kenstauffer

Why is Free will an axiom?

108 posts in this topic

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Urge.

I take that to mean "a continuing impulse toward an activity or goal" (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)

When a baby gets an "impulse" to eat, does it go after food, or just sit around and cry waiting for food to come to it?

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Urge.

I take that to mean "a continuing impulse toward an activity or goal" (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)

When a baby gets an "impulse" to eat, does it go after food, or just sit around and cry waiting for food to come to it?

It depends. If the baby is a brush turkey, it hatches without it's parents in sight. It can fend for itself immediately. Others, like budgies or humans, need someone to bring the food. It would help if you told me the point of these rather obvious questions.

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Urge.

I take that to mean "a continuing impulse toward an activity or goal" (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)

When a baby gets an "impulse" to eat, does it go after food, or just sit around and cry waiting for food to come to it?

It depends. If the baby is a brush turkey, it hatches without it's parents in sight. It can fend for itself immediately. Others, like budgies or humans, need someone to bring the food. It would help if you told me the point of these rather obvious questions.

You have stated "We have many of the drives of animals," "As far as "programs" are concerned, I am speaking of automatic behaviour, not volitionally constructed ones," and "I said we had certain "drives", just like animals, but we had no program to deal with them. Drives are not instincts, but are what drive instincts. Animals have a program to process drives, and we don't" in response to the statement, "I think it's an interesting question how volition evolved."

What you have stated, as undefined as you have left it, would be irrelevant to volition or its development. Volition introduces a whole new world of causal action in humans, and instinct or "drive" have no relevance or causal effect. The evolution of volition did apparently "put an end to the determined animalistic drives we have." Baby humans do not pop out of eggs the way crocodiles do and automatically head for the water, nor do baby humans automatically head for their mother's breasts the way many other mammals do. Humans have no drives or instincts, and your assertion that they have drives or instincts has gone unsupported. While I am not implying that babies have volition, it is their parents' volition that determines whether the baby survives or not. And as the baby grows into adulthood, all of the values it requires for survival depend upon volitional action. "Drives" or instincts have no survival value for humans.

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While I am not implying that babies have volition

Did you mean to say "...I am not implying that babies don't have volition"? Or are you suggesting that it is not the case that newborns have volition and simply have not yet learned enough to make its use detectable or effective (so to speak). Because that would mean that a healthy, individuated human being does not have volition at some point, which makes arguable exactly when voltion becomes present, which leaves open the possibility that it never does.

All that apart from the fact that I've never seen it proposed anywhere by anyone who acknolwedges the existence of volition that there is a time in their lives when humans do not have it.*

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*Leaving out, of course, sleep, unconsciousness, and disease, which are not cases where volition is gone but where it is temporarily unable to be used.

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What you have stated, as undefined as you have left it, would be irrelevant to volition or its development. Volition introduces a whole new world of causal action in humans, and instinct or "drive" have no relevance or causal effect. The evolution of volition did apparently "put an end to the determined animalistic drives we have." Baby humans do not pop out of eggs the way crocodiles do and automatically head for the water, nor do baby humans automatically head for their mother's breasts the way many other mammals do. Humans have no drives or instincts, and your assertion that they have drives or instincts has gone unsupported. While I am not implying that babies have volition, it is their parents' volition that determines whether the baby survives or not. And as the baby grows into adulthood, all of the values it requires for survival depend upon volitional action. "Drives" or instincts have no survival value for humans.

Did I say humans had instincts? Not that I remember. I said they had drives, or urges, such as the urge to eat or have sex. A drive is an urge, and an instinct is a programmed way of dealing with the urge. This does not mean that a drive is an instinct. I think denying humans have such drives or urges, is a matter we will have to disagree on; the evidence is in humans all around.

I have also been quiet clear that volitional use of reason is essential to human survival, because we lost the programmed animalistic behaviour (instincts) for dealing with drives. If we get the urge to eat, we don't have the mosquito's instinctual behaviour to get food, if we get cold, we don't hibernate like a bear in order to cope with it. We need to reason a way to get what we want.

There is nothing more I can add that I haven't said before, so I will leave the subject here.

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While I am not implying that babies have volition

Did you mean to say "...I am not implying that babies don't have volition"? Or are you suggesting that it is not the case that newborns have volition and simply have not yet learned enough to make its use detectable or effective (so to speak). Because that would mean that a healthy, individuated human being does not have volition at some point, which makes arguable exactly when voltion becomes present, which leaves open the possibility that it never does.

All that apart from the fact that I've never seen it proposed anywhere by anyone who acknolwedges the existence of volition that there is a time in their lives when humans do not have it.*

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*Leaving out, of course, sleep, unconsciousness, and disease, which are not cases where volition is gone but where it is temporarily unable to be used.

I'm not quite sure what you mean here. It is obvious that babies don't exercise volition, the use of reason. I don't know how you interpret "don't have volition" to mean that they don't have the capacity to develop it as their brain develops. Why is it arguable about when volition becomes present? When one observes the child using reason or making choices and to focus its consciousness on the conceptual level, it is apparent that volition is working. There are many humans who don't have it: those with brain damage or mental retardation to a significant degree, age-related factors affect one's ability to focus or reason, people with severe mental problems that can be tied to physiological disorders, such as schizophrenia. I'm sure there are more.

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I'm not quite sure what you mean here. It is obvious that babies don't exercise volition, the use of reason.

We may be addressing two different aspects of volition. I'm referring to the primary choice, the primary act of volition - the choice to focus. I think it's obvious that babies do have that capacity. Regarding what comes next, what they don't have is the ability to do much of anything to follow up on that choice. Even so, it's not that they are incapable of that "followup" volition, just that they haven't yet learned how to use it, in addition to not yet having acquired much mental material on which to operate - they do use volition to the extent they know how and upon everthing that they do know. So, rather than "babies don't exercise volition" (or, to substitute the equivalence you state, "babies don't exercise the use of reason") I would say that, like everything else they do, they do exercise it, but in a immature manner that undergoes constant growth and refinement over time. To say otherwise is to say that babies are for some period of time deterministic beings, which is to say that they're not human.

The volition you're referring to, the use of reason, doesn't go from nonexistent to existent, it goes from raw to developed. The volition I'm referring to, the ability to choose to focus, is 100% operational from birth. It must be, because it's pre-rational - one must choose to focus in order to begin to use reason at all.

There are many humans who don't have it: those with brain damage or mental retardation to a significant degree, age-related factors affect one's ability to focus or reason, people with severe mental problems that can be tied to physiological disorders, such as schizophrenia. I'm sure there are more.

These are what I meant in my footnote (except for the "age-related factors," which I address above). What matters here, however, is the case for a healthy, fully-functioning person, because for any given disease or disability it is the case that if it could be cured then volition would be completely restored.

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I'm not quite sure what you mean here. It is obvious that babies don't exercise volition, the use of reason.

We may be addressing two different aspects of volition. I'm referring to the primary choice, the primary act of volition - the choice to focus.

To focus what?

The perceptual level of consciousness is fully automatic and deterministic. It is controlled by the brain.

I think it's obvious that babies do have that capacity. Regarding what comes next, what they don't have is the ability to do much of anything to follow up on that choice. Even so, it's not that they are incapable of that "followup" volition, just that they haven't yet learned how to use it, in addition to not yet having acquired much mental material on which to operate - they do use volition to the extent they know how and upon everthing that they do know. So, rather than "babies don't exercise volition" (or, to substitute the equivalence you state, "babies don't exercise the use of reason") I would say that, like everything else they do, they do exercise it, but in a immature manner that undergoes constant growth and refinement over time. To say otherwise is to say that babies are for some period of time deterministic beings, which is to say that they're not human.

The volition you're referring to, the use of reason, doesn't go from nonexistent to existent, it goes from raw to developed. The volition I'm referring to, the ability to choose to focus, is 100% operational from birth. It must be, because it's pre-rational - one must choose to focus in order to begin to use reason at all.

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The volition I am talking about is the concept that is defined by Objectivism. If you are talking about a different concept, then please define your concept and distinguish it from Objectivism's formulation so I can understand what you mean. It would also be a good idea to use a different word to avoid confusion. I don't know what you mean by it "doesn't go from nonexistent to existent." If you disagree with the formulation in ITOE, then you'll have to be more specific. Why can't it go from non-existent to existent? Isn't that what life is all about? Your formulation sounds somewhat rationalistic. The fact that prerequisites are present for the exercise of volition doesn't mean that volition exists before it exists; that is, before it is exercised.

Please show me how a baby does this:

This is the key, the entrance to the conceptual level of man's consciousness. The ability to regard entities as units is man's distinctive method of cognition

Also,

And although I hesitate to talk about volition on the preconceptual level—because the subject isn't aware of it in those terms—even a preconceptual infant has the power to look around or not look, to listen or not listen. He has a certain minimal, primitive form of volition over the function of his senses. But volition in the full sense of a conscious choice, and a choice which he can observe by introspection, begins when he forms concepts—at the stage where he has a sufficient conceptual vocabulary to begin to form sentences and draw conclusions, when he can say consciously, in effect, "This table is larger than that one"—that he has to do volitionally.

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