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Do animals have volition II?

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9 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Is volition philosophic or a matter to be delegated to the realm of microscopes and corpuscular dissection and comparison?

You asked scientific questions. You complicated the philosophical question (that no one was questioning anyway) by presenting scientific questions as if they were philosophical questions. Also, don't use poetry, say what you mean. "Corpuscular dissection" only makes your point more obscure.

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19 hours ago, merjet said:

Wrong. You wrote: "'Physical' volition, we (men and all life forms) possess" (link).  

Any reader, except maybe you, can see plainly that you did. You even sloppily included plants ("all life forms"). 

 

I explained three times: I first and briefly used "'physical' volition" loosely (and metaphorically)- then I corrected it for a precise term.

Second: Indeed, ALL life forms ("organisms") have and display "goal-directed action" according to Rand and which I have consistently held to. -

"Only a *living* entity can have goals or can originate them. ... On the *physical* level, the functions of all living organisms, from the simplest to the most complex...are actions generated by the organism itself and directed to a single goal: the maintenance of the organism's LIFE". p16

Rand "sloppily" included plants also, would you believe? p 18

 

 

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13 hours ago, dream_weaver said:
16 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You literally made this up, and for no reason...

HBTV-6: The use and misuse of experts

Judge for yourself. (1:07:00)

So, did I make this up? (Rhetorical inquiry.)

16 hours ago, Eiuol said:
18 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Before Plato (citation would be needed), plants had not been considered alive (as a life form.)

 


As this thread drifts into page 12, my inquires drift more toward what Greg Salmeiri is exploring in his presentation of Preliminaries - Objectivist Epistemology in Outline: Lesson 1 in particular as he touches base at around 19-20 minutes, distinguishing where the level of volition begins and later expanding with an example of a chipmunk leaping to a branch deemed by experiential knowledge of a 'expectation' that it conform to previous experiences at the 50-60 minute mark.

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On 7/2/2021 at 12:38 PM, merjet said:

 Consider a hummingbird foraging for nectar. It actively uses its eyes to find flowers with the goal of finding nectar inside. It doesn't control what it sees, but it does control where it looks. Some flowers afford the opportunity for nectar. Others don't. The hummingbird actively seeks the ones that do. Then it actively controls and uses its beak and tongue to drink the nectar. If a hummingbird's finding and drinking nectar aren't enough to convince you that the hummingbird's perceiving its surroundings is active and takes effort, then...

The voluntary (and even involuntary) motions and locomotion of any animal species, including of course man, are metaphysical - the "given", by the nature of each animal species and man.

At that physical level, we, all species, have a common biological base and a common capacity (much varying in kind) for physical motion.

"Actively" is evidently essential for the maintenance of all life and a hummingbird's specific type of activity is hardly pertinent while interesting at one level. 

All species act upon their knowledge. (Must act upon their knowledge). Known, how a human consciously can gather his great store of knowledge and equally can evaluate what he knows. Putting his values and knowledge into action is - simply - causal:

"Volitional" thinking/assessing + "voluntary" locomotion = results.

To confuse voluntary and volitional as one and the same ('don't animals also perform "voluntary"actions , i.e. nervous system activity and muscular motions ... and are therefore, also 'volitional'?') is a reductionist error. 

 

Edited by whYNOT
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On 7/4/2021 at 1:43 AM, dream_weaver said:

Still the philosophic payoff is yet to be tendered here. 

Is volition philosophic or a matter to be delegated to the realm of microscopes and corpuscular dissection and comparison?

You say no philosophic payoff is yet to be tendered here. Do you also hold that Ayn Rand got no philosophic payoff from using volitional? Do you see no philosophic payoff in What is consciousness for?

I don't see your "or" as exclusive. Philosophers can learn from neuroscientists and vice-versa. I suspect the philosophers can learn much more from neuroscientists than vice-versa. 

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18 hours ago, merjet said:

Highlights

 

Consciousness and volition are integral: consciousness evolved as the platform for the volitional control of movement.

Volition is the sole causal efficacy of consciousness.

Volition directs attention which in turn directs movement.

 

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On 7/4/2021 at 1:26 PM, whYNOT said:

I explained three times: I first and briefly used "'physical' volition" loosely (and metaphorically)- then I corrected it for a precise term.

....

Rand "sloppily" included plants also, would you believe?

You "explained" and "corrected" it even less precisely.

In her footnote in VoS Ayn Rand attributed automatic functions to all living organisms. She said nothing about non-automatic functions and thus nothing about volition. So she did not sloppily attribute volition to plants. You did.

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12 hours ago, merjet said:

You "explained" and "corrected" it even less precisely.

In her footnote in VoS Ayn Rand attributed automatic functions to all living organisms. She said nothing about non-automatic functions and thus nothing about volition. So she did not sloppily attribute volition to plants. You did.

merjet,

Please re-read carefully before misrepresenting me. What's so hard to understand - all life is self-generated, self directed action? Plants too, whether we're talking absorbing nutrients creating automatic organic growth - to photosynthesis and every botanical function. Rand affirms this and I've repeatedly affirmed Rand's "goal directed action" for the maintenance of the organism's life: "automatic" for plants and many organs, organisms and processes.

These are distinctly ¬physical¬ actions, essential to and inclusive of all animal-human life. So, loosely, I might call all animal activity as physically 'volitional' to be distinguished from the mental. An antelope needs to move, to seek out with its senses and find sustenance like grass then chew on it? It has no other 'choice' except to do that, its survival options are limited within a range of locations and periods as to where and when it finds the grass. And that simple and delimited range of its activity you want to call volition?!

Physical activity - as compared to and inseparable from volitional *cognitive* activity for men, both of which humans need to do to maintain their lives.  Volitionally mental actions plus volitionally physical actions for men - simply.

Despite some good observations favoring volition, the authors above ("What is consciousness for?") conclude and outright state: "the purpose of consciousness is volition".

Back to front and inverted. Clearly - in Objectivism and reality - they have causality reversed. Consciousness is metaphysically given and axiomatic, volition not. The purpose of volition is - consciousness.

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2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

The purpose of volition is - consciousness.

So you really do think nonhuman animals are not conscious. That explains a lot.

Edited by Eiuol
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13 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

 

So you really do think nonhuman animals are not conscious. That explains a lot.

Not ¬volitionally¬ conscious.

They are sense-perceptually conscious.

That should explain a lot. (except to those of the volitional-animal persuasion).

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Volition brings about consciousness.

Nonhuman animals are not volitional.

Therefore, nonhuman animals are not conscious.

Edited by Eiuol
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9 hours ago, whYNOT said:

An antelope needs to move, to seek out with its senses and find sustenance like grass then chew on it? It has no other 'choice' except to do that,

Yes, and the antelope needs to look -- use its selective attention -- in order to find grass suitable to chew on.  It uses controlled bodily movements to eat any grass that it does.

I earlier said that a hummingbird doesn't control what it sees, but it does control where it looks. Apparently figuratively speaking, that went in one of your ears and immediately out the other. 

Suppose an antelope sees a large adult lion and nearby its very small cub at the same time. Very probably the antelope will focus its eyes on the adult rather than the cub. The adult is a threat; the cub is not. For the adult lion to be in the center of its visual field and not the cub, the antelope uses its selective attention and bodily movement.    
 

9 hours ago, whYNOT said:

And that simple and delimited range of its activity you want to call volition?!

A drop of water qualifies as water by the same criteria as an ocean of water qualifies as water. Get it? A simple and delimited volition is still volition.

9 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Despite some good observations favoring volition, the authors above ("What is consciousness for?") conclude and outright state: "the purpose of consciousness is volition".

Back to front and inverted. Clearly - in Objectivism and reality - they have causality reversed. Consciousness is metaphysically given and axiomatic, volition not. The purpose of volition is - consciousness.

Your ability to misunderstand, misquote, mangle, and misrepresent is astounding. What Pierson and Trout actually said was the "purpose of consciousness is to manage volitional motor movement." That is very different from your mangled "the purpose of consciousness is volition". The purpose they state is controlled motor movement. Volition is the means. The purpose you state is volition. Your mangled misrepresentation makes volition the goal.
 

Edited by merjet
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5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Volition brings about consciousness.

Nonhuman animals are not volitional.

Therefore, nonhuman animals are not conscious.

LOL. Putting many of whYNOT's premises into the form of a syllogism lead to absurd conclusions.

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11 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Back to front and inverted. Clearly - in Objectivism and reality - they have causality reversed. Consciousness is metaphysically given and axiomatic, volition not. The purpose of volition is - consciousness.

Prima facie you even mangle and misrepresent Objectivism. I looked at the pages for consciousness, free will, purpose, and volition in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. I found nothing even remotely similar to your "The purpose of volition is - consciousness." I decided to spend no more time looking for something which Ayn Rand supposedly said but really didn't.

I challenge you to quote Ayn Rand where she said such a thing. I don't mean your interpretation of what she said. I mean her words verbatim without you misquoting her. If you reply, I am only one of numerous people who will be able to see your reply and judge its worthiness.  

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Man's consciousness shares with animals the first two stages of its development: sensations and perceptions; but it is the third state, conceptions, that makes him man. Sensations are integrated into perceptions automatically, by the brain of a man or of an animal. But to integrate perceptions into conceptions by a process of abstraction, is a feat that man alone has the power to perform—he has to perform it by choice. The process of abstraction, and of concept-formation is a process of reason, of thought; it is not automatic nor instinctive nor involuntary nor infallible. Man has to initiate it, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for its results. The pre-conceptual level of consciousness is nonvolitional; volition begins with the first syllogism. Man has the choice to think or to evade—to maintain a state of full awareness or to drift from moment to moment, in a semi-conscious daze, at the mercy of whatever associational whims the unfocused mechanism of his consciousness produces.

From page 15 of my paperback edition of For The New Intellectual, highlighted, the portion that is central here. The nonconceptual level of consciousness is nonvolitional by extension.

 

Edited by dream_weaver
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3 hours ago, merjet said:

 What Pierson and Trout actually said was the "purpose of consciousness is to manage volitional motor movement." That is very different from your mangled "the purpose of consciousness is volition". The purpose they state is controlled motor movement. Volition is the means. The purpose you state is volition. Your mangled misrepresentation makes volition the goal.

 

Abstract: "What is consciousness for?"

"The answer to the title question is, in a word, volition". [Pierson and Trout]

Mangled? nope

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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Volition brings about consciousness.

Nonhuman animals are not volitional.

Therefore, nonhuman animals are not conscious.

From mister quibbler.

Would you prefer me to accentuate what's obvious to anyone?

In those who HAVE a volitional consciousness, "volition brings about consciousness".

No, not non-human animals - guess whom?

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27 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Man's consciousness shares with animals the first two stages of its development: sensations and perceptions; but it is the third state, conceptions, that makes him man. Sensations are integrated into perceptions automatically, by the brain of a man or of an animal. But to integrate perceptions into conceptions by a process of abstraction, is a feat that man alone has the power to perform—he has to perform it by choice. The process of abstraction, and of concept-formation is a process of reason, of thought; it is not automatic nor instinctive nor involuntary nor infallible. Man has to initiate it, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for its results. The pre-conceptual level of consciousness is nonvolitional; volition begins with the first syllogism. Man has the choice to think or to evade—to maintain a state of full awareness or to drift from moment to moment, in a semi-conscious daze, at the mercy of whatever associational whims the unfocused mechanism of his consciousness produces.

From page 15 of my paperback edition of For The New Intellectual, highlighted, the portion that is central here. The nonconceptual level of consciousness is nonvolitional by extension.

 

Thank you, dream_weaver.

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

Prima facie you even mangle and misrepresent Objectivism. I looked at the pages for consciousness, free will, purpose, and volition in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. I found nothing even remotely similar to your "The purpose of volition is - consciousness." I decided to spend no more time looking for something which Ayn Rand supposedly said but really didn't.

I challenge you to quote Ayn Rand where she said such a thing. I don't mean your interpretation of what she said. I mean her words verbatim without you misquoting her. If you reply, I am only one of numerous people who will be able to see your reply and judge its worthiness.  

Yes, Rand said no such thing - verbatim. Her meaning is clear:

"The preconceptual level of consciousness is nonvolitional". AR.

I indicated the corollary of her proposition: with, "The purpose of volition is consciousness".

By Rand's statement, the conceptual "level" - is therefore - "volitional".

Plain, to anyone with any sense and Objectivist knowledge, that I reversed the authors' formulation to emphasize their error. Their contribution: Consciousness to volition; volition the PURPOSE of consciousness. Wrong.

 

 

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45 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

In those who HAVE a volitional consciousness, "volition brings about consciousness".

If the purpose of X is Y, then Y requires X, but only some X are Y. So actually, you also said that only some volitional things are conscious. Which is absurd.

I pointed it out because it is hilarious. Instead of saying that you made a mistake, you doubled down.

1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

From page 15 of my paperback edition of For The New Intellectual, highlighted, the portion that is central here. The nonconceptual level of consciousness is nonvolitional by extension.

As I mentioned about Peikoff before, I think it could be acceptable to reserve the word volitional for only conceptual consciousness and still preserve the notion that animals make some kind of choice. The quote mentions nothing about using the results of perception for simply moving around the world without forming concepts. I would want to ask her whether she thought that was also automatic like the way percepts are formed.

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17 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Consciousness is metaphysically given and axiomatic,

This applies to how we know things.

In terms of how the universe works, consciousness is an emergent property, not a fundamental one.  It is appropriate to ask "How has it come to pass that there are conscious entities?" 

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7 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

This applies to how we know things.

In terms of how the universe works, consciousness is an emergent property, not a fundamental one.  It is appropriate to ask "How has it come to pass that there are conscious entities?" 

"How?" I don't know, but evidently an 'emergent property'.

That is HAS emerged I do know. (And including the non-volitional consciousness of animals - for the nitpickers)

"This is the cardinal tenet of scientific understanding: Our species and its ways of thinking are a product of evolution, not the purpose of evolution". (Consilience, EO Wilson)

"Not a fundamental one"? No, it is axiomatic. One couldn't identify a "fundamental" characteristic, lacking a conceptual consciousness.

 

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On 7/8/2021 at 10:13 AM, dream_weaver said:

From page 15 of my paperback edition of For The New Intellectual, highlighted, the portion that is central here. The nonconceptual level of consciousness is nonvolitional by extension.

I partly agree with the highlighted sentence in your post. What an animal or human perceives via its sensory nerves is nonvolitional. However, not everything about sensory nerves applies to motor nerves. So your by extension argument doesn't work. Also, the quote from FTNI says nothing about using the results of perception for bodily movements absent a conceptual consciousness.  

Ayn Rand many years later in The Romantic Manifesto reformulated her view of volition: “The faculty of volition operates in regard to the two fundamental aspects of life: consciousness and existence, i.e. his psychological action and his existential action, i.e., the formation of his own character and the course of action he pursues in the physical world.”

First, consciousness is not merely conceptual. Attention and perception are part of consciousness. Second, her existential action component of volition is absent from FTNI and VoS. Animals perform existential actions, too. They are not prohibited from doing so simply because they lack a conceptual faculty.

Explaining an animal's or human's actions in the physical world needs the help of physiology, including the nervous system, and affordances. These concepts are missing from both her descriptions of volition.  

Are you suggesting that selective perceptual attention and physical actions are irrelevant to volition? Are you suggesting that volition is only about the choice to think or not? I don't buy either suggestion and again refer you to Scope of Volition.

Rand said in FTNI after the excerpt you quoted: "An animal's consciousness functions automatically." That's merely a bold assertion that it does so, somehow. How? She gave no answer. She gave no evidence from animal ethology, physiology or neurophysiology that even tries to explain how.  
 

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23 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Yes, Rand said no such thing - verbatim.

In other words, you dismally failed the challenge.

23 hours ago, whYNOT said:

I reversed the authors' formulation to emphasize their error. Their contribution: Consciousness to volition; volition the PURPOSE of consciousness. Wrong.

In other words, you admit you mangled what they said. What you concocted and claimed they said is wrong. You are wrong, not them.

23 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Mangled? nope

Mangled? Yes.

You pounced on one confusing sentence in the abstract to concoct a mangled conclusion.

I believe a better sentence would have been: The answer to the title question is, in a word, movement.

Volition is means, not a goal or purpose.

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

You pounced on one confusing sentence in the abstract to concoct a mangled conclusion.

I believe a better sentence would have been: The answer to the title question is, in a word, movement.

 

"I believe a better sentence would have been..."

Who's doing the "mangling" now?

Quote: "There is, as far as we know, no valid theoretical argument or convincing empirical evidence that consciousness itself has any direct causal efficacy other than volition. Consciousness, via volitional action, increases the likelihood that an organism will direct its attention, and ultimately its movements, to whatever is most important for its survival and reproduction". P and T

"...that consciousness itself [and there's no clue whether animal or human, so one supposes, both]  - has any direct causal efficacy other than volition..."

No valid...evidence...(What!)

This is the authors' order of priority and causation: consciousness ->volition -> movement. A false presumption, for humans - and - animals.

*Attention* (for animals) is, by their nature, the given. That's the automatic, animal instinct, to be constantly alert and aware. In other words, intense attention IS their consciousness. Their locomotion: goal-directed action and inherent in their consciousness/brain. Interposing "volition" in the causal chain is superfluous and chasing up the wrong tree.

Here's a case for scientists brushing up on Objectivist metaphysics before delving into behaviorist theory.

 

 

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