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Old 08-08-2019, 11:12 AM
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AHunter3 is offline
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I've said this before but it doesn't seem to provoke discussion; but I'll try again:

In all these discussions of free will versus determinism, we spend a lot of time unpacking what "free" or "choice" or "causal" or "volition" mean. But we treat the "self" -- the consciousness that either is or is not freely choosing, etc -- as if it were self-explanatory.

Let's posit for a moment that Joe Blow, individual, at the moment of behavior-selecting, is "determined by the previous state of the universe" as Max S so eloquently expressed it above. And yet there's a consciousness that experiences emotional intensities, the desire for certain outcomes, as monstro in turn describes, also above. If Joe is not choosing of free will, maybe it makes more sense to say that the Self isn't actually Joe. Joe is just the meatware that acts as the antenna that receives and processes the net sum of all the stimuli and serves as a a localized focus for the "previous state of universe", but the true Self is the comprehensive total of all that's happening and, in its entirely the entire system experiences itself, localized within Joe, as doing all of this deliberately.

We do experience ourselves as thinking, feeling, choosing. We are not an illlusion to ourselves. But perhaps our individual personhood is the illusion.

Before you dismiss this as lots of woo: I'm quite certain that this is true of the social self. In other words, never mind (for now) the whole universe of deterministic physics, let's just look at individual person in the social sea of other people who constitute one's culture. We think we are thinking, feeling, developing opinions at the individual level. We're mostly not. We're mostly processing, at the individual level, ongoing long-term thoughts that the species as a whole (or the culture at any rate) is mulling over, and our input as individuals feeds into what the collective Us is deciding. The vast majority of the concepts we're using as well as the vast majority of the specific opinions that we as individuals hold are actually things we picked from an array of attitudes and beliefs that were "already out there", floating around in our social space, for us to select from. Social-science types (e.g. sociologists) deny free will not in the physics-spacetime-particles-causal-determinism sense but in the social-determinism sense. That we're puppets of our socialization, etc. They're wrong too: the self is not an individual but that doesn't mean there's no self. We're integrated; the species is conscious.

Well, perhaps when you extend the question to the whole gamut of universal physical determinism, which could be used to argue that the entire freaking species doesn't have free will either since it's being acted on by the surrounding universe etc, the self is actually present in the whole situation, being purposeful and not merely passively reacting to something non-Self that constitutes an externalia.