This thought emerged in my head while i was replying in another thread titled "Rights of a conscious entity". Here it is:
"I am not afraid of death but my genes(selected by Natural Selection for best survival) dictate me to be afraid. On the other hand the genes are me, so where did the free will go? Or do i even have a free will or is it just a set of genes that dictate my free will? Oh well, our whole lives are controlled by genes which we didn't choose, maybe we should call it our "free but dictated/controlled will"."
So what do you say, do we have a free will or is it just pre-"programmed" by Natural Selction and chance(random DNA mutations), fooling us into thinking there is a free will? And if i am right to suspect there is no true free will, wouldn't that mean we are simply pre-programmed biological robots, since we didn't choose our genes(the ones carried by the sperm and the egg that coupled with a bit of random mutations instruct how our brains are to be formed and determine our characters, our tastes, our behaviour, etc.)? How do we know what free will is when all we do is constrained and determined by a set of genes that control all of our reactions, emotions, etc. including our perception of reality?
I have no idea which sub-forum this should go into but I know it will surely go offtopic to what reality is and if it exists at all.
In what sense are your genes seperate to "you" that "they" can control what "you" do?
The answer is that 'me' is what my genes were pre-programmed. They are not separate to me, but still the realisation that free will is pre-programmed gives a new meaning to the term "free will" - a pre-programmed free will. It's still free will, but it's pre-programmed as our bodies(incl. our brains) are 100% the creation of a set of genes.
Well, since i state that everything about our existence seems to be pre-programmed, then it wouldn't really matter. We couldn't change anything.
Sure, you can say that all you want. However, it doesn't mean anything unless you can show it to be true. You need to support your assertions or there's nothing to debate about. If you're just looking for people to agree with you, go play The Sims.
I've shown you how your genes control the way your body is formed including your brain. I don't have to prove this - it's common knowlegde. If you lack such basic common knowledge, buy yourself a textbook and read up, but I am not turning into a 5th grade biology teacher.
We couldn't change anything.
What do you mean?
Can you change your socks? Can you change your haircut? Can you choose to quit your job? Can you choose to drop out of school or take more classes? Can you choose to kill yourself? Can you choose to take a taxi home instead of driving when you get drunk? Can you choose to take a taxi home when you're not drunk?
The answer for me (and most everyone else) to all these questions is "yes".
It would seem like we have plenty of freedom of choice. You don't agree?
I was talking about how our free will is pre-programmed so when i say we couldn't change anything, it means we couldn't change anything about that fact. But oh well, you've proven time and again that reading comprehension is too difficult for you.
Good points Modulous, but still what is "you"(what you see in the mirror), is the product of genes including the brain that tells you that we are continuously self-programming ourselves as we move along our lives. That same brain that was created by genes might, just might be fooling yourself that there is an "I" at all.
Neither the learned concept of fearlessness in the face of death, nor the genetically encoded aversion to death is 'you'. They are both composites of what 'you' are. 'You' are a complex set of various desires and fears many of which conflict. Some genes influence you to avoid death, others to embrace it (sacrifice life for children for example).
In this passage where do you think the "I" should emerge? Somewhere among the genes? This same "I" initially emerged 1 million years ago(or less) when the homo habilis became conscious of their existence and their uniqueness. It emerged because of Natural Selection and was further developed by Natural Selection until our brains grew in size from 700cub.cm to 1400 cub.cm. It was the work of NS carried out by genes that passed from generation to generation. NS made us intelligent and smart, gave us consciousness, but still we are 100% what genes instructed the the primary cell to become. That's why i tend to not trust my 'consciousness' in determing if there is free will, as my consciousness is developed and shaped and built by my brain that is a product of a set of genes.
It's confusing that when you look in the mirror you see "someone" that you identify as yourself, when all of that "yourself" is created and is the product of genes(and not how you'd create yourself, if you had true free will). That's what i had in mind when i said "the genes are me". They are me, but where is "Me" when what i identify as "Me"(my whole body) is constructed, made and pre-programmed by my genes and as soon as we are born we have to use a mirror so that we know who we are? We are what our genes made, this "I" is really somewhat foreign to me, as it was chosen for me by NS and randomness and not only was it chosen for me, but "I" was given a brain made for me by genes. That same brain is now telling me I am something, but with a view to how i was formed, that same "I" is possessed by my genes(which are in me because other forces - NS and chance dictated so). That's what makes the concept of free will seem elusive.
The notion of God would have easily cleared that mess(us being robots of God), but since there is no God, we appear to be biological robots of NS and randomness.
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It's truly a fascinating topic. I'll give you a figurative example of what i had in mind starting this thread. Maybe we can discuss it and find out how free we are:
Let's say you are a beggar and you are about to steal someone's purse. You stop before doing it and ponder. You have a moral dilemma - to do it or walk away? But do you really have a chioce? Is the choice that you will make truly yours or was it the result of your DNA shaping your brain in a specific way and environmental infuence? If you were able for a moment to look at us from outside this world and suppose you were able to notice and take account of all events taking place with the greatest precision(knowing with high precision speed, weight, time, coordinates, acceleration, etc.), wouldn't we look like complete robots with every event being pre-determined? I don't think randomness exists, we just don't know with great precision the properties of the events taking place and thus we cannot 'Guess' the outcome of events.
PS. There is guy from Canada who was trying to sell a device made by himself a couple of years ago. The device was used in Casinos around the world to guess with near 100% success rate the outcome at Roulette. It just took measurements of the speed of the ball at 3 points while in rotation, calculated the deceleration rate and spit out a number that was near always correct. With greater precision measurement, 100% guess rate should be quite possible.
What if we knew the amount of force the dealer exerts with his hand on each spin? We'd prove there's no randomness but just lack of information for us about all the forces in action. If there is no randomness then there is no real "Me" to us but pure pre-determinism.
If we know the state of every molecule in the universe at every point in time since the Big Bang, wouldn't those DNA mutations that led to the survival of life, become unavoidable and pre-determined?We simply don't know what mutations happen in the copying of DNA, so we model that as a random process due to a lack of information. Knowing every molecule's state in the universe would easilly wipe the floor with the thesis that there is free will in humans.
So is there order in chaos? I would argue that there is more order in chaos than in order itself. True randomness would be something that cannot be predicted at all, even if you knew all the variables. But such randomness does not appear to exist and as soon as we know the variables, there is no randomness at all.
The little evidence we have, says free will is an illusion.
PS. I don't really like the above ideas, as they kind of open the door for the God squad(or another super power). So how do you spell FATE?
a very big If , and the answer is still no .. all you would know is what happened THAT TIME you ran history ... only if you could show that no other version of history could possible occur would you start to show some limits
No, no, if you know ALL the forces acting on all molucules in the Universe and you have the processing power to process all that information in a timely manner, YOU WILL DEFINITELYY KNOW THE OUTCOME. Those same values of the variables that determine the outcomes of every single event in every moment in time in the Universe are there, but we just don't know them to make 100% correct predictions. Randomness appears as randomness only to the limited human mind.
then there can be no free will .. however that means time is also an illusion ...which means we are not what we think we are ...
I don't know what perception you have of us humans, but my perception is that we are robots with a pre-determined past, presence and future. In that sense what i am writing here is also pre-determined, perhaps it's time we learn who we are. The "flair" of "I" that everyone possesses is nothing but an illusion.
However, as i've said earlier, this idea opens the door for all kinds of gods, deities and santa clauses. Either we have to accept that at least one of them might exist(and we are puppets on strings), or the Universe is totally incomprehensible to a human mind.
If we were in a position to conclude with certainty that the universe can only exist in this state, then the determinism question becomes moot. We could even test for free will to be sure: Simply work out what action should happen with regards to a simple experiment with a hypothesized free agent involved: let's say deciding between pushing a red or blue button. If our total universal model dictates they will press the red button we tell the subject that they must press the blue button and become a billionaire or press the red button and they and their family will die.
A free agent that cares about money and family should surely choose to press the blue button, but the future is fixed: which wins?
You've said it, the future is fixed, i.e. there is no real human free will. In the abscence of free will, we are just servants of the "Masterplan"(puppets on strings) and we cannot exhibit any free will and so cannot press the Red button, if the values of the variables that move the universe are not determining/dictating that pressing the Red button is the only choice.
I don't think Free will is possible in a world with fixed past, present and future. Those concepts are mutually exclusive.
I submit that anything with the power to calculate all that with the necessary accuracy at the required speed would simply be the universe. But yes, this is the position of the determinists.
We don't need to have all the information in the Universe to prove that chaos does not exist. We can prove "locally", in a particular spot of our realm/environment that chaos is a misconception(by knowing a humanly possible number of variables and guessing the outcome with 100% ceratainity). Then, it follows logically that if chaos and randomness do not exist, we are playing an orchestrated game. And whose game it is is a tough question. We humans being the first ones who would figure out that we are mere puppet on strings, would assing a flair of a somewhat Higher purpose than the other species of the animal world. Maybe there is a higher purpose assigned for us after all.
Benjamin Libet discovered that our brain reacts to oncoming muscle action (lifting your foot) before we decide to perform that action. Although Libet himself tried intensively to preserve the concept of free will in the face of this evidence, it is generally believed that he failed, and that it shows our belief in free will to be a illusion.
"Libet's experiments suggest unconscious processes in the brain are the true initiator of volitional acts, therefore, little room remains for the operations of free will. If the brain has already taken steps to initiate an action before we are aware of any desire to perform it, the causal role of consciousness in volition is all but eliminated."
The determinists case is far from made just yet. We still haven't figured out why a given atom 'decides' to decay at a given time. Maybe there is predictable set of preconditions before it happens, but as far as I can tell - physicists aren't expecting that to be the case.
Try the thought experiment: You have two molecules in the universe. One stable (a stablon), one that will decay (a decayon). The decayon has a half-life of 5 minutes. The stablon will be stationary with respect to the decayon unless it decays, in which case it will be moving at 1000ms. What will the status of the stablon be in 5 minutes? You're only out is that there are some hidden variables
In the case of the molecule scenario above the most one can do is to show that the status of the molecule within the given 5 mins. is not predictable using our current knowledge of the "laws of nature" - but this does not lead to the safe conclusion that the molecule's status is necessarily random. It may simply be that the molecule status is very uniquely determined, but our understanding of the "laws of nature" is inadequate...
The same argument can be applied to any empirical "evidence" of randomness (including quantum randomness).
Hence, any empirical evidence of randomness may be interpreted simply in terms of lack of predictability born of our(CURRENT) inadequate understanding of the laws of nature.
IMHO, the reason why many people seem to want to cling on to the idea of genuine randomness is because this seems to be the only hope for any kind of "free will" - such persons are unfortunately (IMHO) misguided.