Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Do animals have volition II?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

4 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

So both uses of preconceptual  in that passage are referencing human preconceptualness.

Well, it says "even a preconceptual infant", so that would imply she is also talking about animals besides infants. It's like saying that thing with even the most potential for conceptual thought without having conceptual thought have these characteristics, so it's reasonable to think that perhaps there really is such a thing as preconceptual volition. It's not proof, but it's a reasonable possibility worth investigating.

I think sense of self can be thought of as different than self-awareness. Animals vary in the extent that they can retain memories and recall paths to different locations (distinct from going to a location only from stimuli or as a reaction), so would be aware of the memory within their own awareness. 

By the way, all self generated motion has to be based on the environment, don't you think? Or maybe better is that there is a reciprocal relationship between environment and actor.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

By the way, all self generated motion has to be based on the environment, don't you think? Or maybe better is that there is a reciprocal relationship between environment and actor.

I agree. Also, whenever the actor does act voluntarily, there is constant feedback from the environment via the sense organs of the appropriateness of the action. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I borrowed a book from the library titled In the Theater of Consciousness by Bernard J. Baars. It has a short chapter Volition: Conscious Control of Action. He doesn’t say if “action” pertains to mental action or physical action or both, but the examples he uses are mainly physical actions. The following are a few of his points:

1. Two physically identical actions are experienced differently if one is voluntary and the other is not. For instance, we can voluntarily imitate a slip of the tongue, but the imitation is experienced as voluntary, while the slip is not. Likewise, voluntary actions tend to become automatic and free of voluntary control with practice; if we then try to stop or control them, we will experience them as involuntary.

2. In the brain the differences between voluntary and involuntary functions are simply too marked to be ignored. For example, the Autonomic Nervous System is so named because it works “autonomously,” outside of voluntary control. External muscles, on the other hand, operate voluntarily. Their neurological pathways are separate.

3. The only conscious components of action are:

a. the “idea” or goal;

b. perhaps some competing goal;

c. the “fiat” (the “go” signal, which might simply be release of the inhibitory resistance to the goal), and finally,

d. sensory feedback from the action.

4. All actions have automatic components. Some are wanted, when they are conducive to a conscious goal. Some are unwanted, working against one’s overall conscious goal. Most details of routine actions like reading or writing must be automatic: we could never control their numerous details, given the limited capacity of the conscious system. Usually only the novel features of an action are conscious and under voluntary control. Automatic aspects of an action being unwanted comes clear when we try to control “bad habits.” These habits are characteristically difficult to control voluntarily; they escape control especially when conscious control is directed elsewhere. An example of misplaced automaticity is a London bus driver who crashed a double decker bus into a low overpass, perhaps because he was in the habit of driving the same route in a single-decker bus.

5. A loss of conscious access leads to a loss of voluntary control.

6. Voluntary action is consistent with one’s dominant goals.

7. Voluntary actions are shaped by conscious feedback.

The following are my comments with the numbers corresponding to those above.

1. We blink involuntarily most of the time, but we can blink voluntarily as well. I experience my moving my arm differently from, say, a physical therapist moving my arm.

2. I would say external muscles operate voluntarily much of the time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just got done cutting the grass to the tune of "Basic Logical Theory" by Leonard Piekoff. 

There are two contexts of volition at play in this thread being applied from two different sciences. 

The autonomic and somatic is something no pre- or non-conceptual consciousness would be aware of. 

With regard to the knowledge of a non-conceptual consciousness, would either of the two advocates of prefacing non-conceptual consciousness with volitional consider the critter capable of making an error with regard to exercising any of the choices offered thus far?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/14/2021 at 10:52 PM, whYNOT said:

 

Volition is an ACT of will (choice) by an individual's consciousness. An ACT cannot and obviously does not "evolve".

An ACT of will by an individual has not and obviously does not ... evolve over generations. The evolution of the brain-and- emergent consciousness did not include 'volition' (for man or animal) as the 'given'. If the volition to reason had so 'evolved' (i.e. to be *heritable*) it would have to be an inherent property of the brain-consciousness, that would mean an AUTOMATIC function. In which case animal and man would possess the characteristic of automatic reasoning and conceptualization. The way they do both ¬automatically¬ form perceptions from sensations, they would both form concepts from perceptions. Clearly not the case, however.

Free will - and - an 'automatic' function - is a contradiction in terms. Only man has the higher consciousness which is effort-fully volitional, free willed and chosen. Only each individual can perform that act.

The section which was the transition to Rand's rational egoism, evidently had a purpose and a target: this is what provides full justification for her ethics. This is THE fundamental of rational selfishness that has been much overlooked here. 

Man is a being of volitional consciousness - means that each 'man' has the choice or not to employ his own. NOT that it is automatic, involuntary or instinctive - volition is not the metaphysical given. The prerequisite of a rational egoist is that he is one who is volitionally "rational".

 

 

On 7/15/2021 at 12:16 AM, merjet said:

Doug Morris: "Why couldn't consciousness and volition have arisen at the same time?"
whYNOT: "Because "a volitional consciousness" does not presuppose that an individual chooses to use it."

Doug's statement and mine were about evolutionary history.

Neither of your replies was about evolutionary history. Context matters.

 

Edited by whYNOT
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

An ACT of will by an individual has not and obviously does not ... evolve over generations.

It should have been clear that they were talking about the capacity of volition, not the act of volition...

Edited by Eiuol
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

With regard to the knowledge of a non-conceptual consciousness, would either of the two advocates of prefacing non-conceptual consciousness with volitional consider the critter capable of making an error with regard to exercising any of the choices offered thus far?

I'm not clear on what you would consider an error. Suppose a deer decides to cross a road when a truck is coming towards it at 60 mph. If the deer gets hit and killed by the truck, thus failing to reach its goal, would you consider that an error?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, Eiuol said:

It should have been clear that they were talking about the capacity of volition, not the act of volition.

Yes, except to whYNOT, who is very good at not paying attention, e.g. to this. He was again oblivious to his own mangled ideas about reality in his reply, such as falsely assuming the non-existence of a voluntary nervous system.

Edited by merjet
Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, merjet said:

I'm not clear on what you would consider an error. Suppose a deer decides to cross a road when a truck is coming towards it at 60 mph. If the deer gets hit and killed by the truck, thus failing to reach its goal, would you consider that an error?

Would you consider it suicide?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, Eiuol said:

It should have been clear that they were talking about the capacity of volition, not the act of volition...

I was not thinking of "they'".

But if you insist, their premises are wrong, anyhow.

"What is consciousness for?"

Plain and self-evident answer: "For" the subsistence and survival of the specific species.

And MAN's consciousness is of the kind that ¬necessitates¬ mental volition. Man's consciousness evolved, volition did not. It's a necessary faculty to be individually carried out given the nature of his consciousness. (Primacy of existence, yes?). Free will is not a property of consciousness, it is the means to develop/access it.

And 'they' say: "The answer to the title question is, in a word, volition. Our hypothesis is that the ultimate adaptive function of consciousness is to make volitional movement possible. All conscious processes exist to subserve that ultimate function". 

Reduced to simple language, - Consciousness is "for" volitional movement. All wrong and overly physicalist.

Edited by whYNOT
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, merjet said:

He was again oblivious to his own mangled ideas about reality in his reply,

You think? Show me where my ideas, not original to me, differ from Rand's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

38 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

How does non-human consciousness contribute to the subsistence and survival of the specific non-human species?

I have covered (innate) instincts and their primary survival instinct; automatized sense-perceptions, integrated and retained; learned behavior; pain-pleasure responses; voluntary/involuntary responses to their surroundings.

So yes, assuming all the above, non-human species are ¬attentive¬ and reactive to everything within range. They observably are and need to be to survive.

Edited by whYNOT
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, merjet said:

 such as falsely assuming the non-existence of a voluntary nervous system.

I have often acknowledged the CNS, muscular control and the brain's neuro-plasticity. They are the physical/metaphysical given - I take them for granted.

Comes a point, your misrepresentations amount to evasions.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

"What is consciousness for?"

Plain and self-evident answer: "For" the subsistence and survival of the specific species.

The same answer is plainly evident in Pierson's and Trout's article: "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."
 

1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

Reduced to simple language, - Consciousness is "for" volitional movement. All wrong and overly physicalist.

This is whNOT's mangled summary of Pierson's and Trout's article.

We get it. If whYNOT says something, it is plain and self-evident. However, if Pierson and Trout say essentially the same thing, it's all wrong.

Two more instances of whYNOT contradicting himself and his poor reading comprehension are plain for readers to see. His mangled summary is even evasion. Evasion is "not blindness, but the refusal to see" (link).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

And 'they' say: "The answer to the title question is, in a word, volition. Our hypothesis is that the ultimate adaptive function of consciousness is to make volitional movement possible. All conscious processes exist to subserve that ultimate function". 

 

Their summary. Their words. Make all the rationalizations and nuanced meanings you care to, that's what they say.

"All conscious processes ... to subserve - volitional movement".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

I was not thinking of "they'".

But if you insist, their premises are wrong, anyhow.

"What is consciousness for?"

 

Not only their premises, but their results. If anyone wanted to undercut the rationale behind Objectivist ethics, they have done a good job.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Free will is not a property of consciousness, it is the means to develop/access it.

Interesting. So so free will and consciousness are wholly distinct. I access my consciousness with free will. But my free will exists separate from my consciousness. I wonder what my capacity of free will is a property of. My spirit? My free will is also not conscious, because otherwise it would be a property of consciousness. It must be some sort of alternate "consciousness", like the type of consciousness in the Phaedo that existed before I was born. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Free will is not a property of consciousness, it is the means to develop/access it.

This is more of whYNOT's gibberish.

property - an attribute, quality, or characteristic of something (meaning 2 here).

Ayn Rand wrote: "... man is a being of volitional consciousness." This means volition is a property of man's consciousness per the above meaning. So whYNOT clearly and obliviously contradicted Rand. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Man has the type of consciousness which calls on him to raise his levels of awareness (above perceptions).

That consciousness is the given. What is not the 'given' is that he chooses to do so or not. That action is achieved by his free will.

Therefore, volition is not automatic, not the metaphysical given. Free will would not be "free", otherwise.

What merjet isn't following is that "man is a being of volitional consciousness" means that man has a consciousness which NECESSITATES man's volition.  The action of, not the property of - that consciousness.

I refer you to Rand's the metaphysical given v. the man made. And quite relevant also, to LP's Necessity and Contingency.

Concerning men's actions and creations: "It happens to be, but it could have been otherwise".

Edited by whYNOT
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Consciousness: "the faculty of perceiving that which exists".

"Two fundamental attributes are involved in every state, aspect or function of man’s consciousness: content and action—the content of awareness, and the action of consciousness in regard to that content".

CoC, ItOE

 

"The faculty of volition operates in regard to the two fundamental aspects of man’s 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".

tRM

---

That "action" always repeats In Rand's writing. Action preceded by an exercise of will. That *faculty* of volition is responsible for a mind's existential action AND content. A volitional consciousness requires volitional actions, and ALSO will choose and act upon the character virtues, which themselves are volitional means to ends. Actions, descending by way of "the course of action", the abstraction for the millions of corresponding concrete acts - volitional and voluntary or self-automated by repetition - that comprise a physical life, in order to gain the material/spiritual rewards. 

"A volitional consciousness" - in this "psychological" respect, the self-formation of character - then can literally be said to be: the mind you want and chose. I.e., volitionally.

Edited by whYNOT
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/19/2021 at 7:18 PM, whYNOT said:

What merjet isn't following is that "man is a being of volitional consciousness" means that man has a consciousness which NECESSITATES man's volition.  The action of, not the property of - that consciousness.

He is quite right for a change. I do not follow his gibberish. Read and compare what he wrote to what Ayn Rand wrote that I quote below, keeping in mind a definition of "property" -- an attribute, quality, or characteristic of something.

"Because man has free will, no human choice—and no phenomenon which is a product of human choice—is metaphysically necessary (link).

"Man's volition is an attribute of his consciousness" (my bold, link).

Rand's two sentences are clear. whYNOT's are gibberish and even contradict Rand's. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"His volition is limited to his cognitive processes;"

The Metaphysical versus the Man-Made

 

 

All for nothing, was this theory put forth here: "Our hypothesis is that the ultimate adaptive function of consciousness is to make volitional movement possible. All conscious processes exist to subserve that ultimate function". Pierson/Trout

 

Nice try, merjet. But falling back on property of, attribute or "volitional faculty" -most often used by Rand - is not going to rescue that erroneous argument. You found it's you who have been contradicting Rand. Thanks for the link.

Edited by whYNOT
Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, whYNOT said:

"His volition is limited to his cognitive processes;"

The Metaphysical versus the Man-Made

...

You found it's you who have been contradicting Rand. 

whYNOT omitted the rest of that sentence. The whole sentence is: "His volition is limited to his cognitive processes; he has the power to identify (and to conceive of rearranging) the elements of reality, but not the power to alter them."

I disagree. Human volition is not limited to cognitive processes. It also includes volitional actions in the physical world. Clearly humans do have the power to rearrange or alter the elements of reality. How so? Rand gave no explanation of how that is possible. Humans make things like machines, tools, computers, bridges, vehicles, and buildings. The obvious explanation is that humans have physical bodies, and their hands are hugely important in being able to make machines and so forth.

If that is contradicting Rand, so be it.  

She also wrote in the same essay: "But just as animals are able to move only in accordance with the nature of their bodies..."

That's true for humans as well. 

Let R1 denote "His volition is limited to his cognitive processes". Let R2 denote: "The faculty of volition operates in regard to the two fundamental aspects of man’s 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." This is from The Romantic Manifesto

whYNOT quoted R1 while being oblivious to R1 and R2 being incoherent. I'm not surprised.

Edited by merjet
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...