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What price Free Will?

  1. Feb 26, 2005 #1
    Free will is not free!

    Before starting this thread, I read all of thread "On Free will," which Imparcticle created from thread "Can You prove you Exist" because it had converted into a discussion of "Free Will."His new thread seems to have converted into a discussion of "Random" - First reason for new thread.

    In Imparcticle's post #6 he quotes from a long web page the following price someone was willing to pay for free will:

    That person was suggesting " – the claim that the Laws of Nature are not of our choosing – is a relic of the earlier view that Laws of Nature are God's inviolable prescriptions to the Universe. If we fully abandon the view that the Laws of Nature are prescriptions, then the way is open for us to rescue the theory that Free Will exists.
    6.7 Do Laws of Nature Govern the Universe?...."

    He went on in section 6.7 of his long web page to answer his own question in the negative. He considers the "laws of nature" to be just man made "descriptions." - To me that is a high price to pay.

    I have a Ph. D. in physics and believe the we discover existing laws of nature. I won't pay that price, yet like almost everyone, I feel I make real choices in life and want a rational bases for a belief in Genuine Free Will, GFW.

    Unfortunately, my knowledge of physics (and biology) forced me (for many year) to conclude that Quantum Mechanics was actual determining the details of the neuro-chemistry in the release, transport and attachment of molecules in the synaptic gaps between my neurons. That in truth, I only had the illusion that "I" was deciding anything. - When I am being careful, I put quotes around I, me, we, us, you, etc. to indicate that the "I" I am speaking of is not my body nor any miracle (inconsistent with physics, such as a "soul.") (You will learn just what "I" is soon, be patient.)

    After many years troubled by the inconsistence in my system of beliefs (Believing in both GFW and Physic but not miracles) I began to study vision. Quickly I realized that the theory accepted by almost all cognitive scientists is half right and half wrong. They teach: (1) that the 2D retinal image information is "neurally processed", first in V1, and later in various other parts of the brain, to extract "features" (such as color, motion etc.) that then (2) "emerge" to form our unified perception of a 3D world with discrete reconized objects in it. It is the second (2) part that I concluded is false. I too believe part (1). Eventually I replaced (2) with a new theory and publised the results in the Johns Hopkins APL Technical Digest. (I worked for JHU for almost 30 years.) Totaslly unexpectedly, my solution to the problem of visual perception presented me with a price for GFW that I was willing to pay. You may think the cost is too high. I invite you to consider the attachment, which is a condenstation of that JHU vision paper, with some additions to make the clear how it s possible to have GFW consistent with physics, if you are willing to pay the price as I was and am still. I hope you will comment on both the attachment and tell what price you would pay to make your system of beliefs free fo conflict between your understanding of phyics and a belief in GFW, if you do belive in GFW.

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2005 #2
    Ultimately, free will means:


    I am not quite sure if any thing with that sort of physical ability really exist, except maybe GOD. But even if things in Nature or in the Universe were causally and relationally restricted as so passively presupposed by the above definition, FREEWILL can still be understooded from the point of view of KNOWLEDGE. So, we can still redefine it as:


    Some Philosophers think of DETERMINISM as a buit-in obstacle to freewill. They argue that if determinism (predeterminism) is true, then freewill is impossible. I personally do not think that this is really the case. I always argue that:


    If that is true, then determinism or predeterminism has no real effect on freewill, and even if there is one currently in play this should be construed as ephemeral in scope and in substance.

    Last edited: Feb 26, 2005
  4. Feb 26, 2005 #3
    Philocat said:
    "Ultimately, free will means:

    Billy T replies:
    I grant you the right to define free will as you do, but that is not the free will I am talking about. That is why I called my version Genuine Free Will, GFW.

    Next Philocrat said:
    "So, we can still redefine it as:

    Billy T replies:
    Not sure I understand, but he seems to be converting even his "free will" into "knowledge." I started this thread because I want to discuss GFW, not "knowledge." Please stick closer to the thread in future posts.

    Then Philocrat said:
    "Some Philosophers think of DETERMINISM as a buit-in obstacle to freewill. They argue that if determinism (predeterminism) is true, then freewill is impossible. I personally do not think that this is really the case. I always argue that:
    If that is true, then determinism or predeterminism has no real effect on freewill, and even if there is one currently in play this should be construed as ephemeral in scope and in substance."

    Billy T replies:
    Now you really are way outside the thread. A basic assumption in this thread is that there is a conflict between GFW and Physic (Natural Laws). See attachment to first post of thread.

    You are of course free to disagree, but in some other thread. This thread is about what price one must (or is willing) to pay to resolve this conflict. Perhaps you are saying that you "resolve the conflict" by denying it. OK, but not here.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2005
  5. Feb 26, 2005 #4
    Welcome to the PFs, BillyT :smile:

    I've got a question about one of your premises. You say that we do not consciously perceive the external world, but rather the simulation that such world produces within our brains, right? You also agree that the external stimulus produces that simulation, and is thus causally related, right?

    If such premises are true, then it would be necessary for light to enter my retinae in order for me to newly perceive the simulation of that which emitted/reflected the light ITFP. That would mean that my eyes are still useful, because they convey the information to the "simulation center". If so, wouldn't I need eyes within that simulation center to perceive the simulation? If yes, then I should think that, since we are explaining the perception of external phenomena, and the simulation is "external" relative to the "inner eye" that it enters, and that they (the "inner eyes") must then relay that information to yet a deeper "simulation center", which has its own "inner inner eyes", et cetera ad infinitum....

    Have I misunderstood what you were saying?
  6. Feb 26, 2005 #5
    This is called epiphenomenalism, the idea that our minds are an epiphenomenon (an inert byproduct) of our bodies. I agree with your analysis, but I have to remind you that, like all compatibilists (we are not genuinely free, but it is possible to speak of freedom in a meaningful sense), the argument is off the topic of genuine free will.

    Oh, but I have to comment on that quantum babble. In philosophy, people like to whip out QM like a wild card that makes anything possible. Quantum indeterminate events are not random, in the sense that you use the word genuine (i would say ontological). They are epistemically random, and thus can never lead to genuine free will. Even more to the point, although the outcome of an event cannot be determined precisely before hand, the probability of a particular occurence can be precisely determined in advance (ruling out the possibility of influencing indeterminate events with free will.)
  7. Feb 26, 2005 #6

    Yes, very useful, but not essential in two ways.
    (1)I think even the congentially blind run the real-time simulation I suggest.
    (2)People with normal vision can close their eyes and have visual experiences, admitly not with the same detail as when actually looking at something with eyes open. For example, with your eyes shut you should have no trouble visualizind a tiger (assuming you have seen several before). You will be able to tell me if your mental image of it has the head to the right or the left. (low detail) but you will not be able to count the number of vertical stripes (higher resolution) which you would easily be able to do if you were actually looking ar one. Try it - you will "see" I am right.

    I also note that when sleeping you have visual experiences with your eyes closed (dreams) There is strong evidence that Rapid Eye Movement, (REM sleep stage) is associated with these dreams (but not solid proof). Usually when REM activity exists there is also enhanced EEG signals from the visual cortex. These facts, support the idea that you are having a visual experience of the same kind as when your eyes are open, only it is a low resolution version.

    You did not give me a "no" option, but the answer is NO. You went on to correctly note that the yes responce leads direcly to the infinite regress, but did not cal it by its standard name. By chance, my last post prior to this one was a reply to Bolo in the thread "an idea about consciousness and materialism" (my post was #16 in that thread.) The essence of my earlier reply to Bolo was to warn him that he was on the "slipper slope of an infinite regress." He was concerened as to where the image is since the brain is just atoms etc. He wanted a "monitor" to produce the image and did not seem to understand that the monitor is also, just atoms. I will quote most of my post 16 repying to him to show that I understand well the infinite regress problem:

    "...you are on a slipper slope by suggesting that since you can't preceive the image, you presume that you have some monitor that makes the perception possible. This leads to the obvious question: How does the monitor perceive? Well, it has a monitor with which it pecceives ....etc....etc...etc...without end or resolution of the original problem. (Usually called the "infinite regress trap.)"
  8. Feb 26, 2005 #7


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    Semi Zeki, perhaps the world's leading expert on primate visual systems, has authored with Andreas Bartels a theory (http://www.vislab.ucl.ac.uk/pdf/asoc.pdf) that the visual experience is constructed by a number of independent, asynchronous processes, and that neither the spatial organization nor the times of the visual experiences as we believe them to be are necessary a faithful representation of what our eyes and body experience. Daniel Dennett, of course, presented his theory of competing partial drafts in his book Consciousness Explained. It seems to me that your theory would go well with these. Do you think so?
  9. Feb 26, 2005 #8
    I thank you for "agreeing" but since your "agreement" is a strong challange, I hope you never disagree with me :biggrin:

    I am not very concerned with the names one stick on concepts so I will permit you to apply any labels you like. I do take strong exception to your unsupported statement that "we are not genuinely free." Perhaps your throwing me in the box with "compatibilists" is your "support." If that is thecase, and they agree that "we are not genuinely free," then you have definitely made a mistake to assume I belong in that box/croud.

    The whole point of the attachment to the first post in this thread I started is summed up in the title of the attachment to that first post ("Genuine Free Will is Possible").

    I cannot be sure to which "argument" you are referring in your last sentence above, but surely you do not think that a carefully reasoned, well supported argument, with several proofs in it supporting my claim that Genuine Free Will, GFW, is possible - one that also concludes the statement that one must pay the price of being non material to have GFWis "off the topic" in a thread whose very title is: "What Price Free Will" !!!

    Having spent sever hundred hours turning the crank of QM formalism (both the matrix and analytic versions) while earning my Ph.D in Physics, I can hardly relate to a "quantum babble" concept. I bet anyone who thinks QM is "babble" has never ground thru a QM calculation and probably does not know a hamiltonian from a hamberger! I definitely know that QM is not a "wild card." It is a computationally difficulty and inflexible science. In the hands of one who actually can calculate with it, the results are without any freedom, just like the summation of three numbers has only one correct result.

    BTW you state that you "have to comment" on QM, but the only "comment" I can see that you made is difficult to distinguish from simple name calling.

    I would really enjoy reading any true comment from you on the substance of QM. There are good philosophical questions in QM. For example, please comment on what distinguish an "observation", which forces a mixed state wave function into one pure eigen state, from an "interaction", which only changes the relative strength of the eigen states making up the mixture. I anxiously await your reply!

    QM events are random, so I need not try to understand what you mean in the sentence that starts by denying this. By "events i assume we aree both talking about an event that we know something about -I.e. something that is "observed" (Don't go off into things like "if no human was looking was it an "observation" etc. An "observation" was made, for example, during the interaction of a cosmic ray with some photographic film transported to the high atmosphere even if when the ballon is recovered by some farmer he opens the film box and ruins the expeiment by excessive exposure of the film to light. I.e. no intelligent life form need ever participate in an "observation", but of course you will explain all that to me whne you comment on the difference between "observations" and "interactions." :rofl:

    Unlike me, you must be a real philosopher - you sure seem to worry more about the labels applied to concepts than the concepts to which they are applied. I don't want to get into fine discussions about what is epistemimology, babble, compatibilists, ontology, epiphenomen, etc. - I am a practical physicist who happens to be interested in one philosophical problem: "is GFW consistent with physics.

    To question what I mean by "genuine" is fair enough. I thought it clear from "...Genuine Free Will, GFW, i.e. real choices made by one’s self..." which is part of the fourth sentence of the "Genuine Free Will is Possible" attachment. Much as I destest trying to give precise definitions of non-mathematical concepts, I will expand this "definition" by noting that "genuine" is used in oppsition to "illusionary." - Hope that helps.

    Have you actually read the attachment and still not understood from this and the contex what I mean by "genuine free will"? Were all those words about QM making the real decisions at the molcular level in the complex bio-chemical system of our brains (and thus at best QM only permits the illusion of free will, but not GFW) lost on you?

    There is hope for you yet! YOU ARE 100% CORRECT HERE !!!

    Many people have heard of the QM uncertainity principle and falsely conclude that QM is not deterministic. The equations of QM are completely deterministic (until and "observation" is made). As you correctly note, even the probability of each of the possible eigen states that an observation can force a mixed state into is exactly predictable from the QM equations (any thing exactly predictable is deterministic). Even the popular conception of the uncertainity principle is at least flawed. There are pairs of "observables" (things you can meaure) for which the product of the uncertainity in both measurements has a minium value. These pairs are the ones you compute with "Operators" that do not permute under the Hamiltonian. Pair of observable that do permute under the hamiltonian can both be measured as accurately as your skill (and budget) permits - there is not theoretic limit on the accuracy of simultaneous measurement of variables whose operators do commute under the hamiltonian. I bet this really does seem to be "babble" to you. :smile:
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2005
  10. Feb 26, 2005 #9
    Basically yes. BTW, when Dan's book came out approximately 12 years ago, even though I had paid extra for "expidited" shipment, I had to delay my vacation trip to a Mexico one day to receive it. I already knew I would enjoy it from his prior publications in the CogSci literature. - Less than 24 hours my copy was full of margin notes - I am probably the first menbe of the general bublic to have read that book. I have read many others that are related as well as the literature, but stoped that about 10 years ago when I moved to Brazil. The problem that I solve, and no cognitive scientist can even suggest a solution for (except to mutter the wonderful word "emerges") is how do all the "features" extracted from the retinal image information in very separated regions of the brain ever get unfied again to facilitate the emergence of our unified visual experience?

    I will visit your recommed URL later - must quit now - wife is getting angry with me as we have house guests!
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2005
  11. Feb 27, 2005 #10
    I do physics also, so we are not so different other than that I am using apropriate vocabulary. [when you say: " I am not very concerned with the names one stick on concepts", you remind me of myself in highschool biology].

    How about some quotes of you:

    "we are an informational process in a simulation, not a physical body"

    "GFW does exist in the only world we exist in"

    What is it about information processes that makes them free? That is, how does an information process think and choose?

    How can we have free will if we are always in one to one correspondence with our causally determined physical bodies?
  12. Feb 27, 2005 #11
    Re: just glancing at it

    ok I tried closing my eyes and visualizing a tiger, I could quite easily present a photograph although not as high rez as seeing a tiger admitedly, I could not only count the stripes but I could count the leaves on the trees behind in my photo too, is there something wrong with me, cause you said it's not possible to do that, I am dyslexic which I believe gives me some advantage in visualising the world, didn't realise I had a gift like that, can anyone else who's not dyslexic do this?

    Anyway that aside, we're referring to the fact that QM is random therefore thoughts can also be random are we? And if so then a quantum thought is out side the realms or dictates of predeterminism, probably true, the quantum throws and undeniable chaos into existence that may indicate that there is nothing predetermined as such, since we're all linked to the universe if one truly chaotic change happens in the universe, we should have a staggering potential even exponential for utter randomness and chaos. if every variable is subject to the quantum all be it rarely on the macro scale, then how can anything ever be determined in advance.

    God plays dice with the universe, are we going to suggest those dice are loaded? we can't cause QM says that there are no definite answers just probable ones, even god doesn't have a predetermined idea; I'm not a big philosophy reader, but I do think if you accept QM laws then you can't equate determinism any more. Of course is what we're seeing the >truth< and if not then could we all just be deluding ourselves that there is anything there at all, could QM just be as predictable as classical physics is, are we programmed by nature to perceive things in a random manner to aid our survival, to prepare us for the unexpected on a subconscious level?

    According to NASA and some notable biologists DNA uses quantum principles to locate base pairs quicker for faster replication I read this in a science magazine, but I'm not sure where the original paper is, probably in Nature, can we not then assume the rest of the body including the brain also uses the quantum for expediency, if it does and QM is erroneous, then can we ever see what's really out there, or are our minds trapped in a quantum cage. Please gentleman I make no claims that what I'm saying has any real evidence there just ideas, hypothetical postulates. we can argue both ways snot the argument that matters but the insight we get from such discussion, I think it was Socrates who advocated arguing on both sides of the fence.

    thanks for reading my inane ramblings if you made it this far kudos to you :smile:
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  13. Feb 27, 2005 #12


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    The best shot I have about quantum, the universe, and everything is that we encounter a mixture of deterministic chaos and stochastic determinism.

    Deterministic chaos is all of that fractal and strange attractor stuff.

    Stochastic determinism is what quantum physics brings us, not free probabilities, but probabilities constrained by unitary (i.e. deterministic) evolution between wave collapses;and in practice quantum interactions quickly diagonalize to something that at our scale and temperature looks just like classical physics.
  14. Feb 27, 2005 #13
    Two good questions, but I think I can clarify both with one reply (at least my view):
    "We" (I am using the quotes to indicate that I am speaking of "myself," the aware enity that is probably a sub routine in the parietial simulation,) are not in perfect one to one correspondence with our physical bodies. An exteme example of this is a phantom limb - something very real in the experience of the person suffering it. (for even 20 or 30 years) They of course know it is not there, but their experience of it is just as real / strong as the one that is there. "out of body" experiences are real experiences, but are not, IMHO, events that occurredwith bodies floating in space etc. In a less extreme case, the simulation causes us to perceive things a little different than they actually are. (illusions, sound seeming to come from the actor in a movie with lps moving when in fact it eminates from the speaker on the side wall, hallucinations, etc.) The presumption of "one-to-one" relationship between the physical world and the simulation I suggest we experience is your presumpt or missunderstanding of my claim.

    Perhaps an analogy to a movie, made pixel-by-pixel, will help. Crude productions do not change the appearance of the character's hair even if struggeling in a wind storm. The best production have hundreds is strands of hair in their equations representating a head of hair, but none are exactly reproducing the real motion as the laws of nature would made it happen -too expensive and not needed. So it is in the simulation I suggest, but far better done than Pixel Co. ever dreamed of doing.

    The point is: the simulation is not bound to follow the laws of nature exactly -hence it is not constrained to have a deterministic, or even only a QM probabilistic, future. GFW is possible - can be consistent with physics, but only if "you" are not the material body. (This price I am willing to pay - a paridigm shift about what I am)

    Please note that I am not claiming we have GFW, only showing that we could and not violate physics.

    To be more specifically responsive to your first question: I don't know how the sub routine that is "me" functions, but it sure seems to make choices. I suspect much of it's personality is actually stored in the frontal lobes and possible accessed by what in old fortran was a "call."
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2005
  15. Feb 27, 2005 #14
    Interesting - never tried with a photo instead of an imagined tigre. Some people have "photographic memories" perhapse you are approaching that (or have one) Another possiblility may be important, and you can test this one. Neurons which have been recently active (last few seconds) are more easily excited. It is called idetic memory (spelling may not be correct). You probably have used it many times, when not paying much attention to someone talking and suddenly realize that yu need to. You can quasi "play back" the first part of the sentence.
    This examle is not pure, because we understand sentences with storage of words which could have different meanings (or funtional use) in the sentence until later parts of the sentence contex make it clear which is correct. Great, well known, example of this is the following perfect sentence: "The horse raced past the barn fell." (Hint: "raced" is not the past tense of a verb.)

    Thus try countng the windows on a large office building that you imagined, and with a photo source, try to count the windows at least one hour after last looking at the photo.

    Some physicists, despirate to resolve the conflict between their sense of GFW and physics have turned to the uncertainity of QM, but I never did. I won't pay that price for the type of "free will" you can get from chance. I would prefer to be a classical-physics biological machine, fully deterministic and trust that evolution has it reasonably well perfected by now. For more of my views - see my responce in my last post, #13.
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  16. Feb 27, 2005 #15
    If I understand you correctly, I completelyagree. I think QM plays no essential role in opening the possibility of GFW. That is, real-time simulation the mechanism I suggest opens the possibility of GFW would work just as well even if LaPlace's deterministic universe were phycical fact (except because once GFW exisit in the simulated world and "I" can interact with the physical world, then LaPlace can kiss his predictions good by.) :smile:

    See my replies to others in my post 13 and 14 for more clarification.
  17. Feb 27, 2005 #16
    A TT(Timeless Traveller) is 'Psychophysically Free' because He/She/It always travels and does everything at Time t = 0, regardless of the distance, curvature and dimensions of spacetime. This is consistent with my original definition:

    Being over and above all causal and relational laws of nature or physics.

    Maybe there is a universe where the laws of physics are completely different and what I am defining here is already possible. The question, which my entire philosophy is seeking, is whether this will ever be possible in our own universe? Will it? If the answer is yes, then I will take this to imply that:

    A human being or anything CAN structurally and functionally progress (perhaps be scientifically redesigned) to a point in time where he/she/it KNOWS everything about the world such that it CAN think and act freely and unrestricted by anything else. This would be metaphysically equivalent to being 'Psychophysically Free'. For to be psychophysically free is to be totally free!

    That would be the day!

    NOTE: The Problem with GFW is that it may be a mere speculation locked up behind COP (Critical Observation Point), for a GFW, if it is truely genuine, must demonstrate (without any shaky foundation) how the mind animates the body of any size and scale of referece in spacetime unrestricted or unobstructed by anything else.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2005
  18. Feb 28, 2005 #17
    No, on the standard (Copenhagen) view, they are ontologically random.

    That is back-to-front. The usual idea of QM in relation to naturalistic FW is that quantum indetermism supplies the needed elbow room , ie QM constitutes FW, not FW influences qunatum events.
  19. Feb 28, 2005 #18


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    Your reply here seems to take something of a naive realist view. We do not have to suppose that our experienced mental models of our bodies are in perfect correspondence with our actual, physical bodies in the quite literal and straightforward way you suppose here in order to assert a correspondence from body to mind. The relevant correspondence to consider here is from parts of the brain to parts of the mind. For example, if we can show that the experience of phantom limbs is always accompanied by neural activation of a certain sort (and I don't think you would contest that it is), then we have our one to one correspondance from body (physical brain) to mind (experienced simulation).

    I don't know if your view really solves the problem of free will. You claim that it shows us that free will is real and not illusory, but it seems to me that if anything, it suggests the converse. So long as you concede that the nature of one's experienced simulation of the world is determined by physical brain processes, and that these processes are determinant, it follows that every aspect of the simulation itself is determinant. It doesn't matter if the simulation faithfully tracks every aspect of the external world; what matters is whether the simulation faithfully tracks every relevant aspect of the human brain. And, of course, the simulation does faithfully track certain goings-on in the brain if the simulation is determined only by physical brain events.

    More concisely: Nothing can happen in the simulation that cannot happen (in the appropriate corresponding sense) in the physical brain; no activity in the brain disobeys physical laws; therefore, everything about the simulation is bounded by physical law in the same way that the corresponding brain activity is bounded by physical law.

    To take another angle, if the logic behind your claim that genuine free will is possible because it exists in simulation is accepted, what is to stop us from saying that genuine, unaided human flight is possible because we can fly in our dreams? This observation may grant us some sense in which we can fly, but surely not in a way that deserves the title 'real, as opposed to illusory' or 'genuine.'
  20. Feb 28, 2005 #19
    I do NOT "suppose that our experienced mental models of our bodies are in perfect correspondence with our actual, physical bodies in the quite literal and straightforward way you suppose here...." as your restatement of my views claims I do. I do just exactly the opposite. - The following extract from my post #13 of this thread proves you have either not read it or havemisunderstood me:

    "Perhaps an analogy to a movie, made pixel-by-pixel, will help. Crude productions do not change the appearance of the character's hair even if struggeling in a wind storm. The best production have hundreds is strands of hair in their equations representating a head of hair, but none are exactly reproducing the real motion as the laws of nature would made it happen -too expensive and not needed. So it is in the simulation I suggest, but far better done than Pixel Co. ever dreamed of doing.

    The point is: the simulation is not bound to follow the laws of nature exactly -hence it is not constrained to have a deterministic, or even only a QM probabilistic, future. GFW is possible - can be consistent with physics, but only if "you" are not the material body. (This price I am willing to pay - a paridigm shift about what I am) Please note that I am not claiming we have GFW, only showing that we could and not violate physics."

    I agree that "no activity in the brain disobeys physical laws." but not with the part that immediately follows: "therefore, everything about the simulation is bounded by physical law in the same way that the corresponding brain activity is bounded by physical law."(Perhaps "about the simulation" saves you from my objection. - I do agree that every neuron firing in the execution of the simulation is governed by the physical laws if that is all you ment. But if you mean the content/meaning/simulation itself is so governed, then my portest agains misquoting/misrepresenting me still stand.)

    I hope that my above comments, taken from my post #13, makes it clear that in any advanced computer (the human brain's parallel processing one being far beyond any man can currently imagine) it is possible to simulate, pixel-by-pixel a fire, but leave out any representation of the heat being produced. I.e the simulation is NOT constrained to follow physical laws simply because the computer in which the simulation "runs" is constrained to follow physical laws. "I" live only in the simulation. Thus "I" can violate physical laws in this simulations which is the only thing "I" directly experience. I do believe that the physical world does exist and every material object in is is constrained by the physical laws, but "I" am not physical. Because some may misundstand that I am asserting that I have a "soul", let me clearly state that this is a possibility I will grant, but as an agnostic, I do not believe in "souls" and do not find them or God necessary to resolve the conflict between physics and GFW. Again I am not claiming to prove GFW is "real" - only presenting what I think is a proof that it could be.

    I think I can defend my claim to the title "real" better than you can defend the existance of anything in the physical world. How do you know there is a physical world (which we both do believe exists)?
    I believe it because it is a reasonable and simple way to give a probably cause to all most all of my direct experiences. That is I infer from my direct experiences that the physical world exists. No such inferrence is required for me to know that my direct experiences are real. - Like Descarte -I can not logically deny them.
    It is quite possible to logically deny the existance of the physical world. Bishop Berkeley did such a good job of doing this more than 150 years ago that no one has been able to demonste a flaw in his logic Most of his book is anticipation of many different objections he expected to his view that God gives him experiences and makes them quite regular (usually following what you and I would call the physical laws) because if they did not have a regular pattern and "miracles" were common, then miracles would lose they power to inspire etc.

    Please do not misunderstand this citation of Berkeley - If the physical world does exist as you and I infer it does (Note that you and I could be making an error with this inferrence and Berkeley could be correct, but I prefer to run this risk instead of firmly accepting the existance of his God. - I remain an agnostic.) Thus I am quite certain even the most real and sincere "out of body" experience is not related to any physical body "floating in space" and doubt that it corresponds to a "soul" floating over the person's body also. I can not firmly deny the latter possibility, but again, I prefer to explain "out of body" experiences the same way I explain GFW - a very real experience in the rela-time simulation, just like the other experiences from which I somewhat less confidently infer there is "real" physical world.

    Basically it comes down to this: we are debating what is more "real" (Both of us want to appropriate this word.) I claim that the directly experienced world is more real than anything which may be erroneously inferred from those direct experiences. I think you claim that "No the physical world is 'real'
    and you are a part of it, especially poorly understood processes in your brain."
    But again, I ask about the foundations of your belief in a physical world. - Does it have any bases other than your experiences? In not, then you must grant "real" to the experiences upon which you base the very existance of the physical world. Surely, you don't want to state/claim that these experiences are false/less real/etc. and then conclude anything strongly from a false/less real/etc. starting point do you?

    I will conceed that 99+% of the population may use "real" as you do, and agree with you, but logic is not something one votes on, so until you can refute my logic, I will stand near, but not with Bishop Berkeley. I differ from him in that I think part of the physical world, specifically the parietal section of my brain,(with a lot of help from the frontal lobes as far as the "sub routine for "me") is creating "me" and my experiences in a real-time simulation, that is "by evolutionary development" nearly in accord with the physical world's laws, but not to the extent that GFW is impossible,in contrast to his use f God for the purpose of creating his experiences. (He thought he was a "lesser spirit" than God, but like God, immortal, so we also differ on this point. (I suspect that when die, it is all over, I even believe "I" ceast to exist every time my body is in a deep sleep state (sim is not running then.)

    I am not well enough versed in philosophy to know is I should dispute the label you gave me at the start of your post ("naive realist") but labels are of little concern to me so I will not worry. Perhaps my strange position is too unusual to have acquired any correct label. Please read carefully what I say, without too many assumptions about it. When you disagree, quote my error back to me. Don't restate it, especially when my actual belief is just the opposte of your restatement. Thanks and I hope you will continue to challenge my position.

    PS If you have the power and read my posts 14 of this thread, please correct the ] that should have been [ so hat the bold is correctly displayed in it. I can not longer edit 14 or I would do it. thanks.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2005
  21. Mar 1, 2005 #20
    IMO it is a mistake to think that a decision made by a process involving randomness is just random per se. Likewise, it is a mistake to say
    evolution is random because it involves random mutation.


    Why this is necessary ? You could say that humans are unprecticable
    and therefore cannot be "projected ahead", but that raises a
    problem: it implies that there is real FW -- or at least
    unpredictability -- out there, whereas the thrust of your argument is that
    it exists only in an internal virtual reality. How is it possible ? You cannot
    model an unpredictable system with another unpredictable system --
    one die does not predict another ?

    Insofar as it is implemented unmiraculously by the brain it must
    be following *some* rules, just as a computer animation
    must follow some sort of programme, even if it is not physically
    realistic. How could it be any sort of "projection" otherwise ?

    (Well, the brain or the computer could have a random component,
    bu then we are back to FW in the real world).
  22. Mar 1, 2005 #21
    If you are saying that from many random event very predictable average come (like the half life of radioactive atoms or live insurance making money from their statistics about randome deaths) i FULLY AGREE.

    IMO, the problem of having GFW is to "escape from predictability" that classical physics forced on LaPlace. Quantum Mechanics at least offered some unpredictability, and quite a few philosophers and physicists, have ceased this opportunity to try to rationalized their feeling that they have GFW with their understanding of physics. I for one was never tempted to go down that path, inpart for the very reason you point out (large number of QM events tend to become predictable). Since cells in my brain are dying all the time, and that does not seem to make much difference, no small set of quantum events can make any difference, (MHO). Even if this very reasonable objection of yours could be overcome, I don't want the type of free will that chance permits. "I" want to make my own choices.

    Yes I could and again agree. However, the unpredictability does not come originally from any material body. It comes from two facts: (1) the "I" in their simulations probably does have free will in its own simulated world. and (2)when "it" decides to do something, for example kill someone, LaPlaces deterministic world just collapsed, without any reference to QM required. That is a "seconday" not primary, free will does exist in the physical world.

    You appear to be a little consfused or misunderstanding what I am saying about "projecting ahead." The projection I speak of is just to "commensate for neural delays." Because of this misunderstanding I will ignore some of your questions based on thinking I was projecting behavior of other humans.

    Sure we have expectations about what others will do, often forcasting months ahead. I was talking only about the fact we perceive "in real time" and can even hit "curve balls" with bats because we do not do what almost all cognitive scientists say we we do (neurally transform sensory signals, extracting their characteristics "features" in different parts of the brain until in some way none explain, they "emerge" unified as our 3D understanding of (experience of) the external world.

    Excellent question! and frankly I don't know the answer. Some what like people who explain where the world came from with "God made it."
    I "explain" how non random free will enters the real-time parietal simulation by saying there is a sub routine, probably running in the frontal lobes, that the simulation makes "calls" to (are you old enough to know about Fortrain's calls?) to model "my" psychological existence in the simulation. (My physical body is part of the parietal simulation directly.)
    There is a lot of tissue up there in the frontal lobes, clearly a lot of it is doing planning, perhaps in it is some "value funtion" that like big blue "making a decision" about which of a large set of possible chess alternatives is "best" - I am just guessing. I need all the help I can get here.
    I have always been careful to make it clear that GFW may be only an illusion until this question of yours is laid to rest. I have not the least confidence in how I make the real choice I talk about and think I do. Please help if you can. I do want to note that even if restricted to only the frontal lobes, that "wet ware" parallel processor is so far advance on any that man can even conceive of that is not not very safe to put limits on what it can and can not do. But again your question is the best yet thrown at me and I have to admit I am ducking.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2005
  23. Mar 1, 2005 #22
    I'm not. I am saying that a random event may or my not have large
    scale consequences. A random mutation may spread into the population,
    but most die out.

    Since it is possible to do physics with single particles, that is not invariably the case.


    That is an interesting objection and not one I have heard before. But how do you know it is not making a difference ? None of us can give a complete causal account of our actions ? I could also object that there are computer
    programmes which a) make use of randomness also programmes which are
    b) robust against unexpected hardware failures, and AFAICS it is possible
    to engineer a system which has both capacities.

    In my book "you" are the total outcome of Random Idea Generation and
    Sensible Idea Selection, and the total "you" is making choices, just as
    the total evolutionary process, and not mutation alone, decides a
    species fate.

    If something does something which I witness and could not have predicted,
    how could it fail to come from their material body ?

    I can't make much sense of that. What is "it" ? Why should my failure
    to predict bring about the collapase of causality (epistemic indeterminsim is not ontological indeterminism).

    If other humans are in your visual field, they are as in need of being projected
    to make up for neural delays as anything else.

    But how does treating people in our visual fields as unpredictable
    help, any more than treating them as predictabe and getting it
    wrong ?

    Yes :blushing:

    I'm pretty lost as to where you are going with this. I don't see why we
    need a virtual-reality FW in the first place, I don't see why it shouldbe called "genuine", and I don't see how it can be implemented without
    either snaring us in delusion, or amounting to a thoroughly real and physical FW.
  24. Mar 1, 2005 #23
    Good point I agree and it would certainly be possible to set up a suituation in which bomb goes off is atom A decays befor atom B even if someone does not believe in the natural process.

    I missed your pont here. In the one you are responding to I was just trying to say why I looked for some solution to the determinisms vs free will problem without turning to QM as many have.

    Another good point(s) I had never though about the possibility that clever evolution set up backups ("robust against unexpected hardware failures") to cope with cell death in the brain

    Certainly a reasonable view. What is the "total you" If you understand what i a trying to say with an "I" sub routine,can you contrast your "total you" with it?

    What you witness surely does. I think you missed "original" in my posts and later my distinction beween primary and secondar free will, the later being the free will in the quasi deterministic physical world.("quasi" = QM playing small role most of the tme but your first point showing "not always".)

    Nor I about "collapase of causality." Does 'collapase of causality" = rise of FW?
    About my "It" - I was trying to refer to the primary FW that by killing someone, made "secondary" FW/ moral responsibility in the physical world obvious (an a reason for punishments etc, I might now add.)

    Yes. everything natural (during evolution) that for example makes an image on the retina, (modern TV and movie images now excepted) makes continuous/smooth changes in the retinal image that can be projected to compensate for neural processing delays and permit all us a real time perception of the world as represented in the simulation.

    I don't understand why you bring this question, but I do recognize animate objects in my field of view as less predicable than inanimate one, but so what? With what does it "help"? perhaps this is better dropped as neither of us seem to be communicatingto the other well on this point.

    I am reasonably sure that QM does not provide the GFW I wanted, and classical physics surely did not. (Unless God did grant some real primary choices to man who by acting on them made secondary FW in the physical world.) As the title to this thread states, there is a price to pay for GFW. I still think that price is that GFW must originate in some non-material enity. I don't think "souls" any more of an expanation that "God made it" provides an expanation for where matter (or BB now days) came from. At least "soul have free will" did not do it for me. My best stab at a non-material source of "primary GFW" is an information process in a very advanced computer. (the human brain). If someone can do better, i'll gladly sign on board his ship.

    Almos t wish I had not put the "g" adjective in front. All i am trying to do is distinguish GFW from IFW (illusionary free will), not more, not some guarantee etc.
    BTW, enjoy your comments very much, but can't keep up this pace for long.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2005
  25. Mar 1, 2005 #24


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    Sorry, I should have worded that more clearly. Let me try again: when you argue that the contents of the mind (the simulation) are not in perfect correspondence with the body, what you do is argue against a naive realist view. Naive realism is essentially the view that we directly perceive the world; for instance, if I were a naive realist, I would claim that what I see and feel as my arm literally is my arm as it exists in the external world. You are correct to point out that phenomena such as phantom limbs are very problematic to the naive realist view. As a result, most (if not all) thinkers do not take naive realism seriously (although thought processes symptomatic of naive realism do tend to pop up here and there even for those who disavow it; it seems our brains are naturally oriented towards viewing the world through a naive realist lens, for obvious evolutionary purposes).

    The problem I wanted to point out in my last post is that, to argue against the concept that the contents of the mind are not in complete correspondence with the body, it is not enough to defeat naive realism. The dominant modern views (well supported by mounds of evidence) holds that the contents of the mind are in direct correspondence with the physical body, insofar as the activity of certain parts of the physical brain systematically covary with the contents of the mind. I do not doubt that you already grasp this, but you seem to fail to take it into account in the meat of your argument. Phantom limbs are enough to thwart naive realism, but are easily accomodated by the modern view; we can show that the experience of phantom limbs is always accompanied by a certain type of neural activation in the physical brain, and so we retain our correspondence from body to mind.

    This analogy uses similar reasoning to your phantom limb example, and is similarly flawed. The relevant analysis here would not be to compare the 'physics' implied by a computer simulation of a set physical events to the actual physical laws that govern nature. We should not ask if the simulated world need imply a physics identical to 'actual' physics; obviously, it need not. Rather, we should ask whether the things that went into the creation of the simulation-- the computer hard drive, the monitor, etc.-- must follow actual physical laws, and obviously (unless we want to be radically skeptical), they must. The scene depicted by a computer graphics movie can well have objects falling 'up' away from the Earth, but the electrons shuffling around in the computer's transistors cannot do anything but obey quantum mechanical laws.

    In this sense, the contents of the CG movie are strictly bounded by physical law-- we can make any kind of CG scene we want, whether it's one that depicts a scene that seems to strictly follow the laws of physics or not, so long as its contents are consistent with some kind of hard drive or other computing device that does in fact obey physical law. Likewise, the brain presumably cannot do anything to violate physical laws, and the activity of the brain systematically covaries with the contents of the mind, so the contents of the mind are similarly bounded by physics. If my brain were wired differently, I might well experience objects that tend to float away from the ground-- but only if this experience is consistent with some particular brain activity that obeys physical laws.

    Consider things from the opposite direction. Suppose I have an experience as of having freely made a choice, seemingly unbounded by anything but my own will. All we can say with a fair degree of certainty is that my subjective experience has been mirrored in some manner by the activity of certain parts of my brain, and that this brain activity has obeyed physical law. Hence, nothing in the account thus far has violated physics. Now, it's a further question of whether or not my experience accurately represents what has happened (I presume that it must be an accurate representation if it's to be called 'genuine' free will). Just as my visual faculties can inaccurately represent physical objects in the case of visual illusions, however, it seems as though my experience of free will can be an inaccurate representation of the actual state of affairs. If my brain is rewired so that I see objects falling up, certainly my visual experience is genuine and real in its own right, but it is not a genuine account of what is actually happening in the external world. We can make an analogous case for free will; certainly, the experience itself is genuine and real enough, but its a further claim to assert that the experience faithfully depicts what has happened in the grand scheme of things.

    The problem here is that if GFW were possible, it should presumably have causal effects on the physical world. If these effects can be such that they do not violate known physical laws (as you claim), then we are lead to doubt whether the kind of free will we are talking about is really 'genuine.' You have tried to undermine this problem by asserting that the contents of mind do not exactly mirror the circumstances of the body/external world, but to effectively argue for this, you need to argue that there are some contents of mind that do not find correspondence (in some fashion) with brain activity.

    Even if you could argue effectively for that proposition, it seems you'd still be in trouble. You'd have GFW-type goings-on in the mind that do not find reflection in the physical brain, and thus they would be cut off from having causal effects on your physical body and the external world.

    I generally agree with you that the ontology that asserts an external, physical world is just an inference, and that we must take our subjective experience as the most 'real' thing that we know. I certainly do not deny that, in our subjective experiences, it seems as if we have something like free will. I do not deny either that, in our visual experience, the two lines in the Muller-Lyer illusion seem to be of unequal length. The thing that both of these experiences have in common is that they are more than just raw experiences in themselves; they are experiences that we take to represent some structural (length) or functional (causation) properties. While we cannot doubt that we have the raw experiences in themselves, we can doubt that the structural or functional properties that they seem to represent actually exist, or rather, are consistent with other methods of assessing these properties (eg using a ruler to measure length, or reasoning about the nature of physical laws to come to conclusions about causality).
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2005
  26. Mar 2, 2005 #25
    But something that is not material in the sense of an information-process
    (software, VR, etc) is always going be very strictly tied functionally
    to the hardware that is implementing it -- it can never really take off an enjoy any freedom of its own because it doesn't really exist in its own right.
    You can represent a different set of physical laws in VR, but they are still laws, and if they part company with the real reality to much or too often,
    they are not going to enhance an organisms ability to cope with its environment.
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