>> I am enslaved if someone physically constrains me or threatens me in
order to make me behave in a certain way; this is also compatible with
either type of brain mechanism.

I would argue that people can be as much enslaved by chains within their
minds, and that belief and habit have the potential to be as powerful a
constraint as bonds of iron can ever be. Habit & belief, once established in
a host brain are exceedingly difficult to root out; they remain and operate
largely unexamined by the person affected by them, generating assumed truth,
unquestioned assumptions and deciding actions and judgments that are
generated from within the inner universe the marvelously and massively
parallel, and also very noisy brains. 

Habit & belief often reflect and enforce external enslavement; we become
habituated into our various assorted lots in life, and after the habit takes
root we are largely driven forward along the desired behavioral patterns by
the well rooted habits inside of us.

And in some senses habitual behavior is a great thing; I love not having to
think about everything that is constantly occurring and which demands a
response from the brain. Habitual behavior to the rescue J

But the unexamined habit and belief can imprison a brain as or even more
effectively than physical imprisonment can.

Apart from this one minor quibble, I agree with the thrust of your argument
that we all intuitively grasp our own "free will" in a most visceral sense,
and that while it cannot be defined precisely or pinned down or proved; that
just because it is a little fuzzy and impossible to rigorously define does
not mean it therefore does not exist or must remain outside of any serious
discussion on such matters.

Even if free will does not exist -- in which case it matter not whether we
believe in it or not - it appears that regardless of whether free will truly
exists or not, our belief in free will is vital for our morality. When we
believe we have free will that we, the inner self-aware agents in our brains
are deciding our actions then we tend to behave in more moral ways;
conversely when we are led to believe that free will does not exist and that
we are chatty marionettes driven by a fundamental determinism or programs
outside of our control then we behave in far less moral manners. 

So, even if we inhabit a deterministic universe, that universe has found it
necessary - in us (self-aware and at least semi-conscious beings)  -- to
develop/evolve this elaborate inner charade, to produce an illusion of free
will that is so perfect in us that few question its existence.

One could argue that the very fact that this very real sensation and
experience of having free will and of being conscious has evolved to the
exquisite degree that it has evolved in us is indicative of a deep
centrality of importance to our being. Believing in free will, which seems
very evolved in us - after all, human individuals, on average, very much
tend to believe in their own free will  --believing in it, independent of
whether it actually exists or not in the underlying physical reality matrix
in which our virtual mental entities are most intimately immersed seems
vital to our being. and on many levels from the moral, to the motivational
and emotional.

Behaviorism misses the mark, sure behaviors can be induced, subjects
controlled through conditioning, but that is merely generating superficial
behavioral effects and demonstrating that behaviors can be imprinted on
minds. It is not therefore a theory of the mind.

It's akin to the torturers belief in the methodology of torture; while it is
true that the one tortured will eventually become broken by torture and seek
above all to please the torturer and will tell them whatever they want to
hear. this in no ways actually implies that anything of value has been
achieved. The information extracted by torture all too often proves to be of
little value. 

Not calling behaviorists torturers although I find their world view tortured
J

The poetry of the mind is not so easily reducible, the esthetics of inner
life cannot be so easily dissected and defined. That which is most beautiful
and real in us. self-emerging within this truly vast dynamic
electro-chemical inner-verse is the mind.

I suspect the mind is rather much more a subtle multi-faceted,
multi-reflecting, dynamically inter-acting and co-evolving self-emergent
entity, which quite self-evidently, transcends the crude attempts of
reducing this symphony to an impoverished assemblage of deterministic
behaviors and mental programs.

-Chris

 

 

From: everything-list@googlegroups.com
[mailto:everything-list@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Craig Weinberg
Sent: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 10:59 AM
To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Determinism - Tricks of the Trade

 



On Monday, August 19, 2013 11:02:00 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:

 

 

On 17 August 2013 04:01, Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com <javascript:> >
wrote:

The objection that the terms 'consciousness' or 'free will' are used in too
many different ways to be understandable is one of the most common arguments
that I run into. I agree that it is a superficially valid objection, but on
deeper consideration, it should be clear that it is a specious and
ideologically driven detour.

The term free will is not as precise as a more scientific term might be (I
tend to use motive, efferent participation, or private intention), but it
isn't nearly the problem that it is made to be in a debate. Any eight year
old knows well enough what free will refers to. Nobody on Earth can fail to
understand the difference between doing something by accident and
intentionally, or between enslavement and freedom. The claim that these
concepts are somehow esoteric doesn't wash, unless you already have an
expectation of a kind of verbal-logical supremacy in which nothing is
allowed to exist until we can agree on a precise set of terms which give it
existence. I think that this expectation is not a neutral or innocuous
position, but actually contaminates the debate over free will, stacking the
deck unintentionally in favor of the determinism.

It is possible to make the distinction between doing something by accident
and intentionally, between enslavement and freedom, while still
acknowledging that brain mechanisms are either determined or random. 


Why would such a distinction be meaningful to a deterministic or random
process though? I think you are smuggling our actual sense of intention into
this theoretical world which is only deterministic-random (unintentional).
 

I do something intentionally if I want to do it and am aware that I am doing
it; this is compatible with either type of brain mechanism. 


Only if you have the possibility of something 'wanting' to do something in
the first place. Wanting doesn't make sense deterministically or randomly.
In the words of Yoda, 'there is no try, either do or do not'.
 

I am enslaved if someone physically constrains me or threatens me in order
to make me behave in a certain way; this is also compatible with either type
of brain mechanism.


In the deterministic universe, you would be enslave no matter what, so what
difference would it make whether your constraint is internally programmatic
or externally modified?
 

It's subtle, but ontologically, it is a bit like letting a burglar talk you
into opening up the door to the house for them since breaking a window would
only make a mess for you to clean up. Because the argument for hard
determinism begins with an assumption that impartiality and objectivity are
inherently desirable in all things, it asks that you put your king in check
from the start. The argument doubles down on this leverage with the
implication that subjective intuition is notoriously naive and flawed, so
that not putting your king in check from the start is framed as a weak
position. This is the James Randi kind of double-bind. If you don't submit
to his rules, then you are already guilty of fraud, and part of his rules
are that you have no say in what his rules will be.

This is the sleight of hand which is also used by Daniel Dennett as well.
What poses as a fair consideration of hard determinism is actually a stealth
maneuver to create determinism - to demand that the subject submit to the
forced disbelief system and become complicit in undermining their own
authority. The irony is that it is only through a personal/social, political
attack on subjectivity that the false perspective of objectivity can be
introduced. It is accepted only by presentation pf an argument of personal
insignificance so that the subject is shamed and bullied into imagining
itself an object. Without knowing it, one person's will has been voluntarily
overpowered and confounded by another person's free will into accepting that
this state of affairs is not really happening. In presenting free will and
consciousness as a kind of stage magic, the materialist magician performs a
meta-magic trick on the audience.

Some questions for determinist thinkers:

*       Can we effectively doubt that we have free will?

I can't effectively doubt that I decide to do something and do it. I can
effectively doubt that my actions are random, that they are determined, or
that they are neither random nor determined


It sounds like you are agreeing with me? 

*       Or is the doubt a mental abstraction which denies the very capacity
for intentional reasoning upon which the doubt itself is based?

Yes: if I intend to do something, I can't doubt that I intend to do it, for
otherwise I wouldn't intend to do it. 


If you doubt anything though, it is because you intend to believe what is
true and your sense is that some proposition is not true. To say "I doubt
that there is a such thing as free will (intention)" is itself an
intentional, free-will act. You are saying not just that there is a sense of
doubt, but that you voluntarily invest your personal authority in that
doubt.
 

*       How would an illusion of doubt be justified, either randomly or
deterministically? What function would an illusion of doubt serve, even in
the most blue-sky hypothetical way?
*       Why wouldn't determinism itself be just as much of an illusion as
free will or doubt under determinism?

Determinism and randomness can be doubted. There is no problem here. 


Only because we live in a universe which supports voluntary intentional
doubt. They couldn't be doubted in a universe which was limited to
determinism and randomness. That's my point. To doubt, you need to be able
to determine personally. Free will is the power not just to predict but to
dictate.
 

Another common derailment is to conflate the position of recognizing the
phenomenon of subjectivity as authentic with religious faith, naive realism,
or soft-headed sentimentality. This also is ironic, as it is an attack on
the ego of the subject, not on the legitimacy of the issue. There is no
reason to presume any theistic belief is implied just because determinism
can be challenged at its root rather than on technicalities. To challenge
determinism at its root requires (appropriately) the freedom to question the
applicability of reductive reasoning to reason itself. The whole question of
free will is to what extent it is an irreducible phenomenon which arises at
the level of the individual. This question is already rendered unspeakable
as soon as the free will advocate agrees to the framing of the debate in
terms which require that they play the role of cross-examined witness to the
prosecutor of determinism.

As soon as the subject is misdirected to focus their attention on the
processes of the sub-personal level, a level where the individual by
definition does not exist, the debate is no longer about the experience of
volition and intention, but of physiology. The 'witness' is then invited to
give a false confession, making the same mistake that the prosecutor makes
in calling the outcome of the debate before it even begins. The foregone
conclusion that physiological processes define psychological experiences
entirely is used to justify itself, and the deterministic ego threatens to
steal from another the very power to exercise control upon which the theft
relies.

For psychology not to be reducible to physiology, something extra would be
needed, such as non-physical soul. 


Then the opposite would have to be true also. For select brain physiology
not to be reducible to psychology, you would need some homunculus running
translation traffic in infinite regress. Non-physical and soul are labels
which are not useful to me. Physics is reducible to sense, and sense tends
to polarize as public and private phenomena.
 

Absent this something extra, the reduction stands. That's my definition of
reductionism. If your definition is different then, according to this
different definition, it could be that reductionism is wrong in this case.


Physical reductionism is wrong because it arbitrarily starts with objects as
real and subjects as somehow other than real. It's not really reductionism,
it's just stealth dualism, where mind-soul is recategorized as an
unspecified non-substance...an 'illusion' or 'emergent property'...which is
just Santa Claus to me as far as awareness goes.
 

It is important to keep in mind that the nature of free will is such that it
is available to us without pretense of explanation. Unless paralysis
interrupts the effectiveness of our will (paralysis being a condition which
proves only that physiology is necessary, but not sufficient), the faculty
of voluntary action is self evident. If we want to open our eyes, no set of
instructions is necessary, nor will any amount of explanation help us open
them if we can't figure out how. Often the deterministic end couches free
will in terms of the power to make 'choices', which injects another bit of
unsupported bias into the debate.

We use free will to make choices, but choices imply a pre-existing set of
conditions from which we choose. This makes it much easier to make the leap
of faith toward the presumption that free will can be successfully reduced
to a computing algorithm. Computers can 'choose', in the sense that they
compute which branch on the logic tree must be followed. What computation
does not do, which free will does, is to lead, and to lead from felt
experience rather than logic. Leading means creativity and intuition, not
merely selecting from strategic simulations.

The logic is in the low level chemical processes. These *never* defy
physics. Fantastically amplified complexity leads from these dumb processes
to the creation of literature and smart phones.


Complexity can only complicate and enhance awareness that is already there.
Low level processes never defy physics because they represent the outermost
periphery of experience. High level processes *always* defy (public)
physics. Feelings have no location, specific gravity, velocity, etc. They
are proprietary and signifying.
 

The game theory <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_theory>  approach to free
will truncates morality and responsibility, reducing not only personhood to
mechanism, but also the door entirely on meaningful, game changing
approaches altogether. Free will allows us not only to elect a single
decision from a set of fixed alternatives, but also to generate new
alternatives which go beyond behaviorism. Our values stem from the quality
of our experience, not just the short term advantages which our actions
might deliver. The choice is up to us, not because the human body can't
function in its environment without an illusion of a decision maker, but
because it isn't just about choice, and the body's survival alone is not
enough to justify the quality of a human experience. Choice is not where
free will begins, any more than opening your eyes begins with an
understanding of eyelids. Experience begins with feeling, not knowing.

It's not an argument against mechanism to say that it will lead to moral
degeneracy. If you are right, then we will all suffer when we see the truth;
but that will not change the truth. 


That is an assumption of mechanism though. The knife can't tell you the
morality of stabbing. If game theory is amoral, it is because it represents
this kind of voluntary self-dilution, a regression to a pre-human
sensibility. If we use that mechanistic logic to judge the decision to use
mechanistic logic, we have as self-fulfilling fallacy...a fallacy that is
hidden by its own nested circularity.

Craig
 




 

-- 
Stathis Papaioannou 

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