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Started by virgil5 on Apr 17, 2018 3:01:11 AM
Free Will vs Determinism

We're still debating it since Chrysippus or earlier.

What does that say about us?

Do we really have "free will", or is it all some kind of delusion we dare not give up?

otraynor - 17 Apr 2018 03:04:30 (#1 of 355)

This is an interesting book on the matter.

It posits that, due to the biology of the brain, there is no such thing as free will.

virgil5 - 17 Apr 2018 03:07:39 (#2 of 355)

I've decided, of my own free will, to settle this matter for all time.

or maybe I started this thread long ago

or robots from the future made me do it

or we don't have any idea what we're talking about


otraynor - 17 Apr 2018 03:11:42 (#3 of 355)

Probably the latter.

otraynor - 17 Apr 2018 03:13:21 (#4 of 355)

My ideas about free will are influenced by Eastern Orthodox Christianity. It essentially states that free will is our greatest gift from God, as without it, our turning to him means nothing. Slightly different than the great clockmaker in the sky that exists in Western Christianity.

But it could be robots.

virgil5 - 17 Apr 2018 03:15:02 (#5 of 355)

the biology of the brain

Interesting work on this debate being done in the last decade or so, as to how "quantum" the brain really is.

Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff vs Marvin Minsky and the likes of Noam Chomsky.

If there's a quantum brain potential, it will be a radical game changer in the debate.

otraynor - 17 Apr 2018 03:15:44 (#6 of 355)

Describe quantum brain potential.

virgil5 - 17 Apr 2018 03:20:20 (#7 of 355)

quantum brain potential

The ability of the human brain to access and process information on the quantum level.

The problem is can the brain maintain the atomic coherence at the nano level required to do any informational transfer at all.

otraynor - 17 Apr 2018 03:24:50 (#8 of 355)

Oh is this what you mean?

I was talking about this with a geo-physicist friend of mine, but I think he was talking Dickens and I was reciting the alphabet, so to speak.

virgil5 - 17 Apr 2018 03:33:48 (#9 of 355)

Penrose and Hameroff posit the cell structure of the brain allows interaction of some sort at the quantum level.

They're robustly challenged by the determinists, but have not given up yet.

otraynor - 17 Apr 2018 03:44:10 (#10 of 355)

"In The Emperor's New Mind (1989), he argues that known laws of physics are inadequate to explain the phenomenon of consciousness."

Completely agree. I'm reading the rest of it.

virgil5 - 17 Apr 2018 03:51:52 (#11 of 355)

The urge to believe there's more to consciousness than just the 'nuts and bolts' of our deterministic understanding of the Standard Model is strong.

One question I keep thinking about is: if we're basically robots, why are we not 'philosophical zombies' just going through the motions of thinking we have free will?

We seem to have these weird flashes of inspirational 'intuition' thinking out of the box of what we supposedly can only know, if we look at reality from only a deterministic angle

otraynor - 17 Apr 2018 03:58:10 (#12 of 355)

Yes--throughout history people have moved thought forward with absolutely no prior knowledge or experience from which to draw. We invent knowledge. Somehow, some of that knowledge works, when there is simply no reason that it should.

virgil5 - 17 Apr 2018 04:14:18 (#13 of 355)

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

Have you had recent personal experience leading to deeper exploration of this issue?

otraynor - 17 Apr 2018 04:27:06 (#14 of 355)

Yes, but it isn't nearly as scientific as yours. I revolted against the third step of Alcoholics Anonymous. That's "made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." I cried bullshit when encouraged to "let my higher power drive the bus." No God of my understanding would have any desire, or even capacity to drive the bus. That began my contemplation of free will and my search for arguments for and against it.

otraynor - 17 Apr 2018 04:38:43 (#15 of 355)

Plus, lately I've been watching lectures that my friend has recommended on the nature of the universe etc. If that's what science had been when I was in high school, I might have continued with it.

Lectures from this place:

virgil5 - 17 Apr 2018 04:49:37 (#16 of 355)

Best wishes to you.

I've recently become frustrated at the lack of answers and discovery in my artwork, and gone on a "What's it all about?" quest, to explain some of the stuff I found out in art over the years, especially from the 'collage method', which works because there's a lot of images that can be combined in a lot of ways, but some ways just seem 'better' than others, and an "artwork" emerges.

Somehow, the process makes use of what's unknown, via "intuition" (whatever that really is :-) in order to craft some sort of unexpected discovery that becomes known.

So, ignorance teaches itself to transcend itself somehow.

This is what Godel was pointing up, I think, when he came up with his "Incompleteness Theorem" which states you can't have a complete theory unless you take into account that every theory is going to have a certain amount of incompleteness in it, or it isn't a complete theory

brain explodes

otraynor - 17 Apr 2018 04:55:28 (#17 of 355)

Thank you, and to you.

What sort of artwork do you do?

My brain regularly explodes listening to the lectures from the Perimeter Institute. And reading theology, actually. For a very, very, very long time in human history, theology WAS science.

virgil5 - 17 Apr 2018 05:16:36 (#18 of 355)


I do all kinds, but the show I'm working on now is going to be small interactive books of collage imagery I print myself and sell cheap.

They can be used by kids for coloring books, or adults who want to add captions of their own to the pictures, or people who just like to look at them as they are.

I'm also doing scrolls in small boxes, and images I've found in a field of random lines I develop on a piece of paper by drawing with a pencil in each hand without preconceiving what sort of imagery I want.

Later I look at the screen of random lines with a magnifying glass and find interesting shapes I enlarge into collaged objects that I sell.

The screens are drawn at specific times and places, lately while somebody films me for a documentary. This show is about what we did in NYC Washington DC and Gettysburg PA in 2017.

otraynor - 17 Apr 2018 05:29:28 (#19 of 355)

That sounds very cool, virgil.

virgil5 - 17 Apr 2018 05:53:05 (#20 of 355)

It was good to see you come back

I like this site. Maybe better than the old GUT. I hope it doesn't go away. I'm not into FB.

Currently 37F post rain cold drizzly in the Catskills----I just heard that "hungry baby yowling cry" in the night---probably the elusive "Catskill Cat" (a rarely seen small version of a Rockies mountain lion)---very chilling around midnight

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