Friday, November 20, 2015



"God is not willing to do everything and thus take away our free will 
and that share of glory 
which belongs to us."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli (1479-1527)

14 comments:

  1. Free will is an illusion. Just like God.

    JMJ

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    1. I wouldn't bet on that if I were you, Jersey, if only because "It's better to be safe than sorry." ;-)

      I can understand why many might find it difficult to believe in God, because God is not material, but how could anyone doubt our capacity to make choices for ourselves in any given set of circumstances?

      We exercise Free Will all day every day –– often to our detriment and that of others, and sometimes to our great relief and benefit.

      Just deciding whether to feed the cats or make coffee first at the start of the day is a nice homely example. Whether to eat what we like or to "eat healthy" is another choice we are free to make. Whether to say, "I'm sorry," when you know you are in the wrong, or to scowl, stay angry and prolong the quarrel, because your stubborn pride won't let you back down is also a matter of choice.

      Without Free Will we would be nothing but mindless automata with no ability to experience love, joy, curiosity, fascination, aversion, hostility, creativity, sorrow or fulfillment.

      In other words we would have no greater identity –– and less purpose to our existence –– than a pumpkin, squash or cucumber.

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    2. I don't partake in Pascal's silly wager. There is no safety and nothing to be sorry about. If the Christian God actually existed, I wouldn't want to have anything to do with him. He's a dick (best word I could think of).

      There is no free will. Your desires are products of processes in your mind and environment that you have no control over. Free Will implies conscious thoughts are the supreme drivers of human behavior, but they are not. They are just manifestations of processes we have no conscious understanding of.

      Here are a few quotes from Sam Harris, a man who brilliantly explains these things:

      “You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm.”

      Personal perception being all their is to any given person, bottom line is Free Will doesn't matter. That's because...

      "A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings."

      Free Will is a very subjective notion. In the end, we make most choices in life not feeling very "free" at all about making them. We conform. When someone behaves out of conformity, we say they freely chose to do so, even though we know in life that most of the choices we make do not seem like choices at all.

      “You can do what you decide to do — but you cannot decide what you will decide to do.”

      This is the key part, though. Often we do or think things without any forethought at all - most of the time as a matter of fact. It isn't irreducible, but there is a vast circuitry, virtual and physical, software and hardware, personal, familiar, and cultural, that governs our behavior.

      JMJ

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    3. It has occurred to me from time to time that when AI becomes capable of judgment, decision making, and algorithms began "learning" at increasing speeds without human involvement that the machines may one day far outstrip human cognition. Thus machines become or betters and likely masters. That is if they don't exterminate us first.

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  2. So, Jersey, are you a Calvinist now? How's life as an automaton?

    And what a poor one at that! Not even controlled by a Supreme God, but rather some mysterious cosmic forces...

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  3. It seems self defeating to assert that free will doesn't exist since that idea is easlily refuted by recognizing that simple daily choices are simple exercise in free will.

    If JMJ had said that free markets don't exist that that bastion of "freedom", the land of the free and the home of the brave, I'd have agreed with him totally. Free market capitalism, that highly touted idea that America represents free market capitalism is one illusion that needs to be understood well.

    If the most fundamental underpinning of an economy—interest rates—are manipulated and set by a panel of experts at the Federal Reserve and not by "the market", no other market can be free either, since the currency is created as if by magic out of thin air by a body that isn't even part of the federal government, wouldn't that body be more powerful than the Federal government?

    And why would a so-called free country hand over control of its currency to an outside body that controls the life blood of the entire economy of the country and affects the economies and financial affairs of every other country on the planet?

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  4. “The sadness of the world has different ways of getting to people, but it seems to succeed almost every time.”
    ― Louis-Ferdinand Céline

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  5. If free will is the corner stone of all other freedoms I guess it's understandable that the undercutting of western civilization would require the destruction of the concept of free will. Justice and a system of law and order recognizes the concept of free will in recognition of responsibility for ones actions and the good or evil that those actions may have on another individual.

    Without free will there can be no responsibility for the results of ones actions. And without free will there can only be coercion, thought control servitude and ultimate slavery imposed by the external power of the state.

    Sounds like the type of world the brain dead could and would accept.

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  6. "We then see how it does not involve any contradiction to assert, on the one hand, that the will, in the phenomenal sphere − in visible action − is necessarily obedient to the law of nature, and, in so far, not free; and, on the other hand, that, as belonging to a thing in itself, it is not subject to that law, and, accordingly, is free."

    (Preface to Second Edition, Critique of Practical Reason, B XXVIII)

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  7. Kant's command of Newtonian physics was greater than Hume's admiration of it as a model for his human nature. Kant asked how we could call a man free while he is subject to physical necessity. He thought that ideas could be determined (bestimmt) by psychological forces just as the motion of matter is determined by mechanical forces.

    "how can a man be called quite free at the same moment, and with respect to the same action in which he is subject to an inevitable physical necessity? Some try to evade this by saying that the causes that determine his causality are of such a kind as to agree with a comparative notion of freedom. According to this, that is sometimes called a free effect, the determining physical cause of which lies within the acting thing itself, e. g., that which a projectile performs when it is in free motion, in which case we use the word freedom, because while it is in flight it is not urged by anything external; or as we call the motion of a clock a free motion, because it moves its hands itself, which therefore do not require to be pushed by external force; so although the actions of man are necessarily determined by causes which precede in time, we yet call them free, because these causes are ideas produced by our own faculties, whereby desires are evoked on occasion of circumstances, and hence actions are wrought according to our own pleasure. This is a wretched subterfuge ["miserable substitute" is a better translation of ein elender Behelf, but the English phrase is now famous in philosophy] with which some persons still let themselves be put off, and so think they have solved, with a petty word-jugglery [again, "a little quibbling" is better for einer kleinen Wortklauberei], that difficult problem, at the solution of which centuries have laboured In vain, and which can therefore scarcely be found so completely on the surface.


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  8. (cont)

    In fact, in the question about the freedom which must be the foundation of all moral laws and the consequent responsibility, it does not matter whether the principles which necessarily determine causality by a physical law reside within the subject or without him, or in the former case whether these principles are instinctive or are conceived by reason, if, as is admitted by these men themselves, these determining ideas have the ground of their existence in time and in the antecedent state, and this again in an antecedent. etc.

    Then it matters not that these are internal; it matters not that they have a psychological and not a mechanical causality, that is, produce actions by means of ideas and not by bodily movements; they are still determining principles of the causality of a being whose existence is determinable in time, and therefore under the necessitation of conditions of past time, which therefore, when the subject has to act, are no longer in his power. This may imply psychological freedom (if we choose to apply this term to a merely internal chain of ideas in the mind), but it involves physical necessity and, therefore, leaves no room for transcendental freedom, which must be conceived as independence on everything empirical, and, consequently, on nature generally, whether it is an object of the internal sense considered in time only, or of the external in time and space. Without this freedom (in the latter and true sense), which alone is practical a priori, no moral law and no moral imputation are possible. Just for this reason the necessity of events in time, according to the physical law of causality, may be called the mechanism of nature, although we do not mean by this that things which are subject to it must be really material machines. We look here only to the necessity of the connection of events in a time-series as it is developed according to the physical law, Kant says ideas can be determined by psychological forces (immaterial/spiritual ideas), just as matter is determined by mechanical forces, without some transcendental/absolute free element whether the subject in which this development takes place is called automaton materiale when the mechanical being is moved by matter, or with Leibnitz spirituale when it is impelled by ideas; and if the freedom of our will were no other than the latter (say the psychological and comparative, not also transcendental, that is, absolute), then it would at bottom be nothing better than the freedom of a turnspit, which, when once it is wound up, accomplishes its motions of itself."


    (Critique of Practical Reason, "Examination of the Analytic of Pure Practical Reason", Great Books, v. 42, p.332)

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  9. And what, pray tell, does all of that have to do with Machiavelli?

    Alphonse Apresvous

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    Replies
    1. A description of the nature of the 'Glory' G_d allows us.

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