Tom Caylor wrote:

On Dec 26, 7:53 pm, Brent Meeker <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
Tom Caylor wrote:

> On Dec 26, 3:59 pm, "[EMAIL PROTECTED]" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
> wrote:
>> I regard the idea of "believing" to be unsound, because it is a
>> pre-Freudian concept, which assumes that each person has a "single
>> self" that maintains beliefs.  A more realistic view is that each
>> person is constantly switching among various different "ways to think"
>> in which different assertions, statements, or bodies of knowledge keep
>> changing their status, etc.  Accordingly our "sets of beliefs" can
>> include many conflicts--and in different mental contexts, those
>> inconsistencies may get resolved in different ways, perhaps depending
>> on one's current priorities, etc.

> Dr. Minsky,

> In your book, Society of Mind, you talk about a belief in freedom of
> will:

> "The physical world provides no room for freedom of will...That concept
> is essential to our models of the mental realm. Too much of our
> psychology is based on it for us to ever give it up. We're virtually
> forced to maintain that belief, even though we know it's false."

Whether it is false depends on what you mean by free will. Dennett argues persuasively in "Elbow Room" that we have all the freedom of will that matters. Our actions arise out of who we are. If you conceive yourself comprehensively, all your memories, values, knowledge, etc. then you are the author of your action. If you conceive yourself as small enough, you can escape all responsibility.

> Are you saying that we must use an unsound idea (belief)?

> Regarding Stathis' question to you about truth, your calling the idea
> of believing unsound seems to imply that you are assuming that there is
> no truth that we can discover.  But on the other hand, if there is no
> discoverable truth, then how can we know that something, like the
> existence of freedom of will, is false?

> However, the belief in freedom of will seems to be a belief that is
> rather constant, so there seem to be some beliefs that provide evidence
> for an invariant reality and truth, not necessarily freedom of will,
> but something.  And I think that looking for ultimate sources would be
> circular (as you've said on the Atheist List) only if there were no
> ultimate source that we could find.  Do you agree with this statement?

It would be futile - but not circular. It is circular to argue that belief is evidence for the thing believed.

Brent Meeker

I was providing a belief as evidence not for free will but for some
invariant reality/truth, e.g. the source of actions in your words, "who
we are".

OK.  But we know of many beliefs that are false and people sometimes act on 
false as well as true beliefs.  Since it is circular to argue that a belief is 
evidence for the thing believed, then it is also circular to argue from belief 
in general to the existence of truth in general.  A fortiori it is circular to 
argue from a single belief, belief in free will, to the existence of truth in 
general or to any true statement, except that some people believe in free will.

Brent Meeker

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