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Free Will posted 09 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Grantaire, Moderator

This is an issue I've grappled with for a while. Do we actually have free will?

Speaking to someone a couple days ago, they argued that scientifically, we don't have free will, because at the particle level, there are set things that every particle does, even though by the Uncertainty Principle we can't fully measure the velocity and position. However, they said that since we can't measure those factors, we don't know what exactly the particles will do, so we can't tell what will happen in the future, and thus we have an illusion of free will- illusion because we don't actually know what is certain to happen, however the future is set.

If taken non-scientifically, I think it also depends on your religious beliefs. Monotheistic religions usually say humans are given free will, but I am uncertain as to how the ideas of a deity, fate (heaven or hell), and free will are compatible. Sorry, I digress, I'll have to make a thread about that at a later point.

So, simply, do you think we have free will or not? Or do you believe in a totally deterministic universe? And why?

Thanks. view post


Free Will posted 09 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Replay, Auditor

Do we have freewill? Sure. But then we also don't have it. <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->

Sorry I know thats not much help, but I don't have any time to make a better reply at the moment. Besides it's another one of those questions that runs deep and touches on so many other subjects. view post


Free Will posted 09 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Grantaire, Moderator

Yes I know, which is why I was interested to see- it reveals a lot about a person, including religious and philosophical views. view post


Free Will posted 09 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Taliesin, Peralogue

Well, coming from my religious perspective, I'd say that yes, we definitely have free will, and that it's a very important part of who were are. The other thing to note, of course, is that, even if you buy into a deterministic picture of the universe, this does not necessarily have to rule out free will. I'm not quite sure what I think on the determinist issue, but perhaps I'll give this more thought, or do some reading to become more knowledgeable on the issue (I took an intro to philosophy course last semester, but that really means I just have a basic grasp of the different issues....) view post


Free Will posted 09 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Grantaire, Moderator

The thing I don't understand about people using religion as an argument for free will is that it seems to me that the two ideas are incompatible. view post


Free Will posted 09 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Taliesin, Peralogue

Why should they be incompatible? I don't see God as having determined everything that is going to happen to us. It is kind of ambiguous, in that I'd believe He knows what will happen, but that it is due to our individual choices that these things happen as they do....

I guess really I don't base my belief in free will solely on religious conviction or anything like that, but I don't see it as a contradiction. Plus, I am still coming to understand the world around me, and haven't completely figured out what all are my own beliefs vs. what I just believe because it is what I have been taught. Of course, I guess in some ways you can never fully separate the two... view post


Free Will posted 09 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Grantaire, Moderator

It's hard to explain, I'm not very good at changing my thought process into words..I'll give it a day and get back to you on that point. view post


Free Will posted 10 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Loof, Peralogue

I beleve that everything has it's roots in what has happened before. So the situations and choices we are offered are dependant on earlyer occurances, but in every situation we still have a choise about how we act/react.
So I beleve in free will and a deterministic world (as opposed to a fatalistic world). view post


Free Will posted 11 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

I meant to answer this a couple of days ago and I still aim to, but I need some more time to think things out. If I'm not careful, I'll start writing and then try to somehow "prove" without sufficient evidence something like a Grand Unified Theory or something. But I will try to answer this at length sometime in the next day or two. view post


Free Will posted 11 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Grantaire, Moderator

I do that sometimes too <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> view post


Free Will posted 13 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

So after thinking about this for a bit, here are just a few of the many thoughts I've had on this topic.

A problem with approaching this topic is that all too often people tend to bandy about the word "is", as if we can "prove" or "disprove" that free will exists. "Is" just might be one of the most deadly and cutting words we have, as its very use presumes the existence (or nonexistence) of something.

So with that in mind, I proceed with trepidation into revealing some of my thoughts regarding free will.

I believe that a belief or disbelief in free will is not as important as how people apply their beliefs to a given situation. Free will, like the idea of God, is not ultimately "provable" and to presume as such would tend to lead people down the fallacy of applying scientific methods to metaphysical discussions.

So I eschew the notion that we can "know." Sometimes, ignorance is more than bliss; it's a way of life (and one that can have benefits for people and societies). Scott actually touches upon this some in TWP (the chapter quotes in particular are direct). Maybe we should just own up to our inability to know everything and just do what we can with what we have to create what we might out of this world that we can know and understand. So if a belief in Free Agency helps a person construct a world-view (I prefer using the German Weltanschauung, despite its misapplication by Hitler, due to its subtle undertones of a connection with a person's life. But world-view will do for those who don't understand German.) that is beneficial for them and others, then that's a good thing. Same for the person who takes a belief in a foreordained destiny and creates something positive out of that.

So I guess I'm saying that how we apply our beliefs is much more important than trying to "solve" those beliefs. view post


Free Will posted 13 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Taliesin, Peralogue

I like the idea that some people "have" free will while others don't. It's a kind of funny thought, some of us having the capability to do whatever we choose while others are forced into a certain preordained destiny. Obviously that wasn't at all what you were saying, but it still amused my mind for a few moments <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->

I do like what you said, though, about how free will isn't something we can "know" exists or not, that whichever belief helps one to construct the most beneficial world-view should be applied. It's interesting how two people can take a similar belief and yield such different conclusions from it - something may seem entirely hopeful to one person, while in another it creates an entirely depressing view of how our world operates. view post


Free Will posted 13 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Replay, Auditor

Been thinking about this subject for the past couple of days and it's amazing at just how many angles there are that you can approach it from, and how many tracks of thought there are to follow (including all the other subjects such a question touches on). So instead of even attempting to explain it (which I doubt I could) and just rambling on forever, I'll instead just add a few questions that may or may not be of use to the discussion.

The first one is just what do we mean when we say free will? Free from what exactly? Is it just the freedom to choose? And if it is, then what makes that choice freer than any other action? After all, even though we have the ability to look back to see how we been controlled by our past actions and then change, even that choice is influenced by our past and present conditioning in some way.

Perhaps some people are freer than others since they are not as controlled as much by their past, and even if we were able to wipe out all our past conditioning, would there still not be something governing those choices? And if so, just what is it? What is it that makes one choice better than other?

Is there even such a thing as a person to be free?

It has been mentioned that we cannot know what free will is, and you could also say that it is the arrogance of humans to that think they can know everything, especially things such as this. Well perhaps it is, but is it not also arrogance to think something cannot be known just because we haven't figured it out for ourselves yet?

Finally, a lot of people often harp on about freedom (especially in the states), but do they really understand just what it is they are after? You often see a lot of people fighting the establishment because they want to be free and not controlled, but just whatt kind of freedom is it that they hope to gain? And would they not be freer if they were to instead accept that they are often controlled and influenced by others? Freer to influence the direction of the currents if they were just to float along with them instead of trying to stand still and hold them back? Freer to admire the scenery of life as it goes past instead of constantly fighting and worrying about it? view post


Free Will posted 17 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

Do you have free will, yes to a certain extent, as long as you follow your own beliefs and look at everything to a certain degree as the propeganda that it is and then make your own decision then thats fine. However if you look at each thing as the way in which youve been brought up then your a product of your times and have been influenced by others to form up your own conclusion of what you think. So really there is no such thing as free will if you look at it that way. view post


Free Will posted 19 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by saintjon, Auditor

I would prefer to think that free will exists, but if someone were to prove to me that it really didn't, it wouldn't change how I live my life. This is all I've got, I wouldn't throw it to the wind just because I found out how much of a grip biology had on my actions. Whatever an identity is composed of, it's still an identity right? view post


Free Will posted 20 September 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Anonymous, Subdidact

Opinion: If an omniscient, omnipotent entity exists then no other (lesser) entity can have free will. It can revoke your choices at its discretion, perhaps even retroactively.

Further Opinion: The existence or nonexistence of free will (and my possession or nonpossession of it) would likely make no (little?) difference to the living of my life. Either I cannot choose to change it, or I already try to make the best choices I can and can do no better with that knowledge. view post


Free Will posted 30 September 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Anonymous, Subdidact

If we accept the implication of science (sounds like we are talking about a person <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: --> ) about are lack of free will, would that still apply to, for example, a disembodied consciousness?
It seems to me that whatever form the mind takes the decisions it makes depend upon the inputs (stimuli?) that prompt the decision. That the result depends on the input and, therefore, the mind does not have free will because what it does is predetermined by external factors. And if it it does not base its decisions on this basis and instead chooses randomly, is it really making decisions at all.
That was messy. I think my argument could be summarised thus: A process of evaluation is inherently deterministic. view post


Free Will posted 01 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;Aesmael&quot;:ag96iu0u
Opinion: If an omniscient, omnipotent entity exists then no other (lesser) entity can have free will. It can revoke your choices at its discretion, perhaps even retroactively.

Further Opinion: The existence or nonexistence of free will (and my possession or nonpossession of it) would likely make no (little?) difference to the living of my life. Either I cannot choose to change it, or I already try to make the best choices I can and can do no better with that knowledge.[/quote:ag96iu0u]

The Talmud says "G-d has foreknowledge, but man has free will". The Diety's perception of time is not as limited as our own. What we see as sequential events is perceived as a timeless whole from the perspective of eternity. Our choices determine the shape. He sees the entire thing.

Elsewhere it is said that even if we don not ultimately have free will it is wise to act as if our actions have consequences.

But I'm not a philosopher. Just an indifferently observant Jew. view post


Free Will posted 01 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;Aesmael&quot;:2q3e9czx
If we accept the implication of science (sounds like we are talking about a person <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: --> ) about are lack of free will, would that still apply to, for example, a disembodied consciousness?
It seems to me that whatever form the mind takes the decisions it makes depend upon the inputs (stimuli?) that prompt the decision. That the result depends on the input and, therefore, the mind does not have free will because what it does is predetermined by external factors. And if it it does not base its decisions on this basis and instead chooses randomly, is it really making decisions at all.
That was messy. I think my argument could be summarised thus: A process of evaluation is inherently deterministic.[/quote:2q3e9czx]

What do you mean "the implication of science about lack of free will". Science is a way of looking at the world. These methods in and of themselves say nothing about free will or lack thereof. If you mean that the results of current research indicate that our thoughts and perceptions are limited by the machinery that's doing the sensing and thinking and shaped by past experience, well, sorry to break the news to you bro, it's true.

You don't even need to get scientific about it.

Try

1) All existence is imperfect, conditioned by contact, leads to the continuation of karma (dukka).

2) This imperfection arises out of attachment to the past

3) There is an end to dukka.

4) It lies in following the noble eightfold path of

1. Right View
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

Or, to put it another way, you have a certain amount of autonomy, but what you are is influenced by what you are and your experiences. You still have choices, and the fact that they aren't all automatic (and the fact that we can be creative in any sense) means that you have at least a measure of free will.

Get over it. Don't worry about it. view post


Free Will posted 02 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Anonymous, Subdidact

tellner, your phrasing is much clearer than mine (as in the 'science disenchanting the world' thread, I think you said what I was trying to, better).

The Talmud says "G-d has foreknowledge, but man has free will". The Diety's perception of time is not as limited as our own. What we see as sequential events is perceived as a timeless whole from the perspective of eternity. Our choices determine the shape. He sees the entire thing.

That is an interesting idea. But it does not seem to account for a deity that is also omnipotent. My statement is concerned only with entities that possess both qualities.

Could I have a context for the Talmud? I suspect it is a holy book, but the name does not get thrown around in my prescence as often as 'bible' or 'koran.'

Elsewhere it is said that even if we don not ultimately have free will it is wise to act as if our actions have consequences.

Yes, I am rather fond of that idea myself.

Wert your second post, first paragraph, again you type with greater clarity than I do. My question is: taking that as true, consider a consciousness without the 'machinary' that constitutes us. Is consciousness on its own a deterministic process or does that arise from the machinary that produces it?

For Buddhism giving an answer to my question, I will need to think about. More likely, read some texts before I can respond to it. It has been a while and I do not want to misrepresent it.

Get over it. Don't worry about it.

I don't. view post


Free Will posted 02 October 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by tellner, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;Aesmael&quot;:a2t7cpzu
tellner, your phrasing is much clearer than mine (as in the 'science disenchanting the world' thread, I think you said what I was trying to, better).

The Talmud says "G-d has foreknowledge, but man has free will". The Diety's perception of time is not as limited as our own. What we see as sequential events is perceived as a timeless whole from the perspective of eternity. Our choices determine the shape. He sees the entire thing.

That is an interesting idea. But it does not seem to account for a deity that is also omnipotent. My statement is concerned only with entities that possess both qualities.

Could I have a context for the Talmud? I suspect it is a holy book, but the name does not get thrown around in my prescence as often as 'bible' or 'koran.'[/quote:a2t7cpzu]

Back during the early later centuries CE (Common Era) the Jewish diaspora realized that the oral traditions and laws were in danger of being lost. In Babylon and Jerusalem scholars, scribes, prophets (prophets were thicker on the ground in those days) codified these things. That was called the Mishnah, the Oral Law.

The Talmud is the Mishnah and its commentaries, discussions, arguments, feuds and conversations. The more commonly used Babylonian Talmud fills 63 volumes. The Jerusalem version comprises 20 if memory serves.

As to omnipotence mixed with all of this, again, I'm not much of a philosopher or theologian, just an indifferently educated Jew with the tiniest bit of Sufi training. As best as I understand it, according to Jewish and Muslim traditions G-d could have made us without the capacity for free will or independent action but has elected for reasons of His own to give them to us. Hashem gets out of our way on those things and lets us make our own decisions. It would certainly be possible to put the Divine Thumb on the scales, but the Almighty has chosen not to do so.

In the Sefer Yetzirah (a text which the Kabbalists believe was dictated to man by an angel) it's put more poetically. The Sephirot - the vessels manifesting the Divine powers in the world - were originally perfect. In such a state free will was impossible, so they were broken and reformed. The power is still Hashem's, but it is imperfectly or incompletely manifested in the world so that we can be human beings, not angels or animals.

It's not a perfect answer, but it's about the best the theologians have come up with.


[quote:a2t7cpzu]Elsewhere it is said that even if we don not ultimately have free will it is wise to act as if our actions have consequences.

Yes, I am rather fond of that idea myself.

Wert your second post, first paragraph, again you type with greater clarity than I do. My question is: taking that as true, consider a consciousness without the 'machinary' that constitutes us. Is consciousness on its own a deterministic process or does that arise from the machinary that produces it?

For Buddhism giving an answer to my question, I will need to think about. More likely, read some texts before I can respond to it. It has been a while and I do not want to misrepresent it.
.[/quote:a2t7cpzu]

Likewise. The good stuff is the Almighty's, the Sages' and the Prophets'. The mistakes are mine <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->

I don't know the answer to your question about a consciousness or a soul independent of the physical machinery that constitutes us. We certainly all carry the imprint of past actions. But we don't seem to be complete automata. The mystics - Sufis, Chassids, Buddhists and so on - provide methods by which one is supposed to be able to transcend those things. Certainly advanced practitioners are at least aware of what causes their own habits of thought. And the good ones have gotten beyond chasing cool states of consciousness like they were drugs. A lot of the practice for all of them seems to involve developing awareness, mindfulness, removing illusions and getting out of your own way.

If this doesn't get to some ideal state beyond dukka or the Nafs at least it's closer than what most of us suffer under.

Is there a conscious soul apart from the body? I don't know. The debate has been going on for thousands of years and has resulted in the spilling of a lot of ink and blood. view post


Free Will posted 27 July 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Lucimay, Subdidact

oh particle schmarticle! it's a decision you make. be aware.
i'm with tellner, getting out of my own way as much as possible! view post


Free Will posted 21 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Zarathinius, Auditor

Try thinking about it this way: Every thought we have is the result of something or some things that happened previously, and every choice we make is similarly influenced. After all, would any of us be thinking about this topic if we hadn't been reading it? And would we be reading this topic if we were not already on this forum? It seems to continue endlessly in this manner. Essentially, we truly are beholden to &quot;the darkness that comes before.&quot; <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> view post


Free Will posted 21 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by gierra, Sorcerer-of-Rank

i believe in both free will and destiny/fate.

i kinda think of life as a choose-your-own-adventure story. ultimately your life is made up of choices. you have the free will to make those choices as you see fit, but each choice will lead in a predetermined path.

looking at how the universe it made up, i can;t imagine everything being completely random. view post


Free Will posted 21 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Will, Peralogue

First, to state the question of Free will as I shall be attempting to answer it.

Q1: Can the universe's next state U1 be determined by the complete knowledge of the universe's state and rate of change at U0?

Imagine an omniscient and omnipotent observer, he freezes (in time, not ice) the universe and understands its totality.

Then he does the same thing a minute later.

Next he resets the universe to the first, and lets it run to the second. He repeats infinitely. Will he ever miss the second slice? That is, will the same inputs ever produce different outcomes?

The only way to answer Yes to this question is to posit inputs which cannot be observed by an omniscient and omnipotent observer, which nevertheless act upon matter and energy.

Consequently, I have 2 choices.

If I reject the belief of unobservable inputs upon matter and energy we have precisely as much &quot;free will&quot; as a can of soda. Human thoughts and actions are more complicated examples of rocks falling down hills, controlled completely by our past actions and the world around us. Humans are lightning in meat.

If I accept the existence of unobservable inputs upon matter and energy, and further posit that those inputs act upon the &quot;lightning&quot;, then it is those inputs which constitute free will. In that case I consider myself precisely as free as the degree to which my consciousness is composed of these phantom inputs.

I believe in the first of these hypotheses. Thus, I believe that I have no free will. view post


Free Will posted 23 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Peter, Auditor

If I reject the belief of unobservable inputs upon matter and energy we have precisely as much &quot;free will&quot; as a can of soda. Human thoughts and actions are more complicated examples of rocks falling down hills, controlled completely by our past actions and the world around us. Humans are lightning in meat.

If I accept the existence of unobservable inputs upon matter and energy, and further posit that those inputs act upon the &quot;lightning&quot;, then it is those inputs which constitute free will. In that case I consider myself precisely as free as the degree to which my consciousness is composed of these phantom inputs.

I believe in the first of these hypotheses. Thus, I believe that I have no free will.


Unless of course we go with a different account of free will. What if we started with the idea that we are free just when we are not unfree. If we then work out what it is to be unfree, we can know in a negative sense, when we are free, and this even with complete scientific determinism (which falls apart because of quantum anyway).

So, I know that I am unfree when I am stopped from acting the way I want to act. If I am put in prison, if I am being held down, if someone is using mind-control techniques on me, these are all cases where I would clearly consider myself to be unfree. If this is unfreedom, then when I am considering whether or not to eat this apple pie I am free to the extent that there is not someone standing over my shoulder with a tazer waiting for me to choose to eat it (or not to eat it).

All this account is saying is that freedom is being able to follow our desires (including second and third order desires) and this is perfectly compatible with determinism (hence why the theory is called compatibilism).

Also you might go with something like Scott's Dunyain. I don't have the glossary to hand, but the idea that logic is formally (if not materially) outside the darkness that comes before and that be acting according to reason we are able to defeat it. This I think comes mighty close to the Kantian notion of Autonomy (although Scott did say that there are Hegelian elements in Dunyain thinking and given that I haven't read Hegel yet it may be closer to him than to Kant).

Essentially a lot of free willists argue that the identification of free will with being able to overcome causation and subsequent attacks on that notion is really only targetting straw men.

BTW if anyone asks this counts as work (ahem) <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D -->... Why no I don't have finals starting in just over eight weeks time. (cough cough). view post


Free Will posted 23 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Nikodemus, Commoner

According to science we haven't got a free will as you've said. We are by everything around us and as long as you just believe in science No we havenĀ“t got a free will but if you believe in some god or any other overnatural beings etc. then yes maybe. It's up to your beliefs. If there is a god then he have to be a exception and maybe he's outside our understanding. He and our souls might have a influence over our deciscion in a way which science can't understand view post


Free Will posted 03 December 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Sorcerous-Words, Auditor

all things well founded. i think much of the original problems from who first posted go for many sects of organized religion. I will have a post on christianity a little later view post


Free Will posted 04 December 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Cordelia, Auditor

I always thought that we have both free will and fate/destiny. I see it as we have many endings and paths written out for us already, but we can choose the different paths to follow along the way, there by having many endings to choose from, etc. view post


Free Will posted 04 December 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Will by Sorcerous-Words, Auditor

interesting point. i guess i never liked the idea of destiny because there is a feel of lack of control...but your idea somewhat cleanses that view post


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