Debate: Free Will V. Determinism
A topic anyone who mingles here will no doubt have experience with, I ask you to revisit this battleground to hash out your argument for free will, determinism, or the crossbreeds thereof (if you are going to go with one of the lesser known hybrids/independents, please define it for those who are not away of its stance).
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If it’s pure determinism, from the moment of the big bang, the entire future of the universe was already set in course and predicted. How could it be any other way if this is purely the case? Chemicals bounce off one another and sometimes stick together. Leading to the formation of gases and stars, and then eventually to life forms. Chemicals keep reacting and that’s what eventually led to us. From this standpoints, our thoughts and opinions are made from purely the chemicals our brains are made of mixing and firing off neurons. For there to be free will, there would have to be something that exists outside of matter that is a part of us. I’m starting to think there is, so I think that free will exists, but it is not absolute.
Sorry just thought of this as well.. but isn’t my thought that something outside of matter exists that enables us to have free will just a pre-determined thought, already planned out by the reactions of chemicals? If you understand why it’s not, then you have free will. And the understanding is beyond intellectual description or thinking. So you can think you understand, but if all you have is an intellectual understanding, then you aren’t actually exercising free will at all.
for a second I thought Will V. Determinism was a person in jail or something…
I feel like some things in the universe pre-determined.. mainly because of math and physics.. but I also believe a conscious being can change things a bit. too late to get into it so ill get back to this tomorrow.
@mikeyw829, what if there is a determining force that carries an awareness and can choose to exercise that power in the case of circumstance?
What if we are scripting our lives and there exists an authority to overwrite and extend the script into tour futures if it chooses, but seamlessly and in such a way that we could never know for sure which measures of our life are meant.
From a purely logical standpoint, the world appears to be Deterministic. People act based on reason, which is developed by their experiences and interactions with their environment all the way as far back as birth, up until the present moment. Every aspect of a person’s personality and tendencies are determined by their circumstances and how they have affected them, including any genetic predispositions they might have been born with. The very structure of your own body is part of the circumstance in which your life is determined. Any not to be oversimplified, this is far from black-and-white. You can’t look at somebody’s life and state definitively how one particular aspect of circumstance caused them to act in one particular way. It’s beyond our understanding, at a chemical, physical, psychological level, why certain things might cause certain reactions. But as far as we can tell, it is a “mechanical” operation, completely Determined.
However, it is in these intricate details that, though beyond the reach of modern science, we pretend to understand anyway. That is why it is easy to cast away the idea of Free Will in favor of Determinism. But I believe this is the very setting where Free Will and Determinism become compatible. There is an undeniable, “spiritual,” “metaphysical,” element to the physical reality of our universe. Though mainstream science is extremely hesitant to credit any of the growing research, the studies are undeniable.
One such study that is particular relevant, I believe, is the observation that so-called “random number generating” computers, which are usually measured to be certifiably random in distribution of numbers, somehow cease to be perfectly random at the time of certain cataclysmic events, such as the collapse of the Twin Towers. This could possibly be due to the intense emotion felt during such events, or the outpouring of prayer and meditation, or simply the concentrated awareness and thoughts, but it shows a clear aspect of physical reality which modern science hasn’t even begun to understand yet.
These studies, along with many similarly perplexing studies in the field of Quantum Physics, lead me to believe that there is much more at play here than the mechanical, logical view of Determinism. Human will has “meta-physical” power in a manner that is impossible according to modern physics. Perhaps Free Will exists in a manner somewhat related to that fact, if that makes any sense. I don’t know.
@lytning91, isn’t that what I was saying? Sorry if I didn’t explain myself too clearly. As to the questions you’re asking.. that’s where it comes down to knowing (free will) vs. beliefs and thoughts (determination). How do you know that the questions you’re asking are true? If there is a presence outside of our awareness that is controlling everything, we wouldn’t even know it exists, we’d just believe it does. And beliefs are just that.. beliefs. They don’t really stem from anything. There is a difference knowing and beliefs. Only the individual can know for himself, but the knowing isn’t a thought or idea. So I can never prove to you that free will exists, and you could never prove it to me. Nor could I ever truly know if you BELIEVE in free will or if you KNOW free will, and you could never truly know for me either. We could probably have good ideas as to where the other person is coming from though. You can only know it yourself.
What I find to be a pretty solid case for determinism is precognition. It happens all the time to many people, deja-vu. It happens to me a lot and I can even recall the dream I had that was the situation/environment I found myself in very specifically. The weirdest one was when the dream was the night before my deja-vu experience, they don’t usually happen so close together in time.
@misssunbeam, deja-vu is the coolest. I have it pretty frequently, so long as I am doing activities outside of the house and stuff. I usually don’t have them when I am shut in at home…has to be something more involved and less predictable, surprisingly enough
Even if determinism is true, and our past does determine our future or we are “pre-programmed”, that doesn’t mean we lose our self control. Like a space probe.. we program it, but then it goes on to do it’s own thing, in a way, based on it’s environment. And even if every point on life’s path is determined by prior events and brain events, part of what makes these determined events happen is YOUR thoughts and actions.. Proving that all it is, is you making a decision (cause), and it’s outcome (effect). We’re free in deciding but not so free in what outcome this decision brings upon us. I dunno, our sense of freedom is pretty inescapable and it’s all we really need, if you wanna do something, you can do it! Nothings holding you back, not even “determinism”. Just gotta be smart and know that there are consequences to your actions.. think before ya do shit.
@lytning91, isn’t it the most amazing feeling? Every time it happens I want to grab onto that moment and savour it. I like to know that no matter what I do, I will always do exactly that which I’m meant to do. So free will or no, I’m doing what I like and it’s always the right path.
I’m not sure about determinism, but I’m fairly sure there is no such thing as free will. If there was total free will, we would at an instant be able to do what we want, travel wherever, IMMEDIATELY. Right now I may want to fly to the moon, but obviously I can’t. So even if there is free will, it is LIMITED to a certain extent. I feel safe in saying there is no such things as true free will…..well on this Earth/life right now. When you talk about dreams and metaphysical stuff etc… it gets a bit murky…
I don’t believe in determinism, some things don’t add up. I believe people are bound by their past decisions, but I believe they can “change the direction of the ship” so to speak. I also think gut feelings and spontaneous decision making are evidence of free will. I think the choice to trust your gut instinct is some sort of proof of free will. I think determinism is just easy to believe because it’s obvious people to don’t change easily.
what if our brain is a computer that is playing a through a program. everything you see think and know is set up by lines of code the computer is reading. it tells you to have so and so thoughts and feel as if you have free will. free will just being a line of code within the program that is your life as you know it. so therefore you have free will in a sense that you believe you do but in all reality it is something that is already predetermined by the code that runs you life and you are unaware of it.
well maybe they are programed to think there is more and yet there is not its just a computer code. or they may not existence. they only exist because you do, because they are in your programming. you see them as they are and see all that see because you were programed to do so. it goes back to the age old adage “i think therefore i am” you only exist because your are programmed to exist but that do not mean anything else does. it only does because its data is within your system. “its like if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound” one would think yes, its only logical o sense nthat it would but if its not in your sight and you have no senses connected to it, then it really does not truly exist in your minds eye. But try telling tree it doesnt exist. so you see even if we know it its quite hard to grasp, because of our programing.
Either way it does not effect your life one iota. Perhaps it is like a train, the passangers can interact with whoever they want, whenever they want, but there are predetermined stations that it stops. People get on, people get off but the train terminates at the end of the line no matter what the passangers do, at the same place but the time only depends on any delays that happened to interfere with the schedule.
@staringatstars, sorry I didn’t mean to leave you hanging last night on this one.
Anyway, I’ll take it this way: we are programmed. That means there is a programmer. That means that the programmer has knowledge beyond our own such that it can tailor our perceptions and processes. They would, therefore, have to place within our heads the ability to think of a free will. If we were mechanical and self-programming, free will would not really be something we could have the ability to access. I believe the concept is too foreign when compared to the human mind, and the way of life and science. So foreign that it must have been in something else’s mind before our own. This could also be said for ‘God’ or ‘Other beings.’
what you do now affects the past, not the other way around. Most things in the physical universe are determined, this is why we can predict flight paths for sending out space probes and whatnot. We know the universe will behave a certain way given current conditions, this allows us to make very accurate predictions (science)
however, i think consciousness and free will are immaterial things that are emergent properties of life/matter are are thus not subject to determinism of physical laws
Quantum mechanics instantly shows us that there is no determinism, there is no way to possibly predict anything, therefore the universe is not “determined” as far as we know, all things are just probabilities.
This gives way for the possibility of free-will, but for free will to manifest from probabilities is incredibly hard to comprehend. I can’t understand how the two could be related, but I have a feeling it is possible.