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Identity, Self Awareness, and Free Will

innomen
Posts: 10,052
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6/14/2013 2:36:18 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
One of the greatest differences between human beings and animals is our ability to recognize our selves, or our individuality, or our identity. Even dogs don't really know their names because they don't have the capabilty to recognize themselves as an individual; they take their names as a sort of command to them as "hey you", but they don't have the ability to actually "know their name".

This is significant because it offers us a little more objectivity in looking at who we are, what we want for ourselves, are we happy with the direction we're going, etc. Whereas a horse cannot do this, nor can a horse change, a horse will always do as a horse will do, and horses have no ability to do otherwise. Human beings can change as a result of conscious decisions that can be made about their life and make changes that will impact their identity further. A horse cannot make those changes in who they are, they will always be a horse.

That's not to say that all people assess their lives and make changes according to where they would like to be in the future, not at all, but that doesn't remove the ability to do so.

When in college I read the screen play "The Miracle Worker", where Helen Keller tells the story of when she went from an animal-like existence, without any thinking beyond satisfying her immediate physical/material wants to a self aware individual. Not all people have 'moments at the well' like Helen Keller, some do, some have revelations that change their lives, but many others simply have a more gradual set of changes that come about through a series of decisions to change their lives, and probably a lot go through their lives without a thought about such things, but again, they have the ability.

Those of us who believe in free will can point to this difference between animals, who have no free will, and humans who have more ability to allow (albeit skewed and imperfect) a different, more objective, perspective on who they are.

I know that determinists ignore this differentiation between man and animal; they dissmiss it without understanding the massive difference.
PrivateEye
Posts: 972
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6/14/2013 2:43:45 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
You're letting the marvels of the opposable thumb and voice box blind you, I think. My dog has a soul dude, he has moods and expressions for them just like me. By all appearances he's me were there no one else around for me to talk to.
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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6/14/2013 2:45:33 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Right...because determinists deny self-awareness and conflate the reflective capacities of humans and other animals. It helps to know what the determinist, rather, anti-freewill argument is before you forward a position against it.

and by the way: Humans are just complex animals and self-awareness is not reliably externally verifiable because of the limitations of our knowledge and technology - so we are not to assume that no animal has any form of self awareness.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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6/14/2013 2:49:58 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 2:43:45 PM, PrivateEye wrote:


You're letting the marvels of the opposable thumb and voice box blind you, I think. My dog has a soul dude, he has moods and expressions for them just like me. By all appearances he's me were there no one else around for me to talk to.

I know that most dog owners (myself included) have a hard time accepting that they don't have the ability to understand "self", or know themselves by their name.

Cool video though.
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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6/14/2013 2:52:36 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 2:45:33 PM, 000ike wrote:
Right...because determinists deny self-awareness and conflate the reflective capacities of humans and other animals. It helps to know what the determinist, rather, anti-freewill argument is before you forward a position against it.

and by the way: Humans are just complex animals and self-awareness is not reliably externally verifiable because of the limitations of our knowledge and technology - so we are not to assume that no animal has any form of self awareness.

Do you ever respond in a non-snarky and angry manner? Why such a dick always?
PrivateEye
Posts: 972
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6/14/2013 2:54:13 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 2:49:58 PM, innomen wrote:
At 6/14/2013 2:43:45 PM, PrivateEye wrote:


You're letting the marvels of the opposable thumb and voice box blind you, I think. My dog has a soul dude, he has moods and expressions for them just like me. By all appearances he's me were there no one else around for me to talk to.

I know that most dog owners (myself included) have a hard time accepting that they don't have the ability to understand "self", or know themselves by their name.

Cool video though.

Many do anyway. My grandmother is one. She considers herself her dog's God. But when I ask her why she doesn't have any reasoning... Maybe it's some offshoot of having eaten a whole load of dogs over the course of our evolution or something :3
PrivateEye
Posts: 972
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6/14/2013 2:56:38 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
My dog always seems to attack me play fighting just while I'm writing about him on the internet XD Maybe he's noticing some subconscious physical consideration of him on my part or something...
Poetaster
Posts: 587
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6/14/2013 2:57:04 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
If I can freely and willfully determine my actions, then I must be able to determine what it is that I will. (If I could not, then in what sense am I free?)
As a consequence:

If I will to do x, then I must will myself to will x.

Let (willing myself to will x)=y.

If I will to do y, then I must will myself to will y.

Etc.

A free will model of action results in an infinite regression of willful events. Because a human's existence doesn't span an infinite series of events, a human cannot have free will.

What say you, OP?
"The book you are looking for hasn't been written yet. What you are looking for you are going to have to find yourself, it's not going to be in a book..." -Sidewalker
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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6/14/2013 2:59:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 2:52:36 PM, innomen wrote:
At 6/14/2013 2:45:33 PM, 000ike wrote:
Right...because determinists deny self-awareness and conflate the reflective capacities of humans and other animals. It helps to know what the determinist, rather, anti-freewill argument is before you forward a position against it.

and by the way: Humans are just complex animals and self-awareness is not reliably externally verifiable because of the limitations of our knowledge and technology - so we are not to assume that no animal has any form of self awareness.

Do you ever respond in a non-snarky and angry manner? Why such a dick always?

dude, shut up. You're just as snarky, angry, and arrogant to me. This is the one thing I can't stand about people. If you're going to treat me a certain way, CONSISTENTLY, then when I treat you that way in return don't sit there like a bemused moron wondering why "I'm so mean". Do you remember this (http://www.debate.org...), along with the past 1.5 years of verbal dismissals, put-downs, and condescending rebuttals you've issued? Don't be a hypocrite.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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6/14/2013 3:09:20 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 2:59:00 PM, 000ike wrote:
At 6/14/2013 2:52:36 PM, innomen wrote:
At 6/14/2013 2:45:33 PM, 000ike wrote:
Right...because determinists deny self-awareness and conflate the reflective capacities of humans and other animals. It helps to know what the determinist, rather, anti-freewill argument is before you forward a position against it.

and by the way: Humans are just complex animals and self-awareness is not reliably externally verifiable because of the limitations of our knowledge and technology - so we are not to assume that no animal has any form of self awareness.

Do you ever respond in a non-snarky and angry manner? Why such a dick always?

dude, shut up. You're just as snarky, angry, and arrogant to me. This is the one thing I can't stand about people. If you're going to treat me a certain way, CONSISTENTLY, then when I treat you that way in return don't sit there like a bemused moron wondering why "I'm so mean". Do you remember this (http://www.debate.org...), along with the past 1.5 years of verbal dismissals, put-downs, and condescending rebuttals you've issued? Don't be a hypocrite.

I scanned through and didn't see what was so terrible. Yeah, I do generally dismiss you, and it may not be merited. I'll try not to do that anymore. You just always seem very angry.
PrivateEye
Posts: 972
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6/14/2013 3:09:51 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Oh it seems I've misread you innomen, sorry. But what puts you over the line of acceptance then?
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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6/14/2013 3:15:34 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 2:57:04 PM, Poetaster wrote:
If I can freely and willfully determine my actions, then I must be able to determine what it is that I will. (If I could not, then in what sense am I free?)
As a consequence:

If I will to do x, then I must will myself to will x.

Let (willing myself to will x)=y.

If I will to do y, then I must will myself to will y.

Etc.

A free will model of action results in an infinite regression of willful events. Because a human's existence doesn't span an infinite series of events, a human cannot have free will.

What say you, OP?

Edjuamacate me, apply this in a life experience.
PrivateEye
Posts: 972
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6/14/2013 3:21:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 3:15:34 PM, innomen wrote:
At 6/14/2013 2:57:04 PM, Poetaster wrote:
If I can freely and willfully determine my actions, then I must be able to determine what it is that I will. (If I could not, then in what sense am I free?)
As a consequence:

If I will to do x, then I must will myself to will x.

Let (willing myself to will x)=y.

If I will to do y, then I must will myself to will y.

Etc.

A free will model of action results in an infinite regression of willful events. Because a human's existence doesn't span an infinite series of events, a human cannot have free will.

What say you, OP?

Edjuamacate me, apply this in a life experience.

You should be able to will yourself to enjoy pain I think he's saying...
PrivateEye
Posts: 972
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6/14/2013 3:22:35 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
or something like that... You should be able to change your preferences he's saying...
Poetaster
Posts: 587
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6/14/2013 6:01:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 3:15:34 PM, innomen wrote:
At 6/14/2013 2:57:04 PM, Poetaster wrote:
If I can freely and willfully determine my actions, then I must be able to determine what it is that I will. (If I could not, then in what sense am I free?)
As a consequence:

If I will to do x, then I must will myself to will x.

Let (willing myself to will x)=y.

If I will to do y, then I must will myself to will y.

Etc.

A free will model of action results in an infinite regression of willful events. Because a human's existence doesn't span an infinite series of events, a human cannot have free will.

What say you, OP?

Edjuamacate me, apply this in a life experience.

Isn't this very discussion a life experience in itself? But I suppose you really mean something like: "Cool argument, bro, now let's see you live in accordance with it."

Well, I don't deny that the idea of free will may have pragmatic value, but only because studies show that many people conflate determinism with fatalism, and (ironically) begin to choose more dishonest or morally apathetic actions than those chosen before their disbelief in "free will". On this basis, it has been suggested that people should simply believe in free will, regardless of the reality of our agential status.

This, however, smacks of a certain unctuous (or even malicious) elitism: "Yes, let the commonfolk believe in this institutionalized notion of 'freedom' so as to not confuse them in their poor, provincial existence."

I don't like it on any level.

More to the point, the regress argument which I gave is an informal one against the idea that any given human action may be terminally explained by the operation of causally independent will (~metaphysical libertarianism).

If our will controls our actions, then what controls our will? It seems that a causally potent and independent "will" is in an analogous position to that occupied by a generic physically deterministic system. If one posits this governing force (i.e. the will) which presides over certain physical systems, then what presides over the will? What prevents it from being a deterministic system itself?
"The book you are looking for hasn't been written yet. What you are looking for you are going to have to find yourself, it's not going to be in a book..." -Sidewalker
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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6/14/2013 6:05:38 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 6:01:01 PM, Poetaster wrote:
At 6/14/2013 3:15:34 PM, innomen wrote:
At 6/14/2013 2:57:04 PM, Poetaster wrote:
If I can freely and willfully determine my actions, then I must be able to determine what it is that I will. (If I could not, then in what sense am I free?)
As a consequence:

If I will to do x, then I must will myself to will x.

Let (willing myself to will x)=y.

If I will to do y, then I must will myself to will y.

Etc.

A free will model of action results in an infinite regression of willful events. Because a human's existence doesn't span an infinite series of events, a human cannot have free will.

What say you, OP?

Edjuamacate me, apply this in a life experience.

Isn't this very discussion a life experience in itself? But I suppose you really mean something like: "Cool argument, bro, now let's see you live in accordance with it."

Well, I don't deny that the idea of free will may have pragmatic value, but only because studies show that many people conflate determinism with fatalism, and (ironically) begin to choose more dishonest or morally apathetic actions than those chosen before their disbelief in "free will". On this basis, it has been suggested that people should simply believe in free will, regardless of the reality of our agential status.

This, however, smacks of a certain unctuous (or even malicious) elitism: "Yes, let the commonfolk believe in this institutionalized notion of 'freedom' so as to not confuse them in their poor, provincial existence."

I don't like it on any level.

More to the point, the regress argument which I gave is an informal one against the idea that any given human action may be terminally explained by the operation of causally independent will (~metaphysical libertarianism).

If our will controls our actions, then what controls our will? It seems that a causally potent and independent "will" is in an analogous position to that occupied by a generic physically deterministic system. If one posits this governing force (i.e. the will) which presides over certain physical systems, then what presides over the will? What prevents it from being a deterministic system itself?

so eloquent it's painful to read....
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault