RSalar

Objectivist view of volition

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"Inch" is certainly a concept. If not, what is it? What about the number "three?"

It's a unit of length. And since length is a first-level abstraction, derived directly by perceiving perceptual units (1 inch being one of those units) of length, it can only be a specific concrete unit of a concept, one of the specific instances to which the concept refers. Now, certainly the specific units of a concept can themselves be concepts, but that would make the concept a higher level of abstraction--an "abstraction from abstraction". But Ayn Rand stated in ITOE:

"Let us now examine the process of forming the simplest concept, the concept of a single attribute (chronologically, this is not the first concept that child would grasp; but it is the simplest one epistemologically)--for instance, the concept "length." If a child considers a match, a pencil and a stick, he observes that length is the attribute they have common, but their specific lengths differ. ...." (ITOE Chapter 2, page 11 of the 2nd Edition) (emphasis mine)

"Inch" is a name--not a word for a concept--given to a particular, concrete unit of length. We give it a name because of its special purpose of serving as a standard of measurement. It's not that we perceive an "inch" here and an "inch" there and proceed to form the concept "inch", omitting the different "measurements" of an "inch". No. We perceive the attribute length, but when we want to measure length, we specify a particular unit of length to serve as a standard of measurement. We call that "inch" or "meter" or whatever we want.

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Neither you nor anyone else has identified an actual instance of equivocation on volition within my argument, a shift of meaning of the term.  You may (mistakenly) disagree with my description of volition as non-deterministic, but disagreement on your part does not imply equivocation on my part.

Since you do not identify whom you are referring to as "defin[ing] consciousness to mean any form of sensory awareness of the physical world," let me note that I never offered any such definition, and that Betsy's definition of consciousness in terms of awareness is not equivocal, but circular.

Correction: Betsy doesn't have a definition of consciousness. Betsy has two definitions of consciousness corresponding to the two different concepts referred to by the word "consciousness." One definition refers to the axiomatic concept of consciousness and the other refers to the faculty of consciousness. It is true that the definition of the faculty of consciousness uses the ostensively defined axiomatic concept of consciousness as its differentia, but this is neither circular nor illegitimate. ALL formal definitions depend on the use of other concepts, all of which depend, ultimately, on ostensive definitions. In this post (click here) I defined and explained the two concepts in greater detail.

In that post I also explained why the failure to acknowledge the two different concepts of consciousness while switching between them in the same argument is an example of equivocation.

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"Inch" is certainly a concept. If not, what is it? What about the number "three?"

It's a unit of length. And since length is a first-level abstraction, derived directly by perceiving perceptual units (1 inch being one of those units) of length, it can only be a specific concrete unit of a concept, one of the specific instances to which the concept refers. Now, certainly the specific units of a concept can themselves be concepts, but that would make the concept a higher level of abstraction--an "abstraction from abstraction". But Ayn Rand stated in ITOE:

"Let us now examine the process of forming the simplest concept, the concept of a single attribute (chronologically, this is not the first concept that child would grasp; but it is the simplest one epistemologically)--for instance, the concept "length." If a child considers a match, a pencil and a stick, he observes that length is the attribute they have common, but their specific lengths differ. ...." (ITOE Chapter 2, page 11 of the 2nd Edition) (emphasis mine)

"Inch" is a name--not a word for a concept--

I think you are misunderstanding all this, but I am not sure why. The concept "length" is not first-level, and "inch" is not a name (if by "name" you mean proper name). All our words are concepts, except for proper names (John Smith, New York City, etc.). Maybe it would help if you answered, even if just for yourself, the question I asked about the number "three."

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It is true that the definition of the faculty of consciousness uses the ostensively defined axiomatic concept of consciousness as its differentia, but this is neither circular nor illegitimate.  ALL formal definitions depend on the use of other concepts, all of which depend, ultimately, on ostensive definitions.  \

Your definition is circular because it uses a synonym--"awareness"--to define the concept "consciousness." No proper definition does this.

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I suggest you go back and look it up in the "Consciousness" thread.  Several times I pointed out how you changed definitions.  Volition specifically pertains to the use of man's conceptual consciousness.  You were using it to pertain to animal consciousness as well as man's.

I did not change my meaning. "Equivocation" does not mean using a term in a sense different from someone else's usage.

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It's a unit of length.  And since length is a first-level abstraction, derived directly by perceiving perceptual units (1 inch being one of those units) of length, it can only be a specific concrete unit of a concept, one of the specific instances to which the concept refers.  Now, certainly the specific units of a concept can themselves be concepts, but that would make the concept a higher level of abstraction--an "abstraction from abstraction".  But Ayn Rand stated in ITOE: 

 

"Let us now examine the process of forming the simplest concept, the concept of a single attribute (chronologically, this is not the first concept that child would grasp; but it is the simplest one epistemologically)--for instance, the concept "length."  If a child considers a match, a pencil and a stick, he observes that length is the attribute they have common, but their specific lengths differ. ...." (ITOE Chapter 2, page 11 of the 2nd Edition) (emphasis mine) 

 

"Inch" is a name--not a word for a concept--given to a particular, concrete unit of length.  We give it a name because of its special purpose of serving as a standard of measurement.  It's not that we perceive an "inch" here and an "inch" there and proceed to form the concept "inch", omitting the different "measurements" of an "inch".  No.  We perceive the attribute length, but when we want to measure length, we specify a particular unit of length to serve as a standard of measurement.  We call that "inch" or "meter" or whatever we want.

You are saying that "inch" is a name for a given particular concrete unit of length. How is this not a concept?

"A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s) with their particular measurements omitted."

ITOE Page 13 Exp 2nd Edition by Ayn Rand

How does the concept "inch" not qualify here? It is the exact same situation that exists with any class of attributes. Take an inch of the book, take an inch of the floor, and inch of the wall, say your mother showed you these with a ruler, and she says, "That is what an inch is." What do you retain? The concept of the inch, with all the particular measurements omitted (of the book and its color, texture; the floor and whether it was tile or shag carpet; the wall and whether it was blue, or purple). What is the distinguishing characteristic(s) between the three examples? A certain measure of length. Length was the CCD.

You didn't note the parenthetical remark that Ayn Rand made in the quote you provided. She said it was the simplest one epistemologically, and not the first chronologically, it would be actually far from the first. Attributes are obviously epistemologically simpler because they are only a piece of an entity there is less to concentrate on. And thus very illustrative for the her to use in explaining concept-formation. Nowhere did she say they were first-level. But, as anyone who has spent time with children at the beginning of concept-formation, attributes are farther down the road, it is all about entities at the beginning.

Those are the first-level concepts; door, door, door...door, door, chair, door, dog, chair, dog, door etc.

"Inch" is a name--not a word for a concept--given to a particular, concrete unit of length.  We give it a name because of its special purpose of serving as a standard of measurement.  It's not that we perceive an "inch" here and an "inch" there and proceed to form the concept "inch", omitting the different "measurements" of an "inch".  No.  We perceive the attribute length, but when we want to measure length, we specify a particular unit of length to serve as a standard of measurement.  We call that "inch" or "meter" or whatever we want.

Actually, unless you are the one that set the inch as the standard or unit, you do learn in the former way that you described. You do perceive an inch here and an inch there (usually with the help of a parent or teacher) and then you do proceed from there to form the concept inch omitting the particular measurements.

Now, if you are the king of some land and you decree that everything is to be measured by the standard of your thumb, and you have called your left thumb "Herman" and your right thumb "Inch", but you've always favored Inch over Herman, ergo, measurement by Inch-then you have the process that is the latter part of your last paragraph.

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You are saying that "inch" is a name for a given particular concrete unit of length. How is this not a concept? 

 

"A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s) with their particular measurements omitted." 

ITOE Page 13 Exp 2nd Edition by Ayn Rand 

 

How does the concept "inch" not qualify here? It is the exact same situation that exists with any class of attributes. Take an inch of the book, take an inch of the floor, and inch of the wall, say your mother showed you these with a ruler, and she says, "That is what an inch is." What do you retain? The concept of the inch, with all the particular measurements omitted (of the book and its color, texture; the floor and whether it was tile or shag carpet; the wall and whether it was blue, or purple). What is the distinguishing characteristic(s) between the three examples? A certain measure of length. Length was the CCD. 

...

An inch is a unit of length. When we perceive an "inch" of the length of x, y, an z, there is no difference in the measurement of these "inches", they're all identical in length. True, they are the lengths of different entities x, y, and z, but how do the different measurements of the other physical attributes of x,y, and z (their color, mass, etc.) somehow constitute a category of differing measurements of "inches" that we omit when we form the concept "inch"?

For instance, when we form the concept "color", we don't take into account the different measurements of the other attributes of the objects that have color (such as their weight, volume, etc.). We take into account only the different measurements of colors, i.e., the difference between red, blue, green, etc. And then we omit those measurements. The measurements of other physical attributes of objects that posses these colors are irrelevant. They differ, but so what? We don't "omit" them. We don't even consider them. Their differing lengths, weights, volumes, etc. are all irrelevant. The units of "color" are strictly "red, blue, green, black, ..." all of whom differ in the measure of their wavelengths, the only measurements we observe as different but similar, and that we omit when we form the concept "color".

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For instance, when we form the concept "color", we don't take into account the different measurements of the other attributes of the objects that have color (such as their weight, volume, etc.).  We take into account only the different measurements of colors, i.e., the difference between red, blue, green, etc.  And then we omit those measurements.  The measurements of other physical attributes of objects that posses these colors are irrelevant. They differ, but so what?  We don't "omit" them. We don't even consider them.  Their differing lengths, weights, volumes, etc. are all irrelevant.  The units of "color" are strictly "red, blue, green, black, ..." all of whom differ in the measure of their wavelengths, the only measurements we observe as different but similar, and that we omit when we form the concept "color".

I'm not sure if I am following you now.

Shortly, I'd answer that even though the three instances are identical in their measurement of the attribute of length, they are still differentiated by being different from all other lengths - units or not. Meaning as opposed to any other length-conceptualized or merely perceived and not measured.

But if you are saying what I think you are, I believe you are incorrect. Just as when we form the concept "table" we omit the various measurements, such as color; so when we form the concept of "red", we omit the measurements that the attribute was perceived in or on. When we form this concept, we do not keep in our minds the things that were red, but red.

Red is already a specification within the attribute category of color, and the measurement(s) omitted are of the same type. It works the same way for the general concept of length, as well as specifications within that category, like inch or mile. The process for forming a concept of a unit of measurement is the same as the process of forming the concept of that attribute category.

What if there was only one shade of red? Every instance of red to be perceived in the world was of the exact same shade. I see no reason why you could not form the concept of red, there are still other colors, all colors still are attributes of entities. The entities that they are attributes of are measurements that are omitted.

You simply wouldn't have a borderline case. It would either be red, or it would not be red. Likewise, we have the same situation for units of length like the inch.

I see no problem forming a concept of a unit of measurement simply because all instances of it are identical. I also don't think it poses a problem if we made those units.

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What if there was only one shade of red? Every instance of red to be perceived in the world was of the exact same shade. I see no reason why you could not form the concept of red, there are still other colors, all colors still are attributes of entities. The entities that they are attributes of are measurements that are omitted. 

Keep in mind Rand's definition: "A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s), with their particular measurements omitted."

Based on this definition, "red" is only a concept if there are 2 or more shades of red. If there is only 1 existent then the word we use to reference it is its name. This is why I have said that "inch" is a name and not a concept. There is only 1 "inch." The same identical inch is used to measure length all over the universe.

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What if there was only one shade of red? Every instance of red to be perceived in the world was of the exact same shade. I see no reason why you could not form the concept of red, there are still other colors, all colors still are attributes of entities. The entities that they are attributes of are measurements that are omitted. 

Keep in mind Rand's definition: "A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s), with their particular measurements omitted."

Based on this definition, "red" is only a concept if there are 2 or more shades of red. If there is only 1 existent then the word we use to reference it is its name.

I think you misunderstand the meaning of "unit" in the quoted definition. A unit is "an existent regarded as a separate member of a group of two or more similar members" (ITOE, p. 6). If we were magically transported into a mythical world where the metaphysics of color did not admit degrees, then we would still form the concept red by isolating the attribute red of two or more entities that possess that attribute, and differentiating that attribute from the non-red color attribute of other entities. We regard each attribute red as an attribute of separate entities, but relate them into a group by virtue of their similarities. This latter is exactly what we mean by "unit."

Incidentally, even in the real world, not just that mythical one, not all concepts admit degrees. The concept "ten," for instance.

This is why I have said that "inch" is a name and not a concept.

If by "name" you mean proper name, as in John Smith or New York City, then you are likewise mistaken. "Inch" is a perfectly fine concept.

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Let's say we programmed a robot to do certain tasks around the house. The programming instructs the robot how to respond to various encounters. As its programmers, we know exactly what the robot will do when it encounters a dirty dish or a misplaced shoe, etc. Every action is "determined" by its programming. Does the robot have volition? No. Why? because it does not "decide" what to do, we, as programmers, decided what we wanted the robot to do. I would say the robot's "decisions" and "choices" are not volitional but rather deterministic. How am I wrong? 

I run a cell for a company that manufactures silicon wafers. I am responsible for 13 different robots and 4 employees. A robot does not make "decisions" or "choices". A robot reacts to a certain stimuli and performs the task it was programmed to do. An example. All the robots I am responsible for have electronic sensors. These sensors function like eyes. The eye sees a carrier and the robot arm moves. If there is no carrier, the sensor does not see anything so the robot arm stays inactive. There are no "decisions" or "choices" involved on the robots part, just reactions to required stimuli. Categorizing these reactions as either volitional or deterministic is a mistake because there is no action required from the robot only reaction. I need to think about this more but I believe determinism is being confused with causality in this particular case.

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Categorizing these reactions as either volitional or deterministic is a mistake because there is no action required from the robot only reaction.  I need to think about this more but I believe determinism is being confused with causality in this particular case.

Do not confuse the psychological theory of determinism -- the rejection of man's volitional consciousness -- with actual deterministic behavior. For an entity to act deterministically means that it acts non-volitionally, i.e., without being freely chosen among alternatives, and could not be otherwise. Note this comment from Peikoff in OPAR, p. 69.

"If man's consciousness were automatic, if it did react deterministically to outer or inner forces acting upon it, then, by definition, a man would have no choice in regard to his mental content ..."

Man's consciousness, of course, is not automatic, but the "react deterministically to outer or inner forces acting upon it" describes the non-volitional actions of inanimate matter and living things other than man. There are only two fundamentally different modes of action known to man: volitional, or deterministic. The actions of your robots are deterministic in nature.

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I think you misunderstand the meaning of "unit" in the quoted definition.  A unit is "an existent regarded as a separate member of a group of two or more similar members" (ITOE, p. 6). If we were magically transported into a mythical world where the metaphysics of color did not admit degrees, then we would still form the concept red by isolating the attribute red of two or more entities that possess that attribute, and differentiating that attribute from the non-red color attribute of other entities. We regard each attribute red as an attribute of separate entities, but relate them into a group by virtue of their similarities. This latter is exactly what we mean by "unit."

Incidentally, even in the real world, not just that mythical one, not all concepts admit degrees. The concept "ten," for instance.

If by "name" you mean proper name, as in John Smith or New York City, then you are likewise mistaken. "Inch" is a perfectly fine concept.

I think I understand, now.

I thought that because the reference of "inch" was only one particular unit of length (not two similar units of lengths), that it couldn't be a concept because a concept needs at least two similar units/referents. I thought there was only one unit of reference because there is no measurable difference between one inch of length of entity X and one inch of length of entity Y. All the inches of length are identical, so they are one unit. There is only one inch.

But as I understand from your statements, there is still the fact that even though they are all identical in every way (no difference in measurement, no degrees), they are specific attributes of two or more different entities, and hence should be regarded as several units (not one). If that's the case, then obviously "inch" is a concept. Did I understand you (and ThoydLoki) correctly?

My error was not realizing that two existents can be identical in every way yet still be two separate units of reference of a concept because they are still individual units.

I can't believe I forgot reading this in the appendix of ITOE :lol: :

"AR: But also, there is the ultimate variation in which you musn't forget: they are individual tires. Suppose, theoretically, that you could with the finest instruments produce a set of tires of exactly the same measurable aspects in every respect. This wouldn't make them blend into one super-tire. You would still say, 'I have one hundred tires of this particular kind.'" (p143, 2nd ed)

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I can't believe I forgot reading this in the appendix of ITOE :lol: :

"AR:  But also, there is the ultimate variation in which you musn't forget: they are individual tires.  Suppose, theoretically, that you could with the finest instruments produce a set of tires of exactly the same measurable aspects in every respect.  This wouldn't make them blend into one super-tire.  You would still say, 'I have one hundred tires of this particular kind.'" (p143, 2nd ed)

What a terrific find that is! I wish I had recalled that discussion as I would have just pointed you and the other poster directly there. In her usual brilliant manner, throughout the discussion surrounding the quote, Miss Rand looks at this aspect of concept formation from every angle, drawing out every nuance, making the issue crystal clear. My explanation to you, which only had the essence, pales in comparison. (I guess that is why she is the teacher and I am the student. :P )

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I did not change my meaning. "Equivocation" does not mean using a term in a sense different from someone else's usage.

You stated (click here) "Volition, broadly considered, is the conscious direction of attention. The choice to think or not is a highly developed form of that power that is specific to humans."

You acknowledge the Objectivist view of volition in your paper, "volition can, however, be validated as an axiom, i.e., as an undeniable premise underlying all conceptual knowledge," yet you also stated "volition is fundamentally effort of attention. Attention is the locus of volition." As a consequence of this change in definition, you conclude "the case for the existence of causally efficacious volition in non-human conscious animals may not be as compelling as the case for humans, but is nonetheless viable." Unless you are claiming that animals have conceptual abilities, if animals have volition then it cannot be an axiom for conceptual knowledge.

Objectivism holds

The actions of consciousness required on the sensory-perceptual level are automatic. On the conceptual level, however, they are not automatic. This is the key to the locus of volition. Man's basic freedom of choice, according to Objectivism, is: to exercise his distinctively human cognitive machinery or not; i.e., to set his conceptual faculty in motion or not. In Ayn Rand's summarizing formula, the choice is: "to think or not to think."

Clearly, your definition is different that the Objectivist definition. For you, "all conscious processes exist to subserve that ultimate function [control of volitional movement]." For you to maintain that volition is both an axiom underlying conceptual knowledge and any conscious process, including those conscious processes of non-human animals, is using the term "volition" equivocally.

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But as I understand from your statements, there is still the fact that even though they are all identical in every way (no difference in measurement, no degrees), they are specific attributes of two or more different entities, and hence should be regarded as several units (not one).  If that's the case, then obviously "inch" is a concept.  Did I understand you (and ThoydLoki) correctly?

My error was not realizing that  two existents can be identical in every way yet still be two separate units of reference of a concept because they are still individual units.  

I can't believe I forgot reading this in the appendix of ITOE :lol: :

"AR:  But also, there is the ultimate variation in which you musn't forget: they are individual tires.  Suppose, theoretically, that you could with the finest instruments produce a set of tires of exactly the same measurable aspects in every respect.  This wouldn't make them blend into one super-tire.  You would still say, 'I have one hundred tires of this particular kind.'" (p143, 2nd ed)

Speaking for myself, I believe you got it. I think the difficulty here lies in our automatization of much earlier material, and the error of forgetting how that knowledge was first grasped. I remember a Peikoff lecture where he was explaining one of the ways the analytic/synthetic dichotomy got started (at least I think that was the topic), and he was discussing how 2+2=4 was something that was viewed as something you could be certain about, but you could never acheive certainty on a long column of numbers (according to others). What if you made a mistake?

Well children do make mistakes on 2+2=4. They have to learn 1, then 2, they have to learn to put them together to build the rudiments of an arithmetic ability. And they go hog wild (usually) attempting to get 2+2=4; getting 5 or 6 or 3 or even 7 as the answer.

They have to go through the same process even to learn the original numbers. They can perceive plenty of 2's and 3's and so forth long before they learn the concept of those numbers. But it is not simple and it is not a one shot deal they have to go through this over and over like with the first-level concepts when they are first learning language. Finally, they will "dawn" and the concept is formed.

Likewise with the inch. A child will be introduced to the concept, and a ruler, and he will spend a lot of time seeing how many things he can find that are an inch or what he can break down by inches. Then he'll be able to break away from the concretes with his concept of inch.

I thought your original statement made sense for a second. It would be quite easy to think what you did until you realize that that concept is one you have been carrying around quite easily for a long time. It may be time to reexamine how you got it in the first place.

I love ITOE. But I wonder how many people just read it or study it. Go out and experience it. Go to classrooms (1st, 2nd grade) and watch it in action (or its opposite, if you pick a bad one). Better yet, if you know someone that has a toddler right at the precipice of starting to conceptualize, you can see ITOE as if it where brought to the big screen right before you. Another good idea is to go through the chapters and do the material.

I myself am do for another run. It is very far removed from what I do for a living. It is the opposite of conceptual. :P

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I understand, that we can not know that we lack voltion. I just don't understand how we can know that we have volition, because on the off chance that we lack volition, our knowledge would be corrupted by the very thing making it so we can not know we lack it. Could anyone help me with this?

Do we just assume that we have it because it is impossible to know otherwise?

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I understand, that we can not know that we lack voltion. I just don't understand how we can know that we have volition, because on the off chance that we lack volition, our knowledge would be corrupted by the very thing making it so we can not know we lack it. Could anyone help me with this?

Do we just assume that we have it because it is impossible to know otherwise?

It is true that any attempt to deny volition is self-refuting; however, this is not how we know that we have volition. Rather, we know that we are free because it is introspectively self-evident.

So, no, we do not "just assume that we have it because it is impossible to know otherwise"; rather, we know that we have it because of direct awareness, just like we know that the law of identity is true by direct awareness. As such, there is no "off chance that we lack volition," anymore than there is an off chance that A isn't A. (Even the consideration that we possibly lack volition is self-refuting; the statement of a possibilities, like all statements, rest on our having free will.)

Put it this way: volition is an axiom -- and as such, its validation is in principle no different than the law of identity (which is why I drew a parallel to the law of identity above). Do you have the same concerns about the law of identity, and how we can know that it is true? If not, why do you have those concerns about free will? I find that thinking about it in these terms can go a long way to answering your questions.

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I understand, that we can not know that we lack voltion. I just don't understand how we can know that we have volition, because on the off chance that we lack volition, our knowledge would be corrupted by the very thing making it so we can not know we lack it. Could anyone help me with this?

I agree with Alex that we know we have volition by direct awareness, i.e. by introspection, but it is more than just axiomatic. It is testable too.

Try this simple experiment. Get a puzzle like a crossword or logic puzzle and work on it for a few minutes. Then relax your mind and just let it drift for a while. Then go back to solving the puzzle.

Observe that you just varied the purposefulness and efficacy of your mental efforts and that you have the capacity to do that by choice. You can be sharply focused on a task or completely fuzzy and mentally foggy by choice. Observe that purposeful problem solving requires effort, an effort you have to choose to make, and if don't choose to make the effort, you will be in a drifting, non-very-conscious state.

THAT is volitional consciousness by direct perception.

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I understand, that we can not know that we lack voltion. I just don't understand how we can know that we have volition, because on the off chance that we lack volition, our knowledge would be corrupted by the very thing making it so we can not know we lack it. Could anyone help me with this?

Do we just assume that we have it because it is impossible to know otherwise?

First of all, let's identify what it is that volition pertains to: specifically the use of our rational faculty and our conceptual consciousness. There are many areas that we DO KNOW we lack volition. For example, our sensory and perceptual capacity are not volitional; respiration and digestion are not volitional. If indeed we did not have any volition, then we wouldn't have any knowledge that could be corrupted. It is because of our knowledge of both elements that we are able to distinguish the volitional from the non-volitional.

As a case in point, just look at any other species that does not have volitional capacities. When was the last time you saw any other species besides humans assert any type of intellectual knowledge?

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Try this simple experiment. Get a puzzle like a crossword or logic puzzle and work on it for a few minutes. Then relax your mind and just let it drift for a while. Then go back to solving the puzzle.

Observe that you just varied the purposefulness and efficacy of your mental efforts and that you have the capacity to do that by choice. You can be sharply focused on a task or completely fuzzy and mentally foggy by choice. Observe that purposeful problem solving requires effort, an effort you have to choose to make, and if don't choose to make the effort, you will be in a drifting, non-very-conscious state.

What necessitates that being a choice? Couldn't it merely be that the deterministic actions in our minds are forcing us to sharply focus and then to un-focus and also giving us the idea that we are chosing to do it?

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If it was all deterministic in your mind, then that post you wrote saying that determinism is possible is also predetermined, which means you never had chosen to write it in the first place!

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What necessitates that being a choice? Couldn't it merely be that the deterministic actions in our minds are forcing us to sharply focus and then to un-focus and also giving us the idea that we are chosing to do it?

What necessitates our senses being valid, or the impossibility of contradictions? Couldn't it merely be that we are all brains in a vat, with an evil scientist (or demon) forcing us to think these things?

Again, I ask: if you are not willing to entertain these skeptical questions, why are you willing to do so with free will? Is it that you see a conflict between free will and causality?

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What necessitates that being a choice? Couldn't it merely be that the deterministic actions in our minds are forcing us to sharply focus and then to un-focus and also giving us the idea that we are chosing to do it?

Don't you have sufficient evidence to the contrary? Speculation and hypotheticals don't make it so.

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What necessitates that being a choice? Couldn't it merely be that the deterministic actions in our minds are forcing us to sharply focus and then to un-focus and also giving us the idea that we are chosing to do it?

First, perhaps explaining what you mean by "necessity" will help advance the discussion.

Second, "could" means that some evidence leads you toward your inference about determinism. What evidence do you have, conclusive or not, that your consciousness is deterministic? By the way, I notice you speak of "mind," but remember that volition applies to consciousness, which may not be the same thing as mind, depending on how you are using the terms/ideas.

If you really intended to say "couldn't," then you are asking the people in this forum to prove a negative, aren't you?

Third, I would also like to suggest a test that has helped me alot, a rationalism-detection test. I ask myself: How does this philosophical problem arise in my life? If the problem doesn't arise in my life, then I begin to wonder whether the problem is non-existent (a symptom of rationalism) or the question is an improper question, that is, one based on flawed premises. If the problem does arise in my life, then I have facts of reality with which to begin my philosophical investigation.

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