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ninjacolin's avatar

What would it take for you to accept ours as a deterministic universe and reject the notion of free will?

Asked by ninjacolin (14206points) March 12th, 2010

Determinism suggests that the laws of physics govern everything from the moment of the big bang to the moment of this writing to the moment of your reading. All behavior, human and non-human alike, an unfolding of reality as defined by the laws of reality itself. All beliefs, including the beliefs in Gods, Free Will, and even the belief that the sun will rise tomorrow, are coerced beliefs, forced into our brains like the Grand Canyon was forced into the North American continent. Without will power. Without choice.

Determinism suggests that we are free only to obey the laws of physics and that “Free Will” is a meme based in mythology.

If you believe in free will now, what would convince you to believe in a Deterministic Universe like this over the more traditional Libertarian (free will) Universe?

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84 Answers

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I will never accept our actions as predetermined.
I can determine my own actions at any time.
It’s nonsensical to assume that some supreme being is dictating my writing this response right now, only because I can’t prove that a supreme being isn’t dictating my current actions.

ninjacolin's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy .. that’s beside the question.
The question is: Why not? What is missing that prevents you from doing just that?

HTDC's avatar

Contrary to @Captain_Fantasy I will never accept that we have complete free will. I think that is an illusion of our being.

elenuial's avatar

That’s really not the difference between determinism and non-determinism at all, from a historical, scientific, AND religious standpoint.

I’ll take your question in the spirit that it’s meant, though. Even if the universe is deterministic, many phenomenon are so complex that it belies the human ability to fathom and thus predict them. Many of them defy even our best modeling strategies. Practically speaking, to speak of determinism has no meaning, because I can only act as if the social reality I live in isn’t.

I can believe that determinism, or I can’t. Whatever the case may be, I still have to act (or be acted through, as it were) in a universe that I am incapable of predicting regardless.

That’s where heuristics come from, and they are often non-deterministic by definition.

mrentropy's avatar

I was talking to somebody about this yesterday. Sort of. I was more along the lines that there is no randomness in the universe.

DominicX's avatar

Hard evidence that determinism is actually reality. Since that will probably never happen, there is nothing to make me believe in it.

Furthermore, I don’t really think it matters. :\

Coloma's avatar

What you are speaking of can also be called ‘non-duality.’
The Adviata Vendanta philosophy.

I am coming to embrace and accept more & more of the non-dual ‘concept.’

If you look at it this way….what IF, what many call ‘free will’ is creative intelligence working THROUGH you in a pre-determined expression???

In other words…ego THINKS it IS making a CHOICE or free agency, BUT…MAYBE the thoguht form is pre-determined and we are being tricked into thinking our choices are of our own determinations?

This is the fundemental dif. between eastern & western ( Christian based ) philosophies.

The eastern bent says EVERYTHING is a result od karma and destiny, the western of choice & control.

Then…there is the ‘middle path’....:-)

A combo plate of both destiny & free agency as buddhism promotes for the most part.

Sooo..I am not going to gamble away my life savings today..BUT…if I DID, who am I to say that there is not a karmic ‘fate’ destiny to this action “I” think I have executed????

Was the ‘seed’ of thought created by ‘me’ or already planted and set to go ‘off’ in that particular moment for ‘reasons’ yet to be known, if ever?

Okay…now that I have thoroughly confused everyone! lololol

drhat77's avatar

If the universe is deterministic what does it matter what we believe – its not anyone choice in the first place

HTDC's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy Don’t forget there is a difference between determinism and predestination, which I assume is what you’re talking about.

josie's avatar

When everybody on Fluther admits that they have no idea what they are saying or why they are saying it

ragingloli's avatar

I already do.

Shuttle128's avatar

@josie But reasons are an emergent phenomena of determinism. You can’t have reasons for doing things unless determinism holds.

Coloma's avatar

Absoloutly…the only real ‘truth’ is we, infact…know nothing for certain. But mind likes to play..it’s what it does. Mind is not ego…it is a tool.

Thats what ‘they’ say…the more I know the more I realize I know NOTHING! hahaha

HTDC's avatar

Me too @Coloma me too…sigh.

CMaz's avatar

I think ( i mean how my brain process) why people run from the notion that there is no free will is because…

As stated above by @elenuial. It’s “so complex that it belies the human ability to fathom.”

Most people go into “scramble” mode. At that point it is just easier to disregard. Like the world being flat at one time.

I just don’t see it too much of a reach to understand. It makes perfect scene, with very little effort.

ninjacolin's avatar

@DominicX said: “Hard evidence that determinism is actually reality.”
Consider @Shuttle128‘s comment just above.

@drhat77 said: “If the universe is deterministic what does it matter what we believe – its not anyone choice in the first place”

what we believe/accept has consequences. that’s why it matters. (eg. if we believe a bridge is safe, we’ll cross it. if we believe it’s unsafe, we won’t) Accepting or rejecting determinism also has consequences.

Coloma's avatar

Well…you all know what the REAL issue is do you not? hahaha

Clearly us ‘brainiacs’ whether ‘gifted’ or ‘cursed’ have a driving need to KNOW.

Aaaah….all comes back to ‘hold on loosely’ ey? ;-)

We can slap a label on anything and transform it into a positive or a negative.

Some of us were just DESTINED to be seekers…‘God’ help us!

CMaz's avatar

Let’s face it. To dismiss free will. Is to deny your individuality and your self control.
It becomes personal.

Determinism is not that way. It just is.

drhat77's avatar

@ninjacolin how can you change anyone’s mind about determinism if their belief is determined by the principals of physics and not free will

ninjacolin's avatar

Via the principals of physics that pertain to conversion of beliefs.

I’ve come to understand that beliefs are manipulated across time by an often-elusive and highly subjective little thing called “sufficient evidence.”

if presented with sufficient evidence for a premise, a mind will be unable (deterministically) to reject it.

drhat77's avatar

But that sufficient evidence would be provided and their beliefs would change no matter what you do because of the inexorable path of determinism

ninjacolin's avatar

beliefs will only change if sufficient evidence for conversion is taken in.
lacking sufficient evidence, that conversion cannot occur.

Jeruba's avatar

I would have to be conscious of this impossible truth: that there is no such thing as consciousness.

You can believe in cause and effect without believing in determinism. I do. Every event has a cause, but a given cause can produce more than one effect. Systems are much more complicated than dominoes. And consciousness is the wild card.

ninjacolin's avatar

Nice, Jeruba. I understand. :)

CMaz's avatar

“but a given cause can produce more than one effect.”
A reasonable conclusion, having most but not all the evidence.

A given cause, broken down to its absolute will only have one path. That “more then one effect” is just various causes causing other effects.

“Systems are much more complicated than dominoes.”
I agree, but it all boils down to dominoes.

drhat77's avatar

@ninjacolin if determinism is true a persons mind would be changed (or not) because suffecient evidence would be brought (or not) no matter what anybody “wanted”

Shuttle128's avatar

@drhat77 True. I don’t see where there’s a problem with this statement. You don’t ever decide to change your mind, it just changes based on what you’ve been presented with.

Jeruba's avatar

@ChazMaz, I will never have all the evidence. I don’t believe that all the possibilities of existence are limited by what a mind can conceive, never mind perceive. There is no reason to suppose that we are capable of comprehending all that is.

This is not meant to be a metaphysical position at all. I believe in the physical universe and not in some supreme being that rules and directs it or even that created it and then went away. I just see no reason to think that the components and processes of that physical universe should be confined to what we can understand.

And it is perfectly all right with me not to understand it. It seems to work just fine without benefit of my supervision. The sum of human knowledge, being essentially a picture of the human mind and not of some ultimate reality, is quite enough of a challenge for me, and one that I will never meet.

So I am content with the notion that I have free will, whether that is an illusion or not, and that I can exert it in a world of cause and effect, which for me comes near enough to “reality” for all practical purposes.

drhat77's avatar

@shuttle I was just trying to point out there is no point to changing anyones mind if you believe in determinism

DominicX's avatar

Accepting or rejecting determinism also has consequences.

What kind of consequences?

I don’t see how there being reasons for doing things as evidence that determinism is the case. What you do constantly changes the outcome of things and the possible reasons. They’re shifting all the time.

CMaz's avatar

“So I am content with the notion that I have free will”

I respect that. :-) GA

But… ;-)

Coloma's avatar

Who’s this ‘you’ that is doing the doing? ;-)

dpworkin's avatar

I have to believe in free will. What choice do I have?

Jeruba's avatar

Haha, @dpworkin. Bonus points awarded.

TooBlue's avatar

Well you could choose to believe in determinism. ;)

Coloma's avatar

There is a good website/forum , I no longer participate there but for those interested…

www.now-for-you.com

Info. & discussion on many ‘teachers’ from Eckhart Tolle ( based on Tolle’s ‘work’ ) to Adviata, ( non-dualism ) and many others.

Pazza's avatar

Damb, I was so drawn to this page…....
I have no free will…......

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It would take a full neural mapping of the decision making regions of the brain, or a philosophical proof that free will is theoretically impossible.

I think your question is a little misleading though. “Determinism suggests that the laws of physics govern everything from the moment of the big bang to the moment of this writing to the moment of your reading…..Determinism suggests that we are free only to obey the laws of physics and that “Free Will” is a meme based in mythology.”

I don’t dispute that the laws of physics are the only determining factor, I dispute the notion that the laws of physics are deterministic on small scales. We are free only to obey the laws of physics, but those laws allow for the amazing complexity of the human mind including the ability to make choices.

CMaz's avatar

“including the ability to make choices.”
Yes, like the window chose to break.

I think the word choice has a different meaning, when there is no free will.

Shuttle128's avatar

@drhat77 I believe in determinism and I believe that changing someone’s mind is a direct result of them being presented with sufficient evidence to have their mind changed. I want other people to understand the processes of decision making so I try to change their minds.

I don’t understand why people say that nothing has a point if determinism holds. Things that I want to do are still what I want to do, it’s just that those things that I want to do are determined by my mental state. That mental state is constructed through interaction with my environment all according to the laws of nature.

Pazza's avatar

In an infinite universe there are infinite possibilities, surely one of these has to be free will?

The universe may not have begun with a big bang, if that’s the case, and if ‘determinism to decision’ is as ‘action to reaction’, how do we know which was first? That is to say, how do we know it wasn’t conciousness that spawned matter since particles need an observer?

If the big bang did occur, how do we know it wasn’t a choice that started it?

I understand that choices are limited, but its too much of a giant leap for me to accept that determinism rules out free will.
“do you want bacon or eggs?”
“But I want corn flakes!”
“We have none!”
“I’ll have nothing then!”
Are we to accept that to choose nothing is also governed by determinism?

Do you think its ironic that this deterministic universe ended up creating biological computers that are hell bent on converting malfunctioning biological computers hell bent on believing they have free will into ones that understand the futility of the concept of free will?

I don’t see how subjective conciousness can exist in a purely deterministic universe?
Is this also a delusion?
How can people actually be delusional?

Doesn’t determinism make this whole thread (although totally inevitable) completely pointless?

Does anybody else see the funny side to this thread being asked by a fundamentalist determinist?

This question is just one big mind f@#k…... my brain hurts (if that’s possible).

Pazza's avatar

Just had a another thought, since your question asked “what would it take”, if the answer was complete irrefutable evidence, how would you explain the people who refused even then to accept the ‘truth’?

Coloma's avatar

Yes, well..if everything that happens cannot NOT happen…we are, indeed, just hamsters on the wheel. lol

People that cannot accept irrefutable ‘proof’..well…then maybe thats Karma…gotta a few more spins to go in the habitrail! hahaha

davidbetterman's avatar

“What would it take for you to accept ours as a deterministic universe and reject the notion of free will?”

This is an impossibility, as Free will is Reality.

Shuttle128's avatar

@davidbetterman First of all…...what?

@Pazza It’s not that what you choose is not what you want to choose, it’s that the physical makeup of your brain has been caused by previous experience and that the physical makeup of your brain causes one and only one outcome to arise.

More in general:

I think people’s arguments against determinism (like “everything is completely pointless”) is very similar to the reaction I get from very religious people toying with the idea of their god not existing. Is it simply a fundamental misunderstanding of what life is like on the other side? Simply a coping mechanism for being afraid of the unknown by rationalizing away the uncomfortable idea?

davidbetterman's avatar

@Shuttle128 I didn’t stutter. Free Will is Reality. You can go against the grain of conditioned response(s) and change the course of one event causing another event to occur in an apparently predetermined pattern:

“It will be a gross exaggeration to say that free will follows as a result of the equations of quantum mechanics, but it remains a fact that it does away with a deterministic universe. The actual state of the universe at any time is absolutely unknowable, even theoretically, and thus its course cannot be accurately determined or known in advance. You can still have your breakfast of choice tomorrow morning.

ragingloli's avatar

Randomness in quantum mechanics =/= free will. On the contrary actually. Randomness = unpredictability = no control over it = no free will.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@davidbetterman That is not free will. Quantum fluctuations and unpredictability are what we call quantum noise. It corrupts data transfer processes, makes photography and x-rays grainy, and contains absolutely no data. If a particular course of action is already mapped out, you cannot assume that you would automatically have knowledge of it or be able to predict where that course of action leads.

My personal belief (which is not based on any evidence at all, just on my philosophical reasoning), is that free will is unique to the animal kingdom, and a result of neural networks. You don’t see electrons with free will, so quantum laws cannot be the driving force. Just what form this neural network would take I do not know, but as I said above I cannot let go of the concept and this is how I think it may exist.

Oh, and you cited a blog? That doesn’t really count as a credible source…..

phillis's avatar

When websites like this exist completely free of humanm need, then I will consider it.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@phillis Does AI really confirm determinism?

Shuttle128's avatar

@davidbetterman Sorry, I took your answer more philosophically than you intended (that tends to happen when I read very short answers with little explanation).

I assumed you meant that free will created or shaped reality ala What the BLEEP.

Mariah's avatar

To me, the fact that physical form has bearing on mental processes supports determinism. When the brain undergoes a physical injury, a person’s personality can become completely different… that says to me that we are ruled by our structural makeup. I wouldn’t call it proof, but I consider it strong evidence.

davidbetterman's avatar

@Shuttle128 @FireMadeFlesh Your belief and/or your understanding is not requisite for shaping reality. What is will remain what is regardless of your belief or disbelief.
Free Will is the nature of humanity. We have it. You can choose to use it or just go along with the flow and continue to parrot the company line.
Either way I hope you enjoy yourselves.

Nullo's avatar

Probably already been said, but here goes:
If the universe were deterministic, then how could you possibly expect anybody to be convinced that they should change their minds?

phillis's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh This website can’t do anything without people determining where it goes, an excercise in free will. It is a social website, created for, and driven by, the human need to interact. AI is void of humanity, and is created out of human need/want.

Pazza's avatar

@Shuttle128
It’s not that what you choose is not what you want to choose, it’s that the physical makeup of your brain has been caused by previous experience and that the physical makeup of your brain causes one and only one outcome to arise. – Understood, but:

If there is a soul, and its locked into this existence residing in the brain with only the five senses and the data which the brain holds for reference, then this could be described as a rat in a maze with only a certain amount of choices, take the rat out of the maze, and its free to do whatever it wants.

So really since (for the moment) the existence of the soul cannot be unequivocally proved or disproved, its going to have to be up to the individual to decide.

But then Ninjacolin’s question was what would it take to convince, I think I would have to say death. But then maybe that would apply to Ninjacolin also, or anyone for that matter, and in the grand scale of things, that’s not going to take long.

So peace out, and I’ll see you all on the dark side….......

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Pazza “So really since (for the moment) the existence of the soul cannot be unequivocally proved or disproved, its going to have to be up to the individual to decide.”

The existence of a soul has been proven to be entirely superfluous. The philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists who research this sort of thing rejected dualism of mind decades ago.

dpworkin's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Cartesian ideas are so ego syntonic that they have held on long past reason.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@dpworkin That is true for the general public, but to claim that it is still an undecided matter is a bit naive. I guess they have hung on so long because of the religious connection, or because people somehow think it is intuitively true, but I think it begs for correction.

dpworkin's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Unquestionably; but we live in a time when large numbers of people still believe that Bishop Ussher’s timeline for the age of the earth is accurate.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@dpworkin Yes, sadly too many people like to believe in some sort of academic conspiracy. Progress is slow; at least the Ptolemaic model of the universe is gone. Maybe Creationism will be next, and then we can move onto Descartes.

Shuttle128's avatar

@davidbetterman You don’t seem to be supporting your arguments in the least. To say that free will exists because free will exists is a tautology and useless in debate.

dpworkin's avatar

@davidbetterman is expert at petitio principii.

Pazza's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh
Where’s the proof?

“The philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists said so!”

LMFAO hahahahah aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahhahahahahahaha.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Pazza Are you putting words in my mouth?

I am busy reading Daniel Dennett’s Consciousness Explained, which I recommend even though it is quite old. The proof is easy enough to find, just read any introductory paper to philosophy of mind.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

The last time I got into this discussion with you it went nowhere, and I don’t propose that we do that again.

Since you’re the one making the assertion here, then it’s up to you to prove it.

CMaz's avatar

There are two glasses of water one is hot the other is cold. You are thirsty, is it free will that causes you to drink that cold water instead of the hot?

You will drink the cold water. Why?
Even if you decide not to drink either but get a soda. Why?

The “choice” you make it a process that caused a reaction. Basically there IS a “reason”. Not a willing of.

Pazza's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh
Ye, sorry ;-). But, the way I read what your saying is that written words from the mind of an individual are the proof? Is there no scientific proof?

@ChazMaz
I fully understand the action/reaction that your describing, but that doesn’t disprove the existence of a soul inhabiting a body. It only proves that in this reality governed by physical laws, that the choices are limited giving rise to an almost entirely predictable outcome if you know all of the contributing factors.

I still maintain (personally), that there is no real way to prove the physical world actually exists outside of the human mind since everything we experience is a secondary image or sensation interpreted by the mind. It could well just be ‘God’s matrix’.

I also don’t see how self awareness could possibly arise from electro-chemical reactions no matter how complex. My own personal belief is that the complex magnetic fields that the brain produces somehow pass information to the ‘self’ or ‘soul’, and you may well say, “ye, bloody nutter!”, and I fully except that may be the case, but at the end of the day, its no weirder than quantum entanglement, a phenomena that I understand is scientific fact now. I do find it hilarious though, how people could fully accept quantum entanglement even before it proven scientifically, and yet the ‘soul’ believers were all nutters, and apparently we still are.

There’s also science itself to take into account, I watched a programme (UKtv), where many physicists still don’t agree with the big bang theory as it stands, as there are apparently holes in the math that people conveniently fill in with ‘fudged’ formulas, for instance ‘inflation’. So either the laws of physics weren’t set in the immediate aftermath of the big bang or something is seriously amiss. Either way there’s just shed loads we don’t yet understand about the universe, and shed loads more to discover. Why can’t one of these discoveries be how conciousness/self-awareness or the ‘self’ communicates with or controls the physical body.

ninjacolin's avatar

Why not wait for just such a discovery to come along, @Pazza?

Pazza's avatar

@ninjacolin – Please clarify?

If you mean one that discounts it, then I’ll be quite happy to accept it as fact when it happens, but then I’ll probably commit suicide knowing my life is completely pointless.

If you mean believe in determinism until then, then I probably would have and did really, but over time I’ve had numerous experiences that will either prove I’m completely delusional and having hallucinations, or there’s something else going on. Either way I’m quite entirely comfortable with my belief’s.

Though, I suppose in a deterministic universe all is pre-ordained and such a discovery is also just as pre-ordained as my beliefs, as will be my resulting suicide when the news hits. lol

Lastly, watched a programme not so long ago, at the end the message went something like, isn’t it fascinating, that the resulting universe, over billions of years has come to create a being made of trillions of atoms, which then evolved with the capability of asking the question, “what is an atom?”

Atoms with subjectivity aye, who’d have thought!

ninjacolin's avatar

first of all, define “pointless.”

if it is pointless, what would be the point of committing suicide?

Pazza's avatar

What’s the point of living a life that’s already mapped out? I just don’t see the point.
The suicide bit is just an exaggeration of the above.

“first of all”
shit, I’m gonna gerrit now arni!

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Pazza I see dualism like mythology. People have a lot of difficulty imagining a materialistic origin for consciousness and intelligence in much the same way that the ancients could not imagine a natural way for life to originate or for the sun to cross the sky. The answer to these dilemmas was to invoke some untouchable mystical force or supernatural agent. When I was very young, I thought that the radio had little people in it talking to us through the speakers. Now that I know how sound systems actually work, I have a materialistic explanation for something that initially seemed fantastic.

There is no identified force or particle in all of physics that can violate the conservation of mass-energy or information laws. If the human mind is not materialistic, then there must be some intermediary that passes information from the immaterial mind to the physical brain, but since conservation laws cannot be violated there is no possible
mechanism for this to occur.

To invoke a soul is to simply delay the problem, much like panspermia does not solve the issues of abiogenesis. At some stage the regression must end and an explanation must be provided, and I cannot find a good reason for that explanation to be postponed to some structure other than the brain.

Pazza's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh
A lot of stuff in there that I don’t understand, and haven’t really got the time to go an research, but, as for strange particles, I’ve read an article, and watched an internet vidie about monatomic gold, these two items of information said that the properties of these exotic particles are peer reviewed, one of which apparently was that the particles could disappear and reappear from nowhere? The articles also said that science knows that there is a white substance in the brain (which apparently has been isolated from pig brains), although they don’t yet know what it is, and that science believes/hypothesises some form of super-conductive activity in the brain, another apparent trait of monoatomic elements

Also, I can’t get my head around how people can bang on about how ‘if its not made of matter it doesn’t exist” or words to that effect, when, quite clearly matter in its seemingly solid form, isn’t solid. And as far as I know, science has only gone as far as saying, “well its a string, well a resonating string!”

A resonating string of what?
And if it resonates, and this resonance vibrates off into the ‘zero point field’, a field that we can’t detect, then why can’t the ‘soul’ exist in this field?

I would like to see how you explain how self-awareness is spawned from the electrochemical activity in the brain though, and yes that’s what I have trouble imagining, not intelligence though, just self-awareness, but that doesn’t mean I think its supernatural in nature, though I do think that word has been propagandised, I don’t see why the ‘soul’ has to be out of the realms of physics, I just don’t think we have the mental capacity or the math language to define/decode/explain it yet.

But its all academic anyway, I’m quite happy to find out what’s really behind the curtain when I pop my clogs.

ninjacolin's avatar

@Pazza, self-awareness is just a meme.
just like America. America doesn’t really exist anywhere except as a descriptive label in the minds of those who’ve heard of it. similarly, self-awareness doesn’t really exist anywhere except as a descriptive label in the minds of those who’ve heard of it.

Shuttle128's avatar

@ninjacolin I don’t think that’s entirely true. There are feedback mechanisms in the brain that allows it to be aware of parts of itself. This can be explained simply by the structure of the brain without invoking a soul though and is still deterministic.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Pazza I hadn’t heard of monatomic gold. Do you have a good link?

“Also, I can’t get my head around how people can bang on about how ‘if its not made of matter it doesn’t exist” or words to that effect, when, quite clearly matter in its seemingly solid form, isn’t solid.”
Matter seems to be solid because the electromagnetic repulsion between electron clouds (Van der Waals forces) prevents the electrons from moving past each other – if that were to occur you would have a chemical reaction every time you touched something. I am yet to see conclusive evidence of any substance that is not matter, so I see no reason to suppose it exists. The trend in physics over the last few hundred years is simplification to common roots, and I am uncomfortable with any theory that tries to add unnecessary complexities.
I am confident that self-awareness can be shown to be electrochemical, but no one has come close yet. Maybe one day when I am qualified in the field I can explain it in more detail.

Without being too familiar with String Theory, I am very hesitant to accept it or pretend it will one day answer all our questions. But that is yet another tangent, and probably one I should avoid for now.

Pazza's avatar

@ninjacolin
Dude, are you telling me I’m not actually aware of my own existence?
I can tell you first hand that I am.

@FireMadeFlesh
Ref: WMAP data.
With regards to the above, and to substances that aren’t matter, wouldn’t dark matter come under that category? Though its been given the title ‘matter’, since we can’t detect it, it could well be anything, or something without substance.

In any case, my own gut feeling and personal view is that matter is just the effervescence of the universe, bubbles of ‘opposite to’ the spacial background field, I can only postulate that these bubbles may form from converging pressure waves in the spacial field, or did at some point in the past (just the madness within my head I’m afraid).

Since I’m only a mechanical engineer with minimal engineering qualifications, I have no way of expressing the thoughts in my head mathematically, and therefore struggle to argue points. All’s I can say is that the stuff makes sense in my head.

Monoatomic gold vidie I watched – http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=2129165010048711403&ei=H4mfS8DVCZLF-Qbr8MSSBA&q=monoatomic+gold&hl=en#

Pdf article – http://www.davidicke.com/monatomic_gold_rp.pdf

I know, I know, its on the David Icke website, just keep an open mind, if the information contained in these articles is true/factual, well…...need I say any more. The Pdf doc is more a journalistic paper, and really just hearsay. But I’m sure somebody of your caliber would have more success uncovering the truth.

Keyword – high-spin monoatomic elements. Apparently all the ‘noble’ metals can be orbitally rearranged to become monoatomic (if I’ve worded that correctly).

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Pazza My gut feeling is that dark energy and dark matter are a modern incarnation of the aether – a substance invented to explain a phenomena that we don’t yet fully understand but that is completely unnecessary. I once read a theory in New Scientist that supposed space mimics a superfluid, in that it creates vorticies without friction, which leads to the idea that the universe itself is spinning on its axis, and there is no more need for dark energy and dark matter.

I had never heard of David Icke, so I did approach that article with an open mind, but it talked about far too many impossibilities to be believable. Suggesting that humans are the result of an alien race’s breeding programs, that they may come back to Earth for gold, that the Bible holds credence on scientific matters, that superconductivity can reduce the apparent mass of an object, that ingestion of a single substance can make people more intelligent and more long lived by such margins, and UFO sightings makes me very sceptical, especially when the author shows so much contempt for modern research and advocates legalisation of drugs. I’ll keep looking for sources though, and see what else turns up.

SavoirFaire's avatar

This question ignores the possibility of compatibilism, which asserts that the notions of free will and determinism are not inconsistent. “Free will” is an ambiguous term, and the metaphysical libertarian does not have a monopoly on it. So while a compatibilist does not say that we have the kind of “could have done otherwise” free will that the metaphysical libertarian says we have, he can still say that we have free will insofar as we are able to act without certain kinds of constraints (e.g. insanity or being chained up).

Determinism may force us to give up metaphysical libertarianism, but it does not force us to give up free will.

ninjacolin's avatar

@SavoirFaire I consider compatibilism a diplomatic cop out from the conversation. If you don’t have free will you don’t have free will.

Compatibilists, by your definition here, are simply determinists who want to allow libertarians to hear their favorite term, “free”, somewhere in the explanation of reality.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@ninjacolin “If you don’t have free will, you don’t have free will” is a tautology, but an irrelevant one. According to the compatibilist, we do have free will. What the compatibilist argues is that incompatibilists have a mistaken definition of free will. They build too much into the concept. In the original question, you are clear about which type of free will you are asking. But you also misrepresent determinists as rejecting free will altogether. They don’t. Hard determinists do, but they aren’t the only determinists in the world.

As for compatibilism being a “diplomatic cop out,” I strongly disagree. For one, compatibilism is hardly diplomatic. Compatibilists take aim at both sides of the debate (incompatibilist determinists and incompatibilist libertarians), saying that neither understands the issue properly. Moreover, it causes a great amount of rudeness (e.g., when it leads people to decry the view as a “cop out”).

For another, it is not a “cop out” at all, but rather the more historically informed view. There is a long philosophical tradition of distinguishing between two different types of free will: liberty of spontaneity (the power to act in accordance with one’s desires or choices without constraints, even if our desires and choices are themselves determined) and liberty of indifference (the ability to have done otherwise in the exact same circumstances). This tradition has always called both “free will” and concerned itself with what entities had which kinds, if any. There was a long debate between the Scholastics, for instance, about whether or not God could have liberty of indifference if He always had to do what is most perfect.

We can set aside the more academic debate about God and focus solely on the distinction. Compatibilists—qua compatibilists—don’t need to make any metaphysical assertions at all. Instead, they need only to say that liberty of spontaneity would be sufficient for free will if we had it. Incompatibilists, of both the determinist and libertarian varieties, say that liberty of spontaneity is not sufficient for free will and that we would need to have liberty of indifference to be properly called free.

Note first that this means that compatibilists are not, as you say, “determinists who want to allow libertarians to hear their favorite term, ‘free,’ somewhere in the explanation of reality.” For they need not be determinists at all. Compatibilism is a claim about the consistency of two concepts, not about which of those concepts might obtain in reality. While the majority of compatibilists are determinists (making them “soft determinists,” as opposed to the so-called “hard determinism” of those who who are determinists and incompatibilists), it is not necessary that one be a determinist to be a compatibilist.

Now, it is a very interesting issue whether or not liberty of spontaneity is a legitimate enough notion of free will for the compatibilist’s claim to be borne out. Certainly, the long tradition of understanding it as a form of free will (even if not the form most desired by some philosophers) provides some reason for thinking it is. Our standard linguistic practices also suggest this. We find ourselves meaningfully less free when mentally ill or when physically threatened (say, with a gun against our head). In both cases, it is common to hear people say that someone “didn’t really have a choice” as if the lack of these constraints was meaningful for free will. Legal systems tend to reflect this as well, which is why one can be declared not guilty by reason of mental defect (e.g., when a schizophrenic breaks the law during the course of a break from reality) or why we may be exempt from penalties when acting on the orders of someone threatening our lives (e.g., if a would-be robber forced you to be the one who actually broke a window or took something from a display case while holding a gun to your head).

Yet there is also the separate issue of whether or not we even have liberty of spontaneity. It might seem obvious that we must at least have that. Even if our choices are themselves determined, it seems they must be part of the causal chain that leads to our actions. If it turned out, however, that our mental states were entirely epiphenomenal—and thus an entirely causally inert product of the world—then it would follow that we do not have liberty of spontaneity. If that were the case, I think it would have to be conceded that we did not have any sort of free will whatsoever.

ninjacolin's avatar

@SavoirFaire I don’t mean to be rude but I do mean to be dismissive. First of all, you’re right that my question ignores the compatiblist’s position. Specifically, because I don’t consider the compatibilist to have a worthwhile position. This is why my question was phrased the way it was.

If you would like to debate compatiblism vs determinism, I’d be happy to. But we should probably start a new thread. Ultimately, it seems quite clear to me that the compatibilist position is arguing for something neither the determinist nor the libertarian are concerned with.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@ninjacolin “Compatibilism vs. determinism” isn’t a debate. They aren’t opposed. And while it is somewhat true that the determinist and the libertarian are concerned with a different issue, the compatibilism vs. incompatibilism debate has always been grouped with debate over whether or not we have libertarian free will because the two debates are related to one another and draw the same philosophers. This means that we need to be careful with how we phrase our questions regardless of which position we hold, if only for the sake of clarity. And that, in the end, is my main point.

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