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Do we have Free Will? Or is Everything Determined?

Do we have Free Will? Or is Everything Determined?


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RaptorWizard

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Timeline Dynamics

Montalk said:
According to our model, if you travel into the past quantum mechanically, you would only see those alternatives consistent with the world you left behind you. In other words, while you are aware of the past, you cannot change it. No matter how unlikely the events are that could have led to your present circumstances, once they have actually occurred, they cannot be changed. Your trip would set up resonances that are consistent with the future that has already unfolded.

This also has enormous consequences on the paradoxes of free will. It shows that it is perfectly logical to assume that one has many choices and that one is free to take any one of them. Until a choice is taken, the future is not determined. However, once a choice is taken, and it leads to a particular future, it was inevitable. It could not have been otherwise. The boundary conditions that the future events happen as they already have, guarantees that they must have been prepared for in the past. So, looking backwards, the world is deterministic. However, looking forwards, the future is probabilistic. This completely explains the classical paradox. In fact, it serves as a kind of indirect evidence that such feedback must actually take place in nature, in the sense that without it, a paradox exists, while with it, the paradox is resolved. (Of course, there is an equally likely explanation, namely that going backward in time is impossible. This also solves the paradox by avoiding it.)

The model also has consequences concerning the many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory. The world may appear to keep splitting so far as the future is concerned. However, once a measurement is made, only those histories consistent with that measurement are possible. In other words, with time travel, other alternative worlds do not exist, as once a measurement has been made confirming the world we live in, the other worlds would be impossible to reach from the original one.

These 3 paragraphs from the link above them all struck me more than anything. I think it's saying that the future is open to our alterations, but once acted upon, the initial choices remain set. In quantum mechanics, a similar spectrum of possibilities exists, but it becomes a definitive result upon observations, chosen out of many other factors that, under different chance results would have unfolded towards another destination.

All future transformations are contingent with how the present shapes out, and free will gives us the power to direct its ultimate course. Free will, assuming we actually have it would be the random variable and the unknown factor which determines the future. Paradoxically, we could say that the indeterminate nature of free will can command what comes to happen and, with sufficient force of will could theoretically by the guidance of our determination make any event imminent.

Perhaps this is the prime cause for all actions that happen everywhere, that they are moved by some kind of mind, maybe even by minds above our own. Under a system along these lines, any vision could become real, and the present would have all promise for those who seize it with the right tenacity to become anything. Ultimately, my personal conclusion is that everything is determined by free will.

Stephen Hawking also has good thoughts on this question, as depicted in the below videos:


 

alcea rosea

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In my opinion, certain roads are determined but choice between the roads is given to us. So, I think people have certain amount of free will and freedom of choice but there are also coincidences, things that happen no matter if you want them to happen or not. These coincideces could also be said to be things that are determined for us. So, I believe some things are given to us and some things we can decide.
 

Scheherezade

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free will is not real, to be blunt, but if you consider free will the commencement in the brain of the process of a decision that you consider to be an expression of your free will, then indeed it is free will
 

RaptorWizard

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Albert Einstein - "God does not play dice with the universe."

FreeWill.jpg


Stephen Hawking - "Not only does God play dice but... he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen."
 
I

Infinite Bubble

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No, it is most likely illusory. Mechanisms in the brain are based on particle interaction through electrochemical processes. As such, like Hawking states in the quote below, we are governed by the laws of physics just like every other object in the universe. Sense of free will emerges due to the vast amount of factors that impact any given situation or state, most of which are not perceivable directly.

The laws of physics are already determined. All that is needed now is a set of previous conditions that will influence the next state. We cannot know all the many parts of the previous condition, which is why it feels like we are free, when in actual fact the previous conditions determine the next event in a very specific way which is inevitable.

An individuals personality, exact placement of particles in the brain, and millions of environmental factors all play a part. It feels like choice, but it's really the sheer amount of factors that go into the initial (previous) state that add together to create the exact outcome. If you are outside somewhere with a cricket ball, for instance, and you wonder whether to throw it across the field or not, it isn't really your choice. If you do throw it, that's because many conditions triggered that response, and if you don't, it's because of the same reason. Even the thought that predicated the "choice" was created through physical/electrochemical interactions, subject to other external physical systems.

There's just so many factors that are incorporated into the initial state. Think of science experiments. They are overly simplified and isolated in comparison to an entire present state, but it's the same principle. If the setup is exactly the same each time, the end result will also be the same. (Not taking into account outside influences such as air humidity etc.)

I should also mention that just because free will is an illusion, it doesn't mean that the universe is completely determined. Even if God plays dice, we are still not in control of them. Or perhaps it is determined, and the whole universe was set out to go precisely in a single direction from the initial state of the BB, but QM makes this unlikely.

Stephen Hawking - "Not only does God play dice but... he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen."

This quote is in regards to quantum mechanics, not free will. Even in the seemingly free-will-accommodating paradigm of QM, we are still subject to the laws of it, which are so minuscule in its effects relative to our scale that it is almost irrelevant on most occasions. Hawking actually believes that free will is nonexistent. To quote from The Grand Design:

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow said:
Though we feel that we can choose what we do, our understanding of the molecular basis of biology shows that biological processes are governed by the laws of physics and chemistry and therefore are as determined as the orbits of the planets. Recent experiments in neuroscience support the view that it is our physical brain, following the known laws of science, that determines our actions, and not some agency that exists outside those laws. For example, a study of patients undergoing awake brain surgery found that by electrically stimulating the appropriate regions of the brain, one could create in the patient the desire to move the hand, arm, or foot, or to move the lips and talk. It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.
 

INTP

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Lets put it this way, if during the big bang something would had been just slightly different, at least some particular atom somewhere wouldnt had formed like it did. So that small difference which one atom has isnt that relevant during that time when it happened to the overall picture of things. However that small difference of one atom would most likely had made something different because the atoms interaction with other atoms would had happened differently. Basically the whole thing is just one big chain reaction that spreads wider and wider, and even subtle differences to some of those reactions at one point might get amplified over time and one difference of an atom might cause whether the star had formed where all the gold in our known universum is from was ever formed or not and without gold there might not even be earth as we know it(since there is quite a lot of gold in our planets core which most likely has at least some small effect on earths magnetic fields and our whole civilization would had gone differently is that gold wasnt there).

So if something would had gone even slightly differently during the big bang, at least something in our current world would be different. Even if there are some form or multiverse thing going on, that wouldnt rule out the fact that everything which now exists, exists and is the way it is because things were as they were during the big bang or some multibang or what ever. Even if there is some big bearded guy over the clouds who knows magix, the reasons for it being are caused by similar chain reaction which i explained.

TLDR version: yes all your thoughts are physical reactions to begin with and the physical reactions which caused your thoughts were dictated by the big bang.
 
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WALMART

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The quantic dyanamicism of the human mind broke the universe free of its tether!

I used to like that concept, that the universe was open to future possibility but closed once past - that was my zipper of reality theory.
 
A

Anew Leaf

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In regards to humanity: We have free will. Saying otherwise is rationalizing away blame and consequence of actions. "The universe made me do it!" Etc

If you want to talk about the free will of physics... Then no.

But as always there are obvious cause and effects. Become a magical vat of pudding and the only outcome is to be consumed by gluttonous forces.
 
A

Anew Leaf

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In regards to humanity: We have free will. Saying otherwise is rationalizing away blame and consequence of actions. "The universe made me do it!" Etc

If you want to talk about the free will of physics... Then no.

But as always there are obvious cause and effects. Become a magical vat of pudding and the only outcome is to be consumed by gluttonous forces.
 

JAVO

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Everyone has free will except those who have relinquished it by limiting themselves to predeterminism, whether ordered or chaotic.
 

funtensity

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Disclaimer: I didn't read anything written above, except the thread title.

That said, we know we don't know enough to know whether or not we have free will.

That said, would you do anything differently either way?
 

Stanton Moore

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First off, I am aware of the research that states that ideas are formed around 300 milliseconds (or whatever the exact number is) before they reach consciousness, and I understand the concept of biological determinism.
I understand that in terms of physiology we differ biologically from other animals only in the details.
I also understand that recent research has shown that animals possess consciousness (although this is obvious to any human who is owned by a dog), and that our own self awareness can be seen as an extension of this naturally occurring phenomenon. Again, we differ from animals in degree.
However, I find the ridged adherence to biological determinism to have missed the most salient point: that human consciousness is not only different in degree, but also in kind. The works of Einstein, Newton, Tolstoy, Michelangelo, Nietzsche, Curie, Schumann, Gandhi, Darwin, Beethoven, Verdi, Yousafzai, etc, etc, are not the product of biological processes directly, but of are merely underpinned by them. There is no biological necessity for the theory of relativity, or a symphony, or great works of kindness, or most other things that are uniquely human.
As a person who can feel and think and is conscious, I also find biological determinism to be anti-social. It may feel comforting to sum up all human activity in this way, it may seem as if the unsettling vagaries of life and the world are somehow obviated by this kind of ‘willful’ (sic) reduction of possibilities to mere processes, but in the end, it produces nothing that extends humanity or enriches it, or increases understanding or civility. It is rather a call to Machiavellian self-interest, to dog-eat-dog politics and violence (which of course, we see as natural). I prefer to think more of my species and the individuals in it as more than animals with self interest maximizers at the top of our spines.
Gratuitous smiley: :)
 

RaptorWizard

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In my opinion, certain roads are determined but choice between the roads is given to us. So, I think people have certain amount of free will and freedom of choice but there are also coincidences, things that happen no matter if you want them to happen or not. These coincideces could also be said to be things that are determined for us. So, I believe some things are given to us and some things we can decide.

This makes a lot of sense. Maybe we can't choose our contexts quite so much as we can choose what we do within those contexts, at least at our current level.

free will is not real, to be blunt, but if you consider free will the commencement in the brain of the process of a decision that you consider to be an expression of your free will, then indeed it is free will

Okay, so I guess you think that our own mental actions move us, even if those operations were determined by a prior cause.

No, it is most likely illusory. Mechanisms in the brain are based on particle interaction through electrochemical processes. As such, like Hawking states in the quote below, we are governed by the laws of physics just like every other object in the universe. Sense of free will emerges due to the vast amount of factors that impact any given situation or state, most of which are not perceivable directly.

Indeed, it is too complex to map out, but that doesn't mean it's all destined beforehand to go absolutely one way with 100% conclusiveness.

The laws of physics are already determined. All that is needed now is a set of previous conditions that will influence the next state. We cannot know all the many parts of the previous condition, which is why it feels like we are free, when in actual fact the previous conditions determine the next event in a very specific way which is inevitable.

Keep in mind that knowing the fundamental laws of the universe doesn't mean we can apply them for a case study of every object in space, but it could give us very accurate clues as to the overall structure of the entire cosmos and where it's destined on a broad level to evolve.

An individuals personality, exact placement of particles in the brain, and millions of environmental factors all play a part. It feels like choice, but it's really the sheer amount of factors that go into the initial (previous) state that add together to create the exact outcome. If you are outside somewhere with a cricket ball, for instance, and you wonder whether to throw it across the field or not, it isn't really your choice. If you do throw it, that's because many conditions triggered that response, and if you don't, it's because of the same reason. Even the thought that predicated the "choice" was created through physical/electrochemical interactions, subject to other external physical systems.

I think you're right about purely physical systems being entirely determined, but that doesn't mean there aren't "meta"-physical systems out there that may act under different laws that are perhaps even subject to alteration. Perhaps metaphysics may play a part in what physical forms we assume upon our incarnations (if you believe in that stuff).

There's just so many factors that are incorporated into the initial state. Think of science experiments. They are overly simplified and isolated in comparison to an entire present state, but it's the same principle. If the setup is exactly the same each time, the end result will also be the same. (Not taking into account outside influences such as air humidity etc.)

This is because we can count on the same precedents applying in every case; that's why we can formulate laws. Of course, I've always seen laws as something to be broken (and then reconstructed into new forms). That's philosophy however, and not physics as we currently know it.

I should also mention that just because free will is an illusion, it doesn't mean that the universe is completely determined. Even if God plays dice, we are still not in control of them. Or perhaps it is determined, and the whole universe was set out to go precisely in a single direction from the initial state of the BB, but QM makes this unlikely.

It's good to see you considering alternative possibilities here; it seems like you think it's possible that random quantum events can allow for a bit of contingency, but that it still operates independently of our wills - and since our wills can't (under your view) control them, then we might as well just say that we don't have free will, as we can't determine events, let alone self-determine our own actions.

This quote is in regards to quantum mechanics, not free will. Even in the seemingly free-will-accommodating paradigm of QM, we are still subject to the laws of it, which are so minuscule in its effects relative to our scale that it is almost irrelevant on most occasions. Hawking actually believes that free will is nonexistent. To quote from The Grand Design:

Yes, I remember reading the Grand Design 3 years ago. Both of those fellas seem to have similar views and ways of thinking to yourself.

Lets put it this way, if during the big bang something would had been just slightly different, at least some particular atom somewhere wouldnt had formed like it did. So that small difference which one atom has isnt that relevant during that time when it happened to the overall picture of things. However that small difference of one atom would most likely had made something different because the atoms interaction with other atoms would had happened differently. Basically the whole thing is just one big chain reaction that spreads wider and wider, and even subtle differences to some of those reactions at one point might get amplified over time and one difference of an atom might cause whether the star had formed where all the gold in our known universum is from was ever formed or not and without gold there might not even be earth as we know it(since there is quite a lot of gold in our planets core which most likely has at least some small effect on earths magnetic fields and our whole civilization would had gone differently is that gold wasnt there).

As I've said before, your logic often overwhelms my mind. I think though that you're depicting the "Butterfly Effect" (small changes lead to big consequences) in detail.

So if something would had gone even slightly differently during the big bang, at least something in our current world would be different. Even if there are some form or multiverse thing going on, that wouldnt rule out the fact that everything which now exists, exists and is the way it is because things were as they were during the big bang or some multibang or what ever. Even if there is some big bearded guy over the clouds who knows magix, the reasons for it being are caused by similar chain reaction which i explained.

Your big bearded guy, or "God" you seem to think is also subject to laws above his own powers, that of course (in your view) predetermine what God determines to do with our universe, which in turn predetermines what we want to determine with our own willpower.

TLDR version: yes all your thoughts are physical reactions to begin with and the physical reactions which caused your thoughts were dictated by the big bang.

But we don't know if the brain is the sole source of our life force; I know that we can stimulate the brain to make us do things, but that doesn't exclude the possibility of say a spirit in negative matter or whatever giving our brains (receivers) commands. Just like technology can be a controller for the brain, so to could our "higher selves" be guiding our brains.

The quantic dyanamicism of the human mind broke the universe free of its tether!

This view sounds more promising; you're allowing for the idea of "breaking chains" (a possibility the above posters were more closed off from).

I used to like that concept, that the universe was open to future possibility but closed once past - that was my zipper of reality theory.

I myself still subscribe to this theory (even if you don't anymore), but I'm not sure a zipper is the best metaphor; maybe it's more of a "multi-faceted crystallization".

In regards to humanity: We have free will. Saying otherwise is rationalizing away blame and consequence of actions. "The universe made me do it!" Etc

Yes, it would seem more rational to act as if we do have free will, regardless of whether or not (or at what level) we actually have it.

If you want to talk about the free will of physics... Then no.

Physical mechanisms by themselves are in bondage, but perhaps metaphysical forces could act on the physical.

But as always there are obvious cause and effects. Become a magical vat of pudding and the only outcome is to be consumed by gluttonous forces.

Your reference to "pudding" (which can be shaped) may actually capture much more than you think it does. It's like there's a formless material before ourselves, some kind of wishing well or pool that can transform into any entity imaginable (and substances like this aren't exclusively solid; they can take other states and assume more "floaty" forms).

I talked about it a while ago with the late erm: here.

Okay, well I guess I can springboard this to the idea of whether or not the past is determined. Maybe reality has various "save files", kind of like how in video games they can be repeatedly accessed to get different results upon directing the game with alternative commands. That's just a random idea; I'm not saying it has any basis in reality - but then again, we really don't know!

Everyone has free will except those who have relinquished it by limiting themselves to predeterminism, whether ordered or chaotic.

This simple statement is fairly elegant - willpower is all about tenaciously handling ideas that we envision and seizing the moment to mobilize new actions made immanent, transforming old worlds and making new ones spring into being. Of course, to move mountains, we have to believe that it can be done, even if it takes eons for its accomplishment.

Disclaimer: I didn't read anything written above, except the thread title.

Freedom used with little effort and full honesty is better that little effort and no honesty - at least under the former, there is promise for improvement and a respect for truth.

That said, we know we don't know enough to know whether or not we have free will.

I am in complete agreement with you here. We're still way too ignorant to have definitive conclusions that can actually describe our cosmos with full clarity of vision.

That said, would you do anything differently either way?

Well, if we did actually discover the existence of free will at any level, surely we could harness some tricks in its arsenal, whereas if we went on ignorant about it and/or free will were nonexistent, then our horizons will remain clouded.

First off, I am aware of the research that states that ideas are formed around 300 milliseconds (or whatever the exact number is) before they reach consciousness, and I understand the concept of biological determinism.
I understand that in terms of physiology we differ biologically from other animals only in the details.
I also understand that recent research has shown that animals possess consciousness (although this is obvious to any human who is owned by a dog), and that our own self awareness can be seen as an extension of this naturally occurring phenomenon. Again, we differ from animals in degree.
However, I find the ridged adherence to biological determinism to have missed the most salient point: that human consciousness is not only different in degree, but also in kind. The works of Einstein, Newton, Tolstoy, Michelangelo, Nietzsche, Curie, Schumann, Gandhi, Darwin, Beethoven, Verdi, Yousafzai, etc, etc, are not the product of biological processes directly, but of are merely underpinned by them. There is no biological necessity for the theory of relativity, or a symphony, or great works of kindness, or most other things that are uniquely human.
As a person who can feel and think and is conscious, I also find biological determinism to be anti-social. It may feel comforting to sum up all human activity in this way, it may seem as if the unsettling vagaries of life and the world are somehow obviated by this kind of ‘willful’ (sic) reduction of possibilities to mere processes, but in the end, it produces nothing that extends humanity or enriches it, or increases understanding or civility. It is rather a call to Machiavellian self-interest, to dog-eat-dog politics and violence (which of course, we see as natural). I prefer to think more of my species and the individuals in it as more than animals with self interest maximizers at the top of our spines.
Gratuitous smiley: :)

This is a great testament in favor of having faith in higher causes, of acting with the force and feeling of our true character. This is the "I am that I am", the personal God of love. With the power of love on our side, anything is possible!
 

Standuble

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I would say individuality doesn't exist and our particles are enslaved to the whims of quantum mechanics; whatever it pops into existence becomes our new master. No free will and no pre-determinism.
 
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FigerPuppet

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It seems like quantum mechanics is the layman's refuge for whacky beliefs, looking at the way some of you and OP's link talk about it.
 

INTP

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But we don't know if the brain is the sole source of our life force; I know that we can stimulate the brain to make us do things, but that doesn't exclude the possibility of say a spirit in negative matter or whatever giving our brains (receivers) commands. Just like technology can be a controller for the brain, so to could our "higher selves" be guiding our brains.

Brain isnt the source of life force, mostly its the sun and stuff that sun and supernovas has provided here, but sun etc. had its own source of life force and so did other things leading to all this since the big bang or what ever was the thing that made all this. Brain just some organ in the process of this universe that makes all sorts of funny stuff possible :p . And that spirit thing is this energy flowing in time and space.
 

RaptorWizard

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[MENTION=7595]INTP[/MENTION] again, I must bow down before the greatness of your superior logic! :worthy: :einstein2:

I'm quite amused (and a bit annoyed) by when you bring up all of these (at least to me) unimportant logical contradictions made on my part that don't even deal with the point I was referring to.

When I speak of a life force, I mean that part of us beyond the matter. As far as the brain being a source goes, it simply tunes in; perhaps it's actually appropriate to call God the source of it all - and from that perspective, your point has some value I would think. But still, only primitive savages and superstitious fools would consider the sun to be their almighty God, Lord and Savior!
 

Beorn

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None of the above

I believe in compatibilism or soft determinism. I think determinism and freewill coexist.
 

INTP

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When I speak of a life force, I mean that part of us beyond the matter.

Yes, but that imo that life force is the same force that is beyond matter;
 
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