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Martian

Objectivism and determinism

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As I was reading another thread, I noticed that pretty much all of the posters agreed that Objectivism does not agree with Determinism. I'm surprised by this; could someone explain why this is so?

Edited by Martian

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There's already quite some discussion about free-will vs. determinism; so, instead of trying to repeat it, let me turn your question back on you, by asking one question:

What do you mean when you say "agree"?

I mean, when a clock strikes 12 the clock is not "agreeing" that it is 12 o'clock; nor is it even "saying" that it is 12 o'clock (though we might use that term metaphorically). So, when you say that posters agreed, what exactly do you mean? Did you see something in their posts that indicated they could have disagreed? Is that possible under a thesis of determinism?

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Do you have an argument for why this WOULDN'T be so?
Most of the posters were saying that Determinism is not compatable with Free Will. But this doesn't get rid of the fact the universe follows the laws of physics. I don't see how Determinism gets rejected.

Determinism: the idea that all events are causally determined by their antecedents and therefore in principle predictable

There's already quite some discussion about free-will vs. determinism; so, instead of trying to repeat it, let me turn your question back on you, by asking one question:

What do you mean when you say "agree"?

I mean, when a clock strikes 12 the clock is not "agreeing" that it is 12 o'clock; nor is it even "saying" that it is 12 o'clock (though we might use that term metaphorically). So, when you say that posters agreed, what exactly do you mean? Did you see something in their posts that indicated they could have disagreed? Is that possible under a thesis of determinism?

That's a little too deep, I don't see why you are asking these questions.

1) I meant that a lot of the posters said that Determinism was false.

2) No.

3) Yes.

...

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Determinism: the idea that all events are causally determined by their antecedents and therefore in principle predictable

If you are surprised that Objectivism disagrees with this position, you probably have yet to learn much about the philosophy. I would recommend Dr. Peikoff's introductory essay.

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1) I meant that a lot of the posters said that Determinism was false.

I know I didn't say that. Why does determinism have to be the only form of causation? That's what I question.

Here's aprevious thread:

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...st&p=160045

Edited by KendallJ

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... I don't see why you are asking these questions.
... because when one considers determinism as being as rejection of "free will" or volition, then the idea of "agreeing" becomes nebulous. So, I wanted to understand what you meant when you asked if people agreed. Another way would be to ask what you mean by "determinism". If you see it as some set of facts that is compatible with human volition, with a human being's ability to think or not to think at any point in time, then perhaps there's no disagreement, but simply the same term being used to mean different things.

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Most of the posters were saying that Determinism is not compatable with Free Will. But this doesn't get rid of the fact the universe follows the laws of physics. I don't see how Determinism gets rejected.
We also can't get rid of the fact that man has free will; it follows from that that free will and "determinism" must be compatible, undre a correct statement of "determinism".

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Most of the posters were saying that Determinism is not compatable[sic] with Free Will. But this doesn't get rid of the fact[sic] the universe follows the laws of physics. I don't see how Determinism gets rejected.

Hello, I'm Roderick Fitts, welcome to the forum.

I had an argument with a former Determinist 9 months ago on the facebook group "Objectivist Ethics and Virtues," and he supported the idea that the laws of physics determine everything (the thread was called "Determinism"). Since I have a little experience arguing with Determinists, I'd like to get right to the point so that this thread doesn't get off track. With that in mind, could you do the following for me (and everyone, really).

-Present your argument for Determinism (you've already defined it, so that helps). Also state if you're a Hard or Soft Determinist (Look up Compatibilism and Incompatibilism).

-Then state why you think Objectivism should support Determinism, in light of your arguments.

Preliminary remarks and objections:

-The Objectivist view of human nature is that we are beings of volitional consciousness--meaning that we possess free will, and are conscious on the conceptual level. Specifically, our faculty of reason is our volitional faculty: they are one and the same. Therefore it denies Determinism as a theory on human nature. This site might shed a little light on that: Essentials of Objectivism

-You cited the laws of physics as evidence for Determinism, but an Indeterminist (assuming one were here) could point to the randomness (in his view) of particles at the quantum level: the laws of physics do not seemingly apply. My point is that Determinism is not self-evident; as a theory it must be proven, and hopefully you will attempt to do so in your next post.

-Within the Objectivist theory of concepts, concepts would be impossible if Determinism were true. Ayn Rand's book, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, discusses how humans should form their concepts, the proper method to do so: one of its assumptions is that human beings are free to use the knowledge contained in her book or not do so. Or as Ayn Rand said very succinctly in Galt's speech:

Reason does not work automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic are not made by instinct. The function of your stomach, lungs or heart is automatic; the function of your mind is not."
I take "automatic" and "mechanical" to be roughly synonymous with "deterministic."

Have fun on the forum, I hope to address your forth-coming argument soon.

Edited by Acount Overdrawn

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Before I continue I must clarify that I'm only asking, how is Objectivism contradicted by Determinism? This question came to me because I saw posters (in the mentioned thread) claiming this; at least that is what I understood. I was a bit confused with that.

-Present your argument for Determinism (you've already defined it, so that helps). Also state if you're a Hard or Soft Determinist (Look up Compatibilism and Incompatibilism).

-Then state why you think Objectivism should support Determinism, in light of your arguments.

I would consider myself a Compatibilist, but that would depend on what your definition of Free Will is.

I argue that all things must have a nature that is not random, but one that follows rules which can be understood in principle. Because nature has this order, the effects of causes cannot be changed (a.k.a. supernatural forces). I think everyone can agree to this.

-The Objectivist view of human nature is that we are beings of volitional consciousness--meaning that we possess free will, and are conscious on the conceptual level. Specifically, our faculty of reason is our volitional faculty: they are one and the same. Therefore it denies Determinism as a theory on human nature. This site might shed a little light on that: Essentials of Objectivism

Could you define Free Will?

In addition, could you identify what a human (person) is?

-You cited the laws of physics as evidence for Determinism, but an Indeterminist (assuming one were here) could point to the randomness (in his view) of particles at the quantum level: the laws of physics do not seemingly apply. My point is that Determinism is not self-evident; as a theory it must be proven, and hopefully you will attempt to do so in your next post.

My understanding of QM is that it is used as a heuristic, not as a description of the nature of the universe. The reason for this is that subatomic particles are so small and such large quantities that it is hard to determine all of the forces acting upon them as well as the fact that merely viewing them changes their state dramatically. QM is used to predict the probable position of the actual subatomic particle. This is what I think of the theory.

If you are registered with ARI you can view a talk on this issue (link). From 29:00 to 32:00 talks (about causality, A is A, and so on) applies, though I think you should watch the whole video.

Also, there is another topic I saw (link) on this forum that expressed the issue with QM (I liked post #24).

I would like to point out, again, that I am not trying to prove Determinism; I wish to show that Objectivism and Determinism are compatible ideas.

-Within the Objectivist theory of concepts, concepts would be impossible if Determinism were true. Ayn Rand's book, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, discusses how humans should form their concepts, the proper method to do so: one of its assumptions is that human beings are free to use the knowledge contained in her book or not do so. Or as Ayn Rand said very succinctly in Galt's speech:

I take "automatic" and "mechanical" to be roughly synonymous with "deterministic."

I think I should wait until I get the definitions of Free Will and Human/Person before talking about this.

Edited by Martian

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Before I continue I must clarify that I'm only asking, how is Objectivism contradicted by Determinism? This question came to me because I saw posters (in the mentioned thread) claiming this; at least that is what I understood. I was a bit confused with that.

Hopefully, we'll be able to answer your question in this thread.

I would consider myself a Compatibilist, but that would depend on what your definition of Free Will is.

Free will is the capacity to select from two or more different courses of action possible under the circumstances, where the difference is made by the person's decision, which could have been otherwise. If someone has a better definition of free will, please give it.

I argue that all things must have a nature that is not random, but one that follows rules which can be understood in principle. Because nature has this order, the effects of causes cannot be changed (a.k.a. supernatural forces). I think everyone can agree to this.

Isn't this sort of the problem with over-generalizing? Human beings are not the same thing as other animals, or plants, or the wind. To discover what type of causation exist, you have to focus on the identity of what you're studying, and its corresponding actions. You shouldn't generalize that one type of causation exists for this group, and then arbitrarily switch contexts by saying that it applies to this other group (e.g. humans) as well, contradictory evidence notwithstanding.

I'll try to answer your question: Determinism contradicts Objectivism because its view of causality is a type of context-dropping. It makes observations about how some events operate, and then applies this type of operation to everything which exists, ignoring the different contexts which prop up.

In a way, Determinism makes an unqualified leap; since at first it did seem to be focusing on entities and their actions, but then somehow relates actions to causing other actions, and then finally relating events to other events.

Free Will in Objectivism is a natural fact possessed by certain living things (humans), it has a certain identity, and I would argue that it has rules which can be understood, though all of these rules are not understood yet (By saying this part I'm not implying Determinism). I can choose to raise my right arm, to will for it to raise; my arm would not raise if I instead willed my left leg to raise (everything else being equal). And the extent of what I can freely do is limited; I can only raise my arm or leg so high. I cannot shift the particles in my arm and turn it into something else by merely willing it to do so.

At its most basic level, free will is the choice to focus or not, to raise one's level of conceptual awareness or to not do so. So long as a human is alive and his brain is intact, it is this choice, between focus and non-focus, that he has to face given his nature. It is this choice which must necessarily occur, but the choice as such and the circumstances are not sufficient to bring about the specific choice of focus, or the specific choice of non-focus; this is for the person to decide. It is merely another instance of causality, but not deterministic causality.

Objectivism and Determinism have differing views on causality, with Objectivism concluding that any account of causality which tries to "inventory the universe" by claiming which types of entities or actions are allowed to exist has overstepped its bounds, so to speak. The Law of Causality only relates an entity to its actions, where the action performed is merely an expression of the identity of the entity (or entities) involved. It does not relate events with events (as some theories of Determinism do), because events are not the primary things we must discuss, which is entities; events are merely relationships involving entities and actions, events do not exist without entities.

In addition, could you identify what a human (person) is?

The most distinctive characteristic of humans is that we possess a volitional, conceptual consciousness; this characteristic does not apply to all humans (some have severe neural problems and do not possess free will or concepts), but it identifies what distinguishes us from everything else in existence the most, as opposed to simply saying "a living thing" or "a thing with consciousness." I hope this helps.

I would like to point out, again, that I am not trying to prove Determinism; I wish to show that Objectivism and Determinism are compatible ideas.

There's another point that has to be made, actually. This was Ayn Rand's philosophy, and her philosophic position on human nature is that humans possess free will. In her philosophy, free will and Determinism are contradictory ideas, in the sense that free will applies to some aspects of existence (human consciousness), but determinism is an opposing theory which is argued to apply to everything, including human action; in Objectivism these theories are not "compatible" with one another.

For more persuasive evidence towards my last sentence, here's a statement from Dr. Peikoff's lecture on Objectivism which was approved of by Rand as an authorized presentation on her philosphy:

Determinism is the theory that everything that happens in the universe—including every thought, feeling, and action of man—is necessitated by previous factors, so that nothing could ever have happened differently from the way it did, and everything in the future is already pre-set and inevitable. Every aspect of man's life and character, on this view, is merely a product of factors that are ultimately outside his control. Objectivism rejects this theory.

Ayn Rand Lexicon entry: Determinism, Bold mine.

Even if you could show that Determinism is the true theory, it would mean that Objectivism's statements on Metaphysics, Human Nature, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics, and Esthetics (as a result of Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics) are all wrong and must be thrown out; the importance of free will in Ayn Rand's philosophy is of the same importance as reason, because they are the same capacity. Everything stated within Objectivism is in terms of concepts, and concepts are formed through a volitional process. To uphold Determinism is to deny free will within Objectivism, and therefore conceptual knowledge, even of philosophy...including Determinism (assuming one wants to keep the two "compatible").

This is an example of Dr. Peikoff's discussion of knowledge being contextual (relational):

A context-dropper believes that he can understand and alter one element...within a network of interrelated factors, while leaving everything else unseen and unaffected. In fact, however, a change in one element redounds throughout the network. Every proposal and every idea, therefore, must be judged in the light of the total picture, i.e., of the full context.

I think your goal is ultimately hopeless. If you like certain aspects of Objectivism but want to uphold Determinism, then I suggest figuring out Deterministic theories on those aspects, or rather I suggest you fully understand Objectivism's position on causality and free will, then decide if free will is as wrong as the theory of Determinism says it to be.

Edited by Acount Overdrawn

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Free will is the capacity to select from two or more different courses of action possible under the circumstances, where the difference is made by the person's decision, which could have been otherwise. If someone has a better definition of free will, please give it.

A person's will is free if noone can tell how that person will act, not even that person (except of course after that person made the decision to act).

Then both determinism and free will is compatible because it is impossible to know how you will act because it is impossible to know everything (even with unlimited knowledge / capabilities) that would determine your action: The moment you knew how you would act you could use that knowledge to act differently making it once again unpredictable how you would act.

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A person's will is free if noone can tell how that person will act, not even that person (except of course after that person made the decision to act).
That's not free. That's random.

Free means free from others, not free from itself.

So, to reshape your statement: a person's will is free if nobody else can change his will, and if past events cannot force the choice despite one's will.

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A person's will is free if noone can tell how that person will act, not even that person ...
Since the original questioner was asking about the Objectivist view on determinism and free-will, discussing a completely different notion of free-will does not answer his question.

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I'm interested in comments on the following idea which is FOR determinism. I don't think it's correct, but can't pinpoint exact and precise description of the error.

A determinist would begin by saying that a mind depends on brain. And all of the mind is the brain. That all emotions and thoughts come from the brain; and all emotions have behind them a specific brain state. Then the argument proceeds with: brain is a neural network, which is a network of neurons, which are all determinist by nature. Thus, the entire chain in this argument is presented as completely determined.

Ideas?

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I'm interested in comments on the following idea which is FOR determinism. I don't think it's correct, but can't pinpoint exact and precise description of the error.

A determinist would begin by saying that a mind depends on brain. And all of the mind is the brain. That all emotions and thoughts come from the brain; and all emotions have behind them a specific brain state. Then the argument proceeds with: brain is a neural network, which is a network of neurons, which are all determinist by nature. Thus, the entire chain in this argument is presented as completely determined.

Ideas?

I would object to "And all of the mind is the brain." The mind has observable characteristics (via introspection) which the brain does not, so I don't think they are the same.

Also "That all emotions and thoughts come from the brain." I don't study neurology, but normally emotions proceed from a previous identification and evaluation of something, which means intellectual, not strictly physical, roots. Without such intellectual roots, a man would feel indifference (or perhaps bewilderment) towards a subject, whatever his "brain state." Possibly, certain parts of the brain are responsible for certain facial/body movements indicative of emotions, such as smiling indicating happy, but the physical movements are not the same as the emotion.

Thoughts, in my understanding, come from one's will to engage in a cognitive task, such as problem-solving; it may have specific brain states (again, not a neurologist), but I wouldn't say that brain state(s) cause the thought, as you're implying.

Lastly I would object to: "[neurons] are all determinist by nature." My hypothesis is that when and if we fully understand the mind-brain relationship, whatever aspects of the brain involve volition will have neurons which do not operate deterministically, i.e., by merely responding to the previous neural interactions and other physical conditions. There will be first causes (chosen mental/physical actions) which will begin neural interactions which could not be predicted by merely considering what has been happening in the previous moment--indeed, this will be a different type of causation than the Determinist model.

And I reject Determinism in total, as a completely false theory of cause-and-effect, precisely because of its emphasis on events or states of affairs (or sometimes actions), as if entities are merely interchangeable.

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That's not free. That's random.

Free means free from others, not free from itself.

So, to reshape your statement: a person's will is free if nobody else can change his will, and if past events cannot force the choice despite one's will.

I'd say my definition implies the definition used in Objectivism, it's just from a different point of view. If you know in advance what you will do at a later time then you, obviously, would not have a choice later when deciding on it.

In addition past events can force the choice - if you are not making it. Your will is only free if you actively use your mind, i.e. if you think about what you should do.

And what is 'thinking about one's choice'? It is examining what is influencing you and what you will be influencing. The moment you know that for example a past experience would influence your action then it can't influence your action anymore. If you don't examine your environment, if you don't pay attention on what influences you (especially your values), then your actions are determined by your environment.

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I'm interested in comments on the following idea which is FOR determinism. I don't think it's correct, but can't pinpoint exact and precise description of the error.

... ...

Ideas?

I think the reason one cannot pinpoint the error is that there is a gap in knowledge. We see these two things pretty clearly: on the one hand we see the "mechanical-ness" of everything and we also see the presence of choice. What we can't see is how one can come from the other.

However, consider this: how does "life" arise from a combination of non-living elements put together in a certain way? At one time, people hypothesized that a soul was somehow infused into the non-living material. The idea of a spirit or soul was a hypothesis designed to resolve a seeming contradiction: between the fact of life and the fact that an ameoba is made up of regular elements that are found in non-living things. Yet, we -- more modern -- would say that life is something of an "emergent property" that comes from certain combinations of elements. So, for now, our best hypothesis is to say that free will is such a property too. This really says nothing in particular about free will, except to say that it does not necessarily contradict the idea the humans are made up of these strictly mechanical/material things if on breaks the human being down.

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This really says nothing in particular about free will, except to say that it does not necessarily contradict the idea the humans are made up of these strictly mechanical/material things if on breaks the human being down.

Right. A property of the parts is not necessarily a property of the whole, and vice versa.

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However, consider this: how does "life" arise from a combination of non-living elements put together in a certain way? ...
Thanks, that's kind of argument I was looking for.

So, alongside with a "problem" of free will that is based on determinist elements, there is another tough challenge, how could a life form from dead elements.

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Free will is the capacity to select from two or more different courses of action possible under the circumstances, where the difference is made by the person's decision, which could have been otherwise. If someone has a better definition of free will, please give it.

I agree with this definition to a degree. Firstly, I'd like to point out that a computer is capable of making a choice; in fact that's why they operate. But I believe this definition is still on the right track. I'd only add that in order for an entity to have free will, it would have to be able to take into account the fact that it exists and is making choices. Or in other words, consciousness.

Now, a person has free will, but what *is* a person in the first place?

A person is an entity/process that is able to make conscious choices.

Now, these ideas are not in conflict with Determinism as far as I can tell. In fact, I don't see how Free Will could exist without Determinism. The reason for this is that there must be a process that is going through rational and logical steps to come to conclusions. If things are not determined this way, they must be random. In a random world a coherent thought could not exist because everything would be arbitrary. This leaves you with only one choice if you reject Determinism, and that is the soul. If the soul exists it must also follow and order (and thusly Deterministic) which contradicts the original argument that Free Will is not Deterministic. And anyways, Ayn Rand denied the existence of anything supernatural. So, Determinism is the only thing that we have left.

Isn't this sort of the problem with over-generalizing? Human beings are not the same thing as other animals, or plants, or the wind. To discover what type of causation exist, you have to focus on the identity of what you're studying, and its corresponding actions. You shouldn't generalize that one type of causation exists for this group, and then arbitrarily switch contexts by saying that it applies to this other group (e.g. humans) as well, contradictory evidence notwithstanding.

The brain is a complex matrix of fluids, neurons, and various other cells that, in turn, are made of subatomic particles that act according to the laws of physics. I'm not saying that we can calculate all that is going on in the brain at this time in history, but it is in *principle* that we could (which makes it Deterministic). So, if at any time the subatomic particles in the brain are not acting according to the laws of physics we would have to deny physics. But that has never happened and never will happen. This leaves no room for Free Will, as many have thought of it, that is unbound by the laws of physics.

I'll try to answer your question: Determinism contradicts Objectivism because its view of causality is a type of context-dropping. It makes observations about how some events operate, and then applies this type of operation to everything which exists, ignoring the different contexts which prop up.

In a way, Determinism makes an unqualified leap; since at first it did seem to be focusing on entities and their actions, but then somehow relates actions to causing other actions, and then finally relating events to other events.

Hmm. Could you elaborate on what you said here? Why is what you described a leap and why is it labeled as unqualified?

Free Will in Objectivism is a natural fact possessed by certain living things (humans), it has a certain identity, and I would argue that it has rules which can be understood, though all of these rules are not understood yet (By saying this part I'm not implying Determinism). I can choose to raise my right arm, to will for it to raise; my arm would not raise if I instead willed my left leg to raise (everything else being equal). And the extent of what I can freely do is limited; I can only raise my arm or leg so high. I cannot shift the particles in my arm and turn it into something else by merely willing it to do so.

You are the process that made the choice to left your leg. This is what makes you, you.

You are a process that works on top of the laws of nature. So whatever you do, be it focus, unfocus, lift your leg, or through a pie into someone's face, the chain reaction can be traced back to a cause (or predicted before the action). For your leg, if we look at it in reverse, we can see the neurons firing in reverse all the way up to your brain, your mind. And in this brain the choice would be made *without* violating natural laws. That's what makes it Deterministic.

But there still is Free Will in the sense that you can make a choice, Deterministic or not, and that are aware of them. So we must conclude that Free Will, the ability to make choices and be aware that one is making choices, and Determinism are compatible and that Free Will is dependent on the fact of Determinism.

That's what I think about it. If there are flaws in my argument, could someone point them out, please? I'm still fairly new to Objectivism.

Edited by Martian

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I agree with this definition to a degree. Firstly, I'd like to point out that a computer is capable of making a choice.
No, they don't make a choice.

If x>5 then do1(); else do2();

do1 and do2 are not choices. Otherwise you might as well say that algorithms make choices. They don't. An algorithm produces a result. That's all.

That's how rocks "behave". If tipping point is beyond the edge, the rock falls down, if not it stays. Is this a choice? No.

Same goes for computer programs. It's just a bit complex than rocks but nothing different in principle.

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I'd only add that in order for an entity to have free will, it would have to be able to take into account the fact that it exists and is making choices. Or in other words, consciousness.

While possessing consciousness is a prerequisite of having free will, I wouldn't necessarily say that free will hinges on self-consciousness. I would argue that very young children possess free will but are not necessarily conscious of themselves making choices; they simply make them.

A person is an entity/process that is able to make conscious choices.

I would just stick with "entity." A process is what entities undergo or carry out; they aren't equivocal.

The reason for this is that there must be a process that is going through rational and logical steps to come to conclusions.

Well, now you seem to be switching from Metaphysics to Epistemology (or perhaps the other way around). I don't think this is the right philosophical approach, to make demands to reality that it conform to what you identify as "rational" and "logical," so that you can come to conclusions. "Rational" and "logical" are epistemological terms, regarding our knowledge and how we gain it; a thinking process can be "rational," but the universe cannot be; it is the base from which you judge other things to be rational or irrational, logical or illogical.

If things are not determined this way, they must be random.

In other words: if not Determinism, then Indeterminism.

As you read more into Objectivism, perhaps you will see why it rejects the Determinism/Indeterminism dichotomy as a false one. As I said in an earlier post, free will and reason are one and the same faculty. The formation and use of conceptual knowledge is a free action, it is not necessitated by antecedent factors. An implication of Determinism's theory is that a given set of antecedent conditions/factors will invariably lead to a certain concept/idea (unless they deny conceptual knowledge), and I very much doubt a Determinist could ever give one example in which this must always happen.

So, Determinism is the only thing that we have left.

If you stick to the "Determinism/Indeterminism" dichotomy, I could see the reasoning for that.

The brain is a complex matrix of fluids, neurons, and various other cells that, in turn, are made of subatomic particles that act according to the laws of physics.

Well, we don't know the exact relationship between the mind and the brain yet, so perhaps there's more to it than what you just proposed.

Hmm. Could you elaborate on what you said here? Why is what you described a leap and why is it labeled as unqualified?

I thought what I would go on to say later on covers this:

Objectivism and Determinism have differing views on causality, with Objectivism concluding that any account of causality which tries to "inventory the universe" by claiming which types of entities or actions are allowed to exist has overstepped its bounds, so to speak. The Law of Causality only relates an entity to its actions, where the action performed is merely an expression of the identity of the entity (or entities) involved. It does not relate events with events (as some theories of Determinism do), because events are not the primary things we must discuss, which is entities; events are merely relationships involving entities and actions, events do not exist without entities.

I suppose I have another objection, and this isn't Objectivism's argument (at least none that I've heard or read about); Determinism can't step outside of its system and declare that only deterministic causality is causality. On its account of causality, there's one event, which causes the next event, and then the next event, etc. But then somehow they reach an induction: all events are deterministic. And I doubting that this is a valid step for them to make. At best, they should be able to continue tracking a causal chain, not generalize about all of reality--they would be able to continue deducing, but there would be no inductions.

You are a process that works on top of the laws of nature. So whatever you do, be it focus, unfocus, lift your leg, or through a pie into someone's face, the chain reaction can be traced back to a cause (or predicted before the action).

This is why you should be reading about Objectivism's Law of Causality. Objectivism rejects the "action-reaction" view of cause-and-effect, where actions cause other actions. It focuses on entities, as I've said elsewhere.

For your leg, if we look at it in reverse, we can see the neurons firing in reverse all the way up to your brain, your mind. And in this brain the choice would be made *without* violating natural laws. That's what makes it Deterministic.

It's your assumption that denying Determinism means violating natural laws, not Objectivism's. And actually, your explanation is indemonstrable; we can't travel backwards in time to observe and verify what you claim here. It could very well be the case that natural laws, such as the laws of physics, do not apply to free will, much like how the principles needed to be a good historian are not derived from the laws of physics.

That's what I think about it. If there are flaws in my argument, could someone point them out, please? I'm still fairly new to Objectivism.

I thought I did earlier, perhaps I'll refresh your memory:

This was Ayn Rand's philosophy, and her philosophic position on human nature is that humans possess free will. In her philosophy, free will and Determinism are contradictory ideas, in the sense that free will applies to some aspects of existence (human consciousness), but determinism is an opposing theory which is argued to apply to everything, including human action; in Objectivism these theories are not "compatible" with one another.

And:

I think your goal is ultimately hopeless. If you like certain aspects of Objectivism but want to uphold Determinism, then I suggest figuring out Deterministic theories on those aspects, or rather I suggest you fully understand Objectivism's position on causality and free will, then decide if free will is as wrong as the theory of Determinism says it to be.

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