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Determinism

Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
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5/20/2011 7:29:50 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Maybe this should go in personal, but whatever.

Determinism is, I think, fundamentally depressing. Knowing that all of your actions are constrained by external factors, and that even your internal deliberations don't really carry metaphysical weight. Maybe the realization of total powerlessness doesn't strike a nerve with many of you, but, for me, it's crushing to think that, realistically, I don't control my actions--that, regardless of how much I try to exert influence over my existence, my life is, in a sense, "destined" to turn out a particular way--that I don't even get the comfort of counterfactuals in wondering about possible worlds that could have been, had I only acted differently.

Some people are okay with clinging to the illusion of consciousness and free agency, but I don't think I could get myself to believe it. My eating these chips, drinking this Vanilla Coke, typing this post: none free choices of mine.

I'm like the Cerebral of free will, I guess. I could almost be said to crave genuine belief in free will. I hate determinism--I hate every bit of it. But, for all my emotional attachment to the illusion of freedom, I can't just sidestep the apparent truth of things and remain intellectually legitimate. The best solution I can come up with is to just "sit back", so to speak, and watch with interest as my life narrative plays out. But even this is unsatisfying.

I guess that the question in my mind is twofold: first, is there a way to escape determinism? Is there any argument offering eve a glimmer of hope that it might be untrue? And, if not, how am I supposed to a respond to a world in which I am essentially powerless?
nonentity
Posts: 5,008
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5/20/2011 7:37:54 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Is determinism really more depressing than nihilism?

I don't think determinism necessarily makes you powerless... you still have the power to act/not act. Maybe someone with a better grasp of this will be better suited to answer your questions, but that's my two cents.
Grape
Posts: 989
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5/20/2011 7:46:40 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I think that determinism is basically true, but it doesn't really bother me. The illusion of freedom is so convincing that the reality of determinism has no effect on my experiences. Similarly, the fact that my life doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things doesn't bother me because it is inconsequential to my actual experiences. Whether or not I believe in free will or a purpose to life is a matter of philosophical curiosity that has no impact on the real world. This is not to dismiss philosophy, but to recognize that as far as my life is concerned it is a matter of believing one abstract proposition or another, the truth of which does not have any bearing on anything I will experience.
belle
Posts: 4,113
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5/20/2011 7:48:01 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
interesting you should post this. i was just recently thinking how even though i essentially hold to determinism, i still feel as though i have control over my actions and the course of my life. its like one of those optical illusions that you just can't turn off. even though you "know" that what you are seeing is false, you still see it. in that sense, then, i've got to the point where i just don't bother thinking about it. yes, its *true* that my life is ultimately determined, but knowing that doesn't really give me any information about what will actually happen. my inability to "see" how powerless i am does tell me something interesting about my brain though hehe. and from a purely pragmatic standpoint, i am happier, healthier, and more successful as a direct result of behaving as if my actions and choices made a difference to my life. the fact that i am determined to have the beliefs that lead to that behavior doesn't change that.

*shrugs* i dunno what else to tell you. have you considered that your mental state is somewhat depressed anyhow and you're latching onto this as an explanation? in my experience existential sh*t like this only really bugs me when i'm already in a sh*tty mood for one reason or another.

i do understand that there is a tension between your behavior and your beliefs that you want to eliminate, but i don't think this one is eliminable. i almost want to say that in this case the illusion is so astronomically beneficial to myself and to the functioning of society at large that its worth it. but even were it not, as i said, you can't really stop believing it in some sense- you still have that feeling, for example, of having decided to make this post... right?

anyways this is getting all jumbled in my head, maybe i'll come back later with something more insightful to say
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
Greyparrot
Posts: 14,325
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5/20/2011 7:51:06 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Most people are happy with free-will, even if they believe free will is an illusion.

Many truths have the capacity to be illusions, even determinism, so why fret?
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
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5/20/2011 7:57:41 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 7:46:40 PM, Grape wrote:
I think that determinism is basically true, but it doesn't really bother me. The illusion of freedom is so convincing that the reality of determinism has no effect on my experiences. Similarly, the fact that my life doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things doesn't bother me because it is inconsequential to my actual experiences. Whether or not I believe in free will or a purpose to life is a matter of philosophical curiosity that has no impact on the real world. This is not to dismiss philosophy, but to recognize that as far as my life is concerned it is a matter of believing one abstract proposition or another, the truth of which does not have any bearing on anything I will experience.

Oddly, my existential nihilism doesn't bother me. I actually found it liberating to acknowledge that my life wasn't bound to some special purpose or other. Determinism, on the other hand, always leaves this awful feeling in the back of my mind that sort of reminds me: this was bound to happen, and could never have been otherwise. I don't know why that bothers me so much, but it does.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
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5/20/2011 8:03:56 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 7:48:01 PM, belle wrote:
interesting you should post this. i was just recently thinking how even though i essentially hold to determinism, i still feel as though i have control over my actions and the course of my life. its like one of those optical illusions that you just can't turn off. even though you "know" that what you are seeing is false, you still see it. in that sense, then, i've got to the point where i just don't bother thinking about it. yes, its *true* that my life is ultimately determined, but knowing that doesn't really give me any information about what will actually happen. my inability to "see" how powerless i am does tell me something interesting about my brain though hehe. and from a purely pragmatic standpoint, i am happier, healthier, and more successful as a direct result of behaving as if my actions and choices made a difference to my life. the fact that i am determined to have the beliefs that lead to that behavior doesn't change that.

I guess my problem is a result of being stupid enough to think about this sort of thing basically all the time.

*shrugs* i dunno what else to tell you. have you considered that your mental state is somewhat depressed anyhow and you're latching onto this as an explanation? in my experience existential sh*t like this only really bugs me when i'm already in a sh*tty mood for one reason or another.

Well, I'm not exactly the most happy-go-lucky person on the planet, if it isn't already blatantly apparent. I dunno if that's necessarily linked to the current problem. I was thinking about a theory of self yesterday, and that segued into free will vs. determinism, and I knew already that I was a determinist, but it somehow hit me a lot harder than usual. I guess just realizing the total scope of determinism, its implications for different events in my life, and things like that.

i do understand that there is a tension between your behavior and your beliefs that you want to eliminate, but i don't think this one is eliminable. i almost want to say that in this case the illusion is so astronomically beneficial to myself and to the functioning of society at large that its worth it. but even were it not, as i said, you can't really stop believing it in some sense- you still have that feeling, for example, of having decided to make this post... right?

Indeed I did. That whole "lack of omniscience" thing. I think it's especially bad for me because I am unequivocally repulsed by the idea of not having control over something. Become a famous philosopher? Determined. Meet the love of my life, and lose her to a break-up, divorce, or total failure to make a move in the first place? Determined. Hit by a car? Determined? Great memories of times with friends? Determined. My entire future, including events of which I can't even begin to conceive? De-f*cking-termined.

anyways this is getting all jumbled in my head, maybe i'll come back later with something more insightful to say

Okie dokie.
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
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5/20/2011 11:50:50 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
You do control what you do....

"You" being your nature.

you still decide just as you did Before you realized Determinism.

you still care Just as Much about any of the things you choose.

the Choice is the same and what gives it Weight to you (your cares) are Just as Much there as before...

I just don't get how it's depressing.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
mattrodstrom
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5/20/2011 11:54:34 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 7:29:50 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
how am I supposed to a respond to a world in which I am essentially powerless?

How are you powerless??

If you care about something.. Pursue it.

Determinism doesn't make you Not care anymore... and Realizing it in no way affects Your Various Powers
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
tvellalott
Posts: 10,864
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5/21/2011 12:49:31 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
I don't see Determinism and Free Will as mutually exclusive.

The ripple of your proverbial 'stone in the pond' may not reach across the entire Earth but it most definitely reaches further than you imagine. Not to mention the harder you throw your stone, the larger the ripple will be.

Exert your will; control the Universe.
"Caitlyn Jenner is an incredibly brave and stunningly beautiful woman."

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CosmicAlfonzo
Posts: 5,955
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5/21/2011 3:35:50 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Say you watch a movie for the first time.. You are aware that everything on that screen has been determined.. The movie is already made, you are watching it.

Does this make watching the movie depressing?

There is nothing depressing about determinism. If it is really that depressing, lie to yourself and hold onto the delusion that you are a supernatural being who possesses true free will. It's not like it matters anyway.
Official "High Priest of Secular Affairs and Transient Distributor of Sonic Apple Seeds relating to the Reptilian Division of Paperwork Immoliation" of The FREEDO Bureaucracy, a DDO branch of the Erisian Front, a subdivision of the Discordian Back, a Limb of the Illuminatian Cosmic Utensil Corp
CosmicAlfonzo
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5/21/2011 3:42:59 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Despite my strong belief in determinism, I don't find it to be a very useful thing to teach, because people tend to use it as an excuse to justify being stupid fat fvcks. Also, it is WAAAAAY too easy of a position to straw man.

The only people who really have a problem accepting it are egotistical fuckwads anyway. New Agers HATE the idea of a deterministic universe. The idea that they aren't little gods who break natural law simply by scratching their @ss really deflates their normally raging boner of pretentiousness.
Official "High Priest of Secular Affairs and Transient Distributor of Sonic Apple Seeds relating to the Reptilian Division of Paperwork Immoliation" of The FREEDO Bureaucracy, a DDO branch of the Erisian Front, a subdivision of the Discordian Back, a Limb of the Illuminatian Cosmic Utensil Corp
Cliff.Stamp
Posts: 2,169
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5/21/2011 10:03:25 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 11:54:34 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:

How are you powerless??

He is not using choice in the same manner you are, read his post carefully he explains it fully. His position is that you could clone him now, he could then sit back and watch his clone live his life and it would live it exactly as he would have.

In the watching he would have no ability to influence the clone, he is powerless. He just realizes that the same is true of the clone, it could do the same thing (make a clone and watch it). There are no actual decisions being made, it is just a bunch of chemical reactions.

The reason that you are not understanding this is because you are using very different definitions of chose and power to influence than he is and thus you are diverging on the consequences. You should debate each other it would be interesting to read.
mattrodstrom
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5/21/2011 10:14:28 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/21/2011 10:03:25 AM, Cliff.Stamp wrote:
At 5/20/2011 11:54:34 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:

How are you powerless??

He is not using choice in the same manner you are, read his post carefully he explains it fully. His position is that you could clone him now, he could then sit back and watch his clone live his life and it would live it exactly as he would have.

that doesn't speak to his powers.

In the watching he would have no ability to influence the clone, he is powerless. He just realizes that the same is true of the clone, it could do the same thing (make a clone and watch it). There are no actual decisions being made, it is just a bunch of chemical reactions.

why are you powerless to affect what the clone does??

speak with him if you wish!

The reason that you are not understanding this is because you are using very different definitions of chose and power to influence than he is and thus you are diverging on the consequences. You should debate each other it would be interesting to read.

I think the reason he's saying he's powerless is b/c he's disassociating himself with himself. He's making Himself some floaty thing that watches on RATHER than identifying with his nature.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
mattrodstrom
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5/21/2011 10:31:12 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/21/2011 10:14:28 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
There are no actual decisions being made, it is just a bunch of chemical reactions.

also.. the reactions which end up in Emotions, and Reasoning at the end Result in Action...

This process is that of Decisionmaking
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
Kinesis
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5/21/2011 10:37:37 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
is there a way to escape determinism?

Determinism is at odds with some very popular theories in quantum physics that include fundamental randomness in nature. Not sure randomness is enough to pull you out of your existential gloom though. :P

how am I supposed to a respond to a world in which I am essentially powerless?

You see, I don't get this. Your actions are determined by your brain chemistry; your beliefs, your deliberation, your desires, your circumstances, your choices. Even assuming all that stuff is part of a causal chain that extends from the beginning of the universe to the end, so what? You can still deliberate between options and choose the most rationally compelling. You can still act in a way consistent with your own judgement. It's just that that was the way it was always going to happen. I don't get the existential dread stemming from that.
PARADIGM_L0ST
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5/21/2011 10:42:28 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
I guess that the question in my mind is twofold: first, is there a way to escape determinism? Is there any argument offering eve a glimmer of hope that it might be untrue? And, if not, how am I supposed to a respond to a world in which I am essentially powerless?:

It's really vacuous, that's why. If freedom is merely an illusion, then how would you know if said illusion is merely an illusion (hence, a double negative making it a positive declaration)?

Insofar as there are physical restraints (I can't fly under my own recognizance just because I will myself to) isn't the same thing as me not having any actual choices.

And as somebody else said, is nihilism somehow less depressing? lol
"Have you ever considered suicide? If not, please do." -- Mouthwash (to Inferno)
Danielle
Posts: 21,330
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5/21/2011 11:55:28 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 7:37:54 PM, nonentity wrote:
Is determinism really more depressing than nihilism?

Great point :P
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Danielle
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5/21/2011 11:56:44 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/21/2011 12:49:31 AM, tvellalott wrote:
I don't see Determinism and Free Will as mutually exclusive.

Compatibilism... F.M.L. lol
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Danielle
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5/21/2011 12:02:46 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Cody, if you can, try reading "Why We Have No Free Will and Can Live Without It" by Derek Pereboom. There is a section about finding meaning in life, personal relationships, etc. even in accepting that we have no free will. One part I remember him mentioning is that our sense of self-worth is to a non trivial extent due to features not produced by our will, let alone by free will. People place great value on natural beauty or athletic ability, intelligence, etc. -- none of which have their source in our own volition. Another thing to consider is that we often suggest good moral character (I know you're a nihilist, but bear with me) comes with a good upbringing. People who consider themselves of good character often acknowledge this, but still feel proud or grateful of their character despite not being fully 'responsible' for it. Determinism doesn't have to be so grim. Ultimately I'm mostly just glad you're not deluding yourself into thinking something likely impossible just because it appears like the happier alternative.
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InquireTruth
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5/21/2011 12:17:59 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Is there any argument offering eve a glimmer of hope that it might be untrue?

Given naturalism and evolution the probability that semantic epiphenomenalism is true is very high. Therefore, given naturalism, evolution and semantic epiphenomenalism, the notion that our perceptions or cognitive faculties yield true or verisimilitudinous beliefs is quite low. This means that there is a defeater for the belief in naturalism and all beliefs that stem from it.
Kinesis
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5/21/2011 12:38:13 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/21/2011 12:17:59 PM, InquireTruth wrote:
Is there any argument offering eve a glimmer of hope that it might be untrue?

Given naturalism and evolution the probability that semantic epiphenomenalism is true is very high. Therefore, given naturalism, evolution and semantic epiphenomenalism, the notion that our perceptions or cognitive faculties yield true or verisimilitudinous beliefs is quite low. This means that there is a defeater for the belief in naturalism and all beliefs that stem from it.

Boo E.A.A.N.

http://lawpapers.blogspot.com...
Danielle
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5/21/2011 12:38:37 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/21/2011 12:17:59 PM, InquireTruth wrote:
the notion that our perceptions or cognitive faculties yield true or verisimilitudinous beliefs is quite low.

Including this one?
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Kinesis
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5/21/2011 12:40:48 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/21/2011 12:38:37 PM, Danielle wrote:
At 5/21/2011 12:17:59 PM, InquireTruth wrote:
the notion that our perceptions or cognitive faculties yield true or verisimilitudinous beliefs is quite low.

Including this one?

Yeah, but he's arguing from the position that our cognitive faculties are reliable because the Christian God made them. He's criticizing naturalism from an outside perspective, so to say.
Cliff.Stamp
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5/21/2011 1:10:04 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/21/2011 10:14:28 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:

why are you powerless to affect what the clone does??

It is experiment Matt to make it clear what determinism means and to clearly separate the idea of choice from that of reaction. There is of course no difference than Cody watching the clone or watching his own life, they play out exactly the same. The fact that you think he could influence the clone means you still do not understand what it means to accept determinism. Determinism means you can not influence the clone, that is how it is defined.
Danielle
Posts: 21,330
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5/21/2011 1:12:34 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/21/2011 12:40:48 PM, Kinesis wrote:
Yeah, but he's arguing from the position that our cognitive faculties are reliable because the Christian God made them.

Cognitive processes do not follow universal laws and are culturally as well as biologically subjective, but I digress.
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