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KorbenDallas

Free will discussion with Onkar Ghate and Yaron Brook

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At the end of one's life even if it is "cut short" 99.9999 percent of humans *want* something more. What does *want* scientifically prove? Peter   

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On 7/9/2019 at 10:19 PM, Dglgmut said:

I'm atheist and spiritual. I just think our spirit is part of the physical world, and that free-will is self-evident.

That self-evidence of "freedom of will" (as N. Branden has put it) is what determinists, usually also skeptics of mind, are quick to disparage. They won't make the causal connections taken from their own past experiences, so can't perceive of anyone being able to do so. Rather than one 'scientific' experiment trying to discredit free will, each individual personally ~knows~ volition from an ongoing self-experiment with his (often, most minor) life-acts and -choices. This - or that? (Or neither?) Now- or later? (Or never?) Etc. Countless instances of those.

Awareness may begin for one, when an infant, knocking a plate off the table:  "Me did that!" The connection of "me" affecting some "thing", so being first cause, free and regardless of "antecedent factors".

Growing confidence in one's free mind to be effective in further complexities of choice - self-cause and effect in action - empower one to achieve further still - within the limits of what's possible.. 

The (apparently) non-self-aware, skeptic-determinist only sees prior causality, which ~must~ be followed, making each individual life an obedient "effect". Thinking: "this" impacts upon one, so only "that" can result.

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On 7/13/2019 at 5:45 AM, Dglgmut said:

I think Sam Harris would argue that thought is the result of physical processes, and thus it is not the thought per se, but the physical aspect of that thought which creates the change in neural pathways. So again, it is really impossible to prove, within the realm of physics, that free will exists.

As for eliminating the self, I assume you mean the concept of self. In that case I think you're right that eliminating the concept of self, or the ego, makes for much more predictable behavior.

 

I think, conversely, much more *unpredictable* behavior, Dg. The concept of self has more going for it than 'a self-concept' - the "self" has identity, it is an existent, an instance of autonomous consciousness. An identity -- the reasoned knowledge and rational moral standards which an individual has acquired (or less/or not acquired), form the base (or not) of his free choices, simplistically, to do one thing or another or nothing, in accordance with reality. If he has lost this base, he's left at the mercy of whatever random, passing "causes" that come along, and behaves erratically and arbitrarily,  or copycatting others. Then, naturally, he'd claim the validity of determinism above free will.

(I doubt that his "self" - i.e. consciousness, ego - is ever totally "lost", nor is his free will - without some small reserve of those, a person could not survive, he'd be e.g. run over by traffic early on. So the argument that determinists make is invalidated by the stolen concept fallacy: they rely on this reserve of free will in order to deny it).

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17 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

Can you be more specific? How was it determined that almost all humans want something more? What kind of experiment was this???

 

 

I am aware of no science or experiments. I know from observation, including Hollywood's and literature's final death scenes, self written obituaries and tombstones, and personally listening to the dying breaths of my loved ones, including my own Dad. Wishes. Regrets. Final wills. Most conscious but dying humans express those emotions. Even animals have fears at the time of death, expressed in whimpers and pleas, understandable to humans. A female German Shephard named Judy that I owned whimpered by an old outside air conditioner wanting to be brought inside,  as she lay dying. I did, though her fur smelled long before her final breath. I  miss my parents. I think everyone except those in pain want to remain alive, with the exception of the suicidal.  Hollywood depicted "Rosebud" as one final word, and Napoleon said, "Mama."      

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In his video this fellow says that if free will were 'scientifically' debunked, "This would have compelling effects on our notions of praise, blame, pride and guilt". 

What's really disturbing - it makes him happy. And you have to wonder why. Perhaps he hasn't thought through what all the "effects" are and will be. More sinister, maybe he has, but enjoys the prospect of an end to self-responsibility, independent-minds and all the rest which follows. Since, individually, having no free will means that one's thinking, values, character and actions are all pre-set, and whatever one tries to do, one must revert to the inevitability of what was predetermined. At the scale of society, people will consider themselves, and be considered and treated, by their 'backgrounds' - especially, race, but many other 'tribes'. I.e. Determinism --> collectivism. "Backgrounds", after all,  are clear and inevitable determinants on one's identity, thinking, choices and actions - aren't they?! We see those dangerous "tribal" effects every day on the media, especially from leftists -- contrasted with religious conservatives who regularly show a very distinct sense of self-responsibility, therefore, perhaps oddly, a distinct freedom of will. It is more disturbing that Sam Harris, who I guess would normally deplore these political/social trends, adds his intellectual weight to the "illusion of free will", likely influencing his large numbers of followers. 

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Harris:

"Consider a generic serial killer--his choice to commit his last murder was determined by neurophysiological events in his brain, which were in turn determined by prior causes, bad genes ...an unhappy childhood, a night of lost sleep ...these events precede any conscious decision to act." (at 7.00 min)

 

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In the serial killer example, Harris cites prior causes being determinates, "these events precede any conscious decision to act," but because they exist in the serial killers past doesn't mean they caused it.  Of course there are plenty of plenty of people that have similar backgrounds but haven't murdered, Sam Harris is identifying conditions in the serial killer's past that could have influenced his act, but they are conditions, not necessary and sufficient conditions, so they exist but they aren't necessarily causal.

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I think that Harris' determinism is 'harder' than what you suggest, Korben.

Because those events/influences "*precede* any conscious decision to act", by necessity, they must be acted out--or else Harris would have to admit to free will. Yes, the man *might* not become a killer -- but *not* because he *chooses* otherwise. Then Harris' theory would fall flat. Maybe, he doesn't ~feel like~ killing just yet, maybe the circumstances aren't right, etc., but at anytime in future he could, um ~decide~to enact his preconditioned impulse.

Doubtless, Harris must realise that blame, self-responsibility (and pride in achievement) etc. - or any moral judgments - are greatly weakened or nullified by the actor not being in control of his own acts - (what that will do to any individual who properly practised his doctrine, not to mention to society, is awful to consider). Which means Harris has no grounds to base an ethics upon. Not the good for others, nor the good for oneself. The field of ethics is self-denied to anyone who believes no one has volition in their actions. Harris ends up in self-contradiction, since as we can see, his credo doesn't stop him from making his moral judgments online, at times pertinent and rational. (Ah, his rational thinking was also determined - may be his reply).

Because, Harris equally and consistently thinks and has stated that "the self" is a myth - so what agent remains which can "decide" to overrule one's 'propensity' to e.g. murder? Or to decide that murder is immoral? Or choose anything? Nothing. After all, one's act is "predetermined", absent of will AND self...

What he does, simply, is apply causality backwards, from this present individual 'effect' back to those 'causes', deductively and empirically, like he'd likely do with experiments in matter and energy. Envisaging a consciousness which projects 'forwards' and deliberately integrates its knowledge hierarchically, and selects its own moral principles, apparently would not occur to a reductive-materialist, as Harris shows himself to be. For whom the self is "matter".

Nathaniel B writes in Honoring the Self (as of course, free will has essential connections and a supporting role to self-esteem, just as predeterminism will corrupt self-esteem):


"Aside from other objections that may be raised, determinism contains a central and insuperable contradiction--a contradiction implicit in any variety of determinism, whether the alleged determining forces be physical, psychological, environmental, or divine. The determinist view of mind maintains that whether an individual thinks or not, takes cognizance of the facts of reality or not, places facts above feeling or feelings above facts--all are determined by forces outside his or her control, at any given moment or situation, the individual's method of mental functioning is the inevitable product of an endless chain of antecedent factors".

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Same source, ch.The Need for Self-Esteem, HtS, by NB:

"We are the one species that is able to form a judgment about what is best for us to do--*and then proceed to do the complete opposite*. We are the one species free to disregard our own knowledge or to betray our own values. The concept of hypocrisy is not applicable to lower animals; neither is the virtue of integrity". 

To round off - the antidote to Sam Harris: "Man is a being of self-made soul". "Man is a being of volitional consciousness". AR

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Considering how much she wrote about volition (through to the volitional consciousness being the principle of romantic realist art) Rand said next to nothing about determinism, surprising to me.

Her only entry in the lexicon under "Determinism":

"Dictatorship and determinism are reciprocally reinforcing corollaries: if one seeks to enslave men, one has to destroy their reliance on the validity of their own judgments and choices—if one believes that reason and volition are impotent, one has to accept the rule of force".

“Representation Without Authorization,”
The Ayn Rand Letter

Dictatorship-determinism? That's not an immediately apparent corollary, looks a bit of a conceptual stretch, at first. But past instances of dictators could bear it out. Every dictator usually has been met with resigned, fatalist, submission by a number of the populace. "This was meant to be, I am a mere pawn, I have not the conviction and determination to oppose it". Most others would embrace their dictator, since he promises to fulfill the Utopian destiny proper to the people - by force over the people. Both of them would need to believe this outcome was 'predetermined' by antecedent events. As Left-socialism grows in places, doesn't it seem that determinism has some part to play, by way of 'predetermined' factors: e.g. "victimhood", entitlement, power lust, etc., - and by the self-negation of individual free will? Who's going to inform Sam Harris of the probable, final result of his theory?

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On 7/18/2019 at 9:39 AM, anthony said:

Same source, ch.The Need for Self-Esteem, HtS, by NB:

"We are the one species that is able to form a judgment about what is best for us to do--*and then proceed to do the complete opposite*. We are the one species free to disregard our own knowledge or to betray our own values. The concept of hypocrisy is not applicable to lower animals; neither is the virtue of integrity". 

To round off - the antidote to Sam Harris: "Man is a being of self-made soul". "Man is a being of volitional consciousness". AR

Good discussion. Let me see if I can dumb it down enough for Forrest Gump. I predict Artificial Intelligence will reach a milestone when HE, SHE, IT can laugh believably. Kind of slur the capitalized letters.  

Michael Marotta wrote about Rand in 2011: She maintained later, as the ARI does now, that . . . Objectivism is a seamless robe; that Objectivism has no inner contradictions; and by "Objectivism" she meant . . . (the) . . . sum total of Ayn Rand's published works. end quote

I see similarities between Michael’s seamless robe which I will call, “infallible Objectivism” and soft determinism. By “infallible Objectivism” I mean logical and syllogistic structures that are internally true but lack contextualism, and scientific verification, and unfortunately they possess an eventual inability to break or *reduce* the string of logic down to its perceptual and conceptual roots. Just don’t ask me to prove it.

In the opposite direction you would need to start with A is A and build from there but of course by the time Rand formulated her more “official philosophy” she had experienced and tested HER thoughts throughout her life time. And at that point, she put it on paper. No one can go back and deconstruct their thought processes but if they say they can? They are fabricating unless they are knitting or doing math.  Once again, prove it.  Peter

 

Notes. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, page 28: The process of forming and applying concepts contains the essential pattern of two fundamental methods of cognition: induction and deduction. The process of observing the facts of reality and of integrating them into concepts is, in essence, a process of induction. The process of subsuming new instances under a known concept is, in essence, a process of deduction. end quote

Roger Bissell in his “Problems with Putnam's Externalism” originally written in 1996 for David Kelley's cyber seminar in Objectivist epistemology wrote: “. . . Rather than claiming that our minds are in the world rather than "in our heads," it seems more reasonable to me to say that our mind (as a capacity) is our "head's" (brain's) ability to cognitively grasp the world and (as an action) its act of cognitively grasping the world . . . Before we speculate about where the mind ~might~ be, it would help to clarify what category of existent the mind belongs to. Unless Putnam et al are advocating some form of substance dualism, the mind can't be an entity, other than the human organism or one of its parts (viz., the brain and nervous system). Granted, we (as organisms) -- who are the entities doing the knowing, after all -- are "in the world," but WE ARE ~WHERE~ WE ARE, not out somewhere else, where the thing is that we are knowing. And if mind is an attribute or an action, it has no location other than our organism that has the attribute or carries out the action. And if mind is a relation between our organism and the world, it must be located (if it can be said to have a location) where the causal/cognitive interaction between our organism and the world takes place. E.g., for perception, that would be in the sensory systems and the portions of the brain that integrate sensory data, which are certainly "in the head" (allowing that tactile perception is "in the body," also).” end quote

From: PaleoObjectivist To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: RE: Rodin and Rand Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 18:06:13 EDT. Bill Dwyer wrote: >John Hospers says that when you were a guest in Rand's home discussing philosophy with her, you had to be very careful how you expressed your disagreement.  You couldn't come right out and disagree.  You had to couch your dissent in the form of a very respectful question.  He said that if you offered an opinion that contradicted Rand's, she would sometimes become so upset that she would leave the room, until she cooled down.  Then she'd come back and continue the discussion.

In this regard, it's fascinating to read John Hospers' account of the discussions he had with Ayn Rand back in the early 1960s. This first appeared in ~Full Context~, and is now posted on the Internet

at  www.fullcontext.org/backissues/ Memories_of_Ayn_Rand.htm

Here is an excerpt, relating to the issue of free will vs. determinism, which I think does a nice job both of revealing the style of their interaction and some subtleties of the issue itself:

"I understand that you’re a determinist," she said to me once, apparently having been told this by a student who had read my essay on the subject in an anthology. "Well," I said, "like most words ending in -ism, that depends on what you mean. If you mean that everything you do is controlled by God or some inscrutable fate who "gets into your head" and determines what you do next, that, as far as I know, is not true. Determinism isn’t fatalism. If it means that our every action depends for its occurrence on certain causal factors, in the absence of which it wouldn’t have occurred, then that may well be true, but I doubt that we could ever know this because of the number and complexity of the causal factors: how can we know that if conditions were the same you’d do the same thing again, when in fact the conditions never are the same? (They’re at least different the second time, in that you remember the first time.) And if the event wasn’t the same the second time, we’d say that the conditions were different this time, whether we knew it or not, wouldn’t we?"

I tried to introduce her to a whole epistemological tangle here, and referred her to my book Introduction to Philosophical Analysis. "As to freedom," I said, "of course we’re free in a perfectly ordinary sense; we’re not chained, we’re not coerced; we do X because we decide to do it. If I decide to leave the room, I can do so, and if I don’t decide to, I don’t; that’s my freedom, and what other freedom could one want? It’s up to me which alternative I choose; isn’t that enough? If I decided to do X and found myself doing Y instead, or if my decision resulted in nothing whatever, then I wouldn’t be free with regard to X; but I am! If you then say that my deciding to do X depends on certain causal conditions, well, I suppose it does — I don’t know that anything is exempt from the Law of Causality. And if it were uncaused if it just happened, with nothing bringing it about that wouldn’t be freedom at all, would it? To train children or educate our students is to bring about (cause) certain changes in them; if our educative actions caused nothing in them, why try to educate them?"

We went on with this for a long time. There were many complications and subtleties (the issue has been discussed for many generations). Ayn suggested that human acts are caused but self-caused (cause sui). I objected to the idea of something causing itself (an earlier state causing a later state is O.K.)—again, with many complexities in the discussion. Always, I wasn’t so concerned with what conclusion we ended up with, as with the route by which we got there: no circularity of reasoning, no begging the question, no smuggling in a premise under another name, and so on. Best 2 all, Roger Bissell

Not exactly, nearly, or an atom or a bit, does that describe determinism. What made me say that? Peter again.

Ray Bradbury:  “We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.”

Arthur C. Clarke: “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.”

Norman Vincent Peale: “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

Aristotle asks: "Do we deliberate about everything, and is everything a possible subject of deliberation, or is deliberation impossible about some things?"

From: "George H. Smith" Reply To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Aristotle on choice Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 17:21:29 -0600

Regarding my summary of "Aristotle on choice," Peter Taylor wrote: "George, I know we are delving into the realm of psychology and psychologizing but what would Aristotle say about the consequences of thinking of oneself as a determined being?  I try to imagine myself in that bizarre position and I can only imagine acting in a nihilistic manner, coming to a crossroads, and going whichever way "seems" right for me. The alternative is paranoia and waiting for the decision to be made by antecedent causality."

Aristotle doesn't discuss the free-will/determinism controversy explicitly (at least not in his extant texts). He seems to consider the power to choose freely to be an obvious characteristic of rational and purposeful human beings, one that is clearly revealed through introspection. And I think he would further maintain that a consistent empiricist should take introspective evidence as seriously as he takes extrospective evidence, especially since knowledge based on the latter *depends* on the reliability of the former. In short, if we cannot trust our internal experiences, then we have no foundation on which to base objective knowledge of anything, including the external world. .

In his classic book, *Outlines of Greek Philosophy,*  Eduard Zeller writes: "Aristotle presupposes quite arbitrarily the freedom of the will and attempts to prove it by the fact that virtue is voluntary and that we are universally held accountable for our actions" (Dover, 1980). Although I wouldn't put it this way -- for one thing, I think "arbitrarily" is an inaccurate characterization -- it is certainly correct to say that Aristotle's stresses the inextricable relationship between free choice and moral phenomena. It is scarcely coincidental that Aristotle discusses "choice" in his work on ethics, where he repeatedly emphasizes that moral judgments apply *only* to actions that lie within our power to do or to forbear.

According to Aristotle, "where it is in our power to act, it is also in our power not to act, and vice versa." This power of choice originates in reason. Choice is the "efficient cause" of an action, but the cause of choice is "desire and reasoning with view to an end." This latter is deliberation, which is a function of practical (as opposed to theoretic, or speculative) reason. Depending on the context, Aristotle also describes this fusion of reason and desire as "desiderative reason" and "ratiocinative desire." Here is a summary from Mortimer J. Adler's magnum opus, *The Idea of Freedom* (vol. I, p 469):

"Beyond desiderative and practical reason, as the power by which man deliberates and chooses, there is no efficient cause of the choices he makes. When Aristotle, referring to desiderative reason, says that 'such an *origin* of action is a man,' he is attributing to a human being the power of *initiating* his own actions by virtue of his practical reason as a first or active moving principle. Just as in the speculative order (i.e., the sphere of knowing) Aristotle posits the *agent*-intellect which acts without being acted upon, so in the practical order (i.e., the sphere of doing or making) he treats practical reason as an *active* power and a *first* cause -- a first cause, that is, with respect to man's own acts, not with respect to the cosmos."

This is background information. I have yet directly to address Peter's question, viz: "what would Aristotle say about the consequences of thinking of oneself as a determined being?" I suspect he would maintain that determinism in any form flatly contradicts introspective evidence, and that it would make nonsense of our subjective experiences. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most obvious is our need for deliberation. We deliberate *only* because we believe that two or more alternatives are possible, and that it within our to choose among these alternatives. For Aristotle (as I noted above) choice presupposes "the power to act" or "not to act" in regard to particular means. .

This raises the interesting question of how Aristotle would argue against determinism. I suspect his argument would resemble his argument (in the *Metaphysics*) against a person who claims to deny the Law of Non-Contradiction (e.g., a person who claims that the same proposition can be both true and false at the same time and in the same respect). Aristotle contends that not all knowledge is strictly demonstrable, because we will ultimately encounter premises and axioms that cannot themselves be proven. Nevertheless, there is a kind of argument – which he calls "dialectical" -- that can be used here.

Unlike a demonstrative argument, which begins with "first principles," a dialectical argument begins with the *opinions* that men hold about a certain subject. The purpose of a dialectical argument is to back one's adversary into an untenable corner by showing that his opinion carries implications that even he would be unwilling to accept. As Zeller indicates, Aristotle would claim that a consistent determinist would be logically required to expunge all normative terms from his language and way of thinking, which is clearly impossible.

It is also likely (though I am obviously speculating here) that Aristotle would argue against the determinist by pointing out that deliberation itself presupposes free choice. We do not deliberate about things which we believe to be impossible. Deliberation *begins* at the point where we believe that various means are  possible* for us. Hence if we truly believed that only *one* action is possible, there would be nothing to deliberate *about.* We *stop* our investigation of means *precisely* at the point where we become convinced that something is *impossible.* Hence to deliberate between different means, X and Y, presupposes that we believe that we have the power to choose *either* X or Y.

Therefore, just as Aristotle claims that a person who denies the Law of Non-Contradiction reduces himself to the intellectual status of a vegetable, so he would probably maintain that the person who implicitly repudiates the function of deliberative reason, which chooses between *possible* means in pursuit of a goal, reduces himself to the status of a lower animal or automaton, in effect, by failing to understand the proper role of reason as an efficient cause (a fundamental explanatory principle) of human action. Ghs

From: PinkCrash7 To: atlantis Subject: ATL: RE: Aristotle on choice Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 20:15:56 EST Bill Dwyer wrote: "To say that one's choice is the ~result~ of one's deliberation is simply another way of saying that one's deliberation is the ~cause~ of one's choice."

No, it's not.  To make a free choice as a result of deliberation does not mean that the process of deliberation necessitated that that choice be made. That is where you are making the big leap, Superman.  The reasons for making a particular decision are not internally experienced as causally sufficient conditions for that decision to be made.  The individual still retains power and control; the choice is his alone -- not "caused" by the process that is under his own volitional control.  Likewise, once a decision is made, that decision does not "cause" an intentional action; the individual still has freedom and control over what he does. Debbie

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 I like Branden's comprehensive approach. He penetrates the whole free will enchilada, philosophical, epistemological, psychological, subconscious - integrated, as background for his specific purpose, self-esteem.

"To focus", by Rand, is an insufficient explanation, alone, of volition, it can seem. 

In a footnote to his explanation of free will, NB says: ["It is closest to the concept of volition proposed by Ayn Rand but differs from hers in that Rand identifies the choice to focus exclusively with the choice to think, to engage in a process of explicit reasoning, whereas ... my own view of the choice to focus is considerably broader"] 

A few more snips:

"Freedom does not mean causelessness; this point must be stressed. A volitional choice is not causeless. It is caused by the person who makes the choice, and the choice entails an enormity of issues".

[...]

"Our freedom is neither absolute nor unlimited, however. There are many factors that can make the appropriate exercise of our consciousness easier or harder. Some of these factors may be genetic, biological. Others are developmental. The environment can support and encourage the healthy assertion of consciousness, or it can oppose and undermine it.

[...]

Clearly, the desire to be more aware does not guarantee that the results of our efforts will be successful. We are free to try; there is never a guarantee of success. If there were ..fewer people would avoid the responsibility of thinking. Uncertainty is built into the very essence of our existence, and it is this uncertainty and freedom that create the need for self-esteem".

Honoring the Self, p18-19.

Peter, that "soft" determinism, I'm thinking, could be considered as what was 'given' to one. Ultimately, it's not even determinist, but *seeming* so, just enough to confuse the issue. Obviously -- each one of us has to come from "somewhere", some environment, some upbringing, with certain genetic traits, and from some period of time. Add ~many~ prior experiences. All of these give one an undeniable metaphysical, influential base - but above and beyond which, one is completely free "to choose". Within bounds of reality, one can see that the range of choices of thought and action are endless, each one branching to others. The experience 'from the inside' of being the free chooser, aware of the capacity to change one's mind at any instant, or to continue, is the closest to proof we may ever find. That, and observing the physical results of choices others have made, the 'effects' that untold millions have 'caused'. The ostensive - "all of that!" (sweeping an arm around at everything man-made in existence). Tell me "that" was inevitable - "predetermined"!

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It is 96 degrees Fahrenheit here around 1pm.  I think South Africa is in its winter period but how cool does it get in the winter? Do you call it winter?

NB: "Freedom does not mean causelessness; this point must be stressed. A volitional choice is not causeless. It is caused by the person who makes the choice, and the choice entails an enormity of issues".

Luckily for us wizards we automatically do mundane chores. I rarely need to weigh the issues involved because I am almost sure of what I am going to do as soon as I discover a dilemma. But philosophy must stand up to consistency in words, not deeds at first, until it is put to the test by all of its adherents.

This is not about me and may be a bit obscure or trivial, but one of those local, moral tests I am reading about now is what if you have a fire while using propane gas and the propane does not have a safety valve that shuts off, causing total destruction of the house, rather than just some damage? Do you then sue the gas company because you neglected to include the safety valve in the contract? The people lost the case because they could not fnd an “expert” who could prove negligence on the part of the gas company. The fire marshal testified against the gas company but that was not sufficient. The moral dilemma is, do you sue just to see if you can get some money for damages? Now all the propane tanks have that shut off valve but back then they did not. So, what is morally right for the gas company and the homeowner?

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Bitterly cold, sunny dry weather here, Peter. It gets down to almost 0 C in Jhb, altitude asl near 6000 ft. Very rarely we can even get snow. Only a 4 month winter, thankfully.

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On 7/20/2019 at 7:20 PM, Peter said:

 

 

NB: "Freedom does not mean causelessness; this point must be stressed. A volitional choice is not causeless. It is caused by the person who makes the choice, and the choice entails an enormity of issues".

 

Perhaps it is worthwhile quoting what Nathaniel continues with - after, "...the choice entails an enormity of issues... 

"Focusing versus non-focusing.

Thinking vs. non-thinking.

Awareness vs. non-awareness.

Clarity vs. obscurity or vagueness.

Respect for reality vs. avoidance of reality

Respect for facts vs. denial of facts.

Respect for truth vs. rejection of truth.

Perseverance in the attempt to understand vs. abandonment of the attempt.

Loyalty in action to our professed convictions vs. disloyalty (this is the issue of integrity).

Honesty with self vs. dis honesty.

Self-confrontation vs. self-avoidance.

Receptivity to new knowledge vs. close-mindedness.

Willingness to see and correct mistakes vs. perseverance in error.

Concern with congruence vs. disregard of contradictions.

Reason vs. irrationalism; respect for logic, consistency, coherence, and evidence vs. disregard."

 p18 HTS

Taken singly most O'ists would think there's nothing much new here, each item they already know. But imo, the entire collection in sum has the effect of entrenching individual free will (vs. determinism).

"Focus" is the shorthand for volition, this list breaks it down into components - I think 

 

 

 

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