You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove it


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Post Saturday, 26th September 2015, 00:25

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

Where your argument breaks down for me, tedric, is where you say, "It could simply be a byproduct," particularly that "could" part. Sure, conscious experience could be a byproduct; I don't see any reason to believe that it is, though. I'm not sure I buy that, if you believe "our thoughts are our biology," you don't just extend that to "we are our biology," as biological determinism isn't the only possible conclusion of that line of thought. Why isn't it free will, exactly, if my conscious experience is shaped by everything from my neurochemistry to my gut bacteria?

My "purposeful work" comment has nothing to do with Platonic "pure thought," btw. If you ask someone to make different cognitive decisions, such as one does during cognitive-behavioral therapy, they have significantly different outcomes than someone you just talk to without a therapeutic methodology. There's something going on there I would call "choice," personally.

But I'll give this up, since you sound like you actually know what you're talking about tedric, whereas I'm just blowing smoke out my bum. If free will is a lie, it's such a good lie that I'd rather believe it than the truth, thanks.

also, thanks for the advice twelwe, it's all really good

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Post Saturday, 26th September 2015, 00:48

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

I see no reason to believe consciousness isn't the byproduct. I also see no evidence for a non-physical or non-biological intermediary between each thought and the next -- which is where you have to locate a "choice" if it's going to make a difference in our thought patterns. But actually I'm not even sure that location exists, since really we don't just have one thought at a time; maybe our inner monologue can only say one word to itself at a time, but there are whole complex neural networks operating at both a conscious and subconscious and semiconscious level whose activity is more or less contiguous, with no place to even identify where a "decision" or "choice" would begin or end.

Anyway, I wouldn't say that I'm not blowing smoke out my own bum too, but I do have a BS in philosophy. I mean a BA! I mean...eh, it's both.
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Post Saturday, 26th September 2015, 15:03

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

It's interesting that these sorts of debates often try to convince people to *believe* that free will either does or doesn't exist. If such a debate isn't entirely purposeless, it must assume that there are real consequences to that belief. Both sides of the argument, then, share the assumption that our beliefs in some way influence how we actually behave. I don't know if you want to call that free will in the "classical sense" (I'm wary of that phrase because the tradition surrounding free will is pretty complicated even within Christianity), but it also seems to reject any sort of simplistic determinism.

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Post Saturday, 26th September 2015, 19:59

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

pretty much all philosophical debates are ultimately purposeless. i thought that was the point!
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Post Sunday, 27th September 2015, 01:37

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

From a scientific standpoint, there are plenty of systems that cannot be viewed as fully deterministic. Sufficiently complex systems, such as the weather, are chaotic, meaning that a slight change of initial conditions creates a completely different result down the road. This is why the weather forecast is never very accurate. Because the small uncertainty in the measurement of the initial condition means that a huge range of futures is possible, so the future can't be entirely predicted. Furthermore, it is literally impossible to measure initial conditions exactly because of the uncertainty principle. So somewhere down the line your prediction will be inaccurate, even if you use "ideal" equipment to do your measurements. Sure, you can make predictions up to a point, but after that point you can't say that you can determine what will happen.

The human mind is complex enough that no one is able to make perfect predictions about what others will do. Sure, you can predict some things. You know that such and such thing will influence Bob in such and such way, and he will do something along the lines of [whatever it is he'll do]. But there are areas where the prediction will be fuzzy, uncertain. Where the person's actions are not fully deterministic. Some people might look at that and say the result will be random, but that's where I like to think free will comes into play.

Because my experience shows me that I really can make choices, that I am ultimately responsible for who I am. I choose how I will change my current "script." Yes, I have to run with the script that I currently have, but I can choose what direction it changes to. If you think your actions are all predetermined, you'll find they are. You'll "go with the flow" and be pulled along where ever your environment and current script take you. But if you try to exercise your "free will" to change what you're doing, you'll find you can make gradual changes, control who you're becoming.

That's free will. Not making decisions irregardless of what choices you made in the past. We all know that's baloney. But making small, premeditated (or not!) changes to shape your future self.

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Post Sunday, 27th September 2015, 05:56

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

ydeve wrote:From a scientific standpoint, there are plenty of systems that cannot be viewed as fully deterministic. Sufficiently complex systems, such as the weather, are chaotic, meaning that a slight change of initial conditions creates a completely different result down the road. This is why the weather forecast is never very accurate. Because the small uncertainty in the measurement of the initial condition means that a huge range of futures is possible, so the future can't be entirely predicted. Furthermore, it is literally impossible to measure initial conditions exactly because of the uncertainty principle. So somewhere down the line your prediction will be inaccurate, even if you use "ideal" equipment to do your measurements. Sure, you can make predictions up to a point, but after that point you can't say that you can determine what will happen.

Why do you think deterministic means that?

In mathematics and physics, a deterministic system is a system in which no randomness is involved in the development of future states of the system.


That doesn't mean we're able to predict the 'X input produces Y output' relationship. It just means that the 'X input produces Y output' relationship exists.

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Post Sunday, 27th September 2015, 06:20

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

savageorange wrote:
ydeve wrote:From a scientific standpoint, there are plenty of systems that cannot be viewed as fully deterministic. Sufficiently complex systems, such as the weather, are chaotic, meaning that a slight change of initial conditions creates a completely different result down the road. This is why the weather forecast is never very accurate. Because the small uncertainty in the measurement of the initial condition means that a huge range of futures is possible, so the future can't be entirely predicted. Furthermore, it is literally impossible to measure initial conditions exactly because of the uncertainty principle. So somewhere down the line your prediction will be inaccurate, even if you use "ideal" equipment to do your measurements. Sure, you can make predictions up to a point, but after that point you can't say that you can determine what will happen.

Why do you think deterministic means that?

In mathematics and physics, a deterministic system is a system in which no randomness is involved in the development of future states of the system.


That doesn't mean we're able to predict the 'X input produces Y output' relationship. It just means that the 'X input produces Y output' relationship exists.


Well, you can argue (depending on your exact definition of randomness) that either all relationships are deterministic or none of them are (or any given subset are) or alternatively, you can argue that for any given X and Y that full and complete knowledge X is unattainable, and therefore the "X input produces Y output" is meaningless without qualification.
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Post Sunday, 27th September 2015, 07:54

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

Siegurt wrote:Well, you can argue (depending on your exact definition of randomness) that either all relationships are deterministic or none of them are (or any given subset are) or alternatively, you can argue that for any given X and Y that full and complete knowledge X is unattainable, and therefore the "X input produces Y output" is meaningless without qualification.

I'd agree with both of those (all currently known relationships are deterministic, including QM; and 'X input produces Y output' is meaningless without qualification). Using a standard of predictability has some obvious problems though, principally that the things we understand less must logically then be considered less / non- deterministic, rather than simply less understood.

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Post Sunday, 27th September 2015, 07:56

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

I've had the privilege and pain of having been psychologically unmade more than once in my life. If you have never experienced this for yourself, there is nothing that can prepare you for it, but suffice it to say that the you whom you believe is you is not really a fixed you, but merely an avatar of you created by structures and alignments of the neural chemistry within you. The proof of this as an objective fact is visible upon examination of the resulting changes in personality and cognition that can occur by the rearrangement of brain function, whether by surgery, trauma, destruction, disease, rejuvenation, or repair. The very idea of self is malleable, so any discussion of self-directed will can only be based upon the simplified renderings of an idealized self.

I perceive myself today to be an observer of the changing states of my own mind, and objectively I know that what I know is not even a measurable fraction of what could be known, even within the narrow confines of an ideal self. One cannot even be sure what one knows, because things can be (and are) made known without awareness every day, such as when the eye-brain interface registers a thing into thought without having a conscious pathway of choice. This subliminal kind of event is unavoidable, given how deeply our senses are wired in us. Even if you try to measure and gauge every input, you cannot do so.

We do have choice, insofar as deciding what to think about what we think, perhaps, but as to how we think, well, that's another story altogether.

Do you know why you must sleep, and dream? Not really, because nobody does, really. This thing we all must do, which paralyzes us for fully 1/3 of our entire existence, is a nearly complete mystery to us. Put your ideas about free will to sleep.

You also, lest you die, must eat and therefore defecate what your body doesn't use. Sitting there in the miasma our own bodies produce, we are just as every other eating creature and no more highly evolved than them in that moment. Free will your ass.

Also, modern research shows that the human body itself is not at all the monolithic thing we once thought, but is in some sense a symbiotic colony of varying genetic origins and purposes. In actual fact, if you count it up just by the number of cells, not mass, you are only made up of 5% of your own DNA. Yes, five percent. The rest is other living things living along with you. So free will your microbiome, too.

What if living being itself is another physical dimension of the universe, like time, and itself greatly expands the number of possible states within the universe? Then, because living beings rarely (ever?) exist independently from others, the collisions of semi-autonomous beings that arise in chaos tend to self-organize into more complex systems, adding yet another dimension to being, that of social interaction. A line of existence becomes a plane, so to speak, and the varying numbers, quantities and types of three-dimensional beings existing through time as interacting pathways of influence greatly expands again the total number of possible states of the universe. So we are now living in six dimensions, and no closer to a fuller accounting of our place in it, but more remote from prediction and valid assessment than any simple weather system by orders of magnitude.

The ultimate truth just gets farther away the more deeply you probe and the more information you acquire. But it's still fun to try. Just remember that you can only choose what to think about what it is you think, and you'll be fine. And don't forget to eat and sleep. Those are important. Oh, and flushing immediately really helps to minimize the miasma, if it bothers you. There's some free will for you.

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Post Sunday, 27th September 2015, 15:37

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

Very few people believe in "free will", the idea that your choices are in no way constrained by history, by biology, by experience, or by any other factor -- this idea is generally considered to be absurd, as far as I can tell. Most people believe in will and choice, and many of them call it "free will" as a verbal tic, but that doesn't mean that the subscribe to the "unconstrained will" idea in the first sentence.

The type of will and choice that people exhibit is constrained by countless factors, a list of factors large enough to effectively be "the state of the universe"; I would argue that the choices people make are a necessary consequence of those factors. Quantum physics fans might argue that there is some randomness present in every outcome, and thus that the choices people make are an arbitrary consequence of the state of the universe. I have yet to hear a scientifically satisfactory explanation for anything other than "the choices we make are a necessary consequence" and "the choices we make are an arbitrary consequence"; every explanation I've heard offered involves an appeal to something beyond the material world that influences the material world but is somehow beyond any influence, an uncaused causer, which is beyond scientific falsifiability. It is essentially mysticism.

That's not to say that choices aren't meaningful or that people don't make choices, it's just that the choices are made in relation to and in response to all the influencing factors (external and internal) that exist. It's also not to say that responsibility doesn't exist, but rather that responsibility is a social construction which enables members of a social grouping to avoid being taken advantage of.

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Post Sunday, 27th September 2015, 19:32

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

Well, I think the point here is that free will in the sense of religion, that there are good people that make good choices that deserve good things and bad people that make bad choices and deserve bad things, is kind of a silly concept. People just do what they do, and responsibility is us just doing what we do also.

As for quantum physics, I'm not sure that it means the universe isn't determined, just that it cannot be physically determined. Could be wrong, didn't go that far in physics :/

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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 00:59

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

As far as I know, the use of probability functions (in QM) implies that the process being modelled is deterministic, much as crawl's PRNG is deterministic. Probability can't comment usefully on processes that are nondeterministic (this is a common misunderstanding of probability, that it is modelling something "random").

The fact that we're part of (entangled with at a quantum scale) the universe, and therefore can't make an observation without affecting the observation, is just a logical constraint: you can't exactly, unbiasedly observe X if you are (part of) X, and QM states that you are (part of) X for all possible X. Obviously the system continues to have a particular behaviour regardless of our inability to observe exactly what that behaviour is.

(I'm not sure what determining something in a manner other than physically would even be. It sounds like an oxymoron to me.)

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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 01:12

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

savageorange wrote: Obviously the system continues to have a particular behaviour regardless of our inability to observe exactly what that behaviour is.

How can you say anything is obvious about something you can't observe?
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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 02:44

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

savageorange wrote:
(I'm not sure what determining something in a manner other than physically would even be. It sounds like an oxymoron to me.)


Like actually measurably determined I mean. So like, given the start of the universe, if you rewind it the same things would happen again. But you can't really "determine" it in a sense since nobody can measure everything.

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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 03:29

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

Siegurt wrote:
savageorange wrote: Obviously the system continues to have a particular behaviour regardless of our inability to observe exactly what that behaviour is.

How can you say anything is obvious about something you can't observe?

That's not our situation. Our situation (as described by QM) is that we can observe, but our observation contaminates the data by an unknown but nonzero amount.

I'm also not sure what you thought I said.
I wrote
Obviously the system continues to have a particular behaviour regardless of our inability to observe exactly what that behaviour is.


And I included 'obviously' because it is a truism - it holds for all systems you can name.

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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 04:00

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

greedo wrote:
savageorange wrote:
(I'm not sure what determining something in a manner other than physically would even be. It sounds like an oxymoron to me.)


Like actually measurably determined I mean. So like, given the start of the universe, if you rewind it the same things would happen again. But you can't really "determine" it in a sense since nobody can measure everything.

You can't predict what will happen, for both practical and theoretical reasons -- but what happens is still "determined" in the sense that the physical laws and processes alone are sufficient to explain why things happened the way they did. Metaphysical concepts like "free will", "the hand of god", etc. don't add anything meaningful.

My understanding of the implications of quantum mechanics here is the same as savageorgange's, but I have a fairly unsophisticated, pop-sci knowledge of QM so there may be nuances or outright misunderstandings there.
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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 04:18

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

savageorange wrote:Our situation (as described by QM) is that we can observe, but our observation contaminates the data by an unknown but nonzero amount.

I don't think that is an accurate assessment of what quantum mechanics describes.

As to the relationship of the quantum realm to the present discussion, here are a few recent papers that I think shed light on the matter. (I didn't go looking for these just for the thread, but I had already collected these among many others in a previous spate of book research and footnote follow-ups. I think they are germane to the scientific aspect of the discussion, since this is kind of where the pros are at these days.)

Anthony Aguirre, Max Tegmark
Born in an Infinite Universe: a Cosmological Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
12 Jun 2012, http://arxiv.org/abs/1008.1066v2

Murray Gell-Mann, James B. Hartle
Adaptive Coarse Graining, Environment, Strong Decoherence, and Quasiclassical Realms
28 Dec 2013, http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.7454v1

Max Tegmark
Consciousness as a State of Matter
18 Mar 2015, http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.1219v3

Enjoy.

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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 05:36

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

Even better, after following Tegmark back through the influence of Tononi to this review of the source:

Phil Maguire, Philippe Moser, Rebecca Maguire, Virgil Griffith
Is Consciousness Computable? Quantifying Integrated Information Using Algorithmic Information Theory
Thu, 1 May 2014, http://arxiv.org/abs/1405.0126

Short, and not overly difficult.

But this is information theoretical, not quantum mechanical, so whatever.

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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 06:57

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

Aule wrote:Do you know why you must sleep, and dream?
search for "elf" on bing images

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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 17:41

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

duvessa wrote:search for "elf" on bing images

Will Ferrell?

Oh, I get it! Free images of Will Ferrell dressed as an elf = free will.

:lol:

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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 20:56

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

duvessa wrote:bing images

you know, i've seen a lot of people accuse you of trolling over the years, but this really takes the cake
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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 22:21

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

tedric wrote:
duvessa wrote:bing images

you know, i've seen a lot of people accuse you of trolling over the years, but this really takes the cake
it gives you sexier elves than google, is all

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Post Monday, 28th September 2015, 22:30

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

I had to google bing.








Not really, but almost.
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Post Tuesday, 29th September 2015, 01:02

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

I haven't smoked pot in a while, but I'm not sure I can smoke enough pot to make this seem interesting.

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Post Saturday, 3rd October 2015, 20:45

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

I'm not sure what pot has to do with any of it, or why you felt the need to take a dump on a topic others were obviously interested in, but I'm glad this discussion happened because it has led me to some very interesting research to read.

An information integration theory of consciousness

Giulio Tononi seems to be a heavyweight in this field, although a reading of the references reveals a lot of ongoing research in along these lines. I find the time element of consciousness to be particularly fascinating, and I suspect consciousness exists at longer timescales for even larger integrated systems.

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Post Saturday, 3rd October 2015, 21:50

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

Aule wrote:I'm not sure what pot has to do with any of it, or why you felt the need to take a dump on a topic others were obviously interested in
where would you take a dump, if not in the toilet?

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Post Saturday, 3rd October 2015, 23:52

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

duvessa wrote:where would you take a dump, if not in the toilet?

Obviously just anywhere, and then call it a toilet. While giggling,

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Post Sunday, 4th October 2015, 00:03

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

Well, at the end of the day free will discussions are pretty uninteresting.

Case: free will doesn't exist: Okay then who cares? We do shit.
Case: Free will exists: All philosophers have pointed out that this means there's just some element of randomness. I.e. Shit happens.

Meh.

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Post Sunday, 4th October 2015, 00:15

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

greedo wrote:free will doesn't exist: Okay then who cares? We do shit.

well, as pointed out in the OP video this has some implications for the criminal justice system

makes no sense punishing criminals, makes sense containing them though

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Post Sunday, 4th October 2015, 00:18

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

Well yeah, but my point is, it doesn't really matter even then, since it's not like we can control whether we would punish or contain them in the first place. We're just going to do it anyways. So who cares :/
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Post Sunday, 4th October 2015, 00:33

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

greedo wrote:Well, at the end of the day free will discussions are pretty uninteresting.
Then again, at the end of the day, everything is pretty uninteresting.

Sar wrote:makes no sense punishing criminals, makes sense containing them though
Unless the fear of punishment keeps someone from making a crime.
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Post Sunday, 4th October 2015, 20:46

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

greedo wrote:Well yeah, but my point is, it doesn't really matter even then, since it's not like we can control whether we would punish or contain them in the first place. We're just going to do it anyways. So who cares :/

I think you have confused "lack of free will" with "lack of anything ever changing". It's meaningless to talk about whether "we" can "control" the things we do, but it's also pretty obvious that novel combinations of ideas (i.e. symbols, words) do actually play a causal role in our behavior. So discussing this stuff is still important at a societal level, even when the bunk-itude of "free will" becomes a subject in debates that are conducted by people without free will, about their own lack of free will.
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Post Sunday, 4th October 2015, 21:15

Re: You don't choose the character you like, and I can prove

ThreeInvisibleDucks wrote:
Sprucery wrote:But I already think that there is no such thing as free will. There's an illusion of it, and that is enough.

Well, so it's a bit embarassing for me to root it then. You'd still well like Sam's position however, it's very succintly put. Is that a word?


It is a word, but I'm not sure it applies if it takes him an hour to state his point.

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