Free will versus determinism

peacegirl
#1
Is anyone interested in this topic? I would like to present a different definition of determinism, which can change our understanding of human nature, and change our world for the better.
 
Johnnny
#2
what is your definition of determinism?

Regardless Free will all the way, it will either make or break you
 
peacegirl
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by JohnnnyView Post

what is your definition of determinism?

Regardless Free will all the way, it will either make or break you

I just want to say that the definition of determinism in no way conflicts with the ability to contemplate and decide. Most people are up in arms when they think of determinism because, in their minds, this would turn them into robots with no say in what they do, nor would they be responsible for their actions. This in incorrect on both counts. The knowledge of our true nature has the power to change our world for the better because it prevents that for which blame and punishment came into existence. The author passed away in 1991 and I compiled 7 of his books. If you are interested in learning more, the book that discusses this new definition is online for free, so this is not an advertisement. If you do link on, please read the first two chapters before moving on, or else the book will sound like a fairy tale.

Philosophy | University of Northern Colorado - The Agora (external - login to view)
 
Dexter Sinister
#4
I'm interested in principle, but whether or not I'm interested in discussing your particular definition of determinism and how it affects our understanding etc. depends on what it is. You haven't given us anything to base a choice on yet.
 
peacegirl
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter SinisterView Post

I'm interested in principle, but whether or not I'm interested in discussing your particular definition of determinism and how it affects our understanding etc. depends on what it is. You haven't given us anything to base a choice on yet.

I haven't because this knowledge comes from a book entitled, Decline and Fall of All Evil. It is online for free but the administrators have not posted the link yet. I guess they have to filter spam, which this thread is definitely not. It is very difficult to explain in a post why man's will is not free, except to say that we are compelled to choose the option that [we believe] is the best choice under our particular circumstances. Hope that helps give you some idea of where I'm going with this discussion.
 
s_lone
#6
I'm very interested in this topic. But I agree with Dexter Sinister that we'd need a more substantial definition of determinism to discuss it.

What I find fascinating with this subject is that nearly everyone considers themselves free, yet I've never met anyone who was able to propose a reasonable hypothesis as to how free will can even be possible from a scientific and rational point of view.

In other words, there is nothing science has found so far that lays the ground for the concept of a truly free mind. Until then, science seems to be condemned to view the mind as being totally subordinated to brain chemistry.
 
peacegirl
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by s_loneView Post

I'm very interested in this topic. But I agree with Dexter Sinister that we'd need a more substantial definition of determinism to discuss it.

What I find fascinating with this subject is that nearly everyone considers themselves free, yet I've never met anyone who was able to propose a reasonable hypothesis as to how free will can even be possible from a scientific and rational point of view.

In other words, there is nothing science has found so far that lays the ground for the concept of a truly free mind. Until then, science seems to be condemned to view the mind as being totally subordinated to brain chemistry.

I agree that looking at free will from a philosophical perspective is wonting because nothing is chosen without antecedent events influencing that decision. As far as brain chemistry, this is also an aspect that flies in the face of free will. But the definition the author proposes reconciles free will and determinism in such a way that man still is able to contemplate and decide. Therefore, the agent is part of the equation. As I just mentioned, he can think about, ponder, consider, weigh, analyze, and ultimately choose. It is also true that nothing can make someone do anything against his will (you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink), and in this respect a person can say with accuracy, "I did it of my own free will" meaning "I did it because I wanted to do it." But this does not make his will free. This is an important aspect of the implications which has eluded the most profound philosophers. If anyone is interested, I can explain why man's will is not free, according to this author, but not in the depth that it is deserving of. That is why I put the link to the actual text online for free. The implications are fantastic, but only if the knowledge is understood.
 
karrie
#8
peacegirl's link has now been approved. Just wanted to bump this so people read back and see it. Cheers.
 
Goober
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by peacegirlView Post

I just want to say that the definition of determinism in no way conflicts with the ability to contemplate and decide. Most people are up in arms when they think of determinism because, in their minds, this would turn them into robots with no say in what they do, nor would they be responsible for their actions. This in incorrect on both counts. The knowledge of our true nature has the power to change our world for the better because it prevents that for which blame and punishment came into existence. The author passed away in 1991 and I compiled 7 of his books. If you are interested in learning more, the book that discusses this new definition is online for free, so this is not an advertisement. If you do link on, please read the first two chapters before moving on, or else the book will sound like a fairy tale.

Philosophy | University of Northern Colorado - The Agora (external - login to view)

Hello - We have a number of differing philosophies - not religious one - but by renowned Philosophers - have you ever noticed that with any of them - 1 is right - the other is wrong - Rather simple people these renowned philosophers, and their camp followers with big ideas etc that cannot accept criticism - most not all mind you.

Myself - I am a free will - as i am a religious person and that was Gods gift to mankind - You, the individual will decide what you do or not do. And accept the repercussions of such decisions. Realizing we all make bad decisions -

The easy ones are helping those in need, not killing, I am a former soldier and yes i would kill, bit of a conundrum there for some - Not I mind you -
Doing the least harm possible as many decisions, regardless of what decision you make will cause harm.
 
peacegirl
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by GooberView Post

Hello - We have a number of differing philosophies - not religious one - but by renowned Philosophers - have you ever noticed that with any of them - 1 is right - the other is wrong - Rather simple people these renowned philosophers, and their camp followers with big ideas etc that cannot accept criticism - most not all mind you.

Myself - I am a free will - as i am a religious person and that was Gods gift to mankind - You, the individual will decide what you do or not do. And accept the repercussions of such decisions. Realizing we all make bad decisions -

The easy ones are helping those in need, not killing, I am a former soldier and yes i would kill, bit of a conundrum there for some - Not I mind you -
Doing the least harm possible as many decisions, regardless of what decision you make will cause harm.

If you are convinced that man has free will, then maybe this thread isn't for you. I don't want to take away your strong held beliefs if it gives you comfort. I happen to love the wisdom of Christianity, even though I am not Christian; I am Jewish. And I also believe in God, just not a personal God. Your last comment is in keeping with what I know to be true. We always make decisions that [we believe] will help us in some way, even if it means that someone else might get hurt as a consequence. We also can choose as a preferable alternative to help someone else, even if we get hurt in the process. This is an individual choice based on our values, needs, wants, and desires, but it does not take away from the fact that we must choose that which gives us greater satisfaction.
 
Goober
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by peacegirlView Post

If you are convinced that man has free will, then maybe this thread isn't for you. I don't want to take away your strong held beliefs if it gives you comfort. I happen to love the wisdom in Christianity, even though I am not Christian. And I also believe in God, just not a personal God. Your last comment is in keeping with what I posted. We always make decisions that we believe will help us in some way, even if it means hurting someone else. We also can choose as a preferable alternative to help someone else, even if it hurts us. This is an individual choice based on our values, needs, wants, and desires.

Let me change God to a creator - i do not believe as Muslims and many Christian sect do that my life has been pre ordained -

I belive in the free will - who else makes the choices.
 
peacegirl
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by GooberView Post

Let me change God to a creator - i do not believe as Muslims and many Christian sect do that my life has been pre ordained -

I belive in the free will - who else makes the choices.

We make the choices, but those choices are driven by a compulsion to choose the most preferable alternative each and every moment of time. We cannot choose an alternative that is worse for ourselves when a better alternative is available. This is an invariable law and there are no exceptions. But this must be qualified because what is good for me might not look to the observer as the best choice. It also means that given the same circumstance, another person might choose something different because we are all different to a degree.
 
karrie
+1
#13
peacegirl, that link is not a link to the book as you implied... please post the link to the book you're discussing, not to another forum. Thanks.
 
peacegirl
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by karrieView Post

peacegirl, that link is not a link to the book as you implied... please post the link to the book you're discussing, not to another forum. Thanks.

Karrie, the book is posted on that forum. Just click on New Discovery. It's the very first thread on that page. I want to say that I have updated the book because I changed a few sentences to clarify the concept a little better, but it is not posted online yet. Also, just so you are aware, there was a computer glitch that messed up two sentences. One sentence in Chapter Five was superimposed on another sentence in Chapter Six. Lastly, I hope that you read the first two chapters before moving on, otherwise this knowledge will appear like a fairy tale since the two-sided equation IS the foundation for the extension of these principles.
 
Goober
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by peacegirlView Post

We make the choices, but those choices are driven by a compulsion to choose the most preferable alternative each and every moment of time. We cannot choose an alternative that is worse for ourselves when a better alternative is available. This is an invariable law and there are no exceptions. But this must be qualified because what is good for me might not look to the observer as the best choice. It also means that given the same circumstance, another person might choose something different because we are all different to a degree.

Then you do not believe in Self Sacrife for another benefit - as that would the " worse choice" dying for someone else to live.
 
peacegirl
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by GooberView Post

Then you do not believe in Self Sacrife for another benefit - as that would the " worse choice" dying for someone else to live.

That's not what I'm saying Goober. All I am saying is that every individual has reasons for why they choose certain things. I, personally, would rather sacrifice my happiness for my children's happiness. I also give as much as I can to charity, as long as I don't end up in the poor house. And I doubt whether I would jump in a lake to save someone when I can't swim.
 
Goober
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by peacegirlView Post

That's not what I'm saying Goober. All I am saying is that every individual has reasons for why they choose certain things. I, personally, would rather sacrifice my happiness for my children's happiness. I also give as much as I can to charity, as long as I don't end up in the poor house. And I doubt whether I would jump in a lake to save someone when I can't swim.

We make the choices, but those choices are driven by a compulsion to choose the most preferable alternative each and every moment of time. We cannot choose an alternative that is worse for ourselves when a better alternative is available. This is an invariable law and there are no exceptions. But this must be qualified because what is good for me might not look to the observer as the best choice. It also means that given the same circumstance, another person might choose something different because we are all different to a degree.

Your words - You did not state your point clearly - When you make a point such as above you should consider all, not just the few things such as compulsion in which you are completely wrong - you are trying to put people, like Physiologist 7 psychiatrists do by having then take a test or 2 -

While these tests can provide valuable information, they are not always, and can be far off the mark. The key is knowing the individual, why they made that decision, could be any number of things.

But stating that i will make a decision based upon an inner uncontrollable compulsion and the decision i make will be of most benefit to me is ludicrous to say the least.

I think that you have a heck of a lot to learn about individualism, and not society as a general rule to go by.

Please goggle - "We are the weird ones" - a National post article that may surprise you
 
Dexter Sinister
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by peacegirlView Post

We cannot choose an alternative that is worse for ourselves when a better alternative is available. This is an invariable law and there are no exceptions.

That presupposes you can accurately predict the outcomes of every possible alternative and choose the best one, which you're implicitly arguing isn't in fact a choice at all because the best alternative is, by the way you've defined things, the only possible thing to do. But unless you claim god-like omniscience, you cannot possibly know enough to always identify the best alternative.


I read the first 30 pages of "Decline and Fall of Evil." That's all I'm going to read of it, I'm not interested in anything else Seymour Lessans has to say about anything. I was a little put off by the sub-title, "The Most Important Discovery of our Times." What kind of monster of vanity and arrogance was this guy? The first 30 pages are a turgid, self-congratulatory, repetitive, and rather smug description of how much smarter he is than everybody, how he bested highly educated people in argument, and what a wonderful thing he's discovered, but he doesn't actually say anything useful about it. He just claims (falsely) he's proven determinism, without actually doing so, he's just playing word games. I figure that anybody who hasn't said anything useful in 30 pages isn't likely to say anything useful in 478 more pages. This guy (external - login to view) does it better, much more briefly, and intelligently.
 
Omicron
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by peacegirlView Post

Is anyone interested in this topic? I would like to present a different definition of determinism, which can change our understanding of human nature, and change our world for the better.

Okay, what?
 
Goober
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by OmicronView Post

Okay, what?

But bring beer, imported of course as we have a delicate palate and busty strippers.
 
karrie
#21
I'd suggest you might want to summarize what his great discovery was. I got tired of reading his discussions with other people, and him leading up to his point and wandering off again. If you can summarize it, I'll gladly discuss it. But I suspect that something that required so much energy in setting up arguments for how arguments against it validate it, is shaky at best.
 
peacegirl
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter SinisterView Post

That presupposes you can accurately predict the outcomes of every possible alternative and choose the best one, which you're implicitly arguing isn't in fact a choice at all because the best alternative is, by the way you've defined things, the only possible thing to do. But unless you claim god-like omniscience, you cannot possibly know enough to always identify the best alternative.

No one is claiming to know what is the best alternative for YOU. I can only know what is the best alternative FOR ME, and even here I don't always get it right. I base my decision on the information I have at the moment. That is why most of us look back in hindsight to reevaluate our choices so if we were mistaken, we won't make the same choice again in the future.


Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter Sinister

I read the first 30 pages of "Decline and Fall of Evil." That's all I'm going to read of it, I'm not interested in anything else Seymour Lessans has to say about anything. I was a little put off by the sub-title, "The Most Important Discovery of our Times." What kind of monster of vanity and arrogance was this guy? The first 30 pages are a turgid, self-congratulatory, repetitive, and rather smug description of how much smarter he is than everybody, how he bested highly educated people in argument, and what a wonderful thing he's discovered, but he doesn't actually say anything useful about it. He just claims (falsely) he's proven determinism, without actually doing so, he's just playing word games. I figure that anybody who hasn't said anything useful in 30 pages isn't likely to say anything useful in 478 more pages. This guy (external - login to view)does it better, much more briefly, and intelligently.

You're wrong about that. This guy was very humble. He was just sharing what he went through. Some of the repetition is my fault, not his, but if you actually only read 30 pages and have come to the conclusion that he has nothing to offer, I agree with you that you should not read this book. BTW, I chose the subtitle, not him. And it IS the most important discovery of our times if this knowledge can rid our world of hatred, war, and crime.

Quote: Originally Posted by karrieView Post

I'd suggest you might want to summarize what his great discovery was. I got tired of reading his discussions with other people, and him leading up to his point and wandering off again. If you can summarize it, I'll gladly discuss it. But I suspect that something that required so much energy in setting up arguments for how arguments against it validate it, is shaky at best.

Sorry karrie, I can't do that. It won't do the book justice. It took me 8 years to compile 7 books, and I cannot summarize it in a few posts. But I can direct you to Chapters One and Two, if you want to skip the introduction. If that's too difficult, then I suggest finding another book to read. Sorry.
 
Dexter Sinister
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by peacegirlView Post

This guy was very humble.

He doesn't write that way, he writes in fact like a crank who's convinced the establishment is against him and his brilliant discovery because it doesn't suit current prejudices. That's one of the defining features of pseudoscience. If he can't demonstrate any credibility or even say anything specific about his brilliant discovery in 30 pages of turgid prose, I tend to think he's blowing smoke.
 
karrie
#24
I suspect he was this member's father or some other close relative, so, her impression of him versus the impression we receive from the paper is bound to be quite different.
 
Dexter Sinister
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by peacegirlView Post

No one is claiming to know what is the best alternative for YOU. I can only know what is the best alternative FOR ME, and even here I don't always get it right.

Which is the same as saying you DON'T know; if you did you'd always get it right.
Quote:

It took me 8 years to compile 7 books, and I cannot summarize it in a few posts.

You're asking us to read only one, and really only the first two chapters of one. If you can't summarize his claims (or yours about him) in a paragraph or two, then I think you don't really understand them. I've just read the final chapter, in which he refers to the scientific equation he presented in the introduction. There is no such equation. He didn't really understand what he was claiming either, and he certainly didn't prove his claim by the point where I read that he claimed he had.
 
s_lone
#26
I started reading the book and am now at page 45.

I find the book interesting because it deals with a subject that has captivated my mind for as long as I was mature enough to think of such things. But that being said, it's a frustrating read because the book would benefit from some serious editing. And as Dexter Sinister already pointed out, the ''prophetic'' tone of the book is very much a turn off.

From what I've read, it seems clear to me that the whole introduction is rather unnecessary, considering the author repeats the same message at the beginning of Chapter 1. The message being ''Keep an open-mind and be willing to reconsider things that seem obvious to you, despite what the establishment or society has to say about it''. It's a good message and it needs to be insisted on, but personally, I feel like I've understood this a good while ago so I could have easily skipped all that part.

I am taking the liberty to quote (in blue) an excerpt from the book because I feel it is a good summary of what the author has been trying to say so far... I'm doing this in the hope that this can lead to constructive discussion about the book's subject by those who are turned off by the long and frustrating read...

(I'll keep my opinion of it for later.)

I will now put the conclusive proof that man’s will is not free to a mathematical test.

Imagine that you were taken prisoner in war time for espionage and condemned to death, but mercifully given a choice between two exits: A is the painless hemlock of Socrates, while B is death by having your head held under water. The letters A and B, representing small or large differences, are compared. The comparison is absolutely necessary to know which is preferable. The difference which is considered favorable, regardless of the reason, is the compulsion of greater satisfaction desire is forced to take which makes one of them an impossible choice in this comparison simply because it gives less satisfaction under the circumstances. Consequently, since B is an impossible choice, man is not free to choose A. Is it humanly possible, providing no other conditions are introduced to affect your decision, to prefer exit B if A is offered as an alternative?

“Yes, if this meant that those I loved would not be harmed in any way.”

“Well, if this was your preference under these conditions, could you prefer the other alternative?”

“No I couldn’t, but this is ridiculous because you really haven’t given me any choice.”

“You most certainly do have a choice, and if your will is free, you should be able to choose B just as well as A, or A just as well as B.

In other words, if B is considered the greater evil in this comparison of alternatives, one is compelled completely beyond control to prefer A. It is impossible for B to be selected in this comparison (although it could be chosen to something still worse) as long as A is available as an alternative. Consequently, since B is an impossible choice, you are not free to choose A for your preference is a natural compulsion of the direction of life over which you have absolutely no control.
 
peacegirl
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter SinisterView Post

He doesn't write that way, he writes in fact like a crank who's convinced the establishment is against him and his brilliant discovery because it doesn't suit current prejudices. That's one of the defining features of pseudoscience. If he can't demonstrate any credibility or even say anything specific about his brilliant discovery in 30 pages of turgid prose, I tend to think he's blowing smoke.

The establishment was not against him per se, but because of a standard that existed in which you had to be a college graduate, no one would take the time to even read his work. He was trying to preface this so that people would know why he was upset. And I grant you, he was upset. But wouldn't you be if you were rejected because you didn't have the 'right' credentials to make such a discovery? As I said Dexter, if you choose to conclude that he has nothing to offer after just 30 pages of introduction, you need not read the book.

Quote: Originally Posted by s_loneView Post

I started reading the book and am now at page 45.
I find the book interesting because it deals with a subject that has captivated my mind for as long as I was mature enough to think of such things. But that being said, it's a frustrating read because the book would benefit from some serious editing. And as Dexter Sinister already pointed out, the ''prophetic'' tone of the book is very much a turn off.
From what I've read, it seems clear to me that the whole introduction is rather unnecessary, considering the author repeats the same message at the beginning of Chapter 1. The message being ''Keep an open-mind and be willing to reconsider things that seem obvious to you, despite what the establishment or society has to say about it''. It's a good message and it needs to be insisted on, but personally, I feel like I've understood this a good while ago so I could have easily skipped all that part.
I am taking the liberty to quote (in blue) an excerpt from the book because I feel it is a good summary of what the author has been trying to say so far... I'm doing this in the hope that this can lead to constructive discussion about the book's subject by those who are turned off by the long and frustrating read...
(I'll keep my opinion of it for later.)

Quote has been trimmed, See full post: View Post
The author said at the end of the book that if anyone can explain this better than him, please come forward. He never presumed that he was the only one who could explain this knowledge. I actually wrote the introduction so please blame me if it is too long winded. I know there is some repetition, but I felt it was that important to explain why he had such a hard time bringing this knowledge to light, so if it was too repetitive, I apologize. If that's all that you can criticize, then we're doing okay so far, right?

Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter SinisterView Post

Which is the same as saying you DON'T know; if you did you'd always get it right.
You're asking us to read only one, and really only the first two chapters of one. If you can't summarize his claims (or yours about him) in a paragraph or two, then I think you don't really understand them. I've just read the final chapter, in which he refers to the scientific equation he presented in the introduction. There is no such equation. He didn't really understand what he was claiming either, and he certainly didn't prove his claim by the point where I read that he claimed he had.

You have to be kidding Dexter. I suggest you read Chapter Two very carefully. It was very explicit what the discovery is. Can you explain why man's will is not free? Do you understand the two-sided equation? If you can't, you seriously need to reread the first two chapters. I promise you, if you do this, you will eventually get it, but if you choose not to do this, then you won't get it and you will think he has no discovery. It doesn't matter to me either way because some people will just not understand, and that's okay.
 
s_lone
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by peacegirlView Post



The author said at the end of the book that if anyone can explain this better than him, please come forward. He never presumed that he was the only one who could explain this knowledge. I actually wrote the introduction so please blame me if it is too long winded. I know there is some repetition, but I felt it was that important to explain why he had such a hard time bringing this knowledge to light, so if it was too repetitive, I apologize. If that's all that you can criticize, then we're doing okay so far, right?

I just finished chapter 1 and am interested in seeing where he wants to go with this.

I can't really comment for the time being, I need to know what all this is leading to.

But for the sake of discussion I can tell you what are my thoughts on free will and determinism and it will be interesting to see if this book can make me change my mind.

After having thought about it, I came to the conclusion that no one seems to have managed to explain how free will could even remotely be possible in a world understood as being ruled by the laws of physics. The irony is that almost all people, even scientists, will prefer viewing themselves as having free will, despite their incapacity to formulate a coherent hypothesis as to how it could be possible.

That being said, even though I can't figure out a way to explain how free will could be a fact, I still consider myself free. I choose to consider myself free and that is very ironic isn't it? I don't see the sense in considering myself as not being free because my life would lose meaning. What makes life interesting is precisely the fact that I can profoundly influence it with the decisions I take.

In other words, it goes beyond common sense to consider oneself not free. Life is much more interesting when you can be an active participant.

I see life as some form of video game. Did you ever play Super Mario Bros.? You are free to move around Mario wherever you want, but there are rules and there are things you cannot do. You can't do anything the game doesn't let you do, but you are still relatively free.

A more poetic example is one where you are traveling down a river. You can't paddle against the current of the river. That would be futile and it would be a waste of energy. But you can decide to go left or right. You can do your best to avoid collisions with rocks can't you?

The current of the river represents all our determinisms. We are determined. There's nothing we can do to change the laws of physics. But if we understand them properly, we can learn to navigate, using them to our advantage.
 
Dexter Sinister
#29
Quote: Originally Posted by peacegirlView Post

You have to be kidding Dexter. .

No I'm not. His discovery appears to be this: given a choice between two alternatives, one of which you find clearly preferable, then you must choose that one, you're compelled by your cost-benefit analysis of the alternatives and thus are not actually free to choose. That seems a reasonable summary of the extract s_lone provided. I also think it's stupid. What he's saying in effect is that after you've chosen based on your analysis and the choice has been implemented, the other alternative disappears, which is trivially obvious. It's hardly a surprise that people who've studied philosophy would reject such a facile analysis.

Try this instead: Notes on Free Will and Determinism - Prof. Norman Swartz (external - login to view)

Quote: Originally Posted by s_loneView Post

I came to the conclusion that no one seems to have managed to explain how free will could even remotely be possible in a world understood as being ruled by the laws of physics.

The link I provided above might help you there. What we call the laws of physics are descriptive, not prescriptive, which makes a critical difference.
 
karrie
#30
It also implies that all decisions are simple choices, that don't come out even in cost-benefit analysis. When you choose between two things you want equally, what does his notion say then about your freedom to decide?
 

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