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How to convince someone they don't have free will?


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My use of the word "eternal" might have been misleading. I intended to refer to there being no beginning nor end to the block universe (consider points 2 & 3 listed under The Astounding Implications of the Block Universe in said article) and the notion that time (and the arrow of time) in itself becomes somewhat illusionary.

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Free will implies conscious choice, but the neuroscience here is rather clear... Choices and decisions are made well before (on timescales of synaptic response and action potentials, anyway) the conscious mind even activates.

 

The current version of wiki offers a really comprehensive overview of the issue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_free_will

 

As to the OP and how to convince someone? That's more a question for sales and marketing and perhaps debate professionals or manipulators.

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A case which never occurs because EVERYTHING is determined by prior causes that you don't choose. It's not like the brain has a "channel surfing" feature wherein it can scan every thought there is to think before you think it and say "ah yes, I think I'll think this thought right now." You cannot think a thought before you think it. You do not choose, author, or originate the thoughts you think. Your thoughts simply arise into your mind based on prior, external influences, and the neurophysiology of how your brain responds to it. You have never, and will never author a thought in your life. Thoughts will simply arise in your mind when it is influenced to do so.

 

And quantum indeterminism does not negate determinism.

 

What are the terms that are "poorly defined"? And name me a way in which you can actually author a thought. You can't. You cannot consciously author a thought. A thought just has to come to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regardless of who is right or wrong. My question is how to explain this to laypeople who have a hard time grasping what I'm talking about.

Where does the thought come from?

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Free will implies conscious choice, but the neuroscience here is rather clear... Choices and decisions are made well before (on timescales of synaptic response and action potentials, anyway) the conscious mind even activates.

 

The current version of wiki offers a really comprehensive overview of the issue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_free_will

I agree with you (and stated as such) that the evidence continues to mount. But the following is an excerpt taken from the above article: "The field remains highly controversial. There is no consensus among researchers about the significance of findings, their meaning, or what conclusions may be drawn. The precise role of consciousness in decision making therefore remains unclear."

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My use of the word "eternal" might have been misleading. I intended to refer to there being no beginning nor end to the block universe (consider points 2 & 3 listed under The Astounding Implications of the Block Universe in said article) and the notion that time (and the arrow of time) in itself becomes somewhat illusionary.

 

That implies some sort of meta-time in which you are considering the existence of the block.

 

The universe itself, even if described by "eternalism" or the block universe, could have a fixed, limited lifetime.

Free will implies conscious choice

 

That sounds overly simplistic to me.

 

 

, but the neuroscience here is rather clear... Choices and decisions are made well before (on timescales of synaptic response and action potentials, anyway) the conscious mind even activates.

 

The idea of "now" is pretty dubious when you start looking at the physiological aspect of it. Part of (what we think of as) our consciousness does is to integrate events that are widely separated in time to make them appear as if they are happening at the same time. For example when you see your fingers pick up a hot cup but the sensation of heat arrives a few hundred milliseconds later, both senses are concurrent.

 

The brain is obviously delaying some things that are happening in order to integrate them with things that might arrive half a second or more later. So, it is entirely possible that you have "consciously" made the decision (whatever that means) but the awareness of that has to be delayed in order to be integrated with the rest of your "conscious" awareness.

 

The evidence is not in the least bit clear. Yet.

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That implies some sort of meta-time in which you are considering the existence of the block.

Darn...it happened again...I intended to press quote below your post and I got the down vote instead. SORRY - it was not my intention. Referring to the above - no, definitely no meta-time. I think we may be misunderstanding each other somewhere along the line..?

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A case which never occurs because EVERYTHING is determined by prior causes that you don't choose. It's not like the brain has a "channel surfing" feature wherein it can scan every thought there is to think before you think it and say "ah yes, I think I'll think this thought right now." You cannot think a thought before you think it. You do not choose, author, or originate the thoughts you think. Your thoughts simply arise into your mind based on prior, external influences, and the neurophysiology of how your brain responds to it. You have never, and will never author a thought in your life. Thoughts will simply arise in your mind when it is influenced to do so.

 

And quantum indeterminism does not negate determinism.

 

What are the terms that are "poorly defined"? And name me a way in which you can actually author a thought. You can't. You cannot consciously author a thought. A thought just has to come to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regardless of who is right or wrong. My question is how to explain this to laypeople who have a hard time grasping what I'm talking about.

Actually, my last post was drifting down a tangent to my point, and didn't answer your question.

 

What is "poorly defined" is "free will." Regardless of whether free will actually exists, can you come up with a way that free will works where choices do not follow a chain of causation? It doesn't even have to be purely mechanical. We can pretend souls exist or that the mind is non-material or whatever you want.

 

In all scenarios, I make the choices I do because of a combination of my life experiences and my personality. The opposite of determinism is not "free will" it is acausal randomness. If my choices are random, then can I really be said to be making them? If one of the inputs in making a choice is me, my personality and personal history, then I think that's more to do with free will than the alternative even if there was only ever one choice that I, as a person in that situation, was going to make.

 

If I am the sum total of all of my parts and my consciousness is an emergent phenomenon that arises as a result of all of the processes that are going on in my brain, then if the decision is made by the brain which then generates the conscious awareness of that decision in the conscious mind that it creates for itself, how is that not "me" making a decision? Unless we're getting super restrictive about what counts as "me" in which case I've never kicked a ball. My foot did.

 

People like the idea that they could have chosen anything and they think that determinism restricts their options to only one choice that they never could have avoided and so runs counter to free will. But you can ultimately make one choice, and for every choice, you do have the full array of options before you. And then you process them, weigh those options and make the choice you were always going to make because it's the one that you, as a specific individual in that specific situation, think is best.

 

There is no world where you have free will without some kind of deterministic process driving the choices unless you handwave it as just "free will that doesn't require any determinism" without explaining how that would even work.

Edited by Delta1212
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The idea of "now" is pretty dubious when you start looking at the physiological aspect of it. Part of (what we think of as) our consciousness does is to integrate events that are widely separated in time to make them appear as if they are happening at the same time.

A phenomenon known as retrospective constuction

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18952468

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In all scenarios, I make the choices I do because of a combination of my life experiences and my personality.

As Jerry Coyne stated in the article that I referenced on page 1 of this thread, we are marionettes dancing to the strings of our genes and our environments.

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Darn...it happened again...I intended to press quote below your post and I got the down vote instead. SORRY - it was not my intention. Referring to the above - no, definitely no meta-time. I think we may be misunderstanding each other somewhere along the line..?

 

I think I understand you, but I think your use of words is slightly confusing. :)

 

Let's say the universe was created 14 billion years ago and, for simplicities sake, will collapse to a singularity again in 14 billion years. Then the block model has a length in the temporal dimension of 28 billion years (and at those time coordinates, has a spatial size of zero).

 

But that block is, in your words, eternal and unchanging, even though it describes a universe of finite lifetime.

 

Does that make sense?

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What is "poorly defined" is "free will." Regardless of whether free will actually exists, can you come up with a way that free will works where choices do not follow a chain of causation? It doesn't even have to be purely mechanical. We can pretend souls exist or that the mind is non-material or whatever you want.

 

I agree completely. Even if free will were an illusion, that is irrelevant. (It is as philosophically empty as solipsism or the "simulated universe")

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But that block is, in your words, eternal and unchanging, even though it describes a universe of finite lifetime.

 

Does that make sense?

Personally I prefer to think of it as a block hologram of something akin to a massive map with (spacetime) coordinates placed in a dark environment...as you point a flashlight to it, it illuminates a specific location...an observation of a pre-existing place (an event) at/on a specific coordinate. To say the embedded "information" (all events) on said hologram map has an actual beginning or end, past or future, does not make sense.

FTFY

Thank you, iNow.

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Personally I prefer to think of it as a block hologram of something akin to a massive map with (spacetime) coordinates placed in a dark environment...as you point a flashlight to it, it illuminates a specific location...an observation of a pre-existing place (an event) at/on a specific coordinate. To say the embedded "information" (all events) on said hologram map has an actual beginning or end, past or future, does not make sense.

 

It has (may have) an "extent" though. So, for example, our universe may be spatially finite. That would be represented by the finite spatial dimensions in the block/hologram/whatever (your hologram image seems similar to what I had in mind). Similarly, if from the point of view of the poor creatures living in the block and foolishly experiencing time flowing by, the universe may have a beginning and an end; in other words the temporal dimension may be finite as well.

 

That doesn't change the fact that, as you say, the embedded information is static and unchanging (and has no past or future) but its timeline may have a finite length.

 

To take another example, you could represent a person's entire life as a block model: the spatial dimensions would be all the places they went; the temporal dimension representing how long they were in each place. The extent of the spatial dimensions of that block would be some number of miles in each direction and the extent of the temporal dimension would be four score years and seven, say. But, as far as the block model is concerned their entire life (and even that of the dog they had as a child) exists equally.

 

Are we getting closer?

 

 

Thank you, iNow.

 

Seconded. (Not that I really care :))

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Are we getting closer?

Yes, indeed! As for our lifeline(s), I see it as similar to one of those animation flip cards that one flips through, page for page (event after event), an embedded development (like a moving picture) within the bigger universal 4D spacetime "hologram"...it becomes almost like a cross section across various coordinates/locations on said "hologram" (not virtual per se).

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God you guys on this forum are such fucking pricks. Hold me to it. I'll never be back to this forum of assholes. Don't ever let me post here again. If I come back again, let me have it. Hold me to my promise. I'll never even go to this website again.

 

 

According to you, you have no choice in the matter one way or another.

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