Saturday, June 6, 2009

Clash of the Wills

"Don't read this, if you're not going to believe it!"

You're probably thinking, "Old Ian has gone off the frickin' rails, again.", and, "Is he evar(heh) going to get off this 'horse' about 'will'?"

Well, I think that I have something new(new to me anyways) to say about it, but it's a half formed glob of ectoplasm in my mind right now, which I just HAVE TO get rid of , so I thought I'd dump it into YOUR mind and let you deal with it!

I know, I know, you're thinking, "Lucky me!", but it's my will against yours, or it's my will to say something coherent, or it's my will against reality, or something.(Shut up! Voices in my head!)

Where was I? Oh yea, that silly sentence that the top comes across as me willing you to react somehow, but the instructions are impossible to follow.

As a human you take in information and process it trying to make sense out of it, and as another human, trying to impart information, we have a kind of contract. We don't think of it like that though but that's just the way it is.

Imagine, you're a baby, you look up into mom's eyes. Mom can either smile or give you a stony look, maybe turn her head away. By looking back and smiling, mom is fullfilling her part of the contract and you smile back.

I don't imagine that I have to drone on example by example, it's obvious that every interaction cascades down from that.

Jump to you and I right now. As you are reading, I am saying, "If you are like me, you'll understand, you'll 'get it' , if you have read this far and see me as 'weak', you'll be reading this and plotting how you can best tell me that I am incoherent, perhaps stupid, never seem to make any sense, perhaps 'embody' everything that you find dispicable in people of my 'ilk'!"

Of course there are many shades here, including a very neutral one where you are willing to suspend judgement depending on whether I can remain focused or I ramble on incoherently yadda-yaddaing, 'putting-you-to-sleep', 'you-got-better-things-to-do', or 'whatever'.

Example: It's interesting to note that if we add one to fourteen thousand, one hundred and nineteen we conclude that the answer is fourteen thousand, one hundred and twenty!

Well, no. It is actually NOT interesting at all to go on explaining something to the point where you, the reader, feels like you are the 'dead horse' being 'beaten', is it?

So it's kind of a 'test of wills' where, if I want to hammer home a point, I have to be very careful to not just be grating on your nerves and still try to lull you into reading crap(if it's what I'm trying to do) that MUST be true by dint of, "It must be true!", because it, of course, must be true,(You just keep getting that impression right), kind of thing.

But, I would never do that to you, my good buddy, mypalmychum-myfriend, you have to believe that.

Hey, if you don't go along with my little plan for you, I'll kick and scream and cry and pout and hold my breath 'til my face turns blue AND when that has no effect, I'll try to persuade you with scarcasm, reverse psychology, examples of 'how I'm right' and how you, my little pawn are constrained to move only one square forward(two if you're on the beginning square) and only attack one square on the forward diagonal! And you do this only when I tell you, got that!

But now you're thinking, how come I'm all of a sudden playing by YOUR rules? Who makes up these rules? Who died and left the rule-making chair empty and who says that you were dancing closest to it the last time the music stopped?

Aha! I've GOT you! If I can persuade you that it's a puzzle really!(It's really a puzzle!) If I can persuade you that I know that puzzle.(I know it's a puzzle.) If I can persuade you that I have that puzzle 'in MY pocket'.(pfft!) If I can persuade you that I am THE(or one of THE) Puzzle-master(s), THEN I have your attention, your focus.

If I can make you believe that I can pass this knowledge on to you by various means, parables, fables, multi-level ideas which can only be understood step by step, then, I've got your mind by its balls.(wrap your head around that one 'padiwan'! HAH!)

Seems to me that it's only a question of how determined I am to plant my flag of 'my will' into your 'new land' of 'your will' as painlessly(or painfully, if you're stubborn) as I can!

But now, I'M thinking, wait a nano-second here, how do I know that someone didn't do THAT 'thing' to ME?

Oh JESUS! There they are, all these little flags of other people's wills all over my nice clean will.


(Tell me that I won this round, but, "you'll be back!"(and you'll bring re-inforcements next time!)


oneblood said...

I'm not the best reader. I try, but there it is.

So I'm reading what seem like two different points except one is supposed to support the other.

I agree wholeheartedly with your view on religion and the 'step by step' "agreement" that takes place within the believer. A believer in that situation is not someone who has chosen their belief.

This also makes sense when extrapolated to other beliefs held without qualification or other options.

I still don't see how this supports your determined championing of determinism (pun intended)?

I'll ask you once more to consider technology, and creativity as examples of thought processes which include awareness of multiple contexts. Actually that's kind of a tautology (like I said before I think). Awareness and choice go hand in hand. Like lovers do...

To reiterate:

Pboy, "Religion is programming."

Oneblood, "I agree."

Pboy, "This means every action is
completely determined."

Oneblood, "I don't think that

Nevertheless this is still fun.

pboyfloyd said...

"Pboy, "Religion is programming."

Oneblood, "I agree.""

But I said:-

Pboy, "Everything is programming."(excepting things which one is not aware of.)

Oneblood, "?"

Think of legerdemain.

The simplest form, would be 'you' willing to go along with my instructions.

I say, "Look at the cup on the table!"

You look at the cup on the table.

I say, "Close your eyes!"

You close your eyes.

After removing the cup, I say, "NOW, open your eyes!"

You open your eyes and SEE that the cup has disappeared.

(not sure what this is supposed to be saying)

Oh, yea, are you saying that awareness of choices equals free will?

Harvey said...

I think there exists a middle ground between total "programming" and "free will". In the non religious sense, it seems clear to me that evry "choice" or decision we make in life is a product of both our evolutionary (instinctive?) mind and every post birth experience we have up to the time of that decision. But, even if we allow for incomplete or erroneous information in making said decision, we are still able to make choices (and often do) that are counter to what our instincts and post birth knowledge should tell us to do. From this standpoint, I cannot accept that every choice we make is totally "predetermined" (although I certainly agree that most are).
I think that Pboy's construct, in which we have multiple "flags" that have been planted by others dotting our unconscious, is an apt description of what I have referred to as "post birth" learning. We are aware of the source of some of it, in which cases we can at least try to apply reason and logic to our decisions as to how "true" they are. However, we are neither aware of the presence of some of these "flags", nor of the source in even more frequently. It is much less likely that we will be able to apply reason and logic to these unrecognized "flags" in our decision making.
From a religious standpoint. it seems that most of the "flags" have been implanted under circumstances that render their presence unrecognized and, particularly, as to their real source. Little wonder then, that most of us are unable to use our reasoning powers when it comes to "faith" matters. Since "belief", by defintion, implies at least some lack of reproducible evidence to support that "belief", as we most likely would require of non-religious issues, it is clear that most of it is the product of these unrecognized "flags". So much for our "free will", at least from a religious standpoint.

oneblood said...

That's it though Harv, Peebster is taking it beyond religion to utter determinism.

All of this seems very binary (which I mentioned before). There is no middle ground for Pboy. His theory is not unreasonable, his conclusion seems to be though.


On somewhat of a tangent, I wish people had discussions like this within a cultural milieu of everydayness.

Harvey said...


Don't you think religious discussions are (or at least can be) "everyday"? I understand that when the subject is religion very strong emotions and (as per my last post) inability to apply logic and reason may get in the way,, but under somewhat impersonal circumstances (like this blog, perhaps) it should be possible. I certainly find it to be so, allowing for occasional diatribes and descent into ad hominem arguments.

pboyfloyd said...

Anyway oneblood, I kinda had the feeling that my 'bit' here was hardly a diatribe against religion or 'religious' free will.

The 'puzzle' thingy, I was thinking 'that kind of thing', but math or psychology could go with that too.

oneblood said...

"...under somewhat impersonal circumstances (like this blog, perhaps) it should be possible. I certainly find it to be so, allowing for occasional diatribes and descent into ad hominem arguments."

Hmm, Harvey I was talking about philosophy. You're right though, religion is a kind of an everyday milieu topic.

I guess my comment was more a wish to be able to have an educated populace top down, or bottom up.
It's admittedly a humanist desire.

You know...check-out line, and the exchange isn't necessarily about the weather. An informed if not agreeable citizenry.

But like I said, it's somewhat a blessing of the internet.

Regardless of ideology, I like seeing what pboy, Brian, Asylum, or Pliny have to say. They write about stuff that's not 'everyday.'


Pboy, I didn't consider what you wrote to be a diatribe. It was thoughtful and pboyish, nothing wrong with that :-)

pboyfloyd said...

Well thanks for that, it was a good review. LOL

But I just used harvey's word there, I was just trying to say that it wasn't meant to be particularly religious.

Although I understand that free will is 'big' as far as Christianity is concerned.

There are a couple a'dozen quotes for and against free will in the Bible, I suppose because it IS such a difficult notion?

But, regardless of religion entirely, most people are happy to say that they take free will for granted and at the exact same time are not willing to dismiss astrology entirely.

Seems like a conflict to me.

mac said...

I never made it past the first sentence.

That was my conundrum. How was I to believe it before I read it?

I am, after all, an admitted skeptic.

pboyfloyd said...

You didn't notice that it was in quotes?

oneblood said...

"I never made it past the first sentence.

That was my conundrum. How was I to believe it before I read it?

I am, after all, an admitted skeptic."


"You didn't notice that it was in quotes?"


And the above is why it's great to revisit.

You know what? On first blush it's got some old school comedic timing. And you guys didn't even try.


Stacy said...

mai brane hurtz!Ow!

GearHedEd said...


What was the point again?...

pboyfloyd said...

I think that the point is, every time we communicate we are using our will, we're willing someone to consider our POV.

Where does our POV come from?

Doesn't it turn out that someone else used THEIR will to communicate their POV to us?

oneblood said...

"Doesn't it turn out that someone else used THEIR will to communicate their POV to us?"

Dear Ian,

This line of reasoning ends up in infinite regress.

I know I know, I'm one to talk.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

The POV argument is interesting. I suppose we all have a pretty heady investment in our POV and sharing it and guaging the responses is one of the ways we calibrate it. We all want to be right, or logical, or insightful, pious, whatever. Truth is it's all a mixed bag of experiences, anatomy, and programming. It's one of the reasons to admire the scientific method - It's an attempt to overcome these intrinsic limitations.

pboyfloyd said...

Well, that's just it, isn't it Pliny?

Where else do we get our point of view on every subject except from the 'elders'?

The 'elders' being parents, g'parents etc.

It's all become just a bit more confusing, of late, what with newspapers, radio, television and the internet BUT there are old truisms which express our realization that we inherit, not only our genes from our parents, but they infect us with their point of view.

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.", and such.

I think that this gives us an easy explanation of gods too.

Isn't a god simply a point of view? In the old days, you got your POV from dad, he got his from grandpa, grandpa got his from his pa?

It wouldn't take many generations of consciousness plus language to concoct gods from this simple truth, that knowledge(that is, your POV) comes from the past.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

I don't disagree pboy - We do get an enormous amount of indoctrination throughout life.

Our one solace is that neuro imprinting is subject to the 'use it or lose it' phenomenon. Unless we get constant updates to the indoctrination, our brains become more open to new heuristics. Probably a good evolutionary survival advantage - don't waste disk space on outdated memes.

Course that's also why institutions like the church have scheduled maintenance, ie weekly services ;)

oneblood said...

"Course that's also why institutions like the church have scheduled maintenance, ie weekly services ;)"

And to think, when that backs up biochemicals it makes for quite a cultural phenomenon.