On 9/5/2013 8:34 PM, Chris de Morsella wrote:
*From:*firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] *On
Behalf Of *chris peck
*Sent:* Thursday, September 05, 2013 7:30 AM
*Subject:* RE: When will a computer pass the Turing Test?
/>> //I also do not "KNOW" whether or not I really do have "free will". But if I do not
have "free will" evolution has seen fit to evolve a very expensive -- in evolutionary
terms -- illusion of "free will... To argue that "free will", "self-awareness" etc. are
just noise, of no real value or consequence goes against evolution. Evolution doesn't
work like that. Unless it can be clearly shown that these qualia are inevitable
by-products of some other evolutionarily vital brain function"/
>>You haven't really addressed the ideas raised in my post. I'm not arguing that the
illusion of free will has no consequence I'm arguing that there is no illusion of free
will. And if there is no illusion of free will then there is no reason to drum up some
evolutionary story to justify it.
How do you explain the experience of "free will" then?
Our experience of free will, of having executive decisional power within our own selves
is a distinct, high fidelity, consistently reproducible, experience in us -- I **know**
through direct experience that I experience this in my own self, and I bet long odds
that, even though you deny it, you also experience the sensation of having free will in
your own everyday life.
I agree with Chris Peck. I don't recognize your "drama of unfolding experience" at all.
I cogitate on decisions and make choices. But none of that entails feeling "free will".
Hundreds... thousands maybe, times a day you (or I, or anyone) are being presented with
choices and experiencing the feeling that we are making decisions -- i.e. exercising
free will; we all wrestle with dilemmas in our lives and mull over decisions. Often in
fact the drama of our unfolding experience of this non-existent free will extends over
considerable durations of time and on occasion can dominate an entire life span.
The experience of free will is not a snap shot, instead it unfolds over spans of time
and is experienced as a clearly ordered series of distinctly related emotions, thoughts,
and deep sensations emerging within our focal sense of self.
That just sounds like obfuscation to me.
These temporally arrayed series of distinct feelings, also include often prolonged
virtual reality drama plays (if free will does not exist) in which we find ourselves
wrestling with difficult choices, followed perhaps by a clear sensation of converging on
a decision, and then an experience of deciding that feels clear and distinct in our
inner self-aware sense of being.
Such well rendered dramatic movements all carefully arrayed into a highly orchestrated
sequence is what we experience as our free will. These are subtle experiences and
producing them and stacking them into a temporal sequence and then playing them out in a
manner that is so perfectly acted out inside that it is convincingly real in us -- in so
far as we experience it (without getting into whether it is real or not)
I see two basic options here:
A)If free will exists (and also of course that we have it) then we experience the
sensation of having free will because that is our actual nature (however that happened)
and is in the nature of the universe we exist within.
B)If instead free will does not in fact exist, then explain the dynamic unfolding drama
of our experience of it and do so without providing any sort of rendering mechanism. The
experience is exquisitely and very carefully synchronized and is so convincing in us
that we perceive ourselves as "really" having it? You must show how it is a zero cost
side effect of something else that can clearly be shown to be vital and would
necessarily be a pre-cursor to experiencing free will -- for example consciousness
necessarily must exist in the first place in order for free will to exist.
OR Are you maintain that the experience of free will does not itself exist? (can you
If you concede that the experience of free will does in fact exist in us then you must
concede that something produced that experience, unless you can quite clearly
demonstrate how the experience of free will -- an experience that is so profound in our
species and has been a central theme in so much of our thinking, art, poetry, ideology
throughout history -- is a clear side effect of some precedent thing, such as say
>>Since you talk about qualia I take it that you have something other than the concept of
free will in mind. Its an important distinction because the concept, however incoherent,
clearly does exist. But being an idea has a history describable by semiotics or
memetics, which ever floats your boat.
Experience is subjective for the subject! How can a discussion of free will not involve
a subjective view. Our experience colors our perception of ourselves and of how we
experience ourselves; including our experience of free will, of being presented with
choices and arriving at decisions. A headache may be described objectively in a medical
text, but headaches are experienced subjectively and different people experience them in
different ways. Why should it be different for free will? Is it not still the subject
doing the perceiving? Is not free will something that is inextricably bound up with the
notion of subjectivity? Can you conceive of "free will" without introducing a subject in
which it arises and is experienced?
>>But as for a qualitative feel of 'freeness' that goes hand in hand with the decisions I
make; these qualia are conspicuous by their absence. For sure, when I make day to day
decisions I don't feel under external duress, but that feeling is understandable because
I am not under external duress. I am also aware that there were alternatives available
to me other than the one I in fact choose, and in a sense there were, but when asked to
explain my choice the lexicon of determinism comes to the fore. I talk about the reasons
and causes of my choice. I choose salad over steak because I am worried about being fat.
I am worried about being fat because culture places value upon being slim. Eating steak
will make me fat because my metabolism is slow. My metabolism is slow because of the
genetic hand I was dealt. Nature and nurture, neither of which I have control over,
conspire to drive my decisions.
Perhaps you confuse abstractness with absence
Whatever this set of feelings which you denominate a feeling of 'free will', you have done
nothing to show that they (like other feelings) are just how processing data and making a
decision feels. You have not shown that it requires any additional effort or complexity or
energy over and above that necessary to process the data and make a decision. And so
evolution in providing the means to make decisions favorable to procreation has
necessarily also produced corresponding feelings; just as in providing imaging of EM waves
it has necessarily provided the perception called "seeing".
>> Others on this list have been arguing that we are complex systems that nevertheless
lack the ability to home in on the neural mechanics of our own decision making and
therefore are unable to witness the choices being determined. Thus we don't have a
feeling of being determined. I disagree with them. Our choices feel determined, rather
than free, in precisely the way a determinist would recognise.
I take it you have never wrestled with some difficult decision in your life. Explain in
what way that naturally arises from a deterministic playing out of a program. The drama
that we sometimes experience when faced with the need to choose and the often quite
prolonged inner struggles we go through do not feel predetermined to me. So if they are
the illusion has been constructed, and very carefully so, in my mind at great cost in
terms of the brain activity required in order to render it. This capacity evolved in us
then, it survived selective pressure. Why? What survival benefit does this confer?
To argue that it does not exist then fail to provide an explanation for the sequential
ordered dramatic subjective experience of it is unsatisfactory for me. Either you must
show how these tapestries of interwoven experiences -- call it our "free will" virtual
reality drama (soap opera maybe [grin]) -- that is unfolding within our subjective
experience **is the result of something else** that is precedent and necessary and that
would **naturally produce** the nuanced experience of free will within our subjective
>>In other words, there is no illusion of freewill to explain and in fact when people talk
about their behavior they use language which reflects the determinist's perspective.
And instead I am saying that either free will does exist or if not the temporally
stacked sequentially and dynamically unfolding experience of it (we never know ahead of
time how we are going to ultimately decide) needs to be explained. This experience must
either be a carefully produced drama or it must naturally arise out of something that is
vital to our being and clearly bound up with self-awareness, conscious intelligence etc.
You maintain that no illusion is taking place and that free will does not exist; then
provide the mechanism for the generation of the experience of it?
All the best
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