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Since we have no free will, what purpose does/did consciousness serve?


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#101 Bender

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 07:06 PM

It is not because it is purely chemical that it is an illusion. We just aren't "more conscious" than a complex computer.

 

Determinism also doesn't contradict free will. We are a bunch of chemical reactions, so if those chemical reactions make a decision, it is our decision.


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#102 Delta1212

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Posted Yesterday, 02:30 AM

It is not because it is purely chemical that it is an illusion. We just aren't "more conscious" than a complex computer.
 
Determinism also doesn't contradict free will. We are a bunch of chemical reactions, so if those chemical reactions make a decision, it is our decision.


I support the sentiment of the first statement in the abstract but we're not there yet technologically so it's still a hypothetical computer and we don't have direct evidence this is true.

Philosophically, I agree entirely with the second statement.
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#103 delboy

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Posted Yesterday, 01:23 PM

I think I get it. We are just inevitable chemical reactions, but that is also the same as free will and consciousness.

 

Bit difficult to get your head around, but then no one knows where thoughts and consciousness come from so understandable I guess. Or are you suggesting it just comes from increased complexity?


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#104 StringJunky

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Posted Yesterday, 02:06 PM

I think I get it. We are just inevitable chemical reactions, but that is also the same as free will and consciousness.

 

Bit difficult to get your head around, but then no one knows where thoughts and consciousness come from so understandable I guess. Or are you suggesting it just comes from increased complexity?

The way i look at is: a baby and an adult's emotions are the same set. Let's assume emotions are the drivers/motivators, the difference  between the two is one of nuance and complexity. The adult will refine how they get what they want whereas a young child will just try and take what they want, with no consideration for the consequences or effects on others of their actions. So, increasing consciousness can be one of increasing sensitivity and subtlety, or even deviousness if their intent is completely selfish. 

 

The purported determinism comes from the fact that elements, compounds react in predictable ways in a given set of conditions, and then, determinists extend and extrapolate that to mean that freewill is not possible because at the lower level things are determined.


Edited by StringJunky, Yesterday, 02:07 PM.

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#105 iNow

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Posted Yesterday, 04:23 PM

Bender, I've had major trouble with the "number 2"

Have you considered laxatives?
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#106 Eise

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Posted Yesterday, 04:50 PM

This is a subject I nearly started a thread about a while back. And apologies, I've not read all the thread so might be repeating a bit. I find it difficult to understand that we have free will since I can't imagine where it comes from. OK, I know that's no argument but I also think no one has come up with any explanation how it arose. 
 
My thinking goes like this. RNA/DNA came about by inevitable chemical reactions. It began to copy - by inevitable chemical reactions - and evolution set in. The reactions became more complex, and therefore the cells became more complex. Eventually we get multicellularity and nerve cells. Still all inevitable chemical reactions?? Then we get an animal that can make choices, for example to fight or flee a situation. Is this still the result of a highly complex set of inevitable chemical reactions? Without an explanation of how thoughts or consciousness work, don't we have to think that? If not, when did it change and how? Even assuming the existence of consciousness, surely it must have a purely chemical basis. So it's just a bit of an illusion really. 
 
I think this kind of thinking is what some of the posts from a few days ago where alluding to.

 
Hi Delboy,
 
This depends on what you think free will is. If you think it must be some soul that can interfere with the (practically) causal universe, then of course it does not exist. However, if you think the 'soul' is nothing else then the functioning brain, you have another problem. Saying you are your brain implies that you cannot say that you are forced by your brain in acting in certain ways: something cannot force itself. So whatever free will is, you are not forced to do anything by your brain processes.
 
You must realise that actions are higher order phenomena. And the same holds for inevitability. Say, you throw a stone perfectly to a rock: then in a certain sense, it is inevitable that you will hit the rock. But try the same with a cat: it can run away, and so it is 'evitable' for the cat to be hit. Everything in evolution is about reducing inevitability: move to places where is more light, more food, or (top of the top), avoid to sit in a cold house by ordering burning oil timely (anticipation of the future). It is in these higher orders that you must look for a correct concept of free will: namely the ability to act according to your wishes and beliefs (hopefully justified true beliefs, i.e. knowledge). In this sense we surely have free will.
 
I just had a glance at your website: it is interesting that you name your newest blog entry 'Our Unique Responsibility'. What is responsibility without free will?


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#107 iNow

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Posted Yesterday, 08:12 PM

I just had a glance at your website: it is interesting that you name your newest blog entry 'Our Unique Responsibility'. What is responsibility without free will?

Ownership of a task or responsibility, and this is true regardless of whether or not your consciousness can override your underlying neural chemistry to execute it.
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#108 delboy

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Posted Yesterday, 08:17 PM

 
Hi Delboy,
 
This depends on what you think free will is. If you think it must be some soul that can interfere with the (practically) causal universe, then of course it does not exist. However, if you think the 'soul' is nothing else then the functioning brain, you have another problem. Saying you are your brain implies that you cannot say that you are forced by your brain in acting in certain ways: something cannot force itself. So whatever free will is, you are not forced to do anything by your brain processes.
 
You must realise that actions are higher order phenomena. And the same holds for inevitability. Say, you throw a stone perfectly to a rock: then in a certain sense, it is inevitable that you will hit the rock. But try the same with a cat: it can run away, and so it is 'evitable' for the cat to be hit. Everything in evolution is about reducing inevitability: move to places where is more light, more food, or (top of the top), avoid to sit in a cold house by ordering burning oil timely (anticipation of the future). It is in these higher orders that you must look for a correct concept of free will: namely the ability to act according to your wishes and beliefs (hopefully justified true beliefs, i.e. knowledge). In this sense we surely have free will.
 
I just had a glance at your website: it is interesting that you name your newest blog entry 'Our Unique Responsibility'. What is responsibility without free will?

 

For me I think it's about considering free will and chemical reactions as the same thing or almost the same thing, which I think is what some others are alluding to. I believe we have free will, but that it's almost impossible to understand what it is. In a particular situation we might have a number of possible options and eventually choose a particular one. But was that choice simply the result of a load of inevitable chemical reactions in our brain ending up at that decision. The chemicals are our free will. But the chemicals are also us (as Bender said). Without having any other scientific explanation for 'soul' or consciousness don't we have to think that? Everything we do physically is controlled by chemicals (in muscles etc as well as nerve cells), but nothing else is known in science that could control those chemicals. And since I'm not religious or spiritual I can only think that free will is down to chemistry. But maybe I can see why people do believe in 'soul' and such like, when science can come up with no explanation.

 

Anyway, all this deep thinking is making me decide I need a lie down. At least that's what my chemicals told me...


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#109 Thorham

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Posted Today, 01:16 AM

If you think it must be some soul that can interfere with the (practically) causal universe, then of course it does not exist

 
And you know that how exactly?


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#110 nec209

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Posted Today, 01:32 AM

 

For me I think it's about considering free will and chemical reactions as the same thing or almost the same thing, which I think is what some others are alluding to. I believe we have free will, but that it's almost impossible to understand what it is. In a particular situation we might have a number of possible options and eventually choose a particular one. But was that choice simply the result of a load of inevitable chemical reactions in our brain ending up at that decision. The chemicals are our free will. But the chemicals are also us (as Bender said). Without having any other scientific explanation for 'soul' or consciousness don't we have to think that? Everything we do physically is controlled by chemicals (in muscles etc as well as nerve cells), but nothing else is known in science that could control those chemicals. And since I'm not religious or spiritual I can only think that free will is down to chemistry. But maybe I can see why people do believe in 'soul' and such like, when science can come up with no explanation.

 

Anyway, all this deep thinking is making me decide I need a lie down. At least that's what my chemicals told me...

 

What do you mean by chemical reactions? Are you saying some people are lazy because of chemical? And some people work really hard because of chemical and thus there is no free will? Or some people love lots and lots of junk food or have eating problem and get really obese because of eating too much because of a chemical problem and other people have very little junk food and are skinny because of chemical?

Some people eat two times day because of chemical and other people eat 6 times a day because of chemical and get really obese?

Some people love booze because of chemical and other people have very little booze in a week? And thus there is no free will?


Edited by nec209, Today, 01:32 AM.

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#111 delboy

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Posted Today, 02:34 AM

 

What do you mean by chemical reactions? Are you saying some people are lazy because of chemical? And some people work really hard because of chemical and thus there is no free will? Or some people love lots and lots of junk food or have eating problem and get really obese because of eating too much because of a chemical problem and other people have very little junk food and are skinny because of chemical?

Some people eat two times day because of chemical and other people eat 6 times a day because of chemical and get really obese?

Some people love booze because of chemical and other people have very little booze in a week? And thus there is no free will?

 

I mean every chemical reaction that happens in the body - that they're all inevitable.

 

Since no one has ever come up with a decent explanation of what consciousness (and therefore free will) is, then the only way we have left to explain it is by chemical reactions. I'm not saying there is no free will, I'm saying free will is just chemical reactions. I know it lacks some logic, but we're trying to explain something that hasn't been explained, so it's bound to isn't it? It's the best I can come up with!

 

Free will exists and we exercise it all the time, but it's also a bit of an illusion, because it doesn't really exist. Does that make sense? It half makes sense to me!


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#112 StringJunky

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Posted Today, 04:22 AM

 

I mean every chemical reaction that happens in the body - that they're all inevitable.

 

Since no one has ever come up with a decent explanation of what consciousness (and therefore free will) is, then the only way we have left to explain it is by chemical reactions. I'm not saying there is no free will, I'm saying free will is just chemical reactions. I know it lacks some logic, but we're trying to explain something that hasn't been explained, so it's bound to isn't it? It's the best I can come up with!

 

Free will exists and we exercise it all the time, but it's also a bit of an illusion, because it doesn't really exist. Does that make sense? It half makes sense to me!

It's an emergent property of chemical reactions that occur in a particular way or sequence. It's information or data.


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#113 Eise

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Posted Today, 06:58 AM

Ownership of a task or responsibility, and this is true regardless of whether or not your consciousness can override your underlying neural chemistry to execute it.

 

What the hell would be 'overriding your underlying neural chemistry to execute it'?

 

Are mentally disabled responsible for their actions?


 And you know that how exactly?

 

I know of no scientific evidence that such a thing exist. It is like God, the celestial teapot, or the flying spaghetti monster. 


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