Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Free will.

Probably not the most scientific of points i'm about to make, but work provokes these little sputrs of pondering from me.

Do we really have free will? Arguments have been made either side of the argument in recent posts. I'm not too sure either way but i know that when i write a post like this, im unsure if it's coming from me, or somewhere else that i just have access to in my head. Why is it that certain people live the same routine throughout their life, while there are others, that through free will, make drastic changes to their lives and achieve great things?

I like to think of it as the rebellious dna within certain people. If a person makes a decision to change everything about themself, ignore an addiction or change a strongly imposed life style that has been the case for several years, are they making that decision based on free will, or are they merely predisposed to such a rebellious act? Are some people stronger mentally than others at making positive decisions or are they merely enjoying the advantage of being a particular type of person?

35 comments:

susan marie said...

HURLY; It is a good question and I have always adhered to a sort of soft determinism, and viewed will as grounded in nature and restricted by natural traits. Nietzsche saw changes that were made by the individual - whether drastic or moderate - as arising from a sort of welling up of natural material that had hitherto been repressed. He also noted that after drastic changes, the person often was nevertheless what they once were: perhaps "three times over", as in the case of St. Paul: he had been a religious Jew and a Pharisee, then made a drastic change and became Christian, but as N. said, "remained a Jewish Pharisee 3 x over". He made the same case re Luther. Oh Hurly, what do you think? Schopehnauer's "World as Will and Ideation" rooted me in determinism when I was just 17. So I may be biased. . .

Karl L Le Marcs said...

"Beautiful British Boy";
*smile*

I will repeat what I said on a comment elsewhere on here to dear Ruth (Ra from Ca) who recently asked me the precise question you raise in your post.

"Do We Have Free Will?"

Firstly, I think it depends what your subjective interpretation of "free will" is.
The answer will be surprisingly different from one person to another I find.

But in essence, YES, of course we have free will whether viewed theologically, philosophically or psychologically (and even Daemonically).

Failure to see such lies one in a darkly deterministic philosophy where it is arguable whether one should even bother doing anything!!

Even in the deeper context of ITLAD Tony has woven into the theory that the Eidolon has free will. The Eidolon does not have to follow Daemononic Guidance BUT by having a greater awareness of the Daemon it means we are better qualified to make that judgement subjectively.

Lots more to say (as you'd expect) but I'm just lolling in a pub in Wigan at present and am about to change locations for a brief meeting before hopefully lolling further in some alternate ale-house.

And no, it wasn't my free will that brought me to Wigan (but then why would it!!!!)
*smile*

ra from ca said...

I think there is free will. What proof do I have that there is free will? That is tough as I am not a philosopher, but if we don't have free will why do we see different choices, paths to take, why do people play games with winners and losers, why do we feel guilt about making the wrong choice? Why can we view our circumstances in either a positive or negative light? What purpose does all that serve? We need to pretend we have free-will? My life now would be less painful when I think of my past if I chose to believe I had no free-will, but unfortunately I know that it isn't true. I have made choices.

Hurlyburly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hurlyburly said...

You've made choices based on having a particular type of personality that reacts to certain situations in certain ways as a result of it. I'm not making a strong claim either way but i don't agree that it's that black and white. Just because you can acknowledge different paths and choices doesn't mean "you" whatever that is, is the person making them.

It's not so much of a shift of responsibilty but more of determining if there is a huge difference between sensory perception and personality. I like to think there is something that makes us are who we are, i really believe that there is something like this, but where is it? In our brain? On the right side maybe!!?

By the way i'm not disgareeing with you in the slightest, just trying to provoke further discussion!

susan marie said...

Ra; I do agree with what you are saying; I think my point was that free will does not = groundless will. It is grounded in natural preconditions and constraints. But there is indeed a margin of freedom there, to varying degrees. I think another very painful aspect to guilt, which I have, is not so much actual choices I made, but a certain willful blindness and deafness to aspects of situations, in my case from laxness and laziness.

ra from ca said...

If one has not acted, out of some sort of laziness, it is still a decision. But I don't want to bludgeon myself or others with this. Sometimes we are in a fog and we make bad decisions. We are distracted and we make bad decisions. Sometimes we are tired and make bad decisions. We have to let the past go, forgive ourselves, and live in the present. But if we love the truth we have to admit, in the past I made bad decisions, and for now in the present I hope I am awake and can act more intelligently, effectively, vibrantly etc. Do we want to believe we are nothing but sheep or robots with some program inserted in us that decides our every move? Well you are free to decide if that is what you want to believe.

susan marie said...

Ra; You make a fine point, and you do so eloquently. And I agree with all you have said, and I think your stance is correct and ethical. The proper touchstone for any advance is to have an accurate perception of one's past motives and remissions, etc. I appreciate all of your remarks, on blog as well as off! Hope you are doing well. SMK

ra from ca said...

You are so very gracious and kind, and you are a great example to me.
Thanks Susan Marie

HurlyBurly:

Thank you for your post. As I wrote a response to your question, it helped me clarify my own thinking which I need to do more often and more diligently. Thanks again

Karl L Le Marcs said...

HurlyBurly, Susan Marie, Ra from Ca and ALL;
Interesting discussion; let us remove all the metaphysics for one second and approach the question purely with applied logic.

Given that we have two alternative choices (to believe that we do have Free Will or to believe that we do not have Free Will) and given that we also have two alternative realities (that we do have Free Will or that we do not have Free Will) it therefore means we have four possible outcomes to consider:

One;
Belief: There IS Free Will
Truth: There IS Free Will
Consequence: You control your life direction. YAY!!!

Two;
Belief: There IS Free Will
Truth: There Is NO Free Will
Consequence: None, as it was all pre-determined anyway.

Three;
Belief: There Is NO Free Will
Truth: There IS Free Will
Consequence: You have potentially wasted a life which you were able to control

Four;
Belief: There Is NO Free Will
Truth: There Is NO Free Will
Consequence: Congrats on being right BUT it was all pre-determined anyway!

So, we can see that the only one of the four alternatives which results in a consequence containing anything positive is Option 1 to believe that we do have Free Will.

There is a rather famous philosophical use of a similar kind of this applied logic employed within Pascal's Wager but as that deals with the existence of God I think it only deserves a fleeting reference as ITLAD doesn't deal with the theological issues.

But HurlyBurly, as a man not a stranger to the world of the gamble, I hope you can see that the odds are even for all four options, however there is only one option that delivers a winning bet; if you win, you win all; if you lose, you lose nothing. So I would therefore ask, why shouldn't we believe there is Free Will for if there is then we win everything, and if there is not then we lose nothing, as it was all pre-determined anyway!

"There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite."
- Blaise Pascal

susan marie said...

KARL; I see that the Darkish philosopher has once again set his astonishing intelligence and formidable skills in rhetoric and applied logic to the case, with most excellent results. That you should use Pascal's wager re faith is a unique twist, and very, very effective. As usual, I am intimidated (sorry, gentle and kind one, but it is the truth) but also thankful. I doubt even the "young, *******" can challenge you!

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Susan Marie;
Thank You, my Dear Lady, for your comments.
*blush*

I simply wished to suggest the applied logic approach to the question primarily to assist Martin who, as a gambling man, might appreciate the analogy so he can relate to the argument and also for your good-self and Ruth who have had some wonderful discussions off each others comments and I hoped you would see another angle if I suggested the applied logic approach.

The VERY last thing I would ever want to be is "intimidating"; I'm a pussy cat to those that know me and one who tries to help everyone
(often to my own detriment!!!)

*forlornly trudges off to that sad end credit music from Incredible Hulk*

susan marie said...

DO NOT trudge off, Darkish. I am no longer intimidated, and shall never be again. My intimidation was a bird which has flown and will never return. *sobbing*

Karl L Le Marcs said...

"Fly my pretty, fly!!!!"
*cackle*

*wink*

ra from ca said...

Pretty impressive Karl (as always). I liked your clarity. Its so nice to get the options and consequences straight. I think I'm getting a much needed education.

Karl L Le Marcs said...

*bows respectfully to the Sun God from the Sunshine State*

Ra from Ca;
Thank you Ruth.
Life and EITLAD (Evolution of ITLAD) are a series of educations, and I for one attend each lecture with bubbling anticipation.

*Smile*

I'm often asked, "But Karl, is your glass half-full or half-empty?" and I usually reply, "It depends how thirsty I am!"

Hurlyburly said...

I should take more time with my posts, i'm far too misunderstood...

Karl L Le Marcs said...

HurlyBurly;
"I should take more time with my posts, i'm far too misunderstood..."

I totally agree! And there is a very valuable life-lesson to be learnt in that very sentence.

I understand the deeper context of your ponderances better than you think; but on a personal level I think I may be better talking to you off-blog via email.

But I will say this publically: Change has to come from within, from a desire to change. If one believes themselves to be incapable of change then they will stagnate. Some people are indeed mentally stronger than others but there are many techniques that can be learnt.

We'll continue this off-blog eh, Martin?

Hurlyburly said...

I havn't taken a position on either side thus far. I understand people make change in their lives, all i was saying was: Are certain people predisposed to those changes. Rebellious DNA?

This topic has taken a serious discourse! It has turned into the "Hurly you can change" thread. Not where i was going people, not where i was going!

Karl, yeah, knock yourself out!

Hurlyburly said...

When observation and analyzing becomes an inward concept, detatching the observer from the observed is a messy paradox.

*sticks out tongue!* '0)

Karl L Le Marcs said...

HurlyBurly;
I wouldn't say "messy" as isn't that the very nature of the Daemon-Eidolon Dyad? The inner communications! The "I am aware that I think, therefore I am" concept?

What is difficult is the pulling oneself up by ones own bootsraps philosophy.

And as to your other comment, I would agree (as I stated earlier) that indeed some people are mentally stronger than others but I would question whether that is genetic or even memetic, as Richard Dawkins suggests.

Jesamyn said...

Such a great question, and it reminds me so much of one I always pondered BA...before Anthony!!!And that was.... IF there is Reincarnation, (I am still undecided) then is one reborn with the whole *kit and caboodle* (sorry Karl to steal your Asterisks!!!) in each Life....i.e. if you are supposed to be learning a Karmic Lesson i.e. not to be a bully or a frightened person, then are you born with the thought processes etc that make things difficult and that you have to overcome, Oh I am not explaining myself too well!!!for example.... you have been a bully for some lives, so you would have to be reborn with a mind set of the victim perhaps??? It is either an extremely complex intertangle (is this a word??) of the most intricate design or it is all a random floating mess!!! Sorry, a lil depressed today... love you all...
Jesamyn.

Hurlyburly said...

I always liked the idea that you come back as somebody whose perspective is hard for you to grasp in this life, i.e your opposite. Seems pretty pointless and unlikely though if you can't remember the previous, that would just be a spiteful god...

imagine such a thing.

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Jesamyn;
Hey! Come back with my asterisks!
*chases Jesamyn*

HurlyBurly;
*rolls eyes*
God!!!
Sheesh!!!

I would say that any return element of consciousness would, as a requisite, consist of the same basic make-up that we had in a previous life (after all, the panoramic life review is just that, a review, not a complete set of changes in moral attitudes)

However, internal communication with the Daemon through its guidance can shift the Eidolon away from prior behavioural patterns.
(Ha, Cognitive Behavioural Daemonic Therapy (CBDT)).

For a prime example see the film "Groundhog Day"

Hurlyburly said...

What's Groundhog Day? .....

johar said...

Hurly, Loved the question you posed as it makes me ponder long into the night and still have no answer - so thanks for keeping me up!! I will continue to believe I have free will but wonder sometimes if some things are predestined - sooooo sitting on the fence! Do you think the virgin life is the one in which you have total free will, you are the map maker? Subsequent returns are already mapped out but the daemon , as part of you, can help make free will changes to the original script? Too simplistic do you think?
Thanks for the clarification Karl, my name is based partly on my full name and partly because is sounds a little like the Joharji window: 1.known to self, known to others, 2.known to self, unknown to others, 3.unknown to self , known to others, 4.unknown to self, unknown to others. It's weird that I have always liked the personality laid out like this as the unknown to self unknown to others is basically the daemon isn't it. Any way the very circuitous point is that I like the logical way you've laid out the options! *phew*

Susan Marie, you never cease to amaze me with your knowledge, your are so well read and present your points and observations so well and lucidly. It's always a pleasure reading your comments, I usually spend the next half an hour looking up your references! I'm really learning a lot from you guys! Thanks XX

susan marie said...

Thank you for the lovely remark, such a compliment coming from you, Johar! I appreciate also the reassurance, as I often wonder if I am not just simply muddying the waters further with my comments!

Hurlyburly said...

No more self depricating lady! Enough's enough!!!

susan marie said...

Hurly; Sorry; I really do not do it on purpose, and certainly with no malice aforethought. Just my "whipped dog" stance toward life which I have carried since about age 4. Must use some of that free will to see if I can break the mold. . .

johar said...

Susan Marie, You may be self deprecating but it does not stop you posting your opinions and putting forward your thoughts - That is your strength, your self awareness and willingness to participate. You recognize your validity in this role despite not always being sure of yourself. Good on ya - you go girl *hehe* For that I am grateful because they have given me great insight.

susan marie said...

Thank you for that, Johar; and of course very glad to aid in the gaining of insight.

Hurlyburly said...

Just in case the misunderstandings continue, i didn't mean that as an insult Susan, quite the opposite in fact.

susan marie said...

Hurly; Do not worry your young head about it. I have never found you to be insulting, ever. I am usually fearing that I may have inadverdently insulted others. I think we all tend to be slightly neurotic on this blog--and I hope no one will take that as an insult either; I too mean just the opposite.(Hurly: Just as a joke, I was thinking of posting instead, "Hurly; Do not further insult me by saying it was not one; you will be hearing from my attorney shortly. . " but then I thought it might get way out of hand.)

Karl L Le Marcs said...

All;

Ok, can we bring this mass love-in to a conclusion with a GROUP HUG

*hugs*

I'm just mindful of this post becoming terribly dull for any newcomers which would be a shame given the quality of the original question and the subsequent debate!

Hurlyburly said...

My cat's breath smells like catfood...