Wednesday, January 7, 2009

FREE WILL! (plus $7.99 S/H)

I've been thinking a bit about free will lately. I've been on the 'thumbs down' side of that for a while now.

Maybe because, like Socrates imagined, the smarter you think you are, the not-so-smart you might actually be, then 'maybe' the 'not so free' you imagine your 'will' is, the closer to free your will actually is.

Have you tried to imagine how you might be if you grew up in a very religious home, Mom and Dad making references to the Bible, just EVERY SINGLE CHANCE THEY GET!?

Do they really have free will, or are they just feeding off each other, feeding off the pastor's words, feeding off their Scriptual studies? I can see how it would be ridiculous for them to even IMAGINE that there might not be GOD, or Jesus, and to disrespect the Scriptures by saying that there is plenty of evidence that God DIDN'T do EXACTLY what the Bible SAYS HE did, would be insanity.

If the Bible says God did something or said something, it MUST be true because the Bible is inspired BY GOD!

How free are you(as said Christian) to even imagine any different?

Let's assume that we all agree that one is not at all free to consider that the Bible is not TRUTH. But you are free to worship God and Jesus and study the Scriptures or to HATE God, backslide, succumb to your animal lust, avarice, gluttony, pride, sloth, envy and of course ANGER! You're angry at God, angry at yourself, angry at everone including believers, who will ascend to Heaven leaving you to suffer in Hell for Eternity. (tsk, tsk!)

Evolution says nothing about the existence of spiritual, supernatural realms and beings, but it DOES tend to try to make you admit that God didn't ACTUALLY make the World and all the living things in it, in seven days.

Of course, I don't know anyone like this.

Let's imagine a gay guy. He looks at an attractive woman and thinks, "Gee, I wish that I were THAT attractive to the boys! Hey, if the boys that I'm trying to attract like OTHER boys!? HUH?! Think about THAT!"

Of course, I don't know two, or three people like this. Well, not three. Not that I can think of.

What I'm saying is that I don't think that the Crazy Christian that I described or the crazy gay guy that I described have any real choice here.

Sure the Christian might be convinced by an atheist that the notion of GOD is ridiculous and the gay guy might be convinced by a (let's say) Christian that he is doing wrong but they, neither one was CHOOSING his/her original position.

I think that it's very simple. You(and me), from birth, make a model of reality in our minds. Each person has a different and unique model created by outside influences(everybody else) and we use THAT model to consider any new information(also created by someone else) to guide us in decision making.

If you are a guy, you use THAT model, unless you don't think of yourself AS a guy per se.

Ying/Yang, male/female, up, down, in, out, well shit, ANY opposites that you can imagine DON'T COUNT!

As sure as you KNOW that God made the Universe in six days AND/OR as sure as you are that you think the 'boys' are sexually attractive(or both/neither even, though I don't know why you would), I just don't see any 'choice' involved there at all.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if free will is really as much under discussion here as it is nature vs. nurture (with free will being kind of a sub-category. just for the sake of clarity, not that it is an actual sub-category of n v. n).

Here's where I see you going wrong pboy. I don't think there is utter determinism or free-will, nor do I feel I have to choose one to be correct about "choice".

Regardless, you contradicted yourself in this paragraph...

"I think that it's very simple. You(and me), from birth, make a model of reality in our minds. Each person has a different and unique model created by outside influences(everybody else) and we use THAT model to consider any new information(also created by someone else) to guide us in decision making."

You said that we "make a model of reality in our minds," and conversely that we have a, "model created by outside influences..."

Perhaps you operate under an assumption of determinism and freewill, all while contemplating determinism's correctness?

mac said...

"to guide us in decision making"

Free will ?

Yes, gay people don't choose to be gay. But, some do choose to stay in the closet, some never coming out, remaining in sexual seclusion their entire lives. Some make the decision to leave the closet for ever..."Closets are for clothes"

But, I do almost see where your coming from. I think we have a little more input in our own lives than you seem to think, otherwise we could not be held responsible for our actions ...I might like that ;-)

pboyfloyd said...

Okay oneblood, good questions.

I think that I didn't make that point clear.

Your 'mind-model', is composed of everything that has ever influenced you.

Everything from when you were just a 'raw nerve'.

If you are an introverted, untrusting person, your mind-model is that people are untrustworthy.

The 'contradiction', "You said that we "make a model of reality in our minds," and conversely that we have a, "model created by outside influences...""

What I mean is that the mind-model that you end up with is exactly the environment you grew up in.

Of course nothing stays the same, you got older and your mind-model is adjusted by your new circumstances.

You were doing it(you still are), but 'it' is your environment influencing you.

Having the 'power to choose' is trivial.

You didn't choose life. You didn't choose your environment. Your caregivers didn't choose life for themselves or their environment.

When you were a baby, you didn't choose the input you received that builds your mind-model.

Choices just 'happen' to us. We are TRAINED by the outside influences to make trivial choices then trained to call that free will.

Keep 'em coming oneblood.

pboyfloyd said...

Okay, mac, "But, some do choose to stay in the closet, some never coming out, remaining in sexual seclusion their entire lives."

From a baby, we are bombarded with outside influences which 'becomes' our mind-model.

We use the mind-model-so-far to 'work with', it is our 'tool'.

At the end of the day, other influences have been absorbed by our mind-model and our mind-model has evolved.

You are jumping in at a very late date, with the closeted gay thingy, because he/she already has a sophisticated mind-model of reality, where he/she 'gets to choose' certain things.

When to poo, for example, that's a bit of a choice. I think that you'd be hard pressed to find someone who deliberately poos in their pants because each of us has a similar mind-model which tells us that this just isn't 'done'.

By the time a person has such a built up mind-model that you imagne he/she can 'choose' whether to 'come out' or not, the decision has already been made by his/her mind/model.

But a change of environment could 'fix' that.

For example that gay might cross paths with you and you might suggest, "Hey, why don't you come out of the closet?"

What the closetted gay might say to you is entirely dependent on his/her mind-model AT THAT INSTANCE.

It is possible that you, as that closetted gay's outside influence might possibly alter that person's mind-model to the extent that he/she might try the 'coming out' thingy.

You WILL certainly influence everyone that you communicate with anyway, but that influence will be 'sifted' through their already very complicated mind-model.

Cogs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GearHedEd said...

Once, about 20 years ago, I was interested in two different girls at the same time. While the details are unimportant, I chose one over the other, and THAT one became my 2nd X-wife. Just thinking here that I DID have a choice to make, and I chose. My life would be vastly different had I said "Yes" to the other one and sent the (then future) 2nd X on her way

pboyfloyd said...


Seems that you made the trivial choice of A or B.

In the story, you are walking up a path which goes to heaven and hell.

You come to the fork on the road, one path to heaven and one to hell.

There two indians sitting beside the path and a sign which explains that you are only allowed to ask one of them which is the road to where.

One of the indians always lies and one always tells the truth.

What one question can you ask one of them to know which way to heaven?

a)you know the answer

b)you will look up the answer.

c)you understand that I'm saying that you were gambling. What's free about that?

Pascal's Wager tries to use reverse logic to make you 'choose' the 'safe' bet, but atheists aren't really choosing to believe or not, they just don't believe.

In your mind-model of reality THEN, when you made your choice, why did you choose one over the other?

Do you think that hormones influenced your choice?

Did anyone influence your choice?

Did your 'choice' remind you of any celebrity that you were 'hot' for?

Your male friends, did they express interest in your choice or the runner-up?

Did your final choice give you a blow job? Hand-job? Did she hint that she might or would when you got hitched?

When the great day came, did you guys say, "..'Til death do us part!", and did you choose to ignore that she had her fingers crossed?

GearHedEd said...

The choice was trivial, in the sense that you cite. The consequences of that choice have had far-reaching effects, namely that there are three human beings on this planet now that would not have ever been born without my choice. That others would have probably been born given the other choice is moot, since I didn't make that choice.

Incidentally, my male friends thought I was making a bad decision. Turns out they were right.

GearHedEd said...

The one I picked was a divorcee with two kids, the one I passed on was a 20-year old hottie I met in one of my classes at college.

pboyfloyd said...

Well, Ed, do you think that this was a 'coin-flip' decision?

Could it have gone either way?

Do you just think that 'fate' was unkind to you?

If so, is that what you imagine 'free will' is?

GearHedEd said...

Sure, it could have gone either way. Ultimately, the deciding factor was which one I bedded first.

GearHedEd said...

Incidentally, the 20-year old hottie called me a couple of days after I'd slept with the divorcee, feeling lonely and sounding like she'd had a few too many cocktails already. I'd been down THAT road before, too, so I politely declined her offer.

GearHedEd said...

I have lots of free will, and I use it often.

GearHedEd said...

There have been times also when I was on a set track and had to continue in the direction I was headed until I fulfilled some criterion, but looking back, I was the one who made the decisions to get on the track in the first place. I could give literally dozens of examples. If you saw my post about "functional atheism", it should be apparent that I'm not hung up about what the invisible sky pixie thinks about my claims of free will.

Harvey said...

I think you are both right!!

Clearly, one always makes choices (when the situation in question permits) and these are, of necessity, "colored" by all of our previous experiences and knowledge. However, human beings are "programmed" from birth (genetically and evolutionarily) to choose the "best" outcome or to avoid the perceived "bad" outcomes from any choice. Needless to say, we may make unwise or "bad" choices because of misinformation or previous "programming", but we will always try to make the "best" one for ourselves. In that sense, there is certainly "free will", but it is always greatly affected by our previous life experiences.

GearHedEd said...

Cogito, ergo Blog. But I should be working...

mac said...

"feeling lonely and sounding like she'd had a few too many cocktails already. I'd been down THAT road before, too, so I politely declined her offer." - GHE

I guess this is where I show myself to be the shithead I am...I would not decline ANY hottie, yesterday OR today ;-)

"She offered her honor. He honored her offer......And all night long he was on her and off her" - Groucho Marks(?)

GearHedEd said...

Yeah, I'm still kicking myself over THAT one, Mac.


pboyfloyd said...

Here's a definition of free will from encarta encyclopedia:=

"Power or ability of the human mind to choose a course of action or make a decision without being subject to restraints imposed by antecedent causes, by necessity, or by divine predetermination."

Well, the notion of 'divine predetermination' makes me think of a strangely named transexual.

"Ladies and gentlemen, here 'she' is, Ms. Divine Predetermination! Put you hands together for 'her' as 'she' gets ready to sing, "What a wonderful world!", by the great Satchmo.

If you close your eyes, you can hardly tell the difference!"

My objection to the very definition here is that we juat can't make a decision based on nothing at all.

I mean surely 'free will' is not the equivalent of tossing a coin, or saying, "Eeny, meeny miney mo.", or putting your hand in a bag and 'picking' the one that you blindly grab?

Ed, you just admitted that you picked the one that got you in the sack first! Then you admitted that you even had an opportunity to (at least temporarilly have BOTH, but, just because you are you and you had a 'history'(you said you knew where that was going, yes?) you stuck with the one that bedded you!

It's all those trivial details that rob you, if you think about them, of any illusion of free will.

Conversely you have to minimize those details to imagine you HAD free will.

Fortunately(or not) 'forgetting the details' is just too easy, if free will is where you want to end up at.

Anonymous said...

"Having the 'power to choose' is trivial."


Anyway, so you're saying 'choice' is extant just not significant.

Conclusion wise you're ending up in the same boat with the other determinists: rewards, punishments, justice... all kind of pointless.

Taking the justice tack, how would you change our penal system in light of the 'mind model'?

pboyfloyd said...

Great questions, oneblood.

You'd have to put the 'pointlessness' thingy as a question so that i'm not rambling on about something that you didn't mean.

The justice thing is easy.

If you did what you did because 'that's what your like', then the judge and jury will put you behind bars because 'that's what they do'.

If you did what you did because you 'blew your stack', 'saw red' or something, you can hardly 'blame' free-will there either, can you?

Still, the judge and the jury STILL have to 'do what they do'!

GearHedEd said...

pboy said,

"Ed, you just admitted that you picked the one that got you in the sack first!"

Absolutely. But I chose which ones I would pursue in the first place. And so on...

By the way, Brian, Ryan and meself are hosing down Observant in "Obama & the Reagan Doctrine" as I type this. Care to join us?

pboyfloyd said...

"Absolutely. But I chose which ones I would pursue in the first place."

Are you saying that you're willing to hang on to the notion of free will so 'hard' that you are taking a step back and saying that you chose your choice now?

Details man! How DID you choose the choice of those two then, if you can remember?

Weren't they just 'handy' and both liked you?

How did you choose for them to do that then?

BTW I looked in on you and Brian's Observant-fest!

I like to try to pick a spot with Observant because 'raining' on him like that obviously has zero effect on him.

Anonymous said...

The judicial system runs under the assumption of free will. If free will doesn't exist as first assumed, then the judicial system could use some tweaking.

Remember we don't have to go outside of reality to pboy's world in order to create the answer to the question I asked. Accepting your 'mind model' just changes our 'mind model' right?

But there's nothing significant in of itself, everything is still "real," or "as it were." Since everything is still the "same" that would include our consciences for what their worth.

So wouldn't you want to change the penal system?

pboyfloyd said...

oneblood, why would my 'mind-model'(let's say 'system' to differentiate it from 'free will' 'system*') make ANYTHING AT ALL 'different'?

People have a model of reality in their minds, which includes the notion of free will remember, reflects reality, it's supposed to reflect reality.

It's not supposed to replace reality and have some big, "AND therefore we ought to treat criminals differently!", nonsense.

In my mind(model) I believe that criminals ought to suffer life imprisonment for a sufficiently heinous crime.

But I think that we ought to re-educate every prisoner, retrain their mind-model.

We ought to make Manchurian Candidates out of them ready to kill at our command!

Oh wait, that's been done to death in the movies and in real life by the so-called 'good guys' too, hasn't it?

Just kidding with that last bit! (there is a lot of truth in humor!)

But say we put prisoners in solitary with education tapes playing constantly. Interesting tapes including work-outs etc.

How long do you imagine that you could sit and stew that, e.g. "If it wasn't for your so-called buddy ratting you out, you'd be free!", if you were drawn in by reasonable re-education of your 'mind-model'?

I know, it would probably turn into some 1984 horrorshow!

But that doesn't make free will any 'realer', just because we are 'trained' to believe in it, does it?

*just saying 'system' because mind-model model sounds clunky

Anonymous said...

A professor once said to our class that he had a student up all night looking for the sun... and then it dawned on him.

Quite a funny guy, and it could've been true. I know I don't usually find the sun until dawn. That's if I'm looking.

Anonymous said...

I still assert that 'The Author' is a fascist. And I only support fascists if they're running on a ticket as vice-president.

Anonymous said...


Are you out on the west coast or something? The time on the posts is showing up 3 hours earlier than Eastern time.

I just thought maybe there was a time feature for the bloggers. It would be odd, but you never know. Sorry for the randomness. Have a good night.

pboyfloyd said...

Yea oneblood I could spit and the Pacific Ocean would be a tiny bit bigger!

pboyfloyd said...

Another version of that(brilliant) joke.

I was a the park this summer, wondering why a frisbee looks bigger and bigger the closer it comes... then it hit me!

pboyfloyd said...

Perhaps we ought to ask defendants to try to dance, to see if they have "Guilty feet?"

GearHedEd said...

pboy said,

"But say we put prisoners in solitary with education tapes playing constantly."

Let's take that a step further and strap then into chairs and prop their eyelids open so they can't look away. Ever seen "A Clockwork Orange"?

If not, you NEED to.

pboyfloyd said...

See what I mean, the govt can fuck up anything!

Plus, torture wasn't what I had in mind.

If it was, I'd have suggested 24 hours of loud televangelist television a la "Screaming of the Lambs"

pboyfloyd said...

I mean, "Silence of he lambs" LOL

Saint Brian the Godless said...

I think free will is still possible in my BB scenario.

Not sure about it...

Does the phrase really have a meaning even?

I dunno, but as far as being programmed to make the best choices by evolution, that breaks down when you're making choices that evolution never heard of before. Modern paradigm human morality type choices. With so many choices and types of choices in everyday life, many errors are bound to be made regardless of evolutionary programming.

For instance, FEAR is an evolution-programmed response to threat, but modern man can use the fear of his fellow man to get them to obey and do things they'd never do if they were really thinking about it. In those circumstances the evolutionary programming is used against the person. If their mind is not capable of overcoming their fears or invalidating them, they're hooked. On the programming. Carrot and stick. Jesus and Satan. Redemption and Damnation.

The duality of programming.