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An Interesting Argument on Free Will

WorldSkeptic
Posts: 32
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11/30/2015 11:46:43 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I recently came across a debate on free will that contained the following argument:

Premise 1: Every Will that we have is based on a desire.
Premise 2: We cannot control the desires we have.
Clarification: No-one has ever chosen to experience physical attraction, or desire for food or drink, or for seeking truth.
Conclusion 1: Every Will that we have comes from something beyond our choice.

@SarcasticMethod, the Instigator, also says:
It is impossible to control actions if the will is entirely influenced by desire. All will descends from desire, and all desire descends from external influence. If someone like Mahatma Gandhi were to make a choice, "I refuse to eat", then it would not be because Gandhi was simply denying his desire to eat, but moreover because there was a higher and more powerful desire, such as "I desire the liberation of my people". His decision towards this was not free; the unique set of instances that led to his decision were in complete control of his desire to eat or to free his people, and one happened to overpower the other.

I'm not sure I agree with the premises, and I have a feeling what he says is wrong, but I wish to know others' opinions on it and discuss this argument.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. - Christopher Hitchens
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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12/1/2015 1:23:54 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 11:46:43 PM, WorldSkeptic wrote:
I recently came across a debate on free will that contained the following argument:

Premise 1: Every Will that we have is based on a desire.
Premise 2: We cannot control the desires we have.
Clarification: No-one has ever chosen to experience physical attraction, or desire for food or drink, or for seeking truth.
Conclusion 1: Every Will that we have comes from something beyond our choice.

@SarcasticMethod, the Instigator, also says:
It is impossible to control actions if the will is entirely influenced by desire. All will descends from desire, and all desire descends from external influence. If someone like Mahatma Gandhi were to make a choice, "I refuse to eat", then it would not be because Gandhi was simply denying his desire to eat, but moreover because there was a higher and more powerful desire, such as "I desire the liberation of my people". His decision towards this was not free; the unique set of instances that led to his decision were in complete control of his desire to eat or to free his people, and one happened to overpower the other.

I'm not sure I agree with the premises, and I have a feeling what he says is wrong, but I wish to know others' opinions on it and discuss this argument.

The only error is that the speaker misdesignates the cause of desires in his Gandhi example.

Desires are not compelled by one's social environment, though they are influenced by it. Desires are compelled by neurotransmitters and hormones.
"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
WorldSkeptic
Posts: 32
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12/1/2015 1:28:29 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
You agree with him about the rest, then? Hmm, the more I think about it the more sense it makes I guess. I'm still feeling lost on the subject, can you give me your complete thoughts?
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. - Christopher Hitchens
Emgaol
Posts: 138
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12/1/2015 10:08:45 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 11:46:43 PM, WorldSkeptic wrote:
I recently came across a debate on free will that contained the following argument:

Premise 1: Every Will that we have is based on a desire.
Premise 2: We cannot control the desires we have.
Clarification: No-one has ever chosen to experience physical attraction, or desire for food or drink, or for seeking truth.
Conclusion 1: Every Will that we have comes from something beyond our choice.

@SarcasticMethod, the Instigator, also says:
It is impossible to control actions if the will is entirely influenced by desire. All will descends from desire, and all desire descends from external influence. If someone like Mahatma Gandhi were to make a choice, "I refuse to eat", then it would not be because Gandhi was simply denying his desire to eat, but moreover because there was a higher and more powerful desire, such as "I desire the liberation of my people". His decision towards this was not free; the unique set of instances that led to his decision were in complete control of his desire to eat or to free his people, and one happened to overpower the other.

I'm not sure I agree with the premises, and I have a feeling what he says is wrong, but I wish to know others' opinions on it and discuss this argument.
Mahatma Gandhi's threat to commit suicide is not a true either/or condition.
That may have been how Gandhi announced his decision to the media and to the authorities i.e., Either you liberate my people or I will commit suicide. His ultimate goal was to secure liberty for his people. Threatening suicide to demonstrate his commitment was one means of attempting to attain his goal. Threatening suicide was his means to a desired end.

The only either/or decision he had was to either eat or refuse to eat. He didn't have the choice of liberty or slavery, because, of the two, liberty was his desired goal.

Gandhi did have a desire to threaten suicide unless his people were liberated. So that, in order to achieve his goal, he was willing to die, but I don't think it can be said that he desired to die, or that he had a death wish . The method he chose was starvation, with the intent to publicise his slow demise as widely as possible.

He was willing to die but, did not desire to die.

Overcoming his desire for food, minute by minute, day by day, directly contradicts premise 2, that "We cannot control the desires we have.". Under what conceivable situation would Gandhi attempt to overcome his desire for liberty? The two "desires" are not comparable.

Premise 1; Every Will that we have is based on a desire. Gandhi had a desire to eat. His will was to stop eating.

As an interesting side line, "liberty" implies free will, or; "Liberty, is a person's freedom from control by fate or necessity.". So it seems to me that those who would argue against free will are also arguing against liberty. I find it interesting that the instigator chose Mahatma Gandhi as an example. Maybe the instigator overlooked Gandhi's desire for liberty.

There is also the claim that "It is impossible to control actions if the will is entirely influenced by desire.". What if the will is not entirely influenced by desire? Is it possible then, to control actions? If the answer is yes, then the generalisation; "We cannot control the desires we have." has been proven to be false. In this case, the instigator did not say, "It is impossible to control actions because the will is entirely influenced by desire. He would need to provide evidence to support his assertion that "...the will is entirely influenced by desire.". We need only one example to disprove any generalisation. My suggestion would be; Gandhi's will to remain not eating was greater than his desire to eat.
Furyan5
Posts: 1,228
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12/1/2015 11:13:45 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 10:08:45 AM, Emgaol wrote:
At 11/30/2015 11:46:43 PM, WorldSkeptic wrote:
I recently came across a debate on free will that contained the following argument:

Premise 1: Every Will that we have is based on a desire.
Premise 2: We cannot control the desires we have.
Clarification: No-one has ever chosen to experience physical attraction, or desire for food or drink, or for seeking truth.
Conclusion 1: Every Will that we have comes from something beyond our choice.

@SarcasticMethod, the Instigator, also says:
It is impossible to control actions if the will is entirely influenced by desire. All will descends from desire, and all desire descends from external influence. If someone like Mahatma Gandhi were to make a choice, "I refuse to eat", then it would not be because Gandhi was simply denying his desire to eat, but moreover because there was a higher and more powerful desire, such as "I desire the liberation of my people". His decision towards this was not free; the unique set of instances that led to his decision were in complete control of his desire to eat or to free his people, and one happened to overpower the other.

I'm not sure I agree with the premises, and I have a feeling what he says is wrong, but I wish to know others' opinions on it and discuss this argument.
Mahatma Gandhi's threat to commit suicide is not a true either/or condition.
That may have been how Gandhi announced his decision to the media and to the authorities i.e., Either you liberate my people or I will commit suicide. His ultimate goal was to secure liberty for his people. Threatening suicide to demonstrate his commitment was one means of attempting to attain his goal. Threatening suicide was his means to a desired end.

The only either/or decision he had was to either eat or refuse to eat. He didn't have the choice of liberty or slavery, because, of the two, liberty was his desired goal.

Gandhi did have a desire to threaten suicide unless his people were liberated. So that, in order to achieve his goal, he was willing to die, but I don't think it can be said that he desired to die, or that he had a death wish . The method he chose was starvation, with the intent to publicise his slow demise as widely as possible.

He was willing to die but, did not desire to die.

Overcoming his desire for food, minute by minute, day by day, directly contradicts premise 2, that "We cannot control the desires we have.". Under what conceivable situation would Gandhi attempt to overcome his desire for liberty? The two "desires" are not comparable.

Premise 1; Every Will that we have is based on a desire. Gandhi had a desire to eat. His will was to stop eating.

As an interesting side line, "liberty" implies free will, or; "Liberty, is a person's freedom from control by fate or necessity.". So it seems to me that those who would argue against free will are also arguing against liberty. I find it interesting that the instigator chose Mahatma Gandhi as an example. Maybe the instigator overlooked Gandhi's desire for liberty.

There is also the claim that "It is impossible to control actions if the will is entirely influenced by desire.". What if the will is not entirely influenced by desire? Is it possible then, to control actions? If the answer is yes, then the generalisation; "We cannot control the desires we have." has been proven to be false. In this case, the instigator did not say, "It is impossible to control actions because the will is entirely influenced by desire. He would need to provide evidence to support his assertion that "...the will is entirely influenced by desire.". We need only one example to disprove any generalisation. My suggestion would be; Gandhi's will to remain not eating was greater than his desire to eat.

Liberty does not imply free will. It implies freedom from oppression. Free will in itself is an illusion based on our minds ability to create hypothetical scenarios which help the conscious mind see what the subconscious mind desires. What we do is determined by our desires, but our desires are not always obvious to us. They reside in our subconscious mind.
Emgaol
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12/1/2015 1:03:24 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 11:13:45 AM, Furyan5 wrote:
Liberty does not imply free will. It implies freedom from oppression. Free will in itself is an illusion based on our minds ability to create hypothetical scenarios which help the conscious mind see what the subconscious mind desires. What we do is determined by our desires, but our desires are not always obvious to us. They reside in our subconscious mind.

I made the claim that liberty implies free will, based on this evidence:
From http://dictionary.reference.com...

"Word Origin and History for liberty
n.
late 14c., "free choice, freedom to do as one chooses," from Old French libert" "freedom, liberty, free will" (14c.), from Latin libertatem (nominative libertas) "freedom, condition of a free man; absence of restraint; permission," from liber "free" (see liberal )
(My bolding)

Certainly liberty also implies freedom from oppression, so we are not disagreeing on that point.

You suggest that desires are hidden away in one's subconscious. You are entitled to make that claim if you wish, but I doubt you would be able to "determine" what exists in our subconscious minds. If you could then it wouldn't be subconscious.
WorldSkeptic
Posts: 32
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12/1/2015 1:42:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
What I would add is this:
We have desires, but we also have the ability to control them once they are there.

Say you wanted two things. You want those two things with the same desire (i.e you don't like one over the other). However, you can only take one of these. Whichever you choose, you still want to have the other with the same desire. HERE free will comes in, because regardless of your desires, since you want both the same, you must make a choice between the two since you can't have both.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. - Christopher Hitchens
toretorden
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12/1/2015 2:14:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
To not act on a desire is not controlling that desire. It is controlling your actions despite a desire to act differently.

I think we are very much constrained by our physical bodies. Our sensory organs decide what we see. Our brains are products of a long history of evolution; the result of billions of years of natural selection which has equipped us with many general feelings and behaviours - such as a desire for sex, food and friends. Even our sense of morale is tied to our natural instincts, desires and urges. Although Gandhi may choose not to eat, his desire for liberty for his people is also rooted in his physical being. If he had had a brain damage in the part of his brain which deals with morals, he might not have cared so much. If he was a robot, he might not have cared. A lot of evolution through countless generations led to a being capable of that sense of morale.

Whether we have any free will depends on how one defines free will. I'd say we can pursue free will within the constraints created by our physical bodies, but I think most people would not think of this as free will.
Chaosism
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12/1/2015 2:18:01 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 1:42:23 PM, WorldSkeptic wrote:
What I would add is this:
We have desires, but we also have the ability to control them once they are there.

The controlling factor(s) also stems from desire. One resists the desire to eat junk food because of the desire to avoid the known, predictable, negative consequences in the future. We all possess conflicting desires (i.e., eat desirable junk food vs. stay healthy) and all of our actions cater to these desires. If our desire to eat the unhealthy food outweighs the desire to be healthy, then we will eat the junk food.

Say you wanted two things. You want those two things with the same desire (i.e you don't like one over the other). However, you can only take one of these. Whichever you choose, you still want to have the other with the same desire. HERE free will comes in, because regardless of your desires, since you want both the same, you must make a choice between the two since you can't have both.

Unfortunately, there are too many factors in reality for such a simple hypothetical to be comparable. There are too many variables, such as appearance of the objects. In any case, say you made your decision, whatever it may be. Now, say that you were placed back in time in that exact same scenario with the exact same knowledge you had at that point in time; everything is exactly the same. Since the conditions are exactly the same, how could you expect to have a different result? How would you not repeat that same decision? In physics, the conditions dictate the results, and the neurochemistry of your brain follows the same natural laws.
DPMartin
Posts: 1,096
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12/1/2015 5:20:31 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 11:46:43 PM, WorldSkeptic wrote:
I recently came across a debate on free will that contained the following argument:

Premise 1: Every Will that we have is based on a desire.
Premise 2: We cannot control the desires we have.
Clarification: No-one has ever chosen to experience physical attraction, or desire for food or drink, or for seeking truth.
Conclusion 1: Every Will that we have comes from something beyond our choice.

@SarcasticMethod, the Instigator, also says:
It is impossible to control actions if the will is entirely influenced by desire. All will descends from desire, and all desire descends from external influence. If someone like Mahatma Gandhi were to make a choice, "I refuse to eat", then it would not be because Gandhi was simply denying his desire to eat, but moreover because there was a higher and more powerful desire, such as "I desire the liberation of my people". His decision towards this was not free; the unique set of instances that led to his decision were in complete control of his desire to eat or to free his people, and one happened to overpower the other.

I'm not sure I agree with the premises, and I have a feeling what he says is wrong, but I wish to know others' opinions on it and discuss this argument.

Well, maybe the word "value" would be more appropriate in place of desire. But men"s hearts are full of the world and therefore men"s fulfillment is in the world, and what is of the world (meaning mankind of course). What the terrorist values, has something to do with the world, or what"s in the world. The criminally minded"s heart seeks it"s fulfillment in the world and of the world. The politically minded, and the "better world" minded, so on and so forth. Value is rooted in accordance to what is in the heart to be fulfilled to the heart"s satisfaction. It"s man"s perception that fulfillment of what is in his heart, is in the world, and therefore values that, and seeks opportunity for the fulfillment thereof.

So maybe one could consider that satifaction is what might be valued the most.
WorldSkeptic
Posts: 32
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12/1/2015 5:48:41 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
However, saying that desires happen before actions do, doesn't prove both are intrinsically related. That is a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.
https://en.wikipedia.org...
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. - Christopher Hitchens
WorldSkeptic
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12/1/2015 5:49:54 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
It more or less goes:
The rooster crows immediately before sunrise; therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. - Christopher Hitchens
difference
Posts: 177
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12/1/2015 7:34:49 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 5:48:41 PM, WorldSkeptic wrote:
However, saying that desires happen before actions do, doesn't prove both are intrinsically related. That is a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.
https://en.wikipedia.org...

Yeah. The human action isn't different than any other action. The sun doesn't have the desire to rise but it does anyway.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,242
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12/2/2015 1:26:54 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I don't see the difference between "will" and "desire". Will just means how we desire to act in the moment. Premise 2 therefore becomes "We cannot control our will", which can hardly be assumed in an argument against free will.

I imagine that the person making this argument was using "desire" to mean "objective" and "will" to mean "the process by which we go about achieving it". For example, we *desire* to quench our thirst because our body tells us to, and our *will* directs us to get some water on that basis.

That is only a problem for free will if (1) yielding to our biological desires is inevitable, which it plainly isn't or (2) all desires are determined by something other than our will, which isn't a given (merely because you can come up with examples of biologically-driven desires e.g. sexual attraction, doesn't prove that all desires are of this kind.
dylancatlow
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12/2/2015 1:32:32 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/30/2015 11:46:43 PM, WorldSkeptic wrote:
His decision towards this was not free; the unique set of instances that led to his decision were in complete control of his desire to eat or to free his people, and one happened to overpower the other.

But that's precisely the question at issue! Was Gandhi bound to respond to his life circumstances in exactly the way he did, or was that decided by Gandhi as he encountered them?
n7
Posts: 1,356
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12/2/2015 4:28:10 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Being a Libertarian doesn't mean you have to accept total autonomy. We may not control every aspect of ourselves but we may control what is within our desires.
404 coherent debate topic not found. Please restart the debate with clear resolution.


Uphold Marxist-Leninist-Maoist-Sargonist-n7ism.
Furyan5
Posts: 1,228
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12/2/2015 10:52:11 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 4:28:10 AM, n7 wrote:
Being a Libertarian doesn't mean you have to accept total autonomy. We may not control every aspect of ourselves but we may control what is within our desires.

Humans are driven by what will provide the most pleasure or cause the least pain. Even an action which results in instantaneous pleasure but may result in long term pain is not a choice. People either think short term or long term, depending on their past experiences. It's not a matter of choice. Even though two people may make different choices and even one person may make a different choice today than they would a year ago, its their experiences that have changed them. Physical experiences alter subjective reasoning. Change doesn't come from within. Without new experiences our choices won't change. If our choices don't change, is it truly choice?

Ghandi saw long term. He realized the pleasure of freeing his people outwieghed the pain of being hungry. Because of this, he had no choice but to stop eating. Choice is but a hypothetical construct of the mind, giving us the illusion of free will. I can have coffee, tea, juice, milk or water with my breakfast. But I always have coffee.
neoryan1
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12/2/2015 2:21:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Flipping a coin may seem random, but if you could calculate the trajectory of every flip, the result could be predicted beforehand.

Same thing goes with every particle in the universe. Everything can theoretically be predicted UNLESS there's another force within our universe.
Furyan5
Posts: 1,228
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12/2/2015 7:43:25 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 2:21:06 PM, neoryan1 wrote:
Flipping a coin may seem random, but if you could calculate the trajectory of every flip, the result could be predicted beforehand.

Same thing goes with every particle in the universe. Everything can theoretically be predicted UNLESS there's another force within our universe.

Lol adding another force just means one more calculation. Besides, choosing to flip a coin is a choice. The outcome may be random, but its by choice.
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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12/2/2015 8:15:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 1:32:32 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/30/2015 11:46:43 PM, WorldSkeptic wrote:
His decision towards this was not free; the unique set of instances that led to his decision were in complete control of his desire to eat or to free his people, and one happened to overpower the other.

But that's precisely the question at issue! Was Gandhi bound to respond to his life circumstances in exactly the way he did, or was that decided by Gandhi as he encountered them?

Are you a libertarian?
"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
dylancatlow
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12/2/2015 8:19:38 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 8:15:23 PM, 000ike wrote:
At 12/2/2015 1:32:32 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/30/2015 11:46:43 PM, WorldSkeptic wrote:
His decision towards this was not free; the unique set of instances that led to his decision were in complete control of his desire to eat or to free his people, and one happened to overpower the other.

But that's precisely the question at issue! Was Gandhi bound to respond to his life circumstances in exactly the way he did, or was that decided by Gandhi as he encountered them?

Are you a libertarian?

I think free will is logically possible, but I don't think it's a given. So I guess you could say I'm unsure but open minded.
000ike
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12/2/2015 8:40:47 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
It never ceases to amaze me that this debate continues even though neuroscientists, the people who are in the best position to opine on the issue, are in near consensus that there's no such thing.

Philosophers rely on nebulous, intuitive conceptions of desire, when these things have clear neuronal correlates. The evidence shows that you act first and rationalize after -- that there's a post hoc ascription of intention to actions and desires already set in motion, or feelings already outwardly expressed (see James-lange theory of emotion). So to apply one's intuition in an effort to repudiate this argument is the height of irrationality.... If someone is suggesting that you're deluded, your response can't be "well that doesn't appear to be the case"; the substance of the concept of "delusion" is that the incongruity between your perception and reality is inaccessible to you. So of course it will never appear that you're deluded -- that is to say it will never appear that you're not free or that you're not controlling your desires.

My point is that this issue naturally does not lend itself to philosophical introspection, and any conclusions derived therefrom are simply worthless. This is why we should consult only neuroscience, and take the widespread agreement against the possibility of volition, as a powerful indication that this debate is essentially over and solved; no such thing exists.
"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
dylancatlow
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12/2/2015 9:57:31 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 8:40:47 PM, 000ike wrote:
It never ceases to amaze me that this debate continues even though neuroscientists, the people who are in the best position to opine on the issue, are in near consensus that there's no such thing.

They can all be wrong for the same reasons. There may be some crucial insight which they haven't yet been able to make, as is commonly the case throughout the sciences.

The evidence shows that you act first and rationalize after -- that there's a post hoc ascription of intention to actions and desires already set in motion, or feelings already outwardly expressed (see James-lange theory of emotion).

Chris Langan completely tears this argument apart in his book.

Along much the same lines, the subject may choose a
task and formulate an appropriate general plan on a
combination of conscious and unconscious levels, delegating
certain parts of the execution of this plan, as well as details
of scheduling, to the unconscious mind. The unconscious
mind would then take responsibility for that which has been
delegated to it, executing various subtasks when appropriate
and "reminding" the conscious mind of its responsibility to
"intend" those acts just before committing them. The
conscious mind would automatically take these cues,
thereby reserving the right of final authorization and
selectively permitting or interdicting the associated
unconscious impulses.
The latter explanation incorporates several key
concepts. One such concept is the mind"s supposed ability to
delegate various responsibilities to conscious or unconscious
levels of processing, implying that the unconscious mind can
to some extent function autonomously, without benefit of
direct, step-by-step conscious oversight. Another is the
distinction between tasks and subtasks in goal-related
processing and behavior. This distinction permits the
distinction of an overall task-related decision, e.g. deciding
to perform a sequence of voluntary hand movements, from
constituent subtask-related decisions, e.g. deciding to
perform one of the hand movements in question.
Yet another such concept is higher-order
intentionality, or "intent to intend". For example, intending
to perform a sequence of voluntary hand movements
amounts to intending to intend to perform each of the hand
movements in the sequence, and where the latter (lower-
order) intentions are generated by the unconscious level of
processing, they can in turn be regarded as a unconscious
intentions to consciously intend to permit or veto the impulses
associated with the unconscious intentions themselves. We
thus have a kind of "volitional loop" involving two levels of
processing, and two levels of intentionality, instead of the
single level usually acknowledged"a multilevel control
loop in which the "higher" (conscious) level of volitional
processing is insulated from the noise and complexity
generated by the "lower", unconscious nuts-and-bolts level,
which thus functions to some extent autonomously.
Does this new explanation of volition as a multilevel
control loop have any weaknesses? One possible weakness is
the fact that because we associate control with
consciousness, the very idea of "unconscious volition" seems
semantically inconsistent. Relegating any part of a volitional
control function to a non-conscious level of mental
processing seems to contradict the premise that we possess
the freedom to control our actions.
However, a little reflection should reveal that the
horse of cognition is already long gone from the barn of
consciousness anyway. If the conscious mind, which has an
innate need to function within a well-defined conceptual
system in order to ensure its informational integrity, were
ever made responsible for the details of the complex,
tentative, rapid-fire neural dialogue that microscopically
relates one well-defined state of consciousness to its
successor, cognition would immediately break down like a
tired old jalopy. With a catastrophic "kapow!" from its
exhaust pipe and a sad sigh of defeat from beneath its hood,
it would forcibly retreat into the wakeless sleep of
unrealizability. One might as well demand that the output of
a computer never be acknowledged until the user has
accounted for each of the millions of logical operations by
means of which it was generated. Such a demand cannot be
met within the bounds of practicality.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,242
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12/2/2015 10:33:17 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Evidence suggesting that we go so far as to actually perform actions before we're aware of deciding to do so merely proves that sometimes we are impulsive. Some degree of impulsivity leaves room for free will. It could also be the case that we are not always sufficiently self-aware to recognize intention when it occurs. It may be hard to recognize in the moment, and it's only after we've had the time to stop and think about what we've done that we can appreciate it.
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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12/2/2015 11:01:57 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 9:57:31 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 12/2/2015 8:40:47 PM, 000ike wrote:
It never ceases to amaze me that this debate continues even though neuroscientists, the people who are in the best position to opine on the issue, are in near consensus that there's no such thing.

They can all be wrong for the same reasons. There may be some crucial insight which they haven't yet been able to make, as is commonly the case throughout the sciences.

The evidence shows that you act first and rationalize after -- that there's a post hoc ascription of intention to actions and desires already set in motion, or feelings already outwardly expressed (see James-lange theory of emotion).

Chris Langan completely tears this argument apart in his book.

What you just quoted, while relevant to this topic, does not actually address my point, much less tear it apart.

Langan's argument --- concerns facts about conscious veto and delegation of tasks already known to neurobiology (e.g. when he says that the conscious mind need not direct every detail of how the action is executed is not new --- consider the central pattern generator in the spinal cord that controls the walking sequence, which is only initiated by a descending tonic from the brain. Consider also evidence of conscious veto from Libet's experiments).
The idea here is that even actions that might appear compulsive can still fall under the authority of the brain's executive function. You haven't provided the context in which these facts are employed. Taken as it is, however, it doesn't impart anything relevant to the conversation.

My argument --- is that what one intends has causal neural precedent, and in some cases the intention can proceed the action its credited with generating. Which would suggest that the visceral notion of intent often accompanying action is just an epiphenomenal byproduct of a mechanistic, physical, causal sequence, with no causal efficacy in its own right. This is not an idea addressed by or relevant to your quote.

Secondly, I want to point out that Langan employs the concept of intention in a clearly intuitive fashion, ... but it seems you've erased the part of my argument addressing why the use of that intuition is irrational. That's what you should address first if you want to apply Langan's argument (in whatever capacity it applies).
"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
000ike
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12/2/2015 11:06:03 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 10:33:17 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
Evidence suggesting that we go so far as to actually perform actions before we're aware of deciding to do so merely proves that sometimes we are impulsive. Some degree of impulsivity leaves room for free will. It could also be the case that we are not always sufficiently self-aware to recognize intention when it occurs. It may be hard to recognize in the moment, and it's only after we've had the time to stop and think about what we've done that we can appreciate it.

No that's not what it suggests. Impulsiveness is something else, involuntary action is something else, behavior that never reaches the cortical seat of executive function is something else. What we're addressing is behavior that is consciously and deliberately decided to the extent that the subject reports it as such --- neuroscientists suggest that THIS behavior is not free.
"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
000ike
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12/2/2015 11:29:14 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
also lol I have to say I appreciate that he has sort of restrained his tendency to be excessively verbose (probably in order to make the writing accessible to a general audience),...but I think he overdid it toward the end with the onomatopoeia :P
"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
dylancatlow
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12/2/2015 11:45:47 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 11:29:14 PM, 000ike wrote:
also lol I have to say I appreciate that he has sort of restrained his tendency to be excessively verbose (probably in order to make the writing accessible to a general audience),...but I think he overdid it toward the end with the onomatopoeia :P

The masses like sound effects, ike. He's clearly a man of the people.
dylancatlow
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12/3/2015 12:07:02 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 11:01:57 PM, 000ike wrote:
At 12/2/2015 9:57:31 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 12/2/2015 8:40:47 PM, 000ike wrote:
It never ceases to amaze me that this debate continues even though neuroscientists, the people who are in the best position to opine on the issue, are in near consensus that there's no such thing.

They can all be wrong for the same reasons. There may be some crucial insight which they haven't yet been able to make, as is commonly the case throughout the sciences.

The evidence shows that you act first and rationalize after -- that there's a post hoc ascription of intention to actions and desires already set in motion, or feelings already outwardly expressed (see James-lange theory of emotion).

Chris Langan completely tears this argument apart in his book.

What you just quoted, while relevant to this topic, does not actually address my point, much less tear it apart.

Langan's argument --- concerns facts about conscious veto and delegation of tasks already known to neurobiology (e.g. when he says that the conscious mind need not direct every detail of how the action is executed is not new --- consider the central pattern generator in the spinal cord that controls the walking sequence, which is only initiated by a descending tonic from the brain. Consider also evidence of conscious veto from Libet's experiments).
The idea here is that even actions that might appear compulsive can still fall under the authority of the brain's executive function. You haven't provided the context in which these facts are employed. Taken as it is, however, it doesn't impart anything relevant to the conversation.

My argument --- is that what one intends has causal neural precedent,

This is exactly what Langan was talking about. Our subconscious reminds us to intend certain actions (this process perhaps being regulated by our conscious mind beforehand), and our free will (if it exists) determines whether that impulse gets realized.

and in some cases the intention can proceed the action its credited with generating. Which would suggest that the visceral notion of intent often accompanying action is just an epiphenomenal byproduct of a mechanistic, physical, causal sequence, with no causal efficacy in its own right. This is not an idea addressed by or relevant to your quote.

In order for the entire action to be carried out without any intention, it would have to be incredibly quick. Not all actions falls into that category. Just because some actions are impulsive doesn't mean all are (I'd be shocked if some actions weren't totally impulsive). In Libet's experiments, subjects were told to notice when the intention to move their hand entered their mind. The intention always came before the hand movement. The interesting part, of course, was that scientist could predict when this intention would arise before the subjects were even aware of it, leading some to believe that the movement was inevitable. However, as Langan has explained, there's another side to that story.

Secondly, I want to point out that Langan employs the concept of intention in a clearly intuitive fashion, ... but it seems you've erased the part of my argument addressing why the use of that intuition is irrational. That's what you should address first if you want to apply Langan's argument (in whatever capacity it applies).

How is he using it any more intuitively than you are?
Romanii
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12/3/2015 1:31:22 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 9:57:31 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 12/2/2015 8:40:47 PM, 000ike wrote:
It never ceases to amaze me that this debate continues even though neuroscientists, the people who are in the best position to opine on the issue, are in near consensus that there's no such thing.

They can all be wrong for the same reasons. There may be some crucial insight which they haven't yet been able to make, as is commonly the case throughout the sciences.

+1

For example, the insight that physicalism isn't necessarily true