Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by crizon

  1. This can't be true. Since there is no difference between the mind and the body, the brain is our mind and we are not born with an empty brain. There has to be a preset starting point, like every system has. How can meaningful thought emerge out of nothingness? There must be some ground rules that enable a baby to make sense out of what it's senses send to his mind.
  2. This is not true. If man does not have free will, he does not have to be determined; he could also act (partially) random. You are right, that this experiment would _not_ proof free will (I never said it would), it could merely disproof determinism (if I picked different favours), but the explanation for 2 different actions in twice the same situation could simply be randomness. Here is where one of my problems lies: Volition is supposed to be neither determinism nor randomness, but it offer any information on the level of causation. You wouldn't proof or disproof volition with such an experiment, because it simply does not say where the claim that a human "could have done otherwise" in the same situation differs from randomness. You often said, that I have to make a choice, that choice is in the nature of man, that I can't get around of making choices, but you still have not given me a definition or your understanding of the word choice. Your argumentation rests on the assumption that I do in fact make choices, so I can't agree or disagree until I know what you mean by choice. And I don't understand why you claim that this thought experiment was my "requirement". It was Peikoff who wrote "[...]he could have chosen otherwise." So Peikoff made a claim about the outcome of an impossible experiment, not me. It is not me who argues for the existence of free will.
  3. I think there are important differences between Christianity and Islam on a basic and one a "practical" level. The second testament is a lot more pacifistic than the koran, since Islam was spread by war by the Muhammad himself. Sure you'll find some pretty brutal and violent parts in the first testament, but Jesus did "overwrite" quite a lot of it with stuff like “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” In the Islam on the other hand war against Unbelievers is very prominent, because it was what Muhammad did for most of his life. Now that didn't stop Christians in the middle-ages to do the most terrible things and go to war in the name of god. So the more important difference is the "practical" level: A foremost chritian society managed to come with the concepts of secularism, democracy and individual freedom itself during a long a bloody battle with itself. That is the biggest difference between Islam and Christianity. Christians "learned" to live with those concepts of the modern society over the last 2 centuries or so; they adapted. Today the overwhelming majority of christians in the west do not fight secularism and democracy and advocate a state of god and those who actually do that, do it mostly peacefully (I can't remember a christian motivated act of terrorism). Islam on the other did not undergo such a fundamental reform like Christianity has with guys like Luther. Islam did not develop a secular society, the concept was imported from the west and therefore mainstream Islam (which is conservative Islam) does perceive democracy as a foreign unislamic concept. Even the most modern islamic country turkey, still struggles to unite Islam and Democracy even after ~80 years after Kemal introduced western reforms.
  4. What bugs me mostly about this debate is, that it mostly consits of predictions about the future that are no where certain. And as JeffS said: "We've never had a free market", so we don't have any reference. Just to give you an example: A: "A free market health care would be best, because bad care by a company would cause them a loss of costumers and therefore cause that only the best health providers would stay in the market in the long term." B: "No, only the most profitable companies will stay in the market, which does not necessarliy mean, that they provide the best health care. Denying care or only giving the cheapest will be more profitable than always providing the best treatment, which is why a non-profit solution will be best, because then the aim will not be to do well at the stock market, but to provide good care" A: "That is not true. Health-care companies do want to make profit, but they have to do it by providing care. They sell a product and if theirs is bad, people will soon notice and switch to better products and in order to always provide a good product most of the profit has to be reinvested anyways. So the main-focus will be providing good health-care _through_ profit." B: "That is not true. The maximum profit is achieved by selling the most profitable product, not the best. People don't necessarily have to notice a bad or mediocre product, when the company invest enough to create a positive image of the product with advertising, lobbying and combating critics. Since health-care is a huge industry, big companies can create an enormous pressure on media-companies who intended to broadcast / print negative feedback about their health-care. People who are denied expensive treatment often times don't live very long anyways, which reduces their danger to affect the public opinion negativly" A: "That is not true [...]" And so on and so forth.. I think the only way to find out, is to simply try it out and see if it works. We do have models, but they are noway close to give a prediction of the enourmous complexity that todays economy is. I wouldn't be surprised either if it works very well or if it fails terribly.
  5. Mr. Miovas, Could you please give a definition of the word "choice" since you use it a lot to argue for free will?
  6. Why is doubting free will make it necessary to believe in determinism? I for one deny any proof or indication for the existence of free will and yet don't believe the universe is deterministic. I think there is a fundamental randomness. The problem again with some proofs like "observe yourself making choices" is that they simply try to smuggle in free will by definition. I don't observe myself making "free choices". I observe myself solving problems.
  7. Sorry for my triple-post.. can't seem to edit them though. Don't know how that happened.
  8. I personally have a much wider understanding of the law of identity (against what rand said). I wouldn't consider the coppenhagen interpretation against it. I simply state, that it is in the nature of the electron to act random with all it's implications. It is it's identity to be a fusion of a wave and a particle. Saying it is both, is obviously wrong because of the definition of wave and particle. I don't see how you can reject some QH-Interpretation with the law of identity, because I think it really doesn't tell much at all about reality. It merely says that everything has a certain nature. But what nature that is and how they act is a different story. Saying: "Coppenhagen must be wrong because it violates the law of identity" IMO begs the question.
  9. I personally have a much wider understanding of the law of identity (against what rand said). I wouldn't consider the coppenhagen interpretation against it. I simply state, that it is in the nature of the electron to act random with all it's implications. It is it's identity to be a fusion of a wave and a particle. Saying it is both, is obviously wrong because of the definition of wave and particle. I don't see how you can reject some QH-Interpretation with the law of identity, because I think it really doesn't tell much at all about reality. It merely says that everything has a certain nature. But what nature that is and how they act is a different story. Saying: "Coppenhagen must be wrong because it violates the law of identity" IMO begs the question.
  10. I personally have a much wider understanding of the law of identity (against what rand said). I wouldn't consider the coppenhagen interpretation against it. I simply state, that it is in the nature of the electron to act random with all it's implications. It is it's identity to be a fusion of a wave and a particle. Saying it is both, is obviously wrong because of the definition of wave and particle. I don't see how you can reject some QH-Interpretation with the law of identity, because I think it really doesn't tell much at all about reality. It merely says that everything has a certain nature. But what nature that is and how they act is a different story. Saying: "Coppenhagen must be wrong because it violates the law of identity" IMO begs the question.
  11. Quoting from your links: This ridiculous requirement is obviously in the very definition of volition, which means the same as free will. If you were aware of the fact that you are going back in time to the exact same moment of the "choice", then you have more information compared to the first time, therefore changing the situation. But that doesn't matter, since it's impossible anyways. How do you define choice? I mostly heard Objectivists define choice with the attribute of free will. IE "choice is the exercise of man's volitional faculty" or variations like that. If you define choice similar to that, then no, I do not observe that I make choices and I see no proof or self-evidence for that. Hardly any of those links are definitions. The first one merely states that chance doesn't exist but nothing about what it means. The other ones (except for volitional) aren't that great either, because they touch other topics right and left and are generally quite vague in their formulations and mostly consist of assertions. I heard Dr. Peikoffs Podcast the other day and as part of one of his answers he mentioned that the Oxford Dictionary was his favorite source for definitions. You sound like Objectivism's definitions are the only right ones, which is obviously false. You asked me for my definitions and I gave you mine. Well those are all just assertions: What do you perceive that makes you conclude that free will is self-evident? (please provide your definition of choice here, if you haven't already done so. I have a feeling you will use that word here) Why does the concept of proof or my ability to think require free will?
  12. Well as I said: I don't understand it on the basic level, where it is supposed to be a third option to chance and determinism. (Maybe I did not choose the right words.) I do understand the claim though, that we can do different things in the same conditions. I don't need to understand a concept totally to reject it's proof. I don't need to understand god to deny a proof like: "1+3 = 5, therefore god exists", because 1+3 does not equal 5. I think any claim like "We can do different things, in the same conditions" has no basis and is not observable (or self-evident.. however you like to call it). Now you are getting a bit hairsplitting. I said in my last post, that this was my personal subjective opinion of how the our mind works. I am not claiming that this is a solid proof and I'd have no problem to acknowledge that this is wrong, when I'm pointed to information that contradicts my view. I have no problem with you asking for definitions of words that I use, but maybe you should try to understand what I meant to say before we go into a lengthy discussion about definitions again. But anyways.. random: Any event that has a probability below 100% of occurring or something that follows no pattern. Dictonary definition? Determined: Any event that has a 100% probability of occurring or something that follows a strict pattern (ie when event a, then event b as opposed to when event a then event b or event c) Fundamental randomness: Randomness as a property of reality as opposed to randomness that just occurs because of lack of our information in a complex system, like randomness in weather. In other words that there are entities that act random in a principle way, meaning that even if we had complete information, we still could not forecast it's actions or that all information can't be obtained fundamentally. Causality: Any relation of 2 points in time. You can say event (or point) b in time was caused by event a, without specifying if that relation was random or determined. I'm not sure if thats the dictionary definition, but I think it makes sense. Smart randomness: Well.. somewhat like I described it. I meant that we for one thing don't act random 100%, but also don't act completely determined. As I said I think there is a part in humans that produces random ideas and another part that sorts out ideas worth pursuing. Sort of like if you have a random number generator, and a set of rules that say "Just take numbers that can be divided by 2 and have 5 digits". The output would still be random, but "less random" than the output of the random number generator (who randomly produces numbers without restrictions). I picture the mechanism in our brain similar to that. But again: This all was just my personal view and not part of my argument against the proof of free will. Well.. waiting passively would be solution or result to the problem of "what am I going to do?" But yes you are right, I think. We have to think in order to solve the problems that we are constantly faced with and humans do thinking consciously. Our method of solving problems involves consciouses. I think the only time when a human is not faced with problems (in a wide sense) is when his brain ceases to be active. I think the use of the word "choice" is troublesome here, because it always implies free will, which is why I try to avoid it in such a discussion. That's why I asked you in my last post what you mean by "choice". I can agree with what you wrote here, except for one part but I would formulate this way: a) before taking an action, I am confronted with a problem that I don't know the solution to yet I eventually find a solution to the problem c) After I found a solution I can use the information I obtained from it's effects to reflect on whether or not it was the correct one d) (this is where I disagree because I think the formulation is too vague) I can remember the problem, it's solution and effects and can use these information to help myself find solutions for similar problems. The exact same problem though will never arise again, because knowing that I was in a certain situation before, would alter the situation and the problem, because you now have different information. Your set of mind is part of the problem. The crucial part is though, whether or not you claim that a human can make different choices (or find different solutions), when faced with the exact same problem or situation.
  13. I am not argueing for determinism. The statement: "I will always do the same thing in the same conditions" can also not be proven, because once again: I will never be in the same situation again. I am denying the proof for free will. I am not saying that I can disprove it.. I think free will, as presented by Objectivism is not provable and not disprovable. To your question: I personally don't think that the world is determined. I think there is a fundamental randomness in reality. Concerning our mind, I think that we are "partially" random and "partially" determined, that we have a part in our mind that produces a "stream of consciousness" or a "brainstorming-faculty" that more or less randomly produces ideas and another part that can sort out good ideas from bad onces.. the more reasonable part that decides what ideas are worth pursuing. In fact I believe that a human can make different actions in the same circumstances, but not because of free will, but because kind of "smart randomness". I don't think of myself as an automaton. I am still myself and I'm not less worth or "just a computer" just because I deny a prove of something that I fundamentally can't understand (on a level of causality). But this is just my opinion and clearly not a proof of anything.
  14. edit: this is a response to bluey Well what do mean by choice? If you mean by choice, that I could have done something else, then I don't observe that I made a "choice". In one sense it is correct, when you say "I can either do the laundry or replying to this post", when you fundamentally mean, that you just don't know yet, what you are going to do. Or in other words, you don't know the solution to this problem ("what am I going to do?") yet. The literal sense is obviously false. You can always do only one thing and that is all I can observe. Looking back, I was constantly faced with problems and I always could just pick one option. This is what I observe. I am faced with problems and I find a solution, only one solution. Sure, I have a feeling that I am in control of myself. That I can choose whatever I want. I think this is a result of the fact that we can not predict ourself.. our mind simply can not understand itself on it's own. It's like trying to create a model of a model of a model. I do not reject the concept of "free will" as used in ethics, because one has to acknowledge that this feeling of being in control is human nature and completely rejecting it would be against human nature. What I don't see is any argumentation of why and how free will is in fact a property of reality, because it always implies that you could have done something different in the exact same situation.
  15. I did not say, that I will only choose chocolate in this situation. This is just as baseless, as stating that I could have chosen a different flavor. As I said, the reason why it took me some time to decide is that I (or my mind) can't instantly solve a problem. I need time to process the information I posses to come up with the answer to the question: "what flavor will satisfy my need for ice-cream the most?". I never intended to make a distinction between "my mind" and "I". They are the same thing. I agree with the law of identity. I don't understand your point in the last two sentences. I think free will is unprovable and it is baseless to proclaim it exists (or that we posses free will). Furthermore I think the concept of free will is unthinkable in terms of causality.
  16. Even if existence (or everything I perceive) is an illusion, the illusion exists. The fact that I exist must follow that something exists and that I am conscious. What is you point here? The validity of an argument does no change when the speaker is not certain or has doubts. In my current state of mind, with the information that is available to me right now: Yes I'm certain of my possition. It is the solution my mind came up with concerning the problem. Choice here means to pick between multiple options and in the context of free will it means that I can make different choices. Let's say I stand at a shop and I'm unsure what flavor of ice-cream I should pick. Finally I choose chocolate. How can you _know_ that you could have picked strawberry instead? You will never be in the exact same situation again, ever. Yes, when I'm faced with a problem, it feels like I'm choosing between multiple options. Does that follow I could pick multiple options? No. It does follow, that I can not predict myself. It does follow that our mind does not instantly come up with a solution to a certain problem. Illusion may be the wrong word here. We certainly have the feeling of free will. In that sense it is real, but the conclusions drawn from that fact are wrong. Let's say a man is mentally ill and hears a voice inside his head that proclaims it is god. Is hearing the voice self-evident? Yes it is. Is it self-evident that the voice is in fact the voice of god? Of course not. Is the feeling of free will self-evident? Yes, it is. Is it self-evident that we in fact posses free will? No, it is not. I think the description of what we observe via introspection is wrong. Free will is not a description of what we observe, it is a (false) conclusion. I think, what we in fact observe is: a) Our mind is constantly faced with problems Our mind comes up with solutions for these problems (what chess move should I do next?) c) We can not predict ourself (in the sense that during the process of solving the problem we do not yet know which solution we are settling on)
  17. I think this sounded too harsh. I just wanted to make sure that we don't totally drift of I don't think that self-evident is the core of my disagreement. I'm not only doubting that free will is self-evident, I doubt that one can make _any_ reasonable claim that it must exist. I think it is unprovable. As I said in my post that started our conversation: I don't know what free will is supposed to be on the most fundamental level, in the term of causality; of cause and effect. I know that free will stands for the ability to make different choices when faced with the exact same problem and that this ability is not an instance of randomness. Here is where my misunderstanding starts. What can causality be, when it is neither determinism nor chance? I think any third option is unthinkable and is at best a mixture of determinism and chance, at worst a form of mysticism. Or tell me: What do you perceive that leads you to the conclusion that you could have made a different choice? What is free will, when it is not random and not determined?
  18. Thank you for the links. So sensations are by definition only "used" by entities without awareness (like insects), while perceptions require an awareness and integration of the data in the brain? Ok, I can work with that. Well, if we are talking the same apple, then the source of the information is obviously the same for an adult an for a child. If you mean that by "given", then yes. It is obvious though, that we only perceive a fraction of the possible information about an object (only a small spectrum of visible light for example). Now if, as you said, the eyes work the same in the adult and the child, it does not follow that the perceptions must be the same. This information that the senses are sending to the brain is what I meant with "raw data". This "raw data" must be the same for the adult and the child, but this "raw data" does not create perceptions. The senses do not produce the image of the apple in our minds.. they are just a part of that. The raw data must be interpreted by the brain. If you damage the the brain region that deals with interpreting the data from the eyes, then you see nothing. Now your question was if knowledge can change the perception of the apple. Well maybe the perception of the apple does not change, when you know how it is grown or how it's biochemical setup is. I think though, that we can consciously influence the brain regions that are used for interprating the "raw" data from the senses and therefore change our perceptions. A deaf boy actually managed to "develop" a kind of echo-sounding system and I think it is unlikely to think that he just happens to have exceptionally good ears; it is much more likely that the brain adapted after years of training. Another interesting example: If you put on glasses that let you see everything upside-down and wear them for a certain amount of time, your brain adapts and you see things normally again. If you take the glasses off then, you see everything upside-down again until your brain readapts. So even if the child and the adult have the same eyes, ears, and sensory cells for touch, it does not follow that the perceive the apple the same way. Didn't I say the same thing, just without objectivist terms? I don't know what you are trying to say with your second-last sentence.. Sure that is true for the concept of illusion and hallucination, but you don't have to understand the concept of an illusion to experience one. I think a mathematical proof is in fact a proof in the definition of the word proof. Peikoff said that you need evidence to conduct a proof and I don't think that word works well in terms of math. The proof for Ferman's Last Theorem only required the logical methodology of math and the mathematical axioms. That's why I think Peikoff's definition is too narrow. Well as I said: We are directly aware of _certain_ attributes of objects like a) It causes me to think that it is a stone It causes me to smell the scent of a flower Is it therefore self-evident that it is a flower or a stone? No. Existence is always self-evident because no matter what I perceive, I perceive something. and by the way.. could you please tell me where we are going in terms of discussing my questions about free will? Also I did listen to those Peikoff podcasts, but they didn't address my issues at all.
  19. She said direct perception is self-evident. Does she mean that self-evident equals direct perception / awareness? Its not clear to me how she distinguishes from percepts and sensations.. those two have the same translation in German. Existence: certainly. I think we are broadly on the same side here. The example of the child is a scientific one, in my opinion. The feeling of touch, smell, taste and the image we see of that apple are not pure "raw" data, but are interpretations of that date by certain brain-regions. I am not sure if these specific brain-regions actually adapt over time and change our perceptions. Evidence could be that people who loose their eyesight tend to develop a more acute hearing. Concerning direct awareness of attributes of objects: Well, you certainly are aware, that a certain object looks like it has 4 edges and looks like a stone. Is it therefore self-evident that there is in fact a stone with 4 edges in front of me? Certainly not; it might be a hallucination or a illusion. The information I got about this object is real (something must have caused me to see what I see) and some of the information about it must be true ("To me, it looks like a stone"). Are the physical attributes of something that I see self-evident? No (illusions, hallucinations). Not really.. or I'm not sure what he means by "evidence". Is a mathematical axiom considered to be "evidence"? I think the word does not fit there. I don't think you need the criteria of evidence, because the laws of logic alone tell you, that you need a starting point in form of an axiom and "evidence" is a too narrow term. There is no "evidence" for a mathematical axiom flying out there in the universe and yet once you found a proof in math (without errors), it will be true forever (with the same axioms).
  20. Yeah sorry about that. I think there are self-evident concepts or entities, like existence and consciousness. They can't be refuted without using them, they form the base of our thinking. They are axioms and therefore can not be proven. Free will is not self-evident or axiomatic in that sense. Proof is a statement, that was verified with the laws of logic.
  21. I don't doubt that there is no such thing, that is self-evident. I doubt that free will is self-evident. I have not been through all of Peikoff's podcasts yet, but so far my issues were not addressed. Usually the argument, that free will is self evident starts with: "I observe that I make choices", if you follow that though, you don't have anything self-evident: "What are choices?" "Picking between more than one alternative." "What are alternatives?" "Different courses of action that I could have followed." "How can you prove that you could made a different action?" At this point, the only answer I see is: "I can't, since the prove would require an impossible experiment." (recreating the same conditions)
  22. Thanks for the links. I may not have a free choice, that doesn't mean I'm predictable
  23. I don't know if you heard about it but in the past days there was a crime in Germany that got a lot of attention: BBC News Now it's obvious that the crime of the man was serious and evil, but what really bugs me is what happened in Egypt afterwards and more importantly: The reaction of our politicians. Angle Merkel apologized for what happened so did Frank Walter Steinmeier (the biggest rival for the upcoming elections) and with no word did they say anything about the totally inappropriate reaction of the Egyptian government, press and population. Apparently the crowd in Alexandria shouted something about death to Germany and death to Europe. I'm not sure if this fear of offending Muslims is that strong in other countries, since Germany has some real trouble there because of our history. Sort of reminds me of the danish cartoons and the trouble our politicians had to defend the freedom of speech. Just a little warning: Don't let the radicals play the victim role. They are good at it and will use anything they get.
  24. One big and ongoing problem in this broader context of volition / free will / determinism is that I still have no idea what volition / free will actually is (supposed to be). Volition has to be fundamentally different from determinism and randomness to achieve this task of making a "free choice". A read self-causation in relation to volition often, but that still doesn't answer this new type of causation for me. What is self-causation? What happens when an entity causes something "itself". I can't think of anything in that term that would not simply be random (a radioactive atom causes the decay "itself"). Now I don't have a problem with an (proclaimed) entity (black holes) or concept (consciousness) that just isn't fully understood yet, as long as it is clear what the core is (very high gravitational object / being self-aware). With volition though, this new type of causation remains undescribed and unthinkable (to me). The only real information I seem to get is that we have to have volition because: a) We can observe it via introspection (I don't.. if you want to know why I don't observe free will via introspection, just ask - I wrote about it in a few posts already, but I can summarize it if there's a demand) We posses knowledge (where the argument mostly works via defining knowledge as volitional and therefore being nothing more than a play with words) c) We need it as a starting point for Ethics ("If we don't have volition then we are merely robots and I can't argue with you" obviously the poorest argument, because the correct answer to this question should not be answered by thinking emotionally about it's consequences and the interpretation is very arguable either.. sadly I feel that quite a few people have Ethics in mind when they talk about free will - don't take that as an argument please) So the only information about what free will is, is that we have to have it. Now how can you honestly claim to have proven something, that yet remains undescribed, where the only attribute is, that it is there?
  25. crizon


    I don't see how simply labeling someone as a terrorist and proclaiming a state of war is justified after, let's say a bombing, or how the principles may change. If you blow up a train, it is not worse when you do it because you fight the government than if you do it because you enjoy seeing dead people. A different motive does not permit more usage of force by the government as retaliation. Fighting Terrorism is _not_ comparable to a classical war. It was an arbitrary juggling of words to proclaim a "war on terror" and label the terrorist "enemy combatants" by the US government. That is exactly my point. The punishment or "the amount of retaliatory force" changes not because of the crime he committed, but because of what he knows, which is no crime itself. The key here is that you are using force against an individual that poses no current threat _not_ because of his crimes but because the society has a benefit. Once you consider torture in this context moral, you will open the door to a lot more situations where torture may be used because the line to just use it against terrorists is simply arbitrary.
  • Create New...