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Jun 14 2012

TZT

Keep it up. I’ve got an infinite number of bullets to take out these zombie threads.

681 comments

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  1. 501
    A. R

    STOP PEOPLE!!!!! You are polluting the troll refuge with intelligence, which, as you know, is toxic to them.

  2. 502
    Walton

    By the way, Walton, I’m drinking your Diet Pepsi.

    Hmmmm.

    Up to now, I’ve always thought that contra-causal free will would be possible if one accepted Cartesian dualism – since, if we have souls, the soul, unlike the brain, would not necessarily have to be governed by deterministic physical laws or moulded by biology. But I think you’re right. Contra-causal free will is impossible even if dualism is true.

    (Of course, Cartesian dualism is an extremely unsatisfactory school of thought to begin with – it’s a cop-out from the task of actually trying to understand what consciousness is and how it works – so even if I had been right, it wouldn’t be of much relevance.)

  3. 503
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Okay, you can have your Diet Pepsi back now.

    (I gotta go barf anyway.)

  4. 504
    Amphiox

    Up to now, I’ve always thought that contra-causal free will would be possible if one accepted Cartesian dualism – since, if we have souls, the soul, unlike the brain, would not necessarily have to be governed by deterministic physical laws or moulded by biology.

    In order to convert its will into action, the soul has to communicate its decisions to the brain, and then the brain has the direct the body to act. Sadly, both brain and body are constrained, even if the soul might not be.

    Soul: “More power! Give me more power!”

    Brain: “I’m sorry Captain, I cannae break the laws of physics!”

    Body: “Meltdown in T minus 3 seconds, 2, 1….”

    KABOOM!

  5. 505
    Amphiox

    Perhaps of some interest:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2012/06/18/the-super-seers-who-live-among-us/#more-37806

    Note here the documentation that John Dalton, famous chemist and red-green colour blind male, successfully communicated, in words, what he was seeing. Note also that he had no trouble seeing green – it was red that he struggled with. Too bad this comes only after the pertinent zombie had already been dusted….

    Another interesting point, relevant to certain other trolls. It is the same red-green colour blind gene that produces tetrachromacy into some females. This gene, supposedly a “mistake”, and deleterious mutation, is actually a beneficial, constructive mutation in some individuals.

  6. 506
    ChasCPeterson

    A.R, take your complaint to PZ ‘Poopyhed’ Myers. It was his decision to combine your old “troll refuge” with the intellectual-honesty thread, and this is the result. Deal with it.

  7. 507
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Awesome. Thanks for that, Walton.

    What happens when a virtue ethicist is confronted with anti-foundationalism?

    They reply that the ultimate Romantic Hero is Roman Jesus!

    (I’m not kidding. It looks to me like the whole system encourages too much fantastic anthropomorphizing of The Good Man, and she spent so much time elaborating on her fantasy that it eventually activated her HADD.)

  8. 508
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Sadly, both brain and body are constrained, even if the soul might not be.

    Even the soul is constrained by causality. Why does the soul prefer to do X instead of not-X? Where did it get that preference? Yet again there’s an infinite regress, which can be halted by saying the soul came into existence with certain preferences pre-packaged, but then the soul didn’t freely will those preferences. An immaterial being is no more capable of self-authorship than a material one.

  9. 509
    consciousness razor

    LILAPWL:

    Punishment is enough; blame seems gratuitous.

    Err, none of what you said really reflects how I’d use the term. It’s not about blaming people, and I don’t think we should punish them either. Nor is it that they deserve something (punishment, treatment or whatever) because of their responsibility or their “character” or anything like that.

    It’s just a way of describing someone as being a moral agent in a given situation, who can act intentionally and predict some of the possible results, so that whatever he or she did was (one of) the morally relevant action(s) which ought to be under consideration. That doesn’t imply they are blameworthy or deserve something, but usually tells us something about what they are likely to do in the future, which we may want to encourage or discourage (or we may want to do something like it or avoid doing it, etc.), depending on what it was.

    Some of that could be expressed without the word “responsibility” if people tend to interpret it the wrong way, though I don’t know if you’d still find that objectionable for some reason.

    ———

    mikmik:

    Saying a rock chooses is a personification

    Indeed it is, but I said a rock rolls downhill.

  10. 510
    strange gods before me ॐ

    cr,

    Err, none of what you said really reflects how I’d use the term. It’s not about blaming people, and I don’t think we should punish them either. Nor is it that they deserve something (punishment, treatment or whatever) because of their responsibility or their “character” or anything like that.

    Okay, I get what you’re saying. It does strike me as likely to cause communication failures, but I’m just one data point.

    It’s just a way of describing someone as being a moral agent in a given situation, who can act intentionally and predict some of the possible results, so that whatever he or she did was (one of) the morally relevant action(s) which ought to be under consideration. That doesn’t imply they are blameworthy or deserve something, but usually tells us something about what they are likely to do in the future, which we may want to encourage or discourage (or we may want to do something like it or avoid doing it, etc.), depending on what it was.

    Some of that could be expressed without the word “responsibility”

    Verily, you just did it. :)

    if people tend to interpret it the wrong way, though I don’t know if you’d still find that objectionable for some reason.

    I don’t see your usage as internally incoherent — I think it’s at least as sensible as my claim that we should take moral responsibility — you’re just saying it’s a descriptive term which always applies when a morally-capable agent is dropped into a morally-relevant situation.

    I guess we’d have to ask people if “you are morally responsible for drinking and driving” implies also that “you are morally blameworthy for drinking and driving”.

  11. 511
    Amphiox

    STOP PEOPLE!!!!! You are polluting the troll refuge with intelligence, which, as you know, is toxic to them.

    All part of the master plan to breed a sturdier strain of troll…..

  12. 512
    A. R

    Chas: Y you no grok joke?
    Aphiox: Perhaps…

  13. 513
    chigau (違う)

    I have bronchitis.

  14. 514
    Walton

    From that simplistic perspective, no-one is morally responsible for any actions, good, bad or indifferent.

    That’s true. I contend that no one is morally responsible for their actions. But there’s nothing simplistic about it.

    My argument consists of two threads: (1) we do not have contra-causal free will; and (2) if we do not have contra-causal free will, it follows from this that we do not have moral responsibility for our actions (i.e. compatibilism is false). It seems to be (2), not (1), that you’re challenging.

    Smilansky is not being simplistic when he calls compatibilism “shallow”. I recommend that article – it’s very good, even though I don’t agree with his eventual conclusions.

    ===

    consciousness razor,

    I guess I still disagree with you about the meaning of “moral responsibility.” I don’t think it implies one is ultimately responsible for some action, in the way someone with free will would be ultimately uncaused. As I use it, it’s a fairly limited term, just like “will” or “choice” for determinists, so to me, rejecting it seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Perhaps it’s not treated that way in the law, so I can see how we might be talking about different uses of the term.

    I honestly don’t understand this, though. Can you define what you mean by moral responsibility? And can you reconcile your definition with the way that the term is actually used and understood in practice?

    When I talk of a person having “moral responsibility” for their actions, what I mean is what the term usually means – that a person can justly be held responsible for the acts they commit; that they deserve to be blamed for doing things wrong, or praised for doing things right. In this sense of the term, our society normally ascribes moral responsibility to adult human beings of sound mind; less so to very young children and those with severe mental impairments; and none at all to inanimate objects or to forces of nature. We might say that an adult man is “to blame” for the harm his actions cause, but we would not say the same about a rock, or a hurricane, or a rabid dog. This is what I mean by “moral responsibility”, and it is this construct which I am criticizing.

    (It’s reflected in the criminal law, for instance, with its preoccupation with mens rea and capacity. The law bothers to distinguish between those who kill others deliberately and those who kill others accidentally, for instance, because it regards the former as more morally culpable. It excludes very young children and the legally insane from criminal liability altogether, because they are not considered morally responsible for their actions. And so on.)

    If I am right, this whole conception of moral responsibility is, in a very fundamental sense, unfair. The murderer’s actions are the product of hir thoughts, and hir thoughts are the product of hir genes and hir environment. Xe could not have chosen to do otherwise than xe did. Xe is thus no more “to blame”, in an objective sense, than a rock is to blame for rolling downhill and crushing someone.

    Does this mean that the whole concept of reward and punishment is completely unjustifiable? No, not necessarily. Because one can construct a consequentialist case for rewarding and punishing as a means of conditioning people to behave in particular ways – like Pavlov’s dogs, or giving a lab rat an electric shock to make it run a particular way through a maze. This argument doesn’t require us to assume that we have free will, any more than dogs or lab rats have free will. So we don’t need to rely on free will in order to justify rewarding or punishing people.

    But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the non-existence of free will has no practical implications. On the contrary, I think the non-existence of free will is an important moral insight, in practice. Look at debates about criminal justice, for instance. It’s been my experience that, typically, when people argue for harsher punishments and more violence, they do so in the sincere belief that those they are punishing are bad people who deserve to suffer. (You can see examples of this over on the other thread, in which one of the pro-warmongering disputants argued that Taliban fighters “deserve death” and that “not everyone alive deserves to stay alive”. Other examples can be found in just about any debate about the death penalty, the War on Drugs, the treatment of rapists, and so on.) If, hypothetically, everyone in our society were to suddenly accept that we have no free will and that no one is capable of “deserving” anything, good or bad, I daresay the net result would be that people would be less inclined to punish harshly and to inflict violence. From my perspective, that would be a good outcome.

  15. 515
    Walton

    Ah, I now see (since I didn’t refresh before posting) that consciousness razor has answered some of my questions before I asked them, in hir post at #9.

  16. 516
    Owlmirror

    I guess we’d have to ask people if “you are morally responsible for drinking and driving” implies also that “you are morally blameworthy for drinking and driving”.

    I’m guessing there should be a “not” in there somewhere.

    I’m reminded of Chris Rock’s rant that no, you don’t get credit for doing what you’re supposed to do (in that case, take care of one’s children). Although, as Google reminds me, that rant was an example of problematic racism-enabling.

  17. 517
    Walton

    Because one can construct a consequentialist case for rewarding and punishing as a means of conditioning people to behave in particular ways – like Pavlov’s dogs, or giving a lab rat an electric shock to make it run a particular way through a maze.

    Actually, scratch part of that sentence – Pavlov’s dogs are not really an example of what I was talking about (I’d forgotten that that experiment was actually about conditioned reflexes, which isn’t really what I’m thinking of here). The lab rat and the maze will suffice as an example.

  18. 518
    strange gods before me ॐ

    chigau, I hope you get better soon.

  19. 519
    strange gods before me ॐ

    I’m guessing there should be a “not” in there somewhere.

    Nope. The way cr’s using it’s not synonmous with “praiseworthy”.

  20. 520
    A. R

    chigau: Feel better soon.

  21. 521
    joey

    Amphiox, so are we all completely deterministic automatons?

    ————
    lipstick:

    Even the soul is constrained by causality.

    Even if the soul is constrained by causality, that doesn’t mean that the soul is deterministic.

  22. 522
    Walton

    Err, none of what you said really reflects how I’d use the term. It’s not about blaming people, and I don’t think we should punish them either. Nor is it that they deserve something (punishment, treatment or whatever) because of their responsibility or their “character” or anything like that.

    It’s just a way of describing someone as being a moral agent in a given situation, who can act intentionally and predict some of the possible results, so that whatever he or she did was (one of) the morally relevant action(s) which ought to be under consideration. That doesn’t imply they are blameworthy or deserve something, but usually tells us something about what they are likely to do in the future, which we may want to encourage or discourage (or we may want to do something like it or avoid doing it, etc.), depending on what it was.

    That makes sense in itself, but – for the reasons I gave above – I think the language of moral responsibility is problematic. I don’t think that your definition accords with the way that most people use and understand the term.

  23. 523
    Owlmirror

    [For my own clarification]

    I’m guessing there should be a “not” in there somewhere.

    Nope. The way cr’s using it’s not synonmous with “praiseworthy”.

    Ah.

    So would your sentence have been better served by adding emphasis? Thus:

    I guess we’d have to ask people if “you are morally responsible for drinking and driving” implies also that “you are morally blameworthy for drinking and driving”.

    (emph mine, here)

  24. 524
    ChasCPeterson

    Y you no grok joke?

    Wasn’t funny?
    I am an asshole?
    one of those.

  25. 525
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Oppenheimer,

    no one is capable of “deserving” anything, good or bad,

    I still think this may be too strong. I agree that no one is capable of deserving anything because they do X rather than not-X.

    But maybe everyone, regardless of what they do, can deserve not to be tortured, for instance. Don’t ask me why — it’s like human rights, or Tinkerbell; it’s real if enough people believe it’s real — but universal-desert is not obviously incoherent in the way that contigent-desert is.

    +++++
    joey,

    Even if the soul is constrained by causality, that doesn’t mean that the soul is deterministic.

    I already said you’re allowed to invoke uncaused causes. You can assume indeterministic souls if you want. Now try to get from there to free will. Show your work.

    +++++
    Owlmirror,

    So would your sentence have been better served by adding emphasis? Thus:

    I guess that works; I don’t see anything wrong with it.

  26. 526
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Sorry, pitbull:

    Your comment makes little to no sense.

    That’s because it should have had a smiley after it. (“quantum fluctuations” are, as I understand it, irrelevant for brain processes; given the number of interactions involved, it’s fully-classical.)

    There’s nothing wrong with what you quoted there. It’s about questions like what is the proximate cause of the decay of a particular nucleus

    Good job we don’t run on that, then. :-)

    I’d disagree that quantum phenomena are uncaused, although I can’t offer much in the way of cause other than “because that’s the way nature is at the quantum level”. But the assertion in which his “uncaused” is incorporated seems reasonable to me.

    I’m an Illusionist, for the record. Just don’t tell anyone. :-)

    (Somewhat ironic, given I spent the day chasing down a Heisenbug.)

  27. 527
    Walton

    I still think this may be too strong. I agree that no one is capable of deserving anything because they do X rather than not-X.

    But maybe everyone, regardless of what they do, can deserve not to be tortured, for instance. Don’t ask me why — it’s like human rights, or Tinkerbell; it’s real if enough people believe it’s real — but universal-desert is not obviously incoherent in the way that contigent-desert is.

    True. I should have been more precise.

  28. 528
    Amphiox

    Amphiox, so are we all completely deterministic automatons?

    I don’t know.

    And I don’t care.

    I do know that we are not completely, absolutely, and without restraint, free. Otherwise I would be teleporting to work right now, instead of getting stuck in traffic.

    So it comes down to, are we completely deterministic automatons, or are we somewhere in between, with some degree of freedom and some degree of constraint.

    If you simply consider the odds, there is only one possible way to be completely and absolutely deterministic, and many different ways and combinations of being partly deterministic and partly free, so if one had to just guess, guess partly free.

    But IF we were completely deterministic, we would not be able to tell the difference, nor would our behavior be any different, since it is already determined.

    For example, if individual A commits a crime, and his behaviors are completely deterministic, then you could say he is not responsible for his crime, morally. However, whether the rest of us will still consider him to be responsible, and punish him for it, will also be completely deterministic, and we can no more choose that than he can choose to commit his crime.

    So, practical speaking, it doesn’t matter one way or the other.

    And if it doesn’t matter one way or another, why bother caring?

  29. 529
    Amphiox

    It ONLY matters if we are NOT completely deterministic, but partially so. THEN, and only then, does knowing how much we are deterministically constrained, and how much we are free, matter, because then and only then are we partially free to act differently depending on what we know.

    Thus:

    I know that I am at least partly constrained.

    I have chosen to act, or believe that I have chosen to act, as if I were not completely constrained, and am partly free and partly responsible.

    If I were completely constrained, I will still act as if I have chosen to act as if I were not completely constrained, and am partly free and responsible, because, if I were fully constrained, I would be constrained to act in no other way.

    Therefore I will continue to act as if I were not completely constrained, and am partly free and partly responsible.

    If an illusion is completely indistinguishable from reality, then there is no reason to differentiate the two.

  30. 530
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Amphiox,

    So, practical speaking, it doesn’t matter one way or the other.

    And if it doesn’t matter one way or another, why bother caring?

    Because, practically speaking, it does matter, for these things for sure and probably this too.

    I have chosen to act, or believe that I have chosen to act, as if I were not completely constrained,

    Actually I’m pretty sure that in practice you’ve chosen the opposite; you may just not realize the implications of acting like you are not constrained (that would mean acting randomly, making you less capable of pursuing your goals).

  31. 531
    strange gods before me ॐ

    cm,

    “quantum fluctuations” are, as I understand it, irrelevant for brain processes; given the number of interactions involved, it’s fully-classical.

    You could be right, but he’s got to foresee and deal with as many likely objections as possible; since people say stuff like this, it makes sense to just allow for that physical possibility and point out that it still won’t provide free will, rather than argue at length about whether it is a physical possibility.

  32. 532
    consciousness razor

    That makes sense in itself, but – for the reasons I gave above – I think the language of moral responsibility is problematic. I don’t think that your definition accords with the way that most people use and understand the term.

    I agree that the typical uses of it are problematic. But there are some aspects of the concept which could be worth saving, if they could be separated from the bullshit about free will and punishment, which I think they can be. Maybe that stuff isn’t really at the core of what the phrase means, in which case it would probably be easier to invent some new terms that don’t carry all the baggage.

  33. 533
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    PSA:

    I should probably also point out that if I post something that comes across as arch, confrontational, or dismissive, y’all should probably assume there’s a smiley at the end of it, unless it involves extreme profanity, bad spelling, or blatant disregard for the rules of grammar, in which case, I’m probably just really pissed off (though that’s not a frequent occurrence).

    /PSA

    [smiley goes here]

  34. 534
    David Marjanović

    I have no choice: I am curious.

    — The Final Word™ in turtle phylogeny?

    I’m working on amphibians; won’t get to work on turtles anytime soon.

    — A gorgonopsid skeleton?

    Heh. No.

    (Tet Zoo inside joke.)

    — A job application for a palaeontology department?

    Not when I’m just half a year into a two-year postdoc.

    I should have booked transportation and accommodation for the conference that will begin today evening (today being Tuesday, June 19th). I have now finally booked all that stuff, as far as the websites let me. (Going to the train station in meatspace didn’t help.) There’s still a train ticket I’ll probably have to buy after my arrival in Spain, because a website refused my credit card (“the owner has not been correctly identified”) even though I had used that same credit card not long before to buy tickets at the same site; trying another card didn’t help, and waiting didn’t help either. Maybe in the morning. :-/

    So, off to bed for a very short night.

    *more hugs for Nightjar*

  35. 535
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Pitbull:

    people say stuff like this

    Combined with an inadvertent mouse-wheel, that landed me at birgerjohansson’s comment about Kryten’s cybernetic penis.

    Maybe the macro-world is random after all. ;-)

  36. 536
    mikmik

    I do not care; I am not Coyne.

    If you don’t have a citation of Coyne claiming that the elimination of belief in “free will” would be a panacea, rather than merely a worthwhile project alongside many other worthwhile projects, then you’re just blowing smoke out your ass.

    Look, where are your citations? I posted the link to rationally speaking and admitted it refute my claims about coyne. Panacea may be strong a word, but he says it is important to discard the notion of free will in order to reform the justice system – not to eliminate retributive punishment, as he says that the impulse in people to deeply – but to separate out those who need treatment.

    Here you go, close enough?

    Some readers at this site have argued that the whole issue is a semantic one, lacking any substantive conclusions or consequences for human behavior. I have always disagreed with that: how we conceive of the source of our actions has enormous consequences for how we punish and reward other people’s actions. (I won’t even mention religion here, for dogmas like Catholicism come crashing down without dualistic free will.) As Sam notes:

    Enormous consequences, my mistake. My comment also came from recollections of other people’s summation of Coyne, but why do you care so much about my one choice of a word, LILAPWL?

    Doing this (mostly manual and time consuming) search, it looks like he has backed off from that radical of a view. However, he says that dropping the concept of free will and inserting something synonymous with determined will a), how we punish and reward the, b), how we treat them(which he has adopted the view a few of us here have declared, that current efforts are doing that already without worrying if our actions have freedom or not, and c), that it will cause the foundation of religion to come crashing down. I will note than in his more recent piece in
    The Chronicles of Higher Education:

    So what are the consequences of realizing that physical determinism negates our ability to choose freely? Well, nihilism is not an option: We humans are so constituted, through evolution or otherwise, to believe that we can choose. What is seriously affected is our idea of moral responsibility, which should be discarded along with the idea of free will. If whether we act well or badly is predetermined rather than a real choice, then there is no moral responsibility—only actions that hurt or help others. That realization shouldn’t seriously change the way we punish or reward people, because we still need to protect society from criminals, and observing punishment or reward can alter the brains of others, acting as a deterrent or stimulus. What we should discard is the idea of punishment as retribution, which rests on the false notion that people can choose to do wrong.

    The absence of real choice also has implications for religion. Many sects of Christianity, for example, grant salvation only to those who freely choose Jesus as their savior. And some theologians explain human evil as an unavoidable byproduct of God’s gift of free will. If free will goes, so do those beliefs. But of course religion won’t relinquish those ideas, for such important dogma is immune to scientific advances.

    Let me tell you something, Life is Like etc., I am not unaware that trying to keep the focus on the opponent and trying to force them on the defensive is another sign of a weakly held position, or an ego defense.

    Looks like you’ve been studying up, eh?

    Show some integrity, not anger.

  37. 537
    mikmik

    Amphiox: If an illusion is completely indistinguishable from reality, then there is no reason to differentiate the two.
    Yes, my actions always correlate with my intentions…sigh, but I’ll add for argument’s sake, for the most part.

    This is the main contention, AFAICT, for positing that it is essentially a moot point that sweeping changes in people’s attitudes in general, for proving determinism, are useless to contemplate, let alone set the groundwork for.

  38. 538
  39. 539
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Maybe it’s a technology problem.

    mikmik, can you discern that this is a link?

  40. 540
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Show some integrity, not anger.

    Hypocrite.

    I win. You have a lovely opinion. Condescension and insults. I am far from the first instance of this, of course. No matter:

    What’s the matter, you can dish it out but you can’t take it?

    This shite about history, and what I mean by free will, and all the bullshit [...] What the fuck does that mean? [...] fuck all. [...] This is pure and unadultered hypocritical bullshit. [...] Tell me, what the fuck does power mean?

    Now I know I’ve talked that way over the course of these arguments before. If you’re frustrated that’s understandable. But I do think it’s a bit unreasonable for you to shoot first and then complain when I’m condescending in return.

  41. 541
    strange gods before me ॐ

    A history of my citations.

    #345: I link to my citations.
    #474: mikmik says something indicatin no awareness of my citations.
    #476: I link to my citations.
    #485: mikmik asks for my citations.
    #486: I link to my citations.
    #488: I link to my citations.
    #497: I link to my citations.
    #530: I link to my citations.
    #536: mikmik asks for my citations.

  42. 542
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    A history of my citations.

    Citation please

  43. 543
    strange gods before me ॐ

    lol

  44. 544
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    What’s the matter, you can dish it out but you can’t take it?

    Content and context aside, I’m thrilled that this is a thread where sg can say that without bullying and (threats of) banning.

    ***

    And, apologies to everyone over the years who urged me to read Ursula K. Le Guin. I took too long. “The Word for World is Forest” was a great story. I am impressed.

  45. 545
    Owlmirror

    Even if the soul is constrained by causality, that doesn’t mean that the soul is deterministic.

    I, too, used to use the term “deterministic” as though it was the opposite of free will. But that doesn’t really make sense.

    Deterministic means that what is described is predictable; it follows known paths due to known — or at least knowable — laws.

    But the opposite of deterministic is nondeterministic — which just means that what is described is not predictable, or does not follow or result from knowable laws.

    Invoking nondeterministic factors may describe aspects of reality at the quantum level, but it certainly does not help get to a coherent concept of a truly “free” will; to the ability to have chosen differently.

    In some ways, the concepts of “random” and of “free will” may have a connection in our minds. The concept of “random” reflects our ignorance of the factors that might be resulting in the event; the concept of “free will” reflects our ignorance of how our own minds work, and what factors might be resulting in our perception of choice.

    So the challenge to you remains: Come up with a coherent concept of “free will”, that doesn’t resort to some sort of compatibilist redefinition that reflects how minds do work (i.e., change as the result of many different factors), as opposed to how they cannot possibly work (deliberately choose differently at the moment of choosing, given the exact same factors, internal and external, leading up to that moment).

  46. 546
    Owlmirror

    @SGBM: Perhaps it would help if you wrote the citations you usually use in a more standard format, with links, and copied that into a text file for easy reuse. Thus:

    Savani,K. et al. The Unanticipated Interpersonal and Societal Consequences of Choice: Victim Blaming and Reduced Support for the Public Good. Psychological Science. June 2011. v 22, n 6. 795-802. DOI: 10.1177/0956797611407928

    Kaye, A. The Secret Politics of the Compatibilist Criminal Law. Kansas Law Review, Vol. 55, p. 365, 2007

    Tygart, C. E. Genetic Causation Attribution and Public Support of Gay Rights. International Journal of Public Opinion Research. (2000) 12 (3): 259-275. DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/12.3.259

  47. 547
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    This seems like the perfect fit for TZT:

    Just in time for the zombie apocalypse, a car to kill the undead.
    http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/06/18/hyundai-developing-zombie-killing-car

    I think I’d drive the ‘Maximum Overdrive’ ZKC (there is something about the front reminds me of that tech gone amok movie)

  48. 548
    joey

    lipstick:

    I already said you’re allowed to invoke uncaused causes. You can assume indeterministic souls if you want. Now try to get from there to free will.

    If by free will you mean that “it is possible to have chosen otherwise”, then why can’t free will be possible in an indeterministic world? What exactly prevents me from saying that it is not impossible for an indeterministic soul to have chosen otherwise?

  49. 549
    joey

    owlmirror:

    Invoking nondeterministic factors may describe aspects of reality at the quantum level, but it certainly does not help get to a coherent concept of a truly “free” will; to the ability to have chosen differently.

    Sure it may not give a coherent concept, but that wasn’t lipstick’s original position. This is what he stated…

    Free will is not possible in any possible world, not even if souls exist, not even dualism is true, not even if God exists.

    Indeed, if God exists, then God does not have free will.

    If you allow for indeterminism, then you can’t say for sure that free will is not possible.

  50. 550
    Ingdigo Jump

    If by free will you mean that “it is possible to have chosen otherwise”, then why can’t free will be possible in an indeterministic world? What exactly prevents me from saying that it is not impossible for an indeterministic soul to have chosen otherwise?

    That pesky time arrow

  51. 551
    Ingdigo Jump

    Btw havn’t read everything is joey now arguing for a soul?

  52. 552
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Btw havn’t read everything is joey now arguing for a soul?

    I told him that for the purposes of this argument about free will, I would grant him a soul for free; he needn’t argue for it.

    +++++

    If you allow for indeterminism, then you can’t say for sure that free will is not possible.

    Yes, you can, by examining what free will could possibly mean. Doing so demonstrates that it isn’t possible in any possible world. I note you still haven’t tried. You want me to do all the work for you. Disappointing, but not unexpected.

    If by free will you mean that “it is possible to have chosen otherwise”, then why can’t free will be possible in an indeterministic world? What exactly prevents me from saying that it is not impossible for an indeterministic soul to have chosen otherwise?

    Because an indeterministic soul must have either

    1) have a will for doing things, in which case you have to deal with this regress, which you cannot deal with — thus it is not freely willed — or

    2) have no will for doing things — thus it is not freely willed.

    Clark is showing you what an indeterministic soul would provide: “imagine that we do indeed have some sort of contra-causal free will, and see if it could improve on the deterministic situation we actually find ourselves in.” Go deal with it, joey. Think it through. If you think he’s wrong, show your work.

  53. 553
    Ingdigo Jump

    I told him that for the purposes of this argument about free will, I would grant him a soul for free; he needn’t argue for it.

    SOrt of missed the point of my question. Has he admited to believing in a soul now? Cause that’s just pathetic in his list of lies if so.

  54. 554
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Has he admited to believing in a soul now?

    Oh. Not explicitly, but I think it’s obvious to everyone that he does.

  55. 555
    Ingdigo Jump

    Joey is there anything you haven’t lied about?

  56. 556
    Walton

    Btw havn’t read everything is joey now arguing for a soul?

    Strictly speaking, no. As I understand him, he’s arguing that, if Cartesian dualism is true and we have souls as well as bodies, then it is possible (though not necessarily true) that we have contra-causal free will; because, if souls exist, they are not physical objects and need not be governed by deterministic physical laws. In other words, if he’s right, those of us who accept materialism are precluded from believing in free will, but those who believe in the supernatural (like, say, a certain traditionalist Catholic I know…) can still find logical room for believing in free will. SGBM disagrees with this, and contends that even if dualism is true and we have souls, it is still logically impossible that we have contra-causal free will.

    I think SGBM’s right, but I’m not certain. Perhaps it’s a meaningless question in the first place: I’m not sure we can define the properties of a “soul” with enough specificity to be able to determine how it would behave if it existed. (Believing in the soul is, as I said earlier, really a cop-out from the task of trying to understand how consciousness works; we can’t figure out how the brain does X, so we posit that X is instead the work of a non-measurable, non-detectable supernatural entity whose properties we can’t understand or define.)

  57. 557
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Owlmirror,

    @SGBM: Perhaps it would help if you wrote the citations you usually use in a more standard format, with links, and copied that into a text file for easy reuse. Thus:

    Ah, you’re too kind. To that we’ll add:

    Rakos, R. F. et al., Belief in free will: measurement and conceptualization innovations. Behavior and Social Issues, 17, 20-39 (2008).

    The reason I link to my previous comments, though, is because in some cases I’ve already excerpted the parts that are most relevant. So if the reader is lazy or short on time, they should be able to everything from, say, this.

  58. 558
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Joey is there anything you haven’t lied about?

    He’s doing pure presuppositional mental wanking. Facts are ignored, as they are inconvenient to his presupposed answers.

  59. 559
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Walton

    My point was Joey presented himself as a pro-choice atheist, so prochoice inf act he thought we should kill babies…then a pro-life atheist….now a pro-life theist. By this trend we will soon discover her is 3 ducks on stilts

  60. 560
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Perhaps it’s a meaningless question in the first place: I’m not sure we can define the properties of a “soul” with enough specificity to be able to determine how it would behave if it existed.

    As far as I’m concerned, folks can assume all the properties of a soul that they can dredge up from naive psychology, folk religion or formal theology. None of it will do a damn bit of good. The best they’ll ever be able to do is argue a tautology: the soul has “free will” because some dogma declares that the soul has “free will”. Upon any further examination, they’ll never be able to explain how this “free will” could constitute any kind of will at all. Clark has already shown what it means if we assume that contra-causal free will does exist — it can’t do anything at all; it’s dead weight, vestigial sophistry.

  61. 561
    strange gods before me ॐ

    The only reason I specified that the soul should not violate causality is that otherwise the discussion becomes exceedingly complicated — and typical beliefs about the soul do not have it violating causality.

    But even if we drop this requirement — as perhaps we should do for God — it still won’t help. If a spirit in the future acts upon the past, the spirit still must either have some motive for doing so (and whence that motive? from further in the future? okay, but then whence that motive?), or it has no motive in which case it is not acting from will.

  62. 562
    mikmik

    Okay, I’m only up to comment #38

    life is like a pitbull with lipstick ?
    18 June 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Look, where are your citations?

    Okay, does anybody else get the impression yet that mikmik is being dishonest?

    No, not me! I’m not going soap opera here, so feel free to state your opinion directly. I admitted Coyne did not use the word panacea, and I stated where that idea may have come from.

    First link back,

    I do not care; I am not Coyne.
    If you don’t have a citation of Coyne claiming that the elimination of belief in “free will” would be a panacea, rather than merely a worthwhile project alongside many other worthwhile projects, then you’re just blowing smoke out your ass.

    Funny, if you don’t care, you sure acted like you did, by asking me for citation(s). If that’s not a mixed message, please explain.
    Then this:

    life is like a pitbull with lipstick ?
    18 June 2012 at 11:09 am

    Now I’ll ask for a citation, that there are relevant effects.

    Holy fuck I just linked one for you.

    to this:

    life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says:


    18 June 2012 at 10:27 am

    It amounts to a pipe dream if anyone thinks attitudes will significantly change regarding free will, and to a lesser extent, morality and ethics.

    You think that because you don’t look at the evidence.

    It drives me nuts when people like Jerry Coyne, and the like, see disproving free will as a panacea curing people of their religion, and solving questions of morality and our legal system.

    Does Coyne actually treat it like a panacea? Can you cite that claim? I doubt it.
    The effect sizes are not huge, so it’s not a panacea, but the effects do exist and are worth pursuing.

    to ->

    ahs ?
    4 December 2011 at 3:16 pm

    My interest in this argument is largely driven by the fact that 1/100 of US adults are subjects of the prison industry. I am thus primarily interested in how attitudes about and around “free will” affect people’s attitudes toward punishment.

    I’ll summarize what I’ve found relevant from Belief in Free Will: Measurement and Conceptualization Innovations(http://ojphi.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/bsi/article/viewFile/1929/2008) by Richard F. Rakos, Kimberly R. Steyer, Sarah Skala, and Stephen Slane, 2008.

    They describe their tests:

    And this pdf explains – what. I did not see anything regarding the willingness or even capability, of people in society as a whole, to alter their understanding of morality, which is one of my original contentions.

    For the record, yes, I missed that so called citation, Pit Bull, but still, it does not support your contention that it is necessary to convince people of their lack of free will.

    Also, a link to one article/paper does not connote any sort of a final decision on the matter, because there is research that shows people behave more immorally if they are induced to think that they don’t have free will!

    I have to go. Am I being dishonest? Well, Pit Bull, just say why you thinks so instead of sending me on a treasure hunt that is not a treasure, but a travesty.

    Fuck, I’m right in the middle. I’ve pointed to what I see you doing, go read Schrodinger’s 38.

  63. 563
    strange gods before me ॐ

    mikmik, you’re being very dishonest.

  64. 564
    Owlmirror
    Invoking nondeterministic factors may describe aspects of reality at the quantum level, but it certainly does not help get to a coherent concept of a truly “free” will; to the ability to have chosen differently.

    Sure it may not give a coherent concept

    Then I’ll reword and strengthen my statement:

    Invoking nondeterministic factors may describe aspects of reality at the quantum level, but it certainly does not help get to a logically possible concept of a truly “free” will; to the ability to have chosen differently.

    If you allow for indeterminism, then you can’t say for sure that free will is not possible.

    Actually, I can. As I pointed out, indeterminism just means that some aspects of human actions aren’t predictable. But unpredicted or random is not the same as freely willed.

    Think about it carefully: There’s essentially a coin flip or die toss (or multiple coin flips or die tosses) happening at a level that is inaccessible to the one perceiving the choice. There’s certainly no control or awareness over making those coin flips or die tosses, let alone over their outcomes. And it actually wouldn’t help if there were any such awareness or control.

    Indeterminism means that it’s logically possible for a different choice to be made, everything else being apparently equal — but that is not an ability to freely choose differently. It’s the chooser having the choice influenced by unknown randomness.

    So there’s still no free will possible.

  65. 565
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Some easy dishonesties to get out of the way:

    but still, it does not support your contention that it is necessary to convince people of their lack of free will.

    I made no such contention.

    Also, a link to one article/paper does not connote any sort of a final decision on the matter

    I made no such claim.

    because there is research that shows people behave more immorally if they are induced to think that they don’t have free will!

    I have not disputed this — however, it is only shown to occur when people are simply told that they do not have free will, but they are not simultaneously exposed to anti-fatalist arguments of the sort I have been promoting here.

    And if you’re aware of this research then you can’t coherently hold that belief or disbelief in free will doesn’t affect anyone’s morality.

    I have to go. Am I being dishonest? Well, Pit Bull, just say why you thinks so

    I did! “Holy fuck I just linked one for you.” You responded to that comment and still acted like I had provided no citations. So yeah, I thought you were been being dishonest. And I still think so.

  66. 566
    strange gods before me ॐ

    mikmik,

    And this pdf explains – what. I did not see anything regarding the willingness or even capability, of people in society as a whole, to alter their understanding of morality, which is one of my original contentions.

    Here’s what you wrote:

    Ing, I agree with very much. I’m not sure what depity means, but it’s always seemed to me that the sense of free-will is universal and something that won’t change.
    This is the kind of belief, based on subjective empirical evidence, and inter-subjective agreement, has almost zero chance of ever changing. Look at religious belief, and the logical and scientific evidence is virtually irrefutable, yet the effect is has on numbers is not very much, if at all.

    The religious conspiracy theories that claim science has an agenda, and is out to poison religion etc. etc. and the sheer magnitude of people that just don’t have the skills to understand what is in fact very concrete evidence, results in large amounts of disinformation that the religious see as verification for their god beliefs, and ignorance of rational explanations.

    Also, I think that vengeance and retribution are innate impulses, to varying degrees, and there are, it seems to me, evolutionary reasons for this.

    It amounts to a pipe dream if anyone thinks attitudes will significantly change regarding free will, and to a lesser extent, morality and ethics.

    We are already doing just fine as far as research goes, in direction, and neuro-psychiatry and experimental psychology are teaching us to understand how nurture and nature shape us and provide more appropriate ways of dealing with, and treating, dysfunction.

    Free-will is a moot point, especially at our level of understanding, philosophically and scientifically, right now. It drives me nuts when people like Jerry Coyne, and the like, see disproving free will as a panacea curing people of their religion, and solving questions of morality and our legal system.

    And here’s how I took issue with what you wrote:

    [mm:] It amounts to a pipe dream if anyone thinks attitudes will significantly change regarding free will, and to a lesser extent, morality and ethics.

    [ॐ:] You think that because you don’t look at the evidence.

    [mm:] It drives me nuts when people like Jerry Coyne, and the like, see disproving free will as a panacea curing people of their religion, and solving questions of morality and our legal system.

    [ॐ:] Does Coyne actually treat it like a panacea? Can you cite that claim? I doubt it.

    The effect sizes are not huge, so it’s not a panacea, but the effects do exist and are worth pursuing.

    I point out that attitudes can change regarding free will. The Rakos paper demonstrates this:

    For high school students, beliefs in free will and in general will were significantly correlated with a view of punishment as retribution, r = .28 (73), p<.011, r = .36 (83), p<.002, respectively. For college students, belief in free will correlated positively with all three attitudes toward punishment: deterrence, rehabilitation, and retribution, r = 0.35 (83), p<.001; r = .32 (83), p<.003; r = 0.33 (83), p<.002, respectively. Personal will was significantly positively correlated with rehabilitative attitudes towards punishment (r = .28 (84), p<.009), while general will was associated with views of punishment as rehabilitation, deterrence, and retribution, r = .30 (83), p<0.005; r = .40 (83), p<.001; r = 0.39 (83), p<.001, respectively. [...]

    [A]n adolescent’s strong sense of free will may also be less complex than an adult’s. For instance, adolescents who strongly endorse free will tend to view punishment in terms of retribution, while adults with a similar sense of free will incorporate a multidimensional perspective on punishment – recognizing it can serve the purposes of retribution, rehabilitation, and deterrence. Where adolescents see only accountability for moral blameworthiness, adults may also perceive opportunities to change or prevent blameworthy behavior.

    That is a change in attitudes about free will which is already typically occurring. Why does it occur that way? Probably due to exposure to different ideas in the culture the person grows up in. It is spectacularly unlikely that most humans, regardless of social context, whether they grew up under the Shang dynasty or the Bush dynasty, innately develop correlates between belief in free will and belief in rehabilitation, for instance.

    Now, is it your contention that it is not worth trying to change that social context? That seems to be what you’re implying, by this comparison:

    Look at religious belief, and the logical and scientific evidence is virtually irrefutable, yet the effect is has on numbers is not very much, if at all.

    But then if we take your counsel of despair seriously, we should not bother trying to reduce religious belief. And I know that’s an easy way to think; I’ve thought that same way at times. But it’s probably the wrong way to think.

  67. 567
    strange gods before me ॐ

    there is research that shows people behave more immorally if they are induced to think that they don’t have free will!

    The usual reference for this is Vohs and Schooler, “The Value of Believing in Free Will: Encouraging a Belief in Determinism Increases Cheating”, doi 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02045.x (here’s one source for the PDF; here’s another; they should be the same).

    Experiment 1 [...] Procedure

    Participants came to the lab individually. First, according to the condition to which they were randomly assigned, they read one of two passages from The Astonishing Hypothesis, a book written by Francis Crick (1994), the Nobel-prize-winning scientist. In the anti-free-will condition, participants read statements claiming that rational, high-minded people—including, according to Crick, most scientists—now recognize that actual free will is an illusion, and also claiming that the idea of free will is a side effect of the architecture of the mind. In the control condition, participants read a passage from a chapter on consciousness, which did not discuss free will. After reading their assigned material, participants completed the Free Will and Determinism scale (FWD; Paulhus & Margesson, 1994) and the Positive and Negative Affectivity Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988), which we used to assess whether the reading manipulation affected their beliefs and mood.

    Subsequently, participants were given a computer-based mental-arithmetic task (von Hippel, Lakin, & Shakarchi, 2005) in which they were asked to calculate the answers to 20 problems (e.g., 1 + 8 + 18 — 12 + 19 — 7 + 17 — 2 + 8 — 4 = ?), presented individually. They were told that the computer had a programming glitch and the correct answer would appear on the screen while they were attempting to solve each problem, but that they could stop the answer from being displayed by pressing the space bar after the problem appeared. Furthermore, participants were told that although the experimenter would not know whether they had pressed the space bar, they should try to solve the problems honestly, on their own. In actuality, the computer had been rigged not only to show the answers, but also to record the number of space-bar presses. The dependent measure of cheating was the number of times participants pressed the space bar to prevent the answer from appearing. Afterward, participants were debriefed and thanked for their participation.

    They don’t mention what exactly the passages from Crick are, but it’s a good bet that they’re the same ones used by Rigoni et al., “Inducing Disbelief in Free Will Alters Brain Correlates of Preconscious Motor Preparation: The Brain Minds Whether We Believe in Free Will or Not”, doi 10.1177/0956797611405680 (PDF here, and this Google Cache might work for a while).

    The Rigoni team’s wording suggests to me that they are using the very same excerpt:

    The no-free-will group read a text claiming that scientists now recognize that free will is an illusion; the control group read a text on consciousness that did not mention free will at all. This procedure has been shown to affect people’s belief about free will (Vohs & Schooler, 2008).

    The Crick excerpt is in Rigoni’s supplemental material:

    Francis Crick is the British physicist and biochemist who collaborated with James D. Watson in the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA, for which they received the Nobel Prize in 1962. He is the author of What Mad Pursuit, Life Itself, and Of Molecules and Men. Dr. Crick lectures widely all over the world to both professional and lay audiences, and is a Distinguished Research Professor at The Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA. Dr. Crick’s essay (below) comes from The Astonishing Hypothesis.

    “You,” your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons. Most religions hold that some kind of spirit exists that persists after one’s bodily death and, to some degree, embodies the essence of that human being. Religions may not have all the same beliefs, but they do have a broad agreement that people have souls.

    Yet the common belief of today has a totally different view. It is inclined to believe that the idea of a soul, distinct from the body and not subject to our known scientific laws, is a myth. It is quite understandable how this myth arose without today’s scientific knowledge of nature of matter and radiation, and of biological evolution. Such myths, of having a soul, seem only too plausible. For example, four thousand years ago almost everyone believed the earth was flat. Only with modern science has it occurred to us that in fact the earth is round.

    From modern science we now know that all living things, from bacteria to ourselves, are closely related at the biochemical level. We now know that many species of plants and animals have evolved over time. We can watch the basic processes of evolution happening today, both in the field and in our test tubes and therefore, there is no need for the religious concept of a soul to explain the behavior of humans and other animals. In addition to scientists, many educated people also share the belief that the soul is a metaphor and that there is no personal life either before conception or after death.

    Most people take free will for granted, since they feel that usually they are free to act as they please. Three assumptions can be made about free will. The first assumption is that part of one’s brain is concerned with making plans for future actions, without necessarily carrying them out. The second assumption is that one is not conscious of the “computations” done by this part of the brain but only of the “decisions” it makes – that is, its plans, depending of course on its current inputs from other parts of the brain. The third assumption is that the decision to act on one’s plan or another is also subject to the same limitations in that one has immediate recall of what is decided, but not of the computations that went into the decision.

    So, although we appear to have free will, in fact, our choices have already been predetermined for us and we cannot change that. The actual cause of the decision may be clear cut or it may be determined by chaos, that is, a very small perturbation may make a big difference to the end result. This would give the appearance of the Will being “free” since it would make the outcome essentially unpredictable. Of course, conscious activities may also influence the decision mechanism.

    One’s self can attempt to explain why it made a certain choice. Sometimes we may reach the correct conclusion. At other times, we will either not know or, more likely, will confabulate, because there is no conscious knowledge of the ‘reason’ for the choice. This implies that there must be a mechanism for confabulation, meaning that given a certain amount of evidence, which may or may not be misleading, part of the brain will jump to the simplest conclusion.

    I gotta take a break; when I come back I’ll explain what’s wrong with all this — spoiler: Crick evidently assumes that compatibilism accurately defines free will, and so, Libet-style, he attacks conscious planning, but this stuff is hardly relevant to standard free will; indeed all this neuroscience talk may be relevant if one assumes compatibilist free will is the correct approach, but it makes anti-fatalist argumentation much more complicated, unnecessarily complicated, since we hard in/determinist anti-fatalists can just as well talk about a mostly preconscious pursuit of one’s goals and morals — and then I’ll address Vohs and Schooler’s second experiment as well.

  68. 568
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Only with modern science has it occurred to us that in fact the earth is round.

    *grrrrr*

    [smiley, obviously]

  69. 569
    strange gods before me ॐ

    *grrrrr*

    Yeah, that seems a bit lazy of Crick. :-\

    +++++
    ‘Scuse me while I perfect these bits for the next time I have to cut & paste them:

    Subsequently, participants were given a computer-based mental-arithmetic task (von Hippel, Lakin, & Shakarchi, 2005) in which they were asked to calculate the answers to 20 problems (e.g., 1 + 8 + 18 – 12 + 19 – 7 + 17 – 2 + 8 – 4 = ?),

    Francis Crick is the British physicist and biochemist who collaborated with James D. Watson in the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA, for which they received the Nobel Prize in 1962. He is the author of What Mad Pursuit, Life Itself, and Of Molecules and Men. Dr. Crick lectures widely all over the world to both professional and lay audiences, and is a Distinguished Research Professor at The Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA. Dr. Crick’s essay (below) comes from The Astonishing Hypothesis.

  70. 570
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Diet Pepsi

    The new Kool Aid?

    @ chigau

    Get well!

  71. 571
    chigau (違う)

    *cough*
    *cough*
    *cough*
    I’m trying.

  72. 572
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ chigau

    *hugz* and a hot lemon & honey (with a wee dram – if that strikes your fancy) from sunny Haerbin.

  73. 573
  74. 574
    mikmik

    http://en.scientificcommons.org/49038263
    Abstract
    Though the existence of free will seems to be a background assumption in Western life, very little research has examined the belief, and the handful of studies that have done so suggest only a modest endorsement and unclear relationships to other variables. However, methodological flaws in the earlier studies likely produced an underestimation of the strength of the belief among the general population. The current study developed and then administered a new measure of belief in free will to samples of senior high school and college students under conditions where demand characteristics were controlled. Both age groups endorsed the belief in free will to a much stronger extent than seen in previous research. Further, adults associated belief in free will with three purposes of punishment (rehabilitation, retribution, and deterrence) but adolescents only related the belief to retribution. Adults produced a negative correlation between the belief in free will and locus of control whereas adolescents evidenced no association between the variables. Both age groups demonstrated significant correlations between the belief and self-esteem. Finally, adolescents evidenced no correlation between the belief and religious conviction while adults produced a negative correlation between the two variables. In addition, the new free will instrument demonstrated extraordinary factor consistency between both samples. The results are discussed in the context of competing behavior analytic views regarding the origin of the belief in free will (cultural conditioning versus evolutionary adaptation) and the implications the origin has for progressive social and cultural change.

    http://www.psych-it.com.au/Psychlopedia/article.asp?id=418
    Overview

    Some individuals believe that human behavior is determined by genes, luck, family background, and the environment. They feel that both they, and other people, cannot control their own lives and destiny. Other people, in contrast, believe that humans can control their lives and destiny, called the belief in free will. According to Rigoni, Kuhn, Sartori, and Brass (2011), belief in free will is similar to self efficacy, but includes more metaphysical beliefs about the causes of behavior, such as assumptions about genes, fate, and the environment.

    According to several studies, this belief in free will increase the tendency of individuals to devote effort into their activities and thus override their natural inclinations or impulses (see self control). For example, when individuals believe in free will, they become more likely to act altruistically and less inclined to act aggressively (Baumeister, Masicampo, & DeWall, 2009).

    Learning from traumas and challenges

    The extent to which individuals believe in free will–that is, the degree to which they believe they can override genetic and environmental factors–also enhances the positive effect of negative emotions on learning. Specifically, according to indirect causation theory (Baumeister, Vohs, DeWall, & Zhang, 2007), emotions evoke specific cognitions, which in turn affect behaviour. Specifically, negative emotions tend to foster reflection. To illustrate, after individuals experience guilt, they contemplate the incident, resolving to behave more sensitively in the future. After individuals experience sadness, they reflect upon alternatives that could have unfolded (Johnson-Laird & Oatley, 2000), called counterfactual thinking, to uncover more effective courses of action. Thus, negative states facilitate learning.

    Nevertheless, according to Stillman and Baumeister (2010), if belief in a free will is diminished, negative emotions are not as likely to translate into learning. That is, some individuals assume their actions are governed by genetics, fate, experience, or other sources that preclude choice and autonomy. Hence, they do not feel they can readily control their status or success. They do not feel that personal reflection and contemplation will significantly impinge on their fate and curb negative emotions. To conserve mental energy, these individuals do not reflect upon their lives comprehensively and thoughtfully. In these individuals, therefore, negative emotions might not foster insight and reflection.

    Stillman and Baumeister (2010) conducted three studies to assess this proposition. In one study, some participants pondered a series of statements that reinforce the possibility of free will, such as “I am able to override the genetic and environmental factors that sometimes influence my behavior”. Other participants pondered a series of statements that, instead, reinforce the possibility of determinism, including “A belief in free will contradicts the known fact that the universe is governed by lawful principles of science”. Next, participants contemplated an event in their life that provoked guilt. They also rated the intensity of this guilt. Finally, the extent to which they felt they learned from the event was assessed.

    In general, the intensity of guilt was associated with the perception they learned from the event. Nevertheless, if individuals had read statements that reinforce determinism instead of free will, this association diminished. Guilt did not often translate into learning.

    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110831/full/477023a.html
    The trouble is, most current philosophers don’t think about free will like that, says Mele. Many are materialists — believing that everything has a physical basis, and decisions and actions come from brain activity. So scientists are weighing in on a notion that philosophers consider irrelevant.
    Nowadays, says Mele, the majority of philosophers are comfortable with the idea that people can make rational decisions in a deterministic universe. They debate the interplay between freedom and determinism — the theory that everything is predestined, either by fate or by physical laws — but Roskies says that results from neuroscience can’t yet settle that debate. They may speak to the predictability of actions, but not to the issue of determinism.

    Neuroscientists also sometimes have misconceptions about their own field, says Michael Gazzaniga, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In particular, scientists tend to see preparatory brain activity as proceeding stepwise, one bit at a time, to a final decision. He suggests that researchers should instead think of processes working in parallel, in a complex network with interactions happening continually. The time at which one becomes aware of a decision is thus not as important as some have thought.

    Here is the most relevant to the Crick study
    ([PDF]
    9 The Hazards of Claiming to Have Solved the Hard Problem of Free …
    www2.psych.ubc.ca/~azim/shariffschoolervohs.pdf
    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
    by AF Shariff – Cited by 15 – Related articles):

    The Hazards of Claiming
    to Have Solved the Hard
    Problem of Free Will

    are we free?
    Up in the ivory heights, the free will debate has been raging for centuries—first
    in philosophy, and more recently, and perhaps more fiercely, in the brain sciences.
    It has been a divisive argument between the allegedly naïve position that
    people
    are in conscious control of their actions and the counterintuitive position
    that this experience of free will is illusory and people are automatons being
    pushed
    around by the compendium of known forces in a physical world.
    For all the ostensible importance of such a question, the debate has had
    little to no impact outside of academia. For most people, the apparent volition
    behind their own behavior is satisfactory. What people want to happen, hap-
    pens, and people generally assume that their conscious responses caused the
    outcome (Wegner, 2005). The rejoinder espoused by many scientists is that
    the connection between volition and action is merely correlational, and not
    causational. But this is held by many to be a purely academic argument that is
    at best beside the point and at worst absurd. Meanwhile, many philosophers of
    free will are satisfied with the compatibilist understanding that any type of free
    will worth wanting, such as freedom from coercion, compulsion, and political
    oppression, is unthreatened by scientific findings (Dennett, 2003). Although
    from time to time, people have wondered about whether this academic debate
    might have repercussions for the lay public (Breer, 1989; Skinner, 1971), such
    musings have been largely speculative, as no empirical evidence one way or the
    other has been brought to bear on the issue.

    A recent set of studies, reviewed below, provides preliminary evidence that
    exposure to academic claims regarding the absence of free will can have an impact
    on moral
    action (Vohs
    & Schooler,
    2006).
    Having
    one’s
    traditional
    understanding
    of free will disturbed by the determinist argument seems to encourage a form of moral laxity.
    **Contrary to the view that discussions of free will are
    largely academic, this work suggests that the belief in free will, be it justified or
    mistaken, affects behavior.
    Although
    it may be true that free will is an impotent
    epiphenomenon,
    the belief in free will can have
    real and potent consequences.

    Should
    the illusory free will position advanced
    in academic circles enjoy popular
    support among the lay public,
    it may be accompanied by larger social implications.
    The
    message that there is no free will may go from being understood
    as
    “nothing
    is controllable”
    to “everything
    is permitted.”
    Again,
    regardless of the
    actual
    status of free will,
    a scientifically backed repudiation of it may encourage

    debauched
    behavior.
    Put simply, the question of free will matters. And it matters not only to
    scientists in labs and philosophers in armchairs, but to the way that people
    live their lives. In a free society, neither scientists nor philosophers should be
    asked to suppress their views for fear of the possible social ramifications that
    the expression of such views might have. Nevertheless, if science is to be used
    as foundation upon which to promote claims that may have social impact, then
    the soundness of those claims deserves particular scrutiny. In this chapter, we
    consider the question of whether science has reached the point at which the
    3070-069-009.indd 1823070-069-009.indd 182 11/16/2007 4:36:49 PM11/16/2007 4:36:49 PM
    claiming to solve the problem of free will 183
    notion of free will must be dismissed, as some authors have argued (e.g., Crick,
    1994; Pinker, 2002). Drawing on parallels between the challenges of conceptualizing
    free will and challenges in resolving the “hard
    problem”
    versus easy
    problems
    of consciousness (Chalmers,
    1995),
    we argue that there exist two
    general
    classes of problems associated with the question of free will.
    The
    easy
    problems
    are those that have
    recently been posed within psychology—issues of
    automaticity,
    timing and backward
    referral,
    the neural
    systems involved,
    and so
    forth.
    These
    problems (reviewed in depth below) are by no means trivial,
    but
    they
    are akin to the easy problems of consciousness,
    which is to say that they are
    problems that can conceivably be solved using methods that are currently at the
    disposal of the scientific community. The hard problem of free will is different.
    Intricately related to the hard problem of consciousness, the hard problem of
    free will represents the core problem of conscious free will: Does conscious volition
    impact the material world? In other words,
    can phenomenal experiences
    translate
    into a physical events? And
    if so,
    how?

    ** I stand corrected, somewhat
    – - -
    Look, I used to lean towards hard determinism, but by the time of the article here on Pharyngula in December, I think that’s when I realized that the determinist position was unwieldy.

    I find the view that our so called illusory perception of free will being due to cultural influences laughable and very Lamarckian.

    I am sorry for the long post due to my quoting of these papers, but I think it is important to dispel the notion that a society wide education(against free will) will have significant impact, let alone a positive one, and studies that show that people can be swayed into acting on the belief that free will doesn’t exist to be preliminary, and not translatable to real world environments.

    Again, sorry, but I get little time some days to be able to devote proper attention here. One more thing, 2008 paper has been cited five times in related articles, to my knowledge:

    Belief in Free Will: Measurement and Conceptualization Innovations
    en.scientificcommons.org/49038263 – United States
    by RF Rakos – 2008 – Cited by 5 – Related articles
    11 Jul 2008 – Belief in Free Will: Measurement and Conceptualization Innovations (2008). Richard F. Rakos; Cleveland State University,; Kimberly R. Steyer; …

  75. 575
    John Morales

    Free will discussions bore me.

  76. 576
    mikmik

    Okay, that’ll be enough out of me.
    Recruitment, that’s the ticket :)

  77. 577
    mikmik

    LILAPWL, thank you. Don’t know if I was clear, but I do stand corrected. You learned me!

    [/closed loose ends]

  78. 578
    mikmik

    Well, God sense is associated with brain damage, God damn it!

    In the most recent study, Johnstone studied 20 people with traumatic brain injuries affecting the right parietal lobe, the area of the brain situated a few inches above the right ear. He surveyed participants on characteristics of spirituality, such as how close they felt to a higher power and if they felt their lives were part of a divine plan. He found that the participants with more significant injury to their right parietal lobe showed an increased feeling of closeness to a higher power.

    Traumatic injury!
    This is going into the database.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm

  79. 579
    chigau (違う)

    Wasn’t joey in on this free-will discussion earlier?
    Did he chicken out?

  80. 580
    Owlmirror

    Wasn’t joey in on this free-will discussion earlier?

    You mean, yesterday? And the day before that?

    He hasn’t been paricularly verbose, but he’s been here.

    Did he chicken out?

    He may be processing the arguments.

    Or he may be not be free to do as he wills.

  81. 581
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ John Morales

    Free will discussions bore me.

    Should we rather discuss a rat in a cage? Does it have a free will?

    @ Chigau

    Has your coughing stopped? More hot toddies may be called for.

  82. 582
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    My student just defended the fuck out out of his thesis. Now we drink.

    Or, after dinner at the Olive Garden. Which will include some drinks. Then, drinking for real.

    Then we break stuff.

    YAWP!

  83. 583
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    dinner at the Olive Garden

    If he did well, why are you punishing him? ;)

    (Congratulations to you both!)

  84. 584
    mikmik

    If he did well, why are you punishing him? ;)
    Not only that, but he’s paying, too!

  85. 585
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I mentioned earlier that I was writing a post about why psychiatry should be a focus for skeptics and social justice advocates. Here it is.

    And here are the reading suggestions (I’ll have to add more focusing on social justice).

  86. 586
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    And damn you, Bill Dauphin, for taking a break! I want to talk about Amelia’s solo.

  87. 587
    A. R

    theophontes & chigau: It was 35 degrees C here today.

  88. 588
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    SC: Heh. Huntsville, TX…choices are limited. Thanks. I’m very happy.

  89. 589
    Dhorvath, OM

    SC, thanks for the heads up. I look forwards to seeing what you have to say.

  90. 590
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    AE, you should be very proud.

    Thanks, Dhorvath.

  91. 591
    Raskolnikov

    Kind of a general comment regarding the whole, philosophical zombie thing:

    To me it seems like it’s actually a pretty good intuition pump, as it actually seems odd as to why we don’t actually have “zombies”. Not the lazy-ass kind that is generally defined, that type of zombie tends to end up being incoherent. I mean a zombie that acts just like everyone else is but lacks, I don’t know, some kind of conscious machinery or something seems fundamentally confused about what it would mean to be just like any other human being. But the more interesting thing about the idea of a philosophical zombie seems more related to a person that is exactly like any other individual (and when I say exactly that’s precisely what I mean; I mean your average, sunset-loving, random thought uttering, stream-of-consciousness having individual) except for the fact that they lack, I don’t know how you would describe it. I suppose you could call it qualia but that’s not really what I’m getting at, it’s more that they don’t have a “feeling” of existence.

    To try an explain that a bit better; I don’t mean that they lack the ability to differentiate between emotions or feelings, or that they can’t have, as I said, a stream-of-consciousness, or random thoughts or anything like that, it’s just that, they are what you would expect if you were an alien and had a biological organism like a human explained to you in a biology class at Mars U. If you were to learn about the human mind as a pure determinist (and an alien) you might marvel at its complexity etc etc but it’s unlikely that you would actually think that it feels like something to be that organism. It wouldn’t occur because it would seem like an unnecessary appendage to the neurophysiological construct; that things feel like something is not necessary for the existence that we have now. It often seems like the subjective experience adds a vital something to being human but that necessarily can’t be the case; every subjective feeling, every thought, every consideration, every feeling that we have is a by-product of a neural correlate of that difference; things do not feel different because we can feel they are different, they are different because the brain encodes them differently; we don’t have random thoughts, or considerations that drive our actions (well, technically we do because, after all, we are our brains, but I mean more of the ‘we’ as is normally thought of, as some ephemeral figure sitting in the Cartesian theatre) these considerations are brain states, the actions they drive are neuronal responses to other neural information. But if this is the case (and of course you may very well dispute this is the case), then the extra-bit that we call the feeling of what its like (that’s a terribly inadequate description but I hope its clear what I mean, if not I shall try to clarify later) seems…unnecessary. It seems difficult to actually consider what this subjective, passive by-product of brain processing could add, although this is just my thinking, hence the posting here, it would be good to hear what other people think of this. I suppose that kind of explains why I find the zombie idea interesting; by any normal measure we could think of this kind of zombie would be exactly the same, as they would after all be composed of the same brains as us (and it obviously might be that the – fuck I really can’t think of what to call this whole, subjective conscious experience thing without making it sound like I’m trying to describe something that would lack the actual centralised, conscious processing that is necessary, I’m not – subjective…something something…experience is a necessary by-product of the brains that we have but that just raises more questions) but they would actually be more as you would expect from a biologically assembled organism.

  92. 592
    Dhorvath, OM

    Raskolnikov,
    How does your zombie stay aware of everything around them, have feelings about those things, and yet not have a feeling of self? I am perplexed by this description. Are we not part of the environment we experience?

  93. 593
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    A zombie is just the opposite of a ghost.

    Ghost: Disembodied spirit
    Zombie: Disenspirited body

    When Zombies and Ghosts collide they annhilate each other, emitting one person.

    This is Scientology in a nutshell.

  94. 594
    Owlmirror

    A zombie is just the opposite of a ghost.

    Ghost: Disembodied spirit
    Zombie: Disenspirited body

    When Zombies and Ghosts collide they annhilate each other, emitting one person.

    Mark 1:10

    Philosophical Zombie Jesus!

    (According to Google, I am the first to ever use this exact phrase. Tangentially, I did find this P-zombie slayer.)

    This in turn insipred me to invent what might well be the first new heresy since… hm, “Sedevacantism” is classed as a heresy? I suppose it must be, although I note no official condemnation. Is zombie-Jesusism an actual heresy? It’s probably just a blasphemy.

    Anyway, my heresy (which is mine, and which belongs to me) is that before Jesus, everyone was a P-zombie. The Holy Spirit turned him into the first person who actually felt experiences. The suffering on the cross was not just the physical torture, but the spirit going out from Jesus and turning every single human on the planet into real people as well. The resurrection was the spirit returning to Jesus to animate him before ascending again not long after.

    Grrrr! Arrrgh! Glory Halleluia, Amen!

  95. 595
    Raskolnikov

    @Dhorvath, OM

    How does your zombie stay aware of everything around them, have feelings about those things, and yet not have a feeling of self? I am perplexed by this description. Are we not part of the environment we experience?

    Damn; I knew I’d have a hard time explaining what I mean, it’s understandable since I only kinda grasp what I’m saying but I’ll try and be a bit clearer. I’m not saying they wouldn’t have a self, I’m saying more that their feelings (i.e. the brain states that correlate to what we could feelings) wouldn’t actually “feel” like anything. Feelings in the brain don’t actually feel like anything and they don’t have to, it’s enough that the brain knows that they are different (in fact this is vital, if the brain did not know they were different they would not feel different) and other parts of the brain react accordingly. Which is how you would expect a mechanical brain to act. I know that we have a feeling of self, but unless you postulate that we have one that is independent of the brain, the actual having of the feeling is unnecessary, a mechanistic brain does not need to have the feeling of self, it only needs to have the brain states that would produce, in you, I, and others, the feeling of self you talk about. That’s kind of what I’m confused about, since we have observed that all aspects of us, as individuals, must come from the brain, we must have brain states that correlate with every aspect of our existence, and the feeling of these brain states cannot influence them in anyway, for if it did, that influence would have its own brain state; i.e. it seems that, since all that a human being is, and could be, is controlled and explained by the brain, why the extra stuff? Why does an emotion feel like something, it doesn’t need to, neurons don’t rely on how strong an emotion is felt to react to it, they react to the strength of a different neural signal. The feeling of self you describe seems to be an unnecessary appendage precisely because your brain is acting out the neural equivalent of it; the feeling does not add anything because it by necessity it cannot, without introducing action that is outside of the brain. That’s kind of why I included that whole alien studying at Mars U part. If you were an alien with a biology completely different to our own, and you were studying your human sample, and you knew how every process was achieved, you could point to models of different brain activity and state “this was what they used to process information and relate it to other learned information” or anything like that, you would not feel it necessary to postulate that it actually felt like anything to have these brain states, all the work that feelings, and self and everything else is already done in the brain, so why would you conclude that there is some extra, passive, feeling of the brain states that cannot, by necessity, actually add anything to them?

    ++++++++

    Just a random comment to lighten the smell of brain fart in here: LILAPWL, if you had actually kept your name as a shorter part of that biblical passage (the “thou shalt not have strange gods before me” line) it would actually seem like god was not only predicting you, but warning his followers not to follow you as some kind of deity ahead of him. That’s to say, if you had just called yourself “strangegods”, then; “thou shalt not have strange gods before me” would suggest god was fearful of your rise to godhood as some kind of Baal like figure. But anyway.

  96. 596
    strange gods before me ॐ

    To me it has more amusing connotations as is.

  97. 597
    Raskolnikov

    Ahh. Do I lose points for not being able to figure out what said connotations are?

  98. 598
    strange gods before me ॐ

    No, they’re not straightforward. You might have to smoke some weed.

    Probably the main reason a lot of people just call me strange gods is that it’s shorter, but the longer version is also more difficult to parse. There’s the grammatical difficulty that it includes the word me, which makes starting a comment with “strange gods before me, I disagree with X” feel clumsy. Though I don’t know if it’s quite as bad as Robert'); DROP TABLE Students;--

    In other news, I think you would appreciate Damasio’s The Feeling of What Happens.

  99. 599
    mikmik

    Don’t worry, Raskolnikov, I know exactly what you mean. It is the reason that I stopped being a determinist.
    If it is just electro-chemical elicited responses to sensory stimuli, self awareness seems a tremendous amount of resource hogging baggage. Therefore, our awareness is necessary, and then therefore, the output of our feelings and thoughts based on this awareness are relevant.

    There is no other way it makes sense. Especially if the argument is that our thoughts and perceptions are secondary to actual events in our functioning: non-sequitor.

    If only determinism didn’t make so much sense from a reductionist, cause -> effect, one cause can only have one consequence.

    That is why it’s called the hard problem of consciousness.

    In any event, just wanted to let you know that I know what you mean ;)

  100. 600
    mikmik

    Well, I am a determinist – compatibilist.

    I know, I know! Enough already!!!@

  101. 601
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Aww, Bobby Tables! Long time no see.

    Query parameters are your friends. /psa

  102. 602
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Don’t worry, Raskolnikov, I know exactly what you mean. It is the reason that I stopped being a [hard] determinist.

    The plausible reason to not be a determinist (hard or otherwise) is that there may be causal chains which do not trace back to the big bang. So what? That just means hard indeterminism is true.

    Conscious causes of behavior are not free will.

    If it is just electro-chemical elicited responses to sensory stimuli, self awareness seems a tremendous amount of resource hogging baggage. Therefore, our awareness is necessary, and then therefore, the output of our feelings and thoughts based on this awareness are relevant.

    While I do think awareness is probably necessary, as you’ve stated it here it’s a non sequitur. “Uses a lot of resources” does not mean “necessary”. It could just be a spandrel. (I don’t think it is a spandrel; your logical fallacy just bugs me.)

  103. 603
    consciousness razor

    Owlmirror:

    Anyway, my heresy (which is mine, and which belongs to me) is that before Jesus, everyone was a P-zombie. The Holy Spirit turned him into the first person who actually felt experiences. The suffering on the cross was not just the physical torture, but the spirit going out from Jesus and turning every single human on the planet into real people as well. The resurrection was the spirit returning to Jesus to animate him before ascending again not long after.

    So did everyone go back to being p-zombies when the spirit left, or is it omnipresent (except when it wasn’t), or is it in a superposition? May I humbly suggest that your heresy needs more quantum mechanics (and brontosauruses)?

    ———

    Raskolnikov:

    I’m not saying they wouldn’t have a self, I’m saying more that their feelings (i.e. the brain states that correlate to what we could feelings) wouldn’t actually “feel” like anything.

    In other words, they wouldn’t have “qualia.” Much philosophical ink (and imaginary zombie blood) has been spilt on this, only to find there was nothing to talk about.

    I know that we have a feeling of self, but unless you postulate that we have one that is independent of the brain, the actual having of the feeling is unnecessary, a mechanistic brain does not need to have the feeling of self, it only needs to have the brain states that would produce, in you, I, and others, the feeling of self you talk about.

    There’s no difference between “the actual having of the feeling” and the brain producing the feeling, unless you assume any physical event like that cannot be the “real” thing. I think we have a sense of selfhood because the brain can model or represent its own functioning, which allows for a lot of very complex mental states and behaviors and could easily be explained in evolutionary terms. Some of that functioning we’re at least partly aware of as an experience of being someone, but some is just as obscure as the rest. It’s not that mysterious, but the key thing to understand is that there’s a lot happening which is not available to introspection, so philosophizing about it can only get us so far (and may lead us in the wrong direction).

    That’s kind of what I’m confused about, since we have observed that all aspects of us, as individuals, must come from the brain, we must have brain states that correlate with every aspect of our existence, and the feeling of these brain states cannot influence them in anyway, for if it did, that influence would have its own brain state;

    Brain states can’t influence other brain states?

    i.e. it seems that, since all that a human being is, and could be, is controlled and explained by the brain, why the extra stuff?

    There is no extra stuff. That’s why you’re confused. We don’t need to explain something that doesn’t exist.

    Why does an emotion feel like something, it doesn’t need to, neurons don’t rely on how strong an emotion is felt to react to it, they react to the strength of a different neural signal.

    What do you think a feeling is?

  104. 604
    Raskolnikov

    @mikmik

    Interesting idea, but I’m not actually denying that self-awareness itself is a brain state. That’s part of why I mentioned the Cartesian theatre, because it feels like what happens in this conscious mind of ours has some importance, but it can actually follow that what we experience is a by-product of the neural correlates of self-awareness, which would mean that self-awareness is both necessary and a product of the brain, its just the feeling of self-awareness that seems odd. This would also mean that our thoughts and feelings of this self-awareness are themselves the brains response to its own information. An analogy that might make a bit more sense; imagine you were examining some alien organism or another that had a brain similar to our own, you cracked open the skull and took a peak at the brain while it was still alive and you saw what you (because in the analogy you can actually see the waves of neural activity that make up the brain) would expect to see, neurons firing at synapses, waves of activity etc but, out of certain regions of the brain there was a projection, similar to a movie projector, but nothing so obviously designated as such; some of the projections were obviously images, that changed as you noticed the aliens eyes move, some of these were more complex, colours perhaps that changed and flickered and interacted that you determined correlated with the brain states of the organisms thoughts. That’s kind of what I’m getting at; I haven’t actually seen any conclusive evidence that there are states of existence that cannot be localised in the brain, what seems odd is that passive projection of what is actually happening in the brain as it happens. And as I hope the analogy makes clear, passive is definitely the word. In these images nothing is actually resolved, nothing is considered, they are merely projections of resolution, consideration and thought that is happening in the brain. If this is the case the entire conscious experience is not a driver at all, what it feels like to exist is a passive projection of what your brain would be doing anyway, to lose this projection would change nothing by necessity, but if that’s the case (and it might not be) I have no idea what the point of the projection is.

    then therefore, the output of our feelings and thoughts based on this awareness are relevant.
    There is no other way it makes sense. Especially if the argument is that our thoughts and perceptions are secondary to actual events in our functioning: non-sequitor.

    I just kind of want to comment on this; the argument I’m making is not that our thoughts are secondary to actual events, this is actually similar to the argument I’ve seen made that, even if our conscious perception is an illusion (and I’m not arguing that it is), there must be someone/thing to perceive that illusion. But I think this is a bit ill-considered; it imagines that there has to be something distinct between our perceptions and our thoughts, feelings etc about them. I think it makes more sense to consider the entire conscious perception as a brain construct; that is, what you hear, see, smell etc is your brain differentiating between the different patterns of activation of your senses, but how you feel about these things, or how you feel in general, or how you think, is not actually some extra, above the neurons process that perceives this information. Instead of seeing it as an external world that is projected onto you, I think it makes more sense if you consider the external world as representative of different patterns of information represented in some parts of your brain, and the self-awareness, thought processes, stream of consciousness aspects as different parts of your brain that are activated in specific ways by this information. The entire conscious experience, in other words, is a brain construct, and there’s no thoughts and awareness that is above this; these are themselves part of the brains processing.

    +++++++
    Thanks for the recommendation LILAPWL, it goes on to my ever increasing list of things I must read about the subject of consciousness, unfortunately I’m irritatingly ill-versed on the literature, so if I’m saying something that is already addressed at length elsewhere feel free to point out that I’m rehashing someone elses more eloquently structured ideas.

  105. 605
    Raskolnikov

    @consciousness razor

    There’s no difference between “the actual having of the feeling” and the brain producing the feeling, unless you assume any physical event like that cannot be the “real” thing. I think we have a sense of selfhood because the brain can model or represent its own functioning, which allows for a lot of very complex mental states and behaviors and could easily be explained in evolutionary terms. Some of that functioning we’re at least partly aware of as an experience of being someone, but some is just as obscure as the rest. It’s not that mysterious, but the key thing to understand is that there’s a lot happening which is not available to introspection, so philosophizing about it can only get us so far (and may lead us in the wrong direction)

    I’m not suggesting that the mental states and behaviours that we do have couldn’t be explained by evolution. This kind of relates to your last point about what I think a feeling is. As (I hope) I stated previously, a feeling in purely neurological terms would be a brain state that is recognised by other regions as a signal of ‘a’ and thus requires the initiation of response ‘b’. That is all it theoretically needs to be. It doesn’t need to feel like anything, it just needs to be information that is different. My question is more, why, then, should it feel like something.
    The differentiation between having a feeling and the brain producing the feeling doesn’t seem as clear as you’ve described it. The brain doesn’t actually need produce feelings, it just needs to produce different information, what I’m wandering is how that information becomes something that is felt if it doesn’t actually add anything to the process.
    Regarding the introspection thing, I agree that there is a lot that is not available to consider. I suppose I should probably qualify that I’m not trying to convince anyone that what I think is right, it’s more the fact that when you only have yourself to bounce ideas off of, you miss the flaws you can’t see.

    Brain states can’t influence other brain states?

    They can, my point was more that feelings that were not brain states could not influence brain states (obviously); feelings that are brain states obviously can.

    There is no extra stuff. That’s why you’re confused. We don’t need to explain something that doesn’t exist.

    That’s an interesting point and kind of gets at the heart of my problems in trying to put into words what seems confusing. As I said the zombie I described would actually be exactly like any other human being, it would recognise colours as different, have thoughts, consider things etc etc it just…I don’t know. I suppose the crux of what I’m confused about is why anything mechanistically designed the way we are has information that feels like something; the information itself succeeds perfectly fine on its own.

  106. 606
    strange gods before me ॐ

    I suppose the crux of what I’m confused about is why anything mechanistically designed the way we are has information that feels like something;

    Because our logic gates are built out of the same type of widgets as our sensory equipment.

  107. 607
    Owlmirror

    So did everyone go back to being p-zombies when the spirit left

    No. Everyone now has qualia. Qualia is a function of dualistic spirit. Because of quantum.

    or is it omnipresent (except when it wasn’t)

    Yes — and no.

    or is it in a superposition?

    Exactly.

    May I humbly suggest that your heresy needs more quantum mechanics

    Quantum added!!…!!

    Yay!

    (and brontosauruses)?

    My heresy, which is mine, which belongs to me, does not currently have room for brontosauruses in either the front, middle, or back. My heresy is all sophistimacated and stuff, and while quantum is sooper-sophistimacted, brontosauruses are not at all sophistimacated.

  108. 608
    consciousness razor

    I’ll add a reading suggestion: The Ego Tunnel, by Thomas Metzinger.

    As (I hope) I stated previously, a feeling in purely neurological terms would be a brain state that is recognised by other regions as a signal of ‘a’ and thus requires the initiation of response ‘b’. That is all it theoretically needs to be. It doesn’t need to feel like anything, it just needs to be information that is different. [my emphasis]

    A feeling doesn’t need to feel like anything?

    They can, my point was more that feelings that were not brain states could not influence brain states (obviously); feelings that are brain states obviously can.

    So if there are no feelings which are not brain states, then what? I’m having trouble following your point here.

    I suppose the crux of what I’m confused about is why anything mechanistically designed the way we are has information that feels like something; the information itself succeeds perfectly fine on its own.

    What? The information of a feeling doesn’t “succeed” unless it is felt. That’s the whole point. Organisms have experiences which they can feel, including self-experiences, because brains generate such information (as memories, emotions, etc.) so they can respond to it. No feeling, no response. A lot of brain functions which cause certain responses aren’t felt at all — thus, why I brought up the problems with introspection — but it isn’t clear what you think is a “feeling” and what isn’t, so I wanted some clarity on that before we start confusing each other.

  109. 609
    consciousness razor

    My heresy is all sophistimacated and stuff, and while quantum is sooper-sophistimacted, brontosauruses are not at all sophistimacated.

    Brontosauruses are extremely sophistimicated. Therefore your heresy is stupid!!!111!

  110. 610
    strange gods before me ॐ

    “And lo, Jesus and the disciples walked to Nazareth. But the trail was blocked by a giant brontosaurus, with a splinter in his paw. And O the disciples did run a shriekin’: ‘What a big fucking lizard, Lord!’ But Jesus was unafraid, and he took the splinter from the brontosaurus’s paw, and the big lizard became his friend.” — the Revelations of Bill Hicks

  111. 611
    Raskolnikov

    I’ll add a reading suggestion: The Ego Tunnel, by Thomas Metzinger.

    Thanks for the suggestion :). I’ve actually been wanting to read Metzinger for a while, but currently uni study demands more time than I actually have.

    A feeling doesn’t need to feel like anything?

    Indeed. If a feeling is just information, and the brain can differentiate between this information why would it need to feel like anything; what would it feeling like add to the process?

    So if there are no feelings which are not brain states, then what? I’m having trouble following your point here.

    I meant that there is the intuition that our feelings are somehow not brain states, but I was arguing against that in the original point (somewhat obtusely I admit).

    What? The information of a feeling doesn’t “succeed” unless it is felt.

    That doesn’t actually follow (and part of the reason why I keep grasping for a word other than feeling). As I said, if our feelings perfectly correspond to brain states why would they need to be felt, and what part of a neuron does the feeling? A feeling is a signal, that’s all, you can’t feel neurotransmitter release and a feeling does not succeed in being brought to attention by being felt, because there is no feeling in the biological machinery of the brain. A feeling succeeds in being felt if it is brought to the attention of the conscious machinery, which is itself composed of other neurons.

    Organisms have experiences which they can feel, including self-experiences, because brains generate such information (as memories, emotions, etc.) so they can respond to it. That’s the whole point.. No feeling, no response.

    But what is this they you’re referring to? The brain? But I’ve already stated that’s what occurs; the brain responds to its own information. You seem to be arguing for some sort of process above the brain that feels and responds to these things, but what is that? I’ve already said that these processes, memory generation, emotions etc must be generated by the brain, and therefore it must be the brain that responds to it, and the brain is bound by what it is composed of (neurons, glial cells etc); where do any of these things feel? It would make just as much sense to describe self-experience as the cycling of certain neuronal patterns wired in such a way as to be associated with previous body states and interactions. For a science of the brain to work, we should (conceivably) be able to describe all aspects of experience by their neural correlates. And if this is the case then the organism is the brain, the parts that respond are different components of the brain machinery.

    A lot of brain functions which cause certain responses aren’t felt at all — thus, why I brought up the problems with introspection — but it isn’t clear what you think is a “feeling” and what isn’t, so I wanted some clarity on that before we start confusing each other.

    That’s understandable, I apologise if I’m not entirely clear on that. I don’t really know how to define a feeling in the sense that I don’t know how the brain differentiates between different information that is dealt with autonomically (e.g. why it doesn’t feel like something to have barorecepters change their firing) and different information that is moved into consciousness. Hell I don’t even know exactly how the brain moves things into consciousness, as I said I’m not very well versed on the subject. If I say that a feeling is neurological information that corresponds to some change in the state of the body that is brought to the attention of conscious machinery (where different states are tagged differently so they may be recognised as different in the brain), does it make it any clearer. If not I apologise and I’ll try to think of a way to better define it.
    +++++++
    @LILAPWL

    Because our logic gates are built out of the same type of widgets as our sensory equipment.

    I freely admit I’m not entirely sure what this means. To avoid confusing depth for sarcasm or dismissing a prescient point as a joke I don’t quite get, would you be able to explain what this means please?

  112. 612
    Owlmirror

    Brontosauruses are extremely sophistimicated. Therefore your heresy is stupid!!!111!

    DEEP RIFTS . . . !1eleventy!1!1l! . . . !!

    “And lo, Jesus and the disciples walked to Nazareth. But the trail was blocked by a giant brontosaurus, with a splinter in his paw. And O the disciples did run a shriekin’: ‘What a big fucking lizard, Lord!’ But Jesus was unafraid, and he took the splinter from the brontosaurus’s paw, and the big lizard became his friend.” — the Revelations of Bill Hicks

    *jaw drops*

    I seriously did not know that.

    But wait! Bill Hicks is not sophistimacated either!

    DENIED!

  113. 613
    ChasCPeterson

    what part of a neuron does the feeling?

    do you know any neurophysiology?

    A feeling is a signal, that’s all, you can’t feel neurotransmitter release

    you contradict yourself

    and a feeling does not succeed in being brought to attention by being felt, because there is no feeling in the biological machinery of the brain.

    it’s…
    what?

    A feeling succeeds in being felt if it is brought to the attention of the conscious machinery, which is itself composed of other neurons.

    I…guess.
    I mean, there are sensory signals that we have conscious access to, and some we don’t. Presumably it’s the presence or absence of neural wiring to whatever parts of the frontal cortex mostly handle ‘consciousness’.

    I don’t know how the brain differentiates between different information that is dealt with autonomically (e.g. why it doesn’t feel like something to have barorecepters change their firing)

    just physical wiring. Specific parts of the brain receive input from neurons with specialized receptors at their other ends. Some afferent/input neurons are wired into autonomic reflexes, others to the ‘special senses’ to which we have conscious access. The wiring of ‘consciousness’ is of course completely obscure.

    Hell I don’t even know exactly how the brain moves things into consciousness,

    well. nobody knows that shit; don’t feel bad.

    Because our logic gates are built out of the same type of widgets as our sensory equipment.

    presumably this refers to neurons and synapses. There might be contributions from glial cells too, but those are the choices.

  114. 614
    consciousness razor

    What a big fucking lizard, Lord!’ But Jesus was unafraid, and he took the splinter from the brontosaurus’s paw, and the big lizard became his friend.” — the Revelations of Bill Hicks

    That is apocryphal. No truly sophistimicated Biblical scholar would believe such a thing ever happened. It didn’t even happen metaphorically.

    ———

    As I said, if our feelings perfectly correspond to brain states why would they need to be felt, and what part of a neuron does the feeling?

    It’s not necessarily the case that some “part of a neuron does the feeling,” and I’m almost certain that’s not the case. We can feel things, or some parts of our cognitive systems can, but that’s at a much higher level and is much more complicated than the behavior of a cell or a molecule or whatever. Just being aware of anything, no matter how simple, requires a very large network of neurons interacting together.

    A feeling is a signal, that’s all, you can’t feel neurotransmitter release and a feeling does not succeed in being brought to attention by being felt, because there is no feeling in the biological machinery of the brain.

    There clearly is: we feel things, and our feelings are a product of the biological machinery of the brain. Having a brain state is feeling a certain thing. I don’t see why there needs to be something extra besides a physical description of a brain state, for the simple reason that I don’t think you’re actually describing any phenomena which need to be explained. (You’re not talking about the fact that we can see or hear things, right? That’s not what you’re describing when you talk about “what it feels like”?)

    That’s why this talk about p-zombies is nonsensical, if the concept itself isn’t entirely vacuous. We don’t have anything special which they would lack if they existed, because by definition, p-zombies are physically identical to us. If they would lack that special something (whatever it’s supposed to be), then the existence of a mind like ours entails some non-physical entity or property — which is how I’d define a supernatural claim.

    As an aside: there is no evidence for anything non-physical, of course. You’d have to go right back to Descartes’ drawing board to figure out how it could possibly interact with physical stuff, just so that you could hope to maybe find some evidence. While I’m not claiming that’s impossible, philosophers and theologians have had centuries to think about it, and no one has ever come up with a way it could work even in principle.

    But the point is, either p-zombies are physically identical to us or they’re not, and either everything about us is entirely definable in physical terms or else that is not the case. So, everything about us also applies to p-zombies if nothing supernatural exists. But you seem to be trying to have it both ways, which is confusing. Either you’re redefining what a p-zombie (or a quale) is, as I understand it, or you’re contradicting yourself somehow.

  115. 615
    Raskolnikov

    @ChasCPeterson

    do you know any neurophysiology?

    Well, I know some, admittedly I only started really got into science about 2 years ago so my knowledge is far from complete. Regarding neurophysiology I am familiar with the basics but I’m not sure what your question is regarding. If you mean that there are sensory parts of neurons that respond to stimulation then I know that, if it’s something else well, I’m not sure what that something else might be.

    you contradict yourself

    Hahaha I seem to be doing that a lot. It probably comes with having not really had the chance to refine what I’m trying to explain. I subtract the second part of that statement, a feeling is a signal and I’ll stick with that.

    it’s…
    what?

    Hmmm…perhaps; a signal from the body that indicates to the brain that it (the body) is in a specific state at that point in time is not actually felt as such, it is just information that is responded to…fuck this is confusing to explain…

    presumably this refers to neurons and synapses. There might be contributions from glial cells too, but those are the choices.

    Ah, but then if that is the explanation I’m not entirely sure how it corresponds to what I’m confused about…
    +++++
    @consciousness razor

    It’s not necessarily the case that some “part of a neuron does the feeling,” and I’m almost certain that’s not the case. We can feel things, or some parts of our cognitive systems can, but that’s at a much higher level and is much more complicated than the behavior of a cell or a molecule or whatever. Just being aware of anything, no matter how simple, requires a very large network of neurons interacting together.

    This is true, but I’m having trouble getting past the first part; how exactly are we feeling these things? How do parts of a cognitive system feel things? If the components of the system are the same how does a combination of a certain number with a certain wiring produce a felt state? And why would it be necessary? I made the analogy (I think my comment to mikmik) that the passive subjective experience is kind of like cracking open the head of some organism and observing that the brain, in its normal processing, was producing a projection of what it was doing that couldn’t actually influence what was going on, it was just a passive by-product of neural machinery that doesn’t need it. And that’s still the point I’m getting stuck on. You admit that there are only neurons (and glial cells etc) but these cells traffic information, and since we are just mechanistic brains this is all they produce; electrical and chemical information.

    There clearly is: we feel things, and our feelings are a product of the biological machinery of the brain. Having a brain state is feeling a certain thing. I don’t see why there needs to be something extra besides a physical description of a brain state, for the simple reason that I don’t think you’re actually describing any phenomena which need to be explained. (You’re not talking about the fact that we can see or hear things, right? That’s not what you’re describing when you talk about “what it feels like”?)

    I know we feel things, that was how I started my point, and I am in no way denying that these feelings are a by-product of our biological machinery, what I can’t make is the jump from having a brain state to feeling a certain thing. There is a gap there; how do we get from one point to the other? Out of wiring there comes feeling, but why does the wiring produce feeling? It seems really really odd. It’s as if your computer could suddenly feel the way its processing information if you just wired it the right way. And not only that, this feeling, this subjective “what it’s like” must by necessity add absolutely nothing to the process. You seem certain that having a brain state is feeling, but why? What does that add, if the brain does not need for the brain state to be felt for it to respond to, why does it need to be felt? At what part of a mechanistic, electrochemical signalling organ do you suddenly get some sort of feeling of what it is like to have that wiring? What I’m saying needs to be explained is that very feeling of what it is like; you don’t expect it in anything else. You wouldn’t expect a robot you wired to imitate the human mind to suddenly have a feeling of what it is like, it’s just wires and signalling that produce behaviours, as are we, our brains signal, they secrete chemicals, and twitch muscles, and from this we have to (and we do have to, because we have it, and I’m not trying to define away that we do) get a feeling of what at least some parts of this behaviour is like. The entire brain is unconscious, and if you were to define it as a machine it could run perfectly well without consciousness, it is just neurons and glial cells.

    That’s why this talk about p-zombies is nonsensical, if the concept itself isn’t entirely vacuous. We don’t have anything special which they would lack if they existed, because by definition, p-zombies are physically identical to us. If they would lack that special something (whatever it’s supposed to be), then the existence of a mind like ours entails some non-physical entity or property — which is how I’d define a supernatural claim.

    I know that it ascribes some supernatural claim; that is emphatically not a point I’m making. Even if I were to be absolutely convinced that the mechanistic account of the brain could not yet fully explain the nature of human experience the only step I could make from that is “I don’t know”. Nothing more. And I know that the idea is vacuous, I (hopefully I made it clear) never said that I agreed with it, all I said it was a good intuition pump for questioning why we could not have individuals that were like us, but were what you would expect from a biological organism. A question though; do you think that, if we were to create a fully-functioning robot, with a mind that imitates ours exactly (of course not made of neurons but you get the point) would it have the subjective experience of what it is like that humans have? If so, how? If not, why not? (I hope this doesn’t come off as some “got you, bet you didn’t think of that” kind of question; I’m genuinely interested in whether you think it would be possible.)
    +++++
    As an aside I came across articles that help explain what I’m confused about; they’re from Sam Harris’ blog (and I know his name is not well-regarded but I’m linking to his neurophilosophical thinking, not his profiling advocacy):
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-mystery-of-consciousness
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-mystery-of-consciousness-ii/

  116. 616
    mikmik

    While I do think awareness is probably necessary, as you’ve stated it here it’s a non sequitur. “Uses a lot of resources” does not mean “necessary”. It could just be a spandrel. (I don’t think it is a spandrel; your logical fallacy just bugs me.)

    Yeah, nothing I can think of cannot also be accounted for by hard determinism, and it bugs me, too. Awareness could be necessary for other reasons I can think of. It might be a more efficient way of preprocessing for long term memory encoding, and emotions, which I think we use to tell us which ‘choice’ to make, could just be a faster pathway to calculating and responding to situations we face. I am 50/50 on ideas like this, so I go with my feelings, lol, that what it seems like to me, is what is happening – that we are capable of voluntary decision making.

    There is nothing I promote, that can’t also be explained by pre-determinism. I rely on consciousness’, I mean Occam’s Razor to decide, and there’s no guarantee I run that subroutine based on a comprehensive understanding of the situation, for it might be a Dunning-Kruger evaluation, ie, I think am better skilled at objectivity than others ;)

    life is like a pitbull with lipstick ?
    21 June 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Don’t worry, Raskolnikov, I know exactly what you mean. It is the reason that I stopped being a [hard] determinist.

    The plausible reason to not be a determinist (hard or otherwise) is that there may be causal chains which do not trace back to the big bang. So what? That just means hard indeterminism is true.

    Conscious causes of behavior are not free will.

    He just meant that p-zombies just seems like a more likely outcome to hard determinism for him/her, and I understand, ’cause that’s what I think also.
    It has been proved, if I’m not mistaken, our universe is not deterministic, but that just means there is an element of randomness, due to our inability to comprehend quantum duality as a single, determined, event.

    This brings up an opportunity for my analogy to use the despised quantum mechanics as a reason for how our brain’s work, but not the way Choprawoo idiots mean!
    Consciousness may be compared, let’s say, to a wave function, in that we don’t have a single, cohesive, understanding of how to perceive it. It may just be that we cannot ‘see’ it from the correct perspective in order to make sense of the ‘compatibilism, or not compatibilism’/'free will, or not free will’ contrast in the perception of our consciousness. In no way do I think this analogy is equivalent all the way! Even free will is, at best, highly constrained. But… in other words, the hard problem of consciousness may be due to our inability to look at it, or comprehend our brain/mind from the proper perspective. I think it was Bohm?, that showed quantum unpredictability is just an artifact?

    Holy compound sentences, Batman!

  117. 617
    mikmik

    There’s no difference between “the actual having of the feeling” and the brain producing the feeling, unless you assume any physical event like that cannot be the “real” thing. I think we have a sense of selfhood because the brain can model or represent its own functioning, which allows for a lot of very complex mental states and behaviors and could easily be explained in evolutionary terms. Some of that functioning we’re at least partly aware of as an experience of being someone, but some is just as obscure as the rest. It’s not that mysterious, but the key thing to understand is that there’s a lot happening which is not available to introspection, so philosophizing about it can only get us so far (and may lead us in the wrong direction).

    Drat! If I had just read ONE comment further before I responded to LILAPWL, I would’ve seen you mostly had it handled already!
    But, “It’s not that mysterious, but the key thing to understand is that there’s a lot happening which is not available to introspection, so philosophizing about it can only get us so far (and may lead us in the wrong direction)”
    It may also lead us in the right direction, which is why I disagree with saying that our actions are 100% pre-determined, end of story.
    Teh probability of each of us being correct is the same: 82%, ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaa! (Dunning-Kruger fallacy, aka, the arrogance gambit! Just being silly, nevermind)

    Here is what I meant when responding to LILAPWLॐ.
    Bohmian Mechanics

    Bohmian mechanics, which is also called the de Broglie-Bohm theory, the pilot-wave model, and the causal interpretation of quantum mechanics, is a version of quantum theory discovered by Louis de Broglie in 1927 and rediscovered by David Bohm in 1952. It is the simplest example of what is often called a hidden variables interpretation of quantum mechanics. In Bohmian mechanics a system of particles is described in part by its wave function, evolving, as usual, according to Schrödinger’s equation. However, the wave function provides only a partial description of the system.

    Hence, my analogy to consciousness.

  118. 618
    John Morales

    mikmik, look up local realism and Bell’s inequality.

    (Quantum unpredictability seems real enough, but it ain’t random)

  119. 619
    mikmik

    Before I forget, I found two examples of how we could set up our ‘answers to Christian’s questions that scare the fuck right out of atheists’ website/cash cow.
    Thinkmap, and we only need to come up with 5 grand, and it is the overwhelm approach that Pitbull(I don’t known how you prefer to be addressed) warned of avoiding, but fuck would it be cool.
    There is !!**! – Christ Almighty! My alarm just scared the shite outta me!
    This site looks like an idea to a template, and it also serves to further my agenda of free-willism, lol. But really, I haven’t explored enough, but it is a pretty good /SLAP/ thanks, I needed that.
    The Information Philosopher
    Their site map, which has the directory in the main body, and those sections seem to reference the left column for sources that the sections are built on.
    Of course, each section would have images like theophontes (坏蛋) propsed, and like this one I found.

    Oh yeah, I found this idea, also!

    Shite, now I’m late……..

  120. 620
    mikmik

    John Morales
    22 June 2012 at 6:44 am

    mikmik, look up local realism and Bell’s inequality.

    (Quantum unpredictability seems real enough, but it ain’t random)

    Yes, you are just trying to get me to switch sides!
    Actually, I just posted the de Broglie-Bohm theory link, which also shows what you mean – it ain’t random.

  121. 621
    John Morales

    mikmik, reading that now. I hadn’t expected that discussion to be in a philosophy site.

  122. 622
    consciousness razor

    I made the analogy (I think my comment to mikmik) that the passive subjective experience is kind of like cracking open the head of some organism and observing that the brain, in its normal processing, was producing a projection of what it was doing that couldn’t actually influence what was going on, it was just a passive by-product of neural machinery that doesn’t need it. And that’s still the point I’m getting stuck on. You admit that there are only neurons (and glial cells etc) but these cells traffic information, and since we are just mechanistic brains this is all they produce; electrical and chemical information.

    I think subjective experiences are functional. They’re representations the brain creates of its own electrical and chemical states, which get traded around between different systems to do higher-level processing of complex thoughts and behaviors. You don’t experience electrical activity, photons hitting your retina, sound waves hitting your eardrum, etc., in any kind of direct sense. That is of course how it works at the very “bottom” level; but you seem to be vastly oversimplifying it by just saying it’s all just a flood of “mechanistic” electrical and chemical activity, without saying much at all about how the brain gives it a coherent structure, integrating and modulating all the different pieces and putting them to use. I think it’s at that level of description that we’ll eventually figure out exactly how our brains create experiences.

    A question though; do you think that, if we were to create a fully-functioning robot, with a mind that imitates ours exactly (of course not made of neurons but you get the point) would it have the subjective experience of what it is like that humans have?

    Yes, I don’t know of any reason to think it can only happen with a biological organism. Any process in the brain could be duplicated with any other substrate. Of course, it would be extremely difficult to do, and some would be better choices than others. If it’s supposed to be exactly like us in every way, then I assume there would be size and time constraints which would rule out some of the more absurd options.

    And if I knew exactly how to do it, it wouldn’t be very smart* to announce it on some random comment on a blog. First, I would get my Templeton Nobel prize, then make trillions of dollars selling my robots to the communists.

    *Granted, I’m not all that smart; but hypothetically speaking, I would be if I had the answer, which I don’t.

    ———

    It may also lead us in the right direction, which is why I disagree with saying that our actions are 100% pre-determined, end of story.

    That’s a terrible reason. Tell you what, let’s have a race: you keep introspecting the fuck out of your self-satisfying nonsense, and I’ll look at whatever evidence I can find. We’ll see who figures it out first.

  123. 623
    Dhorvath, OM

    It’s as if your computer could suddenly feel the way its processing information if you just wired it the right way.

    This is pretty nearly a summary of why I find your situation vexing. Why wouldn’t a computer feel given appropriate wiring?

  124. 624
    mikmik

    *Granted, I’m not all that smartknowledgeable; but hypothetically speaking, I would be if I had the answer, which I don’t.

    Fixed it fer ya! I’ve never met people smarter than me(before internet), let alone as many, and by as much, as I have on Pharyngula. Shit, do a bunch of people here ever come up with ideas, and ways of seeing things, that are as good/better than what I recall ever reading. Not all in one place.
    ———

    It may also lead us in the right direction, which is why I disagree with saying that our actions are 100% pre-determined, end of story.

    That’s a terrible reason. Tell you what, let’s have a race: you keep introspecting the fuck out of your self-satisfying nonsense, and I’ll look at whatever evidence I can find. We’ll see who figures it out first.

    You’re on! I agree that much, if not most or virtually all, is unavailable to introspection. And in fact, The better I get at it, the more I realize that maybe I don’t have any free will! There is nothing that I think or do or feel that, upon introspection, I can say is free will. Nothing. It is only a sense of it, like being able to just move my arm on a whim, for example, but even that can be, or is, as I see it, a result of a strong enough desire to initiate a ‘reality check’ that I didn’t just create out of nothing. It ‘came’ to me, and it came to me for reasons unknown, as a result of my conditioning; my past experiences and genetic pre-disposition wired into my brain/me.

    You may notice that I am changing my tune, as it were, as this discussion moves along. I am becoming less sure of my reasoning for supporting free will. I freely admit that my attitude has been shaped by my need to see a meaning behind our individuality, and everything humans have done. There was a few hours a few months ago where it hit me that every single thing I saw, the buildings, the behaviors and attitudes of people on the street, the ideas that Aristotle and Archimedes and Descartes had, was empty. They were all as meaningful as a rock rolling downhill, or my analogy at weit, of a landslide, where every position of every mote and pebble and dirt, could only end up where it did.

    Fuck, I’m getting melancholy just remembering that moment, and it is seared into my memory as if I can remember everything around me as I was standing there. That is why I doubt many people that say they are determinists but quite happy to find meaning in their lives, are full of it.

    In fact, that claim that there is still meaning to our existence, as far as having an affect to our lives, in other words, sounds just as irrational and disingenuous as I imagine reductionists feel about compatibilists. It would explain the difficulty determinist incompatibilists have in understanding that us compatibilists are materialists just as much as them. That they keep insisting we are dualists, that would explain it – not saying that it is the reason, just that I know how fatalists/nihilists feel about reductionists that are compatibilists about being determined, yet finding meaning in that stance.

    That feeling, that day, was as bad as any that I’ve felt when I’ve been suicidal – the same feeling of worthlessness with no hope, but I felt worse, because I suddenly realized that I could never change the fundamental fact that it was all piles of entropy discards, nothing more. It’s not a good feeling, consciousness razor, and the only thing that resolved things for me was that we do not know enough about physics to postulate an understanding of what is going on in our brains/minds. The hard problem of consciousness is all I hold onto, cr and LILAPWL.

    I especially feel proud of thinking of Arthur C. Clarke’s observation, that any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic to ‘the primitives’, lol. Our brains are a sufficiently advanced technology, created through evolution, that … It’s all here. Please, would you read my link? I wonder if anyone has seen it this way before, which is very probable, FFS!

    ∴ no explanation can be 100% conclusive regarding free will, or as a scientific theory.

    Your turn, asshole! ;)

  125. 625
    mikmik

    This is pretty nearly a summary of why I find your situation vexing. Why wouldn’t a computer feel given appropriate wiring?

    Gödel. I posted earlier, somewhere, I think, that he proved that no mechanical system could be constructed, that used an algorithm to function, could produce consciousness. I, although, agree with you, Dhorvath, OM. I was thinking that the way we would find out was when we actually built it.
    I have a link somewhere that discusses the comparison of the world wide web to the human brain. The guy reasons that all the processors and switches etc in the world, on the internet, equals about three brains in computational capacity, but pales in comparison to the complexity. Why Robopocalypse, Skynet Or A Distributed Cyber-Mind Will Not Emerge From The Internet

    Perhaps mathematical tractability always leads away from intelligent behavior, not towards it. Perhaps researchers should seek systems that become mathematically intractable as quickly as possible in the search for intelligence. It is a bit surprising to me that while maths/logic works so well for the physical sciences, algorithms to deal with real world data developed with it appear brittle, inflexible and unable to cope with changing circumstances. Given progress or lack thereof in the AI field I expect that intelligence in a machine will come from simulating biological neurons/synapses, and we will the stumble upon the mechanism because it will be right in front of us rather than us figuring it out.
    http://www.science20.com/thor_russell/blog/intelligence_mathematically_intractable-86917

    cr:aIn some situations our conscious experience is not simply absent – it is misleading. In “choice blindness” people are asked to choose which they prefer of two kinds of jam. They are then given the jam again and asked to explain why they preferred it. By trickery, on some occasions they are actually presented with the jam they had just rejected. In most cases people are unaware of the switch and then proceed to justify the “conscious” choice that they actually never made.

    As in this example, we often think we are aware of what we are doing, but our introspection can be false. People can learn to solve complex problems without having any insight into how they are reaching the solution. Nevertheless, they are happy to make up some explanation for their skill.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/mar/02/consciousness-why-bother?mobile-redirect=false

    Main article: Gödel’s incompleteness theorems

    In 1931, the mathematician and logician Kurt Gödel proved that any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. Further to that, for any consistent formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory.

    In his first book on consciousness, The Emperor’s New Mind (1989), Penrose made Gödel’s theorem the basis of what quickly became an intensely controversial claim.[1] He argued that while a formal proof system cannot, because of the theorem, prove its own incompleteness, Gödel-type results are provable by human mathematicians. He takes this disparity to mean that human mathematicians are not describable as formal proof systems, and are not therefore running an algorithm. He asserted that the brain could perform functions that no computer could perform, known as “non-computable” functions.

    “The inescapable conclusion seems to be: Mathematicians are not using a knowably sound calculation procedure in order to ascertain mathematical truth. We deduce that mathematical understanding – the means whereby mathematicians arrive at their conclusions with respect to mathematical truth – cannot be reduced to blind calculation!”[2]

    Similar claims about the implications of Gödel’s theorem were originally espoused by the philosopher John Lucas of Merton College, Oxford. The Penrose/Lucas argument about the implications of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem for computational theories of human intelligence has been widely criticized by mathematicians, computer scientists and philosophers,[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11] and the consensus among experts in these fields seems to be that the argument fails,[12][13][14] though different authors may choose different aspects of the argument to attack.[14][15]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orch-OR

    I feel very sad right now, don’t know why, but I’ll be pissed later because I am moving today – whether I like it or not! I’ll get back here when I can, but new place may not have internet yet.

  126. 626
    strange gods before me ॐ

    mikmik,

    That feeling, that day, was as bad as any that I’ve felt when I’ve been suicidal – the same feeling of worthlessness with no hope, but I felt worse, because I suddenly realized that I could never change the fundamental fact that it was all piles of entropy discards, nothing more. It’s not a good feeling, consciousness razor, and the only thing that resolved things for me was that we do not know enough about physics to postulate an understanding of what is going on in our brains/minds. The hard problem of consciousness is all I hold onto, cr and LILAPWL.

    Someone tells me they need to believe in God to keep suicide at bay, I generally don’t argue with that individual that God does not exist.

    That arrangement becomes much more difficult when they want to spend hours and hours telling me not only that they believe, but why they’re right. And it becomes more difficult when there are a half dozen people involved in the discussion.

    What do you want to do, mikmik? Should we talk first about how incompatibilism allows a life worth living? Or maybe this is a discussion you don’t really want to be having at all? I don’t know what you need, so tell me.

  127. 627
    strange gods before me ॐ

    That question sounds a bit pushier than I intended it. What I’m trying to get at is that if it’s a conversation you don’t really want to be involved in, and you’re just feeling compelled to keep participating in something you dislike, then I’d like to know, so that if I decide to respond to anything I can try to do so in ways that are less likely to make you feel compelled to respond.

  128. 628
    joey

    mikmik:

    In fact, that claim that there is still meaning to our existence, as far as having an affect to our lives, in other words, sounds just as irrational and disingenuous as I imagine reductionists feel about compatibilists.

    That feeling, that day, was as bad as any that I’ve felt when I’ve been suicidal – the same feeling of worthlessness with no hope, but I felt worse, because I suddenly realized that I could never change the fundamental fact that it was all piles of entropy discards, nothing more. It’s not a good feeling, consciousness razor, and the only thing that resolved things for me was that we do not know enough about physics to postulate an understanding of what is going on in our brains/minds. The hard problem of consciousness is all I hold onto, cr and LILAPWL.

    mikmik, all these thoughts are derived from the premise of physicalism/materialsm. I sincerely suggest you ditch those philosophies as fundamental, and instead substitute them with the premise that there actually is “meaning to our existence”…and go from there. We cannot prove the absolute truth of physicalism any more than we can the existence of any “meaning of existence”, but at least the latter makes despair a less likely outcome.

  129. 629
    joey

    And for the record, I do actually believe that there is meaning to our existence.

  130. 630
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Oh gross.

    joey, you opportunistic godbot, I hope you get struck by lightning.

  131. 631
    chigau (違う)


    I don’t think joey can help himself.
    (for most meanings of the phrase)
    (sorry)

  132. 632
    Walton

    I realize that I’m very unusual, psychologically, in finding it intuitively easy (and even empowering, in a strange way) to accept that we have no (contra-causal) free will. I’ve learned that most people have a strong intuitive sense that they control their actions, that they are responsible for who they are and how they behave. I’ve never really had that feeling.

  133. 633
    Walton

    As for the search for meaning in our existence, I can’t say it better than Death:

    “All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

    REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

    “Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—–”

    YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

    “So we can believe the big ones?”

    YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

    “They’re not the same at all!”

    YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—– Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME… SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

    “Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—–”

    MY POINT EXACTLY.

  134. 634
    strange gods before me ॐ

    chigau, I accept that joey probably doesn’t conceive of how life without supernaturalism is meaningful. It’s still ghoulish to try to use someone’s despair as an opportunity for religious conversion. There are other ways to talk to someone who’s expressing pain, even if we don’t share that person’s worldview.

    +++++
    Walton,

    I’ve learned that most people have a strong intuitive sense that they control their actions

    It looks like you’re talking about internal locus of control, and that shouldn’t be taken as synonymous with a belief in free will — though I realize we frequently encounter people with an internal locus of control who express it as a belief in free will, these people may be easier to notice than those who don’t — Waldman found only a weak correlation between the two, and Rakos found an inverse relationship.

  135. 635
    strange gods before me ॐ

    mikmik I hope you feel fine about ignoring my stupid questions. Sorry for getting into what’s not my business.

  136. 636
    mikmik

    What do you want to do, mikmik? Should we talk first about how incompatibilism allows a life worth living? Or maybe this is a discussion you don’t really want to be having at all? I don’t know what you need, so tell me.

    Man, thanks. I didn’t want to give the impression that I was suicidal, just that for a few hours I felt so empty and impotent. I am not in any danger of hurting myself – far from it. It was probably also symptoms of post acute withdrawal. I’ve been having a difficulty with mood swings and periods of mania and then sadness, but as my brain clears I am getting my faculties back. I will never try to hurt myself again, for now I know that these difficult moments are transient, and I always know, even if I get depressed for months, that it will change. I thought to myself one day that if others can get better by understanding their cognitive distortions, then I sure as f*** should be capable. I’ve always been able to keep a part of mind in the rational, and I can always rely on this to realize that my feelings are clouding my thinking, and that the only difference between happiness and sadness is a seemingly small, when your on your game, adjustment in focus. It is a great big huge barrier to cross when I feel bad, but I know now that it will change, and that I am happy beyond comprehension that I wasn’t successful. I know now that I will feel great confidence sooner or later, and supremely fulfilled with matters.

    Joey, I see people turning to God all around me, and it distresses me greatly, for it is a hollow reason to feel hope. I could never, ever, not even for a micro-planck, consider believing in god. It simply isn’t possible for me to think that way, and it is my rationality and contentment with nature being the only way it makes sense to be, that is my salvation!

    It is understanding that I have the resources to make sense of things, my ability to understand that nature is there and works, no matter what, and that I have the comprehension to know that I can reason my way out of fugues.

    It is the difference between knowing, and wishing, I cannot stress this enough – believing in a savior is severe risk to being let down when promised that something will happen based on the whim of a fucking petty creep, I mean god.

    I have wanted to reach out to cipher very badly but didn’t know what was appropriate, everyone, and I hope some measure of my understanding can help, and I would gladly, more than you can know, listen and understand.

  137. 637
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    @joey

    We cannot prove the absolute truth of physicalism any more than we can the existence of any “meaning of existence”, but at least the latter makes despair a less likely outcome.

    Nonsense. “Meaning of existence” does not reduce the likelihood of despair. For instance, I (personally) cannot express in words the unimaginable despair I would feel if it was discovered, with incontrovertible proof, that the god of the bible is real and that the ‘meaning of existence’ was that we are all Yahweh wank. I mean, why would you want the creator of the universe to be a vicious, murdering, torturing tyrant? Why would you want the purpose of our existence merely to make such a cruel and hateful being happy? I shiver at the very idea. *shiver* (see?)

    But you are fundamentally wrong in your first assertion as well. Unlike the ‘absolute truth of physicalism’, the truth of Yahweh’s existence could be proved in a moment – which would of course provide proof of the meaning of existence, at least as far as he was concerned. All he would have to do is demonstrate himself.

    I find his continued failure to do so very reassuring – I would much prefer ‘no purpose at all’ to ‘THAT purpose’.

  138. 638
    strange gods before me ॐ

    mikmik,

    I am happy beyond comprehension that I wasn’t successful.

    I’m glad you weren’t.

    Care that animals including humans have for each other is the real thing; it’s what happens in the one true reality; this much is undeniable. The experience of it can be awesome, and it’s all real no matter what else is. I think it’s a beautiful thing about the world, and would be beautiful even scripted by chaos.

  139. 639
    Raskolnikov

    @consciousness razor
    Ok…I have more I want to say to this, and I don’t agree that this actually explains how any feeling would arise from more complexity of the same substrate…but I honestly can’t explain the problem it is I’m having, and being very new to this whole, commenting on the internet thing, it’s stressing me out more than I thought it would. So I’m abandoning this conversation until such a time as I may better able explain what I mean; I do have a request though: in the Sam Harris article I linked to earlier I found a more succinct way of explaining what it is that confuses me. If you have enough spare time to help me out, would you be able to explain your response in relation to the problem in the parts I link to*; if not it’s fine, thanks for the conversation, it has been enlightening :); anyway the points if you’re interested:

    You are not aware of the electrochemical events occurring at each of the trillion synapses in your brain at this moment. But you are aware, however dimly, of sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts, and moods. At the level of your experience, you are not a body of cells, organelles, and atoms; you are consciousness and its ever-changing contents, passing through various stages of wakefulness and sleep, and from cradle to grave.
    The term “consciousness”** is notoriously difficult to define. Consequently, many a debate about its character has been waged without the participants’ finding even a common topic as common ground. By “consciousness,” I mean simply “sentience,” in the most unadorned sense. To use the philosopher Thomas Nagel’s construction: A creature is conscious if there is “something that it is like” to be this creature; an event is consciously perceived if there is “something that it is like” to perceive it. Whatever else consciousness may or may not be in physical terms, the difference between it and unconsciousness is first and foremost a matter of subjective experience. Either the lights are on, or they are not.
    To say that a creature is conscious, therefore, is not to say anything about its behavior; no screams need be heard, or wincing seen, for a person to be in pain. Behavior and verbal report are fully separable from the fact of consciousness: We can find examples of both without consciousness (a primitive robot) and consciousness without either (a person suffering “locked-in syndrome”).

    The problem, however, is that no evidence for consciousness exists in the physical world. Physical events are simply mute as to whether it is “like something” to be what they are. The only thing in this universe that attests to the existence of consciousness is consciousness itself; the only clue to subjectivity, as such, is subjectivity. Absolutely nothing about a brain, when surveyed as a physical system, suggests that it is a locus of experience. Were we not already brimming with consciousness ourselves, we would find no evidence of it in the physical universe—nor would we have any notion of the many experiential states that it gives rise to. The painfulness of pain, for instance, puts in an appearance only in consciousness. And no description of C-fibers or pain-avoiding behavior will bring the subjective reality into view.
    If we look for consciousness in the physical world, all we find are increasingly complex systems giving rise to increasingly complex behavior—which may or may not be attended by consciousness. The fact that the behavior of our fellow human beings persuades us that they are (more or less) conscious does not get us any closer to linking consciousness to physical events. Is a starfish conscious? A scientific account of the emergence of consciousness would answer this question. And it seems clear that we will not make any progress by drawing analogies between starfish behavior and our own. It is only in the presence of animals sufficiently like ourselves that our intuitions about (and attributions of) consciousness begin to crystallize. Is there “something that it is like” to be a cocker spaniel? Does it feel its pains and pleasures? Surely it must. How do we know? Behavior, analogy, parsimony.
    Most scientists are confident that consciousness emerges from unconscious complexity. We have compelling reasons for believing this, because the only signs of consciousness we see in the universe are found in evolved organisms like ourselves. Nevertheless, this notion of emergence strikes me as nothing more than a restatement of a miracle. To say that consciousness emerged at some point in the evolution of life doesn’t give us an inkling of how it could emerge from unconscious processes, even in principle.

    In the case of vision, we are speaking merely about the transduction of one form of energy into another (electromagnetic into electrochemical). Photons cause light-sensitive proteins to alter the spontaneous firing rates of our rods and cones, beginning an electrochemical cascade that affects neurons in many areas of the brain—achieving, among other things, a topographical mapping of the visual scene onto the visual cortex. While this chain of events is complicated, the fact of its occurrence is not in principle mysterious. The emergence of vision from a blind apparatus strikes us as a difficult problem simply because when we think of vision, we think of the conscious experience of seeing. That eyes and visual cortices emerged over the course of evolution presents no special obstacles to us; that there should be “something that it is like” to be the union of an eye and a visual cortex is itself the problem of consciousness—and it is as intractable in this form as in any other.
    But couldn’t a mature neuroscience nevertheless offer a proper explanation of human consciousness in terms of its underlying brain processes? We have reasons to believe that reductions of this sort are neither possible nor conceptually coherent. Nothing about a brain, studied at any scale (spatial or temporal), even suggests that it might harbor consciousness. Nothing about human behavior, or language, or culture, demonstrates that these products are mediated by subjectivity. We simply know that they are—a fact that we appreciate in ourselves directly and in others by analogy.
    Here is where the distinction between studying consciousness and studying its contents becomes paramount. It is easy to see how the contents of consciousness might be understood at the level of the brain. Consider, for instance, our experience of seeing an object—its color, contours, apparent motion, location in space, etc. arise in consciousness as a seamless unity, even though this information is processed by many separate systems in the brain. Thus when a golfer prepares to hit a shot, he does not first see the ball’s roundness, then its whiteness, and only then its position on the tee. Rather, he enjoys a unified perception of a ball. Many neuroscientists believe that this phenomenon of “binding” can be explained by disparate groups of neurons firing in synchrony. Whether or not this theory is true, it is perfectly intelligible—and it suggests, as many other findings in neuroscience do, that the character of our experience can often be explained in terms of its underlying neurophysiology. However, when we ask why it should be “like something” to see in the first place, we are returned to the mystery of consciousness in full.

    *Just looked at the post in the preview…sorry for the length.
    **You might be wondering why I didn’t just call what I was trying to explain “consciousness”; if so it is because that word has more baggage than just, “feeling like something” and I wanted to avoid getting into that.
    +++++
    Actually one last thing; you’re suggestion that we would actually be able to produce conscious robots, while unlikely to get you the NobelTempleton Prize (I suspect they would be afraid you might be tempted to create RoboJesus) raises some questions;
    1.If robots were to become conscious, where do you think that would leave the apparent expectation that at some point, robots will do our work for us? Even if we could just program them to accept unquestioningly our demands, would it be unethical if they were conscious?
    2.If out of these conscious robots there was to emerge one “saviour” robot, that proclaimed that robots ought to worship their creators, would, upon our eventual execution of this “saviour”, all robots start wearing gold wrecking ball necklaces? Or is that trait not an emergent property?

  140. 640
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Absolutely nothing about a brain, when surveyed as a physical system, suggests that it is a locus of experience.

    We don’t know that. We don’t know exactly what we’re looking for. If we did then it might be evident in the structure of the brain.

  141. 641
    mikmik

    LILAPWL said, Should we talk first about how incompatibilism allows a life worth living?

    Okay! I would gladly like to know what gives your life meaning, whether incompatibilist, or not, and same for everyone. For relevance to this argument/discussion, I am intrigued to see how it can be done.

    BTW, that was pretty decent of you to ask. Shite, I just read over my comments, and didn’t intend to imply that I was as sad as I experienced that day, sort of like some existential moment, or whatever. It always goes without saying that I understand, myself, how we change our memories and they can seem more intense, in retrospect, than they were. It was a powerful feeling, but when I said I was feeling sad for some reason, I should’ve been more specific. I apologize, the way I presented myself sure implies that I was in dangerous territory!
    I distinguish sad from depressed, that’s what I was trying to do.

    Alright, enough about me.

    And this one:

    chigau (??)
    22 June 2012 at 2:08 pm

    ?
    I don’t think joey can help himself.
    (for most meanings of the phrase)
    (sorry)

    LMAO! My sense of irony is such that it is never wrong, so no worries(if that’s what you meant by (sorry)). It was cool though, thanks.

    Yikes, I missed this: life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

    mikmik I hope you feel fine about ignoring my stupid questions. Sorry for getting into what’s not my business.

    Your questions aren’t stupid, and they are always welcome. You were reaching out, and at the least, that’s what I saw. Please, always feel free to ask me anything at any time. I know some people might feel invaded, and that it’s nobody’s business, but as I understand it, that is always the right thing to do; offer your help. Giving advice is sometimes the worst thing to do because it can be invalidating, but asking the way you did is exactly the right thing to do, and it shows insight. As one who has been there – desperately depressed, it means a lot. I wish you people would quit impressing me by doing the right things in critical situations, and standing up for others, because it makes it harder to get a good rant going at you ;)

    I think joey may have been genuinely trying to reach me, I’ll have to ask him(consider it asked), but that’s one of the things that pisses me off, when I see the Christians around me use helping others as a chance to carry the message. Fuck, I already said I don’t believe that shit, why do you think I would change my mind about how reality works? I will just go do morphine and CH3CH2OH if I want to escape reality!!
    But I see it all the time here, a christian environment, and meetings. Some people do it out of genuine laziness like they are just following protocol, and if it doesn’t work – well, they tried.. Others are so brainwashed that they truly believe that god can really help, and it’s a valid attempt at helping. Actually it does help, because I’ve always felt that getting my sensibilities insulted is a great way to get me good and irate, and that’s far superior to feeling down, hah!

    Now, I want to bring up an uncomfortable realization that I’ve had(if we were face to face you would realize that I’m up to something here) that is startling in its impact, yet a curious opportunity to learn. I turn now, to the blockquote:

    Walton
    22 June 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I realize that I’m very unusual, psychologically, in finding it intuitively easy (and even empowering, in a strange way) to accept that we have no (contra-causal) free will. I’ve learned that most people have a strong intuitive sense that they control their actions, that they are responsible for who they are and how they behave. I’ve never really had that feeling.

    See! It makes sense! Walton is Spock’s brother, he is half Vulcan, FFS!
    Teach me the neck pinch, teach me the neck pinch, puhleeeezee!

    John Morales
    22 June 2012 at 7:22 am

    mikmik, reading that now. I hadn’t expected that discussion to be in a philosophy site.

    That’s not where I read about it, it was on a physics site, so I was surprised, also. Fuck, is it ever hard to tell philosophers something they haven’t already considered.
    Get this. I found an old book in an old building (that was a 12 step recovery center, of all the supernaturally inspired environments) and I opened it and saw it was a 1952 copyright, maybe original edition, by Bohm. I knew he was a physicist and read it a bit, then left it where I found it, and now I know how important a work it was. It was probably autographed, such is the level of irony that seems ever present in my life. Realistically, I’m just joking – it wasn’t, I’m sure, but I don’t remember checking, hmmmm….

    I have to go see if I have internet at my new place, so I’ll probably not be back until tomorrow. Y’know, chigau (違う), I never make a long post without thinking of you, my Edmontonian neighbor ;)

    I’m doing really good these days, but thanks.

  142. 642
    consciousness razor

    Raskolnikov:
    I wouldn’t have much of a response to Harris, without repeating myself. I think he overstates the case, along the lines of what LILAPWL was talking about. He doesn’t seem to appreciate that “what it’s like to be” something needs to be better defined in order to give any explanation, which isn’t a problem with current (or possible future) scientific methods. It’s a problem with the philosophical concept being vague or incoherent.

    It’s also strange that he thinks the Hard Problem is comparable to explaing how something could come from nothing (if it in fact did). I don’t know what that’s supposed to be about. And I didn’t understand what his point was when it came to the analogy with vitalism.

    1.If robots were to become conscious, where do you think that would leave the apparent expectation that at some point, robots will do our work for us? Even if we could just program them to accept unquestioningly our demands, would it be unethical if they were conscious?

    Yes. Whether or not we would behave ethically or rationally in that situation is another question. If you had good reason to believe they were conscious, would you be the sort of person who’d deny it or reject it as an ethical non-issue, because you believe people (and their brains) have some special property that “robots” do not?

    2.If out of these conscious robots there was to emerge one “saviour” robot, that proclaimed that robots ought to worship their creators, would, upon our eventual execution of this “saviour”, all robots start wearing gold wrecking ball necklaces? Or is that trait not an emergent property?

    That could make an interesting story, but you haven’t offered a motivation for why we’d execute it. Are you asking if robots could have a religion or how human religions can be explained in naturalistic terms? Wearing trinkets and assigning some symbolic value to them (like crosses or whatever) probably isn’t the hardest thing to explain about it, and that isn’t specific to religion anyway.

    ———
    mikmik:

    Okay! I would gladly like to know what gives your life meaning, whether incompatibilist, or not, and same for everyone. For relevance to this argument/discussion, I am intrigued to see how it can be done.

    I give my life meaning. I am human, so a human is what gives my life meaning. Sometimes I get a little help from my friends. Sometimes hell is other people. (I would say it’s better not to become dependent on others, because they can be disappointing, though of course there’s no escape from being disappointed in myself.) But none of us need to be free from causality just to make things meaningful for ourselves. It makes no sense to say that if in every sense we’re influenced by and connected with the “external” world, that is somehow a less meaningful existence than if we were separated from it. If the only way something could be meaningful were if it had ultimate, cosmic significance, then most likely nothing would be meaningful, but I think that’d be making the perfect the enemy of the good. Anyway, I don’t see any reason why that is the only way there could be meaning. That’s not what “meaning” means.

    I have a hard time thinking of something more arrogant than believing there’s a god who created everything and just so happens to care about every little thing we do. It’s just as arrogant to think that we must ourselves be gods who are somehow above the fray of the world in our own special way, by being “free” or having “qualia” or whatever it is. I guess it’s understandable, because let’s face it: the world isn’t all rainbows and unicorn farts, not usually, at least. Who really wants to be stuck in the middle of all of this shit? No one asked us what we wanted, yet here we are, and some of us try to come up with ways of believing this is all just a dream, or that there’s afterlife where everything will be better, or that some kind of justice will prevail in the end — without us having to do a damn thing to make it happen, other than believe or pray or sacrifice goats or whatever bullshit helps you avoid the reality of our situation. Some might think that’s “meaningful,” but I think it’s foolish and more alienating than understanding and accepting the world as it is while trying to make it better for ourselves however we can.

  143. 643
    John Morales

    CR:

    I give my life meaning.

    Meh.

    (People who need supposed meaning to their lives are needy people)

  144. 644
    consciousness razor

    (People who need supposed meaning to their lives are needy people)

    Perhaps all people are needy, or perhaps not everything worthwhile is necessary, or perhaps you’re blowing it out of proportion like the religious are apt to do, or perhaps you’re just trolling like usual.

    Take your pick. Or if you didn’t need to mean anything by it, then don’t.

  145. 645
    John Morales

    cr, do you need for there to be meaning in your life, or not?

    (I sure don’t)

  146. 646
    John Morales

    Hm. do you need for there to be meaning in to your life, or not?

    FTFM.

  147. 647
    consciousness razor

    do you need for there to be meaning in to your life, or not?

    There isn’t a meaning or purpose for my entire life to be about, but I find some of my experiences and activities meaningful: they are about things, and I can do them with a purpose, which I make for myself.

    Your question is about whether I “need” that, and I don’t understand what the point of it is, if you understand that (above) is what I’m talking about. There are psychological needs to make long-term goals, find certain events significant or have “meaningful” relationships with others and your environment, but I don’t think you’d scoff at such “needy” people, as if you weren’t one of them.

  148. 648
    John Morales

    cr,

    There isn’t a meaning or purpose for my entire life to be about

    Well, then.

    (Having a perceived need for such would be perverse, no?)

  149. 649
    mikmik

    John Morales
    22 June 2012 at 6:53 pm

    CR:

    I give my life meaning.

    Meh.

    (People who need supposed meaning to their lives are needy people)

    cr:
    or perhaps not everything worthwhile is necessary,

    or perhaps not everything necessary is worthwhile.
    Your life has meaning to you, or you wouldn’t bother with it, John Morales.
    It’s one thing not to justify your existence, but quite another not to value it. If there is no meaning to your life, then it is meaningless. Yet, you value this meaninglessness, which is incoherent(I may be incoherent, however), so your existence must mean something to you. It has meaning to you, and just how needy this makes you can be demonstrated, and you will find a way to put this in perspective, like Ivan Denisovic, one day.
    How about Victor Frankl(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man%27s_Search_for_Meaning):
    Frankl concludes from his experience that a prisoner’s psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life, but also from the freedom of choice he always has even in severe suffering. The inner hold a prisoner has on his spiritual self relies on having a hope in the future, and that once a prisoner loses that hope, he is doomed.
    Perhaps, I should call you Meursault.

    Without the freedom to choose, life is meaningless. Or it is absurd.
    At least I am in good company. I tell you that life is meaningless unless you have free will;

    but I think it’s foolish and more alienating than understanding and accepting the world as it is while trying to make it better for ourselves however we can.

    You do realize, consciousness razor, that you’ve demonstrated my contentions exactly. “while trying to make it better for ourselves however we can”
    You can point out all you want that this position may be entirely pre-determined, and you may very well be right, put the perception that you can affect your happiness by trying, gives your life meaning.
    Therefore, you understand that the lack of free will renders our life devoid of meaning.

  150. 650
    mikmik

    (Having a perceived need for such would be perverse, no?)

    Irrelevant.

  151. 651
    mikmik

    Raskolnikov
    Ok…I have more I want to say to this, and I don’t agree that this actually explains how any feeling would arise from more complexity of the same substrate…but I honestly can’t explain the problem it is I’m having, and being very new to this whole, commenting on the internet thing, it’s stressing me out more than I thought it would. So I’m abandoning this conversation until such a time as I may better able explain what I mean;

    Same here, and I still stress out over almost every comment. It always seems that I cannot put my thoughts to words properly, which is why I used to loved drinking combined with blog and forum commenting.
    I think I understand what you are trying to say, but more important, perhaps the most important, is that you are trying. That’s what I care about, well, you are trying and you are interesting, and you are genuine. Now I am having a hard time expressing myself!
    I would never have thought you were a newcomer, anyways, as far as appearances go, but I understand that that is not quite what distresses you? It is the frustration of not being able to adequately express yourself, fuck do I relate to that, and I imagine many people do, at least from time to time.

    I would hate to not have your input here, though. Just for the record ;)

  152. 652
    consciousness razor

    (Having a perceived need for such would be perverse, no?)

    Sometimes, but I wouldn’t say it’s “perverse” in every case.

    You can point out all you want that this position may be entirely pre-determined, and you may very well be right, put the perception that you can affect your happiness by trying, gives your life meaning.
    Therefore, you understand that the lack of free will renders our life devoid of meaning.

    No, I don’t “understand” that. Your Jedi mind-tricks won’t work on me.

    That our actions are caused does not imply our lives are devoid of meaning. It just implies we’re not fucking gods who are “free” to do impossible shit. Make of that what you will, but don’t even fucking pretend free will or the lack of it has everything to do with everything that’s meaningful.

  153. 653
    John Morales

    mikmik:

    Your life has meaning to you, or you wouldn’t bother with it, John Morales.

    Sure. It just doesn’t have a meaning, absent some referent.

    [1] It’s one thing not to justify your existence, but quite another not to value it. [2] If there is no meaning to your life, then it is meaningless.

    1. Who says I don’t value it?

    2. If there’s no porridge in your plate, then it is porridgeless.

    It has meaning to you, and just how needy this makes you can be demonstrated, and you will find a way to put this in perspective, like Ivan Denisovic, one day.

    Heehee. No, I distinguish between needs and desires, the two sets intersect but no more.

    Irrelevant

    So you don’t dispute it.

  154. 654
    mikmik

    Sure. It just doesn’t have a meaning, absent some referent.

    Agreed.

    2. If there’s no porridge in your plate, then it is porridgeless.

    It took me hours to come up with my brilliant observation, and you have captured the essence perfectly, dammit

    Heehee. No, I distinguish between needs and desires, the two sets intersect but no more.

    I was asphyxiating one day; mine intersected, no less.

    So you don’t dispute it.

    Relevant.

  155. 655
    mikmik

    No, I don’t “understand” that. Your Jedi mind-tricks won’t work on me.

    That our actions are caused does not imply our lives are devoid of meaning. It just implies we’re not fucking gods who are “free” to do impossible shit. Make of that what you will, but don’t even fucking pretend free will or the lack of it has everything to do with everything that’s meaningful.

    I’m not pretending. A rock rolls downhill, meaning is an illusion.
    Locomotive engineers don’t make the train follow the tracks.

  156. 656
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    concernedjoe:

    (moved from Guilty, guilty, guilty)

    Did that jury somehow escape the restraints of their brain, which the poor rapist wasn’t able to do?
    If not, then why are applauding the jury for their decision?

  157. 657
    Walton

    See! It makes sense! Walton is Spock’s brother, he is half Vulcan, FFS!
    Teach me the neck pinch, teach me the neck pinch, puhleeeezee!

    Oh, I’m very far from being half Vulcan. I actually have extremely poor control of my emotions, and am a highly emotional person generally.

    I just don’t, for whatever reason, feel the need to believe that I have control over my life or that I am responsible for my actions. Indeed, it comes as something of a relief to recognize that I’m not. (I’m already very prone to experiencing painful levels of guilt, and if I truly believed in free will, my guilt would probably become unbearable.)

  158. 658
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    {enter theophontes, in janitors uniform, with mop and bucket. starts cleaning out troll cage.}

    Hi Beatrice, hi Walton, don’t mind me…

    {pours new slops into trough. checks lock on gate.}

  159. 659
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    *edges slowly for the exit*
    *slips on a puddle of water*
    I’m fine. Fine. Nothing to see here.

    *slinks away*

  160. 660
    mikmik

    I just don’t, for whatever reason, feel the need to believe that I have control over my life or that I am responsible for my actions. Indeed, it comes as something of a relief to recognize that I’m not. (I’m already very prone to experiencing painful levels of guilt, and if I truly believed in free will, my guilt would probably become unbearable.)

    I totally relate to with you! It almost seems easier for me to forgive or understand others than apply it to myself. I think after the conversations here I am having to say that I’m not convinced one way or another on free will, but I’m definitely leaning towards an ability to influence my behaviors – not so you notice, though, as I have a tendency to over react to the littlest things, lol.
    I am becoming more receptive to the idea that one can find meaning without free will; I sure like Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche so far.
    Acyually, just browsing through, I like this summary: Nietzsche characterized nihilism as emptying the world and especially human existence of meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. This observation stems in part from Nietzsche’s perspectivism, or his notion that “knowledge” is always by someone of some thing: it is always bound by perspective, and it is never mere fact.
    I imagine one glance at the TV listings would elicit an “I told you so!” from him.
    Well, best get out of bed and get coffee, now!

  161. 661
    Dhorvath, OM

    Gödel. I posted earlier, somewhere, I think, that he proved that no mechanical system could be constructed, that used an algorithm to function, could produce consciousness.

    I see this has been addressed, but I just wanted to vent about Godel being extended too far as a frequent aggravation in these sorts of discussions. There, now I feel better.
    ___

    As for meaning, I prefer to distinguish it from purpose and keep it on a post hoc basis. I find meaning in things done, comfort in lives touched by myself and in lives that have tried or succeeded in touching me in turn. These things feel good to me, as they feel good I continue to seek them out, which would be my effective purpose in moving forwards in life.
    ___

    Speaking of things that feel good:
    Bestest Mashup Ever

  162. 662
    Ingdigo Jump

    (People who need supposed meaning to their lives are needy people)

    Fuck you

  163. 663
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    “meaning” is a fairly useless term in this context, as it implies something absolute. I think it’s better to discuss significance, which is personal and relative.

  164. 664
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Dhorvath

    Did you check out Lady Gaga vs Judas Priest?

  165. 665
    mikmik

    Dhorvath, OM

    I see this has been addressed, but I just wanted to vent about Godel being extended too far as a frequent aggravation in these sorts of discussions. There, now I feel better.

    Thanks. I think I included that there was significant criticism to his work, or maths, or what not. I thank you for warning me about the irritation! I am so totally out of my depth as far as education or experience goes, I imagine, and I wonder whether what I’m able to gather is significant, at times.
    ___

    As for meaning, I prefer to distinguish it from purpose and keep it on a post hoc basis. I find meaning in things done, comfort in lives touched by myself and in lives that have tried or succeeded in touching me in turn. These things feel good to me, as they feel good I continue to seek them out, which would be my effective purpose in moving forwards in life.

    Oh, you are a hedonist /I’m kidding!
    I pretty much think that is what drives me, too.

    That mashup is great! I like that song, but I am in the process of finding music for a friend, and I think it’s just the kind of thing I’m looking for!

    You rock :)

  166. 666
    strange gods before me ॐ

    “meaning” is a fairly useless term in this context, as it implies something absolute.

    Only to linguistic prescriptivists! *raspberry*

    Nah, I mean, to be serious, I can see how it would have that implication for some people, and it’s not “the wrong way to think” obviously since you’ve got other labels you find more relevant. But for me, meaning does not have that meaning. I consider that animals capable of experiencing meaning are the authors of meaning; thus it is both relative to the individual animal, and the real thing.

  167. 667
    mikmik

    consciousness razor

    No, I don’t “understand” that. Your Jedi mind-tricks won’t work on me.

    The force is strong in this one.
    It’s all done with mirrors. Don’t you hate it when people explain to you what you really think? I’m gonna wear a paper bag on my head.

    Actually, that’s something I would really do, just to see people’s reactions ;] Except around this neighborhood, I’d probably get knifed.

  168. 668
    Ingdigo Jump

    But for me, meaning does not have that meaning.

    You’re trying to hurt my dyslexic brain now!

  169. 669
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Raspberry deserved.

    Imma go back to lurking before I start writing Heidigger pastiche. Because that’s more or less what my unposted comments on this topic have come to resemble.

    In other words, as you all have been discussing, I have been wagging my shaggy head and murmuring to myself. I think I’ll go back to that.

  170. 670
    mikmik

    I guess I’m just old school, when we had duets.

  171. 671
    joey

    lipstick:

    I hope you get struck by lightning.

    Thanks.

    It’s still ghoulish to try to use someone’s despair as an opportunity for religious conversion.

    All I did was suggest that mikmik reconsider the notion that existence has no meaning. I would suggest that to any human being who I feel has reached a state of despair. Probably the reason you find it “ghoulish” is that you know that I genuinely believe it.

    —————–
    mikmik:

    Joey, I see people turning to God all around me, and it distresses me greatly, for it is a hollow reason to feel hope. I could never, ever, not even for a micro-planck, consider believing in god.

    I didn’t suggest you to “turn to God” but rather just reconsider that existence has no meaning. Many atheists still find some meaning/purpose in their lives. It’s a survival instinct, so just continue on surviving.

    —————–
    Stevarios:

    Nonsense. “Meaning of existence” does not reduce the likelihood of despair. For instance, I (personally) cannot express in words the unimaginable despair I would feel if it was discovered, with incontrovertible proof, that the god of the bible is real and that the ‘meaning of existence’ was that we are all Yahweh wank.

    Again, “meaning of existence” doesn’t exactly mean the belief in any god.

    —————–
    mikmik:

    I think joey may have been genuinely trying to reach me, I’ll have to ask him(consider it asked), but that’s one of the things that pisses me off, when I see the Christians around me use helping others as a chance to carry the message.

    I don’t mess around when someone (anyone) mentions suicide. I just can’t assume such these are said simply out of jest. Feelings of despair are truly sad, and suicide is even more tragic. Others may feel otherwise.

  172. 672
    Ingdigo Jump

    Joey your insincerity is well noted. Fuck off.

  173. 673
    mikmik

    You’re trying to hurt my dyslexic brain now!

    I can never tell the difference between theoretical, and experimental linguistics. In physics it’s easy to tell; size matters.
    Oh well…

  174. 674
    consciousness razor

    Only to linguistic prescriptivists! *n. the fruit of any of several shrubs belonging to the genus Rubus, of the rose family, consisting of small and juicy red, black, or pale yellow drupelets forming a detachable cap about a convex receptacle.*

    Fixed.

    Don’t you hate it when people explain to you what you really think?

    Hate is a strong word, but if you ever say something like “Therefore, you understand [blah, blah, blah]” after the person had just disagreed vehemently about it, you may want to reconsider that conclusion (or imperative or whatever it is) a few dozen times.

  175. 675
    Ingdigo Jump

    Jeoy you really need to address your dishonesty. I will not sit back and let you turn this blood bath into a house of lies!

  176. 676
    strange gods before me ॐ

    All I did was suggest that mikmik reconsider the notion that existence has no meaning. [...] I didn’t suggest you to “turn to God” but rather just reconsider that existence has no meaning.

    Not true, joey.

    You also suggested: “all these thoughts are derived from the premise of physicalism/materialsm. I sincerely suggest you ditch those philosophies as fundamental”.

    That’s quite a bit more than claiming existence has meaning. You not only claimed the latter — which several commenters here also claim — you tried to use it as a religious conversion opportunity, a moment to abandon physicalism.

    I would suggest that to any human being who I feel has reached a state of despair.

    And had you limited yourself to suggesting that existence has meaning, I would not have had cause to object.

    Probably the reason you find it “ghoulish” is that you know that I genuinely believe it.

    What is wrong with your reading comprehension, that renders you incapable of noticing that there are physicalists right here in this thread who genuinely believe there’s meaning in life?

    Ghoulishness is not simply to believe or disbelieve a premise — ghoulishness is to use another person’s existential vulnerability as an opportunity to give a thirty second pitch for your supernaturalism.

  177. 677
    Ingdigo Jump

    Joey’ your claims of true concern wouldn’t ring so hollow if you didn’t lie about everything else and spend so much time going “logically we must rape babies!”

    Your a dishonest shit

  178. 678
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Gosh, I never realised how deep Rob Halford’s lyrics are:

    Frantic mindless zombies
    Grab at fleeting time
    Lost in cold perplexion
    Waiting for the sign

    Generations tremble
    Clinging face to face
    Helpless situation
    To end the perfect race

    It’s like it was written for TZT. Poetry!


    @ joey

    All I did was suggest that mikmik reconsider the notion that existence has no meaning.

    Why? That is a complete waste of time. Mere existence cannot have a meaning in and of itself. One must personally create meaning. Not create imaginary gods to imbue one’s life with meaning. You gotta do it yourself. (Unless, like myself, one doesn’t consider the issue to be particularly important in the first place.)

    It is not as simple as saying “god gives existence meaning” or even “existence HAS meaning”. Those are lazy cop-outs.

  179. 679
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Antiochus Epiphanes,

    Imma go back to lurking before I start writing Heidigger pastiche. Because that’s more or less what my unposted comments on this topic have come to resemble.

    XD

    I dunno, AE, I would need a larger set of your murmurings on these subjects before I could confidently assess their quality.

    Can I order a sampler pack?

  180. 680
    strange gods before me ॐ

    I see no reason to think joey’s not sincere about trying to reach out to mikmik. I’m not calling that into question, just saying the gratuitous godbotting is ghoulish. And Ing, I think you’ve got a false dichotomy if you’re assuming a person could only be sincerely reaching out to another person qua person, or godbotting, but not both. Godbotting is what godbots do reflexively, but it doesn’t mean they’re not capable of simultaneously doing more. This doesn’t make the extraneous godbotting any less worthy of condemnation, of course.

  181. 681
    PZ Myers

    NEW ZOMBIE THREAD ARISES!

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