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PostPosted: August 13th, 2007, 1:28 pm 
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Dhaerow wrote:
If you accept that there is no free will, then you must also accept that the social environment is predetermined, because "social environments" are created by people.

But the environment grew over a long period of time and imho there were lots of daring acts of free will and random factors involved (which you will deny, i.e. we're running into a dead end here).

Dhaerow wrote:
It's either no free will - everything has to be predetermined.
Or free will - things haven't been predetermined since conciousness came along.

There is free will, it's limited in choices that might collide with cultural norms. But on the individual level your decisions are free. Why should some higher force bother whether I put two or three eggs into my omelette? Whether I go to the movies on friday or saturday? Whether I use three sheets of toilet paper to wipe my butt or 20? Whether I write with a blue biro or a black one and what my handwriting looks like?

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just entered Japanese time zone (preparing for jetlag)

Oh, right now? You should have said so earlier because I use to recommend to not sleep at all the night before the flight - that way, since it's hard to sleep in economy class, you arrive half-dead, fall into a bed, sleep 12 hours and get up fresh and clear. Doing so I did not suffer from any jetlag at all. What I thought was jetlag in the beginning was due to the fact that the sun rises pretty early in Japan... I always woke up at half past five. :D

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PostPosted: August 13th, 2007, 2:13 pm 
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"Why should some higher force bother whether I put two or three eggs into my omelette?"

I never said anything about a higher power.

But go ahead and choose as many eggs as you like.

You will think you are making a free decision, but as I explained, you are predestined to -choose- whatever you end up -choosing-.

I see you are an atheist, so, if there is no soul, tell me who is making the decisions - your brain just consists of particles that are fixed in place or bumping into each other in just the right way. Every memory and expirience, every personality trait, acquired or genetic, all those are nothing but a whole lot of particles, existing according to the laws of nature.

Nothing starts moving by itself, something bumps into it to make it move. Cause and reaction.

You said we are bumping into a wall, but please tell me, where is the randomness in this universe? Because free will can only exist in a universe where randomness occour.

"you arrive half-dead, fall into a bed, sleep 12 hours and get up fresh and clear."

That's not really a possibility for me, since I'm on a program from the hour I arrive :P


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PostPosted: August 14th, 2007, 8:45 am 
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Dhaerow wrote:
I see you are an atheist, so, if there is no soul, tell me who is making the decisions

I'm not really an atheist. I just refuse to believe in one and only existing religious scheme.
I do believe in higher powers, but I believe they're rather ignorant rather than good or evil or anything in between. (I have never seen it that way, but you might compare the concept of "The Force" as described in the old StarWars episodes by ObiWan.) I believe these higher powers only give impetus to developments. Like, as far as I know, chemical concoctions (term?) tend to fall apart into simpler forms. Yet evolution does the contrary, building up more complex forms, as you said more or less, from the fist cell to such a complex construction like human bodies, so there must be some driving force.
And I do believe in coincidence. Predetermining a complete universe would create the necessity of a universal/cosmic (infinite?) intelligence - a god, or more of them, but I refuse such concrete concepts.

Dhaerow wrote:
You said we are bumping into a wall

None of us will convince the other.

Dhaerow wrote:
where is the randomness in this universe?

Where is predetermination/absolute destiny in the universe?
It's hard to prove one or the other, which makes it a matter of belief, so please don't ask me for rational explanations. :D


Dhaerow wrote:
free will can only exist in a universe where randomness occour.

To a degree, I believe in both, so that's fine with me.
Free will is there, but it's limited by worldly factors.
Particle movement in space is random but influenced by unknown and unwordly factors.
That's what I believe, so please don't take it too serious.

Dhaerow wrote:
I'm on a program from the hour I arrive

Are these people mad?
I was asked to fill some forms and then they let me sleep and gave me two days do get used to the time. Well, I did choose to arrive on an earliest possible date, so I did have the time at hand...

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PostPosted: August 14th, 2007, 12:13 pm 
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Just read the last posts, all I have to say is my head hurts. :? groann

Okay deep breaths, I'm with 42317 when it come to religion, I really don't fit into any one religion code at large, that's why I'm not a church going man.

As for Destiny, everything preplanned, as abose to free will, utter choas and randomness, I think both are perfectly acturate. I think destiny is like an outline of life laid out by what? Propably god or higher being but not going to get into that. This outline basically outlines things what's goign to happen, when and how. However as any writer will tell you just because everything has a planned direction does not mean how it gets there is planned out. I dare any one to write a story of fifty pages and you'll see what I mean. Free will exists simply because you are not aware of the great plan, just like reality exists only because you are aware of it, because it doesn't really exist we're all just sims in sombody's computer! I dare you to try and prove me wrong!

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PostPosted: August 14th, 2007, 5:59 pm 
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The Adict wrote:
I'm with 42317 when it come to religion

It must hurt you to agree with me of all alternatives. :lol:

The Adict wrote:
However as any writer will tell you just because everything has a planned direction does not mean how it gets there is planned out.

I'm impressed by your comparison. Yeah, really. :D
The writer plans the general direction and maybe some waypoints, but once he engages in the actual writing-process the details come more or less randomly.
Total predetermination presupposes a total will that predetermines things, i.e. it presupposes some form of higher power.
If there is only predetermined cause and effect, how can it be said that there were no higher powers (which Dhaerow wasn't implying, I conclude: he does not believe in such powers)? Maybe I'm thinking too simple, caught in my cultural background, but shouldn't all the supposed predetermination have a cause, too? What would it be if not an incomprehensible higher power?

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PostPosted: August 15th, 2007, 1:44 am 
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"If there is only predetermined cause and effect, how can it be said that there were no higher powers"

When you use a word like predetermined, it seems to imply the existance of some intelligent higher power, because the ability to determine is something we ascribe to intelligent beings.

But in my argument, it is not meant to suggest that someone sad down and planned everything. When i said predetermined (and predestined), i simply meant that it things could happen in no other way. Not because someone decided it to be so, but because, when the big bang began, all the particles of the universe had that exact speed and direction as they had.

Of course you can say that "someone had to place them, they can't come from nothing". But the same applies to a random universe, so it's not worth discussing here.


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PostPosted: August 15th, 2007, 6:06 am 
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Well there's a lot of points brought up so far. I haven't ready everything yet, but I'll just go ahead and share my thoughts:

First of all, to argue that there is no such thing as random events I would have to ask, from which perspective are you referring? For instance, from our perspective, random events do indeed occur. Take the movement of sub-atomic particles: from our perspective, or rather from the quantum physicist's perspective, it is random, in that we cannot predict with absolute certainty where a particle will be located from one instance to the next.

However, if say God were to look upon such an event (assuming of course that such a higher being exists ;)m which for the purposes of this discussion we will) then perhaps it is not quite so random after all, since just because we are unable to calculate simultaneously the velocity and the momentum of a particle simultaneously doesn't mean that God, or some other higher being, cannot.

That brings us to the second question which is this: is it contradictory to say that we have free will (or more accurately "free choice") and yet also say that fate exists and that God, or some other higher being, can foresee the future and know our destinies?

In other words, is free will and predestination inherently contradictory? Well I would have to say the answer is no, not necessarily. Again the key lies in the matter of perspective and the matter of human limitation.

From our perspective, many of the things we do in life are based upon our choices which we make freely (dependent of course upon the circumstances). We obviously don't have a choice in everything we do but for certain things we do definitely believe that we are choosing to do them. So from our human perspective, when we go out to the movies, hang out with friends, deciding which shirt to wear, or perhaps which god to believe in, we freely choose to do those things. From our perspective the fact that we ended up doing something or choosing something is not necessarily a matter of destiny but a matter of choice.

However, what if we again look at this from the perspective of God? If there indeed exists a God that is omnipotent and omniscient (all powerful, all-knowing) it would not be unreasonable to assume that his understanding of the universe and of humans is absolutely perfect and hence it would not be unreasonable to say that he is able to predict with a good deal of certainty, the future. In other words, it would not be unreasonable to contend that God knows what we humans will do -- this would tend to lead to the conclusion that our lives are predetermined.

But does that then mean we didn't have a choice in the first place? Certainly not. Let's assume that God know the future. That does not mean that mean he necessarily creates this future through divine will/interference. Knowledge of the future does not necessarily entail the nonexistence of free will.

Then lets look at this from another angle, and by viewing this angle we can see more clearly that destiny does not contradict free will nor does free will contradict destiny. Looking at our universe, there are certain laws of nature that exist which we cannot break. For instance even if I wanted to I cannot reach the top of Mt. Everest by jumping. The laws of gravity preclude it. However, given the right tools, it certainly is within my ability read the top of mount everest (i.e. a helicopter). Hence the laws of physics preventing me from jumping to the peak of a mountain does not preclude me from getting there by another means. In other words, we have choices in many matters. That implies we have free will. But we also do not have a choice in everything we do. That indicates that our free will is not absolute. (For instance, our past actions limit our choices for the future)

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When i said predetermined (and predestined), i simply meant that it things could happen in no other way. Not because someone decided it to be so, but because, when the big bang began, all the particles of the universe had that exact speed and direction as they had.


Saying that "things could have not happened any other way" is not really true since it certainly could have happened another way, but the probability of it is simply very very small.

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PostPosted: August 15th, 2007, 3:50 pm 
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Just to clarify (should there be any confusion) when I say everything is predetermined, I'm not talking about "destiny", because what destiny means is that things happen to people no matter what they do.

But to me there is no "what they do", everything that will happen to people throughout their lives is determined down to the exact moment of every sneeze, everytime they scratch their head and every letter they type on an internet messaging board. Down to the exact spot and length of every hair on their body and it's exact atomic composition. When the big bang happened, it was predetermined which atoms would come to be a part of your body hair!

"For instance, from our perspective, random events do indeed occur. Take the movement of sub-atomic particles: from our perspective, or rather from the quantum physicist's perspective, it is random"

It's the truth that matters.

The scientist may refer to the phenomena as random or unpredictable, but it only seems so to him because he doesn't know everything about the phenomena. But to he who knows everything (whom i reffered to earlier - call him god if you want), it seems perfectly predictable. Why should we care about the perspective of an ignorant human. The human mind or the strongest super computers might never know enough about the phenomena to predict anything, but that doesn't mean it's not predictable (to he who knows everything).

"but for certain things we do definitely believe that we are choosing to do them"

Again, what does it matter if humans believe they are making choices, if that is not what's true. The only person's beliefs we should care about is he who knows everything.

"it would not be unreasonable to assume that his understanding of the universe and of humans is absolutely perfect and hence it would not be unreasonable to say that he is able to predict with a good deal of certainty, the future."

Why not predict it perfectly? If he knows everything he should be able to do so. Of course he wouldn't know everything if randomness truely existed. Randomness is random because it's completely unpredictable, even to he who knows everything (or god, whoever).

"Hence the laws of physics preventing me from jumping to the peak of a mountain does not preclude me from getting there by another means."

A helicopter is not some magical vehicle that contradicts the laws of physics. And what does this say about the question of determinism anyway? If a person "chose" to jump to the top, it's as much of a "choice" as choosing to go by helicopter. It was predestined that a person would choose to try to jump to the top, and fail, and it was predetermined that a person would try to fly there and succeed.

And i repeat, you will think you choose to go there by helicopter, but you were predetermined to make that choice. When you thought you made a decision, it was in fact decided by personality, fears, desires, memories and the external influences, like someone bringing you forcefully along in the helicopter (and he of course didn't freely make the decision to do so). All of these factors, everything in your brain, everything that makes you you, are some particles combined in a very specific way, and like the particles that the helicopter consists of, they all adhere to the laws of the universe. If randomness doesn't exist in this universe, then nothing caused by these particles will be unpredictable to he who knows everything, and thus predetermined.

Really, that's quite logical. The only way everything could not be predestined, is if randomness occours, so that's what this discussion should be about - does anything suggest that complete unpredictable randomness exists?

Sure some scientists may lable a phenomena as unpredictable, but isn't that just a lame excuse for not understanding it?

I can't really prove that for every cause there is only one possible effect, but it just seem so logical to me. I can't imagine a scenario in which that wouldn't be the case. If people don't agree with me, they should try to convince me wrong on this part.

Uncertainty and unpredictability are terms applied to the accuracy of human knowledge about causes and effects, and not to the causes and effects themselves.

"Saying that "things could have not happened any other way" is not really true since it certainly could have happened another way, but the probability of it is simply very very small."

Probability is only a useful tool for he who doesn't know everything. We humans accept that we know far too little about the universe to make any perfect predictions. A psychologist can barely predict if her patient is going to commit suicide, and it's absolutely impossible to her to predict the exact movement by which he is going to lift the glass with the poisonous pills from the table, in three weeks time. Humans would never be able to predict something like that, but that doesn't mean it's unpredictable from he who knows everything's perspective, and that's the only perspective that counts. [EDIT>] You can use probability to describe human guesses about occurances in the universe, but not occurances in the universe, as they actually happen, unless (again) randomness exists.

I am repeating myself, sorry.


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PostPosted: August 16th, 2007, 2:46 am 
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Dhaerow wrote:
But to me there is no "what they do", everything that will happen people throughout their lives is determined down to the exact moment of every sneeze, everytime they scratch their head and every letter they type on an internet messaging board. Down to the exact spot and length of every hair on their body, it's exact atomic composition. When the big bang happened, it was predetermined which atoms would come to be a part of your body hair!


But what does that have to do with the existence of free will?

Dhaerow wrote:
It's the truth that matters.


Define "truth."

Dhaerow wrote:
The scientist may refer to the phenomena as random or unpredictable, but it only seems so to him because he doesn't know everything about the phenomena. But to he who knows everything (whom i reffered to earlier - call him god if you want), it seems perfectly predictable. Why should we care about the perspective of an ignorant human. The human mind or the strongest super computers might never know enough about the phenomena to predict anything, but that doesn't mean it's not predictable (to he who knows everything).


Or so you assume. There is no way for you to KNOW this with absolute certainty. It is something that you believe, just as humans having some measure of free will is something that I believe.

Dhaerow wrote:
Again, what does it matter if humans believe they are making choices, if that is not what's true. The only person's beliefs we should care about is he who knows everything.


Again you need to define what you mean by "truth."

Dhaerow wrote:
Why not predict it perfectly? If he knows everything he should be able to do so. Of course he wouldn't know everything if randomness truely existed. Randomness is random because it's completely unpredictable, even to he who knows everything (or god, whoever).


Not necessarily. God, if he exists, does not have to exist in the physical realm, does not not have to be bound by the laws of the universe that we mortals live in. As I've said, free will or determinism can be seen as matters of perspective. And since it is impossible for us to know for certain what God or some other higher being's perspective on this matter will be, the best (unbiased) conclusion we can come up with is that it is a matter of perspective.

Dhaerow wrote:
Really, that's quite logical. The only way everything could not be predestined, is if randomness occour, so that's what this discussion should be about - does anything suggest that complete unpredictable randomness exists?


That's one point you're missing: proving determinism does not disprove free will. (more on this later)

Dhaerow wrote:
Sure some scientists may lable a phenomena as unpredictable, but isn't that just a lame excuse for not understanding it?


Scientists aren't trying to make excuses. This subject has been studied at length and several conclusions have been made. I didn't really want to discuss science, but I guess I have to:

1. Events occur according to statistical distributions derived from quantum equations
2. If we look at an elemental particle, if it can go right or left, it is inherently impossible to determine, with absolute certainty, which way it will go.
3. The best we can do is look at the statistical probability of whether it will go left or right.

Certain Einstein and other scientists have argued that, for whatever reason, there must a deterministic system underlining quantum mechanics. However, it is so far eluded us, and in fact there is very little evidence to suggest we will ever discover such as system.

In any case, none of that really has anything to do with the question on hand, which is whether or not free will exists.

Dhaerow wrote:
I can't really prove that for every cause there is only one possible effect, but it just seem so logical to me. I can't imagine a scenario in which that wouldn't be the case. If people don't agree with me, they should try to convince me wrong on this part.


Okay. But how does causality disprove free will? Free will after all exerts its influence through causal relationships.

Dhaerow wrote:
Probability is only a useful tool for he who doesn't know everything. We humans accept that we know for too little about the universe to make any perfect predictions. A psychologist can barely predict if her patient is going to commit suicide, and it's simply impossible to her to predict the exact movement by which he is going to lift the glass with the poisonous pills from the table, in three weeks. Humans would never be able to predict something like that, but that doesn't mean it's unpredictable from he who knows everything's perspective, and that's the only perspective that counts.


But that's just speculation on your part. You're basically trying to argue that only one perspective is correct, when neither can be proven.

Anyway, now to the point I was trying to make: here's the thing, even if random events don't occur, that is not sufficient evidence to conclude that free will does not exist (and for the record, I do not believe that completely random events occur ;)). In fact to associate free will with randomness is pretty erroneous in the first place. But first we need to define what the "free" part of "free will" means. Does it mean free from causality or materialism? Certainly not. No man is free from causality. Rather, the it means free from restraint or compulsion. Causality provides a set of rules, or constraints but it does not prevent freedom (it is not coercive). If you look at the force of Gravity, it limits the ability of a person to jump, but it doesn't prevent jumping.

Hence, free will is not "uncaused" nor is it "random." Rather free will manifests its effectualness through causal relationships. But wait, isn't this basically saying that free will is really the product of causal factors? Yes. But that does not distract from the existence of free will.

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PostPosted: August 16th, 2007, 4:12 am 
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Please excuse typos. I may correct them after finishing packing.

"But what does that have to do with the existence of free will?"

To me it seems pretty obvious. In a world where everything is predetermined, there is only one way for everything to happen. What I understand by "free will" is the ability to make decisions. The idea that I control my own body. But if every choice I'm going to make in my life was determined at the time of the big bang (or before), that can't possibly be the case. If there is a fault with my logic here, please point it out.

"Define "truth.""

Reality.

"Or so you assume. There is no way for you to KNOW this with absolute certainty. It is something that you believe, just as humans having some measure of free will is something that I believe."

It's pretty obvious that this is what I assume, who else should I be speaking for than myself? I won't bother putting "I think" in front of every sentence. I know what you believe, and obviously I think you are wrong.

"Again you need to define what you mean by "truth.""

Reality.

"Not necessarily. God, if he exists, does not have to exist in the physical realm, does not not have to be bound by the laws of the universe that we mortals live in."

It's really convinient to go god, but nothing ever measured (to quote Niels Bohr: "nothing exists untill it is measured) directly suggests that a place exist that doesn't adhere to the same rules as all the particles that this universe consists of (but let's not touch this one, I will be leaving the airport soon).

Sure, things in this universe might not adhere to the mathmatical formulas humans use to try to describe these laws, but that's only logical, when you think about how little we know about the universe.

Yes, my whole argument is based on the universal prescense of these laws. And yes, you could state my belief in those are no more valid than your belief in god, but throughout my life on earth, everything I have expirienced and learned, suggests there is nothing which is unpredictable, just lack of understanding. And for something to be predictably, it has to be a law, meaning that, well, it's how things are.

500 years ago many people would have though the weather was unpredictable and random. At least those who didn't take the easy way out and declared it all the will of some god. But through an improved understanding, we have become able to predict it with some certainty. The more we learn about the universe around us, the more accurately we have been able to predict it. We will never be able to predict it perfectly, because there is a limit to human understanding (and that actually pretty damn far from being able to predict with 100% certainty, I think). It will probably always seem just a bit random to humans, but just because we don't understand it, do we have any reason to believe that actually is random?

[EDIT]

Yes, it's pretty obvious that I am a materialist (in the philosophical sense), but I hope this will not turn into a discussion about materialism (on which much of my argumentation relies), because I will have to bail out.

"As I've said, free will or determinism can be seen as matters of perspective. And since it is impossible for us to know for certain what God or some other higher being's perspective on this matter will be, the best (unbiased) conclusion we can come up with is that it is a matter of perspective."

What is it with your "perspective"? I believe we live within one reality, I have never heard anything suggesting that it wouldn't be the case. This reality doesn't change according to perspective. There is one true reality no matter whoose eyes you look through. It's true that different eyes may expirience the reality differently, but there is still only one true reality - the universe as it physically exists. Because some ignorant fool believes the earh is flat, doesn't mean that we should consider his beliefs egual to the guy with a Ph.D. in astronomy. We simply wouldn't get anywhere.

Human knowledge about the universe suggests that the more we know about it, the more we can predict it's behaiviour. I take this further, and says, if a hypotehetical being, he who knows everything, existed, that he would be able to predict everything, and saying that everything is predictable is the same as saying its predetermined, deterministic.

"Scientists aren't trying to make excuses. This subject has been studied at length and several conclusions have been made. I didn't really want to discuss science, but I guess I have to:"

Now er are getting there! The discussion about wether randomness exists or not. Because a universe without randomness has to be deterministic. But really, there isn't much I can do when someone tells me that the scientist says I'm wrong. Maybe, probably, the scientist is right, but I still hope to see some evidence that I can understand, instead of just accepting "well, he must know better than me". It would make arguments much shorter and less interesting.

"3. The best we can do is look at the statistical probability of whether it will go left or right."

"The best we can do". It may be the best we can do, but I am tempted to believe that if, hypothetically, we could do it perfectly, we wouldn't have to rely on probability. I quote myself:

"You can use probability to describe human guesses about occurances in the universe, but not occurances in the universe, as they actually happen, unless (again) randomness exists."

"very little evidence to suggest we will ever discover such as system."

As I said, humans will probably never learn enough about the universe to be able to predict anything with near certainty, but, I quote myself:

"Uncertainty and unpredictability are terms applied to the accuracy of human knowledge about causes and effects, and not to the causes and effects themselves."

It really just sounds like a lame excuse. The same has been said about other occurances many times throughout history, before we learned enough about that to conclude that they were deterministic.

"But that's just speculation on your part. You're basically trying to argue that only one perspective is correct, when neither can be proven."

In this universe, as humans, it is pretty damn hard to prove anything with absolute certainty. We are actually arguing which is more likely, not which is true, because likely is all we have. There is no sense in stopping a discussion before it begins because "well you have your opinion/belief, i have mine, and neither can be proven". No one would get smarter.

"Does it mean free from causality or materialism? Certainly not. No man is free from causality. Rather, the it means free from restraint or compulsion. Causality provides a set of rules, or constraints but it does not prevent freedom (it is not coercive). If you look at the force of Gravity, it limits the ability of a person to jump, but it doesn't prevent jumping."

Please refer to beginning of post. I keep thinking you pass over me.


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PostPosted: August 16th, 2007, 5:34 am 
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Dhaerow wrote:
To me it seems pretty obvious. In a world where everything is predetermined, there is only one way for everything to happen.


Again, this statement, even if true, does not preclude the existence of free will, which is the point I've been making. Even if everything is predetermined, free will can still exist. "Will" is an aspect of the self (including desires, tendencies, etc), and "free will" is will that is not coerced. Hence, even if everything is predetermined, and "free will" itself arose from causality, that does not preclude its existence. The self still exists, and the will still exists. And since causality is not necessarily coercive (well unless you believe in fatalism) then it is logical to conclude that the will has a certain amount of freedom to manifest itself. In other words, while the eventual result of our choices may have already been determined by causality, we still make those decisions with considerable freedom.

The key heres lies in the difference between the macrocosm and the microcosm, or the "big picture" vs the "small picture." The laws of the universe that are very much true from a cosmic perspective are not necessarily true from a quantum perspective.

Dhaerow wrote:
What I understand by "free will" is the ability to make decisions. The idea that I control my own body. But if every choice I'm going to make in my life was determined at the time of the big bang (or before), that can't possibly be the case. If there is a fault with my logic here, please point it out.


Okay, now I'm going to get at this from a different angle. If it is not the will that makes choices, then what does? The laws of physics?

I understand where you're argument comes from (i.e. everything is just made up of elementary particles that happen to bump into each other in different ways) but if we were to break it down to that level, then we would have to acknowledge that the laws of physics that apply from the cosmic perspective no longer apply in the microcosm of sub-atomic particle interactions. So from this view, the most logical conclusion would be that everything is completely unpredictable and random.

But, alas you protest that this is just a lame excuse so instead you come up with another, more satisfying idea that somehow determinism that applies to the cosmic realm (i.e. Newtonian physics) somehow also applies to the quantum realm, even though all of our scientific discoveries in this area says otherwise. And bingo, we have a winner: from the big bang onward (which was the original causal event that started a chain of causality) everything had already been decided.

But now I must ask, how is this any less convenient of a theory than saying that everything is unpredictable? Saying that every action has a cause is the same as saying there is no cause in that neither is more convenient or more of a "lame" excuse than the other.

Dhaerow wrote:
Reality.


Reality as in what we can observe and measure through empirical methods? Is that what you are referring to?

Dhaerow wrote:
It's really convinient to go god, but nothing ever measured (to quote Niels Bohr: "nothing exists untill it is measured) directly suggests that a place exist that doesn't adhere to the same rules as all the particles that this universe consists of (but let's not touch this one, I will be leaving the airport soon).


Ah convenient again is it? So how is that more convenient to go the God route then to say that there is only one result from any one cause?

Dhaerow wrote:
Sure, things in this universe might not adhere to the mathmatical formulas humans use to try to describe these laws, but that's only logical, when you think about how little we know about the universe.


So given how little we know, why is it so difficult to conceive of the idea that not every action leads to a single, definite reaction? Especially when our common sense strongly affirms this.

Dhaerow wrote:
Yes, my whole argument is based on the universal prescense of these laws. And yes, you could state my belief in those are no more valid than your belief in god, but throughout my life on earth, everything I have expirienced and learned, suggests there is nothing which is unpredictable, just lack of understanding. And for something to be predictably, it has to be a law, meaning that, well, it's how things are.


But these "laws" you speak of only apply to the macro-realm, not the micro-realm of the subatomic. This is why I keep pointing out that it's a matter of perspective.

Dhaerow wrote:
500 years ago many people would have though the weather was unpredictable and random. At least those who didn't take the easy way out and declared it all the will of some god. But through an improved understanding, we have become able to predict it with some certainty. The more we learn about the universe around us, the more accurately we have been able to predict it. We will never be able to predict it perfectly, because there is a limit to human understanding (and that actually pretty damn far from being able to predict with 100% certainty, I think). It will probably always seem just a bit random to humans, but just because we don't understand it, do we have any reason to believe that actually is random?


And just because we don't understand, why do we have any reason to believe that there is a definite cause?

Dhaerow wrote:
What is it with your "perspective"? I believe we live within one reality, I have never heard anything suggesting that it wouldn't be the case. This reality doesn't change according to perspective. There is one true reality no matter whoose eyes you look through. It's true that different eyes may expirience the reality differently, but there is still only one true reality - the universe as it physically exists. Because some ignorant fool believes the earh is flat, doesn't mean that we should consider his beliefs egual to the guy with a Ph.D. in astronomy. We simply wouldn't get anywhere.


I talk about different perspectives because physical laws which apply on the cosmic scale do not apply to a subatomic scale. Newtons laws of physics are perfectly fine for going to the moon, but they fall apart when we are trying to study the nature of elementary particles. The same for causality. Causality makes sense from the Newtonian cosmic perspective because according to Newton's laws, everything is predictable. But again, it falls apart in the subatomic world in which we can only speak of probabilities and in which matter can pop in and out of existence.

Dhaerow wrote:
Human knowledge about the universe suggests that the more we know about it, the more we can predict it's behaiviour. I take this further, and says, if a hypotehetical being, he who knows everything, existed, that he would be able to predict everything, and saying that everything is predictable is the same as saying its predetermined, deterministic.


Not true. Your statement an all-knowing being would be able to predict everything. Yes but only if the universe is perfect. Already we've seen that things get fuzzy in the subatomic world.

Dhaerow wrote:
"The best we can do". It may be the best we can do, but I am tempted to believe that if, hypothetically, we could do it perfectly, we wouldn't have to rely on probability. I quote myself:


Again, only if the universe is perfect.

Dhaerow wrote:
"Uncertainty and unpredictability are terms applied to the accuracy of human knowledge about causes and effects, and not to the causes and effects themselves."


Why because you don't believe that it's possible for an isolated system to be inherently unpredictable?

Dhaerow wrote:
It really just sounds like a lame excuse. The same has been said about other occurances many times throughout history, before we learned enough about that to conclude that they were deterministic.


Actually I would argue that determinism has much longer history than the concept of free will, especially when you consider religious undertones.

Dhaerow wrote:
In this universe, as humans, it is pretty damn hard to prove anything with absolute certainty. We are actually arguing which is more likely, not which is true, because likely is all we have. There is no sense in stopping a discussion before it begins because "well you have your opinion/belief, i have mine, and neither can be proven". No one would get smarter.


True, but we can reasonably conclude whether something is probable or not, or is logical or not. And as I've said, determinism is only logical from a cosmic perspective. And also I just wanted to encourage people to remain open-minded. It's nonsensical to believe something to the point where any disagreement would only result in aggressive defensive maneuvers. It's one thing to believe in absolutes, but it's quite another to believe absolutely.

Finally, I'll end it with a very down-to-earth, common sense approach. And for this I will go to a quote that I remember reading sometime ago:

"Who would deny that we have Free Will when we put one foot in front of the other and decide, of our own volition, of our own Free Will, to go for a walk or not go for a walk? It is clearly irrational to believe that a chain of causality at the time of the Big Bang determines if we go for a walk this afternoon, or not."

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PostPosted: August 16th, 2007, 7:40 am 
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Again, I apologize for typos... I am really sleepy... And still haven't started packing, sigh.

"Even if everything is predetermined, free will can still exist. "Will" is an aspect of the self (including desires, tendencies, etc), and "free will" is will that is not coerced. Hence, even if everything is predetermined, and "free will" itself arose from causality, that does not preclude its existence."

I see, so your point has been that what I understand by free will is not what is generally understood. This may be the case, but from my posts it has been pretty clear exactly what I meant.

"And since causality is not necessarily coercive (well unless you believe in fatalism) then it is logical to conclude that the will has a certain amount of freedom to manifest itself."

I don't see that as a logical conclusion, if what makes up one's will is as deterministic as the rest of the universe (wich is completely deterministic, as I believe).

"while the eventual result of our choices may have already been determined by causality"

Eventual result? You mean that the choice itself may have been predetermined, right?

"we still make those decisions with considerable freedom."

...because then I guess it depends on how you view freedom. At least it is not freedom to change what's predetermined.

"The laws of the universe that are very much true from a cosmic perspective are not necessarily true from a quantum perspective."

The laws of the universe, I believe (I use "believe" not to dodge counterarguments, but because I simply won't have time to carry this discussion much further I am afraid - so well, actually I use it to dodge...), applies to all of this materialistic reality, of which all of the cosmos and every atomic and subatomic particle it contains, is a part.

Most (if not all) physical "laws" we humans have discovered, actually don't deserve to be called by that name, because a law has to be universal. The fact that the imperfect human laws don't apply to all of the known universe, doesn't mean that there are no overriding universal laws that does.

Throughout the history of science, we have had many "laws" with very limited usability. As we learned more about the universe and the forces that govern it, these were later replaced by more general laws with wider usability.

"Okay, now I'm going to get at this from a different angle. If it is not the will that makes choices, then what does? The laws of physics?"

I guess you can say it's the will that makes choices (or is a part of the choice making process), but will, as the rest of what makes up one's "self", is a material phenomena. Thus, a human's will (like every thought) must be deterministic too. The will "makes" the choices, but it's not like it would be possible for it to make any other choice.

"idea that somehow determinism that applies to the cosmic realm (i.e. Newtonian physics) somehow also applies to the quantum realm, even though all of our scientific discoveries in this area says otherwise."

Well, as I said (sorry to repeat myself again), i believe there are universal deterministic laws that explain both newtonian physics and the behaivour of particles in the quantum "realm".

"And bingo, we have a winner: from the big bang onward (which was the original causal event that started a chain of causality) everything had already been decided."

Well, yes :D

"But now I must ask, how is this any less convenient of a theory than saying that everything is unpredictable? Saying that every action has a cause is the same as saying there is no cause in that neither is more convenient or more of a "lame" excuse than the other. ... Ah convenient again is it? So how is that more convenient to go the God route then to say that there is only one result from any one cause? ... So given how little we know, why is it so difficult to conceive of the idea that not every action leads to a single, definite reaction? Especially when our common sense strongly affirms this."

At this point it hits me that it is actually pretty hard to come up with a strong arguement for my view.

Well, to explain what makes me believe in a predetermined universe. To me, true randomness seems like such an unbeliveable and abtract concept/idea. It seems so "unnatural" (ununiversal? :P). Why should something like this exist? It's more difficult for my mind to grasp than the concepts of eternity or eternal dimensions. I have seen no evidence that suggests that randomness has to exist, so since the universe makes just as much sense without it, to me at least, it is easier for me to imagine/belive in a deterministic one.

At least my common sense doesn't at all affirm that randomness or free will (as I understood it) exists. When I look back, it seems perfectly plausible to me, that every decision I have made was a direct result of my state of mind at the time and input from the environment. And it seems perfectly plausible to me that my consciousness (whatever that is) wasn't responsible for my state of mind, but rather, my state of mind was responsible for my consciousness (do you follow me...?).

(I have this idea that the physological means by which humans live and act upon their environment are purely "mechanical" in nature, and that [this will sound abstract] if all consciousness suddenly disappeared from the world, everything would still look at it does today. Really, humans are just mother nature's robots, and consciousness is a weird byproduct, that has no influence on the working and actions of these robots. This fits well within my materealistic, deterministic, predetermined universe. But I haven't really given it that much thought. That's another argument, for another time.)

But really, there is no way to rule out the possibility of a random universe. You may be right (you seem to know a great deal more about physics than me) that we have already discovered the source (?) of this randomness, I just find it hard to believe, but hey, what do I know - I'm no scientist.

And to those people to whom a random universe seems most ...natural, I can't really think up any strong argument to change their minds, I now realise.

After all, this seems to be one of those discussions where both parties will go to sleep with the same belief. Sigh, no one became smarter. But maybe you have something up your sleeve that will convince me.

"But these "laws" you speak of only apply to the macro-realm, not the micro-realm of the subatomic. This is why I keep pointing out that it's a matter of perspective."

I don't like to divide the universe into realms.

"And just because we don't understand, why do we have any reason to believe that there is a definite cause?"

It just seems like a logical extension of most of what we know about the universe today. Human science is basicly studying the universe in order to be able to predict more accurately. We have studied, and breakthrough by breakthrough, we've become able to predict it more accurately.

Why should we believe that an abstract and strange idea like randomness is governing our universe, just because we have ran into yet another part of the universe that is hard to measure, understand and predict? It's not that the presence of randomness would fit like some missing piece and suddenly everything about the universe would seem make sense, once we accepted its existance. When a universe without randomness is as easy, if not easier, to understand, why should we give it the benefit of the doubt? But maybe it only seems like that to me?

"Not true. Your statement an all-knowing being would be able to predict everything. Yes but only if the universe is perfect. Already we've seen that things get fuzzy in the subatomic world."

Yup, only in a perfect universe.

"Actually I would argue that determinism has much longer history than the concept of free will, especially when you consider religious undertones."

Well I just used "deterministic" as synonymous with predetermined here. My bad.

"True, but we can reasonably conclude whether something is probable or not, or is logical or not."

Exactly.

"It's nonsensical to believe something to the point where any disagreement would only result in aggressive defensive maneuvers."

We can all agree that beliving blindly in something is bad, but it's through trying to defend our arguements logically (agressively or not) that we learn most about the validity (... in lact of better word) of our opinions and beliefs.


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PostPosted: August 16th, 2007, 6:25 pm 
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Dhaerow wrote:
Not because someone decided it to be so, but because, when the big bang began, all the particles of the universe had that exact speed and direction as they had.

I can see that you say that everything that happens was predetermined by the mode of movement given to particles by the Big Bang. But how can that apply to non-material things? Like, the way I feel? My interests and dislikes? Is thinking - a thought - a material process!?
At least I don't think so. And that's why I believe in "my way" of a free will, even if the universe's events have been predetermined by particle movement from the latest Big Bang until the next one.

Dhaerow wrote:
Sure some scientists may lable a phenomena as unpredictable, but isn't that just a lame excuse for not understanding it?

Actually, that's an offence for any determined scientist. A "lame excuse" is something being used despite better knowledge? Whether they fully understand phenomena or not, I trust scientists publish information to the best of their abilities. The future might prove them wrong, but I'm sure they're rightuously convinced of their doing.

Dhaerow wrote:
Reality

As you later said, reality is a matter of perception, seen from a certain perspective.
You say there was a universal reality beyond all our individual and biased perceptions.
Well, maybe there is, but since we are imperfect human beings, we will never know.
I guess this is one of the questions that Gautama Buddha said were not worth pondering because it won't change a thing or won't come to a final satisfying conclusion.

Dhaerow wrote:
Niels Bohr: "nothing exists until it is measured"

That's a statement as strange as "If it doesn't have a name, it does not exist."
Because again, we are talking about perception. Our limited human point of view denies us realizing a great many things, just because they are (physically) too far away. Things without names don't exist in our consciousness, we are not aware of them, we cannot measure the extent of their influence on our lives, but they might still be there.

Dhaerow wrote:
There is no sense in stopping a discussion before it begins because "well you have your opinion/belief, i have mine, and neither can be proven". No one would get smarter.

That's not the point. A discussion is not all about convincing somebody of something. It is as important to hear out other people, about the way they feel and think, the way they offer their arguments. Even if you don't accept the other's opinion you are becoming smarter, since you might find angle to the topic in question which you could not see before. I find all that very interesting.

Dhaerow wrote:
The will "makes" the choices, but it's not like it would be possible for it to make any other choice.

So, why are choices sometimes so hard to make if there's really only one way to go?
Is the self-deception we call a "mind" or "common sense" the answer to all this?
(Because I conlude that in your opinion consciousness does not exist.)

Dhaerow wrote:
(Randomness is) more difficult for my mind to grasp than the concepts of eternity or eternal dimensions.

You have interesting abilities. I find it easier to believe that some things cannot be predicted (yes, at least with current scientific methods) than to imagine eternity or infinity.

Dhaerow wrote:
my state of mind was responsible for my consciousness (do you follow me...?).

Sounds reasonable. If you're mad you'll see the world in a different light. :D

Dhaerow wrote:
And to those people to whom a random universe seems most ...natural, I can't really think up any strong argument to change their minds, I now realise.

I already said that days ago, obviously you didn't believe me. 8)
But today I also said that imho that's not the ultimate point of a friendly and civil discussion, so don't worry. I was very impressed by your presentations.

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PostPosted: August 16th, 2007, 10:50 pm 
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"Actually, that's an offence for any determined scientist. A "lame excuse" is something being used despite better knowledge?"

I didn't consider the scientists' feelings when I made that thoughtless remark. Really, like you I believe most scientists are doimg a great job, trying to understand complicated things.

The reason I called it an excuse is because "it's totally random/unpredictable/unmeasurable", has been used quite a few times before, and didn't turn out to be true*. Rather "ununderstandable" should be used :P. The reason I called it lame is because i find it annoying. But you know what I meant.

*At least on the "macroscopic" level.

"Well, maybe there is, but since we are imperfect human beings, we will never know.
I guess this is one of the questions that Gautama Buddha said were not worth pondering because it won't change a thing or won't come to a final satisfying conclusion."


Well, but it's still interesting to ponder over. And it's true we will never know for sure, but some beliefs are more probable than others, and some belives seem more probable to be probable than others. I'm one of the people who would lime my believes to be at probable as possible.

"That's a statement as strange as "If it doesn't have a name, it does not exist."

Well, Niels Bohr was a sceintist and not a philosopher. You should take it with a grain of salt. I read it like he was saying that we can't use ideas with no scientific evidence as arguments in scientific discussions - it would get us nowhere. I may be wrong, but whatever - this quote was not central to my argument.

"Even if you don't accept the other's opinion you are becoming smarter, since you might find angle to the topic in question which you could not see before. I find all that very interesting."

Yes, as I said. Through defending your own opinions/believes you come to know more about them. If a discussion was succesful, someone has to walk a way smarter (at least thinking so) than he arrived.

I'm off to Japan 8) ... in 24 hours, see you. It was an interestign discussion.


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PostPosted: August 17th, 2007, 6:20 am 
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I think the reason why we sometimes have difficult imagining randomness is because we are so accustomed, especially in traditional scientific terms, to assuming that events the world follow the cause and effect law, in that effects need causes (whether its a single effect per cause or multiple causes per effect or multiple effects per cause). However, one ultimately runs into the problem of the "original cause" in that if all events have causes then there cannot be an "original cause" since such concept would violate the condition that all events must have causes. Hence the closest one can get is to say that "all events have causes, except for the original cause." But then if the "original cause" had no cause wouldn't that imply that randomness exists?

Okay, so the big bang was the original causality factor. Great. But what then caused the big bang? What caused the cause that caused the big bang?

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