What is Choosing and How Did it Start?

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OuterLimits
Posts: 238
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:54 pm

What is Choosing and How Did it Start?

Post by OuterLimits » Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:11 pm

I did a search for "Evolutionary Psychology" - a topic I find of interest.
I was brought to this index page:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/ ... psychology

A few entries down I find this
What is Choosing and How Did it Start?
By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D.
How can we have free will if we're made of molecules that don't make choices?
Posted Feb 22, 2018

Now, I really think there is no good way to address this conundrum, but I was intrigued.

He states the problem, then there is a section with the bold title "The Problem Solved."

He asserts that biological entities have agency and consciousness and reduction to physics fails to explain these things, and this is moreover some type of answer to the question.

"Here’s a solution to the puzzle. Organisms make effort to maintain their ability to make effort. What is effort? It’s limiting the chemically possible down to the biologically viable. Life’s most basic “choosing” isn’t felt or conscious. A bacterium doesn’t decide how it will respond. Still, it limits what happens. Any effort that even the simplest organism makes is a functional limitation on the many things possible in chemistry. Effort is energy limited or constrained into functional effort that fits, instead of just any old chemical work."

The author makes much of this "limiting" of what is "possible" and how this leads to choice, but really there's no reason that physics couldn't be discussed the same way if one was of a mind to do so.

It turns out to be all hand-waving, as it really had to be. The author has to answer the tough questions, but doesn't seem to understand them. Either the bottom up approach works or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then whatever physics fails to explain needs some kind of dualistic mind-over-matter to move bodies along. Moreover, the scientific approach doesn't hand us other minds. Function is in the eye of the beholder. Nearly anything he is saying about biology could be applied to physics, if its practitioners were psychologically inclined to describe the movements of molecules in terms of agency and choice. He never even attempts to explain *why* biologists do indeed use this type of language, he only observes that they do, as if this were some type of proof that something unexplained by reduction to physics is at work.

Troll
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:53 am

Re: What is Choosing and How Did it Start?

Post by Troll » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:12 am

Change is observed at all levels, from the fundamental to the level of the biological individual, and group. Meanings are imposed and if they help one to make predictions, for instance this or that account of Natural Selection, some scientists are happy. Then, one might say they have been "selected", or that they are "fit". Why make a distinction between Natural and "Selective" selection? Human beings Select, as part of Selective Breeding, and call it a "choice", but are themselves Nature, and the Environment. Human beings like predictive tools. Thus they cause the whole question, and yet, in daily life, one assumes one makes choices, quite apart from any scientific investigation. Ergo, nature already forces the notion of choice on man, who then poses it more decisively. But, has nature divided the causality of nature from that of the choice of man? Or, was it that the early Greek philosophers with their notion of phusis did that? Yet, this notion came forth naturally. All collapses into the vortex of radical unintelligibility of the establishment of determinations in the mind, reason, or what is the same, speech or logic.

Now, is it not so, that such articles will be written, and those with a disposition to criticise will go on commenting on them, making analyses of them, despising their lack of insight and wisdom, until it hits home, that the leaping, head-on invasion, is doomed to continually produce, at best, more predictive tools.

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