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9 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

For example, take the recent video of the man with the sword defending a local bar from a mob of rioters. This is a situation, not a story...

D,

It's a mistake to get lost in trying to define jargon.

Soak up this new stuff and let it bounce around in your head for awhile.

Magic happens later...

🙂

Confucius say: Teach others only what you know.

Michael

 

EDIT: btw - The guy with the sword is a story with very clear plot beats. Man is living life. Bad guys attack. Man gets weapon and goes out to meet attackers. The bad guys beat him up and almost kill him. The bad guys run off and man goes to hospital. Zoom out. The press reacts (goes ape shit) as the press people attack each other. The politicians drone on... fade out... The end.

🙂 

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From "the particular" (this trade, today's sunrise, this water, etc.etc). to "the general" (all trades, all sunrises, all oceans) IS induction. And it requires cognitive effort to avoid drawing f

Top down and bottom up are not either-or. They are mental frames for perceiving and mentally processing reality. You need both to get a clear picture. Choosing one over the other is linear t

You might also want to check out Harlow's monkeys: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Harlow Ellen

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But what about people who say the guy with the sword was the bad guy? The mob beating him was self-defense?

 

What about people who say Atlas Shrugged is a bad STORY?

 

It seems to me that people are cautious of the implications a story has, and will judge the story based on those implications.

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D,

You are not staying on topic.

So we end up talking past each other.

Let me help you.

21 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

... take the recent video of the man with the sword defending a local bar from a mob of rioters. This is a situation, not a story...

If I were to be combative, I would say what you posted here was bullshit, not a post.

:evil:  🙂 

What you call a situation is a story.

32 minutes ago, Dglgmut said:

But what about people who say the guy with the sword was the bad guy? The mob beating him was self-defense?

Either version is still a story.

33 minutes ago, Dglgmut said:

What about people who say Atlas Shrugged is a bad STORY?

It is still a story.

34 minutes ago, Dglgmut said:

It seems to me that people are cautious of the implications a story has, and will judge the story based on those implications.

This is still a story.

Do you see a pattern here?

🙂

Once you grok that story is a form of abstraction just like concept is (or mental image is), we can talk about more.

Michael

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But if the person you're talking to will simply rewrite the story to fit their narrative, how does that help you communicate?

 

I am just starting "Escape from Leviathan" by JC Lester and thinking more of critical rationalism as a way of persuasion rather than just an epistemological theory. I wonder if there isn't more psychology that circles back to inform our ideas of epistemology as well as epistemology affecting our understanding of psychology (human nature). Criticism seems to be disproportionately effective in changing someones mind, and I think part of the reason there are so many irrational people right now is because there has been safety in leftism for so long that there is no reason for them not to constantly be attacking their opponents. More libertarian minded people have been on the defense instead of attacking opposing theories, which according to Karl Popper is the only real way to advance our knowledge. So we have dumb ideas going ignored while intelligent ideas are being attacked and defended... but the defense is meaningless epistemologically, according to Popper, and psychologically (just from what I understand we have evolved to focus more on threats than anything, and therefore criticism stands out more).

 

Maybe these two things can be combined? Stories that are critical of dumb ideas?

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50 minutes ago, Dglgmut said:

If you haven't seen it yet, I know you watch Klavan's stuff anyway, but this one in particular is up your alley.

D,

Klaven is not the best source to understand story, but he does mention a good starting place--one that is probably a good place for you to start. (I actually started there when I first went on a deep dive into story.)

The left knows how to tell stories, especially in a way that keeps their agenda alive in the mainstream. The right not as much--until Trump 🙂 . Actually, until Glenn Beck, but he later petered out.

One of the things I did was start reading books and going through courses made by leftists on story, narrative, etc.

These guys have it down cold.

Even today, I read books by Dalton Trumbo. I sometimes reread the Story Wars book by Sachs I mentioned earlier.

In a certain sense, once you know what to look for, Alinksy's Rules for Radicals is all about storytelling.

Do some Googling...

Michael

 

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On 6/4/2020 at 11:06 PM, Dglgmut said:

No... it's not a simple circuit. It's not straight forward causality, there are multiple causes. There are different parts (based on 3 brain theory) of our brain that give us conflicting information... emotions are one form of information. Sometimes they are right sometimes they are wrong.

Not quite. The multiple causes you relate are instead, multiple options. Do I want this - or this - or that?

Therefore thinking/valuing precedes changes of behavior (and will be followed by more thinking). The fuller meaning of "the volitional consciousness". YOU are the cause.

But one has to envisage a consciousness, not simply a material brain. Or is it "a brain" which processes and chooses?

Does there exist an "I" in the brain?

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2 hours ago, anthony said:

But one has to envisage a consciousness, not simply a material brain. Or is it "a brain" which processes and chooses?

Does there exist an "I" in the brain?

You keep implying a duality that isn't there. YOU are a combination of molecules.

 

As for options: NO. You don't have options like that. Our options are binary: to think or not. You do not control what the next thought will be that pops into your head. Your option is to grab onto it or dig deeper.

 

The way we think is analogical to natural selection. "Random mutations" that get advanced or discarded. That's how we think. Our beliefs are like a species that has been refined over millions of years to live in a particular environment. I don't believe the mutations are actually random, they are just unpredictable to us with the information we currently have.

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1 hour ago, Dglgmut said:

You keep implying a duality that isn't there. YOU are a combination of molecules.

 

 

I'm a combination of molecules? NOW I understand! Well, the reductive-materialism you espouse and have generally indicated is in fact "monism" (Type  a. - see below).

The Objectivist view of body-consciousness which I argue from is neither monist (not a. or b.) - nor dualist, but "compatabilist".


What is Monism?

 

There are two basic types of monism:

Materialism

Materialism is the belief that nothing exists apart from the material world (i.e. physical matter like the brain); materialist psychologists generally agree that consciousness (the mind) is the function of the brain.

Mental processes can be identified with purely physical processes in the central nervous system, and that human beings are just complicated physiological organisms, no more than that.

Phenomenalism

Phenomenalism (also called Subjective Idealism) believes that physical objects and events are reducible to mental objects, properties, events.

Ultimately, only mental objects (i.e. the mind) exist.

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1 hour ago, Dglgmut said:

 

 

 Our options are binary: to think or not. You do not control what the next thought will be that pops into your head. Your option is to grab onto it or dig deeper.

 

 

This bears a resemblance to "the volitional consciousness", but no more. So WHO controls the "next thought that pops into you head"? If you don't.  Is it popping in by chance, memory recall, arbitrary associations, anticipation of an event, brain-chemical functions, from a higher power..? Whatever, that's hardly free will, is it? Here, the action of a mind is predetermined by random or other occurrences.

The choice to think or not to think is the precondition to WHAT you choose to 'focus' on. This task you set yourself to do, the politics of Iceland, the woman you're about to marry, what you're going to reply to Dglgmut ...

And this is (was) about changing one's behavior, remember? Once you begin the identifying and valuing about the consequent actions (behaviors) you will take, there is more than a binary option, there are as many as you can envisage within reality. They would each, as you evaluate them, carry an anticipated emotional response, but the emotion is the result not the prime cause of "changing behavior"..

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

Well, the reductive-materialism you espouse and have generally indicated is in fact "monism"

It's not reductive. You are the one reducing it. Characterizing the argument as "human beings are just complicated physiological organisms, no more than that" presumes that we know everything about the physical world.

 

Why is the source of your next thought being connected to the physical world any less amazing than the Big Bang? The "just" is not necessary when someone says something like, "You think we're just physical beings?" Again, there is not some disconnect between the spiritual and the physical. We are literally star dust... that doesn't contradict how amazing human beings, or life in general, is... it adds to it.

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Just to clarify, I consider myself a compatibilist and I think what we don't know about the physical world overlaps with what we don't know about free will.

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5 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

Just to clarify, I consider myself a compatibilist and I think what we don't know about the physical world overlaps with what we don't know about free will.

What we know about free will depends on the definition as it's not an observable thing. So what is the definition that encompasses the ignorance?

--Brant

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8 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

Just to clarify, I consider myself a compatibilist and I think what we don't know about the physical world overlaps with what we don't know about free will.

Roger, Dennis May, Merlin, Ghs, Ellen Moore, Jeff Olsen, Adam Reed. I found a bunch of letters about compatibilism, determinism, etc. here are a few.

From: "Dennis May" To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Dennis, I Hope You're Really Determined to Write That Book Date: Sun, 02 Dec 2001 11:24:45 -0600 Keyser Soze wrote: >...but of the philosophical relevance of an ethical system in what appears to me to be an absence of true choice in Determinism as I understand it. If ever there were a potential convert to Determinism in Atlantis, it most definitely would be me. But I haven't yet heard an argument that gets me off the fence. My sticking point is that Determinism gives the impression that we are fated, malleable automatons.

My views are from the Hard Determinist camp and do not necessarily agree with those who are Soft Determinists, Compatibilists, or other non-Hard Determinists who none the less profess some agreement with Determinism. I have never read any Hard Determinist literature [just overviews] other than physics. I am unaware of any 20th or 21st century writings supporting hard determinism as related to philosophy. I sure they exist in some form but I have never seen them.

The attempt to escape fatalism in its many variations is part of most philosophies and religions.  There is psychological fatalism [which exists on all fronts] and worldview fatalism.  I assume your concerns are about the latter.  I would not ignore worldview fatalism in places other than Hard Determinism. I am not convinced that any philosophy or religion has presented anything which consistently and logically addresses fatalism with any success.  What happens instead is faith, unclear reasoning, appeals to authority, or putting the question off as an unknown [never to be known].

Rather than delay or avoid the issue a Hard Determinist would make the most minimal assumptions based on the evidence and go from there.  I would place the philosophical or religious attempt to define first causes into this same discussion.

Materialist Fatalism [Hard Determinism] as it is called seems like a dead end philosophy because:

Q.  It is a hard sell.

A.  Since when does selling well make things right?

Q.  Reason cannot exist.

A.  If you don't assume volition at the outset but physics based feedback forces, reason does in fact exist as a subjective process.

Q.  Ethics cannot exist.

A.  How ethics are used is in no way changed. Individual perception of ethics in relation to fatalism occurs in and between all philosophies and religions.  I don't see how blessings by some unknown god gives any more meaning to life than consistent application of causality.  Hard Determinism concerns the root of all things.  This root is important for consistent and logical development.  Ethics exists at the further integration level.  I have found that my day to day existence is very little affected by knowing that at the quantum level my pinky finger is supraluminally connected to the inside of George H. Smith's nose whether or not another finger is already there.

Take some consolation in the fact that w e are and will always be in a learning process.  I find nothing remarkable in the idea that subjectively we reason all the time but at the fundamental objective level the subjective mind is along for the ride.  The subjective mind is objectively real but does not have the freedom subjectivity would lead us to believe it has. Attempting to escaping this reality may be appealing but it is without substance.

If Hard Determinism is ultimately shown to be flawed it might very well have driven the discoveries other philosophies are willing to ignore or put off indefinitely.  There is no shame in making an error when it is based on the most correct understanding of the known context.  Making an honest dealer of another philosopher or creating a new philosophy is worthwhile in itself.  I don't believe there is any error in assuming Hard Determinism given the present context.  If others wish to prove me wrong, concrete evidence or consistent application of logic from what is known is the way to go. Dennis May

From: RogerEBissell To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Roger's Excellent Posts & Changing Beliefs Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 12:29:17 EST Walter Foddis wrote: >I wanted to thank Roger publicly (on Atlantis anyway) for his excellent series of posts on Objectivism and determinism. They have given me (and perhaps others) some important points to ponder on how to reconcile determinism with "free will."

You're welcome, Walter, but I deserve no moral credit for doing so, because I had to do it; I couldn't help myself. 🙂  (Actually, in saying this, I'm just trying to avoid moral blame. <g>)

What is important (to me) is that no one should have to feel locked into philosophical convictions for which they do not have adequate arguments. Dogmatism and true believer-ism are not appropriate for a philosophy of reason! By keeping a civil tongue and a flexible mind, either of which can be a challenge at times, we can all explore "outside the box" without going to war over it. And I very much appreciate that some people, at least, are dedicated to being civil and exploratory, when cherished beliefs are being challenged.

>When I first heard compatibilist arguments, I was "against" them before really understanding them. But it seems that the more I read and understand the viewpoint, the less "against" I am toward it. I put "against" in quotes because, in retrospect, I see that initially this resistance was an emotional one, not a logical one. In other words, because compatiabilism did not fit with my pre-existing beliefs, I  was resistant to letting my myself understand it. If I did understand it, I might see the inevitable logic of the arguments, which might lead me to ~change~ my beliefs. And changing one's fundamental beliefs (if belief in "free will" may be described as such), I think is an emotionally daunting prospect for most people.

That is a perfect description of the process I went through when I first read (way back in the early 1970s) Bill Dwyer's excellent ~Personalist~ essay "The Contradiction of 'The Contradiction of Determinism'" (which I still think is unanswerable -- not that some haven't tried!). At first, my mind wouldn't wrap around any  arguments against the idea that I ~must~ have been free do have done other than I did in any given situation. But the more I tried to dig beneath Bill's argument, the more I realized that he was right, the more I realized with a sinking feeling that Objectivism's case for free will as "could have done otherwise" was fatally flawed, and that I would have to figure out somehow what ~was~ true of human choice and action. My 1974 ~Reason Papers~ essay on the dual aspect theory of mind-body (posted on my website) included a first attempt at this, and a later essay for ~Vera Lex~ (also on my website) included further thoughts along those lines --  essentially, following up on ideas in the writings of Roger Sperry. How can humans have autonomy, yet not indeterministic freedom, that allows them to be the authors of their own actions, to be capable of knowledge, to be subject to moral judgment, and to be entitled to political freedom? This is a "fundamental" idea (actually, a cluster of ideas) that I am not finished exploring yet, but the broad outlines of which I am rather confident. And again, the excellent writings of Bill Dwyer (including on this list) have helped a great deal in working through the snags and pitfalls -- as have the pointed and clearly framed questions of George Smith and others.

 > How many fundamental beliefs have you changed lately? Over the last 5 years? 10 years? Just some thoughts to ponder...

Indeed. Guess I'd better try to wrap up the free will matter, so I can spend more time changing, or at least questioning, other fundamental beliefs! One such belief, that I challenged over 30 years ago, was the notion that awareness of musical tones is a process of sensation (as Rand claimed in "Art and Cognition"). I realized with the help of Rand-associate Robert Efron's fine essay "What is Perception?" that Rand had uncritically taken Helmholtz' view of perception, rather than William James' view, and my revised perspective of awareness of musical tones as perception is discussed in my essay "Music and Perceptual Cognition" (~Journal of Ayn Rand Studies~, vol. 1, no. 1, also posted on my website).

Another such belief was the notion that infants and fetuses are capable only of sensation, not perception, a view Rand seems to have uncritically picked up (ironically, in light of the above) from William James. One supposed implication of this for some Objectivists was that perception is the beginning of the functioning of the human rational faculty (the ability to perceive, identity, and integrate facts of reality), and thus that babies and fetuses had not yet begun the exercise of their distinctively human faculty and thus were not yet functionally human in the most distinctive manner – which led to the further implication that babies and fetuses, not being rational ~in action~, did not possess individual rights. I changed my own view on this in the late 1970s, when I saw that my newborn daughter was indeed perceiving (i.e., perceptually focusing on her environment) – and later found that Rand's view was ~not~ in accord with mainstream psychology's acknowledgement of this kind of fact. As a result, I wrote an essay "A Calm Look at Abortion Arguments" for ~Reason~ (Sept. 1981), which was reprinted in their 25th anniversary anthology, ~Free Minds and Free Markets~ (also on my website), arguing that not only babies but also third-trimester fetuses are conscious, perceptual humans having the right to life. And of course there have been 20 years of fall-out from ~that~ change of fundamental belief, including you-know- who and others calling me a collectivist, a woman-hater, and worse for such thoughts. <SIGH>

So, yes, I have gone through some big changes in my views, as the result of trying to be intellectually honest and think outside the box of Objectivist doctrines that do not seem to be in accord with facts or more basic tenets of Objectivism. And a lot of controversy and unpleasantness as the guard dogs of Objectivism (and Libertarianism, on occasion) have tried to take some rather large bites out of my hide.

But it's worth it. I can live with myself, because I'm not willing to surrender my intellectual independence in order to get along with people who are more interested in whipping others into following their beliefs than in seeking truth. Screw 'em. (Now, if they were more interested in seeking truth and not power, maybe ~then~ I might consider surrendering my intellectual independence....nah!  🙂 Best to all, Roger Bissell

From: Adam Reed To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Does Identity imply determinism? Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2002 21:41:13 -0500 Tyrrell McAllister writes that according to his understanding, "Objectivists derive from this axiom (the axiom of identity) a principle of causal determinism that states, more or less, that the state of the universe at time t (or at least the state of any causally isolated region that does not contain any will-possessing entities) determines, or "encodes" the state of the universe (or region) at every future time."

Actually, Objectivists don't. This alleged "principle" comes from those who try to combine Objectivist axioms with the Positivist model (aka Event-State-Event model, aka "Billiard Ball model") of causality. Rand adhered to the Aristotelian model of causality. She called it the "Law of causality":

         The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action.

         All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is

         caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act;

         a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature." (Atlas

         Shrugged, Rand 1957, p.962)

I think that some participants in this group have been misdirected by Rand's non-technical use of the word "determine". While "a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature," there is no metaphysical requirement that its nature _uniquely_ determine (that is, "determine" in the technical sense) its behavior. For example, it is the nature of a radionuclide to decay with a specific probability per unit of time, but there need not be anything in its nature, or even in reality as a whole, that need _determine_ a specific moment at which it must decay.

As for will-possessing entities, such entities exist in physical reality, and must conform to all actual laws of physical reality. What science at this time does not have is a coherent account of what happens to physical state variables when previously non-existent information is extracted from a physical system. All that we can say from available science is that when a physical system is made to produce new information - for example by measuring the location of a photon, or by focusing one's mind - that physical system's state variables become "indeterminate".

What Objectivism now needs is a competent mathematical physicist....

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Awareness and Will: Necessary and Unnecessary Relationships Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 20:30:05 -0500 My thanks to Jeff Olson for his very interesting discussion of choice. Jeff wrote: "George implied I was "shifty":

[Ghs] "Jeff has shifted the grounds of the discussion. My point had to do with the "ought implies can" argument, according to which the statement "You ought to do X" presupposes the metaphysical ability to choose between X and non- X. Jeff, in contrast, has focused attention on what we mean by "choice." (The significance of this difference will become clear as we proceed.)"

[JO] "I don't see how can speak informatively about "ought implies can" without knowing what it means to choose, so I'm not sure how investigating the nature of choice shifts the grounds of the discussion. I would say it naturally lies at the base of it."

Not necessarily. The two issues are related, certainly, but even if the determinist can give some meaning to the concept of "choosing," it doesn't logically follow that he can legitimately use prescriptive "ought" language.

Jeff wrote: "To that end, I wanted to start with the most "bare-bones" description of choice possible -- something like "an act of selecting between one or more alternatives" -- and then proceed to see what must be added to make it accurately correspond to our best understanding of choice.  In the course of identifying the fundamental attributes of choice, I hope to determine if qualities such as "freedom" or "self-awareness" are really an integral part of this concept.

"First, in order for choice to occur, we need a "chooser," an entity capable of making selections.  I would say that awareness is implicit in the act of selection, since it would be meaningless to speak of choosing different options without being aware of them (implicitly, awareness must accurately capture some aspect of reality); "valuing" would also seem logically implicit, since an aware entity must have a basis for discrimination, and the motivation to act on this basis."

I agree with all of this. And I would further ask: What does it mean to be "aware" of options? This means to be aware that that one *can* do -- i.e., is metaphysically capable of doing -- a number of different things, and that one must "select" from among these options. And it is because of this implicit "can" that it makes sense to say that we "ought" to take a particular action.

This awareness of options, i.e., this subjective *belief* that we *can* do *either* X or non-X, has generated the concept of "choice." To choose means to select from among a number of possibilities. Where there are no alternative metaphysical possibilities, there can be no choice.

Jeff wrote: "Which leads me to what I think is final fundamental attribute of a "choosing entity": the capability to act on its awareness -- to direct itself -- in fulfilling those values (self-direction)."

Choice becomes relevant when a goal does not dictate one, and only one, means of attaining that goal. If my goal is to solve a math problem 2+2=?, I don't "choose" the right answer, namely, 4. This conclusion is strictly determined by the definitions and rules of mathematics. Yet what about alternative answers, such as 7 and 69? Am I not "aware" of these alternatives in some sense? And do I not act on my awareness that there is a problem to be solved? These conditions, though necessary, are not sufficient for choice. We speak of "choice" only when it is possible to select either X or non-X.

In it realm of human action, we often value goals that do not logically dictate only one means of attainment. This is where "judgment" (as classically conceived by Aristotle, Aquinas, etc.) comes into play. Given that we value the goal G (e.g., making money), and given that there are various ways to achieve G (we have many options to choose from in making money), it becomes necessary to *judge* the best course of action (according to standard of value) and then *choose* this means from among possible competitors.

If we did not believe that we could select from among these alternatives -- if, that is, we believed that a given goal dictated only one course of action -- then we would not speak of "choosing" the appropriate means in the first place. Rather, we would say, "Given this goal, I have *no choice* but to do X." (This does not imply determinism, however, unless one assumes that the goal itself is determined.)

Jeff wrote: "And, of course, one's ability to choose would be greatly curtailed -- though not necessarily eliminated -- without some form of knowledge, a store of information on which to base one's decisions.  I would call the kind of knowledge one acquires through action and feedback "learning," which is increasingly manifest in higher intelligences (though "learning" might loosely or metaphorically be ascribed, a la Darwin, to biological adaptive systems as a whole)."

One must learn mathematics, be aware of mathematical procedures, and draw from a "store of information" in order to solve mathematical problems, but these preconditions don't mean that we can "choose" among alternatives in arriving at correct answers. (Of course, one can choose whether to learn mathematics in the first place, as well as whether we wish to solve a problem, but these are different issues.) Again, the conditions listed by Jeff are necessary but not sufficient for choice. If a value, such as the desire to solve a math problem, leaves no room to do either X or non-X (as is the case with determinism), then "choice" has no meaning.

Jeff wrote: "So, in the above account, a "chooser" must be *accurately* aware of options, care about pursuing them, and be able to pursue them; the ability to accumulate knowledge through learning enables or augments these actions."

Jeff needs to define what he means by "options," for this is the crux of the debate. As I understand this term, it means alternatives, any one of which is (metaphysically) *possible" for the agent to select. And this ability is precisely what the determinist denies.

Jeff wrote: "Now George or others will no doubt wish to inject "self-consciousness" or "freedom to control awareness" into the above, perhaps claiming that one cannot be truly aware or have values without a sense of self, and without the freedom to resist outer influences.  Perhaps George would argue further that one cannot truly value without being aware that one is valuing."

These complex issues are a bit off-topic (at least for me), so I will pass on them for now.

Jeff wrote: "I would submit that the foundational qualities I've named – accurate awareness, values, and self-direction -- are logically necessary for a coherent account of choice, but that "freedom of choice" and "self-awareness" (as found in human beings) are not."

This depends on what Jeff means by "values." If he means desires and wants, then these are not sufficient. If, however, he means value *judgments,* then I would argue that these judgments themselves presuppose freedom of choice, for they  contain implicit "oughts," at least in the moral realm. (Esthetic values might generate a different set of problems.)  We make value judgments only because we believe that we confront various possibilities in pursuit of a given goal. If we believed that only one course of action was possible for us (as the determinist believes), then value judgments would be irrelevant.

Jeff wrote: "The reason that freedom of choice (at least as conventionally construed by volitionists) is not fundamental, is that a selection can be perfectly satisfactory -- that is, can satisfy the will of the chooser -- without the chooser having the capacity to select other options.  All that is necessary is that the selection furthers the aims of the choosing entity.

"If, for example, one is faced with the choice of various foods, several of which are repugnant or toxic (sounds a lot like some of the stuff in my fridge:-), one does not require the option of picking the poisonous food in order to *accurately* assess the options and then pick the edible food.  The accuracy of our judgments, in other words, is not necessarily contingent on our ability to make multiple selections; what is necessary is that we be in general able to accurately identify the most desirable selection."

Again, what sense does it make to assess the value of various alternatives unless we believe that it is metaphysically possible for us to select any one option from among other options? What would be the point of evaluating anything as "better" or "worse" except in relation to other possibilities? Moreover, to say that we are "satisfied" with our selection of a given action means that we believe that our decision was the best (or nearly best) from among a range of possible options.

When I say that 2+2=4, this is not the "best" answer; this is the only *possible* answer, given the rules of mathematics. I did not "choose" this answer; it was determined by the internal logic of mathematics. If someone says to me, "If you add 2+2, then you *should* arrive at the answer 4," this is a predictive, not normative, use of "should." It means, "If you do this problem correctly, then you *will* arrive the answer 4, because this is the *only* possibility."

Consider Jeff's example of food. If I am starving on a desert island and the only food available to me is raw broccoli, then I have no choice but to eat the broccoli if I wish to survive. (This lack of choice between foods should not be confused with the choice to eat or not to eat something, which is a different and more fundamental choice.) In other words, if I choose eat *something,* then I have no choice but to eat broccoli, *if* this is the only option available to me.

But are there not alternatives in some abstract sense? Are there not other foods that I could choose if they were available to me? Yes, of course. If I am stranded on a desert island with a ton of broccoli but no other food, then I could choose from a lot of different foods if I could get off the island. But so long as I remain on the island, these alternatives are irrelevant, since they are not in my power to attain. In this situation I have no choice but to eat broccoli if I choose to eat *something* to stay alive.

So it is with the island of determinism. Abstract alternatives exist even for the determinist, in the sense that he can *imagine* other actions that are beyond his power to select. But if his values, desires, etc. causally necessitate that he eat broccoli, then he *must* eat broccoli; he  has no choice in the matter. The other foods around the determinist are no more accessible to him than distant foods are available to the man stranded on a broccoli-laden island.

For the broccoli-island man, *external* conditions render a choice other than broccoli impossible, whereas for the determinist *internal* conditions render any choice other than broccoli impossible. In neither case, however, do we have the possibility of an authentic choice, in the sense of choosing *between* alternatives. In neither case would it make sense to say that the person "ought" to eat something other than broccoli.

I don't quite understand the relevance of Jeff's example of poisonous foods. Strictly speaking, yes, these are options, which is why it makes sense to say that a person should not eat these foods. This is like saying that a shipwrecked person should not drink ocean salt-water, since it will eventually kill him. Nevertheless, desperate sailors have been known to choose this undesirable option, after which they paid the price.

In brief, poisonous foods are options; they are just not good options. They *can* be chosen, which is why we say they *should not* be chosen.

If only one kind of food were available to human beings, then it would make no sense to say that people "ought" to choose this food vis-à-vis other foods, since no metaphysical alternatives (options) exist. Again, however, we must distinguish this situation, which refers to the lack of choice *between* foods, from the choice to eat *something.*

If we are causally necessitated to eat broccoli, then to say that we "choose" to eat broccoli makes no sense to me. For I ask, "Choose broccoli as opposed to what other possibilities?" There simply are no other possibilities in the determinist's scheme of things.

My response is longer than I thought it would be, so I will pause here and take up the remainder of Jeff's comments when I get the time.  Ghs

From: "merjet" To: "'Atlantis'" Subject: ATL: Re: Determined yet voluntary Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2002 07:41:33 -0600 Bill Dwyer wrote: >the core doctrine of "determinism" is simply the idea that "the will is not free but determined by psychical or physical conditions." Observe that there is no denial of the will in this definition (which appears in _The Dictionary of Philosophy_); only a denial that it is ~metaphysically free~.

This definition *could* be construed as silent about the psychical condition free choice, or deciding among alternatives. Is there a "core doctrine" about that?

Per the Encyclopedia of Philosophy (EP) determinism is the "thesis which states that for everything that ever happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen." This seems stronger than The Dictionary of Philosophy, denying even choice. The author of the EP article is Richard Taylor, who might be the same person Bill cited earlier defining "free will.".

It goes on to say there have been many versions of determinism and divides the theories among ethical, logical, theological, physical, and psychological. I will skip saying anything about the first three.

Re physical EP gives Hobbes as prototypical, saying Hobbes denied the existence of any immaterial soul in man, maintaining that all human behavior is the behavior of matter and should be understood by the same principles that we apply to matter.

The psychological section has, interestingly enough, a subsection called "the strongest motive." Sound familiar? Only two names are in it -- Alexander Bain and Thomas Reid. Bain held this position and Reid critiqued it as follows. 1. "What, Reid asked, is the test of whether the motive that is strongest is the one acted upon? It is simply the motive that prevails." 2. "Reid, however, went further than this by denying that motives can be likened to forces."

Bill Dwyer, is Bain an ancestor of yours and that has determined your strongest motive to advocate this version of determinism?  🙂

In the "contemporary" section it says that Gilbert Ryle declared volition to be a fabrication of philosophy, corresponding to nothing that has ever existed. For what it's worth, Merlin

From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Roger on volition Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2002 11:56:58 -0600 Roger wrote, "I'm aware that she and her main advocates (esp., N. Branden and L. Peikoff) said that free will was a form of causation. But this does not square with their other claim -- that causality is a corollary of identity. If, as their big hero (and mine) of logic, H.W.B. Joseph, was correct -- if the same effect must result from the same cause -- then anything we do MUST have resulted from what we are, and could not have NOT resulted. In other words, we could not have done other than we did in a given situation. This is the compatibilist view, and we maintain that it should also be the Objectivist view, if Objectivists would consistently apply the Law of Causality (again, see Joseph, ~Introduction to Logic~). "

If this is the fallacy of an appeal to authority, then your illogic should be tossed out of the arena of reason.

What authority can claim that differing identities must act the same -- or that all forms of consciousness are identical?  That is absurd on its face.  The law of identity simply states that any entity has a specific identity and must act causally according to that identity.  There is NO reason to think that causality is not a corollary of identity, or that volitional consciousness "does not square with" laws of identity and causality.  Joseph obviously did not know about Rand's identification of the Objectivist axioms.  Perhaps he never heard of the objective metaphysical FACT of human volitional consciousness.  It's an amazing idea Rand integrated into her full philosophical system.  Was Mr. J. a mystic who clung to materialism's 'same effect, same cause'?  Did he reject the very idea of volitional reasoning, and think only in terms of material determinism?

You say, "They claim we can act ~against~ our strongest value. This is logically absurd and metaphysically impossible."

Why do you think this?  People act against their strongest ideas, beliefs, motives and values all the time.  Look at the facts, Roger. People contradict themselves often and deliberately. [YOU cannot have volition and determinism at the same time and in the same respect.]  How can you think *evasion* does not exist in human behavior? It is rampant in human lives.  The fact is that Rand's best ideas about volitional consciousness finally make it possible to understand human nature and behavior without any dependence on the mysticism that permeated past history.

You conclude, "There really ~is~ a difference in our views, and the difference stems from Rand's inconsistency in applying the Law of Causality to the actions of the human mind. That inconsistency opens the door to viewing free will as ~whim~, as causeless, free-floating, and undetermined by our nature. This view is disastrous Kantian baloney and needs to be purged from Objectivism."

This is purely false reasoning.  Volition is the causal metaphysical attribute of human consciousness initiating and directing mental actions of awareness.  Volitional conscious awareness is a primary axiom of human identity.  It IS the means of our identity and causality.  You may deny this, and be wrong.  Nothing Kantian about it.  And you, Roger, cannot purge this foundation of axioms from Objectivism no matter where your whims carry your thinking.  If you want to deny the crucial axioms of Objectivism in favor of material determinism, why don't you try to sell your wares to those who are conceptually blinded enough to buy.

Objectivism will forever stand as Rand's identifications stated, and it will withstand all forms of foolishness, and appeals to authority, gladly.  You cannot rewrite Objectivism to suit yourself.

Kindly speaking, Roger, you should instead be observing human identity as it really is, factually and psychologically.  Leave Objectivism to those of us who really understand its axioms and premises, or try to understand the fundamentals. Ellen M.

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12 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

What we know about free will depends on the definition as it's not an observable thing. So what is the definition that encompasses the ignorance?

--Brant

It's as observable as gravity. Free will means you are able to act in a way not determined by external forces. Now that means that some seemingly external forces may not quite be so. And if you don't accept this, you really force yourself into a dualistic mindset like Sam Harris, where the more you learn the more you see the causal link and consciousness becomes a dichotomy of material and observer.

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2 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

It's as observable as gravity. Free will means you are able to act in a way not determined by external forces. Now that means that some seemingly external forces may not quite be so. And if you don't accept this, you really force yourself into a dualistic mindset like Sam Harris, where the more you learn the more you see the causal link and consciousness becomes a dichotomy of material and observer.

Gravity is not observable. So far 

--Brant 

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

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

Clarke made me think just as I quoted it. Is there anything that is impossible? Certain rules of the universe cannot be falsified of course, but many discoveries of the possible are achieved by “going around” the impossible.

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2 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

Gravity is not observable. So far 

--Brant 

I suspect someday we will see "waves" just as we see sunlight now. It is fascinating how we can observe a solid object and light "bending" to gravity, and black holes that pull on light so that it can never escape the gravity well.   

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Per Rand, if volition is axiomatic it must be "perceived or experienced directly, but grasped conceptually." And volition is perceived "within" and experienced directly, but grasped conceptually.  

Yet, in ITOE, Chapter Six, Ayn Rand named only three axiomatic concepts, Existence, Identity, and Consciousness. She discussed their nature, role, and importance in establishing the foundations of an objective epistemology in general and in her Objectivist Philosophy specifically. They are "irreducible primaries . . . . perceived or experienced directly, but grasped conceptually.  They are implicit in every state of awareness, from the first sensation to the first percept to the sum of all concepts." end quote

I think you can see what could SEEM TO BE freely spoken and volitional in others,  as in North Korea (which for some weird reason is cutting off all relations with South Korea), but it is really "forced speech." "Kim Jun Ung is the greatest!" 

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23 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

It's not reductive. You are the one reducing it. Characterizing the argument as "human beings are just complicated physiological organisms, no more than that" presumes that we know everything about the physical world.

 

 

I'm the reductivist? But you just nominated me - and therefore the whole species, a "combination of molecules"!!

I am fully for reductionism in a single field: science (biology and physics), That's what scientists must do, their rationale, method and purpose. What is this thing? Analyze. Break it down to its elements.

But scientists too must recognise their limits. They should turn to objective philosophy. When it comes to consciousness (any, down to all sentient existence, e.g. insects) the entirety acts and is more than the sum of its parts.

Self-evidently.

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1 minute ago, anthony said:

But you just nominated me - and therefore the whole species, a "combination of molecules"!!

I am all for reductionism in a single field: science (biology and physics), That's what scientists must do, their rationale, method and purpose.

But scientists too must recognise their limits. They should turn to philosophy. When it comes to consciousness (right down to all sentient existence, e.g. insects) the entirety is more than the sum of its parts. Self-evidently.

You are reducing the molecules, I'm not reducing the person. You admitted in a previous post that we will never be able to observe ourselves outside of causal, physical laws. So I am just bringing up that even within the realm of causality there are still many unknowns. WHO makes the rules? That's the same question as WHO decides your next thought.

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3 hours ago, Peter said:

I suspect someday we will see "waves" just as we see sunlight now. It is fascinating how we can observe a solid object and light "bending" to gravity, and black holes that pull on light so that it can never escape the gravity well.   

Gravity may not even exist, only the observable effects of something else.

--Brant

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3 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

. You admitted in a previous post that we will never be able to observe ourselves outside of causal, physical laws. So I am just bringing up that even within the realm of causality there are still many unknowns. WHO makes the rules? That's the same question as WHO decides your next thought.

 I said there's self-causation to human emotions, one lays them down by one's value-judging, I've no clue what the rest you say is meant to mean. Rules? There is the law of non-contradiction. And causality is causality (is identity in action). Particulars of causal occurrences by entities can yet to be known, but causation is settled knowledge.  There is the nature of man and what he causes. What a man does is up to him, his volitional rationality - or not. If he wants to act against his nature.

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6 hours ago, anthony said:

I've no clue what the rest you say is meant to mean. Rules?

The rules of existence, or reality. Why is asking "who" creates the laws of physics any more ridiculous than "who" determines the next thought in your head if not for you? The idea that anything with any kind of coherence must be the result of some human consciousness is the same sentiment that leads to God, or gods, being the source of everything.

 

The volition, the rationality, is all connected to man's nature. It's all coming from physical universe.

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