Free will?

I approve of your conceptualization of “free will”, Polycarp.

The problem is that any internal process is inevitably subject to external influences (and vice versa). There’s really no way we can exclude causality from ourselves. Any decision or course of action we make is necessarily a result, however distant or indirect, of things that happened long ago and far away.

There’s also the problem that a Someone who knew us utterly could also have made a different ‘us’, an ‘us’ that would choose differently.


Your “translations” are not correct. Plus, there are more than twenty definitions for heart in American Heritage. Are you beling deliberately obtuse?

—Therefore, without depriving you of your free choice, someone who knew you totally, better even than you know yourself, could know what your choice was going to be, because it would be an elementary deduction from who you are.—

I agree: and I think it gets weirder than I that. People who study the brain have some experience with using electrodes to stimulate the nervous system, inducing things like movement. But the really startling thing is that it is not only the movement which is sometimes produced by the stimulation: but also the experience of deciding to move. In such a situation, how do we characterize what’s going on?

I think that in this context, we are apt to say “but, we are not really free, because we are being forced to decide, even though we don’t necessarily know it.” But there is a possible response to that: in all other situations of forcing, the forcing is of an external constraint on our own choices. But here, someone seem to have tapped INTO our system of making choices. In this situation, it actually seems to make sense to say both that our choice was determined by someone else but also at the same time was our own choice. And in a certain sense, this is a question of degree, not kind, from what people do normally when they, for instance, exploit what they know about our character to manipulate us into making choices that they can predict.

So, if you accept the above formulation, an omnipotent/omniscient being could not only predict our choices, but (since it can presumably direct all things, to an even greater extent than doctors with electrodes) direct them without them ceasing to be our choices.

Since these statements require a context for their ambiguous meanings to be properly interpreted, and since you’ve neglected to provide a context, Ramanujan’s translations are equivalent to the information communicated in them.

You didn’t specify what you meant by ‘heart’, except to imply that it’s not the brain (which is not an implication of most of those definitions). Are you being deliberately misleading, or inadvertently idiotic?

(Note: those who attack others have no cause to complain when they’re attacked in return. Don’t insult the intelligence of others without demonstrating some of your own.)

Vorlon wrote:

Are you blind? :wally

JFTR, that piddling little exercise in semantic quibbling is something I find not only distasteful but moot.

On April 15, 1990, I had quadruple bypass surgery to replace coronary arteries clogged with hard plaque in an organ located in my chest. What transpired as a result of that surgery was a new lease on life, both physically and spiritually – a sense that I was saved from death for a purpose and had only enough time to accomplish that purpose.

And that evening, at our church’s Easter Vigil, while I lay in the hospital recovering from surgery, my wife read the passage I’d been assigned to read for that service, including these words:

Sometimes, TVAA, words carry the connotation that people read into them, regardless of what semantics you try to invest them with.

A wonderful testimony, Poly. Please say hello to SkullDigger from Edlyn and me. :slight_smile:

Only Adam and Eve had free will.

And now that I’ve thought some more about it…
I’m sure you all remember my theory on objective and subjective… Well I think it can be applied to this as well.
Objective = the ‘hidden’ world, the mechanics of the world that we cannot control, and in some ways perceive in any way.
Subjective = the way we perceive this objective world, making it our own, hence a different one than the objective one.

So… in the objective world, all the mechanics of our brain, and what we have learned, and what is our ‘normal’ behavior, is what decides the decisions we make.
Now, the subjective world is the world we live in, inside our head.
The mechanics that run our thoughts and emotions are all based on the objective ‘scientific’ events taking place in our heads.
So, for someone to make a decision, they thrawl through their memories and emotions on the subject at hand, and make a decision they feel is logical.

In some cases, people can ‘escape’ their ‘normal’ behavior, and do something irrational or unexpected, is this free will?
Maybe what drove them to make this unexpected behavior was an objective stimulant.
Something happened to them, or they saw something, or maybe they even thought something(thought processes are objective in a way) to make them to that.
Now the real nut is this… When that event happened in their head to make them make the decision they made, was that the only possible decision they could’ve made, or did they have a real set of objective options, that they could in fact change matter with will, making a free willed decision.?

I don’t know the answer to this, heh.

** coax**


I think the question is, Who’s making the decision?

I think the only logical answer to that, Iamthat, is God.
But there is another answer.
I think the world and the universe in general is kind of a headless chicken scenario.
Lots of different parts work together to form a whole, but they’re not controlled by one big ‘part’, they just co-exist to cater for eachother.

Imagine this, you have one ball and nothing else exists, this ball divides into two more balls, and then these divide into 2 balls each, equalling 8 balls, and so on.
In this case, the first ball is the big bang.
After the big bang we were all alone, inner logics for the universe was created and it just evolved to what we know as the world today.
So basically I think the answer is scientific.
“Who makes the decision?” It’s something about several parts working together like they were designed to do, designed by evolution and nature that is, NOT God.
More than that I don’t know.

Ah, whenever the subject of free will vs. determinism comes up, someone always trots out the old “headless chicken” metaphor.

Oh, I see. You’re being deliberately idiotic.

Polycarp: if the words don’t carry any semantic content, they shouldn’t have been spoken (or typed) in the first place.

Your story was touching, but I don’t see how it helps us to understand what various posters to this thread mean by “heart”. Further comparisons to the pumping organ in your chest are not useful (unless you’d like to suggest that recipients of heart transplants somehow lose their vital center and source of their being).

While our understanding of the human mind is still in its infancy, I’d like to remind posters to this thread that, according to our best available evidence, we feel with our brains. There is no known fundamental distinction between “emotion” and “intellect”. They’re both different types of thought, but they’re both thought.

Very good, TVAA, and I can concur with your lesson in elementary neurophysiology. However, the classic metaphor has drawn the distinction between “rationality” (=mind, understood as housed in “brain” or “head”) and “emotionality,” figuratively housed in “heart.” Nobody seriously contends that the blood-pumping muscle in your chest is where you feel things, although it does ordinarily react to strong emotion by beating harder or faster, presumably the source of the metaphor. What I was perturbed about is that Lib was using a common metaphor often taken to mean "the central core of one’s selfhood, or, in context, “that part of one’s psyche with which one feels, rather than coolly and calmly thinks,” and it seemed like you were being deliberately obtuse, especially in view of the fact that Lib had cited that as his definition.

Forgive me my asperity – it’s been a rough time for me lately. On second view, I can see the possibility that you recognized that Lib was using one of the common metaphors, and wanted him to pin down which one for clarity’s sake – not realizing that he already had done so.

I hope that you’re recovering quickly from your medical ordeal. (You’re well enough to go around posting on The Straight Dope?! I’d think the doctors would have banned you for months – the blood pressure changes induced by the board are potentially lethal! :wink: )

Lib clearly claimed that moral and intellectual decisions were fundamentally different, then claimed that intellectual decision were made by the brain and emotional by the heart.

This rules out the metaphor you referenced, Polycarp; the “part of the psyche” model doesn’t suggest where (if anywhere) the psyche is localized.

Lib didn’t cite any definition of the word ‘heart’ when he first used it. My sarcastic response to his use of the word phrase occurred because he didn’t define the term in an abstract or metaphorical sense, yet called the brain the source of intellect.

He has yet to explain why morality is not intellectual.

And he still hasn’t explained why he wrote about the appropriate subject for a theological discussion when the OP isn’t theological! He claimed to mention both intellectual and theological contexts in his reply to my question, but his original post only mentioned one.

Posted by ** coax**

God or transcendence? Why not?
I agree, as long as we don’t know who makes decisions and knows we cannot say who or what has free will, if it exists.

—“that part of one’s psyche with which one feels, rather than coolly and calmly thinks,”—

Heh. Or not so cooly and calmly, as the case may be for all of us from time to time. :slight_smile:

—He has yet to explain why morality is not intellectual.—

In my mind, it’s because morality is based on value, not any objective fact about any state of the world. The only objective fact relevant to morality is that you or I have such and such values. I don’t think it’s a strech to say that these values are primarily emotive in character, based on feelings and natural empathy. Didn’t Adam Smith already go over all this in “Moral Sentiments”?

So one doesn’t have to posit any sort of duality between emotion and thinking (which are both human acts/processes) to see a duality between emotion and “Reason”. Of course, even just in terms of gross anatomy, emotion and intellect seem to be at least somewhat distinct in the brain.

Vorlon wrote:

Do you think I am an idiot?

Goodness is an aesthetic, not an epistemology.

And it’s not possible for those values to be objectively correct?

I disagree utterly. In the same way that different ways of baking a cake or building a house or writing a computer program can be objectively better than others, different ways of living one’s life can be objectively better than others.

We don’t consider things like hunger, pleasure, or pain to be arbitrary. We recognize them as systems that steer us away from certain actions or states and toward others. People whose drives resulted in their persisting and having children with similar drives persist. Those whose drives were inconsistent with continued survival didn’t.

If we’re not injured, but we experience pain anyway, can’t we consider the pain to be ‘wrong’? If we’re injured, but we don’t detect it and don’t recognize it as an injury, isn’t our lack of pain also ‘wrong’?

If we take the opposite position – that values have no objective meaning – then there’s really no reason to care about them, is there?

I’m not disputing the assertion that these values are emotional rather than rational. I’m disputing the assertion that they’re emotional rather than intellectual.

Emotion is a form of thinking. All evidence shows that this is the case.

Intelligence is what intelligence does. You’re clearly a very intelligent person, but if you don’t use that intelligence well, you’re being dumb.

Aesthetic, n:

Epistemology, n:

What makes the underlying principles of aesthetics different from the underlying principles of mathematics or science? We don’t consider those to be beyond the realm of verification.