I know this has been discussed before, but I have read Sam Harris' book Free Will and Michael Shermer's book The Believing Brain, and I must say that I agree with both authors. Studies show that our brains make a decision on an unconscious level three tenths of a second and sometimes more before we even consciously know we're going to act. To take a short quote from Shermer's book: "The neural activity that precedes the intention to act is inaccessible to our conscious mind, so we experience a sense of free will. But it is an illusion, caused by the fact that we cannot identify the cause of the awareness of our intention to act".

Tags: Free, Harris, Michael, Sam, Shermer, Will

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Spontaneous implies non-causal (which can't be willed). I'm not a big fan of the s word. ;)

Well, if you don't like the term spontaneously, I could have also said, "The choice you finally arrive at is at once freely chosen and determined." The point is that determinism and free will are occurring at the same time, so that the fact that you couldn't have chose otherwise is irrelevant in this case of compatibilism.

 I disagree with what the yin-yang represents and even did back then. I don't think everything has an opposite, and I certainly don't think there is any balancing act happening in the universe between opposites. I think even the notion of opposites is often flawed for many examples.

I challenge you to think of an example, because I've, as of yet, been able to produce a single one, and I've been contemplating this for years. I've yet to hear anything that refutes this principle. 

The point is that determinism and free will are occurring at the same time, so that the fact that you couldn't have chose otherwise is irrelevant in this case of compatibilism.

Again, if you are saying that you can't choose otherwise, yet still have "free will" at the same time, such is a compatibilist definition of free will. It's not, however, addressing the ability most people feel they possess (that more than one option are possible, or that they could have done otherwise). It's that definition that has philosophical import in that it affects how we think about society, ethics, economics, politics, religion, and other people. It affects our psychological responses which tie into blame, deserve, hate, and so on. The compatibilist type of definitions sidesteps these problems altogether.

I challenge you to think of an example, because I've, as of yet, been able to produce a single one, and I've been contemplating this for years. I've yet to hear anything that refutes this principle. 

Like I said, the very notion of opposites is often problematic. What is the opposite of dog? Certainly not "cat". I'm not aware of any anti-matter dog configurations. There is no opposite Earth that we are aware of. Cold really isn't the "opposite" of hot, it's the absence of heat (and the universe is only "hot" near starts and planets, which is vastly less than the empty cold space out there). Dark is the absence of light - not the opposite. Just as the opposite of dog isn't the absence of a dog.

In regards to balance, there simply is no evidence of such. Children are born with debilitating diseases and suffer until they die. The happy child in the world certainly doesn't counter-balance this. There are great imbalances between those that suffer and those that have a so called "good life". There are great imbalances between health and wealth (less than 2% of the population holds 50% of all wealth in the world). There is no balance of opposites anywhere to be seen except in our own imaginations of what we pretend are in opposition and what we pretend make up for each other.

;-)

Well, in eastern philosophy, it refers specifically to duality. As Ramesh would put it, the principle refers to every conceivable duality. So, I'm not sure if the question "what is the opposite of a dog?" registers as a part a duality. Perhaps a biologist might have an answer to that question. There is, however, the duality of male and female. The male dog and the female dog. After all, in simply saying "what is the opposite of a dog?" you don't specify gender. The question is vague. So, there's innumerable ghosts in the semantical structure of our language, as Alan Watts would put it, that lead to these strange avenues of thought.

The compatibilist type of definitions sidesteps these problems altogether.

I don't think it sidesteps the problem. Obviously, if you tell people they're "completely determined, there is no free will," this, in a way, is misleading. I'm sure you've seen people react to this in a certain way. They view it pessimistically. They find it a dreadful thought. It's the sort of philosophical muse that could send someone into an existential crisis and give 'em a whole "what's the point of it all?" kind of attitude.

Did you by any chance get to take a listen to that link in my last post? If not, here's the link once again. Because I really agree with this eastern principle. In other words, in the compatibilist view, it's in this very moment in our conscious experience that we at once freely choose while at the same time being determined. Because we can entertain even the subset of these potentially infinite outcomes, and at the same time be determined, if not completely determined as hard determinism. A compatibilist might say we freely choose determined possibilities. It may just come down to perspective or semantics. 

It's a duality. In one aspect, you have free will; in another, you have determinism. To see only one would be, in a way, to only consider the yin without the yang or the yang without the yin while failing to see both at once.

I'm sure you've seen people react to this in a certain way. They view it pessimistically. They find it a dreadful thought. It's the sort of philosophical muse that could send someone into an existential crisis and give 'em a whole "what's the point of it all?" kind of attitude.

I agree it's very important that we educate people on these things, as there is an important and distinct difference between fatalism and defeatism, and determinism that understands that our consciousness is part of any deterministic process. Most people also aren't aware of the dangers that the belief in free will impose.

What's important is the "free will" ability most people feel they possess. The one that allows them to place blameworthiness on themself and others. The one that allows them to place themself or others on pedestals above others. And so on.

I started watching the vid but I'm often turned off by new-agey type of presentation. I'll try to watch it though.

;-)

Yeah, I'd try and get past the "new-agey" pre-conceived notion, because it truly has its basis in Buddhism which by no means is New Age, of course, it's come to be intertwined nowadays with New Age-type conceptions, but prior to watching that particular video, I held a purely deterministic view. It was strange how it happened, too. This played in a playlist in the background, and I was barely even paying attention, but subconsciously I was somehow listening and understood it. As Steven Gray (Adyashanti) says, "It's a subtle realization."

I'll post it one more time so you don't have to scroll to find it. I mean, if I may make a suggestion, I invite you to take a step back and clear your mind of any 'new age' association you may attach to it, and pay close attention to what is being discussed.

Non Dual Mystery

I am a proponent of semantics, which I think is the single most important branch of philosophy. It is underrated, and could get to the root of a lot of problems that are being discussed. I think that a lot of what is being attributed to "Eastern philosophy" arises from these semantic ghosts, as Alan Watts puts it. Such as opposites, which only truly makes sense in a strictly logical context, as opposed to empirical. It is not normally a significant proposition to say that men are the opposites of women, dogs are the opposites of cats, or anything of that nature. These are cultural, linguistic structures, not facts. Then there is the question of "self", as is referred to in your video: the idea that self exists and doesn't exist simultaneously is a logical contradiction. Yet, people are finding a way to make sense of it--how? It is not as much a deeper state of thought as it is a semantic ghost in the problem of multiple definitions per one word. The statement "no free will is absolute free will" is not contradictory, per se, because the first instance of "free will" does not refer to the same concept as the second. However, it is intentionally phrased this way to give it a paradoxical, and because it sounds impressive and cannot be easily explained, a platitudinous dimension.

Did you, by any chance, take a listen to the clip, Jonathan Chang? Just out of curiosity, do you have any thoughts on it?

There is potential for only one outcome according to physics. Your brain configuration is caused by a series of external forces, whether determined, or random through quantum indeterminacy, neither of which is within control of any entity. I have seen one argument which successfully challenges this: it espouses idealism over empiricism, leading to a metaphysical soul, which cannot be argued for or against because it is outside of epistemological possibility.

Technically if there is indeterminism (acausal events) X could lead to Y or an acausal event could come into existence that would move it to Z instead. In other words, given some interpretations of QM, there is multiple potential. But you are correct, such wouldn't be in control of any entity either.

If there is some metaphysical soul that is also outside of logical rules, then yes...it can't be argued for or against because it's basically incoherent. In such a realm nothing can even be discussed as all language break down as words have no identity. :)

...within the laws of physics.

Do folks who say that in discussions such as this one consider themselves as acting within (or without or around) the laws of the state?

BTW, the term "state" above refers to any level of government: international, national, state, or local.

I think we act within the laws of physics, but I think the free will idea logically incoherent even "outside" of physical laws.

I also think I act within the laws of the state for the most part - why do you ask? :)

Trick, I ask because ten years after I graduated college my political activism showed me a world much larger than the world I had studied in the required philosophy courses and the chosen physics classrooms and laboratories.

After I retired I started taking art courses and glimpsed a world with no boundaries.

Try either or both of those.

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