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Buridan's Ass

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Leonid
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      Dearest Every One,

    I was wrong when I asserted that free will is pre-conceptual and I figured out why: since the definition of free will is the freedom of the choice to think or not, concepts pre-suppose free will, similar to how existence pre-supposes a conscioussness. A consciousness without something to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms and, therefore, the freedom to choose to think or not, without something to think about, is nonsense. And let me add that I've realized that all non-conceptual consciousnesss should be categorized as "the metaphysical," in the context of "the Metaphysical vs. the Man-Made" (see Miss Rand's essay). Because without volition, their actions, like inanimate objects acting in accordance with their nature, couldn't have acted otherwise.   

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On Post # 39 you quoted Miss Rand, then said, "On this we both disagree with her." Scroll up, it's there, Dearest Leonid. Maybe you mis-typed; you meant to say agree, not disagree?  Anyway, I'm glad you created a new word, "animolition," to help describe what you are trying to prove (or figure out). Can I include an infant (who is still on the pre-conceptual level) in animolition?

Yes I think it would be proper to ascribe such a faculty to infants as well.

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Dearest Leo, pages 20-25 in VOS already explained all that, eloquently. Is there a new idea here? If so, please assert it in one, blunt sentence, as if Hemmingway turned Objectivist. 

In VOS Ayn Rand simply postulates that man has different means of survival, his mind and Free will. She doesn't explicitly explain how Free Will developed and what are its evolutionary precursors. This is a fascinating question which I try to resolve. In fact such a question has been addressed by philosophers, psychologists and neurobiologists. The ideas which are closest to the satisfactory solution i found here http://homepage.univie.ac.at/tecumseh.fitch/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Fitch2008NanointentionalityCorrect.pdf

Edited by Leonid
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      Dearest Every One,

    I was wrong when I asserted that free will is pre-conceptual and I figured out why: since the definition of free will is the freedom of the choice to think or not, concepts pre-suppose free will, similar to how existence pre-supposes a conscioussness. A consciousness without something to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms and, therefore, the freedom to choose to think or not, without something to think about, is nonsense. And let me add that I've realized that all non-conceptual consciousnesss should be categorized as "the metaphysical," in the context of "the Metaphysical vs. the Man-Made" (see Miss Rand's essay). Because without volition, their actions, like inanimate objects acting in accordance with their nature, couldn't have acted otherwise.   

 Something to think about is self-awareness. The first conscious thought which appears around age of 18 months is realization of  " I". But there is  is much more than that. All living objects act when inanimate objects acted upon. In other words animate objects are capable to initiate action all by themselves without antecedent cause and that means they are driven by self-causation This is a huge topic which i cannot even start to discuss  on this thread. if you interested you may read a book by Dr. Binswanger " The Biological basis of teleological concepts". But if one accepts the theory of self-causation, then Free Will could be explained as self-causation on the cognitive level of self-awareness. This is also a reason why Free Will, " animolition" or any self-initiated goal orientated action of any organism couldn't  be reduced to the chemical or physical processes. Molecules and atoms are not living objects. Life starts on the level of cell.

Edited by Leonid
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 Something to think about is self-awareness. The first conscious thought which appears around age of 18 months is realization of  " I". But there is  is much more than that. All living objects act when inanimate objects acted upon. In other words animate objects are capable to initiate action all by themselves without antecedent cause and that means they are driven by self-causation This is a huge topic which i cannot even start to discuss  on this thread. if you interested you may read a book by Dr. Binswanger " The Biological basis of teleological concepts". But if one accepts the theory of self-causation, then Free Will could be explained as self-causation on the cognitive level of self-awareness. This is also a reason why Free Will, " animolition" or any self-initiated goal orientated action of any organism couldn't  be reduced to the chemical or physical processes. Molecules and atoms are not living objects. Life starts on the level of cell.

The value you seek requires scientists. Thank you for taking the time to clarify.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Suppose you place an hungry ass precisely midway between two stacks of hay, equal in every respect. Make sure that an ass perceives both stacks equally. According to the 14th century philosopher Jean Buridan the poor animal will die of starvation, unable to choose which stack to approach first. From this thought experiment we could learn first that animals could choose, and if volition is an ability to choose, then they have volition. Although this is hard wired, unconscious volition, it's volition nevertheless. Second, volition presupposes an hierarchy of values. if all values are equal, no choice is possible. Such an experiment could be easily modified for humans. However, man possesses self-awareness and  conscious volition and therefore is able to make non-rational, random choices, which are not related to the hierarchy of values. In any case I'm pretty sure that man in such a situation will have no difficulty whatsoever to grab the bar of gold, or just a plate with spare ribs. Wouldn't that be a proof of existence of volitional consciousness?

It's pretty much impossible to test this theory... No two haystacks could be EXACTLY the same

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A long semicircular vat of water, (or a complete circle) could easily be constructed such that it WOULD be perfectly symmetrical to the perception of an ass.  Place the ass at the center and we could watch in reality which portion of the water it would approach to slake its thirst...

 

Oh but no it will die of thirst since it would be paralyzed from indecision.

 

 

Only a certain "kind" of "philosopher" (notice the quotes) would believe that in actual reality the animal would be paralyzed.  Science... biology? What's that? 

 

 

Raise your hand if you feel thusly:  Reality "should" (ideally) behave according to my theory... if it doesn't (in practice) .. reality be damned. (Rationalist much...?)

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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Dearest Leo, pages 20-25 in VOS already explained all that, eloquently. Is there a new idea here? If so, please assert it in one, blunt sentence, as if Hemmingway turned Objectivist. 

I never claimed that I intend to re-write Objectivism. My purpose was to highlight certain points.

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A long semicircular vat of water, (or a complete circle) could easily be constructed such that it WOULD be perfectly symmetrical to the perception of an ass.  Place the ass at the center and we could watch in reality which portion of the water it would approach to slake its thirst...

 

Oh but no it will die of thirst since it would be paralyzed from indecision.

 

 

Only a certain "kind" of "philosopher" (notice the quotes) would believe that in actual reality the animal would be paralyzed.  Science... biology? What's that? 

 

 

Raise your hand if you feel thusly:  Reality "should" (ideally) behave according to my theory... if it doesn't (in practice) .. reality be damned. (Rationalist much...?)

Even so it's impossible to make all conditions exactly equal. For sure an ass will reach the water in the straight line sight-which he directly perceives.He cannot see the whole circle.

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