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Accepted determinism

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I have always given a lot of thought into determinism. I have concluded that there is no way around the fact that we are governed by the laws of cause and effect. This isnt a free will/determinism debate. What I am bringing up is the implications it would have if it were considered a fact among everyone in the world. I believe the world would be a better place all around. Once we see the world for what it really is we can begin to fix the problems and prevent new ones from occurring. I see the free will side as trying to use a program with no understanding of what makes up the program. You can only guess until you understand the underlying principals. People would know how to avoid the temptation to smoke instead of saying "oh, i can just have this one cigarette and not start again". Almost everyone who is in the process of kicking the habit is going to go right out and buy a new pack. That illusion of free will is destructive. Humans may have many ideas or thoughts at once but the fact is that everyone on the earth will always go with the strongest desire. Smoking is a very small and basic argument but the same logic can be applied to everything that encompass the human thought process. Which is pretty much everything. So in short, I believe determinism is not only a physical law but a mindset that could lead to the solution of all of the problems our world is facing.

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You want people to accept the doctrine of psychological determinism in order to make better choices in life, so we can solve all the problems of the world [such as choosing not to smoke after learning of the addictive nature of smoking]?

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Firstly, we both agree that we are made up of a very finite and very law driven building blocks. " I would not dispute the fact that the particles which make up the human brain and form the physical basis for human consciousness act deterministically". I agree with that and is a very strong support for my belief. Think of a computer program. Its building blocks (1s and 0s) are very determined, they also apply to the cause and effect. You are bound by those things. You can look at the code of a program and Determine what it WILL do. There is not another option other then THE right one. You can launch that program one million times and get the same result.(assuming there was no degradation) I see humans the same way. If we agree that we are bound by those very basic things then how could we even fathom that we could act any different than what makes us what we are. Its like having some nuts and bolts and being told to make a living whale out of it. It isnt possible because the building blocks(the nuts and bolts) do not permit it.

Secondly, I do not believe that knowledge itself is a direct result of volition. Volition I believe(correct me if a am wrong) implies intent. If knowledge came from only intent then that would mean that you could never gain anything from accidents. Only things you meant to do. Which seems like a viscous cycle. We learn by accidents. In science they say there is no such things as a failed experiment. Even if you didnt gain what you intended to gain, you still gain. I also do not see the acceptance of determinism as contradictory. I have the traits that i believe have given me the ability to see it. I have always been very strong in seeing patterns. I believe we are deterministic because of the patterns. If you have a set of numbers. 3.5.7.9 ect, You dont have to see what is coming next or what came before to know what will come and what has come. So in short I see determinism as a very complex pattern that can and must be figured out.

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"You want people to accept the doctrine of psychological determinism in order to make better choices in life, so we can solve all the problems of the world [such as choosing not to smoke after learning of the addictive nature of smoking]?"

I think the world would be a better place if they did. Given enough time and a computer beyond our comprehension I am certain that everyone will believe this. We could stop with our attempts at fixing things and just understand the "program". Once you fully understand the program, there is no trial and error. There is just doing. With math say you have 2x*4=16. You arent going to randomly plug numbers into "x" to see what fits. You are going to take the logical approach and come up with only 1 answer. The right answer. Applying that to politics has dramatic effect. Applying it to anything has a dramatic effect. We wouldnt have a bunch of old people pulling ideas out of their ass that they have no idea if it will work or not. Its like the person who is no good at math just randomly plugging in numbers until one fits instead of using the process(determinism) to figure out the only right(according to whatever the goal is) answer.

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Dante's absolutely correct, and that was very well-spoken on his behalf.

The important thing for me was the realization that "the map is not the territory", wherein I found it important to note that human consciousness is more than the sum of its subatomic parts. One must always take into account the context. I highly doubt that it's possible to extract particles and make them act in the same way and produce consciousness in an inanimate object such as a rock. The underlying necessity is that human beings are manufactured (well, not literally) in such a way that the context and natural conditions for free-will become possible. The causal interactions between these particles are deterministic, but only to an extent. The ensuing interactions of these particles produce a phenomenon which we call volition, given the exclusive context of a human brain.

I'll use an analogy, which may or may not be physically relevant, precise, or accurate. Consider a physical mass, M, with forces F1 and F2 acting on it in different directions, such that the system in equilibrium. Classical physics tells us that M does not move. It's as if the deterministic factors (comparable to F1 and F2) cancel each other out in magnitude/direction and produce a net neutral effect. That is, although M does not move, modern physics tells us M still has energy. Volition, to me, is the potential energy of the mind. There is no mind-body dichotomy, wherein a functional mind can exist without the body. We are not all deterministic robots with our futures pre-set through a series of inevitable particle interactions. This neutrality, if we continue with my silly analogy, may explain the Benevolent Universe premise as well. That the universe is neither set in our favor, nor is it set against us. It simply is. We simply are. I simply am.

Existence Exists.

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Secondly, I do not believe that knowledge itself is a direct result of volition. Volition I believe(correct me if a am wrong) implies intent. If knowledge came from only intent then that would mean that you could never gain anything from accidents. Only things you meant to do. Which seems like a viscous cycle. We learn by accidents. In science they say there is no such things as a failed experiment. Even if you didnt gain what you intended to gain, you still gain.

But this is missing a key ingredient in the process of how failed experiments might contribute to knowledge. Simply observing that an experiment returned an accidental result will not get you knowledge. The knowledge of what caused the accident does not follow automatically from the observation. A process of thought is required to analyze the accident and to turn our primary observations (the evidence of the senses) into conceptual knowledge. It is true that unexpected results are some of the richest raw material for scientific discoveries, but that's all they are; raw material. In order to become knowledge, conscious thought (and therefore volition) must get involved.

The key point is that, because knowledge is not automatic, the process for gaining it is fallible. This is why we need volition; it is the only tool that allows us to conscientiously separate the true from the false. Without choice (and the fundamental choice in the Objectivist view is whether or not to focus), we would not be able to eliminate contradictions in our thinking or to weigh evidence in support of a conclusion. This is the only way that knowledge comes about, and it relies on the existence of volition. This is why Objectivists consider free will to be axiomatic; any attempt to deny it relies on its existence.

We could stop with our attempts at fixing things and just understand the "program". Once you fully understand the program, there is no trial and error.

Obviously the Objectivist view of free will, even though it leaves room for using knowledge of the human mind to one's benefit, eliminates the possibility that we will ever get a program that deterministically simulates human action. Such a goal is flawed from the start.

Edited by Dante
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" Classical physics tells us that M does not move. It's as if the deterministic factors (comparable to F1 and F2) cancel each other out in magnitude/direction and produce a net neutral effect. That is, although M does not move, modern physics tells us M still has energy. Volition, to me, is the potential energy of the mind."

I can agree with what you are saying to an extent. If i understand you correct then the "potential energy of the mind" would be thoughts and ideas Caused by external forces (F1 and F2). The only problem is that if they are causing "M" to not move then it is like neither of them exist at all. which still falls into my determinism theory. I am thinking about what i will do 5 minutes from now. I could smoke, stay on here, sleep, watch tv ect....I cant do all of them at once so even though they are all seem possible there is only one outcome that will happen. In your example even though F1 and F2 are acting and saying different things (applied to human cognition that would be the Smoking,stay on here, sleep ect..)there will only be one thing happening for there can only be one right answer. So since none of those other things happened that means that it was impossible for them to happen.

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We could stop with our attempts at fixing things and just understand the "program". Once you fully understand the program, there is no trial and error. There is just doing.

There is an important distinction to be made here between the definitions of 'knowledge' and 'information'. Surely, it may not be out of the realm of possibilities in the future to establish a microchip embedded with information of sorts and have the mind be able to access this information. However, to clarify Dante's point, I think what he was trying to say is that there is no way to program 'knowledge' into an individual. Modern philosophy uses knowledge with regard to the JTB model. Deduction, induction, and all processes of reason, etc. cannot be programmed, according to the Objectivist view, since they are not automatic. The process of thinking is crucial because it establishes a link between the knower and information, one which is not automatic. A computer may contain lots of programmed information, but it contains zero knowledge. Artificial intelligence can neither mimic nor surmount the capacities of human volition.

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People would know how to avoid the temptation to smoke instead of saying "oh, i can just have this one cigarette and not start again". Almost everyone who is in the process of kicking the habit is going to go right out and buy a new pack. That illusion of free will is destructive. Humans may have many ideas or thoughts at once but the fact is that everyone on the earth will always go with the strongest desire. Smoking is a very small and basic argument but the same logic can be applied to everything that encompass the human thought process.

You are saying that a person using free will can become committed to a cycle of addiction (biological or psychological) against their will.

You are then saying that a person understanding "determinism" (a term yet to be defined) would automatically know that cigarettes are capable of causing addiction, and would therefore choose to not pick one up.

If I have restated the above in a manner that is true to your meaning, then I must ask:

1. how does the 2nd person come by their automatic knowledge?

2. how is it that the 2nd person chooses not to pick one up, if they truly have no choice in the matter?

If I am missing something please clarify. I am trying to see your fundamental argument.

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If i understand you correct then the "potential energy of the mind" would be thoughts and ideas Caused by external forces (F1 and F2). The only problem is that if they are causing "M" to not move then it is like neither of them exist at all.

I understand free body diagrams, and have a good command of Physics, but I am not seeing the relevance of the example as it is being used. If you are going to elaborate on that, you might want to account for "static equilibrium" vs. "dynamic equilibrium" and also define the potential energy object M is supposed to have. If it is gravitational potential energy, then you would have to account for its distance above the Earth. That would be potential energy which provides movement in a vertical direction (down); F1 and F2 acting on the sides do not alter that because they are acting in a lateral direction. If you are saying "no, it's a battery, capable of providing electrical energy" then F1 and F2 are irrelevant (pushing on the sides of the battery does not increase or reduce voltage). Clarify if I'm missing something or if I have overcooked the analogy.

So since none of those other things happened that means that it was impossible for them to happen.

Slippery slope fallacy -- see here: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/slippery-slope.html

Edited by Sirius1
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"You are saying that a person using free will can become committed to a cycle of addiction (biological or psychological) against their will."

I am a determinist...so I am not saying anything about a person using free will...

I am saying that people doing potentially destructive things are more prone to if they think they can will their way out of danger. As far as the physics thing, i was going with your analogy and what i thought you meant by it. I didnt make it up, i said "If i understand you correct" . As for the definition of determinism i thought that was an obvious thing. If you werent aware of what it meant, i am not sure why you felt a need to post. The definition is as follows.

"Determinism is the view that every event, including human cognition, behavior, decision, and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. Determinists believe the universe is fully governed by causal laws resulting in only one possible state at any point in time"

Its nothing mystical, as I see it, it is just common sense.

ALSO, read my first post and you will realize that nobody has even addressed the issue at hand. Look at the title of the thread. "This isnt a free will/determinism debate."

Stick to the topic or dont post here. There are plenty of free will/determinism debate threads. This is not one of them.

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Mr. Stickels, did you read the forum rules? This isn't a forum for just spreading views contrary to Objectivism, which seems to be what you are doing. In order to, as you say, "address the issue at hand", someone would have to agree with you that determinism is factual.

Further, you're getting indignant when people oppose you on that point! What you're doing is considered rude at best.

Edited by musenji
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So in short, I believe determinism is not only a physical law but a mindset that could lead to the solution of all of the problems our world is facing.

You are going to have a difficult time coming on to a forum with a philosophy that specifically denies determinism and then talk about it as if it were a given.... no matter what you WANT to talk about.

I would ask that you consider reviewing the forum rules and decide whether or not this is the proper forum for you to discuss your views. As it is right now, you are looking for shoes in hammer store.

Stick to the topic or dont post here.

You are here for a minute and now you are making demands of forum members who have been here for years? Sorry bud, doesn't work that way.

Edited by RationalBiker
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"Determinism is the view that every event, including human cognition, behavior, decision, and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. Determinists believe the universe is fully governed by causal laws resulting in only one possible state at any point in time"

Objectivists regard human volition as a part of that causal chain. I could go into a great detailed explanation, or I could make a book reccomendation, either is within my power of choice, and either will affect the rest of my day. (depending on how long I choose to sit at the keyboard) Or I could do neither, choosing the virtue of productivity by going to work rather than talking in circles on the internet. Its common sense.

ALSO, read my first post and you will realize that nobody has even addressed the issue at hand. Look at the title of the thread. "This isnt a free will/determinism debate."

OK. "Accepted" as opposed to what?

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Stick to the topic or dont post here. There are plenty of free will/determinism debate threads. This is not one of them.

Well, if the idea is just "supposing determinism were true...", then really this discussion isn't important. There's nothing to figure out. Any thought you have could not have been helped. Interestingly, an article I read a while back - though not supportive of free will - talked about how a belief in free will makes people more productive, while a belief in determinism makes people less productive.

This is the article I was referring to: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/science/22tier.html

Edited by Eiuol
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There have been studies done where a group of people were told to read a book supporting determinism and then take a test. They had another group of people read a similar book with the wording slightly changed to support free will. Then they had everyone take a test on it. The people who read the book supporting determinism were more likely to cheat on their test. So based on that i was saying that i think the world would be a better place still if we all excepted it. Most social psychologists believe in determinism but agree that it could be destructive, so they just let people think they are free because only a select few people can handle it if they knew the truth, in their eyes.

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"talked about how a belief in free will makes people more productive, while a belief in determinism makes people less productive."

Believing in God on average makes people more happy and comfortable. Trust is more important then comfort, productivity or anything you can possible think of.

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so as you can see this wasnt a free will debate as i said. It is a debate on if it were considered true, if the world would be better off knowing this or not knowing this.

As I said, if determinism were true, it would mean you have no choice in anything you do. You couldn't form a government that took advantage of determinism, you couldn't alter social policy, because the choices people make are already determined, including you as a policy maker. Whether you believed in determinism would also be determined. You in no way would be better off, because you would know - if you can even use the word "know" in this context - that whatever you did, you would have no control over the course of your life; life would become a matter of chance and nothing more.

Edited by Eiuol
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so as you can see this wasnt a free will debate as i said. It is a debate on if it were considered true, if the world would be better off knowing this or not knowing this.

I don't think you'll find many here who support the view that if X is true, people would be better off not knowing it. Objectivism views man as, fundamentally, a rational being whose primary means of survival is utilizing reason to understand the world and thus to act successfully in it. The more an individual knows about the world, the better equipped he is to live and thrive in it. A rational individual with a coherent code of values, who wishes to achieve these values in reality, should not be afraid of learning the truth. Now this is not to make the broad claim that for any given individual, rational or irrational, more information always means more success; people following bad epistemologies or poor, contradictory moral codes may very well suffer by knowing some particular fact about the world. However, the solution to this is not for them to stay misinformed, but rather to reform their harmful philosophy. There is nothing to be gained from trying to trick others into being better people; genuine values must be accepted consciously and willfully. Since determinism is in fact false, the world would be better off knowing that.

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