20070922

On Free Will

The denial of free will, of course, was my starting point. My 2nd assumption, CAUSALITY, proclaims that "All effects have an infinite number of material causes." I had no need for uncaused effects, seeing such claims as non-scientific (a different book, rewritten many times). As for the "feeling of freedom," I have it in spades like most everyone. Nevertheless, as part of nature, I don't claim to make any decisions that do not follow from previous actions. My view is that the ABC's of philosophy begin with the denial of free will, but that the indeterministic argument still exists because the opponents have their own agenda, which also is the opposite of mine. I don't spend much time on it because the debate is ancient and well-traveled by almost every philosopher who ever lived. CAUSALITY is an assumption, and like the other nine assumptions, cannot be proven until all the causes for all effects have been determined--an impossibility in an infinite universe. My contribution in The Scientific Worldview was to carry it through to the bitter/glorious end: the observation that everything in the universe is "natural." The argument, in an infinite universe, must be circular and never completely provable. One either likes it, or one does not.


In scientific philosophy we "like" theories that provide predictions that can be tested via experiment or further observation. For us, "truth" is how well our ideas fare in the external world. No idea ever fares perfectly well because each test involves an infinite number of variables. They are not all equally important, however, so accounting for as few as three or four variables often allows us to make adequate predictions. As stated in the 3rd assumption of science, UNCERTAINTY, "It is impossible to know everything about anything, but it is possible to know more about anything."

4 comments:

googlymoogly said...

So, really, it's not about science at all. It's not objective, but subjective. "One either likes it, or one does not." You've just shown exactly why philosophy is bunk, or if it's not bunk, why it's like opinions, or like assholes, since everybody's got one.
This is not unique. This is barely even interesting.

Michael said...

I think this comment was more than a bit childish. Dr. Borchardt clearly goes beyond mere opinion in defending his 10 assumptions, indeed, he is doing a service to elaborate them and take them to logical conclusions. I personally disagree that free will is incompatible with the notion of determinism, because it simply fails to account for the fact that consciousness may be computationally intensive yet finite. That said, criticisms
of the 10 Assumptions should be more substantial than saying if
they are in any point open to
disagreement, they are in essence
worthless. That logic would make
any world view worthless, including
all religious ones. Clearly this
was an unsubstantial remark.

Glenn Borchardt said...

Thanks for the support Michael. The free will debate was previously centered on finite causality, which potentially meant that Laplace's Demon actually could predict the future and postdict the past. With Bohm's infinite universal causality, however, that is no longer theoretically possible. Even so, as a scientist, I expect all effects to have causes. Thus, for me, there are no uncaused thoughts or actions even though I can never know all of them because they are infinite. We are completely natural and our "feeling of freedom," which I so much enjoy, also is caused. Univironmental determinism emphasizes the interactions of microcosm and macrocosm. I don't use the word "self" very often--it implies that a microcosm could act independently of its macrocosm, which I have never observed. Nevertheless, such "microcosmic mistakes" in science abound (the BBT is the archetype). Everything in the universe happens in context. Removing that context at anytime makes many events seem irrational. If you are to have any success at influencing events, you need to know what causes what. There are causes for drunk driving, for example, and not all of them are internally derived. To ignore the external causes is not useful for preventing bad behavior. All of us are part of the macrocosm of drunk drivers. Many of us call 911 as soon as we observe one--seems to be helping. There is no final answer to the determinism-freewill debate, just as there is no final answer to the finity-infinity debate. In an infinite universe, progress is made by assuming one or the other-TSW is the result. Anyone still interested in debating the topic might use their "uncaused free will" to check out www.determinism.com.

aja said...

You may well be right. Or wrong. Or both. I don't subscribe to Big Bang Theory either, I believe the universe is infinite in both time directions (assuming time is linear here). I think the Doppler Effect ( redshfited galaxies) may be simply due to rapid movement, (I hadn't considered the light absorption effects until now - thank you - but it makes sense). I err towards determinism/planned/caused effects, however this is the mechanism by which I think we can be both in the apparent paradox...I think we can cause everything, even things separated in time, which makes them "appear" acausal...if we are the causers, are we then nost also the determiners? The creators? Are we not then using our 'free will'
to cause things, however subconsiously? The trouble with a completely determined universe is the notion that it means we may be nothing more than automatons, pawns in a much larger game, the actors of Shakespeare's stage...we attribute the direction of the play to some deified Director...but if we also have free will, we actually create our own play, we are our own directors. We are both: free willed determinists. An example: one day I was driving in the country. I was approaching a hill and immediately intuitively felt a big block on the other side and got the unworded message to slow down right now, so I braked hard. On the other side of the hill I stopped in time to see a whole flock of sheep on the road which I would have run into without that intuitive message (I'm a psychic so I responded quickly, based on past experience of this guidance being right). I still "chose" to slow down even though I had been warned of trouble over the hill (being able to predict a future event suggests a planned universe in which the future can be seen). I could have not chosen to slow down. In determinism, the choice to slow down or not would not exist. In determinism's argument, I would have been given the message and slowed down because that is what was meant to happen. Free will might be the illusion, but then it might not. To have free will takes a lot more responsibility than to be an automaton. In free will, we can no longer blame someone else, and I tink it is spiritually more healthy to take repsonsibility than not to. Determinsim by itself is not spiritually responsible and that bodes ill for our species, longterm. I have always felt we can come to answers and solutions, even though we may not always like them. I still think we have a choice, even if one of the consequences of choice results in death (eg: a person may not like the circumstances of his life so he chooses death to escape it). I'm not saying all choices are morally sound but that's not the discussion here. I have enjoyed your discussions and well constructed arguments. I am all for disbanding the Big Bang Theory cult, it has held back good thinking for generations, now. However, I think there are even more ways to think about our universe and some of our thinking maybe unscientific (in the current paradigm of science) because of the limitations in thinking as based on our levels of experience. I don't see a problem with paradox for currently I cannot see an error in my assumptions (unless it is an error to assume anything which may well be so as I learned long ago). I think that many more theories-become-dogmas in science will change with time and when that happens we can reach beyond our earth and ourselves and gain more insight and truth. Unfortunately, it may also mean we manipulate things more consciously than we do even now, but that is a moral choice we have to make. Science based only on logic is a dangerous game, but science which contains feeling and compassion will be used for our improvement, physical and emotional/spiritual. Thanks for the opportunity to comment and read others' comments, it's wonderful. Aja Bowen at http://ajabowen-aja.blogspot.com

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