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Re: Freedom versus determinism

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  • louise
    This post is totally off-topic. From past experience, all questions are answered in self-referential manner, as though only forms of existential enquiry
    Message 1 of 9 , Mar 1, 2009
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      This post is totally off-topic. From past experience, all questions
      are answered in self-referential manner, as though only forms of
      existential enquiry approved by Chris Lofting himself will receive any
      attention. Persistent enquiry will yield to loss of surface aplomb
      and retreat to juvenile mockery. All of this should not go unnoticed.
      The general habit of thought is cultic and subtly (for those who are
      attracted by technocratic expression) subversive of humane values.
      That is, what may please some may easily damage others. This is
      evidently characteristic of institutional religions and sects in
      general, which is why open enquiry and intelligent satire is a
      desirable part of a free society. I maintain, however, that there is
      very little understanding, in mainstream Western cultures, of the
      major religious traditions, and that this accounts for the frequent
      failures of comprehension when 'believers' debate with 'sceptics' or
      'atheists'. Courtesy is not a superficial social practice. It has
      evolved over long centuries of conflict and the hurt that arises from
      conflict. Feelings are important, even though it may not be possible
      in many cases to respect the arguments of those with different
      beliefs. The complexity and tension of awareness involved is
      desirable. It is part of civilised living.

      Louise


      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "chris lofting" <lofting@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      >
      > > -----Original Message-----
      > > From: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      > > [mailto:existlist@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of devogney
      > > Sent: Sunday, 1 March 2009 12:38 PM
      > > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      > > Subject: [existlist] Freedom versus determinism
      > >
      > > 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.
      >
      > Sure - you can work as a particular of the species and process
      information
      > etc as a genetically-determined being OR as a singular being, 'free'
      to make
      > choices (to a degree, your singular being is always operating WITHIN the
      > bounds set by the biology).
      >
      > Consider consciousness as an agent of mediation in LOCAL contexts
      and that
      > includes serving as a 'randomiser' of the set of behaviours
      available; as
      > such consciousness can let you escape false reasoning by being
      intentionally
      > 'irrational'. We can interpret this as consciousness manifesting
      Darwin's
      > mutation now internalised and working 24/7.
      >
      > > 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.
      > >
      >
      > This is a product of methodology where we cover precision vs
      approximation
      > in the context of acts of mediation. As such HOW you observe
      determines WHAT
      > you observe. Nothing magical about that once you understand the
      dynamics of
      > meaning derivation in the presence of indeterminacy. The wave/particle
      > duality issue is built-in to our methods of processing information
      and so
      > will appear in experiments that touch on such in high precision
      across the
      > microcosm, mesocosm, macrocosm. QM has been demanding of our
      intellects and
      > so we project all possible forms of interpretation onto our
      experiments and
      > then get surprised with the findings where such reflect more a
      failure to
      > understand our methodology in processing information.
      >
      > > 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.
      >
      > ? consciousness actually LIMITS freedom buy reducing the degrees of
      freedom
      > available - it serves to suppress/repress and as such covers top-down
      > dynamics of regulation to aid in making the 'best fit' choices.
      Since the
      > brain can only deal with 7+/-2 concepts at the same time, so as we work
      > through choices we drop some to pick up others - given lots of
      others this
      > can be experienced consciously as lots of choices being available -
      and if
      > one is ignorant of unconscious activity then a spanner can be thrown
      into
      > the works very quickly.
      >
      > Our more differentiating parts of the brain work of probabilistic
      thinking,
      > subjective probabilities (Bayesian statistics), high risk, partials
      focus,
      > anti-symmetric. The subjectivity sorts the set of posssibles into a
      > dimension from 'best fit' to 'worst fit'. Objectivity is useful to
      aid in
      > refining the subjectivity and so making the dimension better fit
      'reality as
      > is'.
      >
      > The more choices in the set of probabilities means we exceed that 7+/-2
      > limit. We are naturally attracted to the 'best fit' end of the
      dimension and
      > so work from there 'down'. The point is that ALL of the dimension
      applies to
      > a moment such that elements of the 'worst fit' can still contribute in a
      > small way to the WHOLE experience and we can, do, often miss this
      (unless
      > one is naturally anxious and so uses imagination to try and cover all
      > possibilities - but this can lead to a failure to act!)
      >
      > Chris
      > http://members.iimetro.com.au/~lofting/myweb/AbstractDomain.html
      >
    • jimstuart51
      Tom, You write: 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
      Message 2 of 9 , Mar 1, 2009
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        Tom,

        You write:

        "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 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."

        I don't think freedom includes the freedom to believe in
        contradictions. If someone said to me he believed on Sundays that God
        existed, but on the other six days of the week he was an atheist, I
        would not admire his freedom to believe in two paradigms, rather I
        would think he was an idiot.

        Whilst there may be ingenious ways of thinking in which a person
        could both believe in determinism and human freedom, the onus is on
        that person to spell out these ingenious ways.

        The way I think of it is this: The human brain is just as much a part
        of nature as the human liver, my pet cat, and my favourite eucalyptus
        tree. If so, then the human brain obeys the deterministic laws of
        nature. Given this, how am I anything other than a fully determined
        animal without any genuine freedom?

        Jim
      • Herman B. Triplegood
        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
        Message 3 of 9 , 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
          >
        • mary.josie59
          We must carefully disambiguate causality from its close relatives certainty, determinism, necessity, and predictability. We have causality in the world, in the
          Message 4 of 9 , Mar 1, 2009
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            We must carefully disambiguate causality from its close relatives
            certainty, determinism, necessity, and predictability.

            We have causality in the world, in the sense that for every event we
            can always find preceding events that contributed to the outcome. But
            some events involve an irreducible randomness or chance. They are
            unpredictable, uncertain, and indeterministic. We can describe such
            events with the ancient concept of the uncaused cause or causa sui.

            Although almost all philosophers became language philosophers in the
            twentieth century, they have been notoriously sloppy with definitions
            of philosophical terminology. They have been especially confused when
            they attempt to prove things with logic and language about the world.

            For example, they like to say that if determinism is false,
            indeterminism is true. This is of course logically correct. Strict
            causal determinism with a causal chain of necessary events back to an
            Aristotelian first cause is indeed false, and modern philosophers know
            it, though most hold out hope that the quantum mechanical basis of
            such indeterminism will be disproved someday and declare themselves
            agnostic.

            These agnostic philosophers go on to argue that the principle of
            bivalence requires that since determinism and indeterminism are
            logical contradictories, only one of them can be true. The law of the
            excluded middle allows no third possibility. Now since neither
            determinism nor indeterminism allow the kind of free will that
            supports moral responsibility, they claim that free will is
            unintelligible or an illusion. This is the standard argument against
            free will.

            Finally, despite their claim that professional philosophers are better
            equipped than scientists to make conceptual distinctions and evaluate
            the cogency of arguments, they have confounded the concepts of "free"
            and "will" into the muddled term "free will" despite the clear
            warnings from John Locke that this would lead to confusion. Locke said
            very clearly, as had some ancients like Lucretius, it is not the will
            that is free (in the sense of undetermined), it is the mind.

            The practical empirical situation is much more complex than such
            simple black and white logical linguistic thinking can comprehend.
            Despite quantum uncertainty, there is clearly adequate determinism in
            the world, enough to permit the near-perfect predictions of celestial
            motions, and good enough to send men to the moon and back. But this
            "near" (Honderich) or "almost" (Fischer) determinism is neither
            absolute nor required in any way by logical necessity, as Aristotle
            himself first argued against the determinist atomists.

            The core idea of causality is closely related to the idea of
            determinism. But we can have causality without determinism. We call it
            "soft" causality. The departure from strict causality is very slight
            compared to the miraculous ideas usually associated with the "causa
            sui" (self-caused cause) of the ancients.

            Causality is a rhetorical tool, It is ad hoc reasoning to identify
            preceding events that contributed to a current event. We can always
            find a reason (λόγος) or reasons for events, leading to the ancient
            dictum "every event has a cause."

            And certainty, necessity, and predictability are all closely related
            to determinism, but they have their main applicability in slightly
            different fields - mathematics, logic, and physics - which gives rise
            to ambiguity when used outside those fields.

            Certainty is a powerful idea that has mesmerized philosophers, and
            especially religious leaders, throughout the ages. Belief in absolute
            and certain truth has all too often justified the most inhumane
            behavior toward those not sharing that truth and that belief.

            Certainty is the case of a mathematical probability equal to one.

            Necessity is often opposed to chance. In a necessary world there is no
            chance. Everything that happens is necessitated. In our real physical
            world nothing is necessary. There is nothing logically true of the world.

            Necessity is just a useful tool as part of our deductive reasoning in
            logic, where chance is theoretically non-existent.

            Predictability is a characteristic of law-governed phenomena. When the
            laws are expressible as mathematical functions of time, knowledge of
            the initial conditions at some time allows us to predict the
            conditions at all later (and retrospectively earlier) times.

            Predictability in like circumstances is the key to the
            hypothetical-deductive method of experimental science.

            Excerpt from:
            http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/disambiguation.html

            Mary
          • mary.josie59
            In existentialist terms, choice carries moral/ethical consequences. Responsibility & freedom underpinnings and all that, according to Sartre et al. We often
            Message 5 of 9 , Mar 1, 2009
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              In existentialist terms, choice carries moral/ethical consequences.
              Responsibility & freedom underpinnings and all that, according to
              Sartre et al. We often feel we could not act otherwise, when we know
              that we could have. We actually had a choice. We didn't want to live
              with the consequences. There's nothing wrong with that. Some choose
              differently, and that's where others want to tell us, we chose
              wrongly. The existential way is solitary, because we can't, don't
              need, or want to justify our decisions. Freedom and free will are not
              the same. Determinism and fate are not the same. We don't have to love
              our mistakes, or our intentions, but they do have consequences which
              are never as simple or obvious as the laws of physics.

              Mary
            • nr_rajkumar
              I have just finished a bit of a heavy reading of some of the back references left by Chris Lofting on the web.  I am now inclined to think of the
              Message 6 of 9 , Mar 3, 2009
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                I have just finished a bit of a heavy reading of some of the back references left by Chris Lofting on the web.  I am now inclined to think of the possibilities as immense but the limited capability stands in the way of refining, sharpening the processes and procedures to come to grips with precise reality of the moment and retain the focus - whether it is "out there" or "in here" - and allow a meaningful relationship to develop  between them. 
                 
                The thermodynamic time and space giving way to light and precision, the complexities, the oscillations, the yin/yang, A/Not A, the context, metaphors, the expressions they all narrow down to participation with involvement and detachment as well as it comes nearer home and to a single chain of unbroken consciousness, interpretations and potential possibilities. There is so much happening in the objective world, the subjective world and the subjective self that go under the label of  acceptance and rejection and selection and treatment - the choice available to the individual self in search of variety and certainty, in the face of the ordering and dialogue that is taking place as expression of cause and effect chain/relationship to be meaningful implies that devices representing the phenomenon of ordering, control and performance must share linear,  cohesive or purposeful or opposite relationships.
                 
                NRR
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 


                --- On Sun, 3/1/09, chris lofting <lofting@...> wrote:


                From: chris lofting <lofting@...>
                Subject: RE: [existlist] Freedom versus determinism
                To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                Date: Sunday, March 1, 2009, 7:50 AM








                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: existlist@yahoogrou ps.com
                > [mailto:existlist@yahoogrou ps.com] On Behalf Of devogney
                > Sent: Sunday, 1 March 2009 12:38 PM
                > To: existlist@yahoogrou ps.com
                > Subject: [existlist] Freedom versus determinism
                >
                > 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.

                Sure - you can work as a particular of the species and process information
                etc as a genetically- determined being OR as a singular being, 'free' to make
                choices (to a degree, your singular being is always operating WITHIN the
                bounds set by the biology).

                Consider consciousness as an agent of mediation in LOCAL contexts and that
                includes serving as a 'randomiser' of the set of behaviours available; as
                such consciousness can let you escape false reasoning by being intentionally
                'irrational' . We can interpret this as consciousness manifesting Darwin's
                mutation now internalised and working 24/7.

                > 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.
                >

                This is a product of methodology where we cover precision vs approximation
                in the context of acts of mediation. As such HOW you observe determines WHAT
                you observe. Nothing magical about that once you understand the dynamics of
                meaning derivation in the presence of indeterminacy. The wave/particle
                duality issue is built-in to our methods of processing information and so
                will appear in experiments that touch on such in high precision across the
                microcosm, mesocosm, macrocosm. QM has been demanding of our intellects and
                so we project all possible forms of interpretation onto our experiments and
                then get surprised with the findings where such reflect more a failure to
                understand our methodology in processing information.

                > 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.

                ? consciousness actually LIMITS freedom buy reducing the degrees of freedom
                available - it serves to suppress/repress and as such covers top-down
                dynamics of regulation to aid in making the 'best fit' choices. Since the
                brain can only deal with 7+/-2 concepts at the same time, so as we work
                through choices we drop some to pick up others - given lots of others this
                can be experienced consciously as lots of choices being available - and if
                one is ignorant of unconscious activity then a spanner can be thrown into
                the works very quickly.

                Our more differentiating parts of the brain work of probabilistic thinking,
                subjective probabilities (Bayesian statistics), high risk, partials focus,
                anti-symmetric. The subjectivity sorts the set of posssibles into a
                dimension from 'best fit' to 'worst fit'. Objectivity is useful to aid in
                refining the subjectivity and so making the dimension better fit 'reality as
                is'.

                The more choices in the set of probabilities means we exceed that 7+/-2
                limit. We are naturally attracted to the 'best fit' end of the dimension and
                so work from there 'down'. The point is that ALL of the dimension applies to
                a moment such that elements of the 'worst fit' can still contribute in a
                small way to the WHOLE experience and we can, do, often miss this (unless
                one is naturally anxious and so uses imagination to try and cover all
                possibilities - but this can lead to a failure to act!)

                Chris
                http://members. iimetro.com. au/~lofting/ myweb/AbstractDo main.html
















                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • louise
                Mary, Thanks for your research work and selection. It is a clarifying excerpt, and a useful site in general. Good to know you re here to help steady the
                Message 7 of 9 , Mar 3, 2009
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                  Mary,

                  Thanks for your research work and selection. It is a clarifying
                  excerpt, and a useful site in general. Good to know you're here to
                  help steady the ship, as once again the list weathers a storm.

                  Louise

                  --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "mary.josie59" <mary.josie59@...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  > We must carefully disambiguate causality from its close relatives
                  > certainty, determinism, necessity, and predictability.
                  >
                  > We have causality in the world, in the sense that for every event
                  we
                  > can always find preceding events that contributed to the outcome.
                  But
                  > some events involve an irreducible randomness or chance. They are
                  > unpredictable, uncertain, and indeterministic. We can describe such
                  > events with the ancient concept of the uncaused cause or causa sui.
                  >
                  > Although almost all philosophers became language philosophers in the
                  > twentieth century, they have been notoriously sloppy with
                  definitions
                  > of philosophical terminology. They have been especially confused
                  when
                  > they attempt to prove things with logic and language about the
                  world.
                  >
                  > For example, they like to say that if determinism is false,
                  > indeterminism is true. This is of course logically correct. Strict
                  > causal determinism with a causal chain of necessary events back to
                  an
                  > Aristotelian first cause is indeed false, and modern philosophers
                  know
                  > it, though most hold out hope that the quantum mechanical basis of
                  > such indeterminism will be disproved someday and declare themselves
                  > agnostic.
                  >
                  > These agnostic philosophers go on to argue that the principle of
                  > bivalence requires that since determinism and indeterminism are
                  > logical contradictories, only one of them can be true. The law of
                  the
                  > excluded middle allows no third possibility. Now since neither
                  > determinism nor indeterminism allow the kind of free will that
                  > supports moral responsibility, they claim that free will is
                  > unintelligible or an illusion. This is the standard argument against
                  > free will.
                  >
                  > Finally, despite their claim that professional philosophers are
                  better
                  > equipped than scientists to make conceptual distinctions and
                  evaluate
                  > the cogency of arguments, they have confounded the concepts
                  of "free"
                  > and "will" into the muddled term "free will" despite the clear
                  > warnings from John Locke that this would lead to confusion. Locke
                  said
                  > very clearly, as had some ancients like Lucretius, it is not the
                  will
                  > that is free (in the sense of undetermined), it is the mind.
                  >
                  > The practical empirical situation is much more complex than such
                  > simple black and white logical linguistic thinking can comprehend.
                  > Despite quantum uncertainty, there is clearly adequate determinism
                  in
                  > the world, enough to permit the near-perfect predictions of
                  celestial
                  > motions, and good enough to send men to the moon and back. But this
                  > "near" (Honderich) or "almost" (Fischer) determinism is neither
                  > absolute nor required in any way by logical necessity, as Aristotle
                  > himself first argued against the determinist atomists.
                  >
                  > The core idea of causality is closely related to the idea of
                  > determinism. But we can have causality without determinism. We call
                  it
                  > "soft" causality. The departure from strict causality is very slight
                  > compared to the miraculous ideas usually associated with the "causa
                  > sui" (self-caused cause) of the ancients.
                  >
                  > Causality is a rhetorical tool, It is ad hoc reasoning to identify
                  > preceding events that contributed to a current event. We can always
                  > find a reason (λόγος) or reasons for
                  events, leading to the ancient
                  > dictum "every event has a cause."
                  >
                  > And certainty, necessity, and predictability are all closely related
                  > to determinism, but they have their main applicability in slightly
                  > different fields - mathematics, logic, and physics - which gives
                  rise
                  > to ambiguity when used outside those fields.
                  >
                  > Certainty is a powerful idea that has mesmerized philosophers, and
                  > especially religious leaders, throughout the ages. Belief in
                  absolute
                  > and certain truth has all too often justified the most inhumane
                  > behavior toward those not sharing that truth and that belief.
                  >
                  > Certainty is the case of a mathematical probability equal to one.
                  >
                  > Necessity is often opposed to chance. In a necessary world there is
                  no
                  > chance. Everything that happens is necessitated. In our real
                  physical
                  > world nothing is necessary. There is nothing logically true of the
                  world.
                  >
                  > Necessity is just a useful tool as part of our deductive reasoning
                  in
                  > logic, where chance is theoretically non-existent.
                  >
                  > Predictability is a characteristic of law-governed phenomena. When
                  the
                  > laws are expressible as mathematical functions of time, knowledge of
                  > the initial conditions at some time allows us to predict the
                  > conditions at all later (and retrospectively earlier) times.
                  >
                  > Predictability in like circumstances is the key to the
                  > hypothetical-deductive method of experimental science.
                  >
                  > Excerpt from:
                  > http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/disambiguation.html
                  >
                  > Mary
                  >
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