Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Big Other is Watching!

I remember Bob reading a book by Stanley Jaki in which he says that the existence of free will illuminates a vertical trail of transcendence that leads straight back to the Creator.

Yes, here it is: our intimation of "freedom or rather free will belies mere material existence.... in the final analysis, the elemental registering of free will almost exhausts whatever else can be said about its reality. Everything else is embellishment, very useful and informative as it may be, because it is irrelevant unless achieved and articulated freely."

In other words, any argument for or against free will obviously presumes its existence, since it proves the reality of the subject who is free to either accept or reject it. Conversely, to affirm that free will doesn't exist is to void one's argument at the outset, since the argument can appeal to neither truth nor to the subject who may know it; as Poincaré commented, "no determinist argues deterministically," so "all arguments against free will are so many proofs if it" (Jaki).

Every free act transcends matter, which is why any form of materialism is the very basis of illiberalism, and which is why the secular left is so spiritually destructive. We've been thinking about this a great deal lately, as Bob finally got around to reading Whittaker Chambers' Witness, followed by a more recent intellectual biography. (Actually, since Chambers was more of a prophet and mystic, the book is more of a pneumacognitive biography. Can't get into details at the moment. We hope to say more about it when we have the time.)

Intrinsic to the project of leftism is the abolition of that which transcends matter, which must result in the dehumanization of humans and the end of Man. This is why their assault on religion in general and the soul in particular is not peripheral but absolutely essential to their goals; it is not a bug but a feature.

In short, the left must replace transcendence with immanence. Once that has been accomplished, then everything else falls all the way down into place. It's like building the cage. Once the cage of immanence is complete, then man lives behind bars he can't even see, but which suppress and nullify the mythic imagination. Instead of imagination containing the world, materialism contains the imagination.

The problem is, not too many people think about what the existence of free will implies, since it is not quantifiable or reducible to anything but itself. Like so many other fundamental realities -- time, life, intelligence, beauty, etc. -- it seems that we know everything about it except what it essentially is.

This leads us to suspect that these fundamentals are somehow implicitly linked to one another, and that there is but one Incomprehensible Thing with several different modes, depending upon how one looks at it. For example, life is interior time; time is freedom; intelligence is freedom + truth; virtue is truth + will; beauty is form + truth; etc.

We are free to the extent that we are a conscious subject rather than an object that only reacts and is acted upon. However, freedom can only be exercised in an objective world, which is to say, on objects, including "objects" within oneself (including objective pseudo-subjects that have no business being there, i.e., mind parasites).

This is why man is more or less free, depending upon the existence of mind parasites that live off the central host by appropriating a portion of its existential freedom. Like our trolls, mind parasites are certainly willful, but not free.

If everything were subjective, then there could not be free will either. This leads to an interesting spookulation about the "necessity" (so to speak) of the world (i.e., a creation) for God's total freedom.

In other words, just like us, how could God be meaningfully free unless there were objects to act upon? To put it another way, perhaps God's freedom is ultimately given its highest expression in the existence of the human subject which can either deny or align itself with him. Thus, denial of God is the ironyclad proof of His existence, and even a kind of ultimate -- if inverse -- and perverse -- seal of his divine freedom. (This is similar to how the denial of truth is its assertion, or the promulgation of materialism is its refutation.)

There is no meaningful terrestrial freedom in the absence of the human will, but the will is only free to the extent that it is free from certain repetitive actions and mechanical patterns of thought, which we call Mind Parasites. As Emerson wrote (cited in Jaki), "Intellect annuls Fate. So far as man thinks, he is free."

But freedom itself is not something that could ever be attained, only revealed and discovered in natural law (which is obviously supernatural). For its existence brings one "face to face with that realm of metaphysical reality which hangs in mid-air unless suspended from that Ultimate Reality, best called God, the Creator" (Jaki).

Hmm, why does that ring a bell of freedom's fleshing? Oh yes:

Starry-eyed and laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended


The Judeo-Christian affirmation of man's freedom is "born out of the perspective that man was given freedom not in order to do anything he wants to but that he should be able to do what he is supposed to do." We are created free so that our actions "may have that merit which only a freely performed act can have. God therefore has to remain a subtly hidden God, lest man should find himself 'constrained' to obey Him" (Jaki). Here again man would find himself in another kind of cage, only a transcendent one instead of the immanent prison of the psychospiritual left (one thinks of the Islamic world).

In Keys of Gnosis, Bolton widens the argument to a more meta-cosmic perspective. He begins with the premise that "Free will and its opposite, determinism, form a duality in human consciousness which parallels that of Providence and Fate in the world."

This makes perfect nonsense if freedom is only free to the extent that it both emanates from, and returns to, the Creator, when exercised responsibly, and yet, can only exist in a world that is other than free, which is to say, partially determined and bound by Fate. When "the word becomes flesh," it essentially submits itself or descends into a world of fate which it must transcend.

On the human plane there can be neither pure freedom nor pure determinacy -- or, by extension, pure providence nor unalloyed fate -- but always a mingling of the two in various proportions. As Bolton explains, this is why the issue can appear confusing to people, since it's not as if freedom is an either/or proposition.

Rather, each individual has a varying mixture of freedom and determinacy, chance and necessity, horizontal parasites and vertical symbionts, flack and slack.

Furthermore, this would imply that a central task of spiritual growth is to increase the one while diminishing the other, i.e., mind parasites and other mechanical patterns of thought and behavior, so that we may increasingly "rise above" fate and become relatively free. Here it can easily be understood how an improper kind of freedom is slavery while a proper kind of slavery is freedom. It is not actually a paradox at all, especially since truth (and only truth) sets one free, and truth simply is. To deny what Is is to submit to slavery.

Ironically, it is during our early childhood that we are most "free," i.e., unconstrained by any limits. But we actually aren't really free at all, since there is no will to choose or to mediate the freedom. Thus, when we nostalgically yearn for the freedom of childhood, we are actually pining for the absence of freedom, or the "pre-free" infinity of non-choosing (not to mention the existence of the Big Other whose job it is to sponsor and maintain the illusion of our freedom, and to introduce painful limits only gradually).

For just as there is an infinity of endless numerical succession, there is also the infinity of the pre-numerical Zero. A better word might be innocence than freedom. Innocence literally means "without knowledge," and in childhood we are without knowledge of our freedom or our fate. This implies that the exercise of free will and the "fall" from the innocent paradise of infancy are indistinguishable, just as it says in Genesis.

So, as Bolton writes, we are "originally unfree, but with a nascent free will which can develop to its full potential under the right conditions." Thus, political freedom is a means, not an end. By making it the end, the left undermines it in any meaningful sense. And then, since it doesn't mean anything anyway, they just go about eliminating it altogether, so they can do the choosing for you. Which is why tyrannies are only free at the top, in the Big Other who knows better how to run your life.

116 Comments:

Blogger Van said...

"In other words, any argument for or against free will obviously presumes its existence, since it proves the reality of the subject who is free to either accept or reject it. Conversely, to affirm that free will doesn't exist is to void one's argument at the outset, since the argument can appeal to neither truth nor to the subject who may know it; as Poincaré commented, "no determinist argues deterministically," so "all arguments against free will are so many proofs if it" (Jaki). "

How can a conscious person claim, with a straight face, that there is no Free Will? Next thing you know, they'll claim there is no consciousness... which of course is the next thing they claim. As outrageous as that is, it is the only option open to them.

It really is the most baffling one of all, and is at the root of all modernist proregression.

I suppose the only conclusion to be made is that they are only unconciously conscious.

12/29/2010 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, it's a real philosophical and spiritual bifurcation. But the denial of free will is obviously an appealing philosophy for losers.

12/29/2010 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which is why the left doesn't understand why so many people they regard as losers reject them.

12/29/2010 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"This leads us to suspect that these fundamentals are somehow implicitly linked to one another, and that there is but one Incomprehensible Thing with several different modes, depending upon how one looks at it. For example, life is interior time; time is freedom; intelligence is freedom + truth; virtue is truth + will; beauty is form + truth; etc. "

Good post, notepad's filling up with quotes again, but this one I had to pause over, 'time is freedom'?

I can see that time is the the necessary field for freedom to take place, time being necessary for free will to act within - without time there is no ability to make a choice, there's literally no time to choose.

Do you mean it in that sense, or something else?

12/29/2010 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I suppose I'm thinking of it in the sense that to be aware of time is to be aware of choice.

12/29/2010 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Isn't a psychologist who believes in free-will a lot like a chemist who believes in phlogiston?

12/29/2010 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'd change psychologists if I we're you. You're being cheated. And not just of money.

12/29/2010 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "... to be aware of time is to be aware of choice."

Ah, gotcha. Cooncur.

12/29/2010 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

nags said "...Isn't a psychologist who belie..."

Perhaps the best argument against Free Will, is that any argument for Free Will causes the those who don't believe in Free Will to choose to attack it... almost as if it were against their will... but then there's that nagging choice chosen again, which if you choose to see it, collapses the whole argument they chose to challenge it with.

Amazing what turning a blind I can do.

I've got the nagging feeling that I've seen this one play out before.

12/29/2010 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

wv has chosen to add: wahwa
Cooncur.

12/29/2010 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"We are created free so that our actions "may have that merit which only a freely performed act can have. God therefore has to remain a subtly hidden God, lest man should find himself 'constrained' to obey Him" (Jaki). "

That's what first put the "If there's a God, why doesn't he show his face and prove himself to me!" argument to bed for me; Free Will would be meaningless if you had no reason to exercise it.

To give out answers would deprive you of the benefit of solving the questions, and without the process of solving them you'd never make the gazillions of integrations which each piece of knowledge represents - the result of giving answers would be that real knowledge would never be created.

Attaining real knowledge is a creative process, where you literally re-create the Cosmos within you (pristinly or befouled), and if nothing else, the process of creation seems to be a biggee in this here Cosmos.

12/29/2010 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

God therefore has to remain a subtly hidden God, lest man should find himself 'constrained' to obey Him

Father Stephen had a good post on this a couple of weeks ago:

"I have come to see something I never saw before – the Presence within the Absence. I don’t mean to sound too mystical here – only that I see in the hiddenness of God a revelation of His love."

12/29/2010 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Van, re. free will, you said
Perhaps the best argument against Free Will, is that any argument for Free Will causes the those who don't believe in Free Will to choose to attack it...

I think in that first line you meant the best argument for free will. It's humorous, though, that those who don't believe in it feel the need to attack it. If they are correct, the people who argue for free will simply can't help themselves.

12/29/2010 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"It's humorous, though, that those who don't believe in it feel the need to attack it."

"Attack" it or call it into question?

"If they are correct, the people who argue for free will simply can't help themselves."

Unless and until they see the error of their argument and are able to admit it.

12/29/2010 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

XD

Comedy gold, Nagarjuna. It's not nice to make me laugh, though, I might pop an incision...

12/29/2010 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

At least it's good to know we're free to admit we don't have free will.

12/29/2010 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "I think in that first line you meant the best argument for free will. It's humorous, though, that those who don't believe in it feel the need to attack it."

No, I actually did mean 'against' but I was being snide in cheek about it and their ability to make an argument even when they can't seem to help themselves (that would be the pro'against' part), since with the very first step of their argument, they undo it. But I understand your correcting it; I have fun with twisting sentences up on those sorts of things, but it does make it hard to follow.

I'm betting nags will provide some more demo's for us.

12/29/2010 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

See!

ROFLOL

12/29/2010 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

12/29/2010 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"At least it's good to know we're free to admit we don't have free will."

We admit we don't have free will when we are caused to realize that we don't have it, and this realization, accompanied by a caused desire to admit what we realize and unobstructed by caused overriding inhibitions, causes us to admit it.

In other words, my dear "Raccoons," we aren't "free" to admit we don't have free will in the sense of being able to do it if the aforementioned conditions aren't present; we admit it only when the aforementioned conditions CAUSE us to do so.

12/29/2010 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

We admit we don't have free will when we are caused to realize that we don't have it, and this realization, accompanied by a caused desire to admit what we realize and unobstructed by caused overriding inhibitions, causes us to admit it.

Amazing. It's like he's crammed his head so far up his own backside he's actually managed to look through his own eyes once removed.

12/29/2010 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If what he believes is true it is false, unless he believes that truth is only some kind of effect of something less, which makes no sense at all.

12/29/2010 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Amazing. It's like this obviously intelligent and impressively articulate woman has been reduced by impeccably sound argument to insubstantial personal remarks. ;-)

12/29/2010 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

nags input the words "admit, realize, realization, desire, inhibitions, sense, if, present, us "

These are just the first few words which jump out at me from the words you chose to use, which have absolutely no meaning (oops, can't use that one)... no place in a deterministic entity. A rock doesn't desire or sense, a flag pole does not realize, and a computer certainly doesn't experience inhibitions. These are words which require not only consciousness, but free will to conceive of, each of which cannot have meaning apart from choice being involved in their application.

Cause is not, and does not, choose. Causation simply happens, as a rock is pulled by gravity, a flagpole sways in the wind and a computer outputs the results as a result of electricity obeying the rules of physics while passing through an intricate arrangement of switches. There is no choice, free or otherwise, occuring in such things, merely results.

The fact that you can put even those three words together and not see their absurdity... is... well, I'll leave it for the reader to choose the appropriate word.

Although you may refuse to realize it, there is no 'realize' without... well, you get the idea.

There is of course a crude approximation of determinism available to man, that of choosing to renounce his humaness, his active choice, to, as much as possible, merely react to events as the impulse directs. It is sick and obscene... hence your being attracted to it... but even that cannot escape the fact that you are choosing to make the least possible effort in your choices.

I do wish you well and god speed in your effort to obliterate your consciousness and its despised need to make choices; would that you could succeed in that endeavor before choosing to input words here again.

wv:cryopu
Yep.

12/29/2010 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Exactly. The arguments he makes are like a set of mental contortions, which simply prove that he will see only what he will see, if you catch my meaning, and since that's all he sees that's what must be. In reality, his argument is the logical equivalent of the following statement: "This sentence is false."

12/29/2010 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Truth is correspondence of statement with fact, but our acknowledging truth requires the right conditions. We aren't "free" to recognize truth if we lack the cognitive capacity or psychological inclination to do so.

12/29/2010 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, he belives his existential misery is an effect of his denial of free will, when it is quite the opposite. In that sense, like all mind parasites, his drab philosophy is indeed caused by an impoverished prior psychospiritual condition. Nor does the mind parasite wish to be liberated. Obviously, it fights for its survival.

12/29/2010 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

...has been reduced by impeccably sound argument to insubstantial personal remarks.

By impeccably sound argument? Sadly, no. The insubstantial personal remark was simply the visual which came to mind when I followed your logic. A more poetic presentation of same might be the image of Ouroboros swallowing its own tail so far that its mouth meets its mouth. But I am a decidedly uncouth person in a great many ways, and the first visual was funnier.

12/29/2010 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Cause is not, and does not, choose."

Why not? "Choice" is selection between alternatives. For example, I am presented with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. I love chocolate and hate vanilla ice cream. I desire to eat ice cream and have no overriding motivation not to eat it or to select the flavor I hate in place of the one I love. Therefore, I CHOOSE" chocolate and am not "free" to choose otherwise under those conditions. There is a choice in the sense that I make a selection between the two alternatives. But it is a determined choice.

How am I wrong about this?

"to, as much as possible, merely react to events as the impulse directs."

Not at all. I deliberate and value deliberation probably as much as you do before I make choices, especially important ones. But I see those deliberations as the result of my nature at the time I make them such that, given that nature at that time, they couldn't go any other way or issue in any other choices than the ones that follow them.

12/29/2010 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"The insubstantial personal remark was simply the visual which came to mind when I followed your logic."

Clever, as usual, Julie. But if you follow my Ouroborosian logic well enough to have such a vivid image of it in your fertile mind's eye, could you concisely state it in words so that my visually impaired and ungifted mind might comprehend its fallacious nature.

12/29/2010 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

nags input "Truth is correspondence of statement with fact, but our acknowledging truth requires the right conditions."

Truth is a factual identification that has been conceptually integrated into a given context, by a conscious and intelligent being. Recognizing truth requires our choosing to acknowledge not only that factual identification, but some portion of the far wider context it is integrated into, otherwise what you are left with is simply a statement which corresponds, at best, with a fact, one which those capable of recognizing it - do.

"We aren't "free" to recognize truth if we lack the cognitive capacity or psychological inclination to do so."

We are no more free to recognize a truth deeper than the levels of integration we have chosen to intellectually lift ourselves into realizing, than we are free to step unaided onto an interior third floor landing from the exterior first floor entry way.

Your standing at the first floor pouting, whining and sobbing that you are unable to step up to the third floor, or wailing that the entire second floor and the flights of stairs which connect them, are unfairly preventing you from doing what you want... can provide much laughter for those bothering to poke their heads out of the skyscrapers windows to observe you.

But mostly it's just annoying.

12/29/2010 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

...could you concisely state it in words so that my visually impaired and ungifted mind might comprehend its fallacious nature.

I'm afraid not. I can't make you see what you won't see. Or rather, in your own words, "We aren't 'free' to recognize truth if we lack the... psychological inclination to do so."

However, for grins and giggles, here's how it went:

You: "We admit we don't have free will when we are caused to realize that we don't have it, and this realization, accompanied by a caused desire to admit what we realize and unobstructed by caused overriding inhibitions, causes us to admit it."

Trancelightion: We are forced to admit we are slaves. When we realize we are slaves, we are forced to want to say we are slaves. When we are not forced by other forces to not realize we are slaves, we are forced to admit we are slaves.

If this were true, calling free will into question is simply a waste of time, as those who argue for it are doing so because they are caused by something greater than your arguments against it. Also, regardless of whether they have free will or not, they cannot possibly do other than make the argument. Of course, by the same reasoning, you are helpless to do anything other than argue that their argument is futile.

Poor you.

12/29/2010 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

nags input "Why not? "Choice" is selection between alternatives. For example, I am pr..."

You are a walking case of conceptual grand larceny. Nothing you say can be said, without acknowledging the one thing you so fervently deny and wish didn't exist.

It is astounding to behold, though sadly you will never bewholed it.

"Why, selection ,example,I"

You should be doing 5 to 10 years of hard spiritual and intellectual labor in the nearest academic big house for even conspiring to use those words while holding your premises... except that the inmates are running the asshighlum, and it would do no good whatsoever to sentence you there.

12/29/2010 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Thank you for your comments Bob, Van, and Julie.

12/29/2010 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

nags input "Thank you for your comments Bob, Van, and Julie."

Not to be rude... but... having once been a Prince of Rude, I cannot help myself - of what value are "thanks" which are only caused, rather than freely offered?

Happy Holydaze nags.

12/29/2010 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"of what value are "thanks" which are only caused, rather than freely offered?"

Van, they're of as much "value" as are any other heartfelt expressions of gratitude, even though, as far as I can fathom, they're ALL caused by our nature and circumstances at the time.

12/29/2010 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Beyond of the pale of tolerable stupidity. Idiot.

namaste.

12/29/2010 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

So basically we have unlimited freedom to not use our freedom. But time still passes, and a life still results. Even if we don't take responsibility for it, we still are responsible for it.

God sent us two boats and a helicopter, as the saying goes, so that is not the problem. The problem is that there is always something we want. Our highest aspiration is not our only aspiration. Because we are, as stated, mixed.

It is kind of disturbing, once you start observing it, how a small thing, sometimes just words, can make the compass needle of the mind go wild instead of pointing steadily toward our highest aspiration. (Those of us who have a high aspiration, of course. Otherwise random is the order of the day.)

12/30/2010 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

The other side: We don't have the freedom to walk up to a piano, the first time we see such a thing, and play it perfectly. The same goes for a chess board. Even after having seen it used, and had it explained, it takes months of practice to handle it decently, and usually a decade or so of intensive practice to master it.

Despite this, it is common, after having wasted some part of one's life, to walk up to virtue and expect to perform it perfectly, merely by wanting to.

Wouldn't that be nice!

"Humility is a subset of realism", as my higher self has often told me. We are not humble because it is a good and virtuous thing to be, or because it pleases God. (Although it certainly does, not for His sake, but because we kids won't hurt ourselves so badly.) We are humble because we are prone to failure even when we fully intend not to fail. And because, even if we don't exactly fail, we still certainly have room for improvement.

So we are not free to suddenly become grandmasters, but we are free to practice daily. As for those who see the freedom to discipline as slavery, for them the freedom to progress remains an illusion.

12/30/2010 04:11:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Beyond of the pale of tolerable stupidity. Idiot."

Yes, Van, I'm such an "idiot" that I'm the only person who has ever espoused determinism. ;-) And a "namaste" back at you.

"So we are not free to suddenly become grandmasters, but we are free to practice daily."

"Free," perhaps, from external constraints, but "free" to practice if you have no motivation to do so?

12/30/2010 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

nags input "I'm such an "idiot" that I'm the only person who has ever espoused determinism"

It must give you great comfort to be one of so many, many idiots. No doubt it comforts you to claim that fellowship of fools as your motivation, rather than having to do the daily work of initiating and tending thought and deed which providing your own motivation requires.

In short, you're spiritually and intellectually lazy, and just as a criminal will paradoxically go to fantastic lengths of planning and effort to steal what is not theirs, but won't go through the much lesser efforts required to earn their own way, you engage in large amounts of "deliberations " and other mental contortions in the hopes of thieving motivation from your surroundings, rather than engaging in the simpler effort, but greater responsibility, of choosing to think for yourself.

Sick and sad.

Numbasstah.

12/30/2010 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"It must give you great comfort to be one of so many, many idiots."

Van, the fact that countless philosophers, scientists, and others who are decidedly not "idiots," except in your idiosyncratic estimation, also espouse determinism of one sort or other does not, in itself, give me "great comfort." But when I consider the arguments and evidence they cite for their positions and I call upon my own experience and reflections, I certainly see no reason to reject their and my deterministic views.

However, I continue to offer voluntarists like you a chance to show me with cogent arguments and compelling facts the error of my understanding. Yet, all I essentially receive is personal insults from people who appear to have nothing more substantive to offer.

Maybe you're offering more substance than I have the intellectual capacity or psychological inclination to appreciate, and all those seemingly brilliant philosophers, scientists, and others out there who believe as I do are actually the "fools" you say they are. Or maybe it's YOU who are the "fool" for being so unblinkingly dismissive of us.

I don't know, Van. I just do the best I can to find out, even if you don't think I do, because, after all, if I did the best I could, I would see things exactly the way YOU do because you, Oh great Oracle, already know it all. ;-)

12/30/2010 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You are seeking a way to exit your servility, but from people who cannot help you. How strange.

12/30/2010 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Perhaps it is, Bob.

12/30/2010 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger anon said...

Nagarjuna -- you are making the mistake of thinking the people here are interested in reasoned discussion. They aren't -- it's just a celebration of their own specialness, and challenges to that are met with juvenile insults at best. I understand what you're looking for, but you won't find it here.

12/30/2010 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I forget -- is anon the thinking man's Nagarjuna, or is it vice versa?

12/30/2010 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"I understand what you're looking for, but you won't find it here."

Yes, his chains.

12/30/2010 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

WHY am I looking for my chains?

12/30/2010 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Indeed.

12/30/2010 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That's between you and your therapist.

12/30/2010 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

The point of my question is that if I'm truly looking for my "chains" and there's an answer a therapist could help me discover as to WHY I'm looking for them, that answer is the CAUSE of why I'm looking, and that cause, in turn, has a cause, and so on and so on until we're talking about causes of my choices and actions that extend far, far beyond "me." And if that's true, 'I' do not make choices that are "free" to be other than what those causes determine them to be.

12/30/2010 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

nags input "Van, the fact that countless philosophers, scientists, and others who are decidedly not "idiots," except in your idiosyncratic estimation..."

Well, I've let my fingers run off at the mouth and do what I dislike. I’ve no problem heatedly arguing my point, but I’ve have a huge problem with people calling those who don't agree with them 'stoopid', etc – being blatantly Wrong, is a very different thing than being stupid. I obviously think my positions are correct, but I don't see myself as having 'the answer' which everyone else must agree with.

However, your position, and that of all determinists, is an entry level decision which fundamentally divides all further philosophical, ethical, political positions from that point forward, and very much does put them into opposition to each other, every bit as much, and as seriously, as the Cold War put America and the USSR into potentially violent and lethal opposition.

Whether or not you choose to admit it, your position inescapably aligns itself with, and indeed requires, totalitarianism, requires it in politics, requires it in Art, in the humanities, spirituality and every other aspect of everyday life. Your position against Free Will obviously, puts you in direct opposition to everything having to do with freedom and liberty, not to mention the pursuit of happiness and all the rest. I am in fundamental opposition to that, and in no way apologize for feeling, conveying or demonstrating anger in response to such ideas being pushed into my face.

But when my anger 'causes' me to say something which itself undermines what I understand and believe, that's a moment to pause, take a deep breath and bite my tongue (though I wouldn't rule out flipping the bird while doing so).

"Yet, all I essentially receive is personal insults from people who appear to have nothing more substantive to offer."

Final note - Your disagreement with our positions does not qualify as our having "nothing more substantive to offer", you simply refuse to honestly discuss the matter, and having reached your conclusions... sorry, how insensitive of me... the environment having your caused your positions to be lodged into your brain in the form they have, should result in your not returning here... again and again and again trying to force your square peg into our round whOle.

Your belligerent refusal to acknowledge the most basic necessity for intellectual discussion, Free Will, while using every conceptual property of that which you deny exists, leaves no possibility for legitimate discussion. Refusing to acknowledge that 2+2=4 cannot be done civilly, or lead to civil discourse past that point where an explanation has been given again and again, and refused by you over and over. Such a thing is an intellectual assault on every aspect of thought and life.

We can choose to respond to it civilly, and it might be considered 'nice' to do so, but there is nothing in your position which makes it incumbent upon us to do so.

Numbasstah.

12/30/2010 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This is what happens when one conflates "caused" and "determined."

12/30/2010 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I might add that the absence of freedom can only be perceived from the perspective of freedom, so that to say that there is no free will is absolutely meaningless gibberish-- just words, like saying that there is only left but no right, or only a top with no bottom. It is intrinsically absurd.

12/30/2010 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

nags input "...help me discover as to WHY I'm looking for them, that answer is the CAUSE of why I'm looking, and that cause, in turn, has a cause, and so on and so on..."

That is the chain which you willingly forge around yourself, wrapping it round and round, apparently in the belief that the tighter and more detailed you can wrap it, somehow it will set you free.

Or more likely, simply as a convenient excuse for all you fail to see and do.

12/30/2010 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, as most primitives do, he has reified his metaphor -- as if psychic causes are really no different from physical ones.

12/30/2010 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I might add that the absence of freedom can only be perceived from the perspective of freedom...

Kind of like how the quality of wetness can only be perceived by those who do not dwell in the water.

12/30/2010 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Indeed. Man is the psychic amphibian.

12/30/2010 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"This is what happens when one conflates "caused" and "determined."

If A causes B, how is it not the case that A determines that B happens? In other words, how are "cause" and "determine" NOT synonymous?

12/30/2010 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/30/2010 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Also, as most primitives do, he has reified his metaphor -- as if psychic causes are really no different from physical ones."

How is psychic causation not ultimately equivalent to physical causation? That is, if a physical A causes a physical B, how is there not an equivalent mental A causing a mental B?

12/30/2010 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Your belligerent refusal to acknowledge the most basic necessity for intellectual discussion, Free Will, while using every conceptual property of that which you deny exists, leaves no possibility for legitimate discussion."

Van, how do YOU define "free will"?

12/30/2010 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

nags input "In other words, how are "cause" and "determine" NOT synonymous?"

You are a conscious creature you... you... non-idiot! You are not a block of wood whose every movement is directly determined by the actions of outside objects acting upon it. For every 'cause' that travels in through your nervous system to your brain, there is a decision that your mind must choose to make, before your response can follow from that 'cause'.

You can choose to respond with very little thought, or you can stand there like Buridan's ass from sunrise to sunset, but unless your body gives out and you collapse, your actions wait upon your choosing them.

You can deny it, but you look damn silly doing so.

12/30/2010 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

nags input "Van, how do YOU define "free will"?"

Pretty much the same way I did three or four years ago when I thought you were honestly interested in thinking about the issue.

12/30/2010 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"How is psychic causation not ultimately equivalent to physical causation?"

Good idea to answer that question at the outset, not as an afterthought. How is falling in love not like a falling rock?

12/30/2010 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And how can one be simultaneously scatter-brained and dense? It makes no sense.

12/30/2010 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"You are not a block of wood whose every movement is directly determined by the actions of outside objects acting upon it."

I agree. There is a complex interplay of environmental and organismic conditions that inevitably causes the choices the organism-environment field makes.

"For every 'cause' that travels in through your nervous system to your brain, there is a decision that your mind must choose to make, before your response can follow from that 'cause'."

But what causes the mind to choose to make the decision it makes before one's response can follow from causes traveling through one's nervous system to one's brain?

12/30/2010 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or thick and shallow. Or empty-headed and full of it. So confusing!

12/30/2010 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Pretty much the same way I did three or four years ago when I thought you were honestly interested in thinking about the issue."

And what way was that?

12/30/2010 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Good idea to answer that question at the outset, not as an afterthought. How is falling in love not like a falling rock?"

With all that you presumably know about human psychology and biology, how can you say that they aren't ultimately equivalent?

12/30/2010 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I know of no psychologist -- not even the dumbest -- who regards them as so.

12/30/2010 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Nags input “And what way was that?”

Go look it up yourself, or you can find several posts on my site which explain my conception of it in more depth than a comment window will allow. Some of this ‘debate’ with you is amusing, but I’m not gonna join in and actually play your game.

Why not? Because you choose to pretend that gibberish like this,

“...what causes the mind to choose to make the decision it makes before one's response can follow from causes traveling through one's nervous system to one's brain...”

Is a sensible thing to say, rather than an elaborate ruse to avoid the simple answer, which in this case, is:

YOU!!! It’s YOU You damn moron! IT IS YOU THAT IS THE CAUSE! YOUR CHOICE IS ITS OWN CAUSE!!! THERE IS NOTHING BELOW THAT, NO ESCAPE HATCH, NO WAY OF AVOIDING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOU BEING YOU. YOU MAKE YOUR OWN CHOICES, THEY ARE NOT MADE BY INDIGESTION OR HOW FREQUENTLY YOUR DIAPERS WERE CHANGED LO THESE MANY YEARS AGO!!! YOU!!! HERE AND NOW!!! YOU CAN’T AVOID YOU AND YOU CAN’T RUN AWAY FROM YOU – DEAL WITH IT

You see, such an argument over why the coin has two sides, and why can’t you separate the front from the back, are pointless and can have zero intellectual depth or point, no matter how you phrase it, deliberate over it, or wrap it in one convoluted diversion after another.

It simply is the way it is, and your refusing to acknowledge that, does, and can do, nothing to change it.

12/30/2010 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, what did you buy your rock for Valentine's Day?

12/30/2010 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"YOU!!! It’s YOU You damn moron! IT IS YOU THAT IS THE CAUSE! YOUR CHOICE IS ITS OWN CAUSE!!!"

What is this "YOU" other than interconnected physical, biological, psychological, and social processes acting as those processes determine?

A choice is its own cause? In other words, it springs "ex nihilo"? There is no "WHY" behind the choices we make?

12/30/2010 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Van, that reminds me of Dr. Drill Sergeant. Unsurprisingly, he's not an Obama fan.

12/30/2010 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"BTW, what did you buy your rock for Valentine's Day?"

What did you buy yours?

12/30/2010 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A rock.

12/30/2010 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

What is this "YOU" other than interconnected physical, biological, psychological, and social processes acting as those processes determine?

Well, there you go. Under that definition, there really isn't a difference between a falling rock and falling in love.

12/30/2010 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Armstrong said...

The problem seems to have predictably devolved into one of inadequate data to DETERMINE whether there is free will or not.

But what data could there be? And from what would it come? and how?

So, that's my question: What new data would be useful?

Or, absent a data idea, How would things be different in a universe where people's decisions are DETERMINED as opposed to a universe where people had FREE WILL?

A course, you Fee Willies will also, eventually, have to disclose where you think this Free Will is, and what's its, um, mechanics.

12/30/2010 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Well, there you go. Under that definition, there really isn't a difference between a falling rock and falling in love."

Well, Julie, I wonder how this "definition" is not who we truly and ultimately are.

12/30/2010 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

How would things be different in a universe where people's decisions are DETERMINED as opposed to a universe where people had FREE WILL?

Simple. A universe where everything is determined would be dead on arrival.

12/30/2010 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "Van, that reminds me of Dr. Drill Sergeant."

Hey you got my impression! I wasn't sure that I had the inflection just right or not... Rich Little, look out!

;-)

12/30/2010 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No one needs to prove the existence of eyes to know that vision exists.

12/30/2010 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Nagarjuna, after this conversation I have no doubt whatsoever that there is little distinction between you and a rock, except that you could always choose to be more.

12/30/2010 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A universe in which everything is determined could not be known, period. Conversely, to know is to transcend.

Likewise, if humans did not possess free will, they could not possibly know it (just like animals who neither possess free will nor can know it).

12/30/2010 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It is not just that the truth sets one free, but that only the truth sets one free -- for one cannot be wedded to an illusion and meaningfully call oneself free.

12/30/2010 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Rock on, Nagarjuna!

12/30/2010 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

I'm rockin'.

12/30/2010 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

tom unsprung input "But what data could there be? And from what would it come? and how?"

And how could you ask the question if you didn't already know you didn't know... and how could something which is determined, know, or not know, anything at all? It would simply be. Because that is not our nature, because you do not know everything, you know that you have to choose to learn some things - including whether or not you will bother to acknowledge the obvious, or not.

"Or, absent a data idea, How would things be different in a universe where people's decisions are DETERMINED as opposed to a universe where people had FREE WILL?"

Such a universe would be exactly like the one which exists in my kids HALO game. Though absent any players playing in it, of course.

"So, that's my question: What new data would be useful?"

So long as you refuse to see it? None.

12/30/2010 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Illusion only exists because truth does; likewise, necessity only because of freedom. The former are parasitic on the latter.

12/30/2010 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"I was also interested in the work of B.F. Skinner, wondering how so absolute a determinist could write a utopia, Walden Two, and digging into his beautifully reasoned writings until I discovered the flaw in his system. This I explained in a lecture which Skinner, though I forewarned him in person, did not attend. I saw that his reasoning was still haunted by the ghost of man as a something--presumably a conscious ego--determined by environmental and other forces, for it makes no sense to speak of a determinism unless there is some passive object which is determined. But his own reasoning made it clear, not so much that human behavior was determined by other forces, but rather than it could not be described apart from those forces and was, indeed, inseparable from them. It did not seem to have occurred to him that "cause" and "effect" are simply two phases of, or two ways of looking at, one and the same event. It is not, then, that effects (in this case human behaviors) are determined by their causes. The point is that when events are fully and properly described they will be found to involve and contain processes which were at first thought separate from them, and were thus called causes as distinct from effects. Taken to his logical conclusion, Skinner is not saying that man is determined by nature, as something external to him: he is actually saying that man IS nature, and is describing a process that is neither determined nor determining. He simply provides reason for the essentially mystical view that man and universe are inseparable." (Alan Watts, In My Own Way, p.349)

12/30/2010 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

B.F. Skinner: nice theory, wrong species.

12/30/2010 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger anon said...

"all theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience is for it." -- Samuel Johnson

Of course the contradiction between those two viewpoints is what makes it a philosophically interesting question. An honest, intelligent person acknowledges both sides; ideologues or people in denial will fixate on one side of the question and try to paint anyone who differs as evil or broken.

12/30/2010 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

I think you're right, Anon. I think there are too many people on both sides and in the middle of this issue to cavalierly dismiss any of them, I suspect that there's important truth to be found in all of their positions, and I guess you could say that I'm looking to reconcile all of them in my own inadequate way.

12/30/2010 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This unedifying conversation reminds us of how Einstein could not accept the quantum theory, because it describes a world that is caused but not determined. Mechanistic dreams die hard.

12/30/2010 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"because it describes a world that is caused but not determined."

Once again, what's the difference between "caused" and "determined"?

12/30/2010 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good question, Einstein!

12/30/2010 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I might add that not a soul here wishes to talk anonarjuna out of their denial of free-will. In a free country, it is their right to choose servility.

Our only objection is when such eccentrics translate their values to political action, and deny other people their freedom just because they don't believe in it.

12/30/2010 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

anunce mouthed "Of course the contradiction between those two viewpoints is what makes it a philosophically interesting question."

What makes a philosophical question interesting... or of any point or worth at all... is that it suggests that there is some reply which must be made to it, or at least sought after. I suggest that refusing to attempt to answer the question, refusing to consider the evidence, or denying that it exists, is not only not an interesting thing to do, but it is an insult to all those who have engaged with the question.

nags (aka integralist, aka aka) & I first started in on this question about 5 years ago and there are reams worth of respectful questioning back and forth, in the archives here, and on several on my site, which attest to that.

However when it becomes apparent that someone isn't really considering the available information, isn't really interested in attempting to answer the question, but instead only wishes to engage in perpetual philosophical masturbation, they lose some measure of their due respect.

An honest, intelligent person acknowledges that when someone has diligently considered all of the available evidence, engaged you in reasoning over the matter but arrived at a different conclusion than you, it is time to acknowledge their right to disagree, and leave them be on the matter.

An honest, intelligent person does not continually bring up the same question you've agreed to disagree over, over and over, plant themselves in your face, and demand that you cheerfully regurgitate the same damn evidence, reasoning and conclusions you've continually given to them over and over over five years and - without providing any new thoughts or evidence of their own - demand that you politely amuse them by rehashing it all again AND that you acknowledge their obtuseness and rudeness with good cheer.

Anyone who tries to paint those who have given the question at hand not only careful consideration, but honestly believes that they've arrived at a correct and satisfying conclusion, as being " in denial" or as fixating "on one side of the question and try to paint anyone who differs as evil or broken" is, I submit to you, a shallow, calculating, dishonest and pernicious little twerp, aka: a trol, aka: a anonymouse, aka a dunce... or anunce for short.

12/30/2010 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"I might add that not a soul here wishes to talk anonarjuna out of their denial of free-will."

I don't "deny" it so much as question whether and how we have it.

12/30/2010 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"nags (aka integralist, aka aka) & I first started in on this question about 5 years ago and there are reams worth of respectful questioning back and forth, in the archives here, and on several on my site, which attest to that."

As best I can recall, it's always been just nagarjuna.

I would gladly go back and read and ponder those archived exchanges if I could readily find them, but, alas, I cannot.

12/30/2010 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger anon said...

Your knowledge of physics is about as solid as your grasp of philosophy. Einstein was one of the main developers of quantum physics, and his beef with later developments in its interpretation was not over causality and determinism, but realism. Einstein was a believer in physical reality and was not comfortable with the new-agey view that we create reality by observing it. If you want to be on the other side of that divide, be my guest, but be aware whose company you will find yourself in.

Even if you can't wrap your head around quantum theory (and really, few can), it doesn't take very complex thinking to realize that quantum randomness, while it might mean the universe is not strictly deterministic, does not imply free will. How does the fact that subatomic particles will unpredictably jump in one direction or another equate to giving humans the ability to violate causality?

12/30/2010 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It doesn't. That's the point. But in any event, Einstein has been proved wrong about quantum physics being reconcilable with his "realism."

12/30/2010 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Wikipedia's simplified explanation is perfectly satisfactory for our purposes:

"The Copenhagen interpretation, due largely to the Danish theoretical physicist Niels Bohr, is the interpretation of the quantum mechanical formalism most widely accepted amongst physicists. According to it, the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics is not a temporary feature which will eventually be replaced by a deterministic theory, but instead must be considered to be a final renunciation of the classical ideal of causality. In this interpretation, it is believed that any well-defined application of the quantum mechanical formalism must always make reference to the experimental arrangement, due to the complementarity nature of evidence obtained under different experimental situations.

"Albert Einstein, himself one of the founders of quantum theory, disliked this loss of determinism in measurement. (This dislike is the source of his famous quote, "God does not play dice with the universe.") Einstein held that there should be a local hidden variable theory underlying quantum mechanics and that, consequently, the present theory was incomplete. He produced a series of objections to the theory, the most famous of which has become known as the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox. John Bell showed that the EPR paradox led to experimentally testable differences between quantum mechanics and local realistic theories. Experiments have been performed confirming the accuracy of quantum mechanics, thus demonstrating that the physical world cannot be described by local realistic theories.[38] The Bohr-Einstein debates provide a vibrant critique of the Copenhagen Interpretation from an epistemological point of view."

12/30/2010 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Our point -- which you overlooked in your eagerness to score a point -- is that since classical causation has been abandoned in deep physics, there is certainly no reason to assume it would apply to mental or spiritual phenomena.

12/30/2010 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And although I have never even hinted at the notion that reality is created by observation, I do very much believe that the principles of nonlocality and complementarity are of great ontological and epistemological significance.

12/30/2010 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, while both anon and Nagarjuna are to be complimented for being unafraid to publicly beclown themselves, the prize clearly goes to Nagarjuna for not hiding behind a veil of anonymity.

12/30/2010 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger anon said...

Physicists are moving away from the copenhagen interpretation, pretty much for the exact same reasons that it appeals to flakes like yourself.

Anyway, you miss the point. There is nothing in physics, quantum or otherwise, that supports the idea of free will, because how could it? Free will by definition is action independent of physical causation -- it means that humans have the unique ability (shared with God I suppose) to act acausally. Quantum mechanics is weird but it is still physics, not some magic escape from physics.

12/30/2010 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I totally agree. Free will did not, and could not have, emerged through any purely physical process.

12/30/2010 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Quantum mechanics is weird but it is still physics"

What a peculiar thing to say. It's the other way around.

12/30/2010 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"A highly unscientific poll taken at the 1997 UMBC quantum mechanics workshop gave the once all-dominant Copenhagen interpretation less than half of the votes."

Good to know that unscience trumps science.

12/30/2010 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Truth is overruled by popularity.

12/30/2010 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger anon said...

Uh, you were the one who introduced "popularity" into this, via your quote from wiki: The Copenhagen interpretation, due largely to the Danish theoretical physicist Niels Bohr, is the interpretation of the quantum mechanical formalism most widely accepted amongst physicists

Quantum physics is hard, but keeping track of your own argument ought to be within your capabilities.

12/30/2010 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Hey, don't blame me. I suggest that you edit the wiki page with your little survey, and set them right.

12/30/2010 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

On the human plane there can be neither pure freedom nor pure determinacy -- or, by extension, pure providence nor unalloyed fate -- but always a mingling of the two in various proportions. As Bolton explains, this is why the issue can appear confusing to people, since it's not as if freedom is an either/or proposition.

Rather, each individual has a varying mixture of freedom and determinacy, chance and necessity, horizontal parasites and vertical symbionts, flack and slack."

Great post, Bob.
I cooncur with Van that the entire post is rich and newtricious. :^)

Narg- the nihilism inherent in your self-destructive "philosophy" must be depressing.
Then again, it might be comforting to you since you have no other choice but to embrace it.

12/31/2010 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If there is no free will, then self-evidently, there can be no meaning. Unless being a rock is meaningful.

12/31/2010 07:32:00 PM  

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