Nate Smith

Free Will

82 posts in this topic

Ruveyn,

You're guilty of one of the crucial mistakes that have thrown the field of psychology so off track, that is, you're rejecting introspection (they claim it's unscientific.

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How do you corroborate an introspection which takes place only in your head and can be seen or accessed by no one else?

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ruveyn

By listening to what others say about their method of acquiring knowledge. How does it get inside your brain in the first place? In other posts you've demonstrated you are an empiricist and in others you've demonstrated you're an intrinsicist. Not surprising when you don't acknowledge using a method.

Observation of one's own consciousness takes place in a similar manner to observation of external objects. And arriving at truth in both areas is identical.

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Observation of one's own consciousness takes place in a similar manner to observation of external objects. And arriving at truth in both areas is identical.

And can be mistaken, which is why intersubjective corroboration is the prescribed format of the physical sciences.

Physics is a science. Psychology is nonsense on stilts.

Fill a jar with an unknown number of beans. Then count. Even if you count again and get the same answer it might be a mistake repeated. One gets a cozier feeling if several paris of eyes corroborate the count. At the very least one can establish a reliable small interval in which the correct number lives. That is why measurements come with intervals.

Can you do that with an introspection. How do I get access to YOUR introspection? Telling me what it was doesn't make the cut. You might be mistaken. I can't experience you introspection, but I might be able to make a measurement someone else did with my own eyes, my own hands, and instruments I personally calibrated.

Introspection presents somewhat of an epistemological challenge.

ruveyn

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]By listening to what others say about their method of acquiring knowledge. How does it get inside your brain in the first place? In other posts you've demonstrated you are an empiricist and in others you've demonstrated you're an intrinsicist. Not surprising when you don't acknowledge using a method.

I am ueber empirical. For genetic reasons. I am incapable of discerning anyone's intent but my own. The only thing get from others I get through sight,sound, touch, smell (ever been near someone who busted wind in a crowded elevator?) and taste. I have never experienced anyone's thoughts but my own. I am locked in my head and I am devoid of telepathic ability. I can barely read body and face language. It is like being tune deaf at a concert.

All I have is direct sense data and the inferences I make from them. Obviously I have to take what others say with a caveat -- and a question. Are they mistaken? Are they telling the truth? The only check I can make are my own experiences plus a consistency check on what I get from others.

If you ask me what I know I will tell you, darned little. Most of what I get is hear-say from others. That an a naive expectation that others are truthful even if mistaken.

ruveyn

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I am ueber empirical.

How can you be uber-empirical, ruveyn, when you're blowing off the very attribute that makes it possible for you to claim you're uber-empirical?

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I am ueber empirical.

How can you be uber-empirical, ruveyn, when you're blowing off the very attribute that makes it possible for you to claim you're uber-empirical?

I pay the most attention to facts. Facts I have gotten first hand, and corroborated facts gotten by others. I put more weight on facts than on general principles. All it takes is one nasty unco-operative fact to blow a generalization to smithereens.

Details, details, details. God and the Devil are in the details.

ruveyn

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I am ueber empirical.

How can you be uber-empirical, ruveyn, when you're blowing off the very attribute that makes it possible for you to claim you're uber-empirical?

I pay the most attention to facts. Facts I have gotten first hand, and corroborated facts gotten by others. I put more weight on facts than on general principles. All it takes is one nasty unco-operative fact to blow a generalization to smithereens.

Details, details, details. God and the Devil are in the details.

ruveyn

You didn't answer his question. How do you know you are uber-empirical, without introspection?

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I am ueber empirical.

How can you be uber-empirical, ruveyn, when you're blowing off the very attribute that makes it possible for you to claim you're uber-empirical?

I pay the most attention to facts. Facts I have gotten first hand, and corroborated facts gotten by others. I put more weight on facts than on general principles. All it takes is one nasty unco-operative fact to blow a generalization to smithereens.

Details, details, details. God and the Devil are in the details.

ruveyn

You didn't answer his question. How do you know you are uber-empirical, without introspection?

How does he know there is an "I" without introspection? How did "he" "get facts first hand"?

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I am ueber empirical.

How can you be uber-empirical, ruveyn, when you're blowing off the very attribute that makes it possible for you to claim you're uber-empirical?

I pay the most attention to facts. Facts I have gotten first hand, and corroborated facts gotten by others. I put more weight on facts than on general principles. All it takes is one nasty unco-operative fact to blow a generalization to smithereens.

Details, details, details. God and the Devil are in the details.

ruveyn

You didn't answer his question. How do you know you are uber-empirical, without introspection?

He hasn't answered most of my questions in several threads.

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------

I have never experienced anyone's thoughts but my own. I am locked in my head and I am devoid of telepathic ability. I can barely read body and face language. It is like being tune deaf at a concert.

--------

ruveyn

Now I realize why you don't address my questions.

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I participated in a study of the neurophysiology of elderly people done back in 2007 at Rutgers University. My wetworks were MRI scanned. PET scanned and meausred with an EEG. I have a lovely set of MRI pictures of my brain which was still juicy and devoid of fissures and gaps at the time it was made (no sign of Alzhiemer's Thank The Local Diety!). I was questioned, poked, probed and (as I said) multiply scanned. I asked the head neurophysiologist who was running the study if he detected a mind in my head. He looked at me funny like. I said to him, if I have a mind you should be able to see it with all that fancy expensive equipment. I never really did get an answer I found to be satisfying.

Doctor to self:

Can't find his mind because he is out of his mind. No wonder the overly-patient lady holding his leash said she "can't take him anywhere".

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I participated in a study of the neurophysiology of elderly people done back in 2007 at Rutgers University. My wetworks were MRI scanned. PET scanned and meausred with an EEG. I have a lovely set of MRI pictures of my brain which was still juicy and devoid of fissures and gaps at the time it was made (no sign of Alzhiemer's Thank The Local Diety!). I was questioned, poked, probed and (as I said) multiply scanned. I asked the head neurophysiologist who was running the study if he detected a mind in my head. He looked at me funny like. I said to him, if I have a mind you should be able to see it with all that fancy expensive equipment. I never really did get an answer I found to be satisfying.

Betsy made the point that all living things are, ultimately, made of inanimate matter. So the defining property of an entity need not be found in the entity's components.

You can't look at scans for the mind. All scans can do for us is ID the biology of consciousness/the mind/free will.

Not to repeat, ruveyn, but you can't simply set aside the defining attribute of the human experience when studying human behavior. The only thing more alarming than that is the number of people in the sciences that do this.

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Betsy made the point that all living things are, ultimately, made of inanimate matter. So the defining property of an entity need not be found in the entity's components.

No one knows the cause and full constituents of the mind and consciousness. Whether there is an undiscovered entity of some presently unknown type or it arises entirely from combinations of known physical and biological components in still unknown ways does does not stop us from observing it and conceptualizing it accordingly. It is axiomatic, which you can see from the evasions of questions he refuses to answer.

You can't look at scans for the mind. All scans can do for us is ID the biology of consciousness/the mind/free will.

He can "look" at scans of the brain all he wants; that he doesn't find an image of a 'mind entity' by current types of measurements, as opposed to what we experience directly, is irrelevant to its existence. Existence precedes measurement and measurement must be based on the identity of what is measured, not what one feels like transfering from something else in the name of "science" and "empericism".

... you can't simply set aside the defining attribute of the human experience when studying human behavior. The only thing more alarming than that is the number of people in the sciences that do this.

The "science" of psychology based on that -- Watson's Behaviorism and his later radical disciples like Skinner (who Ayn Rand wrote about and demolished) -- arose around the same time as Positivism and Operationism. That movement seems to be pretty much dead now within psychology (maybe the Forum's resident psych Scott can comment), but there are still remnants of the sophistry around based on Hume's skepticsm arrested at the perceptual level of thought and parading itself as a supposedly superior intellect as it contradicts itself.

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How do they distinguish an illusion from a non-illusion (reality)?

I don't know how a determinist would reply. Perhaps one would claim that the process of distinguishing would occur automatically.

Without volition, they could not even form the concept of 'illusion' let alone consider the truth of an argument.

Since I'm put in a position of playing devil's advocate, why couldn't it be argued that conceptualization could still occur without free will? Couldn't that be an automatic process? If the mind automatically can integrate sensations into percepts, on what grounds do we claim that it couldn't automatically integrate percepts into concepts?

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How do you go from "I will always make the same choice." to "Therefore it's not really a choice"? You are dropping the context of how the choice is made and equivocating on what 'choice' means.

What I mean is that if a certain brain state, the cause, must lead to the same action or result (focusing or not focusing, some action, some emotional response, etc.), then what may have seemed like a choice isn't really a choice. Choice is then a misidentification.

Would you believe that the choice to focus is uninfluenced? Clearly a child who is taught to think and learns that he is capable of succeeding when he tries to think is more likely to make that choice in the future. As Objectivists, we are much more likely than others to choose to think about moral, political, and philosophical questions. This is because we've developed confidence in our ability to answer these questions, to varying degrees of course. That previously observed success funcitons as a cause, at least partially, of future choices. In many cases, previous experience seems to be very deterministic in how future choices are made.

Now since there are exceptions, clearly we can't make a rule of this. But the determinists then have to explain the few exceptions. I do see room for some free will, but it does seem that there is a significant amount of determinism in our choices.

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First premise to check: the mind is physical. The brain is physical, the mind is not. Second premise to check: actions are caused by entities. Volition is not an entity, it is a process of an attribute of an entity (consciousness). Thus, volition is caused by man. Third premise to check: causality is not determinism. Fourth premise to check: physical things follow physical laws. Which physical laws? Light does not follow Newtonian mechanics; how much does an inch weigh - what is its velocity? Ignorance of the physical laws that give rise to volition does not mean they are reducible to those laws that are known.

Interesting comments. But I'm not sure where to go with most of them. Here are a couple questions to begin with:

What do you mean by "the mind is not physical"? And what are the consequences of that?

"Fourth premise to check: physical things follow physical laws. Which physical laws?"

I don't know. Are you saying the laws as we currently understand them don't allow for free will? Or is there some other point I'm missing?

1. I wasn't saying the mind is physical. That was your premise that I was challenging. What do you mean by the mind is physical? What is its weight, how long is it? How fast does it move?

You may have misread what I wrote. I asked you what you meant by "the mind is not physical." Given that you asked me to check the premise that "the mind is physical," I am concluding that this is what you think (A or not-A).

2. I was saying that non-physical things do not follow physical laws. This is a sentence about tigers. Please describe how Newtonian mechanics applies to the meaning of the sentence.

The implications of this might make more sense to me after I understand the first part.

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How do they distinguish an illusion from a non-illusion (reality)?

I don't know how a determinist would reply. Perhaps one would claim that the process of distinguishing would occur automatically.

Without volition, they could not even form the concept of 'illusion' let alone consider the truth of an argument.

Since I'm put in a position of playing devil's advocate, why couldn't it be argued that conceptualization could still occur without free will? Couldn't that be an automatic process? If the mind automatically can integrate sensations into percepts, on what grounds do we claim that it couldn't automatically integrate percepts into concepts?

There is no evidence of it. Where's the monkeys and apes and dogs that use concepts?

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How do you go from "I will always make the same choice." to "Therefore it's not really a choice"? You are dropping the context of how the choice is made and equivocating on what 'choice' means.

What I mean is that if a certain brain state, the cause, must lead to the same action or result (focusing or not focusing, some action, some emotional response, etc.), then what may have seemed like a choice isn't really a choice. Choice is then a misidentification.

Would you believe that the choice to focus is uninfluenced? Clearly a child who is taught to think and learns that he is capable of succeeding when he tries to think is more likely to make that choice in the future. As Objectivists, we are much more likely than others to choose to think about moral, political, and philosophical questions. This is because we've developed confidence in our ability to answer these questions, to varying degrees of course. That previously observed success funcitons as a cause, at least partially, of future choices. In many cases, previous experience seems to be very deterministic in how future choices are made.

Now since there are exceptions, clearly we can't make a rule of this. But the determinists then have to explain the few exceptions. I do see room for some free will, but it does seem that there is a significant amount of determinism in our choices.

Most of what you say here make little sense to me. Previous success is not a cause because it is not an entity. An influence is not a cause. Entities are causes of actions. Attributes and actions do not cause actions or attributes. Of course a child's context of knowledge affects his subsequent knowledge, but it is the child that is causing the learning process through the choices he focuses his awareness on. In other words, it is the child's choice to be influenced by previous knowledge. No previous knowledge determines whether he focuses on his class test tomorrow or his choice to watch the NBA finals on TV. I have met many people influenced by Objectivism and have made immoral choices in their lives.

Brain states do not cause volitional choices. This is an invalid and unsupported assumption. Entities cause actions, not states of an entity. The principal feature of the brain is neural activity. This activity is not the same as the functioning of the consciousness of the individual.

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Since I'm put in a position of playing devil's advocate, why couldn't it be argued that conceptualization could still occur without free will? Couldn't that be an automatic process? If the mind automatically can integrate sensations into percepts, on what grounds do we claim that it couldn't automatically integrate percepts into concepts?

There is no evidence of it. Where's the monkeys and apes and dogs that use concepts?

Good point. The reason that perceptual-level animals do not use concepts is that concept-formation requires abstracting attributes of entities from the whole percept of an entity -- something lower animals cannot do.

The process of abstraction presents us with many choices and options. Which of the many, many attributes of the entity should we focus on and abstract? That depends on one's cognitive purpose.

Let's imagine I have a three-inch wooden ball that is painted red. If I want to know why it rolls, I can choose to focus on its round shape. If I want to know why it floats, I could choose to seek and discover that it was made of wood. If I were interested in knowing why it reminds me of an apple, I have to option of focusing on its size, shape, and color.

The process of abstraction that only human beings are capable of presents options -- and has to -- and that is the essence of free will.

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The process of abstraction that only human beings are capable of presents options -- and has to -- and that is the essence of free will.

Not to derail the discussion, but would you say that animals can make choices?

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Since I'm put in a position of playing devil's advocate, why couldn't it be argued that conceptualization could still occur without free will? Couldn't that be an automatic process? If the mind automatically can integrate sensations into percepts, on what grounds do we claim that it couldn't automatically integrate percepts into concepts?

There is no evidence of it. Where's the monkeys and apes and dogs that use concepts?

Good point. The reason that perceptual-level animals do not use concepts is that concept-formation requires abstracting attributes of entities from the whole percept of an entity -- something lower animals cannot do.

The process of abstraction presents us with many choices and options.

Precisely! Let those who deny choice (volition) do so while barking up a tree.

Which of the many, many attributes of the entity should we focus on and abstract? That depends on one's cognitive purpose.

Let's imagine I have a three-inch wooden ball that is painted red. If I want to know why it rolls, I can choose to focus on its round shape. If I want to know why it floats, I could choose to seek and discover that it was made of wood. If I were interested in knowing why it reminds me of an apple, I have to option of focusing on its size, shape, and color.

The process of abstraction that only human beings are capable of presents options -- and has to -- and that is the essence of free will.

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The process of abstraction that only human beings are capable of presents options -- and has to -- and that is the essence of free will.

Not to derail the discussion, but would you say that animals can make choices?

This had been debate years ago. Some argue no, I held that there is a level of perceptual choice. But that's for another thread.

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The process of abstraction that only human beings are capable of presents options -- and has to -- and that is the essence of free will.

Not to derail the discussion, but would you say that animals can make choices?

This had been debate years ago. Some argue no, I held that there is a level of perceptual choice. But that's for another thread.

Ok thanks. I'm asking because it seems like "free will" has to mean something much larger than simply "choice"

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The process of abstraction that only human beings are capable of presents options -- and has to -- and that is the essence of free will.

Not to derail the discussion, but would you say that animals can make choices?

Animals can respond to whole percepts, but cannot abstract attributes from entities. As Mark Twain observed, "“The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won't sit upon a cold stove lid, either.” The cat cannot choose to focus on the heat of the stove lid, but people can. That ability to focus on and abstract individual attributes in pursuit of a cognitive goal is the locus and essence of human free will and it is the kind of choice that only human beings can make.

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The process of abstraction that only human beings are capable of presents options -- and has to -- and that is the essence of free will.

Not to derail the discussion, but would you say that animals can make choices?

Animals can respond to whole percepts, but cannot abstract attributes from entities. As Mark Twain observed, "“The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won't sit upon a cold stove lid, either.” The cat cannot choose to focus on the heat of the stove lid, but people can. That ability to focus on and abstract individual attributes in pursuit of a cognitive goal is the locus and essence of human free will and it is the kind of choice that only human beings can make.

Ha, that's an amusing and fascinating answer. Thanks!

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