Probably because the answer is irrelevant or useless.
Originally Posted by Xander
Why do we do half of the things we do? No one knows for sure. There are always "experts" who claim to know but there's far too many of them with far too disparate views to take any of them seriously.
So because the world appears more mechanical than we are then we must be fundamentally different?
World is claimed to be mechanical whereas we don't feel completely mechanical.
I think that these two seeming fundamentally different constitutes a key point in our understanding of the question of free will, which seems to operate in both domains; that of something subjective, and that what is mechanical.
Originally Posted by Xander
Are other species blessed with this free will or are they merely automatons and part of this great machine?
I can't know this from anyone else but myself, but I intuitively fill in the gaps and think that at least other humans have subjective feelings (or impression of those) as well.
Other species seem so simple in their behaviour that I'd guess that "choice" plays little or no part in their lives, but I can't say it for sure. I was interested of reading a New Scientist article (sorry, I browsed my magazines thru, could not find) where a scientist asserted that free will plays a much smaller role in our lives as believed. They could predict some routinish actions of a person, and made the assertion that human societies are as easy to predict as populations of bacteria. It was nice to read, but the focus was one-sided.
Many comments on this thread has been of the form that total freedom in.. say, choice of a number, would be to choose a number in the set of extended real numbers, range between minus and plus infinity. So now if you're restricted to choices between 0 and 1 in the real line, your choices would be much restricted. Well.. that's not entirely so. Both the range [-inf, +inf]and [0,1] hold the quality of being uncountable, and there exists a function to transform the range [0,1] to [-inf, +inf].. when applying this analogy to real world, we may notice that we need to do many small choices to get one big choice done.
Also I am not concerned about not being able to instantly do anything you might wish. I am concerned with being able to choose something about what our brains do.
Actually, it would be enough to be able to make *1* dichotomous choice on a rate of 1 per second; for example, to choose whether we go by the information suggested by our left brain, or our right brain. Our left brain wants to go to the fridge, our right wants to go to the toilet (whithout us being able to choose what they want), but only the idea of toilet and fridge occur to us. This is the realm of free choices in here. Then we go to the fridge and feel all-capable, because we chose among the only options that occured to us.
You see, I have lesser demands for "freedom". I consider this freedom in about the same lines as when a computer is theoretically all-capable in theoretical computer science. It might be an eniac from the 1950's or a supercomputer from 2007, but given enough time, they could solve anything that can be solved, if we are able to use infinite time and we'll be able to expand memory when needed. Clearly, the computers are not actually all-capable and neither are we. I still hold the subjective opinion that our ability to choose is somehow, vaguely, "enough" :P We have some of the same qualities as being all-capable, that feel quite a lot to me.
Edit: I don't argue in the favor that our choices would always stay insignificant (like toilet and fridge). I feel that we do not process everything at once, but we can get quite a big intuitive leaps or something similar with sensory perception, and make some big goal and start working towards it.
Now, something practical. This is more of an anecdote than anything else. I've read in the papers that executives seem to like their job the most. I've thought that they have prestigious jobs, but they are able to decide a great deal of things, too. I too like the feeling of making a choice.
I was feeling a bit tired yesterday, when I got the idea that I don't have the feeling of making any big choices for most of the day. Then I complain myself why I don't get things done. So I decided to exert more concious effort in my choises that evening, and it got me into lot of pleasurable and interesting situations, and I liked it. You know, I'm recovering from burnout.. and don't always find the energy to do everythign I'd like. But I was able to do something new that evening.
It wouldn't surprise me if a person's feeling of power over his life would be a positive indication for their well being, along with the feeling of freedom to exercise their free will.
I don't believe in free will, because even if the future wasn't predetermined, you would need something independent to make choices. I don't believe, or rather, I'm not convinced, that anything like that exists.
Determinism is misinterpreted in my eyes. Yes metaphysics always steals the ideas from the real physicists, but you cant apply it to reality.
In reality we have a choice of what we do, we have free will and that is a fact. If it is not the truth in some super reality it is not proved yet and the thing is: nearly nothing in our understanding is able to be foreseen, we are still members of the probability theory.
Quantenphysics does underline that and even if we still have no practical proves, there seems to be more to the story.
I just can say, even it is worth exploring, never set your mind to a deterministic principle. Cause it would be incoherent with the worlds view on the world. And I dont know if you will ever have a chance with a principle that leaves no room for creativity in any given situation.
For it is in the end mankind who has defined reality since the beginning of time and physics are just a part of that.
"How dreadful!" cried Lord Henry. "I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect." ~ Oscar Wilde - The picture of Dorian Gray
Science is just the way things work - we can manipulate it. Therefore, we have free will.
Not so fast. Science ultimately works because the universe works in ways which are amendable to study by humans. Engineering is the manipulation of science by humans. We are part of the universe, so we are not beyond the reach of physical and chemical influences.
Even when we have lost hope in resolving the problems we have, we are still fundamentally part and parcel of the world. By virtue of this understanding, we can do anything realisable within the universe. [So don't give up ]
If you don't like the way this universe is - go somewhere else!" - Richard Feynman
Freedom refers to the quality of being original or spontaneous that we experience in relation to every event that ever occurs. Freedom means, "This feels active, there is something happening."
Any denial of freedom constitutes a free act, which means you can't sincerely deny freedom because that very act would contradict your words. What it would be easier to do is to deny the existence of uncaused freedom, which would boil down to claiming that everything which ever happens is or was determined in advance. And in one sense, that claim would be true: though the essence of futurity is in its yet to be determined (in other words, not yet present) nature, that doesn't keep the future from being determined in advance. For the future to be determined in advance simply means for you to feel confident about it; even when you don't have any clear sense of what the future holds, you do at the very least have it settled that there will be a future. So in that respect, the future is always determined in advance.
In another sense, the claim that the future is determined in advance can be highly ironic, in that it's often made when someone is thinking about how a past future was determined in advance, when "past future" is scarcely anything more than a longer way of saying "past." The only difference between the two terms is that "past" is a more holistic way of looking at the past where "past future" tends to cut the past into a succession of pasts, one after the other. What the two ways of looking at the past have in common is that they're both viewpoints on something that has been determined, by definition (even though you will probably have unsettled questions about the past, which don't disprove that the past is essentially determined but, on the contrary, lay bare the past's determined nature in the most clear fashion possible, because there is less content there to distract from the form), which makes calling attention to this fact something like making note of the fact that the color blue is the color blue. People will take these past instances of determinism and derive physical laws from them about the way that the universe behaves, and from that, gain confidence that the future will pan out one way or the other. This is an effective way to gain confidence about things, but it's also a very roundabout way; generally we know what the future holds without any further qualifications. That we're capable of knowing the future in an unqualified fashion is something that we can easily see by looking at our own past experiences, which makes strict empiricism (the foundation for strict determinism) highly ironic.
And needless to say, feeling confident about the future doesn't cancel out the existence of freedom. Feeling confident about something involves watching events transpire as the event approaches, and even if the event feels stifling to you and seems to suppress your freedom, you still experience your freedom in two ways, namely, by vicariously experiencing it through the "flow of time"; and also as a sort bird hurtling against the bars of its cage or a submissive lamb resolved to accept its fate on the altar (in other words, you would experience your freedom as a locked-up possibility, which would not cancel it out but on the contrary reveal it to you in a purer form by removing the shallower expressions of it). The only way for confidence to put an end to freedom would be for someone to become stricken with a confidence so absolute that time itself would come to a permanent halt for them. That could never happen, because confidence is about something that is at a distance in time and space; it is an attitude, not some sort of substance that you could fill yourself and everything else with until there was nothing left; if you were to try to do that and somewhat get right to the point of success, if you took just one step further, you would pull the rug right out from under the feet of confidence, since confidence is fundamentally an attitude not a substance. The nearest one can approach to perfect confidence is confidence about achieving perfect confidence, which is called faith.
So in summary, there is some truth in determinism, but it's only one half of the picture. Aside from things being set in stone, there is also freedom, even if you only use that freedom to tell yourself, over and over again, how set in stone everything is.
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