Tom Caylor writes (in response to Marvin Minsky):
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?
That's easy: it's logically impossible. When I make a decision, although I take all
the evidence into account, and I know I am more likely to decide one way rather
than another due to my past experiences and due to the way my brain works,
ultimately I feel that I have the freedom to overcome these factors and decide
"freely". But neither do I feel that this free decision will be something random:
I'm not mentally tossing a coin, but choosing according to my beliefs and values.
Do you see the contradiction here? EITHER my decision is determined by my
past experiences, acquired beliefs and values etc., OR it is not, and if it is not,
it is by definition random and unpredictable. (You can also have random but with a
certain weighting according to determined factors, like a weighted roulette wheel,
but that is a variation on random.) So my feeling that my free will is nother has to
be wrong. Still, I'm very attached to that feeling, just as I'm very attached to
certain moral values, and life itself, despite knowing that these are ultimately
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?
Ultimate sources are also a logical impossibility. Suppose we discover that God exists.
Well, what's the purpose of God? Where did he get his moral rules and why should
we accept them as good? Who made him? Of course, you will answer that the buck
stops with God, no-one made him, he is the ultimate good and the ultimate purpose.
But you can't just *define* something to stop the circularity because it makes you
dizzy. If you could, you may as well just stop at the universe itself, sans God.
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