Is life a matter of evolving chemistry?

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  • #101
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Well, my point is that this '"extra-physical" effect' is just an invisible unicorn. It does not answer anything, it is just shifting the question around.
 
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I suppose that you could hypothesize the Invisible Unicorn Theory that posits the primacy of "IU" causation. It would be consistent with the concept that ANYTHING that breaks the physical chain of cause and effect... anything that is causative but uncaused... would have to be an "extra-physical" process/entity. The paper's authors might agree with the logic, but I suspect they would be somewhat sceptical of the causative agent hypothesized. On the other hand, I suspect that they might be sceptical that free will is endowed with causative agency as well.
 
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  • #103
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is life a matter of constantly evolving chemistry?

I suppose that you could hypothesize the Invisible Unicorn Theory that posits the primacy of "IU" causation. It would be consistent with the concept that ANYTHING that breaks the physical chain of cause and effect... anything that is causative but uncaused... would have to be an "extra-physical" process/entity. The paper's authors might agree with the logic, but I suspect they would be somewhat sceptical of the causative agent hypothesized. On the other hand, I suspect that they might be sceptical that free will is endowed with causative agency as well.

This is an unnecessary side show, since evolution (making life emerge through biochemistry) is known to be a completely natural process.

"Free will" is by the way an odd gap to try to stuff magic in, since it exists as an effective theory and as a philosophic idea of no natural consequence. Our minds can pretend that they choose, not the larger body that they embed in, since a) it is a post facto reconstruction and b) biology is emergent and complex. And the philosophic idea is equivalent to religious dualism.

So nature is known to be a monism ever since thermodynamics could study closed systems. If it wasn't, thermodynamics wouldn't work. (Or more quantitatively, having 3000+ closed systems behave naturally is enough for a binomial test @ 3 sigma. We have described way more such systems...)

Since inflation goes back as far as we can look, there is no sense making an extraordinary claim of magic (or having 'nothing' appear out of everything going back in time, as the religious like to claim). There would be no evidence, far less extraordinary such. (Also, in religious/philosophical magic terms, the magic agents/philosophies would be Last Thursday liars, pretending that the universe is entirely natural but it wasn't at one time. The magic believers probably wouldn't like that! On the other hand scientists know that minds lie about themselves making choices, because we evolved that way. =D)
 
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  • #104
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Free will is based on our thoughts! Free will is not so free, as it usually favors our own interests. We almost never choose (without forced by inner pathologic tendencies) to do something against our interests. Since thinking is merely a biochemical process taking place in the brain, and on the same time is a weapon to promote our survival and our interests, one can say that it is in a way an aspect of metabolism and a weapon for our self-sustainance, exactly as the respiratory or the cardiovascular system, or any other metabolic process…

This seems very reasonable. I can't make a compelling argument that you're not absolutely correct. But I'm frequently astounded by the fact that people who understand this on a cognitive level don't seem to fully appreciate the gravity of the implications.
For example, you said "We almost never choose... to do something against our own interests." But if you are right, and you quite possibly are, there is no "choosing" about it. It's not as if you weighed your options and decided on the appropriate action, whether for your interests or not.
 
  • #105
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This seems very reasonable...
I agree it largely does, however there are some situations like for example purchasing a car, (or anything else).
The eventual decision can be based on unquantifiable variables like 'looks', 'coolness' and all kinds of ego satisfaction,
regardless of the physical measurable performance of various features of the car etc.
Is that free will?.
Is ego satisfaction a measurable property of an object?
 
  • #106
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Is ego satisfaction a measurable property of an object?
It certainly is after a lifetime of being "satisfied" by objects if that is how you choose to live. It is a learned behavior that could very simply stem from primal instincts to appear more formidable to rivals, but you have the ability defy your programming.
Free will is not so free, as it usually favors our own interests.
To talk about "freedom" to pursue one's interests is a no-brainer. To talk about sacrifice, now there are some points to discuss regarding free will. Another good point would be how addiction circumvents your free will. It is hard to isolate free will from "evolved chemical responses" and learned behaviors. It seems to me free will is best exemplified by choices which defy all expected outcomes yet is not a random choice.
 
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The eventual decision can be based on unquantifiable variables like 'looks', 'coolness' and all kinds of ego satisfaction, regardless of the physical measurable performance of various features of the car etc.
Is that free will?.
Is ego satisfaction a measurable property of an object?

We could try to frame this in terms of "ego satisfaction" being correlated to increased sexual attractiveness... being "cool", and driving the fancy sports car helps in acquiring the breeding partner... and thus, it's a competitive advantage for natural selection.
I'm not sure if that's an overly compelling argument. But regardless, it's entirely aside from the point. If your consciousness is tied directly and unalterably to neurological function, you had no choice in the matter.
If the physicists are correct in their contention that the "warm and noisy" physical environment of the brain imposes quantum decoherence that prevents significant quantum uncertainty in the biochemical/neurological process, then the action is deterministic. While the "motives" for the car purchase might be unquantifiable, the neurological processes that result in the purchase are not. In fact, the entire concept of "motive" becomes largely irrelevant.

It is a learned behavior that could very simply stem from primal instincts to appear more formidable to rivals, but you have the ability defy your programming.
No, you can't defy your programming... IF your consciousness is physically tied to neurological action.

It seems to me free will is best exemplified by choices which defy all expected outcomes yet is not a random choice.
IF consciousness is physically tied to neurological action, there ARE NO "choices". Any "unexpected outcomes" are simply a reflection of unpredictably due to the incalculable complexity of the chaotic physical system.
 
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  • #108
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No, you can't defy your programming... IF your consciousness is physically tied to neurological action.
That's what I am saying. We can defy our instincts. Our neurological action would have to facilitate our "free will" in some manner, IF free will does exist.
 
  • #109
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That's what I am saying. We can defy our instincts. Our neurological action would have to facilitate our "free will" in some manner, IF free will does exist.
What I'm saying, again, is that that's not possible. IF consciousness is physically tied to (a direct result of) neurological activity, then there IS NO "free will". Consciousness is a deterministic physical process, and part of the entire physical system.

So nature is known to be a monism ever since thermodynamics could study closed systems. If it wasn't, thermodynamics wouldn't

Torbjorn is exactly right. Nature is monistic by logical necessity. Thermodynamics forbids Cartesian dualism. There is no "ghost in the machine". Either the the ghost is an epiphenomenon produced by the machine, or the machine is an epiphenomenon produced by the ghost. I definitely can't say that the former is not the case, but one or the other must be true.
 
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  • #110
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But whatever isn't in your brain can't be in your mind.
Either the the ghost is an epiphenomenon produced by the machine, or the machine is an epiphenomenon produced by the ghost.
I think this is irrelevant. Whether our free will would come from a "ghost" inside a puppet creature or if the brain itself has an inherent capability is a matter of mechanics, not results.
Well, my point is that this '"extra-physical" effect' is just an invisible unicorn. It does not answer anything, it is just shifting the question around.
You said it at the top of the page and I'm saying it again. All I am trying to get at is how to "isolate" the actual results which could be observed that could indicate a "free choice" has been made and it just seems to be getting more obvious the more I think about it. We know there are drugs which can alter your willpower exclusively so you can stroll into your bank and withdrawal all your savings and hand it to your "friends" like they asked you to. It doesn't mean either way that it disconnects the ghost from your brain or alters your electrochemical signal transmissions. The ghost and the machine seem to be an inseparable unit.
 
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  • #111
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Thread locked for moderation.
Edit: It appears this thread will remain locked for going off topic and getting into philosophy.
 
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