20120418

Unmitigated Determinism

William Westmiller writes:

I don't recall where our last discussion of free will ended, but I vaguely recall describing my view as "mitigated determinism". The mitigating factor is sapient conceptual abstraction, whose content is not subject to the Laws of Nature, nor dictated by the mechanical characteristics of neurons.

But as I have always assumed, we don’t need no indeterminism no how. It is interesting that you must resort to a typical indeterministic refrain imagining stuff that “is not subject to the Laws of Nature.” Close readers of TSW will realize that we hypothesize no such thing or motion. All portions of the universe are subject to univironmental determinism (The scientific assumption that whatever happens to a portion of the universe is determined by the infinite matter in motion within and without). Whatever form abstractions take within the brain does not allow them to be “not subject to the Laws of Nature.” Sorry Bill, but “mitigated determinism” is an unmitigated disaster. 

2 comments:

Dean Kisling said...

Acknowledging determinism leads me to consider the possibility of a purposeful universe. There is lots of evidence of "convergence". Evolution is convergence... things (bits of matter) move (motion) into close relationships and form (however temporarily) more complex things. Small things converge to form big things.

This is particularly striking (but certainly not limited to) the evolution of biological life on earth - which has produced creatures with more and more awareness (consciousness).

I observe this trend and I assign the word "purpose" or "intent". I do not require a supernatural being who is forcing it's intent upon the universe from a position external to the universe... I'm just noticing the trend.

The Fibonacci Rule is a good example for me. The rule simply says take two numbers, add them together to make a 3rd number, then add the 2nd number to the 3rd to make the 4th, then add the 3rd to the 4th to make the 5th, and so on. Continuing that process and seeing the Phi (golden mean) relationship evolve with a steadily increasing and oscillating precision is remarkable.

It looks exactly like what we call intentional behavior, but what is driving that behavior? The Fibonacci rule itself says nothing about Phi. The Rule just instructs you to carry out a very simple sequence of addition (convergence). The Rule does not say "find the golden mean" - but following the rule finds the golden mean with great precision and very rapidly no matter what two numbers you start with.

Again, this looks exactly like what we call "intentionality" or "purposeful behavior". And yet there is no evidence of that intention in the Rule, and there is no evidence of any supernatural being who has that intention and is somehow invisibly forcing the Rule to produce that effect.

Some might say this is just a weird quirk of "idealistic" mathematics. But that becomes a rather dubious position when one observes the rough (approximate) but clearly discernible presence of the golden mean in the natural (material) world.

Wolfram's work with cellular automata is another example of simple rules that "cause" the production of amazing and unexpected things. The causal agent with an intention to make those things happen is once again invisible or non-existent.

People can argue about whether or not supernatural beings exist. That seems like a waste of time to me, because it is the wrong question and can't be answered convincingly one way or the other at this time.

The evidence that simple rules can generate wondrous complexity - including consciousness - is hard to dispute without spiraling into absurdity and craziness, which seems to me what hard core atheists typically do. What is more absurd than somebody loudly proclaiming that they don't exist?

I think this spiraling into absurdity and craziness is where current theory is going... super strings and dark matter and parallel multiverses and other unnecessarily complicated, incomprehensible and unwieldy ideas that completely violate what we see with our own eyes.

I think you are on a much more productive and useful track here. Keep going

Glenn Borchardt said...

Thanks, Dean.

“Acknowledging determinism leads me to consider the possibility of a purposeful universe.”

[Sorry Dean, while you have started on the right track, you must remember that “purpose,” like “good” and “bad” are subjective terms. We avoid them in science because we do not see the universe as either “good” or “bad” or having any special “purpose.” We believe, instead, that there are material (not immaterial) causes for all events.]

“There is lots of evidence of "convergence". Evolution is convergence...”

[Actually, evolution is motion. It is the motion of matter toward other matter (convergence) and away from other matter (divergence) as per complementarity. It is important to give equal emphasis to convergence and divergence, because that is exactly what the universe does. Overemphasizing one or the other inevitably produces mistakes (e.g., the infamous “Heat Death of the Universe” nonsense).]


“This is particularly striking (but certainly not limited to) the evolution of…awareness (consciousness)."

[No. It is not particularly striking, because that is just what is expected from a universe whose mechanism of evolution is univironmental determinism.]


“I observe this trend and I assign the word "purpose" or "intent". I do not require a supernatural being who is forcing it's intent upon the universe from a position external to the universe... I'm just noticing the trend.

The Fibonacci Rule is a good example…”

[Again, all this, including Fibonacci, is a result of univironmental determinism, which observes and predicts that there are no other possibilities but the ones mitigated by the insides and outsides of things. Thus, water runs downhill because that is the only possibility under the conditions.]

“{Fibonacci} looks exactly like what we call intentional behavior, but what is driving that behavior?”

[Again, there is nothing “intentional” about it. Univironmental determinism is simply the only way it could work.]

“simple rules that "cause" the production of amazing and unexpected things.”

[Rules can cause absolutely nothing. Only matter in motion produces causes. We must never confuse the picture of the dog with the actual dog.]


“People can argue about whether or not supernatural beings exist. That seems like a waste of time…and can't be answered convincingly one way or the other at this time.”

[Agree, except for your “at this time.” The correct answer is: “never.” We can never prove that there are material causes for all events, because the number of causes is infinite. All we can do is to assume that determinism is true. Indeterminists are free to waste their time assuming just the opposite.]

“The evidence that simple rules can generate wondrous complexity - including consciousness - is hard to dispute without spiraling into absurdity and craziness, which seems to me what hard core atheists typically do.”

[Do you mean “theists?” Otherwise, I don’t have any idea what you mean by this sentence.]

“What is more absurd than somebody loudly proclaiming that they don't exist?”

[Again, what does this mean? I have never heard of this proclamation. Do you have a reference? Maybe you mean that some folks, like myself, deny that “simple rules” exist. You would be right. The rules are simply observations about what matter in motion does. They don’t exist, because existence is only given to portions of the universe having xyz dimensions and location with respect to other things.]

“I think this spiraling into absurdity and craziness is where current theory is going... super strings…parallel multiverses…”

[Agree.]

“I think you are on a much more productive and useful track here. Keep going.”

[Thanks Dean. I certainly will. I hope you get a chance to read "The Scientific Worldview" (TSW) and, later, "Universal Cycle Theory: Neomechanics of the Hierarchically Infinite Universe." Always look forward to questions for the blog…]

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