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donnywithana

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  1. donnywithana

    Show Your Faces!

    I'm the dude playing the guitar. The girl getting eaten is my girlfriend Sara. And because it's hilarious, there's one of my friend Jamael playing cricket and one of my friend Matt basking in the glory of a 120 cup beer pong game.
  2. donnywithana

    On the question of free-will vs. determinism

    I'm not talking about man, I'm talking about the universe. Now reevaluate your stance. No, I can't, because they don't. They presuppose cognitive capacity and curiosity, which are not associated with volition. When a computer requires the input of parameters in order to proceed with a process, does that presuppose that its actions aren't automatic? Proof is nothing more than enough information to make a new concept fit into the hierarchy of one's knowledge without creating a contradiction that is immediately obvious the the reciever. A computer can give a null value when a parameter causes it to perceive an error; there is no reason a human brain wouldn't work the same way. And no, free will is not a philosophical issue. It is a scientific issue.
  3. donnywithana

    On the question of free-will vs. determinism

    A mouse can learn where a piece of cheese is in a maze, and will remember the correct way to get there. Self programming. Consciousness provides a wildly complex interface for making choices, but I still don't think it's divorced from the physical processes being undergone in your brain. Because those processes must be caused, then either there is no free will, or some external agent that is not bound to physical law is acting upon the brain to influence it. To bring order to the apparent chaos of my argument: Free Will Hypothesis: A given closed system starting from a specific beginning can achieve multiple end states. Fact: The state of a closed system at time T determines the state of that system at time (T+1). Conclusion: Hypothesis false. It's really as simple as that. People here have rejected this conclusion for a while and reiterated their unrelated criticisms of my argument, prompting me to try and rephrase my position half a million ways, but that's really all it is. If you reject the fact that I used to prove my conclusion, then rest assured that you are wrong. Ask your closest scientist friend to hit you up with some knowledge.
  4. donnywithana

    On the question of free-will vs. determinism

    Mice are self programming, but not volitional. Mice can make choices between alternative actions as well. These are not volitional processes (unless you want to change the meaning of volition and give animals rights). That which is unique to humans concerns the complex cognitive interface that manifests itself as a consciousness. This interface allows humans to integrate sensory information into their stores of knowledge in ways that are much more advanced than ever before. Looking at the way that life comes about, it seems difficult to imagine that DNA instructions for cellular arrangement and protein synthesis could result in a non-physical result like Felipe's conception of the mind. Non-physical things simply do not exist, and there is no real compromise. *Note: Non-material concepts like energy or space are not non-physical. If the mind is a consequence of physical processes, then it must operate according to the laws of cause and effect that govern the universe. *Note: Quantum mechanics can be invoked to argue against the laws of cause and effect, but are very theoretical in nature (calling something random belies a lack of understanding), and don't help explain non-arbitrary processes like free will. The question of the evolution of free will is a good one, because it makes a lot more sense that apes evolved more intelligence to gain a competitive advantage over their environments. The concept of free will implies that when presented with a set of options, a given brain at a given time can come up with more than one conclusion. Because this would violate the causal relationships that govern existence, it is impossible.
  5. donnywithana

    A more specific determinism "vs" free will debate.

    The log hemispheres example shows that specific attributes of inputs can be utilized by a system in exactly the way that the system was designed. Neurons can not decide whether or not they want to fire. The logs can not decide whether or not they want to roll. Brains function in exactly the way they are designed to in every situation. Can we all agree whether or not the mind is a symptom of neurological activity? If you don't accept that your thought processes are the results of cerebral action, then I recommend that you review your knowledge of the human mind before trying to continue this conversation. Ok, for the last time. Learning is not volitional. Dogs can learn. Choice is not volitional. Dogs can choose. Volition is the possibility for a brain to have acted in a different way than it did in a given situation. If you disagree with this definition, then review your understanding of what "volition" means. I don't even know what you just said, but I'll try and answer what I'm guessing you're asking. All animals are born with the capacity to analyze perceptual data. They are also programmed to deal with this data in certain ways. Your ability to "see" based on electrical impulses from your occular nerve rely on your brain's predisposition to interpret these impulses in a specific way. Humans possess the ability to analyze these electrical impulses to much more complex degrees. Humans can conceptualize, analyze, conclude, and remember. Future information can be integrated into the memory, and this information may undermine the conclusions previously reached by the brain. This may cause the brain to reevaluate the "knowledge" that it possesses for contradictions. Thus, the brain can change its conclusions. These processes are physiological and have nothing to do with volition. To summarize thus far: -Humans can analyze perceptual information, just like other animals. -Humans can come to conclusions and question those conclusions' validity. -None of this has anything to do with free will, they are simple properties of the human brain. More specifically: -Your brain has concluded that free will exists and gives you agency over your actions -I am proposing that the nature of your brain will determine the conclusion it will reach in a given situation -This would not have any affect on your life, because it's simply an observation -It does, however, further the idea that humans are simply a species of animal that exist for the same reason as other species, which is that they just happen to exist -This disempowers humans, which makes them unhappy -I don't want to make people unhappy
  6. donnywithana

    A more specific determinism "vs" free will debate.

    Computers can do that. Are you sure that the brain doesn't function the same way? Is your brain capable of absolute imagination? If so, can you tell me what radio light looks like? How about spacetime? Can you see that for what it actually is without resorting to inadequate approximations? Can you imagine infinity? How does he choose to do these things? Is the mind seperate from the brain? Does the brain follow solely cause-effect relationships (Newton's second law: an actor can only produce one specific consequence)? Is the "volitional" process a cerebral action itself? What causes this process, on a neurological level? Is it free of causal relationships? But could that same brain at that same moment have come to a different conclusion than it did given the same impulses? If no, then I challenge you to rethink your premises. If yes, then I challenge you to rethink physical laws of causality.
  7. donnywithana

    A more specific determinism "vs" free will debate.

    Ok, well it's pretty clear when you have people saying that it would be possible for a computer to possess free will, it's an argument of semantics. A computer must react to a given input in one specific way. Thus, it does not have free will. If you agree that the brain operates as a computer does, then you are agreeing that humans also don't possess free will. I don't know how to put it any simpler than that. As for the purpose of life, why does life have to have a purpose? The only thing that happens when you claim that life has a purpose is that you feel empowered. Great, enjoy it. I'm not going to try and bring people down, because it's evident that this is a contradiction that you cling to very fastly, and its elimination would not be welcome. I'm trying to find the stolen concept in my argument, and I can't exactly find it. What's clearly happening is that I've missed a step in my explanation, therefore leading to a non sequitar. Here is a post from another thread in which I tried to prove my point step by step: Enjoy.
  8. donnywithana

    On the question of free-will vs. determinism

    The sighs are from people continually using the "if we don't have free will, how can I act?" argument no matter how many times I say that actions have nothing to do with it. Hal raised a good point though, in critiquing the use of the word "choice." I will define: Choice: Electing to pursue a course of action. Humans clearly possess the ability to choose. Place a cup in front of an ant. It will observe the obstruction, and then attempt to determine the best way to get around it. When the ant chooses a course of action, it will not be an act of free will. It will be an act of neurobiological determinism. When a human is presented with a situation in which they must determine which course of action they should pursue, they certainly do make a choice, just like any animal. The question is whether or not you could have elected to pursue an action that you did not choose to pursue. Free will supposes that you could. I would argue that the mental processes that went into your conclusion unfolded exactly as they should have, and no other outcome was possible.
  9. donnywithana

    A more specific determinism "vs" free will debate.

    Ouch, you're making me refer to Kant, and I hate doing that. Kant said that reason must assume freedom as a condition of its existence in order to act, even if freedom was not actually a fact of its existence. An ape does not have free will, but it also does not know that it does not have free will and could not conceive of not having it, no matter what level of intelligence it attained. Namely, man.
  10. donnywithana

    Group Anarchy

    I lent out my copy of The Virtue of Selfishness to one of my friends. I'll see if I can find the exact part, but I think it was in the first chapter, called The Objectivist Ethics. If anyone else knows the part I'm talking about, that would be swell. Just to clarify in case I was unclear, I'm pretty sure she was saying that humans are the only species that can willfully act towards their own species' destruction. Does that make more sense?
  11. donnywithana

    Group Anarchy

    I believe Rand herself talked about how humans are the only creatures that can act in a self destructive manner, or in other words, only humans are capable of doing "bad." If an animal dies for a "good" reason, it's not a sacrifice according to my definition of the word. That's a much better definition, thanks! It now reads:  “Good” is whatever helps an organism ensure the propagation of its genome Does that make better sense? Yea, I was struggling with that. The thing is, my purpose in doing this is to question the ideas of world policing and national authority. If I want to do that, I have to discuss the basics of existence (I intend it to be mostly an introduction, not a focus), what groups are, what agreements are, and how groups function. I tried as hard as I could to keep it to only four main topics, but I don't want there to be any cracks for people to misunderstand. Can you think of any way I could get my point across without addressing some of the things I have in there? Thanks for the help!
  12. donnywithana

    Group Anarchy

    A working thesis: Groups are created by individuals to create and protect freedoms and rights through agreements. I was curious to see if the viewpoints I put forth would lead to objections from this forum, because the opinions expressed are somewhat at odds with Rand's derivation of rights and government, although I don't disagree with her logic. I just think that rights and governments are social constructs. This relates to anarchy in the sense that I'm pointing out an absense of an absolute authority. Also, I'm insisting that the implicit group of "all humans" is a product of empathy and causes problems, because it often requires imposing agreements. I'm still working on the conclusion, where I'll sum up all of these ideas. Thanks for checking it out though!
  13. donnywithana

    Group Anarchy

    This is an outline to an essay I'm working on. I'd appreciate any discussion that you all could provide, because I know a lot of you are going to have some problems with the terms I use, and I want to make sure that everything is adequately defined. Apparently a • is a first level bullet, a o is a second level bullet, a  is a third level bullet, and then they all repeat. I know that's going to be very confusing, but hopefully it'll be intelligible. Thanks to anyone willing to take the time to look through all of it! --------------------------------- Introduction • Definition and identification of terms required • Nations disagree on basic premises o It is necessary to identify the exact disagreement  Groups usually agree about most things • Concept of inalienable right a vestige of divine law • Groups unsure of boundaries o World policing commonplace o Imposition of agreements between groups is tricky o Implicit group of “the human race” leads to obvious problems • Use of force is the fundamental alternative to rational discussion • Individuals claim rights that conflict with the rights of others I: Right and Wrong • A: The Nature of Nature o Natural law  Laws can not be broken by any entity  Only objective laws are physical, natural laws o All organisms are consumers  Lion eats antelope; antelope eats grass; grass “eats” photons from sun, water, and minerals (even the sun eats hydrogen) o Consumers can not produce their own food, but matter exists and can be changed to benefit a consumer o Consumers must use resources in order to continue to exist, with whatever regard for the treatment of their resources that they can afford o Evolution  “Good” is whatever helps an organism survive longest and reproduce the most  “Bad” is anything that contributes towards death or hindrance of “good” o Anarchy  Natural state  No laws besides objective laws, only philosophy applies • B: Resistance to Consumption o Relative Good  What is good to one entity can be bad to another o Sacrifice  Exchange of greater value for lesser value  Always bad o Force  When one entity consumes another entity, the consumed entity might be forced to sacrifice o Empathy  The degree of empathy one feels towards its resource will determine how they behave towards it  Empathy largely subjective • C: The Nature of Groups o Cooperation, trade  Skills showcased, weaknesses eased o Economic Advantage o Social Interaction  Humans are socially bound, care about other humans  Isolation detrimental • Psychological studies  Sexual reproduction o Groups and agreements give rise to paradigms  Nonmembers of groups can negotiate with others, but may find that they do not hold the same things as “true” or “good”  Individuals often think of their “laws” as truths rather than agreements o Groups can be explicit or implicit  Individuals or groups may align with other individuals or groups that share common paradigms or agreements • Individuals or groups may come to the aid of their implicit allies II: Agreements • A: The Nature of Agreements o Not objective o Agreements come into existence in a variety of ways  Anarchism • Each individual decides what to agree to  Monarchism • The will of an individual is imposed upon another individual or group  Democratism • The will of the majority of a group is imposed upon the minority  Socialism • The will of the voice of a group is imposed upon the entire group  These methods can be combined • Oligarchy: Monarchism or Democratism between oligarchs, socialism from oligarchs to group o Agreements often “package deals”  Not always possible to accept “part” of an agreement o Agreements can imply other agreements o Agreements can be conditional  Murder is alright in war o The agreements of a group do not necessarily apply to nonmembers • B: The Purpose of Agreements o Avoidance of Nash equilibrium  Nash equilibrium is Anarchy o Profitability  If an agreement is not profitable, an individual should not agree to it (sacrifice) • Pervasion of some agreements o Do not kill, steal, use force, be uncivil o Recognition of “Rights”  Ability: That which one is capable of doing, given the objective nature of their existence  Freedom: Group sanction of, or lack of opposition to, an Ability  Right: Group recognition of the virtue and necessity of a Freedom • C: The Enforcement of Agreements o Agreements can be enforced  Specific individuals can be granted the power of enforcement • Police, courts  All individuals can be granted the power of enforcement • Vigilantism  Enforcement places trust in enforcers • Corruption and imperfection are necessary evils of putting humans in control of enforcement o Individuals can agree to agree or can be forced to agree o Groups can agree that violators of agreements can be treated differently than non-violators  Violation of certain agreements can be considered worse than violation of others III. Property • A: The Nature of Property o Property: Any value or resource o A consumer, or group of consumers, claims a resource as “theirs” o Not objective  Possession is an exercise in the ability to defend control o Differently handled by different communities or with regard to different resources  Public property • “Ground state” of all property until claimed by a group or individual • Group agrees to share a piece of property with everyone • Terms of use can be defined and enforced  Semi-private property • Specific group claims a piece of property and agrees to share it, but only among its members • Terms of use can still be defined and enforced • Property must be defended against those not included in the group • Can exist to different degrees o Groups within groups can claim semi-private property and defend it against the rest of the group  Private Property • Individual claims a piece of property for themselves • Terms of use do not apply, but philosophy does • Property must be defended against everyone else • B: Agreements and Property o Individuals and groups can agree on how to divide property, and how to apply their agreements  Lines and distinctions between types of property must be defined  A group can declare a certain area of public property as semi-private property (it’s “territory”), but then the members of the group can declare parts of the semi-private property as private property • The group must decide if an individual is allowed to do this, within the framework of their agreements • The group must decide what agreements to make with the individual in terms of what he may or may not use the property for • Illustration: A group enters an empty space and claims it for itself as semi-private property. Members of the group then claim areas of the semi-private property as private property. o What can a member declare to be his private property? o What can a member do within his private property?  A group within a group may declare part of the greater semi-private property as their own semi-private property • The greater group must decide if this is allowed • The greater group must decide what agreements to make with the smaller group in terms of what the agreements for the new semi-private property may be • Illustration: A family within a group can claim an area as its semi-private property  An individual or subordinate group within a group may declare a piece of public property as either semi-private property or private property • The group must decide if the new property is automatically part of the group’s semi-private property, or the semi-private or private property of only those who claimed it o The group must decide if it wants to defend the new property • The group must decide what agreements to make with the new property’s owner(s) in terms of their use of that property • Illustration: A member or family within a group could claim an area outside the group’s “territory” as their private or semi-private property o Is the area part of the group’s “territory” because it’s inhabited by members of the group? o If not:  Do the laws of the group have any influence in the area?  Should the group help protect the area?  Should the group imperialize the area? IV: Groups • A: Group Membership o Groups are collections of individuals o Their agreements set them apart from their surroundings  Individuals in groups do not operate in Anarchy o Group membership may be voluntary or forced  Once in a group, however, the group may structure itself around one’s membership • Exit may damage the group • May lead to the group forcing a member to stay a member after they join voluntarily • Blurry definitions of property come into play • Illustration: A group might claim a territory and agree that members of the group may enter the territory at will, but outsiders may not enter. An individual living within the group’s territory may decide that they don’t want to be a member of the group anymore. However, their private property lies within the semi-private property of the group. Therefore, the group may defend its semi-private property.  Once in a group, individuals may structure their lives around their membership in a group • Individual may not be able to survive without some agreements made by the group (welfare, subsidy) • Individuals may share semi-private property with non-defecting group members • Individuals may own private property surrounding by the group’s semi-private property • Illustration: A man living in the middle of a group’s territory wants to cut ties with the group. The group doesn’t mind his exit, and they allow him to secede from the group, taking the territory recognized as “his” with him. However, he co-owns a store in the group’s territory with another individual who remains a member of the group. His territory is surrounded by group territory, and the group considers its territory closed to nonmembers. o What claim does he have on his store? o What right does he have to leave his land? o Problems arise because of false conception of private property  Private property is a function of defensibility  Any “private” property that one does not defend himself is not actually private, but is a mandate of the group • Remember, Anarchy is the natural state • B: Group Governance o Any time groups arise, there are going to be disagreements o Groups function by imposing agreements on dissenters o Individuals empower other individuals to impose decisions on them  Sometimes voluntarily, sometimes through coercion o When multiple individuals given the maximum amount of power, complications arise when they disagree  Democracy, checks/balances often used to settle these complications o If an individual doesn’t like the agreements imposed on them by the group, they can attempt to leave the group  Sometimes groups force members to stay  There might not be a group that fits an individual’s exact needs • Anarchy is an option • One could claim a piece of public property and start their own group • C: The Fall of Anarchy o Within reasonable bounds, there is limited public property o When an individual can not settle in unclaimed public property, he must join a group or take land from one o If they join a group, they may be forced to follow the group’s agreements under threat of force o While in the group’s semi-private territory, their right to private property may not exist  Serfdom, imposition of terms of use o Individuals may attempt to alter the paradigms and agreements of the group to suit their needs  This may create problems for other group members who disagree with the changes Conclusion • Groups and individuals determine right and wrong o Groups can form agreements to identify and protect right from wrong o Some groups may impose these agreements on individuals • Groups or individuals can vest others with the ability to enforce agreements • Individuals can possess private property to the extent that they are willing to protect it o Some groups will agree to protect it, others may impose terms of use, others may not protect it at all • Individuals can attempt to leave a group if they do not align with the agreements o There may be obstacles to exit o Not belonging to a group may not be an option
  14. donnywithana

    A more specific determinism "vs" free will debate.

    Yup. Free Will empowers people, and that's why no one wants to question it. If there's no free will, then life is pointless, right? But the thing that no one wants to admit is that life IS pointless. Look around! Life is a phenomenon! That's not to say that you should kill yourself, but it's really just the way things are! Now, that's depressing, yes, so if you want to not believe in it, you can say that, but don't act like I'm an idiot for pointing out the simple fact of determinism in nature. However, to address the idea of external forces playing with us: they don't have free will either, so it's not like they've got some advantage over us. Humans are animals. Animals live for the sake of living. There's no why. Why is the sky blue? Because that's what happens when light passes through an atmosphere. Why is there life? Because that's what happens when chemicals come together that way. What's the point of life? What's the point of the universe?
  15. donnywithana

    On the question of free-will vs. determinism

    Hmm... I'll give it a shot... Effects have causes: Objects at rest stay at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force (Newton's First Law). Effects are determined by the cause: An object will move in the direction the unbalanced force pushed it (Newton's Second Law). The human brain is a part of the nervous system, and is very complex. Here's a basic summary of how it works.. Nervous systems are composed of neurons, which react to stimuli. Neural networks are programmed to react to specific stimuli in specific ways. A human nervous system is not magical, it can be synthesized using mathematics (See here for explanation). Thought is a symptom of neurological activity, not a cause. It's hard to find a good source that completely shows this, but here's one that does a good job, I think. And yes, all mental functions are measurable in different parts of the brain. Here's a map. I don't know what it will take to get you all to at least consider that your brain is not a magical place where physics doesn't apply. You reject the fact that the original name for the free will you insist exists was the "soul," and don't see the connection between physical determinism and your neuronal makeup. I don't really know what to tell you.
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