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romansh

Free Will

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I could not find a free will thread open ... and Joseph suggested another thread so I opened this one.

Apparently resistance is futile

 

 

Pete ... You and I had a fair amount of programming especially after we left our respective wombs. Don't kid yourself that you hit the ground running.

 

If we know how to interrogate a computer it can divulge a fair amount of information. It can tell you about what is in its memory if we know how to ask, My computer does display a certain amount of awareness of its surroundings and itself. Generally when it stops doing this (making informed choices) it is time to send it to recycling or perhaps to a therapist to clean up its memory registers.

 

But I take your point, I suspect a computer's experience is not as rich as mine.

 

 

Choice and free choice or free will are indeed interesting topics to discuss and that we have discussed here before. It would be best done in another thread so not to get so far off the topic of this thread. It can be a real eye opener for those open to such a discussion. It also seems to me a most difficult topic to accept a different understanding than one might previously hold because it can expose what some call ego or self which seems to meet much internal resistance. But anyone is welcome to start a new thread if interested. Joseph

 

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Here are a couple reference threads one can look through for background but a new discussion here is just fine since we have different people than we had previously. I will be traveling back to KY from FL tomorrow so i will not be able to participate for a day or so. Enjoy.

Joseph

 

Free Will

 

http://tcpc.ipbhost.com/index.php?/topic/1958-free-will/?hl=%2Bfree+%2Bchoice#entry22929

 

 

and

 

Free Choice

 

http://tcpc.ipbhost.com/index.php?/topic/1174-free-choice/#entry11873

Edited by JosephM

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Here are a couple reference threads one can look through for background but a new discussion here is just fine since we have different people than we had previously. I will be traveling back to KY from FL tomorrow so i will not be able to participate for a day or so. Enjoy.

Joseph

 

Free Will

 

http://tcpc.ipbhost.com/index.php?/topic/1958-free-will/?hl=%2Bfree+%2Bchoice#entry22929

 

 

and

 

Free Choice

 

http://tcpc.ipbhost.com/index.php?/topic/1174-free-choice/#entry11873

Thanks Joseph

can you merge the threads ... does not make sense having two free will threads with same title.

I wonder why my search did not pick up te free wil thread?

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Rom,

 

I just did a forum search and looked through a few pages of threads that turned up to find it. Search can be a bit tricky to use on this IPB board. I can merge the threads but no harm is done to start this different one. Those were old threads and people may now respond differently. I only listed them in case anyone is interested in past history of the discussion. A new one might yield some newer insights so type away your thoughts on free will, what it means to you and why. I am interested in your perspective. Mine has most probably changed some over time.

 

Joseph

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Rom,

 

Kudos.

 

In my view, a most excellent essay that is intriguing , concise and challenging. My knowledge of philosophy, science and chemistry is extremely limited as i have no formal college degree other than Bible school. Nor am i well read in such matters. However, from experience and self examination, i have come to the same conclusions that your essay suggests. I have nothing to challenge of what you say in your essay but hopefully others will . The essay has the possibility to make an interesting respectful discussion on what i view as a number of most difficult understandings for an individual to consider or accept, all related to the question of free will.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Saying my conclusions are the same or similar is not to be construed as any official PC position or say your essay is correct or a different opinion another may come to is wrong, only that i personally speak for myself and as an individual have come in my journey to a similar understanding.

 

Thanks for your essay, Will check back in, in a day or so,

Joseph

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A question. If we have no free will then what is the point of a forum or discussing this because without free will what impact would discussing anything have because I am already chemically predetermined to think as I do anyway.

It is interesting to me I do not have the same view of faith that I was brought up to have or have been socialized into acquiring. Although I can say that such an upbringing has an influence on me it does not account for the sum total of who I am. I was brought to have faith and to not question but I have questioned and drawn conclusions from it that differed from that of my childhood rearing. I gave myself the permission to question and I gave myself the permission to accept learning from that which I discovered. Anyone who has been a fundamentalist knows how much pressure there is to not question but just believe what I was told. I do neither. If free will did not exist to some degree then I would have been socialized and behavior indoctrinated not to change but I wanted to know for myself. That wanting to know for myself I would call free will in action.

I cannot find the actual quote but I remember a quote from I think it was Karl Marx which went along the lines of - we have free will but only within the bounds of that which we inherit. I can relate to that but it does not exclude the possibility of free will but just points out all free will has parameters.

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Yes Pete. Karl Marx didn't think consciousness determined being but social being determined consciousness. He was a materialist who rejected the ideal of free will.

 

"For the idealist, the mind--or the spirit, in the form of God--is the origin of all material things. The ancient Greek idealist philosopher Plato, for example, argued that the world and the things in it were determined by universal, logical categories. Therefore, every specific tree was a copy derived from the universal category "tree.""

 

From "Why was Marx a Materialist?" By Paul D'Amato from www.socialistworker.org

 

I think the notion of free will is far more complex from a strictly materialist view, or from any spiritual view. Despite the fact that there is the potential for change within human beings that capacity is determined or shaped by forces beyond his or her control.

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I not sure Marx rejected free will, I think he just respected the limits of it.

Marx was also quoted to say "Thank God I am not a Marxist" which has been debated for years.

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Right not a rejection but it's limitations. He did reject idealism so far as I know as was traditionally know. Or maybe he had another version of it. He never seemed to be much of a Platonist or someone who would be Aristotlean in his views.

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Hey, :lol: I said that a quote made sense to me. I did not say that Marx made full sense to me.

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Marx makes absolute sense to me in his historical context. His materialism doesn't really surprise me either given the situation Europe was in. But he brings the materialist perspective to its logical conclusion in terms of finds a solution to to the problems of the day. Humans are social creatures defined by their environment.

 

If you take the spiritual view, you can take your pick of the traditions but again all in terms of their cultural and historical context. There is no dongle Christian theory of free will but I personally accept the view from Judaism and Eastern Orthodox in the sense that there is no original sin per se but we are very damaged spiritually (that's putting it lightly) and we are determined to some extent by what we inherit. But the ideas of Fate and Destiny in Hinduism can be equally true in that we can help shape these with our choices. The Reformed view makes no sense to me logically (total depravity and all that). There is no room for free will if God wills it. If God wills it then God sees far beyond what we can see - so our predicament still hadn't changed.

 

I sometimes think that free will is more an absurd condition. Damned if you do and damned if you don't can be equally valid when it is expressed in the positive - saved if you do saved if you don't. Regardless we are all active participants. If there is room for that participation expressed as "free" then, well, I have no clue.

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A question. If we have no free will then what is the point of a forum or discussing this because without free will what impact would discussing anything have because I am already chemically predetermined to think as I do anyway.

......

 

what is the point? ... perhaps in an absolute sense there is no point. Personally I find the subject fascinating and quite edifying. That's my perceived reason for participating in this thread. The other thing Pete be very careful do not assume determinism and predetermination are the same thing. I don't know the universe well enough to say it is predetermined or not. But there is a ton of evidence to say human beaviour is determined.

 

It is interesting to me I do not have the same view of faith that I was brought up to have or have been socialized into acquiring. Although I can say that such an upbringing has an influence on me it does not account for the sum total of who I am. I was brought to have faith and to not question but I have questioned and drawn conclusions from it that differed from that of my childhood rearing.

 

Of course not ... but I would argue you are the sum total of the universe unfolding. Which includes your family influences, society, books you have read, chemistry, physics. I would say, at what ever level I look at my behaviour there is a cause behind it.

 

 

That wanting to know for myself I would call free will in action.

 

 

This is fine, we define anything we want as free will. But there is an issue here. In philosophical terms it called compatibilism. Compatibilists redefine free will, so that it is possible that in a fully determined universe, the redefined free will is possible. This is OK but the problem of determinism does not go away.

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Rom,

 

I think you're essay makes a lot of sense. I think true free will most likely is an illusion. I don't think you can 'make' yourself believe something, you simply either believe it or you don't, so it would seem free will doesn't 'work'.

 

Cheers

Paul

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I remember as a child a baptist church splitting over a similar debate (similar but not the same). The argument went along the lines of - If God created all things and can see all things then God knows what his creation would do and therefore free will did not exist and the notion of being saved by belief did not exist either because God would have already be aware of who He would save even before one is born. Therefore evangelical zeal to save all was not necessary and was pointless. God has already determined what will be.

 

Such an argument also seems to make life choices and moral choice also pointless as one is only fulfilling what will be.

 

I know this is not one of the most sophisticated arguments in philosophical terms but I go with the that of God in all and a choice in all to relate to it or not. In giving that of God in all then God is blindfolded as to what each will do with it. One can seek the moral good or the moral bad as in freewill both possibilities are desirable. There may be gratification from stealing food from a child but whether a person resists that urge or not is free will and determined by the individual (IMO). All be it that individual is shaped by socialization and the universe one still choose whether to go with that programming or not. Can one choose to change such programming? I would say yes but whether they will or not depends on the person desire to do so. I would go with free will existing but limited by our being and situation and that which we inherit. Some things are changeable and somethings are beyond our control.

Edited by Pete

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We always have choice . The real question to me is ... is that choice truly free or is it the product of an evolution of consciousness. It seems to me it is the latter.

 

Of course i also as Pete admit i have turned out in many ways different in my beliefs from the way i was raised but then i have to ask .. Why? What influenced my departure? And then the real question arises... If i were you in all ways the same (identical chemistry, DNA, experience, environment and influences etc down to the identical minutest detail), would i be any different than you are today? And my intuition tells me no. I would of course be what you call you. In that sense where is true free will? Choice brings us to where we are but one might ask...why have i chose differently?

 

I perceive i can not be any different than i am in this moment. All 'could have's' based on different choices that i could have made are now hypothetical to me with no real existence in reality.

 

Just some thoughts,

Joseph

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I do not believe we have absolute free choice just a qualified free choice based on what we inherit. What we inherit maybe genetic, evolutionary, or socialised but I do not believe all choice is based just on that. I do not believe we are totally programmed to do what we do and nothing more. CBT, NLP and other cognitive therapies look at that programme and the client then uses what insight they have to alter their way of thinking.

This discussion started with a point on forgiveness and whether a person needs to forgive as all are just unfolding what they were programmed to be. I do not accept that premise as it does not allow for any freedom of an individual self to actualise to something greater or differ and drawing on my experience to note that people can change from what fate has determined them to be to other ways.

Maybe we are just discussing the degree of self will.

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It seems to me ones choice is based or influenced on a myriad of factors of which some we may be familiar with and some which are unknown or what some commonly refer to as unconscious factors. If choice was truly free, it seems to me it would have to not be limited to influences from the universe and all that that entails. It seems one would have to posses a complete knowledge of all things for choice to be truly free. Therefore i conclude that choice is ever evolving and as a human, free choice is deceptive and illusory in nature.

 

 

But then again, what do i know? It is just my own perception.

Joseph

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I know this is not one of the most sophisticated arguments in philosophical terms but I go with the that of God in all and a choice in all to relate to it or not. In giving that of God in all then God is blindfolded as to what each will do with it. One can seek the moral good or the moral bad as in freewill both possibilities are desirable. There may be gratification from stealing food from a child but whether a person resists that urge or not is free will and determined by the individual (IMO). All be it that individual is shaped by socialization and the universe one still choose whether to go with that programming or not. Can one choose to change such programming? I would say yes but whether they will or not depends on the person desire to do so. I would go with free will existing but limited by our being and situation and that which we inherit. Some things are changeable and somethings are beyond our control.

 

I did not argue from the Bible texts regarding free will in my essay. But doing rudimentary google searches regarding free will and the Bible ... there are very definitive quotes about deterministic aspects. Whereas free will itself is not mentioned ,scholars have interpreted people being able to choose as arguments for free will.

 

Personally I leave god out of it as i don't know what I am talking about. In that god is supposed to be transcendent and beyond all categories of thought.

 

Degrees of self will ... perhaps? But I cannot see a self, if free will is an illusion.

 

The Buddhist traditions accept there is no self, but suggest we have free will. This bit of logic is beyond me.

Edited by romansh

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If I have Buddhist doctrine correct, I think Christian theological/Western philosophical musings regarding the doctrine of free will are a bit too speculative to be included in many (if any) Buddhist texts.

 

In any case, for a traditional Buddhist, everything exists as a result of dependent origination, which includes one’s karmic formations, and ceases to exist when the causes and conditions for their existence have been exhausted.

 

In that sense it is very deterministic, but it is the individual person who is “responsible” for determining their own fate through actions born of ignorance regarding the absolute nature of reality. That fate is played out in countless rebirths via the “mental continuum”, or consciousness. It is the law of karma (volitional action) that forms the basis for our behavioral predispositions.

 

It is only necessary for an individual to learn the difference between virtuous and non-virtuous actions (wisdom), and engage in compassionate activities. That is the only real choice required, and it is assumed that choice is the result of reasoning. It is also pretty much assumed this is learned over countless lifetimes.

 

Peace.

Steve

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I know much is said about free will and the self being illusionary but I would go with many things holding the possibility of an illusion. Firstly the mind does not connect to reality. It draws in impulses through the senses to the brain. The brain then tries to make sense of what these impulses mean and then forms a cognitive representation or a map in the mind of what it thinks of the stimuli it is getting. So one can say that these cognitive maps are useful for us to negotiate our way through life but it is also a fact that these cognitive maps are not the actual territory. So the concept of self and free will in the mind may be illusionary but equally that does not mean the self and the belief of having free will does not come from the reality of existence. It just means we cannot be 100% sure of what we perceive as reality being reality in a sense because perception is cognitive we each build our own reality. The mind can also be tricked and these maps in the mind took time to develop. A young baby can be tricked with the presentation of three dots (representing two eyes and a nose) attached to it cot as being its mother looking on but in later life this would not suffice. However, there are ones adults struggle with :- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_illusion

Being as we each make sense of the reality we each have formulated in our minds each can come to differing conclusions as to what is reality. Where one can say that free will does not exist and it is the universe unfolding another like me will say that although the universe unfolds we do have free will as to what we make of that and seek to do within the realms of the universal environment we inherit and the cognitive maps we have produced..

Now I do not believe I am going to convince someone that they are wrong because according to their model of the world a thing is such and such but equally according to my model of the world the self and limited free will exists.

We each make our own reality and what is perceived as illusion or fact may also differ from person to person. Given enough research all things are provable.

Edited by Pete
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Well very interesting, I will have to reread the blog and responses, but I can surely see where, environment and how we were raised greatly influences us throughout life. My RC's beliefs were ingrained from a early time and I never questioned till my 50's, so I pretty much just believed and my actions in life were based on my family and religious upbringing.

 

Since I have got to this point now, I am more clear, or how should I say more aware of my reaction to things, and how I would normally react, say feel hurt, now I can look at the person who perhaps said a hurtful thing and choose not to react to it as I understand more why the person may of said it. I read something that by the time were about 7-10, what ever has been put in our sub conscious mind will become automatic behaviors that we keep repeating and repeating until we become aware, and then we can change our reaction. So say if my husband comes home moody , its not me, its because he had a bad day, or when the check out person is short and rude, I chock it up to her having a bad day, we just don't know.

 

The choices we made or make in life are greatly influenced by events prior and , so in a way I think the more older and wiser we become , they call it street smarts or life experiences I guess, yes I think the more free will we might have or the illusion of having more free will. Goodness who really knows anymore.

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I remember a story (not sure if it true or not) about Richard Bandler (Co founder of NLP) . He was talking to some psychologists who were insisting that the persons personality was fixed after the age of five. They went insisting until Richard pulled out a gun and asked if this would change their personality or not. I am not saying that this is a good thing to do but the question hangs, if extreme events like having a gun pulled out on one can make one adopt differing patterns then how come other more gentler ways are so readily dismissed.

 

The one thing I know is that I am not the personality I was as a child or as a teenager. Today they mostly say that although the greatest and fasted changes occur when one is young the possibility of change is present throughout life.

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Thanks for the interesting food for thought Steve, Pete and Luvtosew.

 

The word free will i find defined as "the power of acting without the constraint of necessity" or "the ability to make choices that are not controlled by fate or God" or others definitions similar to the apparent human ability to make choices that are not externally determined.

 

The definition itself seems to me varied and limited. The word "will" is not where it gets confusing but rather with it being prefixed by the word "free". To me the word "free" implies exempt from any external authority or interference or restriction.

 

I have to ask myself ... How can i make choices.... that are truly exempt from the summation of my restricted limited knowledge most of which it seems is learned externally? That are exempt from my limited environmental and personal chemical influences? That are exempt from the unwritten laws on my heart and restrictions that i have made for myself through past and abiding judgments. That are exempt from choices and the influences of those restrictions and laws externally made for me? In that sense, it seems to me that i if i am honest with myself, i see that my choices are indeed mine to make, but not at all in the true sense of what i have just questioned being "free".

 

This understanding to me gives me a sense of compassion and understanding for the choices of my own and others. It fills me with an eagerness or better said with an unction to refrain or abstain from judgement of self and others. I see this as a great blessing and source of deep peace in my life. It seems to me to live thinking that i have somehow by my own "free" choices earned or am more deserving of the things i may possess or been given is to live in what i perceive as the illusion of separateness from others and the universe. Therefore on a spiritual level i personally do not accept the word "free" as related to will or choice but at the same time i accept the right for others to believe differently or with there own definition. Regardless of ones position on the matter i do not view anothers position as right or wrong. It seems to me, whatever works in ones journey will come to light.

 

My current thoughts on the subject,

Joseph

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