Fatalism Or Freewill | Forum

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UserX
UserX Jan 3 '14
A few hours ago I would have had a definite answer to that question... but now, I question just how "free" our freedom of making decisions are?

I was watching a 5 part something on youtube, mostly for the entertainment value. Part's of this video talked about a few experiments done over the years regarding the brain of rats and human brains.

The first experiment spoken about concerned experiments done on rats during the 1920's. In the experiment this one scientists wanted to know where exactly in a rat's brain it's memory was. So he cuts out different sections of the rat's brain and puts them thru mazes he had taught them to see if they remember. They did, and this scientist learns that no matter what part of the rat brains he removes, the rats continue to remember things.

The interesting and relevant experiments to the thread title comes after this rat brain experiment. The relevant experiments are recent, done with those fancy brain scanners, and computers.

I saw something that shocked me. In the test, they place a guy in a bran scanner thing. He is hooked up to a computer. The guy is given instructions to listen to something and decide to either push a right button or a left button. That's the experiment. It's simple and looks quick. But the shocker is what the computer and brain scanner sees and reveals.

The brain scanner and computer reveals that before the guy consciously make a decision to push one of the two buttons, his brain already knows which one he will be pushing a full 6 seconds before!

What's shocking or hard to swallow are the implications. The implication that your unconscious or subconscious mind has made decisions for you before you consciously "make" decisions.

If we have the freewill to make a choice or decision consciously, but those choices we think we are making out of freewill were already decided and determined at least a full 6 seconds before, is it still "freewill?"

I'm thinking that maybe they have their data right, but that their conclusions are iffy. If anybody wants to watch the experiments I'll include the video. The relevant parts begins @ ~19 minutes and ends at around 41 minutes. Oddly - by some cosmic coincidence -  one of the test subjects looks very similar to BeastXeno! It could be Beast's doppelganger; at least I think so:



In my gut I've always had a liking for the idea of fate, but consciously and intellectually, I have always been a strong supporter for the idea of freewill: that we each consciously make our own choices in life, and we determine our own fate. But if the conclusions of those experiments are accurate, then it puts the this idea of free conscious will into question.

What is free will?

EDIT: I put this in the wrong section how do I change it?
The Forum post is edited by UserX Jan 3 '14
Nith
Nith Jan 3 '14

There was another experiment (I will try to find it again) that was done years ago that stated,,,,


Most thought patterns are pre-programmed and those that break this rule are more often random impulses than logical replies. Of the pre-programmed replies it was not so much years of learning but what would help them blend in with the group thought/ and people they tried to be part of.


Seems some would rather be wrong and part of a larger group than right and stand out.



This leads me to ask how the test victims are picked and if that has anything to do with the outcomes? Most of these test groups don't go into detail about who, where and why they picked the test subjects. Those three W's I think are more important than the findings half the time.

DevilSmurf
DevilSmurf Jan 4 '14
Topic was moved from Site Announcements.
CanisMachina
CanisMachina Jan 4 '14

I don't think it calls free will into contention necessarily.  Perhaps the decision making process is just that; a series of steps with the motorized movement being the final step (coinciding with the conscious decision). It's construction. The idea, blueprint, preparation, and action. Your mind is priming, and mapping the decision unconsciously at first, and then consciously. This doesn't amount to a lack of free will. If  anything it shows the importance of the unconscious mind.

 

 It makes me wonder if results would be different in very young children (ages 3-5). Perhaps there would be a much less pronounced lag.

The Forum post is edited by CanisMachina Jan 4 '14
UserX
UserX Jan 4 '14

Quote from CanisMachina

I don't think it calls free will into contention necessarily.  Perhaps the decision making process is just that; a series of steps with the motorized movement being the final step (coinciding with the conscious decision). It's construction. The idea, blueprint, preparation, and action. Your mind is priming, and mapping the decision unconsciously at first, and then consciously. This doesn't amount to a lack of free will. If  anything it shows the importance of the unconscious mind.

 

 It makes me wonder if results would be different in very young children (ages 3-5). Perhaps there would be a much less pronounced lag.


You make some good points Canis. I was thinking a similar idea. Like the brain takes a few seconds to "rev" up, in order to make a decision.

Since you brought it up, I'd also like to see young children doing that test for their results. My guess is children may produce longer time lag.
AnnaCzereda
AnnaCzereda Jan 4 '14
Quote from UserX What's shocking or hard to swallow are the implications. The implication that your unconscious or subconscious mind has made decisions for you before you consciously "make" decisions.

I don't find it shocking or hard to swallow. It was a well-known fact long before those experiments. If anyone read Freud or Jung, they will know that the conscious is like a drop of water when compared to the vast ocean of the unconscious. Most things happen in the unconscious. All the impulses, emotions, intuition, imagination are there. Most of decisions are made in the unconscious.


Does it imply the lack of free will? Not necessarily. The mind is the whole; the conscious and the unconscious combined. You can either cooperate with your unconscious or be its puppet. You can learn to explore your unconscious, not the whole of it, of course, because it is too vast. Some parts of it will remain forever in the dark. However, the unconscious is the well of wisdom, it sees more than the conscious mind, which is very limited. Our ego grasps only a very small portion of data from the outside world, the rest is stored in the unconscious. The more information we manage to dig out from there, the wiser we will become.


Sure, your unconscious mind can also play tricks on you. This is because we aren't omniscient so we will never be 100% sure of anything. But more often your unconscious helps than hurts.


As for the movie, it is bullshit the objective reality doesn't exist. It does exist, only it can be distorted by our senses, emotions and prejudices.


Let's consider the example from the movie - the waitress in the restaurant. The waitress belongs to the objective reality, she is there and all the clients see the same waitress, for example, a tall slim woman with long blonde curly hair and blue eyes. If it were an illusion, everybody would see something different. One would see a waitress and others would see a monkey, a bird, a cat, a statue, a tree, a flower or whatever. But everybody sees a waitress. It is a fact that she does exist and she is there.


Now... whether she is nice or rude is a matter of an interpretation. Let's say, we have three friends sitting in the restaurant (one guy and two girls) and they all observe the waitress' behavior. One girl sees that the waitress smiles all the time so she concludes the waitress is a nice person. The other girl also sees that the waitress smiles, but at the same time notices that her smile is a bit sarcastic and the tone of her voice is not at all nice. And she says: "This waitress is not nice, she's rude."


So who is right here? The girl who says the waitress is nice or the one that says she's rude? If we take into consideration that they both know the waitress only from the restaurant, each could be wrong. These are only their subjective opinions, presumptions even, because in fact they know nothing about her.


And now imagine the guy next to them says: "Don't be fooled. She's a cunt. I know her. She lives next door to me." Now the situation becomes a bit different, because the man knows more about the waitress than the two girls, he has a bigger picture and he confirms that the waitress is indeed rude.


Sure, he could be prejudiced, but you can push that further. You can go where the waitress lives and talk to the people who know her, you can hire the private detective who will follow her, you can get to know her and so on and so forth...


So the objective reality exists, the only question is how close to it you can get. The more you explore the more you know, but you will never know everything.


I once read an interesting story. The mortal man asked the goddess to let him see the Truth. She led him to the temple where the Truth was there behind ten curtains. Each day he was allowed to rip off one curtain. Day by day, as he was ripping off the curtains, he saw more and he knew more. At last only one curtain remained and the goddess warned the man to think twice before he tears off that last curtain. However, he was so hungry for wisdom that he tore off the curtain without giving it the second thought. Then the darkness befell him and he saw nothing. He became blind.


He started crying and blaming the goddess for deceiving him. But the goddess answered: "I warned you. Can a mortal man see the Truth in any other way than through the veil?


The reality will always be filtered by our senses. Sure, we can do away with some of our illusions or delusions, but the Truth will always be dimmed by the veil of our own perception.

The Forum post is edited by AnnaCzereda Jan 4 '14
Entropic
Entropic Jan 4 '14
When the brain receives stimulus, it routes the data to the center of the brain.  This is known as the limbic system.

This system includes the hippocampus and amygdala.  The data is compared to previous data via the hippocampus.  It is also given an emotional tag by the amygdala.

This is all done long before the information is reached the pre-frontal cortex, which is the executive decision making center.  So, yeah, our emotion centers pretty much already know what should be done before we actually do it.

Emotion is very much at the core of all of our decision making, whether we consciously feel it or not.

The language processing centers, such as Broca's area and Wernicke's area, are closer to this area than others.  We process auditory information much faster than visual.  I think it is possible to use language and sound to alter the emotional areas to alter our subconscious decision making process.

Advertisers have long known about this kind of stuff.
UserX
UserX Jan 4 '14

Quote from Entropic When the brain receives stimulus, it routes the data to the center of the brain.  This is known as the limbic system.

This system includes the hippocampus and amygdala.  The data is compared to previous data via the hippocampus.  It is also given an emotional tag by the amygdala.

This is all done long before the information is reached the pre-frontal cortex, which is the executive decision making center.  So, yeah, our emotion centers pretty much already know what should be done before we actually do it.

Emotion is very much at the core of all of our decision making, whether we consciously feel it or not.

The language processing centers, such as Broca's area and Wernicke's area, are closer to this area than others.  We process auditory information much faster than visual.  I think it is possible to use language and sound to alter the emotional areas to alter our subconscious decision making process.

Advertisers have long known about this kind of stuff.


Ooh, Entropic, you're exciting me. I love it when a person talks dirty tricks of the advertizing and marketing industry with me. This reminds me of a song:




It's when you put 2 and 2 together that gives you a good kick though.

That area of the brain, and the part which deals with emotions is an "older" part of us. One which is unconsciously active and not so logic oriented. It's a shock to actually see evidence to show or convincingly suggest that this "primitive" part of us actually "makes" our decisions for us and that what we believe to be a conscious choosing on our part may have been "per-determined" by that 'other part of us.' Emotional Marketing:



The funny part of this video is the speaker guy has this super friendly smile/expression on his face... when he's basically talking about how to manipulate people lol. At least I find it funny.
AnnaCzereda
AnnaCzereda Jan 4 '14
Quote from Entropic Emotion is very much at the core of all of our decision making, whether we consciously feel it or not.

I sometimes wonder whether we could make any decisions at all if we didn't feel anything. If so, it would be really hard. How can you know if something is good or bad for you, if you you don't feel any emotions? If something makes you feel bad, then it is probably bad for you, though there might be exceptions. Emotions are helpful in making decisions, of course as long as they are accompanied by rational thinking.

BeastXeno
BeastXeno Jan 4 '14
I've been biting at the bit, all day long, waiting to have the time to reply to this thread. This is one of my favorite things to mull over, as I have a few beers. Freewill and determinism; one we'd all deeply like to believe we have the luxury of, whereas the other has a great deal more evidence to support it.


 I choose the word determinism, in lieu of fatalism, because I find them to be two distinct concepts. Determinism seems to suggest an ineffable sequence of events. Events which unfold in an extremely mechanical fashion. Fate on the other hand, seems to imply fulfilling a functional purpose. In short, one is directly dependent upon causality; the other is not necessarily related. I wish to further differentiate this concept from destiny, because I do not mean some 'higher function'. It is the fate of the salmon to swim up the stream. 


 When I see documentaries, like the one linked in the OP; it always makes me think of Spoonboy. So I chuckle when they use 'hard fact', to back up what is being pitched (for the marketing folks). I think to myself, that this is one of those "facts fit the theory" type situations. Especially because of the proximity to origin, in those ascribed facts. 


 The model constructed went like this: Consciousness - The Field - The Brain = Reality (or projected experience of). It flaunted well known scientists, theories, experiments, and measurable evidence. In the end though, it fails to answer the question of origin. If consciousness determines what data, from 'the field', is downloaded to the brain, which is then projected as reality to experience; yet we cannot explain consciousness, is that not auto-fail? 


 I think that shoots a big hole in the model. I'm also suspect of the specific meaning of the brain activity, before it becomes a cognisant event. As Canis mentioned it could simply be evidence of bio-mechanization. To bring this back home to point, I feel Freewill/Fatalism/Determinism are simply mental constructs and the reality ;) of it is probably a mixture of all 3. 

The Forum post is edited by BeastXeno Jan 4 '14
UserX
UserX Jan 4 '14

Quote from BeastXeno


 The model constructed went like this: Consciousness - The Field - The Brain = Reality (or projected experience of). It flaunted well known scientists, theories, experiments, and measurable evidence. In the end though, it fails to answer the question of origin. If consciousness determines what data, from 'the field', is downloaded to the brain, which is then projected as reality to experience; yet we cannot explain consciousness, is that not auto-fail? 



Agreed, it's an autofail. In fact the guy who made those videos goes beyond autofail. But this guy uses a special ass saving technique. In his model of the holographic universe he has two different types of "consciousness." The consciousness we have is "inside" the hologram. The other consciousness is on the other side of the "field." It's the consciousness on the inside of the hologram which cannot be explained. The "consciousness" on the other side of the field (the "laser") is the "Higher Self," or what he later calls, the "Infinite I," which BTW is never explained or defined.

He uses only scientists and experts who say things he needs to support his own ideas, which isn't science. But don't worry... this guy's intent isn't to use science actually. In part 4 and 5 of his video series, this guy drops science all together, takes a sharp turn and begins quoting a man named Darryl Anka who supposedly channels an extraterrestrial being named Bashar. Bashar is said to be from a "parallel universe" from "what we term the future."

Darryl Anka channeling the entity Bashar. In the video "Bashar" is making predictions of the future. Amazingly, Darryl Anka is the cousin of the old time singer Paul Anka. And he's not a "nobody." Darryl Anka used to work on the Star Trek TNG and other shows:



The guy who made the holographic universe videos used "Bashar's" teachings to support his models in parts 4 and 5. He also uses a number of other similar types of nutjobs. It was a mindtrip just to watch all 5 parts, cuz it starts off feeling scientific, and then all of a sudden when the Bashar shit comes outs, you're like, "What the fuck just happened? Who's Bashar?"

The only interesting section were those brain experiments in the OP.


Quote from BeastXeno

 I feel Freewill/Fatalism/Determinism are simply mental constructs and the reality ;) of it is probably a mixture of all 3. 



I've never thought about all 3 being "co-valid." It does seem - based on what little brain experiments I've seen so far - that a little of Free Will and Determinism/Fatalism does happen.
The Forum post is edited by UserX Jan 4 '14
JK
JK Jan 5 '14
Free Will is a difficult problem. Why? Because its very definition requires a logic of counterfactual conditionals. Normally we're dealing with statements of the form "X could have acted differently at time T had X chosen to". Or some similar parsing. However, we are presented with no world other than the actual one, so in a large sense, we are offering commentaries on what are known as possible worlds. But wait, it's actually worse than that. We're not just hypothetically mapping imaginary scenarios, we're attempting to somehow demonstrate a necessary relation between such dreamscapes and the ostensible or "real" world.

My solution, although somewhat unsatisfying, is that the notion of "free will" is a fractally emergent property which is in fact unreal. Hence I am a determinist or fatalist. It would certainly SEEM that we are free to choose other than we do at some instant, however, reality never departs from facticity. Nothing can be other than it in fact is.

We exist on a level that was best labelled as "Adam Kadmon" by the Western tradition. Enlightened just enough to know that we are in fact shards of what I term the Expression Field. In the East, this is Nirmanakaya, or the manifested individual. A related asymmetry concerns the arrow of time. The past could not possibly be different from what it was, and yet the future is seemingly free from such constraints. But is it really?  Every future event is destined to exist in the past of some mind, and so all events are determined in block time.

If you want to argue a truly free will, you will need the help of a God to do so. Seriously. Naively, we assume that causes always precede their effects. In fact, they occur/manifest simultaneously. By definition, a cause entails an effect, and an effect requires a cause. And the two are inseparably joined in the Act by virtue of connectivity. I cannot, for instance, propose <3+1> without indicating 4. It's just not possible.

To put it in philosophical terms, sure, you could have acted differently at time T. But you didn't. And you never will. Because when you act, you remove all "possible worlds" from the equation. Your actions are always indicative, hence arguing to anything else requires a Deus ex Machina.

JK

#awesomethread 


The Forum post is edited by JK Jan 5 '14
UserX
UserX Jan 5 '14

Quote from JK Free Will is a difficult problem. [...] The past could not possibly be different from what it was, and yet the future is seemingly free from such constraints. But is it really?  Every future event is destined to exist in the past of some mind, and so all events are determined in block time.


JK



That's very interesting. I'll build on that.

From my perspective, "Free Will" exists only in an "English" languages based weltanschauung. There is no word for this in my other [oriental] language/weltanschauung. When we say we have the "will" to do something, we use the word "Chit" [chitta/citta]. As in we have the "chit" to go shopping today.

"Chitta" doesn't really mean "will." It means Feeling/Emotion, and also "Heartmind." And so, "will," or volition, being that it originates in chitta [the seat of emotion/psyche], cannot be an act of the Conscious apparatus: what Buddha calls Vin~n~an [Vinyan] meaning "Awareness." By it's very "intrinsic" nature/physis, Vinyan/Awareness only is aware of things [experiences/quale/observes], it is not the "agent" or originator of action [kamma/karma]. At best, Awareness ["consciousness"] is an "interferer" or obstacle of action/will/volition. And so, when asked if he [Buddha] could compress his Way into one word, what would it be, the Buddha said: Taming.

"Free Will," being a conscious act or choice, seems to be an "illusion" based on ignorance. It would be the same if we were to say that the conscious mind or the conscious 'self' is the originator/agent of the words we speak. That speech or communication is the act of the conscious mind, self/ego.

If one ever pays really close attention during an ordinary conversation we may have with anybody - either verbal or typed in cyberspace - one comes to realize that one doesn't form or create or think out each word and sentence we will be saying. The conscious awareness only experiences the conversation and only becomes aware of the words flowing out of its mouth. The words we speak, or what flows out of us come in rotes/blocks as you say, fully "formed" without any conscious effort.

Free Will also comes into question in ordinary everyday biological life. Is it really "free," as in a free choice? We need air to breathe, and so we breathe. We thirst, and so we find water to drink. We hunger, and that impulse drives us to act to find food. We need love or sex, and we act on it. An impulse of need [maslow's hierarchy of needs] first arises, and then we act to fulfill these needs. Is it really a free conscious choice, when it is the impulse of need which drives?

It's like playing a computer game or Dungeons & Dragons, where the acts we commit are actually Determined by other things. Volition arises in that context of per-determined elements.

You're concept of 'blocks of time' actually fits int that computer game of D&D analogy. In that analogy, all possible future outcomes have already been determined and are embedded in the blocks of software. In other words, the 'maze' and its pathways have already been built.

But, at any rate, I still like to believe that free will exists to some extent because it makes me feel better.
The Forum post is edited by UserX Jan 5 '14
Dan_Dread
Dan_Dread Jan 5 '14
I see 'freewill' as a religious concept, a faith belief.


So the universe works in a certain deterministic way, where events have causes, and every effect has a cause, traceable back through all of time.


Yet, at some point..BOOM..some magical entity waved his magic wand and we monkeys all of a sudden just started 'acting' free of cause. That's a huge leap of faith.


I tend to see the conscious mind as more of an observer, a byproduct, than an actor. I expect science will provide more 'uncomfortable' data to this effect in the coming years.

Nith
Nith Jan 5 '14

That is the point isn't it, the freewill that people think they see is just a range of choices at best. Even the bird in the cage has free choice as for drink the water or eat the seed first.

CanisMachina
CanisMachina Jan 5 '14

Quote from Dan_Dread

I tend to see the conscious mind as more of an observer, a byproduct, than an actor. I expect science will provide more 'uncomfortable' data to this effect in the coming years.


Indeterminism seems to support this statement. Everything is a probability of likely outcomes realized by conscious observation/action. I fall back to this quite a bit, but it seems often relevant. 'Freewill' is the decision to collapse the wave function and 'determine' one of many possible outcomes. The conscious mind in an observer role fits neatly into the type III many worlds interpretation of the multiverse.

The Forum post is edited by CanisMachina Jan 5 '14
Dan_Dread
Dan_Dread Jan 5 '14
But are they even choices? When we choose between a and b, we can believe we are choosing between two equally likely or at least equally possible outcomes, but that too is a leap of faith. We choose things based on what we find to be favourable, but do we choose that? Can you say, choose to have chocolate ice cream as your favourite? Or is this a feeling that rests in your subconscious, placed there by prior experience, that bubbles up as a 'choice' when the clerk asks if you want chocolate or vanilla?


The way we experience events..ie we have knowledge of what came before but not what comes after, makes it seem as if we are writing a story, yet we have no more control over what came before than what came after..its all a set of dominoes placed in an intricate pattern. So intricate in fact, that our mind can't predict how it will fall, but that is only a limitation of our own processing power, not that of the universe itself.


edit - cross posted with dogmachine, reply was meant for nith.

The Forum post is edited by Dan_Dread Jan 5 '14
Dan_Dread
Dan_Dread Jan 5 '14
Quote from CanisMachina
Quote from Dan_Dread

I tend to see the conscious mind as more of an observer, a byproduct, than an actor. I expect science will provide more 'uncomfortable' data to this effect in the coming years.


Indeterminism seems to support this statement. Everything is a probability of likely outcomes realized by conscious observation/action. I fall back to this quite a bit, but it seems often relevant. 'Freewill' is the decision to collapse the wave function and 'determine' one of many possible outcomes. The conscious mind in an observer role fits neatly into the type III many worlds interpretation of the multiverse.


Ya, I see myself as a compatibilist on this issue. Freewill itself can only exist as a faith belief, yet our experience of freewill, ie that it 'seems' as if we are in control, is completely indistinguishable from the real thing up to the point we can accurately measure all of the data and make predictions with it. I mean, we can already make fairly sound predictions with just slices of data, but the totality still escapes us.
Nith
Nith Jan 5 '14

Be it a leap of faith or the simplicity a self imposed illusion I see no true freedoms at all. I was just throwing in the idea out there as what turned out to be a failed joke.


I guess if on a serious note freedom used like comfort zones might be a better analogy. If I was sitting on a bed of nails and was offered a bed of broken glass would it be more comfortable or less uncomfortable?


I see the freedom question the same way.

8londe8estie
8londe8estie Jan 5 '14
Premise: Consciousness is an observer observing its significance and all significance is epiphenomena of causal phenomena. Consciousness is epiphenomena of causal phenomena and consciousness is determined by causal forces acting upon the biological system beyond conscious apprehension of time and space. The regime of each individual sentient is not separate from the regime of the deterministic universe.

We are observing a deterministic universe running in through consciousness. There is absolutely nothing we can do to alter things by willing, because willing and choosing are the unalterable consequences of cosmological forces. Of course free will and fate exist as observations.


Premise: We can observe how polar opposite nervous systems owe to different -ologies, -isms, and of course deeds. Free will always corresponds to anxiety and liberalism, whilst fatalism rests among the fearless and fascistic. Whether someone is courageous or cowardly is determined and observed in biology, and this fate is unalterable.



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