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The illusion of volition(AKA free will)

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Tsiklon
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I dunno, I asked you the same thing. Indeed, how does that happen?

(shrug...) It just does. If's fact of life.

If you can observe the process of thoughts and emotions affecting your actions as if you were another person, you'll realize that you can override that process any time you freely choose to do so.

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If there is a Mind-Body problem then there is also a Stomach-DIgestion problem. Digestion is what the Stomach does. Mind(ing) is what the Brain does.

ruveyn1

Bad anology, ruveyn. The stomach shows no signs of sentience nor does it have any ability to use the nervous system to control other parts of the body(like the heart for example).

Now if there is indeed downward causation when it comes to decision making in the brain(And the mind of course), then what that suggests is that there is something else going on in our heads, something very profound, to which current neurology-electrical signals and synaptic chemical mediation-cannot account for and perhaps modern science has yet to discover.

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"'…If, as a staunch determinist such as Baron Holbach states in his System of Nature, man’s ‘ideas come to him involuntarily’- if man is ‘wise or foolish, reasonable or irrational, without his will being for anything in these various states”- then by what right does he or any other determinist claim his ‘involuntary‘ ideas as knowledge? A determinist can only announce: ‘Destiny forces me to believe’, etc. He cannot claim to know anything.” ('The Contradiction of Determinism" by Nathaniel Branden)

I had never realized that knowledge itself implies the fact that humans possess free will. Prior to reading this essay, my understanding of free will was based on the fact that if humans do not possess free will then existence would have to be, quite literally, pure chaos. It would have to be pure chaos because every experience of consciousness would have to be a) not really an experience of consciousness and b ) arbitrary; then even the arbitrary belief in an awareness of consciousness is just some arbitrary occurrence but it is contradictory for consciousness to be both arbitrary and aware of the fact that it is arbitrary. In hindsight I see that I failed to identify the fact that a contradiction can be identified and thus implies the existence of knowledge. You explained free will on a much more fundamental level and reiterated the importance of examining all ideas from the most fundamental level possible...

As I mentioned earlier, I used to be a determinist. In fact, I remember a specific phone conversation I had with my mother when I was attending Florida Gulf Coast University. I spoke to her of my intense depression, and dread over my belief that I was doomed for misery. It was that sense of doom that had always haunted me. A year and a half later (after a temporary absence from college) I attended a community college and took an introductory philosophy course. At this time I was only curious about philosophy. I was not consciously passionate about it. My passion at the time was poetry. I thought however that a good poet ought to have a sufficient understanding of philosophy. Ironically, I didn’t even know the definition of philosophy. I won’t tell you every disturbing detail about that course, or that college, (I’m sure the existence of community college itself saddens you; it saddens me!) but I must tell you about a question I asked my professor. The professor’s name is Dr. Jamey Heit. The particular course Dr. Heit was teaching was called “Moral Choices; An Introduction to Philosophy”. Now one day I rose my hand and asked my professor the following question: If we have free will, is it limited or does it include the free will to choose our beliefs? His answer was “that is a topic for a more advanced course”. This disturbed me tremendously since one cannot discuss morality without first knowing if one even has the free will to understand morality and furthermore act on that understanding. Furthermore, I remained uncertain about the nature of my free will or lack there of since even though I did believe I had free will I didn’t know it.

“The Contradiction of Determinism” is the most eloquent, thorough discussion on free will that I have read. I can now most certainly say “I know I have free will”. Again, thank you. (It is true that Ayn Rand notes the fact that we have free will, and notes the implications, but so far as I am aware, she never wrote an in depth essay on free will as such.)" ("An Epistle To Dr. Nathaniel Branden" )

Edited by Sean O'Connor
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I can't continue the discussion, since you abandoned reason for faith. "It just does" doesn't cut it on a philosophy forum.

You're being silly now.

How you can you reject your own direct literal real world personal observation as being "abandoned reason" is beyond me. There's hardly anything you could do that's more unreasonable than that. I don't know why the relationship between the mind, the brain, and the body is the way it is. I did not design the way things are. I just know by personal experience the way things work, and so I use that practical information to live a better life.

Once you regard self reflective observation of your own thoughts and emotions as "abandoning reason for faith", all there is left is an unexamined life... so I'll leave you to what you have already freely chosen with all of its consequences.

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You're being silly now.

How you can you reject your own direct literal real world personal observation as being "abandoned reason" is beyond me. There's hardly anything you could do that's more unreasonable than that. I don't know why the relationship between the mind, the brain, and the body is the way it is. I did not design the way things are. I just know by personal experience the way things work, and so I use that practical information to live a better life.

Once you regard self reflective observation of your own thoughts and emotions as "abandoning reason for faith", all there is left is an unexamined life... so I'll leave you to what you have already freely chosen with all of its consequences.

Things are "designed" the way things are?
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Well, he is a Christian, after all ...

Yes, I am. :)

... and I made that perfectly clear from day one. There is no conflict between Ayn Rand's objective sense of moral justice and how I regard God's to be. And I don't believe in the liberals' religious fantasies of God any more than she did.

Edited by moralist
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Things are "designed" the way things are?

Yes.

From the infintessimally exquisite quantum particle dance... to the billions of light years of great rotating galaxies... to a planet with liquid water... to the 50 trillion living cells in your body... to the moral law everyone answers to whether they like it or not.

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I had never realized that knowledge itself implies the fact that humans possess free will.

It DOESN'T. A computer can have knowledge in the form of encoded information and modern computers are absolutely deterministic. Furthermore, determinism does not imply predictability nor does it imply chaos. That is a false dichotomy. Nonlinear deterministic systems are not 100% predictable even though they are not truly random. Uncertainy exists due to nonlinearity; and particularly due to heavily nested feedback loops. Determinism means that there are no hidden variables. A good example of non-determinism is radioactive decay which is is totally random because radioactive nuclei cannot exchange information with each other. Uncertainty in a nonlinear system is bounded and its occurence, though not predictable, has measurable constraints.

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A mans ideas often come to him when his brain is analyzing or calculating something and an idea sneaks of up on him and he's like.........EUREKA! The same is often true when it comes to creative ideas for art, music, and writing. That being said, ideas can come from a deterministic process in the brain but they also arise chaotically without deliberate intent.

Now if there actually is a higher power that governs us and the rest of the Cosmos, I would wager that this higher power has not bestowed us with true free will but would like us to think we are in control of our thoughts and actions. But one thing is clear: Free will does not apply to emotions. *Feelings* cannot be turned on and off by conscious intent, but they can be manipulated indirectly.

Edited by Tsiklon
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A mans ideas often come to him when his brain is analyzing or calculating something and an idea sneaks of up on him and he's like.........EUREKA! The same is often true when it comes to creative ideas for art, music, and writing. That being said, ideas can come from a deterministic process in the brain but they also arise chaotically without deliberate intent.

That is because the brain is a computer...

...and the mind is a radio. ;)

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It DOESN'T. A computer can have knowledge in the form of encoded information and modern computers are absolutely deterministic.

This statement is in error because it equivocates knowledge with information. They are not interchangeable concepts. Knowledge requires and implies the existence of a knower, but information does not. Computers (common Harvard architecture computers of all sizes and speeds) do not qualify as knowers, they merely hold and serve up information. A knower requires and implies the power to correct its own errors, and to recognize error as a failure of correspondence between what exists and what it regards as knowledge. Information is a primitive physical quantity, analogous to length or mass, measured in units of bits.

Edited by Grames
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Ok. If the brain (the physical) is also the mind, then the brain/mind is a purely physical "thing". Since all thought, which is the start if all action, i.e. volition and/or free will, is simply the result of an electro-chemical reaction in the brain, one has to ask what the prime instigator of that thought is. N'est ce pas?

Answer: Ion transporting through a semi-permeable membrane.

And yes the brain is our mind in the sense that the process we call mind (or better yet, minding) is the emergent effect of physical causes.

ruveyn1

How do I get rid of this damned bolding?

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Answer: Ion transporting through a semi-permeable membrane.

And yes the brain is our mind in the sense that the process we call mind (or better yet, minding) is the emergent effect of physical causes.

ruveyn1

How do I get rid of this damned bolding?

Highlight the affected letters and cycle the B a few times. When I quoted your post, it appeared that the B got stuck and didn't recognize that they were bold.

I see the brain and the mind differently. I see the activity of the brain as an effect of the mind.

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Why the discussion about mind/brain dicothomy? In a philosophic sense it doesn't matter , unless you are trying to show that consciousness does not exist. If you agree that consciousness exists , than the scientific explanation of the phenomenon is tangential to consciousness as such. If it could be shown that the mind actually resides or emerges from the liver, how would that change or affect what consciousness is?

Edited by tadmjones
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Why the discussion about mind/brain dicothomy? In a philosophic sense it doesn't matter , unless you are trying to show that consciousness does not exist. If you agree that consciousness exists , than the scientific explanation of the phenomenon is tangential to consciousness as such. If it could be shown that the mind actually resides or emerges from the liver, how would that change or affect what consciousness is?

Yes. You can get a liver transplant. You can't get a brain transplant.

ruveyn1

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