Free Will Mix

Is the mind the same as the body? What is consciousness? Can machines have it?

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Hanuman
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Free Will Mix

Post by Hanuman »

I was listening to the PN Podcast concern free will and the brain. While I was able to follow most of it, I did have trouble following some parts, particularly Ms. Camilla Martin’s positions. However, a theory popped in my head, from one of her comments, that I’d like to share with you.

For those more versed in philosophical theory, please feel free to point me in the direction of related or even identical theory to this. While I feel this was independently thought up by myself, I am not so egotistical as to think no one could have considered this theory prior to me.

Let me begin by stating, I lean more towards the idea that most, if not all decisions we make, are based upon prior experiences, preferences, prejudices, desires, etc. Therefore, free will either does not exist or is much more limited than most people would assume. However, the theory that struck me, was what if decision making is based on a mix of free will and prior experience. What if free will is the state you “choose” to put yourself in when making a decision.

For example, let’s consider different mental states, as various tools in a tool box. Inside the tool box, you have anger, sadness, happiness, greed, envy, patience, etc. When confronted with a problem you are looking to solve, you reach into that tool box to solve the problem. If angry, you might grab your sledgehammer to tackle a problem. Conversely, if patient, you may choose a screwdriver to get the job done in an orderly, yet-time consuming fashion.

Perhaps free will is nothing more than choosing the state of mind you put yourself in when confronted with a decision, and then the brain takes over, makes the calculations for you and provides the appropriate response to a situation.

I have felt for a long time that happiness is a conscious choice. Some people choose to be happy, while others choose to be unhappy. We all have bad and good days, but the majority of the time, happy people have good days, while unhappy people have bad days. This belief would fit nicely into this theory.
artisticsolution
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by artisticsolution »

Hi Hanuman,

Welcome to the forum! What you said here:

"We all have bad and good days, but the majority of the time, happy people have good days, while unhappy people have bad days."


reminds me of this new show I like to watch now and then, It's called "New Girl". Have you seen it? The main character's name is Jess. She is a free spirit and she likes to make the best of any situation. She lives a charmed life for the most part because she doesn't allow herself to see the bad.

She has 3 male roommates who do not have the same luck. There were a couple of funny scenes in that show that remind me of the above quote of yours. One is they do a flash back of her as a child age 6 or 7. She's walking along the street and this man in a van pulls up along side of her and says, " Hey little girl...wants some candy?" She says, "Sure mister!" and goes toward the van. The side door slides open and there is this sweet little old lady with a bag of candy. The driver says, "Good...cause my mom made too much candy today and we needed to get rid of it!" All goes well, she takes the candy and is on her way...lol.

The other scene is she takes one of her pessimistic room mate to the beach to cheer him up. As he complains she points out to him the positive things going on around them...she says, "Just look at the white pristine sand!" His eye look directly to a used hypodermic needle in the sand. She says, "Look at all the friendly people." He looks and sees some guy stealin someone's wallet....and so on. Soooo funny...
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SpheresOfBalance
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by SpheresOfBalance »

Hanuman wrote:I was listening to the PN Podcast concern free will and the brain. While I was able to follow most of it, I did have trouble following some parts, particularly Ms. Camilla Martin’s positions. However, a theory popped in my head, from one of her comments, that I’d like to share with you.

For those more versed in philosophical theory, please feel free to point me in the direction of related or even identical theory to this. While I feel this was independently thought up by myself, I am not so egotistical as to think no one could have considered this theory prior to me.

Let me begin by stating, I lean more towards the idea that most, if not all decisions we make, are based upon prior experiences, preferences, prejudices, desires, etc. Therefore, free will either does not exist or is much more limited than most people would assume. However, the theory that struck me, was what if decision making is based on a mix of free will and prior experience. What if free will is the state you “choose” to put yourself in when making a decision.

For example, let’s consider different mental states, as various tools in a tool box. Inside the tool box, you have anger, sadness, happiness, greed, envy, patience, etc. When confronted with a problem you are looking to solve, you reach into that tool box to solve the problem. If angry, you might grab your sledgehammer to tackle a problem. Conversely, if patient, you may choose a screwdriver to get the job done in an orderly, yet-time consuming fashion.

Perhaps free will is nothing more than choosing the state of mind you put yourself in when confronted with a decision, and then the brain takes over, makes the calculations for you and provides the appropriate response to a situation.

I have felt for a long time that happiness is a conscious choice. Some people choose to be happy, while others choose to be unhappy. We all have bad and good days, but the majority of the time, happy people have good days, while unhappy people have bad days. This belief would fit nicely into this theory.
I believe that the free will issue is kind of BS. Of course we have free will, there is no doubt. But it's also true the our lives are a product of the legacies handed down from generation to generation, and that within these various legacies, various people pay particular attention to these various differing lessons and find their own various particular concerns.

It would be nice if we were powerful enough to contain all of the knowledge of mankind within our brains, but we can't. If we could, then no doubt we'd all choose the same things, and you could then see where free will would illuminate the best choices very clearly. Thus we all have varyingly different tool boxes, we all choose varyingly different tools, some invent varyingly new toolboxes and tools, or we could throw them all away. The choice is always ours and ours alone, we just choose to make those choices that wherein we see the greatest value, are easiest, provide what we want, are a product of tradition, etc.

Just because they are a part of the current construct, that is the current state of human kind, doesn't necessarily mean there is no free will. It's just that, at the time an individual chooses, it's from their correspondent connections to their particular world, that seems like the most logical or emotional choice, given the presented variables. Those that see us not having free will, see the things where we agree more readily. Those that see us as having free will, see the things where we disagree more readily.

So we each have free will only to the extent of our own bubbles of knowledge and understanding within the realm of possibilities as presented by the reality of existence.

Sure we are all programmed, but unlike a computer we can choose to alter the code once we understand the code. I don't see our hardware as static as a computers.

At least that's how I see it!

Those that see it differently, please don't bash it, as I'm sensitive to bashing, instead try and articulate your differing ideas in a vanilla mode, as I'm much more receptive, and thus more can be accomplished.

Edit: Punctuation for charities sake
Last edited by SpheresOfBalance on Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
Hanuman
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by Hanuman »

I have not heard of the show artisticsolution, but it does remind me of a story my mother told me when I was younger: A traveler walks up to a town and asks an old man sitting at the front of town, "What are the people like here?" The old man replies, what were the people like where you came from. The traveler says, "Wonderful people. Everyone was kind and loving". The old man says, "That's exactly what the people in this town are like".

The next day, another traveler walks in town and asks the same old man, the same, question. Again, he asks what the people were like where he came from. The traveler responds, "Horrible people. A bunch of thieves and scoundrels". To which the old man replied, "That's exactly what the people in this town are like".

I have to run, but will reply to SpheresOfBalance, shortly.
Hanuman
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by Hanuman »

SpheresOfBalance wrote:
I believe that the free will issue is kind of BS. Of course we have free will, there is no doubt.
I think a lot of people would disagree with you here. There is, in fact a lot of doubt, by many people. From where do you get your evidence? On the other side of the coin, there is in fact a lot of evidence for the argument that we do NOT have free will (Either in total, or in part). As stated above, this theory arose from listening to the PN podcast. There seems to be a good bit of debate on this subject, in the philosophical community.

I am not disagreeing with your opinion. I'd just rather not simply gloss over such an important aspect of the discussion by making a huge assumption.

So, let's back up here a little. If human's have free will, how do we define free will? The ability to consciously choose to do (or not do) something. Fairly simple, but I believe adequate for our discussion.

From there, we could ask, do animals (excluding human beings) have free will? If a person walks through a maze and reaches a fork in the road, they choose to go either right or left. An animal, in the same situation makes the exact same choice (even the smallest animals, such as ants). What distinguish human beings from animal when the exact same choice is made by both species?

Some would say human being have free will, while animals act on instinct alone. Since we've defined free will, already, how would we define instinct? An inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/instinct?s=t). So, who is to say that free will is not merely an illusion, and all of us are simply acting on instinct, as animals do?

I guess in my original post, I am providing a theory that attempts to redefine the concept of free will. It assumes that actions are determined by instinct. However, while we do not consciously choose A, B, or C, when confronted with a choice, possibly, we do have the ability to view the decision from varying points of view or states of mind. When the state of mind is chosen, the decision is fed into the computer (the brain), and a choice is provided for us.
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SpheresOfBalance
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by SpheresOfBalance »

Hanuman wrote:
SpheresOfBalance wrote:
I believe that the free will issue is kind of BS. Of course we have free will, there is no doubt.
I think a lot of people would disagree with you here. There is, in fact a lot of doubt, by many people. From where do you get your evidence? On the other side of the coin, there is in fact a lot of evidence for the argument that we do NOT have free will (Either in total, or in part). As stated above, this theory arose from listening to the PN podcast. There seems to be a good bit of debate on this subject, in the philosophical community.

I am not disagreeing with your opinion. I'd just rather not simply gloss over such an important aspect of the discussion by making a huge assumption.

So, let's back up here a little. If human's have free will, how do we define free will? The ability to consciously choose to do (or not do) something. Fairly simple, but I believe adequate for our discussion.

From there, we could ask, do animals (excluding human beings) have free will? If a person walks through a maze and reaches a fork in the road, they choose to go either right or left. An animal, in the same situation makes the exact same choice (even the smallest animals, such as ants). What distinguish human beings from animal when the exact same choice is made by both species?

Some would say human being have free will, while animals act on instinct alone. Since we've defined free will, already, how would we define instinct? An inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/instinct?s=t). So, who is to say that free will is not merely an illusion, and all of us are simply acting on instinct, as animals do?

I guess in my original post, I am providing a theory that attempts to redefine the concept of free will. It assumes that actions are determined by instinct. However, while we do not consciously choose A, B, or C, when confronted with a choice, possibly, we do have the ability to view the decision from varying points of view or states of mind. When the state of mind is chosen, the decision is fed into the computer (the brain), and a choice is provided for us.
I took the argument in philosophy, as to the efficacy of free will, to actually be subject to predisposition, such that free will seems to be illusory. Is that not what you took away from the table?
Hanuman
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by Hanuman »

SpheresOfBalance wrote:I took the argument in philosophy, as to the efficacy of free will, to actually be subject to predisposition, such that free will seems to be illusory. Is that not what you took away from the table?
Forgive my ignorance. Can you dumb down the question a little, as I am missing what you are asking me. I think you are asking me if I believe predisposition eliminates free will. If that is the case, that is not what I am hypothesizing.
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SpheresOfBalance
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by SpheresOfBalance »

Hanuman wrote:
SpheresOfBalance wrote:I took the argument in philosophy, as to the efficacy of free will, to actually be subject to predisposition, such that free will seems to be illusory. Is that not what you took away from the table?
Forgive my ignorance. Can you dumb down the question a little, as I am missing what you are asking me. I think you are asking me if I believe predisposition eliminates free will. If that is the case, that is not what I am hypothesizing.
I thought you were referring to this article "Free Will and Determinism," so I was wondering what you thought it was, that was the primary concern of the article, and how your thoughts, above, differ.
ughaibu
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by ughaibu »

Hanuman wrote:
SpheresOfBalance wrote:I believe that the free will issue is kind of BS. Of course we have free will, there is no doubt.
I think a lot of people would disagree with you here. There is, in fact a lot of doubt, by many people.
There's very little doubt, amongst philosophers. If there is a large number of significant doubters, who are they?
Hanuman
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by Hanuman »

ughaibu wrote:
Hanuman wrote:
SpheresOfBalance wrote:I believe that the free will issue is kind of BS. Of course we have free will, there is no doubt.
I think a lot of people would disagree with you here. There is, in fact a lot of doubt, by many people.
There's very little doubt, amongst philosophers. If there is a large number of significant doubters, who are they?

http://philosophynow.org/podcasts/Free_ ... _the_Brain
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Arising_uk
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by Arising_uk »

ughaibu wrote:There's very little doubt, amongst philosophers. If there is a large number of significant doubters, who are they?
I thought philosophers had agreed with Schopenhauer about the Will and that 'free-will' is a misnomer created by the religious to address their problem with their will and their 'gods' will?
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SpheresOfBalance
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by SpheresOfBalance »

Arising_uk wrote:
ughaibu wrote:There's very little doubt, amongst philosophers. If there is a large number of significant doubters, who are they?
I thought philosophers had agreed with Schopenhauer about the Will and that 'free-will' is a misnomer created by the religious to address their problem with their will and their 'gods' will?
Funny, I've never been to a day of church in my life, and I believe in free will, within it's container, of course, which is shaped by it's individual owner.

Definition follows:

------------------------------------------
free will
noun
1. free and independent choice; voluntary decision: You took on the responsibility of your own free will.
2. Philosophy . the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.

------------------------------------------
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2012.
ughaibu
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by ughaibu »

Hanuman wrote:
ughaibu wrote:
Hanuman wrote:There is, in fact a lot of doubt, by many people.
There's very little doubt, amongst philosophers. If there is a large number of significant doubters, who are they?
http://philosophynow.org/podcasts/Free_ ... _the_Brain
On that link there is one, seriously confused, guy denying the existence of free will. That doesn't constitute a large number and I didn't hear any serious argument against free will from him.
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Arising_uk
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by Arising_uk »

SpheresOfBalance wrote:Definition follows:[/color]
------------------------------------------
free will
noun
1. free and independent choice; voluntary decision: You took on the responsibility of your own free will.
2. Philosophy . the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.

------------------------------------------
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2012.
I thought that philosophers, unless religious or mystical, agree that we are completely determined by physical forces. Hence there is no 'free-will', just Will as Schopenhaur pointed out.

The problem with dictionaries that are not philosophy ones is that they are not philosophical ones.
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SpheresOfBalance
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Re: Free Will Mix

Post by SpheresOfBalance »

Arising_uk wrote:
SpheresOfBalance wrote:Definition follows:[/color]
------------------------------------------
free will
noun
1. free and independent choice; voluntary decision: You took on the responsibility of your own free will.
2. Philosophy . the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.

------------------------------------------
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2012.
I thought that philosophers, unless religious or mystical, agree that we are completely determined by physical forces. Hence there is no 'free-will', just Will as Schopenhaur pointed out.

The problem with dictionaries that are not philosophy ones is that they are not philosophical ones.
The problem with people that say things like this, is that they're just spitting out words to see where they splatter.

What's more logical, that the people responsible for the definitions, "in them there dictionaries," just roll the dice as to a particular words meaning, or that they actually go to the source, find out what it is, and then print it. Do you really think they're meaning dictators, rather than meaning compilers, collators and reporters?

Now just because one believes in one of the schools of thought within philosophy, of the plethora of differing schools, as to a particular subjects truth, that was not considered as relevant, considering all the schools of thought in their totality, as an average, in order to come to the most logical possible truth, does not mean the writers of dictionaries necessarily got it wrong.

It merely means that one has chosen to believe in a, so called truth, that is in the minority, not necessarily anything more, or anything less.

Edit: Typo
Last edited by SpheresOfBalance on Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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