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RE: [stoics] Re: preferred & rejected indifferents (Proof of Free Will?)

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  • R&F Bamford
    Ah... Thank you for the translation, Minervalis. Now I can respond. With regard to all things in the physical universe
    Message 1 of 17 , May 1, 2002
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      <<<"out of nothing, nothing is".>>>

      Ah... Thank you for the translation, Minervalis. Now I can respond.

      With regard to all things in the physical universe (i.e. all things
      consisting of matter and energy), I agree with this completely. Simply put,
      something cannot come from nothing. All physical things and events have
      some set of causes, no matter how complex. Even our minds are thus caused,
      both by the physics of brain chemistry and the sum total of our experiences.
      This would seem to make the concept of free will an impossibility, because
      any perceived act of free will would merely be the end result of a chain of
      prior events. However, I hold that whenever and wherever an intelligent,
      self-aware consciousness arises, it is not necessarily subject to this law.
      (Even though it may, in fact, be subject to it 99.9999999+% of the time.) I
      cannot believe that the human mind is merely the sum total result of a
      complex web of cause and effect.

      I think of the human mind like a painting. A painting can be reductively
      explained by such things as the color, texture and chemistry of the paint,
      the texture of the canvas, the size and direction of the brush strokes, the
      conditions (lighting, etc.) while it was painted, not to mention the
      abilities and mindset of the painter him/herself. But the painting is still
      more than all of this. It has a meaning that is more than the sum total of
      its physical parts and the sum total of all the causations of those parts.
      So, too, is any intelligent consciousness more than the sum total of its
      physical parts and causations. Consciousness begets meaning, and meaning
      does not exist anywhere else in nature except in consciousness. Thus, I
      argue that consciousness 'transcends' physical reality, and in turn
      transcends the otherwise absolute rules of reductive cause and effect. I
      don't mean to imply that there is anything mystical about all this. It
      simply is what it is.

      The reason I believe this is primarily intuitive. I 'feel' like I have free
      will in any choice I make. For me, to believe otherwise is unthinkable,
      because it denies any meaning to my life whatsoever. My life would be just
      a chain of events over which I have no control, even though I believe I have
      control. My consciousness would be like the froth ridding atop an ocean
      wave, mistakenly believing it is controlling the wave when it is merely
      along for the ride. Everything in my being cries out that this is not so.
      My self-aware consciousness is as real to me as the keyboard upon which I
      type this. Indeed, the reality of my self-ware consciousness is the central
      nexus of everything else I perceive as real. To deny the reality of my
      consciousness is to deny everything around me that I believe is real. This
      leads down the path of absurdity and madness.

      Indeed, I might go so far as to argue that volition, the very capacity of
      free will, is the best and perhaps even only definition of intelligent
      consciousness, for without the capacity for true choice (free will), there
      is no meaning, and in turn, no true consciousness. Without free will,
      consciousness would be only an illusion. But if consciousness is an
      illusion, so too then are all things we think of as reality just an illusion
      also. But if everything, both ourselves and everything we see around us is
      an illusion, does not illusion equal reality? What is the difference?
      Illusion and reality just become interchangeable names for our perception of
      ourselves and what we see around us. It dissolves into a pointless circular
      argument.

      I don't believe that this view violates the laws of causality, because I
      argue intelligent consciousness is neither an event nor a physical thing in
      the traditional sense. As per my above painting analogy, it is more than
      just the end product of a complex chain of previous events, like dumb
      billiard balls slamming into each other. While an intelligent consciousness
      is certainly caused by physical things and events (brain chemistry and
      experiences), it is not necessarily controlled or determined by those causal
      things and events. Consciousness can become an agent of cause in itself,
      but not necessarily directly tied to the causes that created it. In effect,
      intelligent consciousness is the 'wild card' of nature. It both (A) is
      caused by previous events, and (B) causes subsequent events, but there is
      not necessarily a direct causal connection between A and B, because
      consciousness is more than just the sum total of all the A's. There MAY be
      a direct connection, and perhaps there is more often than not, but it is not
      necessarily so.

      However, I realize that neither my feelings nor my analogies are enough to
      'prove' the existence of free will, so I have spent the day contemplating
      the matter to see if I could come up with a rational proof. I eventually
      came to this conclusion: The proof of the existence of free will is that it
      can exist and operate in the absence of distinguishing stimuli. To
      illustrate...

      Imagine yourself standing in center of a perfectly round, featureless room.
      The ceiling, floor and wall are uniformly the same white color. There are
      no visible doors, windows or anything else. There is a single light source
      directly over your head that illuminates the room equally in all directions.
      On the floor, set around you in a perfect circle, are 12 identical black
      spheres, equidistant from each other. All the spheres are absolutely
      identical in every possible way. Your task is simply to select one of the
      spheres; any sphere you wish. All you have to do is point to it and say
      'That one.' I don't think any of us would have any problem doing that.

      But how is this possible without free will? There are no differences
      between any of the spheres to affect our choice, consciously or
      unconsciously, of which to choose. There is nothing in our brain chemistry
      nor in our experiences that can be called upon to prefer one sphere over the
      other eleven. Yet we CAN easily select one at will. I argue that without
      free will, this would not be possible.

      Now I suppose that a counterargument to this will be that the selection of
      one of the twelve spheres is merely a random, statistical event; no
      different than if you had tossed a pair of dice and observed which number of
      one through twelve resulted. But although we can toss a set of dice, we
      cannot control what number comes up. Tossing a set of dice is a true random
      event. We are an indirect cause of a number coming up, because we tossed
      the dice, but we do not control which number comes up. But when we choose
      one of the spheres, we do so deliberately. We are the direct and only cause
      of the choosing of a particular sphere. In the absence of differentiating
      stimuli that might consciously or unconsciously influence our decision, I
      cannot see how this is possible, except as an act of free will.

      I suppose a response to this might be "Well Rick, all you've really done is
      roll the dice inside your head and are making an internal random statistical
      choice, even though you may not be consciously aware of it." But even if
      that is true, my resulting choice of a sphere is STILL independent of any
      previous, external causes and is thus no different from a true act of free
      will.

      I am not so vain as to presume that I am the first person in the history of
      philosophy to come up with this, so if anyone knows any counterarguments, or
      can think of their own, please enlighten me. Thanks.

      LWH,
      -Rick Bamford

      -----Original Message-----
      From: dchave@... [mailto:dchave@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 10:45 PM
      To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [stoics] Re: preferred and rejected indifferents



      Quoting R&F Bamford <bamford@...>:

      > Hi Minervalis,
      >
      > I cannot respond to your first statement, as I do not understand it.
      > Translation, please.

      "out of nothing, nothing is".
      >
      > Regarding your second statement, I am not sure I understand it either.
      > You
      > seem to be comparing the existence of the sun to the existence of gods.
      > But
      > anyone with functioning eyes can see the sun. Even blind people can
      > feel
      > its warmth.

      But the totality of the sun isnt percieved by looking at it, which the
      human
      eye has difficulty with. We can say the sun is this or that, but we cannot
      change it for better or worse....it gives life, but we can alter our contact
      with it(staying indoors, sunglasses, sleeping during daylight),...but easily
      we
      can say the sun is golden or yellow, or it has a solid core....and so on; we
      can say somethings about it that are obvious, but other things are not so
      easily discovered. So in prescibing certain proofs neccessary for our
      validation of the gods, does not satisfy all parameters of what is a god.
      Like
      the sun can be known without it's form being obvious(in the case of the
      blind)...it is known by it's effects.....so too with the gods. The question
      is
      what are the effects of the gods?


      But there are a great many people, myself among them, who
      > can
      > detect no evidence of gods whatsoever, so I don't see the connection.
      > Perhaps I am not understanding what you meant. Please feel free to
      > clarify.
      > However, I do agree which what you say about it being impossible to
      > prove
      > the non-existence of gods. It is very difficult to prove any negative.
      > That is why I am an agnostic with regard to my knowledge of gods. But I
      > do
      > not believe in them.
      >
      We moderns, often are polluted by modern monotheist conceptions of what
      constitutes diety.... And easily disproving this "puppet" god, we than apply
      this to other gods. Partly this puppet idea comes from the miraculous
      fictions
      that are imbedded in popular belief. And so following the lead of the blind
      we
      too are let into a dark cave. A belief in the gods is not incompatible with
      modern stoicism .....in my view. The gods do exist, but are not harmed by
      any
      belief i might have toward their existence. But just as one may behave
      stoicly
      and not be aware that it is possible to enhance this by practice, that
      is...to
      become a stoic, to adopt it, to seek to know it. So with the ideas of the
      gods,
      that if i know that i cannot harm them by my disbelief, than can i benefit
      from
      a belief in them? That is holding them dear, and having thankfulness for
      every
      thing. Minervalis





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    • Fortunatus
      Hello, As usual, I am pressed for time. So, as usual, this will be briefer than I would prefer. ... Yes, there are. Some are to my left and some are to my
      Message 2 of 17 , May 1, 2002
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        Hello,

        As usual, I am pressed for time. So, as usual, this will be briefer
        than I would prefer.

        > Imagine yourself standing in center of a perfectly round, featureless room.
        > ...
        > On the floor, set around you in a perfect circle, are 12 identical black
        > spheres, equidistant from each other. All the spheres are absolutely
        > identical in every possible way. Your task is simply to select one of the
        > spheres; any sphere you wish. All you have to do is point to it and say
        > 'That one.' I don't think any of us would have any problem doing that.
        >
        > But how is this possible without free will? There are no differences
        > between any of the spheres to affect our choice, consciously or
        > unconsciously, of which to choose.

        Yes, there are. Some are to my left and some are to my right. I am
        very unlikely to choose one to my rear. In other words, you can't avoid
        the observer's paradox; the very fact of a human being's presence
        disturbs the balance and introduces a chain of determining factors.

        > There is nothing in our brain chemistry nor in our experiences that can be
        > called upon to prefer one sphere over the other eleven. Yet we CAN easily
        > select one at will. I argue that without free will, this would not be
        > possible.

        Except, of course, that I am right handed, and therefore more likely to
        choose one to my right. Also, I must face a given direction, thereby
        probably removing roughly half the spheres from the competition. I am
        also not entering the experiment without previous experiences that might
        determine which sphere I choose.

        Note that the Enigma Machine's (of WWII fame) cipher was broken because
        the German operators would not choose truly random seed words to set the
        day's code--despite the fact that they were (supposedly) free to choose
        any word they wanted.

        > But although we can toss a set of dice, we cannot control what number
        > comes up. Tossing a set of dice is a true random event.

        Butterfly wings and sneezes... The hard determinist (me, for instance)
        would argue that there is no true random event. The appearance of
        randomness does not prove randomness.

        (I fully admit that hard determinism is equally unprovable, but maintain
        that it is more logically consistent as it does not rely on the concept
        of something that is not subject to the laws of cause and effect.)

        > I suppose a response to this might be "Well Rick, all you've really done is
        > roll the dice inside your head and are making an internal random statistical
        > choice, even though you may not be consciously aware of it."

        No. I would say that all you've really done is pick a sphere based upon
        your predilictions, which are in turn due to your genetics and
        experiences. To be truly free from external causes, you would need to
        be a blank slate with no pre-programmed preferences (like handedness).
        I argue that such a thing would be incapable of choosing.

        -Conrad
        --
        Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.
        Ta i quetes Quenyanen séya vanima
      • R&F Bamford
        hmmm... Interesting. But I m sure that we could refine the experiment to filter out any such differential stimuli as left hand/right hand preference, or the
        Message 3 of 17 , May 1, 2002
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          hmmm... Interesting. But I'm sure that we could refine the experiment to
          'filter out' any such differential stimuli as left hand/right hand
          preference, or the position of you and the spheres.

          Instead of my previous example, let's say you're on a space station with
          zero gravity, floating in the center of a perfectly spherical, featureless
          white chamber. You are slowly and randomly rotating on all three axes. You
          have been given a drug that numbs and immobilizes your entire body but
          leaves your mind and senses above the neck normal. All around you, halfway
          between you and the wall of the chamber, are dozens of the black spheres,
          all set equidistant from each other, and are likewise slowly and randomly
          rotating in unison on all three axes relative to the chamber's center, where
          you are floating. The lighting is uniform. There is not airflow.
          Everything is absolutely the same in all directions. There is absolutely no
          difference between any of the moving spheres. Their position in relation to
          you are constantly changing due to both your random rotation and theirs.
          Yet you are still capable of choosing one sphere from the many.

          True, your head is filled with preconceptions from your life before this
          experiment, perhaps even about black spheres. But if all the spheres are
          identical, and we filter out ALL differentiating stimuli, your
          preconceptions can have no impact on choosing one of the spheres. Any
          thought you have about one of the spheres would apply equally to all. Yet,
          you can still choose one sphere. I don't see how any mere set of previous
          causations, no matter how complex, will allow you to deliberately choose
          only one sphere under such circumstances.

          LWH,
          -Rick Bamford


          -----Original Message-----
          From: Fortunatus [mailto:labienus@...]
          Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2002 6:53 PM
          To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [stoics] Re: preferred & rejected indifferents (Proof of
          Free Will?)


          Hello,

          As usual, I am pressed for time. So, as usual, this will be briefer
          than I would prefer.

          > Imagine yourself standing in center of a perfectly round, featureless
          room.
          > ...
          > On the floor, set around you in a perfect circle, are 12 identical black
          > spheres, equidistant from each other. All the spheres are absolutely
          > identical in every possible way. Your task is simply to select one of the
          > spheres; any sphere you wish. All you have to do is point to it and say
          > 'That one.' I don't think any of us would have any problem doing that.
          >
          > But how is this possible without free will? There are no differences
          > between any of the spheres to affect our choice, consciously or
          > unconsciously, of which to choose.

          Yes, there are. Some are to my left and some are to my right. I am
          very unlikely to choose one to my rear. In other words, you can't avoid
          the observer's paradox; the very fact of a human being's presence
          disturbs the balance and introduces a chain of determining factors.

          > There is nothing in our brain chemistry nor in our experiences that can be
          > called upon to prefer one sphere over the other eleven. Yet we CAN easily
          > select one at will. I argue that without free will, this would not be
          > possible.

          Except, of course, that I am right handed, and therefore more likely to
          choose one to my right. Also, I must face a given direction, thereby
          probably removing roughly half the spheres from the competition. I am
          also not entering the experiment without previous experiences that might
          determine which sphere I choose.

          Note that the Enigma Machine's (of WWII fame) cipher was broken because
          the German operators would not choose truly random seed words to set the
          day's code--despite the fact that they were (supposedly) free to choose
          any word they wanted.

          > But although we can toss a set of dice, we cannot control what number
          > comes up. Tossing a set of dice is a true random event.

          Butterfly wings and sneezes... The hard determinist (me, for instance)
          would argue that there is no true random event. The appearance of
          randomness does not prove randomness.

          (I fully admit that hard determinism is equally unprovable, but maintain
          that it is more logically consistent as it does not rely on the concept
          of something that is not subject to the laws of cause and effect.)

          > I suppose a response to this might be "Well Rick, all you've really done
          is
          > roll the dice inside your head and are making an internal random
          statistical
          > choice, even though you may not be consciously aware of it."

          No. I would say that all you've really done is pick a sphere based upon
          your predilictions, which are in turn due to your genetics and
          experiences. To be truly free from external causes, you would need to
          be a blank slate with no pre-programmed preferences (like handedness).
          I argue that such a thing would be incapable of choosing.

          -Conrad
          --
          Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.
          Ta i quetes Quenyanen séya vanima





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        • Fortunatus
          ... Even assuming that I can no longer have any sensation from my body, you still haven t removed any right-left bias I might have--though you could flash
          Message 4 of 17 , May 1, 2002
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            > True, your head is filled with preconceptions from your life before this
            > experiment, perhaps even about black spheres. But if all the spheres are
            > identical, and we filter out ALL differentiating stimuli, your
            > preconceptions can have no impact on choosing one of the spheres. Any
            > thought you have about one of the spheres would apply equally to all. Yet,
            > you can still choose one sphere. I don't see how any mere set of previous
            > causations, no matter how complex, will allow you to deliberately choose
            > only one sphere under such circumstances.

            Even assuming that I can no longer have any sensation from my body, you
            still haven't removed any right-left bias I might have--though you could
            flash identical pictures of spheres before my face to do so; it still
            won't remove causality. The movement of the spheres doesn't matter, nor
            does my movement. At the time of the choice, the spheres and my body
            are at specific positions. And, my choice is then determined by my
            predilictions and by the timing of the choice, which is itself
            determined by how long I've been in the experiment and my predilictions.
            Other determining factors exist as well--at the very least is the
            notion that I ought to choose a sphere. You still have not removed the
            causes that lead to the effect.

            And, if you do successfully remove all causes, then you will only have
            succeeded in creating an uncaused event. Without causes, there is no
            free will. If my arm randomly shoots out and points at something, then
            I have not *chosen* to point at that thing.

            Indeed, in your experiment, you are trying to reduce me to choosing a
            single sphere at random. And yet, there is a cause for that
            choice--perhaps the desire to get out of the strange environment I'm
            floating in. The time at which I make the choice is determined by my
            patience, decisiveness, and my sense of the urgency of my making a
            choice--all determined by genetics and experience. The sphere I choose
            is determined by my predilictions and which spheres are in front of me
            at the time--all determined by genetics, experiences, and my and the
            spheres' rates of spin.

            Without a cause--at the least, the desire to make a choice--no choice
            will be made. You are positing a caused yet causeless event, which is
            not logically possible. I still maintain that free will is not
            supported by logic.

            -Conrad
            --
            Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.
            Ta i quetes Quenyanen séya vanima
          • R&F Bamford
            More interesting still! I find this most stimulating, thank you for taking the time to indulge me in this matter, Conrad. Much appreciated!
            Message 5 of 17 , May 1, 2002
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              More interesting still! I find this most stimulating, thank you for taking
              the time to indulge me in this matter, Conrad. Much appreciated!

              <<< And, if you do successfully remove all causes, then you will only have
              succeeded in creating an uncaused event. >>>

              Perhaps, but what you are referring to as an uncaused event is STILL a
              choice you have made. You have still chosen one sphere from the many. The
              fact that I made you choose a sphere doesn't affect which one you choose.
              All external differential stimuli have been neutralized by the uniformity of
              the environment, and all internal preferences have been equalized by the
              uniformity of the environment. Yet you can STILL choose one sphere from the
              many. I know I could. Even if the choice we make is ultimately a mere
              statistical chance, no different than rolling imaginary dice in our brain,
              it is still free will because the ultimate choice of sphere we make is not
              determined by preexisting causes. The experiment forces you to make A
              choice, but THE choice you ultimately make is not caused by anything but
              your own conscious mind, which has been deprived of anything that might make
              the choice for it. If effect, the mind has been dragged, kicking and
              screaming, to commit an act of free will, which it is capable of, if it
              must. Removing external differential stimuli and removing internal
              preferences (via equalization) from the brain is like taking the training
              wheels off a bicycle. It is capable of standing up on its own.

              BUT... We could probably go on like this forever. I think it was Thomas
              Jefferson who once said that reasonable men could be given the same set of
              facts and yet come to different conclusions. Is the glass half empty or
              half full?

              <<< I still maintain that free will is not supported by logic. >>>

              No one respects or exalts logic more than I. Indeed, my wife often accuses
              me of being half Vulcan! But logic has its limits. It can explain nice,
              neat causal trains. We've all seen the classic syllogisms. "Socrates is a
              man... All men are mortal... Thus... yadda, yadda, yadda." But the reality
              we live in is not so black and white. It is often a fuzzy shade of gray.
              Can logic determine the exact point where the Earth's atmosphere ends and
              outer space begins? I have an apple in my hand. Logic clearly dictates it
              is an apple. I take a bite from it. Is it still logically an apple? I
              then eat the entire apple. Are the chewed-up bits in my stomach still an
              apple? What about an hour or two later? When does logic say the apple was
              no longer an apple? Thus, I am not so sure that logic can explain away
              everything in the universe. This is especially so with regard to the
              subjective and often absurd realm of consciousness, which I believe is the
              only source of meaning in the universe. Although it may seem both obvious
              and incongruous, logic can only explain things that are logical. It cannot
              explain meaning or consciousness beyond the physical or casual. While
              physical and casual things are certainly very important, I am not convinced
              it is the full story. Consciousness is separate and distinct from the
              physical universe. We know this because we can do things in our
              consciousness that cannot occur in physical reality. In our minds, we can
              imagine things that never were, and even things that can never be; things
              that defy physics. We can even write them down. I assume you have seen the
              famous devil's fork?
              <http://www.eaglehawksc.vic.edu.au/kla/art_graphics/illusion/illus7.htm>
              Of course, these fantasies are not 'real' in the physical sense, but they DO
              exist in our minds. I argue that this is proof that our minds are different
              and separate from physical reality. It is this difference that I believe
              allows consciousness to work independently of the otherwise universal web of
              physical cause and effect, and from which free will springs forth. I
              realize that this may all sound very mystical, but it is not. I am as far
              from a superstitious mystic as you will find. But at the same time, I will
              not let all my thoughts be confined by preconceived notions of what is
              logical. People once thought it was logical that the world was flat, or
              that you would die if you exceeded 30 miles per hour. Sometimes you need to
              think outside the envelope. I use the skeptical scientific method in all
              things I do. It is a wonderful tool, but if we're not careful, it can be a
              blinder.

              LWH,
              -Rick Bamford

              -----Original Message-----
              From: Fortunatus [mailto:labienus@...]
              Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2002 9:18 PM
              To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [stoics] Re: preferred & rejected indifferents (Proof of
              Free Will?)


              > True, your head is filled with preconceptions from your life before this
              > experiment, perhaps even about black spheres. But if all the spheres are
              > identical, and we filter out ALL differentiating stimuli, your
              > preconceptions can have no impact on choosing one of the spheres. Any
              > thought you have about one of the spheres would apply equally to all.
              Yet,
              > you can still choose one sphere. I don't see how any mere set of previous
              > causations, no matter how complex, will allow you to deliberately choose
              > only one sphere under such circumstances.

              Even assuming that I can no longer have any sensation from my body, you
              still haven't removed any right-left bias I might have--though you could
              flash identical pictures of spheres before my face to do so; it still
              won't remove causality. The movement of the spheres doesn't matter, nor
              does my movement. At the time of the choice, the spheres and my body
              are at specific positions. And, my choice is then determined by my
              predilictions and by the timing of the choice, which is itself
              determined by how long I've been in the experiment and my predilictions.
              Other determining factors exist as well--at the very least is the
              notion that I ought to choose a sphere. You still have not removed the
              causes that lead to the effect.

              And, if you do successfully remove all causes, then you will only have
              succeeded in creating an uncaused event. Without causes, there is no
              free will. If my arm randomly shoots out and points at something, then
              I have not *chosen* to point at that thing.

              Indeed, in your experiment, you are trying to reduce me to choosing a
              single sphere at random. And yet, there is a cause for that
              choice--perhaps the desire to get out of the strange environment I'm
              floating in. The time at which I make the choice is determined by my
              patience, decisiveness, and my sense of the urgency of my making a
              choice--all determined by genetics and experience. The sphere I choose
              is determined by my predilictions and which spheres are in front of me
              at the time--all determined by genetics, experiences, and my and the
              spheres' rates of spin.

              Without a cause--at the least, the desire to make a choice--no choice
              will be made. You are positing a caused yet causeless event, which is
              not logically possible. I still maintain that free will is not
              supported by logic.

              -Conrad
              --
              Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.
              Ta i quetes Quenyanen séya vanima





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            • dchave@artic.edu
              ... What it means is every thing, including the virtues! Is virtue or wisdom a by- product of chemistry? Simply ... It is interesting you use an analogy of
              Message 6 of 17 , May 2, 2002
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                Quoting R&F Bamford <bamford@...>:

                > <<<"out of nothing, nothing is".>>>
                >
                > Ah... Thank you for the translation, Minervalis. Now I can respond.
                >
                > With regard to all things in the physical universe (i.e. all things
                > consisting of matter and energy), I agree with this completely.

                What it means is every thing, including the virtues! Is virtue or wisdom a by-
                product of chemistry?

                Simply
                > put,
                > something cannot come from nothing.
                >
                > I think of the human mind like a painting. A painting can be
                > reductively
                > explained by such things as the color, texture and chemistry of the
                > paint,
                > the texture of the canvas, the size and direction of the brush strokes,
                > the
                > conditions (lighting, etc.) while it was painted, not to mention the
                > abilities and mindset of the painter him/herself. But the painting is
                > still
                > more than all of this. It has a meaning that is more than the sum total
                > of
                > its physical parts and the sum total of all the causations of those
                > parts.

                It is interesting you use an analogy of Painting. Among my many activites,
                I am a clasically trained painter and sculptor.....and i intuit the sum of your
                argument.....im tickled by the mechanistic models of reality, the hard
                materialism and determinism in vogue these days AND the nihilistic relativism;
                while phenomena may behave in a causal way(empiricism)......the instrument of
                observation(the senses are meaningless without "persona"} is just like you
                say "independant"......so knowledge about "reality",is allowed by cooperation
                with an unseen ordered thing. In other words the mind is not totally passive
                (since phenomena are happening within the mind, and not out)......and phenomena
                are not totally active(a part of the mind extends itself to the very phenomena
                percieved....like the length of the horizon). Another way of saying this, that
                instead of "mind in a body"...we can say "body in a mind".


                > > The reason I believe this is primarily intuitive. I 'feel' like I have
                > free
                > will in any choice I make. For me, to believe otherwise is unthinkable,
                > because it denies any meaning to my life whatsoever. My life would be
                > just
                > a chain of events over which I have no control, even though I believe I
                > have
                > control.

                Which leads me into the polytheism i mentioned before; The ancient myths (and
                im not just talking about homer,hesiod and the poets) in contrast to
                monotheism, are filled with persons who act of their own will with and without
                the "assistance" of the gods. Whereas mostly the monotheist myths are people
                acted upon by outside causes directly....or who depend entirely on the
                intervention of god to act. The pagan heroes faced situations that stretched
                their faith in the gods pretty thin.....especially Odysseus. He begged for
                mercy, for fate to change in his favor(acting against causality).....and while
                Athene his patroness watched everything, she allowed it to continue....in
                essence, to strengthen and test him..........she allowed every evil to beset
                him and for all externals to fail him and yet he held her(wisdom) dear
                throughout. Her response to his cries pretty much sums up the philosophical
                paganism...she says "the gods will not do for you, what you can do for
                yourself"....his reason was in his power, and eventualy he won peace and glory
                for himself. This is why the simple arguments(presuming the above discussion
                about causality, matter etc)
                against the gods fail. For instance, if the gods(fate, karma, justice,etc)
                punished "the bad" right away, there would be no point to cultivating virtue.
                Appeasing them isnt beneficial to them at all, it only allows us to orient our
                feelings toward them.....and it is this feeling or intuitive regard
                for "supernatural" power that can enhance the meaning aspect of the
                universe....and individually, the source of all "qualities", that are
                beneficial, either to body or mind. But the tendency to consider them as
                either blind forces OR irrational biengs totally destroys their relational
                aspect with us.....either they dont care(or dont exist), or that they are
                fickle and unvirtuous like people, or that they demand impossible and
                unneccessary things from us all strike me as counter-intuitive, like what you
                said about "the feeling inside". In my observation, There have been
                enough "countercausal" and "a-causal" events in mine and other peoples lives to
                warrant the notion that some "Gods" do exist and have regard for human virtue.
                And like Marcus aurelius would say "What would i want with a universe without
                gods?"........they are the a-causal origins of causality, and the qualifiying
                modes which causality follows. So if i create them in my mind as representing
                different modes of consciousness, and their parallel manifested qualities in
                the physical universe.....at least i can say "what an interesting and
                beautifull world i am allowed to make for myself! It sure beats living in some
                dead machine". Minervalis
                >
                > >
                >
                >
                >
                >
              • Keith Seddon
                It is not possible to create an
                Message 7 of 17 , May 2, 2002
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                  <<< And, if you do successfully remove all causes, then you will only have
                  succeeded in creating an uncaused event. >>>

                  It is not possible to create an uncaused event. Anything you do that results
                  in its coming about would be the cause of its coming about, so it cannot be
                  uncaused.

                  Live with honour,

                  Keith
                  Visit the Stoic Foundation
                  http://www.btinternet.com/~k.h.s/stoic-foundation.htm
                • R&F Bamford
                  Yes Minervalis, I meant to follow up on our interesting conversation about the gods, but I took a long digression down the free will argument path. Apologies.
                  Message 8 of 17 , May 2, 2002
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                    Yes Minervalis, I meant to follow up on our interesting conversation about
                    the gods, but I took a long digression down the free will argument path.
                    Apologies.

                    As I think I have already mentioned, I consider myself an agnostic atheist.
                    That is, I am agnostic as to my objective knowledge of gods, but atheistic
                    with regard to my subjective belief in them. (This is also sometimes called
                    'weak' or 'negative' atheism, as apposed to 'strong/positive' atheists, who
                    insist the none-existence of gods is objective fact as well as subjective
                    belief.)

                    I certainly believe gods exist in the mind, but I have great doubt that they
                    can exist independently in the real physical universe, much like the devil's
                    fork diagram I sent around earlier. Thus, I don't believe gods have any
                    meaning or direct power outside the minds of those who believe in them, but
                    those who believe in those gods CAN affect the physical universe. Thus,
                    these gods that do not/cannot exist in our physical reality are able to
                    exist in our reality indirectly, using their believing hosts as agents in
                    the physical universe.

                    My atheist cohorts will argue that there are no gods, in mind or reality,
                    and that they are but figments of the believer's imagination, and it is the
                    believer alone that is doing all of the acting in the physical universe.
                    This I agree with, but in the end, what is the difference in reality? When
                    someone is burned at the stake by religious zealots, what does it matter
                    that the gods which they believe commanded them to do this horrid act are
                    real or just their imagination. The poor person is still burned!

                    I thus believe it is unwise to concentrate all of my energies on attacking a
                    person's beliefs in gods, no matter how irrational they may seem to me. As
                    the free will debate illustrates; truth, like beauty, is in the mind of the
                    beholder. Although I will continue to tear at outrageous theist beliefs
                    with logical arguments, it is the actions of theists in the real world that
                    concern me more than what goes on in their heads. I have little chance of
                    controlling what goes on in their minds, which is their realm alone; but I
                    have a much better chance of controlling what they do in the physical world,
                    which is a realm I share with them.

                    LWH,
                    -Rick Bamford

                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: dchave@... [mailto:dchave@...]
                    Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 5:19 AM
                    To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: RE: [stoics] Re: preferred & rejected indifferents (Proof of
                    Free Will?)



                    Quoting R&F Bamford <bamford@...>:

                    > <<<"out of nothing, nothing is".>>>
                    >
                    > Ah... Thank you for the translation, Minervalis. Now I can respond.
                    >
                    > With regard to all things in the physical universe (i.e. all things
                    > consisting of matter and energy), I agree with this completely.

                    What it means is every thing, including the virtues! Is virtue or wisdom a
                    by-
                    product of chemistry?

                    Simply
                    > put,
                    > something cannot come from nothing.
                    >
                    > I think of the human mind like a painting. A painting can be
                    > reductively
                    > explained by such things as the color, texture and chemistry of the
                    > paint,
                    > the texture of the canvas, the size and direction of the brush strokes,
                    > the
                    > conditions (lighting, etc.) while it was painted, not to mention the
                    > abilities and mindset of the painter him/herself. But the painting is
                    > still
                    > more than all of this. It has a meaning that is more than the sum total
                    > of
                    > its physical parts and the sum total of all the causations of those
                    > parts.

                    It is interesting you use an analogy of Painting. Among my many
                    activites,
                    I am a clasically trained painter and sculptor.....and i intuit the sum of
                    your
                    argument.....im tickled by the mechanistic models of reality, the hard
                    materialism and determinism in vogue these days AND the nihilistic
                    relativism;
                    while phenomena may behave in a causal way(empiricism)......the instrument
                    of
                    observation(the senses are meaningless without "persona"} is just like you
                    say "independant"......so knowledge about "reality",is allowed by
                    cooperation
                    with an unseen ordered thing. In other words the mind is not totally passive
                    (since phenomena are happening within the mind, and not out)......and
                    phenomena
                    are not totally active(a part of the mind extends itself to the very
                    phenomena
                    percieved....like the length of the horizon). Another way of saying this,
                    that
                    instead of "mind in a body"...we can say "body in a mind".


                    > > The reason I believe this is primarily intuitive. I 'feel' like I have
                    > free
                    > will in any choice I make. For me, to believe otherwise is unthinkable,
                    > because it denies any meaning to my life whatsoever. My life would be
                    > just
                    > a chain of events over which I have no control, even though I believe I
                    > have
                    > control.

                    Which leads me into the polytheism i mentioned before; The ancient myths
                    (and
                    im not just talking about homer,hesiod and the poets) in contrast to
                    monotheism, are filled with persons who act of their own will with and
                    without
                    the "assistance" of the gods. Whereas mostly the monotheist myths are people
                    acted upon by outside causes directly....or who depend entirely on the
                    intervention of god to act. The pagan heroes faced situations that stretched
                    their faith in the gods pretty thin.....especially Odysseus. He begged for
                    mercy, for fate to change in his favor(acting against causality).....and
                    while
                    Athene his patroness watched everything, she allowed it to continue....in
                    essence, to strengthen and test him..........she allowed every evil to beset
                    him and for all externals to fail him and yet he held her(wisdom) dear
                    throughout. Her response to his cries pretty much sums up the philosophical
                    paganism...she says "the gods will not do for you, what you can do for
                    yourself"....his reason was in his power, and eventualy he won peace and
                    glory
                    for himself. This is why the simple arguments(presuming the above discussion
                    about causality, matter etc)
                    against the gods fail. For instance, if the gods(fate, karma, justice,etc)
                    punished "the bad" right away, there would be no point to cultivating
                    virtue.
                    Appeasing them isnt beneficial to them at all, it only allows us to orient
                    our
                    feelings toward them.....and it is this feeling or intuitive regard
                    for "supernatural" power that can enhance the meaning aspect of the
                    universe....and individually, the source of all "qualities", that are
                    beneficial, either to body or mind. But the tendency to consider them as
                    either blind forces OR irrational biengs totally destroys their relational
                    aspect with us.....either they dont care(or dont exist), or that they are
                    fickle and unvirtuous like people, or that they demand impossible and
                    unneccessary things from us all strike me as counter-intuitive, like what
                    you
                    said about "the feeling inside". In my observation, There have been
                    enough "countercausal" and "a-causal" events in mine and other peoples lives
                    to
                    warrant the notion that some "Gods" do exist and have regard for human
                    virtue.
                    And like Marcus aurelius would say "What would i want with a universe
                    without
                    gods?"........they are the a-causal origins of causality, and the
                    qualifiying
                    modes which causality follows. So if i create them in my mind as
                    representing
                    different modes of consciousness, and their parallel manifested qualities in
                    the physical universe.....at least i can say "what an interesting and
                    beautifull world i am allowed to make for myself! It sure beats living in
                    some
                    dead machine". Minervalis
                    >
                    > >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >




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                  • R&F Bamford
                    I agree 100%. In the experiment I have described, I understand that I am causing (i.e. forcing) a person to make a choice. The event (the choosing) does
                    Message 9 of 17 , May 2, 2002
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                      I agree 100%. In the experiment I have described, I understand that I am
                      causing (i.e. forcing) a person to make a choice. The event (the choosing)
                      does indeed have a cause. I have caused it, with my hypothetical
                      experiment. This is not my point. My point is that anyone can STILL make a
                      choice even when ALL external and internal differentiating stimuli have been
                      neutralized and/or equalized. I still hold that being able to do so is an
                      act of free will and I have yet to see an argument that convinces me
                      otherwise.

                      LWH,
                      -Rick


                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: Keith Seddon [mailto:K.H.S@...]
                      Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 7:27 AM
                      To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: Re: [stoics] Re: preferred & rejected indifferents (Proof of
                      Free Will?)


                      <<< And, if you do successfully remove all causes, then you will only have
                      succeeded in creating an uncaused event. >>>

                      It is not possible to create an uncaused event. Anything you do that results
                      in its coming about would be the cause of its coming about, so it cannot be
                      uncaused.

                      Live with honour,

                      Keith
                      Visit the Stoic Foundation
                      http://www.btinternet.com/~k.h.s/stoic-foundation.htm







                      Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                    • Keith Seddon
                      Hello Rick, ... and internal differentiating stimuli have been neutralized and/or equalized.
                      Message 10 of 17 , May 2, 2002
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                        Hello Rick,

                        You said:

                        >>>My point is that anyone can STILL make a choice even when ALL external
                        and internal differentiating stimuli have been neutralized and/or
                        equalized.<<<

                        One important and potentially revealing feature of free actions is that when
                        agents are asked 'Why did you do that?' a clear and coherent answer which
                        details ends, means, and reasons for acting will be forthcoming.

                        When there are no external and internal differentiating stimuli the agent
                        will have no reason for acting, and will not be able to give an account of
                        why they acted as they did. They may have moved their body (reached for a
                        sphere) but that movement cannot in itself count as the action of a
                        self-concscious, rational, agent.

                        Live with honour,

                        Keith
                        Visit the Stoic Foundation
                        http://www.btinternet.com/~k.h.s/stoic-foundation.htm
                      • labienus@texas.net
                        Hello, ... You are quite welcome. ... I agree, it doesn t. The physical aspects of the experiment and the baggage I bring into it, however, do. ... Mere
                        Message 11 of 17 , May 2, 2002
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                          Hello,

                          > More interesting still! I find this most stimulating, thank you for taking
                          > the time to indulge me in this matter, Conrad. Much appreciated!

                          You are quite welcome.

                          > You have still chosen one sphere from the many. The fact that I made you
                          > choose a sphere doesn't affect which one you choose.

                          I agree, it doesn't. The physical aspects of the experiment and the baggage I
                          bring into it, however, do.

                          > Even if the choice we make is ultimately a mere statistical chance, no
                          > different than rolling imaginary dice in our brain, it is still free will
                          > because the ultimate choice of sphere we make is not determined by
                          > preexisting causes.

                          Mere statistical chance does not allow for free will. Let's assume that I
                          assemble a line of people before a pair of doors, then flip a coin to determine
                          which door each will enter. None of these people is operating with free will.
                          You argue that they would have free will if the coin flip occurred in their
                          heads--perhaps a particular electron found that the left, not the right, branch
                          of a nerve was the path of least resistance due to pure random chance. This is
                          still random and therefore not true free will.

                          > BUT... We could probably go on like this forever. I think it was Thomas
                          > Jefferson who once said that reasonable men could be given the same set of
                          > facts and yet come to different conclusions. Is the glass half empty or
                          > half full?

                          The glass and the liquid in it are perfect in and of themselves, regardless of
                          any judgement I might make about them, of course.

                          More seriously, I agree and don't think either of us will convince the other.

                          > No one respects or exalts logic more than I. Indeed, my wife often accuses
                          > But the reality we live in is not so black and white. It is often a fuzzy
                          > shade of gray. Can logic determine the exact point where the Earth's
                          > atmosphere ends and outer space begins?

                          This example and all of the others you cite merely point to the need to
                          properly define the scope of a problem and the definitions that are used when
                          tackling it. In the case of the atmosphere, logic can quite easily allow us to
                          determine the point at which the atmosphere will cease to support human life,
                          as well as to differentiate between deep space and the edge of the atmosphere
                          by considering the question of how many molecules of oxygen, nitrogen, etc. per
                          unit of volume are necessary to say that one is still in the Earth's atmosphere.

                          > Consciousness is separate and distinct from the physical universe. We know
                          > this because we can do things in our consciousness that cannot occur in
                          > physical reality.

                          These things do occur in physical reality as chemical and electrical processes
                          in our brains.

                          > But at the same time, I will not let all my thoughts be confined by
                          > preconceived notions of what is logical. People once thought it was logical
                          > that the world was flat, or that you would die if you exceeded 30 miles per
                          > hour.

                          Those that truly appreciated logic and science did not. They thought that the
                          preponderence of evidence available to them strongly suggested these things.
                          Then they set about testing their theories with the tools available to them.
                          The only satisfactory method humans have developed by which such testing can be
                          done so that we have any degree of confidence in the results is based entirely
                          on logic.

                          I strongly recommend that you read this essay:
                          http://www.jefraskin.com/forjef2/jefweb-
                          compiled/unpublished/effectiveness_mathematics.html
                          (long URL, beware of wrap)

                          Pay special attention to the third-to-last paragraph, as it holds the seed that
                          might allow for free will and other logical impossibilities. Attack the
                          problem from that angle, and I will say that we don't know enough yet to really
                          say for sure that there are states of existence which can't be accounted for
                          logically. I will, however, admit the possibility.

                          -Conrad
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