Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

On the question of free-will vs. determinism

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Is it reasonable to have a law against grimacing at another man? Volition says no; determinism says maybe?

Actually neither volition nor determinism determines whether it is reasonable or not. What determines it is the specific circumstances, the goal of the law in that context, the various policy determinations underlying that law, the evidentiary concerns, etc. You are wrong to look to a sub-issue of causation as being entirely determinative in any legal situation regardless of context.

Your difference (human action vs. human inaction) still doesn't distinguish reasonable/unreasonable.

As I said above, you are looking (wrongly) at only one factor. Of course human action/inaction doesn't determine liability in all instances. For instance, you may be liable for your inaction (omission) in several different circumstances. The determinative factor in your original hypothetical, however, was the lack of an act (or qualifying omission, for that matter) on Jerry's part which could lead to legal liability. Your new added information just complicates the anaylsis, I can go through its analysis if you wish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is essentially a problem dealing with the concept of omniscience, rather than one dealing particularly with free will. I really have no way to answer it, in the same way I can't answer the question "Can God create a stone so heavy he can't lift it?" The truth is that we really have no idea how omniscience would actually work, and how telling someone their predicted future would or would not influence the result.

(emphasis added)

The added emphasis means: it deals with freewill.

You are evading the question via pure argumentation. Both of us agreed that "nearly" omniscient would suffice. The question is: Can you alter your predetermined destiny? And this question is of the same ilk as the God question -- they are both illogical, they are self contradictory. They make no sense starting, as they do, from fallacious premises. There is no evidence in support of propositions such as God, omniscience or destiny. Such propositions, literally, are nonsense.

Just as a computer programmer can spot the error in logic inherent in a feedback loop of this sort so should you.

The truth is there is a way to answer all of these questions Vladimir, all you must do is think. Understand what an axiom is and how it is identified and introspect -- all of which has been explained to you several times now.

To this end let me propose an experiment: slap yourself in the face as hard as you can right now. Seriously, there is no logical reason for you to do this and I don't think the forces emanating from alpha centauri could make you do it. The only thing that would cause you to do it would be freewill. Perhaps you are still unconvinced. Maybe you think I am God and I am making you do it. In that case continue to hit yourself repeatedly until you understand what freewill means.

And now I must ask: what is your actual purpose here?

I have read your introduction and if "thinking about the philosophy on a critical level" means posing illogical questions, using fallacious argumentation for the sake of argument or positing the existence of supernatural beings or processes while denying the existence of perceptually self-evident phenomenon, then this is going to interfere with your stated purpose of: "learning from people who have studied it longer."

Because you can't actually expect anyone on this forum to take you seriously using this type of methodology. Asking questions politely is a much better alternative, though there is no substitute for actual study of the Objectivist literature.

And please, in the future, if you do continue to post here, be sure to capitalize "Objectivism". You have neglected to do so in at least three threads now. It is disrespectful, rude, annoying and against the forum rules.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are evading the question via pure argumentation. Both of us agreed that "nearly" omniscient would suffice. The question is: Can you alter your predetermined destiny? And this question is of the same ilk as the God question -- they are both illogical, they are self contradictory. They make no sense starting, as they do, from fallacious premises. There is no evidence in support of propositions such as God, omniscience or destiny. Such propositions, literally, are nonsense.

I am honestly not sure what your point is. There is no way I can answer a question dealing with whether a human, with omniscient knowledge, can alter actions determined in advance. There is certainly no way to test any hypothesis, and I am not even sure how it would come out as a hypothetical. You say it is because both concepts are illogical. But it would seem that even assuming only the concept "omniscience" to be illogical but "determism" logical the same result would be obtained and the question be impossible to answer.

I am not particularly amused by the hostile tone of your post so this is the only response you will get from me on this matter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stunning, if true. What is the empirical evidence that you're thinking of?

Don't have time to read the link I'm about to give, but it's about Simple and Complex cells. It's one example for cells that have been recorded individually to see their patterns of response. A very similar thing exists in the motor cortex (cells that respond to a direction of planned movement).

you're simply wrong about "a will". "Will", in that sense, is not a process, just as a philosophy is not a process, even though having one might lead to some kind of action (which is a process). Since we don't know enough about the physics of memory, we don't know enough about the physics of having a will.

I don't see how the physics of memory have anything to do with other brain processes...

Here is what I'm saying: thoughts, emotions, the act of considering ideas, the conscious decision what to focus on, all of those things are functions that must have a physical basis in the brain. No physical basis-->no mental experience.

Do you agree with that claim? If you don't (and if you do) please explain what mental experiences might be an exception, and why.

Also, would you agree that "will" is a type of mental experience?

When someone is using their will they are performing a process of decision making and executing those decisions by shifting their mental focus.

The definition of will, and of emotion, is not one of a process. It is a description frozen in time. But in fact a thought happens in time: it spans over a certain period of time.

The decision to consider a certain idea, to focus on it is a type of thought.

In the brain every thought is a process, and in the realm of our experience, every thought takes place in time (a thought must last some time). So "will", as I see it, must be supported by some process in the brain in the same way that other thoughts and emotions are. Would you agree?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No physical basis-->no mental experience.

Do you agree with that claim?

Yes.
Also, would you agree that "will" is a type of mental experience?
No.
When someone is using their will they are performing a process of decision making and executing those decisions by shifting their mental focus.
Yes.

Hopefully you understand your error -- a simple one, but still important. A tool and and an action performed with the tool are distinct things.

So "will", as I see it, must be supported by some process in the brain in the same way that other thoughts and emotions are. Would you agree?
Not yet: I don't know what you mean by "supported". When you have a specific piece of knowledge, does having the knowledge require you to "support" the knowledge by a process in the brain? Are you suggesting for example that the brain has a use-it or lose-it property, that if you don't activate knowledge, then it automatically is erased?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What determines [whether a law is reasonable or not] is ... the goal of the law in that context, the various policy determinations underlying that law, the evidentiary concerns, etc.
Why? Aren't some laws unreasonable regardless of the goals underlying them?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not particularly amused by the hostile tone of your post so this is the only response you will get from me on this matter.

Which part of my last post did you read as hostile? Was it the slap yourself experiment? Did you perform the experiment?

I didn't actually think you would hit yourself. The experiment was really intended to make you think about hitting yourself and in turn, make you think about freewill which is exactly what I said was the solution to your problem.

I suggest you try the experiment again only this time don't actually hit yourself. Just picture it in your mind. What would it take to get you to hit yourself? If you did hit yourself repeatedly, what would get you to stop? What causes you to even give a thought to hitting yourself?

can alter actions determined in advance.

This can't really make any sense to you. Can actions determined in advance be altered??? The sentence is self-contradictory. Contradictions do not exist in reality. And neither does your hypothetical.

I am honestly not sure what your point is.

The point is that I need to decide whether you are worth talking to. To do that I'd like to know your purpose in coming to this forum and the method with which you propose to achieve that purpose.

If you have come here to argue for the sake of argument with no intent to study, understand or learn, then to be truthful you should restrict yourself to the Debate forum.

If your intent is to study and learn Objectivism and your method is to use illogic, fallacious argumentation, arbitrary assertion all in the service of "critical thinking", then I would say your method is flawed and I'll spend my time doing something more productive like hitting my head against the wall.

If your intent is to study and learn Objectivism but you don't have the "time or interest" to do the studying and learning and you expect us to do it for you, then you are a parasite.

If there is another possibility, tell me. These are the only ones I see unless you actually believe the stuff you are saying. If you do, let me know, I'll shed a tear and move on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aren't some laws unreasonable regardless of the goals, policy rationales, and evidentiary concerns underlying them?
I suggest looking carefully at the question you just asked, especially the presumptions. Laws and other actions of man can have ostensive goals, rationales and evidentiary concerns which are publically presented so as to make them seem palatable, acceptable, reasonable and even desirable; and they can have actual underlying motivations that are different. Although the man is a philosophical bastard, Tony the judge does have some useful discussion of the problem of ostensive justification in law here.

If you start with the basic concept of "reasonable law", such a notion makes sense only in terms of the purpose of law. The immediate purpose of a law against, say, theft, has to be considered in the context of the purpose of law (protection of man's rights). If a law absolutely punishes the un-permitted possession of another person's property -- read that law literally -- the law is unreasonable. I assume you're hep to why the scienter requirement is a good thing in a legal system. Men can easily have in mind good goals, without correctly identifying the relevant concept. The goal of protecting the rights of people is there, and that part is reasonable. What is missing is the integration of common, every-day knowledge with the statement of the anti-theft law. Law should only punish a wrong act that is the realisation of a wrong choice. The failure to consider that distinction would, in the modern context, render the absolute anti-theft law unreasonable. (Not having lived in ancient Sumeria, I have no opinion of their laws -- in the modern context, they are unreasonable, but given the infantile concepts of morality that they must have had available to them, I would not condemn their laws as unreasonable. But I would certainly speak in favor of more reasonable laws).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because you can't actually expect anyone on this forum to take you seriously using this type of methodology. Asking questions politely is a much better alternative, though there is no substitute for actual study of the Objectivist literature.

You assume that learning Objectivism should be a more important goal than learning reality (what is).

You treat him as flawed because he doesn't discuss things with the goal of eventually agreeing with you, but instead use his own methods to figure out how things work. How dare he undermine your authority, and not be a humble creature that crawls before the great temple of Objectivist literature? How dare he think for himself? Just rude... a parasite indeed.

If your intent is to study and learn Objectivism and your method is to use illogic, fallacious argumentation, arbitrary assertion all in the service of "critical thinking", then I would say your method is flawed and I'll spend my time doing something more productive like hitting my head against the wall.

Absolute vacuum was never achieved in any lab. Nor is it possible to follow the movement of a mole of gas particles in a tank and calculate their future movements. Does that mean it is mystical to talk about pure vacuum or the fact that the particles do indeed move in a deterministic way? 'Course not.

But more importantly than this: your tone is very hostile, your suggested experiment show low class, and I would be surprised if Vladimir answers a single question of yours, not to mention discuss this subject with you.

Hopefully you understand your error -- a simple one, but still important. A tool and and an action performed with the tool are distinct things.

Okay... I see where our roads diverged. I'll try to use your terminology from now on: which means that I'll say that reason is a tool, but considering ideas is the process that is being done with the tool "reason". Was this your intention?

Not yet: I don't know what you mean by "supported". When you have a specific piece of knowledge, does having the knowledge require you to "support" the knowledge by a process in the brain? Are you suggesting for example that the brain has a use-it or lose-it property, that if you don't activate knowledge, then it automatically is erased?

I mean "supported" in the same way I have been using this word in other posts in this thread: that there is a physical process that is taking place in the brain for every mental experience an animal (or human) experiences. You can replace "support" with "give rise to" or by saying that mental experience and brain processes are coextensive, like you said earlier.

So to rephrase my question: "Will", as I see it, is a name of a mental ability that humans have. When we make a decision, shift mental focus, consider knowledge, we are using our will. And when we do those things that will enables us to do, we must have, at exactly the same time, physical processes in the brain that are unique for these mental tasks. Do you agree?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll try to use your terminology from now on: which means that I'll say that reason is a tool, but considering ideas is the process that is being done with the tool "reason". Was this your intention?
Excellent -- yes, that is precisely the difference I was pointing to.
I mean "supported" in the same way I have been using this word in other posts in this thread: that there is a physical process that is taking place in the brain for every mental experience an animal (or human) experiences. You can replace "support" with "give rise to" or by saying that mental experience and brain processes are coextensive, like you said earlier.

So to rephrase my question: "Will", as I see it, is a name of a mental ability that humans have.

Okay so far: a mental experience is supported by a physical process. And "will" is a mental ability (faculty).
When we make a decision, shift mental focus, consider knowledge, we are using our will.
Yes, we use that mental faculty.
And when we do those things that will enables us to do, we must have, at exactly the same time, physical processes in the brain
Yes again. With caveats about time questions: presumably, when you decide to do something, something propogates in your brain, over time. Hopefully, you're not pointing to a millisecond time micromanagement issue.
that are unique for these mental tasks.
Dang! I don't know of evidence that it's unique, so no. If you have a million people who are asleep, their alarms go off, they wake up and decide "Better shut off the alarm and get to work", I do not suppose that this one mental task that occurs in a million minds is physically the same for all of the people, nor do I assume that the same mental task is physically the same for each person every time it happens.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes again. With caveats about time questions: presumably, when you decide to do something, something propagates in your brain, over time. Hopefully, you're not pointing to a millisecond time micromanagement issue.

Oh, I'm saying much more than just a milliseconds correlation: I'm claiming there is an infinite accuracy in the time correlation between the mental experience and the process* in the brain. When I say that no mental experience can exist without a process happening in the brain I mean that this relation is ALWAYS true, at all times. Which means that there can never be any mental experience that would come before a physical process in the brain, not in a difference of a millisecond and not in any time difference. It is like a mass-carrying particle and the field of gravity it creates: Once there is a particle, it has the field, because that is the nature of the particle. It is impossible, in any time to have a particle with a mass without it having a gravity field. So in the same way there cannot exist a mental experience without the physical phenomena that gives rise to it, at any time.

*The process may be unknown yet. For now it is just known that there is a relation between firing action potentials by a neuron and mental experience, but perhaps there is a further process that takes place which is unknown yet.

Dang! I don't know of evidence that it's unique, so no. If you have a million people who are asleep, their alarms go off, they wake up and decide "Better shut off the alarm and get to work", I do not suppose that this one mental task that occurs in a million minds is physically the same for all of the people, nor do I assume that the same mental task is physically the same for each person every time it happens.

I wasn't talking about one process that happens in many people's brains: I was talking about one person and one brain: There is a difference in brain activity pattern between different mental experiences. If two thoughts are observed (via, say MRI or some more advanced imaging method which we don't yet have (unfortunately)) to have the exact same representation in the brain - then they must be the exact same mental experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You assume that learning Objectivism should be a more important goal than learning reality (what is).

Learning Objectivism is not only Vladimir's stated purpose in his introduction, it is also one of the facilitated purposes of this Forum Ifat. What is your purpose in coming here?

You treat him as flawed because he doesn't discuss things with the goal of eventually agreeing with you, but instead use his own methods to figure out how things work. How dare he undermine your authority, and not be a humble creature that crawls before the great temple of Objectivist literature? How dare he think for himself? Just rude... a parasite indeed.

The method of using illogic, fallacious argumentation and arbitrary assertion is flawed. Nothing can be discovered about the nature of reality using these methods. Do you disagree?

When someone says they don't have the "time or interest" to back-up their assertions but expect you to do it for them they are a parasite. (Also please note the use of quotation marks)

Absolute vacuum was never achieved in any lab. Nor is it possible to follow the movement of a mole of gas particles in a tank and calculate their future movements. Does that mean it is mystical to talk about pure vacuum or the fact that the particles do indeed move in a deterministic way? 'Course not.

Particles move in a deterministic way, humans do not. You are not really trying to compare the two are you? If so please conduct the experiment mentioned.

But more importantly than this: your tone is very hostile, your suggested experiment show low class, and I would be surprised if Vladimir answers a single question of yours, not to mention discuss this subject with you.

So an experiment which calls for thinking does not meet with your approval?

I do not expect Vladimir to answer because he hasn't shown the intellectual integrity required to admit when he is wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Learning Objectivism is not only Vladimir's stated purpose in his introduction, it is also one of the facilitated purposes of this Forum Ifat. What is your purpose in coming here?
That's absolutely non of your business.

The method of using illogic, fallacious argumentation and arbitrary assertion is flawed. Nothing can be discovered about the nature of reality using these methods. Do you disagree?
I agree that nothing can be discovered by using arbitrary assertions.

When someone says they don't have the "time or interest" to back-up their assertions but expect you to do it for them they are a parasite. (Also please note the use of quotation marks)
That doesn't indicate that someone is a parasite, it might indicate that they are not interested in reality, or that they see a certain question as irrelevant to presenting their view. I did not read Vladimir's post in which he made that remark, but I don't think this is necessary to call you on your rude manner of approaching him.

Particles move in a deterministic way, humans do not.
I disagree. If you have any evidence that the human body in any way acts not according to it's physical properties (including the brain) please let everyone know.

You are not really trying to compare the two are you? If so please conduct the experiment mentioned.
You first.

So an experiment which calls for thinking does not meet with your approval?
No, telling someone to slap themselves or try to stop themselves from doing so only shows an attempt to mock someone's intelligence. I don't think there is room for that in a discussion between rational people.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aren't some laws unreasonable regardless of the goals, policy rationales, and evidentiary concerns underlying them?
I am not sure what the question is. How can a law be unreasonable if it is based on all the proper reasonable prerequisites?
How can a law be reasonable if it is not based on the prerequisite that men are volitional?

A goal of preventing and prosecuting rapes is quite reasonable. Rationales that most rapes occur at night and involve men are (probably) reasonable. (I'm not sure what you mean by "evidentiary concerns", so I'll leave that one alone for now.)

However, a law against having sex or a law for punishing rape victims are quite unreasonable, regardless of whether they're based on a reasonable goal. A law against propositioning a woman after 6 PM or for the neutering of any man convicted of sexual harassment is certainly unreasonable even if the rationale behind it were sound.

Men can easily have in mind good goals, without correctly identifying the relevant concept. The goal of protecting the rights of people is there, and that part is reasonable. What is missing is the integration...
I agree with that. I would add (for Vladimir) that I don't think it is possible to come to the correct integration without the idea that men are volitional.

Law qua dispenser of justice is impossible in a nonvolitional world; justice is a matter of giving a man what he deserves, not what his environment is deemed worthy of.

Law qua defender of men is ambiguous in a nonvolitional world; how can initiations of force be prosecuted (in a manner not unreasonable) when one's environment is considered the Initiator of every force, every action?

Law qua establisher of a proper societal order is ironic in a nonvolitional world; can law establish anything when it (and everything else that was, is, or will be) is established by the Big Bang?

any evidence that the human body in any way acts not according to it's physical properties (including the brain) please let everyone know.
How is your action-neural delay (or any other experiment) contrary to the idea that humans are not deterministic?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How can a law be reasonable if it is not based on the prerequisite that men are volitional?

This is rather beside the point. If we are talking among a group of Objectivists then yes, they would agree with that. However in the legal world, volition is not seen as an axiomatic prerequisite. Nor is it required to have law. It may be required to have law of a sort an Objectivist would like, however.

A goal of preventing and prosecuting rapes is quite reasonable. Rationales that most rapes occur at night and involve men are (probably) reasonable. (I'm not sure what you mean by "evidentiary concerns", so I'll leave that one alone for now.)

However, a law against having sex or a law for punishing rape victims are quite unreasonable, regardless of whether they're based on a reasonable goal. A law against propositioning a woman after 6 PM or for the neutering of any man convicted of sexual harassment is certainly unreasonable even if the rationale behind it were sound.

I

It is hard to tell prima facia whether those laws are reasonable or not. I think the judgments you are making are more policy concerns than anything else. For example neutering for sexual harrassment is a harsh punishment but that doesn't seem to itself preclude it being reasonable. I would say that it makes the law suspect, but there may be some reason for the harshness of the punishment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How can a law be reasonable if it is not based on the prerequisite that men are volitional?
I think you could divide bad laws into two kinds, in terms of being reasonable. One would be the widespread kind of laws that exist everywhere such as laws prohibiting you from painting your house white, requiring you to pay taxes, stopping you from selling or possessing certain kinds of goods, and so on. These fail to get it in terms of man's rights. The second group would be outrageous laws which denies the relevance of volition, i.e. the laws that are not based on the prerequisite that man is volitional. Those would be laws which say that being in possession of another person's property without permission is a crime, regardless of whether you chose to deprive the person of their goods rather than just accidentally being in possession; or, a law which says that you are absolutely to be punished for striking a person and that the fact of being forced at gunpoint to do so is no excuse. Fortunately for civilization, it is not so common to find laws that treat people who involuntarily violate rights as indistinguishable from people who chose to violate rights. And fortunately, this is a widely requisite fact about justice that did not have to await the development of an Objectivist government.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How can a law be reasonable if it is not based on the prerequisite that men are volitional?
This is rather beside the point.
Only if you are intent of viewing this as merely a legal question. You said
How can a law be unreasonable if it is based on all the proper reasonable prerequisites?
How do you know that your (and only your) prerequisites are reasonable? What, without involving volition, is the standard of reason for deterministic legal systems? You say it's a legal question, which I am interpreting to mean that the law determines what is reasonable and unreasonable. But this would all the more mean that there is no standard of what is reasonable/unreasonable in a deterministic world, not only because there are unreasonable legal systems in history (e.g. Nazis, Stalin's Russia) but also because the law's standards are either
  • based on philosophy, in which case you could (but haven't) make an argument as to why your (and only your) legal prerequisites were reasonable
  • based on culture, in which case legal standards aren't, in and of themselves, reasonable

A law against having sex or a law for punishing rape victims are quite unreasonable, regardless of whether they're based on a reasonable goal. A law against propositioning a woman after 6 PM or for the neutering of any man convicted of sexual harassment is certainly unreasonable even if the rationale behind it were sound.
It is hard to tell prima facia whether those laws are reasonable or not.
That's exactly what I mean.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's absolutely non of your business.

That's a very defensive answer.

Insofar as I like to decide for myself the kind of people with whom I speak, I would like to know your purpose in coming here, though you need not say as it is becoming evident. However, this Forum is private property so your purpose here is the business of the owner. I hope, for the sake of this Forum and for the sake of your integrity, your purpose doesn't conflict with the purpose of this Forum.

I agree that nothing can be discovered by using arbitrary assertions.

So you think that something about the nature of reality can be discovered using illogic and fallacious argumentation?

That doesn't indicate that someone is a parasite, it might indicate that they are not interested in reality, or that they see a certain question as irrelevant to presenting their view.

When someone wants you to do the work they are unwilling to do, they are a parasite. And yes, it is obvious that neither you or Vladimir is interested in reality since you deny it every time you deny volition.

I disagree. If you have any evidence that the human body in any way acts not according to it's physical properties (including the brain) please let everyone know.

I guess I haven't been following your line of inquiry. Are you including volition as a property of humans here or are you explicitly denying that freewill exists? Do you not see any difference between the way billiard balls and humans act or between the way animals and humans act?

If you need evidence, please, perform the aforementioned experiment.

You first.

I must say, I have performed the experiment many times and never have I hit myself. Really, the experiment is safe as long as you perform it as directed, I'll quote myself:

[...] don't actually hit yourself. Just picture it in your mind. What would it take to get you to hit yourself? If you did hit yourself repeatedly, what would get you to stop? What causes you to even give a thought to hitting yourself?

... or wiggle your finger, or drive to work a different way, or just think about doing these things, or just think. What would cause you to choose to do any of these things? What would be the predetermined cause of these actions? What would be the predetermined cause compelling me to have this conversation in which I try to convince you that you have freewill? Do the words convince, conversation, and compel have any meaning apart from the concept of freewill?

No, telling someone to slap themselves or try to stop themselves from doing so only shows an attempt to mock someone's intelligence. I don't think there is room for that in a discussion between rational people.

That is because denying the evidence of your senses is irrational!!! And yes, I mock the irrational. Was there another way I could have chosen to answer him?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a very defensive answer.
No, that's just the truth.

And yes, it is obvious that neither you or Vladimir is interested in reality since you deny it every time you deny volition.

...

I guess I haven't been following your line of inquiry.

You admit you never took the time to read my posts on this thread and yet you dare to make such a statement about me.

And this isn't the first time you're quick on the trigger:

You, mister, have a pattern: answer to Felix

Answer to Sophia

The only redeeming thing is this (from the same thread):

]Sophia:

You have missed the intent of my last post. It was not to insult.

Of the dissenters left in this thread you are the only one who warrants a reply in my opinion. In my estimation the others have no intent to learn Objectivism, they wish only to argue against it. You will notice that most of their arguments have nothing to do with Objectivism. Your’s does. And the issue you raise is difficult to integrate with your other knowledge, I had a hard time too. Believe me, I would not spend my time and effort otherwise.

So instead of thinking of them as insults, think of them as conclusions reached logically from the premises given

But this change of attitude might be a result of a complaint someone had about you (who took it up to a mod): me. So I don't know if this sudden change of heart was honest or forced, but anyway it was needed.

For me, when you told Sophia (specifically in that thread, in light of how well she presented her arguments and questions) that she is not an Objectivist and that she should restrict herself to the debate forum, you said everything I needed to know to judge how much value as a thinker you are to me.

You have a pattern of condemning people who disagree with you regardless of how rational they are.

Do you not see any difference between the way billiard balls and humans act

It depends which humans.

But seriously, what makes you think I should take the time to answer your questions, when you haven't read a singe word (on the subject of volition) that I wrote? Like you said: "When someone wants you to do the work they are unwilling to do, they are a parasite."

Was there another way I could have chosen to answer him?

Yes: without mocking his intelligence and make an "obviously he is not..." kind of remarks, which are unsupported.

Now listen: this post (and line of communication between us) feels like a graffity on a wall: it ain't aesthetic, it doesn't belong to this thread. I am not interested to discuss this further, and I will not continue to take part in this sub-discussion. Just take that into account, if you still need to make another statement (i.e don't bother to ask me any questions in it).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How is your action-neural delay (or any other experiment) contrary to the idea that humans are not deterministic?

huterrose: I have no idea what you are asking me. What on earth is an "action neural delay"? :)

Dave Odden: Where'd you run off to? I thought we were having fun, and then poof you disappear. Should I continue this discussion with someone else instead?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dave Odden: Where'd you run off to? I thought we were having fun, and then poof you disappear. Should I continue this discussion with someone else instead?
Well, I've been here for as long as I can remember. I'd like you to acknowledge a particular point, which you have not only not acknowledged, but appear to be denying. The point is at the bottom, and the context is the creamy center below. You said...
I wasn't talking about one process that happens in many people's brains: I was talking about one person and one brain: There is a difference in brain activity pattern between different mental experiences. If two thoughts are observed (via, say MRI or some more advanced imaging method which we don't yet have (unfortunately)) to have the exact same representation in the brain - then they must be the exact same mental experience.
First, you are mixing concepts in a way that makes it hard for me to understand your point. A "representation" is a mental object, an abstraction, for example a mental picture of a cat is a mental representation of an actual picture or possibly even many actual pictures, the phoneme is a mental representation of a huge range of actual acoustic events that impinge on your auditory system, and in general the thing in the head is a representation of the thing outside. If you would like to argue that we actually have anything substantial to say about the physical basis of mental representations, where we can say "This representation physically has this nature; that representation physically has that nature", then I say, bring it on. You cannot point to the physical basis of the representational difference between the phonemes "f", "s" and "sh" in English, Hebrew or any other language, in such a way that I can look at brain states and at all reliably say "yes, that is [f], and that is ". By reliably, I mean "distinguishable from chance, even at the .10 level". I think you pretty much conceded this point. Representations are not brain states. By assumption, there is some connection between representations and brain states, but they are not the same thing.

The same statement goes for processes, such as accessing a particular lexical item, pronouncing a particular word, thinking of a particular animal, adding two particular numbers. Show me the brain-physics of 1+2=3, as distinguishable from 3-2=1, and I will not only eat my hat, but every hat in this country. Now, will you grant that this is true?

I am then baffled by the notion of thoughts being observed to have the same brain representation -- what is a "brain representation"? Do you mean "physical states and events in the brain"?

Think about what "the same process" really means: it means, "in no way different, whatsoever". When I drop a dime (non-metaphorically), that event is unique in an absolute sense -- I can drop a dime on a different occasion, and I can even drop the same dime on a different occasion, and drop it in the same place. The notion "same", when dealing with actually different things, is an exercise in measurement omission.

Now to bring this to brain physiology and mental correlates: are you proposing that for one brain, two essentially identical mental states or actions have essentially the same physics? Are you proposing that we have scientific evidence that this is so? Are you proposing that there is an a priori philosophical reason why this must be so? If yes to any of these questions, my follow-up question will be, what is your reason for saying this?

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...