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Do animals have volition II?

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1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

The drooling response (to some regular stimulus like a bell) associates with "eating", right?

The short answer is not really.

First off, we are talking about laboratory settings. This is hardly the natural context of animals, and not the best way to verify the nature of animal behavior. It must be validated in the wild. In the same way, you don't test human vision in the context of a laboratory where you deprive people of enough light. If you can't accurately judge colors in twilight, it doesn't say anything about the nature of sight being unreliable or useless or not really vision because suddenly orange looks like purple. Rather, it only says very specific things about the nitty-gritty details about what the function of sight is. It is meant to function in the context of sufficient light. If you cage an animal for hours on end, then test them over hundreds of examples, they are not going to be at their optimal state. If I were an alien trying to see if humans have free will, or the nature of human free will, I wouldn't test them out in a jail cell. That's not where free will or any person was ever meant to function. 

Specifically, the drooling response is the association of a bell with the presentation of food. It is a physiological response although there are some psychological aspects. Importantly, the association itself isn't about seeking food. There is more to explain than how the neurons "remember" the association, which can easily be done without any necessary conscious intervention. This kind of process is well understood, the automatic part. As for seeking food, this is much more difficult to explain, no behaviorist has been successful at explaining the rest of the behavior without also appealing to mental or process involving awareness. There are different explanations involving some implicit comparison between desired objects, the awareness of internal states and satisfying different states, things like that.

2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

IF however the food isn't available immediately, what does one, or an animal, do with the hunger pangs already stimulated - but go looking for food to satisfy them?

Yeah, you choose to seek out more food. You don't just sit there. 

 

 

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17 hours ago, Eiuol said:

The short answer is not really.

First off, we are talking about laboratory settings. This is hardly the natural context of animals, and not the best way to verify the nature of animal behavior. It must be validated in the wild.

 

 

Not really, I only mentioned dogs and bells as a commonly known (and gratuitously unnecessary) experiment into animal behavior, the findings of which that any animal owner intimately knows. Animals (and rational animals) associate this with that. A sound, a smell, a taste, a sight, together make for "grouping" of senses to "form automatic perceptual associations" by its brain. With long observation of how the domestic animals I've had act, especially several co-existing together, and allowing for them being man-bred one can come to informal conclusions. (E.g. They have defensive instincts of their shelter/territory/tribe. One becomes aware that they in turn observe us humans closely, as well. They do "learn" our habitual behavior and accept a person, their owner and carer, into their pack hierarchy as 'top dog'). 

Then outside into the wilds. So why did the lion turn left instead of right? What makes a butterfly veer towards one specific flower? Prominent in the equation is the fact that insects, reptiles, birds and animals have extraordinary sensory powers, (quite different, in the case of insects seeing by other wavelengths of light) - and - we are told hearing and smell are 1000's of times greater than humans. An insect can scent the many pheromones, ones beneath human range, wafting in a garden and see vivid colors, drawing its flight in one direction. We looking at it, won't know the 'cause' by observation, but for it, the sensory attraction is overwhelming - and automatic. A lioness will smell and hear a hundred things we can't. A game ranger will tell you this. Perhaps, by seeing excited bird activity over there, its old foe a solitary lion is lurking in the grass; or the smell of spoor alerts it to a honey badger which it had once tangled with to her cost, has recently been along this trail. Always are there sensory connections, i.e. perceptions. This - smell, sound, etc. it instantly associates with hurt. This - sight, smell etc. with pleasure, or hunger gratification. If these phenomena suggest 'volition', it is fallacious. These animals are highly equipped for their wild habitats, where a human couldn't survive 'naturally'. Animals don't *need* to "choose" and cannot.  

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32 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

Always are there sensory connections, i.e. perceptions.

This is true for all action for all animals. But the connection to behavior is not merely mechanical. Perception is not movement, it doesn't do anything unless it is acted upon. Everything you said is correct about what animals can do, the issue is leaving this as a sufficient explanation for animal behavior. Absolutely, there can be intense stimulation for a butterfly towards a particular flower, and this is a fine material or mechanical cause for flying towards the flower, but the explanation is not complete. What about psychological states? Why is awareness necessary if you claim the behavior is automatic? Doesn't being attracted by something imply being able to focus on that something? 

The problem is, as I mentioned to 2046, is related to treating things as mechanically caused, or caused by volition. As if they are separate things. As if explaining the mechanical cause implies that there is no volitional cause.

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On 5/19/2021 at 4:24 PM, Eiuol said:

 

The problem is, as I mentioned to 2046, is related to treating things as mechanically caused, or caused by volition. As if they are separate things. As if explaining the mechanical cause implies that there is no volitional cause.

"Volitional cause" is the observation one may allocate to an action (by every life form) which is "self-generated and self-directed". One sees the organism act and sees the consequences, and deduces - there is causation, and wrongly, there is volition. I think volition basically means: "I will it". Whatever "it" might be. A human feels hunger pangs, he understands he needs/wants food and goes to make, find or purchase his food. This is automatized in animals' brains - established neural connections prompt actions, without "will". I have a sort of reverse theory  - that a lioness (or butterfly) isn't aware of the meaning of 'hunger pangs', which (it is commonly accepted) drive it consequently to go find sustenance; instead I think that, more often than not, she sees a browsing herd of game in the bush, automatically goes into stalking mode, chases one and drags it down if all goes well, kills it (by suffocation) and then ~automatically~ starts chewing the prey -- and *then* the smell and taste of raw meat instigates her voracious hunger to eat further. All caused by instinct (programmed) and 'learned' (mimicked, is better) behavior. She doesn't have the capacity for "I need - I want" therefore cannot "will". Like a butterfly and bee, which don't anticipate "food" in the flowers, they are instinctively drawn by smell and vision to the flower, 'discover' the nectar and eat.

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7 hours ago, whYNOT said:

One sees the organism act and sees the consequences, and deduces - there is causation, and wrongly, there is volition

I'm pointing out that mechanical and volitional cause are both part of the same wider process. The process of engaging the world, doing things in the world, as an organism. All volitional causes will also have mechanical causes (both are aspects of the same thing), but not all mechanical causes will be volitional (like sense perception).

7 hours ago, whYNOT said:

This is automatized in animals' brains - established neural connections prompt actions, without "will".

Prompt what to action? Something is being prompted to action. You could say the animal. But what about the animal is prompted? If it isn't something about the animal's awareness, then nothing is being prompted, or only the neurons are being prompted - which would be reductionism. If it is something about the animal's awareness, then that's all I want to get you to recognize.

You begin your explanation by denying any kind of awareness. This already violates the principle that everything about an animal has a functional purpose. What's the point of smell (which would be the better sense to use for lions) if it plays no role for just about everything in its very active life? Why do lions need smell while hunting, not just while eating? This is why strictly behaviorist accounts of animal behavior do not work. The mental aspects are necessary. Mechanical explanations are a small part of the story.

The other problem is that you point out a capacity that both humans and lions share, but propose those capacities serve different functions. This violates rules of genus and differentia. Smell serves the same general function in lions as in humans. We don't differentiate smell capacity based on the function it serves, we differentiate the capacity based on the potential strength of the capacity.

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On 5/15/2021 at 7:32 PM, Eiuol said:

Of course I agree that there are a wide variety of potentials, but why, given your desires and state of mind and context, would you make a different decision?

Because you have a liberty of will. You have volition, and maybe you want to do it differently this time around. If the choice is between things of equal value (say, a slice of pepperoni pizza versus a slice of sausage pizza), you can choose either one with no problem. But as the choice becomes more important to more of your life, you might not find it so easy to choose either one. For example, you're standing on a cliff and you become aware of the choice to jump off and crash into rocks or walk back to your house. If you value your life and are sober, you won't be able to will yourself off the cliff under normal conditions, because you know you'll die. Your volition is regulated by your chosen value(s). You won't do something stupid that leads to certain death.

On 5/15/2021 at 7:32 PM, Eiuol said:

What I want to know is where the decision-making process breaks down where context no longer is what you use to determine the course of action you choose take.

Context can include the fact that it doesn't much matter which slice of pizza you choose. Or it doesn't much matter whether I finish writing this sentence or stop in the middle of it. (See, SL, I finished it this tim 

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6 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Because you have a liberty of will. You have volition, and maybe you want to do it differently this time around.

Well, part of the thought experiment was that everything is identical. Even your state of mind is identical in the situation. If you grant that the repeated situation allows for knowledge about the last time it repeated, or different emotional state for whatever reason, then I agree, it might change this time. I guess to essentialize it, we can say that setting the context of your values, the things you seek, is the main part about what volition allows you to do. And it is not in a probabilistic sense that you figure out your values.  In a basic sense, that's also what animals do - at a minimum they recognize concrete things to pursue as opposed to other concrete things. 

 

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45 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Well, part of the thought experiment was that everything is identical. Even your state of mind is identical in the situation.

Yeah, which is a problem, because it's an impossible hypothetical. You can't test it. The closest situation might be a patient with no short-term memory. Give him the same simple choice repeatedly, after he's forgotten making it before. See if he chooses differently or always the same. 

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12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I'm pointing out that mechanical and volitional cause are both part of the same wider process. The process of engaging the world, doing things in the world, as an organism. All volitional causes will also have mechanical causes (both are aspects of the same thing), but not all mechanical causes will be volitional (like sense perception).

 

But senses are not volitional! They are ~automatic~ to men and to animals. Which also goes for the next stage, associating-grouping sensory input into perceptions - again, automatically, not volitional. The "volition" is what humans can perform, for whom "Man's distinction from all other living species is the fact that his consciousness is *volitional*.

You are making this too difficult.

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14 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 

Prompt what to action? Something is being prompted to action. You could say the animal. But what about the animal is prompted? If it isn't something about the animal's awareness, then nothing is being prompted, or only the neurons are being prompted - which would be reductionism. If it is something about the animal's awareness, then that's all I want to get you to recognize.

You begin your explanation by denying any kind of awareness. This already violates the principle that everything about an animal has a functional purpose. What's the point of smell (which would be the better sense to use for lions) if it plays no role for just about everything in its very active life? Why do lions need smell while hunting, not just while eating? This is why strictly behaviorist accounts of animal behavior do not work. The mental aspects are necessary. Mechanical explanations are a small part of the story.

The other problem is that you point out a capacity that both humans and lions share, but propose those capacities serve different functions. This violates rules of genus and differentia. Smell serves the same general function in lions as in humans. We don't differentiate smell capacity based on the function it serves, we differentiate the capacity based on the potential strength of the capacity.

A complete mis-reading, denying awareness and the senses is utterly false. I have taken pains to state that the senses are the beginnings of awareness for all creatures. What you insist on naming "mechanical" is ~automatic~, the process of the brain in operation, non-volitionally.

You apparently resist the evident, undeniable, instinctive behavior of animals. (And humans don't have such). The effect of that is to minimize a large influence upon animals, innate behavior. 

The blurring of the animal-rational animal, genus-differentia distinction, the undermining of the volitional consciousness comes from two directions: those who say we men have 'animal instincts' too, and those who say animals have 'volition'. By who else? By determinists. The mechanistic, materialist reductionist theory of human brain-consciousness was what's responsible.

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The "Did this and didn't do that - Syndrome" accomplishes two devious ends for anti-conceptual determinists. With an animal they can state - it acted with choice, its own free will to do that and not the other; For an individual they can state he *had* to act that way accordingly to predetermined factors.

Because, of course, one can't do two things at once, cannot take both or several paths simultaneously, can't be equally in one place and another. 

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2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

But senses are not volitional!

You must have misread. I gave sense perception as an example of the non-volitional. The wording might have been awkward.

1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

What you insist on naming "mechanical" is ~automatic~, the process of the brain in operation, non-volitionally.

Mechanical and volitional are not mutually exclusive. Mechanical aspects are not always volitional. Volitional aspects always have mechanical aspects. To use Aristotle's terminology, instead of aspects, say causes.

1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

The "Did this and didn't do that - Syndrome"

I find it interesting that once I asked "prompt what to action?" you stopped discussing observations about animals and just doubled down on simply insisting that animals act automatically in all regards. Answering that question is absolutely critical to understanding what I'm explaining.

 

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

I find it interesting that once I asked "prompt what to action?" you stopped discussing observations about animals and just doubled down on simply insisting that animals act automatically in all regards. Answering that question is absolutely critical to understanding what I'm explaining.

 

A situation prompts the -animal's body- to action. What else? Goal-directed action for organisms contains self-preservation. To pursue, attack or flee, etc., or to wag its tail (which can mean aggression by a dog as well as amicability).

With no ability to weigh up the pros and cons, the animal must respond quickly. Its brain commands its automatic reactions, via its senses and instincts (and learned behavior). When in a completely unfamiliar situation where its instincts are useless, it freezes. The deer in the headlights.

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15 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

A situation prompts the -animal's body- to action.

Finish reading the paragraph because I addressed that response already in the next sentence.

22 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

When in a completely unfamiliar situation where its instincts are useless, it freezes. The deer in the headlights.

This is false. This is a type of fear response, which is an adaptive response that even humans have. It's an adaptation, not a failure of an animal to function. Everything about an animal is functional. At the very least, mammals learn and adapt to unfamiliar situations all the time. Even mice and rats. 

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21 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

. Everything about an animal is functional. At the very least, mammals learn and adapt to unfamiliar situations all the time. Even mice and rats. 

Nope. A deer in the road for its first time (or 3) can't and will not "adapt". If you haven't seen that common trope, an animal frozen in your headlights, you'll have to accept that roadkill has a cause.

Set loose a domesticated dog, let alone a wild animal in the middle of the city and see how "functional" it will be.

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Some clarifications about fear responses. Certain types of fear responses (not all fear responses) occur as an automatic response of the limbic system. These are adaptive automatic responses that all animals have, humans included. Even humans will freeze as a threatening thing approaches, or they might run away. These behaviors are not mediated by conscious control. This isn't a failure of reflexes, or a failure of learned responses. This is supposed to occur and indicates that your fear response is working correctly. Functional means that responses of an animal serve a purpose, and do not exist merely because, and certainly do not exist to actively go against the animal's survival. You can demonstrate if an animal has a capacity in the first place, but as long as a capacity does exist, it will be functional, as in, operating towards the survival of the animal even if it might not succeed in the context. So, the cause is not related to unfamiliar context or behaviors failing to function. 
 

As far as the functional nature of all aspects of an animal, this idea is helpful, which I learned about from my professor that was teaching a class about conditioning and behavior. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinbergen's_four_questions

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6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 as a threatening thing approaches,

"Thing" is an identification. "Threatening" is a value judgment. "Approaches" identifies motion implies causal identity.

Don't know what is the "thing", without a frame of reference, one or animal doesn't have an emotional response except curiosity. What is this?

Consciousness and automatized value-judgments precede the limbic/ etc. physiological functions.

 

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6 hours ago, whYNOT said:

"Thing" is an identification. "Threatening" is a value judgment. "Approaches" identifies motion implies causal identity.

That's why I didn't say identify or recognize. It was a description of the thing, not what the animal literally recognized as what was happening.

6 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Don't know what is the "thing", without a frame of reference, one or animal doesn't have an emotional response except curiosity. What is this?

However, there is an element of truth in what you said. Indeed, what is the "thing" without a frame of reference? It would be no thing at all, quite literally there would be complete blank-ness. Curiosity is the type of behavior that shows how there is no blank-ness. 

6 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Consciousness and automatized value-judgments precede the limbic/ etc. physiological functions.

They do not. Specifically, there is not necessarily an order to these things. You cannot override the physiological functions including the fear response I described. They can occur simultaneously. 

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On 5/22/2021 at 5:14 PM, Eiuol said:

That's why I didn't say identify or recognize. It was a description of the thing, not what the animal literally recognized as what was happening.

However, there is an element of truth in what you said. Indeed, what is the "thing" without a frame of reference? It would be no thing at all, quite literally there would be complete blank-ness. Curiosity is the type of behavior that shows how there is no blank-ness. 

They do not. Specifically, there is not necessarily an order to these things. You cannot override the physiological functions including the fear response I described. They can occur simultaneously. 

That's the sort of "I am angry *because* I strike out" reversal that William James and behaviorists were fond of.

So how does one know, without the senses and a self-programed, subconscious evaluation (based on the pleasure-pain mechanism) about a situation or event, WHEN to be enraged, fearful and so on?

You can prove this empirically by the different emotional responses, sometimes very different,  different persons do have facing the identical thing. Behaviorists seem to always assume one scenario is consistent with every individual's emotional responses. No, emotions and degrees of them in a range of situations are highly individualistic.

The limbic system etc. don't 'know' nothing. It's a neurological-biological response mechanism. One's brain-consciousness has got to know *what* one is confronted with. Even NOT knowing what it is, e.g. some 'thing' approaching fast - can or will be the cause of physiological responses and fear - because - the NOT known is also a threat of hurt. (Although one will identify the motion towards one, perhaps dangerous).

"Simultaneously" no, what happens rapidly with the bodily reactions isn't simultaneous, the fraction of a second only feels like it. 

Emotions don't spring up unbidden, like some sort of unknown (quasi-mystical and ineffably accurate) prompts, they have a cause "out there" by the self-programed standards of what is "in here".

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30 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

That's the sort of "I am angry *because* I strike out" reversal

What is, you quoted a big block.

30 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

WHEN to be enraged, fearful and so on?

Awareness is how. But I have a feeling that I don't understand your question. I mean, my only point was that your proposed theory didn't make sense because it assumed that the process of hunting itself didn't require awareness, and the only proposed awareness was part of what motivates a lion to keep eating once it has begun eating. I was describing a specific kind of fear response which doesn't require awareness, and is simply a physiological response. I was not describing fear of the more cognitive kind, the same sort of kind where you might say you are afraid of going to the dentist, the kind that doesn't involve the limbic system nearly as much. You offered this kind of noncognitive automatic fear response as evidence that animals function automatically, but I'm telling you that it is only evidence that automatic responses exist in all animals including humans. 

30 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

The limbic system etc. don't 'know' nothing. It's a response mechanism. One has got to know *what* it is.

This is correct, but on the other hand, even given what I said about automatic functioning at this level, there is reason to think it still involves awareness and directing attention. The limbic system is not isolated, it can be and is connected to higher brain regions. The process of responding to the world includes much more at every step, including the beginning.

30 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

"Simultaneously" is false, what happens rapidly to the bodily reactions isn't simultaneous, only feels like it. 

No, this can be demonstrated through brain scans. What happens to the body is what happens to the mind. In this case, the body is neurons. I said that judgments are not necessarily separate, they can be simultaneous, especially in the case of these automatic fear responses. The response is the mental noticing. (Even if most of it is automatic, "mental noticing" or focus is required of perceiving organisms to be able to respond to something.)  Two aspects of the same process. But judgments are separate when it comes to cognitive fear evaluations. 

Edited by Eiuol
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11 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 

Awareness is how. But I have a feeling that I don't understand your question. I mean, my only point was that your proposed theory didn't make sense because it assumed that the process of hunting itself didn't require awareness, and the only proposed awareness was part of what motivates a lion to keep eating once it has begun eating.

 

There will be awareness always present in animals - and - automated behavior.  In discussing non-volitionality of animals we don't presume unconscious zombies. My proposed theory is so observable, I am surprised it's questionable. It is its instincts which drive an animal to hunt. You only have to see very well-fed domesticated felines and canines instantly go into tensed, stalking mode, when they spot a bird or other small prey, especially one that's injured or young, usually to catch, kill and sometimes eat it. That is not hunger-motivated. Like I hypothesized, after which, its taste and smell of meat impel the predator to eat the kill - the senses get the juices flowing, so to speak.

The predatory urge is innately automated (the methods are somewhat pre-learned from adult animals).

Their nature - and nature as a whole - is dedicated to survival of the species, that is known. (By evolutionarily 'designed' effect, not a purposed design). Nature is utilitarian and opportunistic. The changing reality in the wilds is often feast or famine and drought or floods, and not every hunt results in a kill and food, so when the animals, hungry or not, perceive a weak prey they automatically go for it.

Humans make much of extrapolating human causation onto animals. When I am hungry I go find or buy food. Even not hungry I must plan for tomorrow and abstract into the long term future for my needs. Animals instinctively take what is 'given' until satiation.

Edited by whYNOT
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10 hours ago, Eiuol said:

No, this can be demonstrated through brain scans. What happens to the body is what happens to the mind. In this case, the body is neurons. I said that judgments are not necessarily separate, they can be simultaneous, especially in the case of these automatic fear responses. The response is the mental noticing. (Even if most of it is automatic, "mental noticing" or focus is required of perceiving organisms to be able to respond to something.)  Two aspects of the same process. But judgments are separate when it comes to cognitive fear evaluations. 

What might need micro-seconds to be processed in a brain is still some duration - and consciousness of an entity before response, a cause before the effects, is incontrovertible. I am sure I recall a study which measured the speed of brain activity, and its wasn't instantaneous nor simultaneous. 

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56 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

That is not hunger-motivated.

It is motivated by some kind of desire, or rather, the mechanical causes are simultaneous with final causes and all the other causes. I've explained why your observation doesn't work and contradicts other observations. I've also explained why there needs to be some psychological awareness and conscious involvement during action, the reason being the functional nature of all features of animals. You can argue against any of those individual points. "Hunting is not hunger motivated" is quite controversial and stands quite against the foundations of Rand's own thinking about consciousness and volition (Aristotle especially).

55 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

I am sure I recall a study which measured the speed of brain activity, and its wasn't instantaneous nor simultaneous. 

But if the given causes (more precisely, explanations) are aspects describing the same thing, they would necessarily be simultaneous. We are not discussing a series of events, such as a series of neural signals. Also, if two distinct processes occur at the same time, it only needs to mean that the processes overlap in time.

 

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