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47243Re: Freedom versus determinism

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  • Herman B. Triplegood
    Mar 1, 2009
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      Tom:

      We all wish that were true. We want to have our cake and eat it too.
      There's two. With some ice cream. That's three.

      But just look at the predicament that physics, the paragon of
      determinism, has got itself into. The Heisenberg Uncertainty
      Principle. Relativity. The Big Bang.

      The whole enterprise is based upon an unquestioned faith in the
      Principle of Sufficient Reason. The possibility of the indefinite
      causal explanatory regress. A deterministic regress. So we have
      nitpicked for a while about whether or not that regress is actually
      infinite, and have settled, more or less, for the more indefinite
      indefinite regress.

      But it does not matter that we quibble over whether it is infinite or
      indefinite. The pickle remains the same. And we are in it.

      It all hinges on the assumption that a next step in the regress is
      always, at least theoretically, possible. But it isn't even factually
      possible. Physics has hit at least three brick walls within the past
      one hundred years. Brick walls that demonstrate that the next step in
      the regress isn't always possible. It is, indeed, factually
      impossible, in at least those three cases.

      What that means, in a nutshell, is that the Principle of Sufficient
      Reason cannot be a "principle" at all. It is merely a heuristic. A
      heuristic that ultimately breaks down and fails to explain anything.
      Anything at all. And the points at which it breaks down are in
      physics, the supposedly hard core science, with all of its fancy
      mathematics.

      Physics tries to give us a "complete" explanation of the following
      three things:

      1. The ultimate nature of matter,
      2. The nature of space and time,

      and

      3. The very origin of the universe itself.

      But it can't give us "complete" explanations of any of those things.
      Only theories; i.e., only hypotheses. And the so-called "principles"
      upon which those hypotheses are founded, causality, determinism, are
      also just "hypotheses."

      How can the determinist find any "solace" in all of that?

      If a Principle of Sufficient Reason isn't universally applicable, it
      isn't a principle. Therefore, it cannot be a sufficient reason for
      belief in determinism. The whole enterprise of "knowing it all" in
      effect pulls the rug right out from underneath itself.

      Hb3g

      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "devogney" <tsmith17_midsouth1@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > I recall a few weeks or so ago the question of freedom versus
      > determinism was being discussed here. Someone said that you
      couldn't
      > have it both ways. I believe we are free to have it both ways. I
      > believe it is empowering to be able to have more than one paradigm
      > through which to perceive life. I think that for some endeavors
      > determisism can be a paradigm that allows us to perceive directions
      and
      > progressions.Whereas in many other areas of life, the paradigm of
      > freedom is a more empowering mode. I understand in quantum physics,
      > that in one mode the universe can be seen as one energy wave, and
      in
      > another mode it is seen as particles.
      >
      > I believe the freedom to have things both ways, or maybe even three
      or
      > four ways is very much a part of the evolution of human freedom
      itself.
      > As the nation state gained more authority over the individual minds
      of
      > humans, monotheism repaced polytheism and there was now only one
      way.
      > The penalty for heresy of course was burning at the steak in this
      life,
      > and burning in hell afterward for all eternity.
      >
      > Tom
      >
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