Proof that free will exists

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  • #101
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I have two rather seperate points to make and they are semi-contradictory (partly contradictory but from another point of view they are more supplementary)... So bear with me, heh.

1) Direction by past events and predistination/predetermination of everything in no way negate free will. Predistination is more like being able to predict the future accurately than it is like controlling the future. If we are predistined, then we are predestined to make certain choices. However, we still do MAKE the choices, it is just already determined what we will choose.
For instance, if there is no random (contrary to what modern physics says) and the positions and velocities of particles at the big bang determine all the future in accordance with the laws of physics, our thoughts and actions are determined by the physics of the electrons and protein molecules in our brains. Our thought processes and choices occur based on those unchangable laws of physics, they are already determined. However, they are still choices and thought processes, we still have free will. Hopefully most of you understand what I'm trying to say, it is rather hard to explain.

2) "not just directed by past events". I'm afraid the proof goes in the opposite direction, my friend. Our thought processes and basis for decisions are learned through past events. The decisions we make are based on past events. Even your post asking for proof only occured because of a specific string of past events that had the result of you thinking about this stuff at exactly the time you did and the result of you choosing to post it and doing so. If we aren't directed by past events, what are we directed by? The concept of "free will" is a bit fuzzy- it obviously means, basicly, that we make our own decisions, but it isn't as clear as that. It seems to have come to imply that we make a decision independent of external stimuli- I ask you what such a decision would be based on? If we cannot rely on external stimuli for information to make the decision, we cannot rely on internal stimuli (memory, etc) either, since all interior content is learned from exterior things. So free will by your definition is apperently the same thing as random- a choice devoid of any reasons. I fail to see why you would think this was how we operate or why you would want it to be so?
To make this a bit clearer, let me go on a bit more. All influences on our minds are external- internal influences develop from external influences (even instincts develop from external influences in our ancestors). All external influences are past events- influences from the future such as "If I don't do this, this thing will happen." are developed by past influences that lead us to that conclusion. So all influences on our minds are, at their core, past external influences. Therefore to be "not just directed by past events" we must make a decision based on nothing we have in our minds. If we make a decision with no parameters, constraints, considerations, etc, the decision is truly random. Either we make decisions based on no information at all, illogicly and randomly, or we are ENTIRELY directed by past events. Free will does not mean freedom from past influences, it means using those past influences to come up with an action and taking it. This is what the brain does, whether we have fates and destinies or not. Even if things are preordained, our brain works like this, so we still have free will. :)
 
  • #102
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Yes, what's the point in having a brain if we don't utilize it?

While it also brings up the notion of an Omnipresent, Omniscient Being, who knows both our future and, at the same time allows us the capacity of free will.
 
  • #103
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Sikz

Good points but...

Originally posted by Sikz

1) Direction by past events and predistination/predetermination of everything in no way negate free will. Predistination is more like being able to predict the future accurately than it is like controlling the future.
My prediction is that I'm going to write to to disagree with you about....now. Wow. I did. My brain states can tell the future of my brain states.

I get what you're saying but how do you explain knowing what you're going to do next?

2) "not just directed by past events". I'm afraid the proof goes in the opposite direction, my friend. Our thought processes and basis for decisions are learned through past events.
Thats' cheating. 'Learned' is not the same as 'directed', and neither of them is quite the same as strictly physically determined.

The decisions we make are based on past events. Even your post asking for proof only occured because of a specific string of past events that had the result of you thinking about this stuff at exactly the time you did and the result of you choosing to post it and doing so.
What do you mean here by 'choosing to post it'?

If we cannot rely on external stimuli for information to make the decision, we cannot rely on internal stimuli (memory, etc) either, since all interior content is learned from exterior things.
That's impossible to prove and strongly disputed by many.

To make this a bit clearer, let me go on a bit more. All influences on our minds are external-
Perhaps, but it's a conjecture.

If we make a decision with no parameters, constraints, considerations, etc, the decision is truly random. Either we make decisions based on no information at all, illogicly and randomly, or we are ENTIRELY directed by past events.
Why does it have to be one or the other?

Free will does not mean freedom from past influences, it means using those past influences to come up with an action and taking it.
What do you mean by 'using those influences', and 'come up with' and 'taking it'.
 
  • #104
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Originally posted by Bernardo
This is why I will never make a great philosopher, even though it's something I enjoy and is good 'exercise'. I like things that can be proven.
Philosophy was spawned to challenge all of the things that you will take for granted in your life. You believe that some things can be proven, and that we have the free will to attempt such proof, therefore philosophy challenges that nothing can be proven and that we may be predestined.
 
  • #105
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Originally posted by Mentat
No, you can't prove one or the other (I've been saying that since PF2), but I can prove that determinism (whatever version you may use) is just a spin-off of free will, and is thus at odds with (and not a justification of) predestination.
I'd be interested to hear that spin off theory. I see what you're saying though. It's all based on perception. If determinism exists, it's so complexed that it has the APPPEARANCE of free will. It's Almost Matrix-esque in nature. We are living inside a dream world, etc.
 
  • #106
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Originally posted by Iacchus32
If the Universe is endless then free will must exist. If the Universe is not endless then it must be pervaded by determinism.

And yet in an endless Universe we can set up boundaries which give us the illusion of determinism, and yet boundaries which are nonetheless breeched, through the capacity of free will.
And we can't prove the universe is endless either, can we?(at least not physically) . And if determinism is true, then the complexities are so intricate that we PERCIEVE it as free will, because of how we view things. Peception is a tricky thing, n'est-ce pas?
 
  • #107
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Dou you guys really think that god would say: I told you so?
 
  • #108
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Great stuff. I thought that you thought that you could prove that you could prove something, even though you were trying to prove that you weren't free to make up your own mind on whether you agreed with what you were trying to prove or not. My mistake.
If I could, I wouldn't be here on pf, I'd be busy publish my new book and picking up my new ferarri;). But I just take one side of the endless debate and give it my all.

I'm not quite certain yet that we can't work out the freewill thing. But we probably have to come at it from a different angle. Great minds have explored all the technicalities of this issue for millenia, and they haven't got anywhere from a 'Western' perspective.


Maybe we're stuck in the wrong paradigm, looking at it in the wrong way, asking the wrong questions. Maybe the world is stranger than we think it is, and we're just not imaginative enough to see it for what it really is. After all we only get a bunch of electrochemical patterns in our brains, we have to reconstruct the world from those.

Bad mistakes must be possible. Mistakes that are life threatening, like a belief that tigers are harmless, would soon be weeded out by evolutionary selection. But what about mistakes that aren't life threatening, or those that actually make us more likely to reproduce?

We could have errors in our conception of the world that go back to the dawn of time when you think about it seriously, we just wouldn't know. As long as they promoted our physical survival they would persist forever in our species as evolving memes. Imagining we have freewill may be one of these persistent errors.

But then the whole notion of a 'real' phenemenal world may be a persistent error. After all this is what Plato and other idealists have been arguing for at least three thousand years. If we can't be certain that the phenomenal world really exists then proving freewill is the least of our problems.

There doesn't seem to be any way through this inevitable muddle. This is why I'm sure that there must be a different way of thinking about it.

The trouble with this subject is that it leads all over the place. For instance the existence of freewill implies that consciousness is causal, and causal consciousness combined with freewill is a definite scientific no-no. So the fundamental mechanisms of cause and effect is the part of the issue as well.

The question of freewill, as you probably know already, raises other difficult questions and eventually calls into question our whole idea of our existence as 'selves' in the 'world'.

“Very few seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds – justifications, explanations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questionner.” (The Vampire Marius, Ann Rice, The Vampire Lestat) [/QUOTE]

Good luck with that. As mentat alluded, every argument for one side evoke an equal argument from the other side- each answer brings 2 more.


I can read that two ways. Are you saying that we act/react and then afterwards create a narrative to explain what happened to ourselves, are are you saying that all this is an entirely physical process?
It's a 2 level process. Basic reactions are processed by our based emotions first, then passed on to our higher functions of reasoning and logic. But our higher functioning and thought processes are based on our BASIC instincts, so in a sense it is tainted. Like touching a hot stove. We do it once and don't do it again. We may see a hot stove, and our higher functions will say "it's not logical to subject yourself to pain as it would serve no purpose". But below that, is the basic instict going "no, hot, pain, bad", and our higher brain functions are interpreting that as the above inner dialogue. That's a rough outline, but I'm no neurologist, so don't quote me on it.

What makes you say that? I would have thought that we need to simplify the problem, not make it complicated to the point where we need a machine to do it for us.

As far as freewill goes my guess is that any such machine would only ever be able to tell us what we'd told it.

Be funny if we built one and, after many long years of programming and waiting, it refused to cooperate or answer any questions.
Ok the point of determinism is that it's a huge equation of everything that exists in which every single variable is known- that's as simple as it gets. I don't think our brains could contain that- do you?
 
  • #109
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Originally posted by Achy47
Dou you guys really think that god would say: I told you so?
I saw an ant today. If I picked it up and told it "I told you so ", would I be god?
 
  • #110
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Originally posted by Zantra
And we can't prove the universe is endless either, can we?(at least not physically) . And if determinism is true, then the complexities are so intricate that we PERCIEVE it as free will, because of how we view things. Peception is a tricky thing, n'est-ce pas?
Perhaps free will, like consciousness, is an emergent property? ... No doubt, because the two are obviously related, if not one and the same.

Also, don't you think the idea of complexity arises out of the fact that there are so many "choices" available? Whereas if there were "no choice," wouldn't that spell "non-existence?" ... i.e., through determinism everything has a beginning which, must ultimately begin with "zero," right? In which case how could anything proceed beyond that which has already been predetermined, which is "nothing?"
 
  • #111
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Originally posted by Zantra
Ok the point of determinism is that it's a huge equation of everything that exists in which every single variable is known- that's as simple as it gets. I don't think our brains could contain that- do you? [/B]
I'm not sure what you mean here.
 
  • #112
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Originally posted by Zantra
I saw an ant today. If I picked it up and told it "I told you so ", would I be god?
If you really did tell it so and you were right in every case that you made a prediction (given that the predictions were not trivial) - Hmm - You would fool me.

I was just making a farce in the first post.


PS. I dont really believe in a god... Just in the existence of higher entities.

Still interesting though. Keep posting.
 
  • #113
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Originally posted by Zantra
I'd be interested to hear that spin off theory.
Techinically, you've already heard it. You see, both in my "path with forks" analogy and in the applications thereof, I have explained that predestination does not include limiting factors. It has no use for them, since you're going to do one thing, and that is the only "path" that even exists. Now, determinism (no matter which form it takes) always takes into account limiting factors. It says that there is only one path that we will take, but it is not the only path that exists, simply the only one we'll take. Ergo, deternism is free will minus the freedom .
 
  • #114
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Originally posted by Iacchus32
Perhaps free will, like consciousness, is an emergent property? ... No doubt, because the two are obviously related, if not one and the same.
Consciousness is not an emergent property. It is a process, just like breathing or eating.
 
  • #115
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Originally posted by Mentat
Consciousness is not an emergent property. It is a process, just like breathing or eating.
Would you say that a TV picture is an emergent property of a television set?
 
  • #116
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Originally posted by Iacchus32
Would you say that a TV picture is an emergent property of a television set?
No. A TV picture is a large stream of photons stimulating my CNS in a particular fashion.
 

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