality.

In the context that modern psychology and philosophy frame the question the answer is an unprovable no.. no 'people' do not have free will.

Only someone outside the laws we are bound by could really be a candidate for true free will. Inside this creation/existence we are bound by the laws the one with free will has created. If "you" identify with that one then you have free will as well.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 05:16 PM
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reply to post by rwfresh
 


Hey rwfresh, thank you for your response!

I agree that Psychology and Philosophy are fighting to say there is no free will. After all, both disciplines, as far as I'm aware, are trying to become recognised as sciences, on a par with the traditional sciences of Physics, Chemistry and Biology?
I'm not as well versed in Philosophy as I am in Psychology, but it makes sense to me for both to be pushing towards a similar goal.

Your reference to THE ONE seems to be a common falling point for researchers of this topic: if cause and effect is as indisputable as we think it is, what is the CAUSE of free will? Or, is free will the cause, and has an effect on something else? Either we'll never know, or it'll be a good shock for our species when we do find out!

Cheers for a really interesting point of view!
Ben



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 05:22 PM
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I like to think that our imagination is one of free will, but then I wonder about it's limitations, in terms of only able to formulate from given language and it's sometimes superfluous nature. However, I have had experiences(cosmic) that left me unable to describe it because it was an ineffable experience. Some decisions regarding this subject tie into divinity, however you want to label it, in that there is always something new from the fountain of ingenuity, even beyond reaction to necessity, and this to me represents free will so that we may, through imagination, constantly outgrow paradigms and continue to flourish exponentially and eventually into space, the big cosmic petri dish with all it's unknown mysteries.

For me, this inventiveness is part of our wonder and awe as humans, and me thinks there is some divinity at play, that is much more wondrous than simple causation. Call it god, chi, spirit that moves in all things, maya, etc...I feel that our potential is beyond the limits of determinism, but for me, this is a feeling and belief, whatever that is worth, and the 'unknown' still lingers, in yet to be determined proportions, unveiling new direction and an empty canvas for our free will to spill upon, moving in chaotic directions. Perhaps the perception is the order that binds?
No answers it seems, just perspective I reckon.


spec



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 05:28 PM
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Theoretically, if we were aware of the initial conditions of the big bang, we could map the chemical reactions taking place all the way to the big crunch - we would need a computer faster than the universe though. This alone makes me lean towards a more deterministic view of reality although I'm not sure how sound the science is.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 05:34 PM
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reply to post by BenTFH
 


My thoughts are thus:

1. Absolute free will does not exist for the Earthly Individual. That should be obvious.If things don't go
EXACTLY EXACTLY EXACTLY as you will , down to the most minute detail that you will,
EACH AND EVERY DAY, then any idea of a free will is fantasy.

2 .Individuals are free to CHOOSE

3. The Collective Mind CONTROLS and presents the Individual with choices.
The core task of Collective Mind is to MAINTAIN BALANCE.

4 . Sometimes The Gods intervene ,to either help or hinder Collective Mind or Individual.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 05:52 PM
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reply to post by posthuman
 


I have heard this theory too, but haven't looked very far into it. It seems to make perfect sense, and maybe if we WERE aware of those conditions we'd be able to accurately predict human behaviour.

So many 'what-ifs' eh!

Cheers,
Ben.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 06:01 PM
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reply to post by BenTFH
 

Our only access to freedom of the Absolute variety is prior to choice and judgement, so unless you're a Buddha master or something, not free, but the TRUTH is that we really are more free than we can possibly imagine, but because we can't imagine it, again, not free, sadly.


However, once we're aware of what hinders or constrains us from realizing absolute freedom, then the possibility for Liberation exists, until we become re-attached to an outcome, self, meterialism, etc., and then we're not free again, oh dear!



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 06:11 PM
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reply to post by BenTFH
 


Yeah that's it, I mean at the most fundemental level even our choices are chemical reactions which are a response to a reaction taking place immediatly prior; even choices could be forseen under the time model we're discussing.

I recommend researching "deterministic time theories" - that will really blow you out.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 06:30 PM
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Originally posted by speculativeoptimist
It seems to me that a problem arises when we consider these two notions exclusive of one another. Instead, I think they both represent our complexity, moving through this complex world of energy and will.


This. Excellent link.

I believe the explanation for both is detailed remarkably well in the wave-collapse function of quantum physics. At first there exists infinite possibilities and then through a particular mechanism, one of those possibilities are chosen and manifested according to the ecology around it.

That is to say: mathematical existence is the basis for free-will, and physical existence is the basis for determinism. An example I like to use is to imagine an animal inside a fence; the animal can run into the fence over and over and won't get through because the physics simply don't allow that possibility, but if the animal apprehends the fence, he knows the limitations of the physics and thus can transcend them through mathematical operations, which produces creativity. Einstein framed it beautifully in his lecture on the method of theoretical physics:


Our experience up to date justifies us in feeling sure that in Nature is actualized the ideal of mathematical simplicity. It is my conviction that pure mathematical construction enables us to discover the concepts and the laws connecting them which give us the key to the understanding of the phenomena of Nature. Experience can of course guide us in our choice of serviceable mathematical concepts; it cannot possibly be the source from which they are derived; experience of course remains the sole criterion of the serviceability of a mathematical construction for physics, but the truly creative principle resides in mathematics. In a certain sense, therefore, I hold it to be true that pure thought is competent to comprehend the real, as the ancients dreamed.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 06:33 PM
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reply to post by imherejusttoread
 


That is fricking fantastic.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 06:53 PM
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reply to post by BenTFH
 




I can't bring myself to a logical conclusion about whether free will exists in Human Beings, or whether all our behaviour is predetermined. The main problem in my head about free will is that it defies laws such as causality. The issue I have with determinism is: what is in control of which behaviours are expressed? Are they completely random, contradicting the deterministic theory, or is something in control of our behaviour? I can't make my mind up between the two. The theory I have is that both free will and determism exist in human beings, I believe a train of thought known as 'compatibilism'.


Let's assume that we don't really have the ability... in this physical form, in this physical existence, to fully delve the meaning of that existence or those mechanisms that drive it.

Hmmm. What is a good and God-fearing hairless ape supposed to do? Are we evolutionary? Are we divine creation? Are we a little of both or even, maybe none of the above?

Science fails us because once we start down these paths, it gets the cold-willies and stops dead in its tracks.
Faith only gives us a preferred comfort in an unseen deity, not genuine answers to our being.

Determinism outlives itself because it is like a bag with the bottom ripped out... you can put all you want into it but when you get home, nothing is left.

Free will is a good beginning... a place to stake a firm start - in my opinion - because it offers the freedom to sidestep the shortcomings of both science and faith... and it also keeps the bag from ripping open under the weight of the human condition.

Good subject and post.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 07:25 PM
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reply to post by imherejusttoread
 


"the physics simply don't allow that possibility"

True free will would not be bound by ANY science, math, absolute laws of any kind.. By nature of it's definition. When i imagine free will i imagine the being that created any law science may "discover".

Something/Someone with free will would be free to create or dissolve any laws it willed.

Humans live in the delusion of a creators willed reality. And in reality "we" do not exist except as a projection of the true and only beings will.

Free will is as real as Truth itself. Any other context (besides the context of the thing from which everything was willed/made/came from) is not free. it is bound by the creation it deems as real and immutable.

Most people who identify themselves as a separate human living in the universe are bound by all it's rules. Humans have lots of rules. Lots of internal and external pressures and stimuli making them do things. It's easy to identify with all the immediate physical and mental experience. That is the entire purpose of human beings.

Randomness does not exist. It is simply impossible to create true randomness. I think this fact holds an important key into understanding what true free will is.

If a person eliminate every preconception of what they are, they can wake up to the only thing that is real. And that thing is the only thing that has free will. And in reality we are that thing making all of this. One thing.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 07:41 PM
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Originally posted by BenTFH
reply to post by rwfresh
 


Hey rwfresh, thank you for your response!

I agree that Psychology and Philosophy are fighting to say there is no free will. After all, both disciplines, as far as I'm aware, are trying to become recognised as sciences, on a par with the traditional sciences of Physics, Chemistry and Biology?
I'm not as well versed in Philosophy as I am in Psychology, but it makes sense to me for both to be pushing towards a similar goal.

Your reference to THE ONE seems to be a common falling point for researchers of this topic: if cause and effect is as indisputable as we think it is, what is the CAUSE of free will? Or, is free will the cause, and has an effect on something else? Either we'll never know, or it'll be a good shock for our species when we do find out!

Cheers for a really interesting point of view!
Ben


Both are as good as any other science.. nomenclature frameworks used to describe non-reality


Well imagine that we already know everything that can be and all that matters is an individual's awakening.

What if one day you woke up and realized yourself as the very thing that created everything you use to think was real? Would you try and wake everyone else up knowing that everyone else was actually a creation of yours? If YOU understand yourself to be God nothing I am experiencing as an individual self will change unless you willed it. But we are all one thing, God.. and we are already completely free and this is what we are doing/willing. We willed infinite universes, infinite earths, time, gravity, light.. We are already awake.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 08:51 PM
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....Which tends to lead me to believe I am part of an overall larger structure which, I did not create, but within which I do have the power to create. So basically, I believe there is a god, my spirit can sense a tiny bit of "its" creation, and can even help to create a little bit of it for better or worse, but that because I am not aware of all of what encompasses this creation I was not the sole progenitor. But I am one part of the whole.



posted on Feb, 22 2012 @ 09:05 PM
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reply to post by BenTFH
 


When one considers the infinite degree of choices and outcome, it is certainly interesting to ponder. Even with various behavior and influences that might "branch out" as you say, i think it boils down to one simple concept. This concept is one that i found after much contemplation in the free will v. determinism, aid debate which stemmed directly fro religion:

We are free to make any choice we desire (to a degree in that it is within our capacity), and there are an infinite amount of choices we can make over the course of our life. While i do not think there a "god" that has determined everything, as some believe, i think that whatever choice we end up making is the one that is determined. One might argue that it is not determined, then, unless it is made at a point in time, but i believe that in the whole of things, in the world of infinite possibility and choice, and of ALL the various outcomes, the one that we choose is the one that is "determined." Looking to the future, we might have thousands of choices we have not yet made, so it isn't "determined" per se, but the determinism is what we ultimately choose.

I believe we are fated, but i also believe in free will. Our free will creates our fate, which is already lined up; whatever we choose in free will is our fate and is determined.

Somewhere down the line, what i have chosen has already been determined (by the fact of my free will), regardless of what i choose. In essence, free will creates determinism because my free will will always bring whatever outcome i am fated to have made, because i have made it (right or wrong).



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 01:52 AM
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The more free your will is the more danger you are in. The more I run from absolute truth the closer I am to death. Fear and belief are hand in hand. The hidden hand is probably somewhere around here too.....



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 02:04 AM
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Originally posted by FinalAccount2008
The more free your will is the more danger you are in. The more I run from absolute truth the closer I am to death. Fear and belief are hand in hand. The hidden hand is probably somewhere around here too.....


ur conception of freedom is wrong, when freedom is the truth then any free will is a steady constant stand



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