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Things I've taken for granted in the O'ist Ethics.

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What are the "Facts of reality?" The laws of Physics? All Sciences? Genetics? Do all men act within "Man's nature?" If they don't, why not? Are there other creatures/animals that act outside their "nature?" Is there more than one "nature" for a species?

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What are the "Facts of reality?" The laws of Physics? All Sciences? Genetics? Do all men act within "Man's nature?" If they don't, why not? Are there other creatures/animals that act outside their "nature?" Is there more than one "nature" for a species?
I'm not sure exactly what it is you are questioning regarding man's nature; the relevant facts are straightforward. If you do not eat, you will perish. If you do not use a process of reason to discover a source of food, you will not eat. Thus, you must think to remain alive. No, all men do not choose to think. Some choose to exist off the efforts of others. But unless someone, somewhere is thinking, everyone, everywhere will eventually perish.

Do you agree?

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I'm not sure exactly what it is you are questioning regarding man's nature; the relevant facts are straightforward. If you do not eat, you will perish. If you do not use a process of reason to discover a source of food, you will not eat. Thus, you must think to remain alive. No, all men do not choose to think. Some choose to exist off the efforts of others. But unless someone, somewhere is thinking, everyone, everywhere will eventually perish.

Do you agree?

To a point. Animals, by standards here, are not able to think, yet they manage to "discover a source of food" that is not existing off of others. And if a non-thinking, non-conscious animal can do it, why can't a human?

My real question, is about that determinism idea. This is a very interesting thread. What is it about the human mind that separates us from the rest of the laws of the world? Is conscious a natural or supernatural occurance? I just think that Felix brings up some interesting points, worthy of discussion. Since people talking about "Man's Nature." I was just curious as to what defined "Man's Nature." If Man's nature is predetermined, why wouldn't anything else about him be. If it's not, than each "Man" has a different nature, and must act according to his own individual nature, just as some animals in the world are producers and some are "moochers."

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To a point. Animals, by standards here, are not able to think, yet they manage to "discover a source of food" that is not existing off of others. And if a non-thinking, non-conscious animal can do it, why can't a human?
Animals are equipped for that manner of survival; man is not. A predator like a lion, for instance, can smell its way to food and is equipped to chase it down and kill it. A bird has superior vision and can spot insects on the ground. Grazing animals like cattle have a digestive system that lets them survive on plant matter. But man is not equipped with a superior sense of smell or the speed to run down prey or the physiology to survive by eating grass.

My real question, is about that determinism idea. This is a very interesting thread. What is it about the human mind that separates us from the rest of the laws of the world?
Nothing separates us from the rest of the laws of the world. A specific arrangement of neurons, under a specific set of biochemical conditions, gives rise to the phenomena of volitional consciousness. Change that arrangement of neurons (say, through a head injury) or change those biochemical conditions (say, through a drop in blood pressure) and consciousness is lost. Nothing about this situation contradicts any of the laws of physics.
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To a point. Animals, by standards here, are not able to think, yet they manage to "discover a source of food" that is not existing off of others. And if a non-thinking, non-conscious animal can do it, why can't a human?
The whole point is that man cannot exist without thinking. Here where I live (in Michigan), a man might be able to exist until about November. At that time, if he didn't have the ability to conceive of and make clothing, he would die of exposure. If he simply went around and ate odd plants and small animals, he would very quickly eat something poisonous and die. In this context, man is different from other animals in that he must use tools (which are the products of reason) in order to survive.

My real question, is about that determinism idea. This is a very interesting thread. What is it about the human mind that separates us from the rest of the laws of the world? Is conscious a natural or supernatural occurance? I just think that Felix brings up some interesting points, worthy of discussion. Since people talking about "Man's Nature." I was just curious as to what defined "Man's Nature." If Man's nature is predetermined, why wouldn't anything else about him be. If it's not, than each "Man" has a different nature, and must act according to his own individual nature, just as some animals in the world are producers and some are "moochers."
The human mind does not separate us from "the rest of the laws of the world". We are still subject to the laws of nature. I see no evidence that consciousness is a "supernatural occurance", do you? Man's nature is only predetermined in the sense that he is what he is. The law of identity applies to man the same way it applies to everything else.

Edit: Sorry, AisA and I posted at the same time.

Edited by gags
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  • 3 years later...

I hope it is ok for me to digg up this old threat but it is exactly what I'm thinking about right now. Generally I follow the thinking of Felix.

The argument on objectivists side seems to be:

Free will must exist, since it is the source of our knowledge. Since a statement like "free will does not exist" would mean that we can't gain knowledge, renders "free will does no exist" invalid because it is knowledge and had to be gained with free will.

I see a problem there.

That still leaves the question of the nature of free will. It might just be an "illusion" or another mechanism that helps our brain to categorize information.

In other words the underlying question is: Can we make a _free_ choice.

Determinism argues that the exact same starting conditions will result in the exact same results. applied to free will that would mean that a human faced with the exact same problem in the exact same conditions will always make the same choice.

that also leaves a theoretical test. will a human always do the same as discribed above? if he does not, determinism is wrong and there is something in the human brain that is not deterministic and since the human brain is part of the universe means that the universe is not deterministic. that would have a _huge_ impact on science.

the other possible test result would be that a human always makes the same choice. that means that the human mind is in fact deterministic.

So what is wrong about this statement?

"Free will must exist, since it is the source of our knowledge. Since a statement like "free will does not exist" would mean that we can't gain knowledge, renders "free will does no exist" invalid because it is knowledge and had to be gained with free will."

It means that free will is not the source of all knowledge and free will is in fact merely an illusion that developed in the course of evolution to help our brains to organize information in some sorts.

The illusion of free will is real, but the implication that free will results in free choice is not true.

That is what the hypnotic example in another posts illustrates. The act of doing something comes _before_ the "illusion" of free will.

The action results in the illusion "i just did that because of my free will". Of course this concept is very hard to imagine when it comes to difficult "choices" like making a move in chess. But that does not mean it can not be true.

How can it not have free will if I sit there 20 minutes and think about a move that I'm going to do in chess? I could have made another move!

No, you would always have made that move. Free will is an incredible complex mechanism of the brain to help process complex information.

I believe free will is an illusion, but a very smart one and one that must be dealt with. We _need_ that illusion to work, but we have to accept that it is a practical concept and not a fundamental physical one.

We should not throw it over board abandon all morals; we need the illusion to function in any way and that means that morals still have to work with free will, even if it is an illusion.

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I believe free will is an illusion, but a very smart one and one that must be dealt with. We _need_ that illusion to work, but we have to accept that it is a practical concept and not a fundamental physical one.

We should not throw it over board abandon all morals; we need the illusion to function in any way and that means that morals still have to work with free will, even if it is an illusion.

This is basically "soft determinism." The belief that man is determined but that he must still be held responsible as if he's not.

In this sort of senario, how would you suggest man is to arrive at truth, at a right and proper way of behaving? How can he know that his particular thoughts actually do correspond with reality better than others, and that he's not still simply the product of atomic motions.

What is it about "going through the motions" of the search for truth that gives the outcome of that search any more validity than not? And how do you know that?

If you can answer that question at all clearly I would be the answer you give leaves you a bit troubled.

I'm not going to debate this with you. I want you to state your position clearly. For a clear articulation of the Objectivist position I would urge you not to keep flitting around these threads. You will get an approximation at best. Peikoff, OPAR, on volition is the clearest statement of the issue.

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that also leaves a theoretical test. will a human always do the same as discribed above? if he does not, determinism is wrong and there is something in the human brain that is not deterministic and since the human brain is part of the universe means that the universe is not deterministic. that would have a _huge_ impact on science.

First this is an argument from necessity. Whether or not it has an impact does not affect whether it is true or not. That fact that an impact might be very messy is well, science's problem, isn't it.

Secondly, it actually doesn't have that big an impact on science. It only does if you take science's explanation of causality to mean determinism. If you have a system that is causal in a different way, then that does not now make every other system you've characterized suddenly behave randomly. It simply would say that some systems exhibit deterministic behavior, and others exhibit volitional behavior. It impacts the science of the study of human behavior. But then science has always had a bit of a problem getting human behavior to fit into a nice neat A -> B causality.

hmmm, I wonder why that is...

My last cricism is that your reasoning is all very rationalistic, that is it seems like a set of floating abstractions. Do you actually understand why it is that objectivists would claim that without volition you can't have knowledge. Can you concretize that explanation for me? If not, then I'd suggest that you don't actually understand the issue, and your arguments against it are going to miss the issue every time.

Edited by KendallJ
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I think you did not address my the points in my post. The last paragraph was just a short personal opinion why free will must not be thrown in the trash, if you will.. the impacts on science wasn't my key point either.

They key point is: Free will is not compatible with determinism. There can't be a mixture in the sense that determinism applies to everything except the human brain.

I'm trying to work with objectivist terminology and quotes i've found that address the matter.

Peikoff in "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy":

"As far as metaphysical reality is concerned (omitting human actions from consideration, for the moment), there are no 'facts which happen to be but could have been otherwise'... Since things are what they are, since everything that exists possesses a specific identity, nothing in reality can occur causelessly or by chance. The nature of an entity determines what it can do and, in any given set of circumstances, dictates what it will do." (The Ayn Rand Lexicon, 333.)

So the nature of an entity dictates what it will do. The nature of an entity leaves no room of choice or the law of identity is broken. An entity can not be of a nature that does not dictate what it will do.This is determinism in a different formulation.

"The law of identity... tells us only that whatever entities there are, they act in accordance with their nature... The law of causality by itself, therefore, does not affirm or deny the reality of an irreducible choice. It says only this much: if such a choice does exist, then it, too, as a form of action, is performed and necessitated by an entity of a specific nature." (Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand, 68-69.)

For me, that is fundamental different. Now suddenly the nature of an entity does not follow what it will do and multiple choices are permitted which not breaks the law of identity.

This either means that only one statement can be right or that the nature of an entity itself does not follow what it will do and therefore that the law if identity does not follow what an entity will do.

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Further illustrating why both statements can not be right:

The human brain consists of a great number of peaces; braincells and various other cells, which themself consist of smaller peaces.

Each peace is an entity that has a specific nature which "...determines what it can do and, in any given set of circumstances, dictates what it will do" (The Ayn Rand Lexicon, 333.)

If every part of an entity is dictated by it's nature what it will do, then itself will be dictated by it's nature or the nature of it's parts.

On the contrary, if an entity is of a nature that allows free will or in other words of a nature that does not dictate what it will do, then (some of) it's parts must be of that nature.

In the end some parts of the human brain must "contain" the free will, which would violate the law if identity when you apply it to an atom.

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The argument on objectivists side seems to be:

Free will must exist, since it is the source of our knowledge. Since a statement like "free will does not exist" would mean that we can't gain knowledge, renders "free will does no exist" invalid because it is knowledge and had to be gained with free will.

The argument is not that "Free will must exist..." (Just as it's not that "Existence must exist because..." Does it cause you concern that existence cannot be proved, that existence is axiomatic? If so, why does accepting the self-evident cause you concern? Without the self-evident base, no knowledge would be possible, and no "proofs" would be possible.) In fact there's no argument, deductive argument, for free will, no proof. The claim is simply, "Free will does exists." -- man's conceptual consciousness is under his own free, volitional control; what he thinks or concludes is under his direct, free, volitional control.

("Proof" is a sub-species of, a type of, "validation," of demonstrating, or showing, that one's conclusions or assertions are true (in agreement with or correspondence with reality) identifications of reality. Proof does not exhaust the concept of "validation." (See Peikoff's OPAR). "Validation" is a broader concept than "proof." To validate the self-evident, one simply observes it. To prove some assertion or hypothesis, one points to the evidence upon which one's assertion is based and demonstrates the logic of one's conclusion.)

The concept of "proof" presupposes the concept of "volition" -- meaning, in your own mind, you could not conceive of asking anyone, yourself included, for "proof" of anything without grasping that you have the power of volition, of choice, of free, non-determined, choice, choice which did not have to be. You could not ask for "proof" without being aware of the fact that on the conceptual level, you (we humans) are fallible, not automatically correct, that your conclusions are not automatically in correspondence with reality, that they are not automatically true. Being aware that one's conceptual conclusions are not automatically valid leads one to grasp that one needs to identify some method of validating and/or proving one's conclusions, and that one has to choose to adhere to such a method (Reason -- drawing logical conclusions based upon and consistent with the evidence.). Without such an awareness, one would never ask anyone for "proof" of anything.

To ask someone for proof implies that one grasps that there is reality, and that reality is what it is in spite of consciousness, that consciousness (sensory, perceptual, conceptual) is awareness of reality (does not determine reality, but identifies it), and that a conceptual (unlike sensory or perceptual) consciousness is fallible, and therefore must choose, implicitly or explicitly, to be guided by the axiom, "Existence exists" if it wants to be aware of reality. (Anyone who accepts the Law of Identity in their thinking has at least implicitly accepted that "Existence exists." They know that contradictions do not exist in reality, and that therefore a contradiction in their thinking and conclusions is the tale-tell indication of an error in their thinking or conclusions.)

To ask someone for proof is to ask, "Hey, what facts of reality, what evidence, supports and validates your claim or assertion?"

Free will is a self-evident fact. The concept of volition is axiomatic; volition is self-evidently true. You know (are aware of the fact) that you have free will (volition) right now. It's staring you in the face. You'll never ever get proof of the fact that you have it. There's no argument for it; it's a self-evident fact, and just like "existence," all you can do is nod your head and accept a fundamental fact that you are directly aware of. (Again, the only reason you ask for proof is because you, at least implicitly, already accept "Existence exists." -- meaning that you already accept, as self-evidently valid, "Existence," "Consciousness," "Identity" and "Volition" (Free will), etc.)

Every choice above the choice to focus one's conceptual consciousness, one's mind, is motivated, meaning that one makes the choice for some reason. (I want to eat and am eating this burger because I'm hungry and I like burgers.) Such choices are not determined; they are motivated. To be aware of one's motivations, to choose and act on one's motivations requires that one be in focus and remain in focus. The choice to focus one's mind is the fundamental choice, the seat or source of free will, and you can easily verify it to be a choice by introspection. The fundamental choice is not a choice of moving from unconsciousness to focused consciousness, but of moving up from vague awareness to acute awareness or focus, engaging one's conceptual faculty for the task of identification.

They key point is: Free will is not compatible with determinism. There can't be a mixture in the sense that determinism applies to everything except the human

Further illustrating why both statements can not be right:

Free Will is a fact of man's conceptual nature, his mind, that is completely determined by his nature.

That man has volition is a self-evident fact. Consistent with determinism, man's free will is deterministically caused -- arises from naturally and deterministically -- by man's nature.

Or, by (due to, caused by) man's nature, he has free will. Man's nature deterministically causes him to have free will; his nature does not determine what choices he makes. (Similarly, by man's nature, he has two eyes. By nature he has the capacity of sight. What he looks at is not determined. It's up to him what he spends his time looking at.)

Edited by Trebor
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Choice, however, is not chance. Volition is not an exception to the Law of Causality; it is a type of causation.(Peikoff)

Why is that wrong? Why can't a consciousness which makes choices based on the reality around it, or can choose to even ignore the reality around it (and then make secondary choices based on errors in judgement, of its own creation or borrowed from others), exist, within the confines of the Law of Causality?

Why would it necessarily have to have a part within it, which is a true radom generator? (again, something that we haven't discovered, as of yet - not knowing what is causing something is not proof that nothing is causing it)

[i'm asking honestly, I really did not find where you're answering that in your post.]

[edit] I'm talking to crizon. (sorry, I forgot to mention that)

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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For me, that is fundamental different. Now suddenly the nature of an entity does not follow what it will do and multiple choices are permitted which not breaks the law of identity.

This is a misunderstanding of the statement first. You inserted determinism into the first statement. Let me see if I can rephrase Peikoff to illustrate.

If it is a things nature to be volitional, then in a given context, the nature of it's identity will dictate what it will do. It will choose. Objectivism starts with identity, not with action.

You implicitly inserted prior action (i.e. determinism) into the mix. The only way you have a conflict of those two statements is if determinism = causality.

Determinism: aspects of a thing's nature are specified by prior causes.

Causality: A thing acts according to it's nature.

Causality is a broader concept. Determinism is a species of causality.

If you look backward through a deterministic chain of causes (say a series of billiard balls hitting each other), you will always arrive at a thing and it's nature. Those will be metaphysical primaries which you cannot explain by prior causes, because those prior causes will also have things with identities. To ask why a thing is what it is, can not be entirely explained by prior causes. This is the mistake that determinists make in thinking that prior causes are sufficient to explain what a thing is. Some part of the explanation relies and will always rely on the idea that "it just is." This is what the first axiom of existence implies. Existence is irreducible. It must be taken as ostensibly (not for granted) there. You cannot get to existence by going backward in a deterministic chain. You must start with things and their nature, and go forward from there.

Your train of thought does not integrate this axiom.

Determinists drop the context of identity because they implicitly assume that a thing's nature is entirely specified by prior action. Without reminding anyone that the prior action are in turn generated by things with specific natures.

Thinking of this another way. If we describe the naure of things through physics, and chemistry,etc, then it would be proper to say, it is in the nature of atoms to form molecules, of certain molecules to form proteins, of certain proteins to form cells, of certain cells to form nueral networks, and of those neural networks to exhibit volition. Why is this so? Because the atoms simply are what they are.

Neural networks, cells, proteins, molecules, and even atoms all exhibit properites that their consituent particles do not. To suggest that because CERTAIN properties of an atom are specified deterministically, that ALL properties of a constituent entity must also be, is the fallacy of composition. Causation will not tell you why an atom simply exists possessing the properties it has. Nor will it tell you that those atoms are not capable of forming an entity whose characteristic is that it is volitional.

Edited by KendallJ
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Now that I've answered your question. I'd like an answer to mine.

My last cricism is that your reasoning is all very rationalistic, that is it seems like a set of floating abstractions. Do you actually understand why it is that objectivists would claim that without volition you can't have knowledge? Can you concretize that explanation for me?
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Further illustrating why both statements can not be right:

The human brain consists of a great number of peaces; braincells and various other cells, which themself consist of smaller peaces.

Each peace is an entity that has a specific nature which "...determines what it can do and, in any given set of circumstances, dictates what it will do" (The Ayn Rand Lexicon, 333.)

If every part of an entity is dictated by it's nature what it will do, then itself will be dictated by it's nature or the nature of it's parts.

On the contrary, if an entity is of a nature that allows free will or in other words of a nature that does not dictate what it will do, then (some of) it's parts must be of that nature.

In the end some parts of the human brain must "contain" the free will, which would violate the law if identity when you apply it to an atom.

This is flatly wrong because it appeals to a logical fallacy.

A fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole (or even of every proper part). The argument that if the brain consists only of neurons, molecules and atoms none of which have free will, then the brain as a whole cannot have free will is an instance of the fallacy of composition.

The material parts of a living body are related together in a specific structure and in motion. If you chop a man up into his constituent atoms you will not find a self or even a trace of life. If then you conclude the man was never alive to begin with, or never had a self, your materialist reductionism has led you to commit a logical fallacy and a murder.

Causality and determinism are two different things. The law of causality is simply that an entity must act in accordance with its nature. Determinism states that every event is causally necessitated by antecedent events. The difference is, events don't exist. Only entities, things, exist physically or metaphysically. An event is an action of an entity (or plural entities). Determinism is false because it is a reification of events as if they were metaphysical primaries, when only the entities that act have existence. If it is the nature of the man that he has the freedom to choose among various acts or contents of consciousness, this is no violation of causality.

Determinism can be refuted without reference to free will. The determinist principle that each action entails a single possible consequent action is an arbitrary assertion that cannot be proven. Considered as a simple restatement of the causality principle determinism fails because it unjustifiably restricts what is possible. Unjustifiable, because philosophy can not be normative by specifying apriori what physics must discover. Philosophy can only specify what kind of thing is impossible, a contradiction.

Determinism also invokes an infinite regress of causes unless there actually was a metaphysical first cause. But if determinism can have one first cause then it can have others and 'single possible consequent action' is a false premise.

This is not mathematics, so Negating a negative is no substitute for a positive statement. Invalidating determinism is not the same as validating free will, so the separate appeal to introspection as validation is still necessary.

The fallacy of reification should be avoided: free will isn't going to be found as a thing in the brain because it is something the brain does. Free will exists as a verb, not a noun. Reductionist dissection and static analysis isn't going to find free will. Pictures on a hard drive don’t exist physically. What exists are sequences of “1” and “0”. They are not pictures until someone looks at them rendered on a screen. Just as there is no picture in "1" and "0" there is no free will in neurons, molecules and atoms.

Metaphysical nature of free will:

That which exists is neither true nor false, it simply is. Existence is the standard of truth in the sense that any idea which is true can be reduced to an existent (or relation among things that exist). What makes ideas metaphysically different and unmetaphysical is that they can be true or false. Free will, because it is the means by which we steer our thoughts correctly or incorrectly, is the cause of the 'true or false' nature of abstractions, the fallibility of knowledge. Free will then cannot itself be judged true or false but must be accepted as metaphysically given.

Free will is an epistemological first cause:

Aristotle wrote "All men by nature desire to know." This small statement is not just a meditation on human nature but also the nature of knowledge. The will to know is an epistemological first cause, not a metaphysical first cause. The will to know is not a metaphysical first cause because it does not make possible the existence of anything, existence is prior to and independent of consciousness. The will to know is an epistemological first cause because it makes possible any and all knowledge.

Equating the 'will to know' with 'free will' is what Objectivism does. The mental freedom to direct your attention, to solve a problem or to simply be still and alert, or to do none of these things by not even focusing mentally, is the only true freedom. Free will is the humble power to select among the available alternatives, not a radical superpower to transcend the limitations of time and space.

Objectivism duplicates this pattern in ethics. The will to live is an ethical first cause, because it makes possible any and all values.

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In this sort of senario, how would you suggest man is to arrive at truth, at a right and proper way of behaving? How can he know that his particular thoughts actually do correspond with reality better than others, and that he's not still simply the product of atomic motions.

What is it about "going through the motions" of the search for truth that gives the outcome of that search any more validity than not? And how do you know that?

Oh Sorry, I meant this question, not the other one.

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Free will can never be contradicted by later findings in neuroscience, because the existence of the scientific method, hence neuroscience, depends on an epistemology of reason, and reason depends on volition. Without a volitional consciousness reason would be neither necessary nor possible.

Could you please explain the relationship of reason and volition. How do you define reason, and why does it depend on volition. I feel like this is really knocking on the door to my understanding of free will.

PS: Yes I realize that this is an old post, and sorry for hijacking.

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Could you please explain the relationship of reason and volition. How do you define reason, and why does it depend on volition. I feel like this is really knocking on the door to my understanding of free will.

Human consciousness is not automatically geared towards going by the facts as opposed to going by what is on one's mind. His senses are automatically geared towards reality, since we observe reality with our senses, but the human mind does not have to go by the facts in an integrated manner. The human mind can come up with all sorts of contradictions and puzzles, but there isn't anything in there that will compel him to observe the facts and to integrate his observations into higher and higher principles based upon the facts. The ability to consider the facts in an integrated manner is what Objectivism refers to as reason, and this must be done by an act of will, since it does not happen automatically. That is, one must develop the ability to organize the facts one knows into a hierarchy, since the human mind on the automatic level only has the capacity to remember facts. In other words, thinking is not automatic and must be done by one's own free will; and if you are going by those things on your mind without checking them against the facts of reality then you are not using your volition or your reasoning ability.

Trying to understand what I wrote will not happen automatically, one must will to try to understand it using one's own mind in a self-controlled manner by willfully focusing on the facts and checking to see if what is on your mind complies with the facts as you observe them (using extrospection and introspection).

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First of all: I've read all answers and some multiple times (especially the one from grames :lol: ). I'm trying to address the key points, but i won't answer every sentence or paragraph.. it's a bit too much.

Trebor:

Free will is a self-evident fact. The concept of volition is axiomatic; volition is self-evidently true. You know (are aware of the fact) that you have free will (volition) right now. It's staring you in the face. You'll never ever get proof of the fact that you have it. There's no argument for it; it's a self-evident fact, and just like "existence," all you can do is nod your head and accept a fundamental fact that you are directly aware of. (Again, the only reason you ask for proof is because you, at least implicitly, already accept "Existence exists." -- meaning that you already accept, as self-evidently valid, "Existence," "Consciousness," "Identity" and "Volition" (Free will), etc.)

I claim that this is not true. I know that I am conscious and i know that existence exists, but I do not perceive that I actually have a free choice.

If free choice was in fact self-evident, then one would directly perceive that in the same conditions man would not always to the same thing and how can i perceive that? It is practically impossible.

How can you say you directly perceive that we could have made a different choice in the exact same conditions, when it is practical impossible to recreate the same conditions?

It is an _assumption_ and nothing self-evident like conscious (by definition) or existence.

What we do in fact perceive is that we are conscious and that we are constantly faced with _problems_. Note that I did not use the word decisions because that implies that we have a free choice.

We know that we are faced with problems that require evaluation.

The question "Do I have free will?" is foremost a problem that we need to evaluate. Free choice is not needed to solve problems.

The concept of "proof" presupposes the concept of "volition" -- meaning, in your own mind, you could not conceive of asking anyone, yourself included, for "proof" of anything without grasping that you have the power of volition, of choice, of free, non-determined, choice, choice which did not have to be.

So you're saying that because I asked "Do we have free will" (assuming that free will "contains" free choice) I must have volition because I am using reason and since reason requires the (free) choice to use my faculty or reason, I must have free will (or free choice).

This is a circle. It is based on the statement that the act of using your faculty of reason, to focus your conscious, is a free choice, which as I said above is not self-evident.

To Grames:

Yes you are right. My example was wrong. My statements did not prove in any way that the 2 statements i quoted are contridictions.

Metaphysical nature of free will:

That which exists is neither true nor false, it simply is. Existence is the standard of truth in the sense that any idea which is true can be reduced to an existent (or relation among things that exist). What makes ideas metaphysically different and unmetaphysical is that they can be true or false. Free will, because it is the means by which we steer our thoughts correctly or incorrectly, is the cause of the 'true or false' nature of abstractions, the fallibility of knowledge. Free will then cannot itself be judged true or false but must be accepted as metaphysically given.

I think this is basically the same argument. In other words: Free will must be accepted because it is the source of your ideas. That again is based on the wrong statement that free will is self-evident.

I feel it is essentially the same "circle argument".

Another thing:

Any Rand states that: "Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses. It is a faculty that man has to exercise by choice."

So to reason requires choice, but what is the choice to use reason based on? It can't be reason because we have to make the choice to reason in the first place.

KendallJ:

"In this sort of senario, how would you suggest man is to arrive at truth, at a right and proper way of behaving? How can he know that his particular thoughts actually do correspond with reality better than others, and that he's not still simply the product of atomic motions.

What is it about "going through the motions" of the search for truth that gives the outcome of that search any more validity than not? And how do you know that?"

Well you're in a sense wanting a new ethical system here? I can't give you that.

I view the concept of free will mostly practical. Human society seems to work better with morals and ethics, which both require the concept of free will, so we have a reason to still use this concept.

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So to reason requires choice, but what is the choice to use reason based on? It can't be reason because we have to make the choice to reason in the first place.

And why did a person choose that choice? And why did he choose to choose that choice? And what was the reason to choose to choose the choice that he chose? Infinite regress. The answer is not wrong, the question is wrong.

The only way out of this infinite regress is to accept a primary, something that simply is.

Existence exists is a primary. You can't ask why does existence exist. Any explanation would be in terms of something. But that something exists, so you have explained nothing.

Identity is a primary. You can't ask why do things have identity. Any explanation would be in terms of a cause. But causes only exist due to identities in action, so nothing has been explained.

Consciousness is a primary. You can ask why or how consciousness exists, but you can't spin the answer into a denial that consciousness exists. Consciousness must exist before knowing or denying.

Volition is a primary. You can't ask why did a person choose that choice. Any explanation would itself be a choice, which explains nothing. Choosing to believe determinism is a choice, and self-refuting.

People hate primaries. Tough. Emotions are not means for rational thought.

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I actually would accept if Objectivism simply stated that Free Will is am primary and that's it, but it states that free will with all it's implications really exists and that is something different.

At one point it is "smuggled" in by definition.

I agree with existence exists. Can't be refuted. Same goes for consciousness, BUT if you define consciousness with volitional consciousness then this changes things. That suddenly includes an assumption that is not self-evident, because volition includes free choice.

Consciousness for it to be self-evident must centrally mean "being self-aware". The next step, saying that consciousness requires volition is an assumption and nowhere near a statement like existence exists.

And why did a person choose that choice? And why did he choose to choose that choice? And what was the reason to choose to choose the choice that he chose? Infinite regress. The answer is not wrong, the question is wrong.

The only way out of this infinite regress is to accept a primary, something that simply is.

Like the person has in fact no choice?

Consciousness is a primary. You can ask why or how consciousness exists, but you can't spin the answer into a denial that consciousness exists. Consciousness must exist before knowing or denying.

Volition is a primary. You can't ask why did a person choose that choice. Any explanation would itself be a choice, which explains nothing. Choosing to believe determinism is a choice, and self-refuting.

People hate primaries. Tough. Emotions are not means for rational thought.

Again the word "choice" always implies free will. Better is "problem that requires evaluation" and that does not require free will whatsoever, on the contrary.

I've read a lot in this very large topic: http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...;hl=determinism

This is stated again and again by Objectivists. Terms like "nature", "volition", "choice" and "knowledge" are all defined in a way that requires free will at some point in the argument.

"You can't ask why did a person choose that choice. Any explanation would itself be a choice, which explains nothing. Choosing to believe determinism is a choice, and self-refuting."

This essentially means "choice requires choice" and therefore considers free will (better:free choice) self-evident, which is not true.

Also there is this constant notion that volition does not fall in causality or randomness. It is something in-between or a something totally different, which is not possible without being mystic or "magic".

The answer is mostly "No No it is caused by the _nature_ of men" or "No No it is a choice made with reason" or something similar.

The connection between two points in time can either be caused or random, there is no third option without "magic". Period.

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I agree with existence exists. Can't be refuted. Same goes for consciousness, BUT if you define consciousness with volitional consciousness then this changes things. That suddenly includes an assumption that is not self-evident, because volition includes free choice.
Just to be clear, what Objectivism is talking about here is the choice to think. One's consciousness has the ability to think about something or not to, to evaluate something or to ignore it, to think about X rather than about Y... and so on. Something in the make-up of human consciousness allows it (you, me) to decide where to shine its torch. That is a ability that is called "free will".
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crizon, let me see if I understand your view.

It's your view that we, humans, are fallible beings (Or is it your view that we're all infallible, incapbable of error in thinking or acting?) who simply can't help but hold the views (true or false, right or wrong) that we hold, and that we automatically act in automatic ways to solve problems, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing, either way automatically, and we automatically make evaluations, sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly, yet we simply can't help ourselves; it's all automatic, all unchosen. We are fallible, but we are stuck holding views that we can't help but hold, views we are determined to hold, facing a reality in which being corrects is, often obviously, of life and death importance?

I would ask, well then, how do you know that you're fallible, that sometimes you're right, sometimes you're wrong, but then I remember, that which you hold to be right or wrong is just what you had to hold to be right or wrong. (Whatever "right" and "wrong" mean.) Not really thinking, but merely holding ideas, whatever those are. Perhaps best called "views." Such as: "This is true." "This is false." "This is correct." "This is incorrect." All arbitrary, disconnected from reality, whatever that is.

I'm curious, why then are you presenting your "views" here on this forum? It is almost as though you hold the view that by arguing or thinking you might change your view or the views of others here?

Very interesting. Why would you hold the "view" that such is possible?

Oops. I forgot. You can't help but hold such a view. I guess, as well, that you can't help but take the time to state it on this forum. You're simply driven by inexplicable forces beyond your control.

Edited by Trebor
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