Free Will


Yes and no, as in technically no but the machinations of the “agents” effectively produce said result. [quote=“Paul_Thinks, post:60, topic:111549”]
How do you account for immediate subjective experience then?

Please clarify[quote=“Paul_Thinks, post:60, topic:111549”]
Surely you can’t deny that there is something that it feels like to be you, you experience the colour blue for example.

The brain being composed of multiple entities does not conflict with this, their concert produces consciousness which is what I think you are getting at.[quote=“Paul_Thinks, post:60, topic:111549”]
that consciousness is a bunch of smaller parts that we objectively observe - doesn’t account for that subjective experience.

The video above shows however when separated that 2 distinct individuals with missing capacities emerge(ie one can’t speak) . Your subjective experience is merely a product of the concerts conception of the environment, a stream of what it knows, there are many parts however that influence the consciousness that the consciousness cannot effect itself, ie agents that do not work directly with the concious producing elements


no one

it’s just biochemistry

Being presented with an opportunity to perform action a or perform action b does not mean that you have any control over that decision, simply that it looks like you could have chosen the other. It’s where the phrase “free will is an illusion” comes from.

That’s bullshit. You’re assuming that free will exists before you’ve conducted the experiment. This “experiment” doesn’t tell you whether or not someone has free will, just whether or not they think they have free will.

I go down on that bitch daily.

no one is making that choice

just because i don’t have free will doesn’t mean someone is manipulating me

welcome to the fucking internet


What I mean is that consciousness can’t be explained in terms of the smaller parts that make it a ‘singular entity’. There is something that it is like to be you, and explaining ‘you’ in smaller parts doesn’t account for that. Imagine for example a blind man wanted to know what it’s like for you to experience the colour blue. In line with your theory of parts, you would describe every smaller part of your brain and it’s physical properties to him while you are experiencing blue, but even if you described that to him perfectly he still wouldn’t know what it’s like to experience blue. Your subjective experience may be made up of physical parts, yes, but it can’t be understood by them.


I could describe to you the state of every bits of RAM involved in the operation, as well as the state of the GPU and the state of every LED in your screen when displaying the picture of a cat, and I’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t be able to visualize the cat, yet that doesn’t mean that there is anything greater to the process than the sum of those parts


How is there not if you can’t visualize the cat despite knowing all the physical parts that make up that visualization?

If you are saying there is not anything other that the physical substances, then I agree. But that doesn’t mean the organisation of those physical substances can’t produce something that can’t be understood in terms of the parts.


I think you are having a failure to understand reductionism here. The base principle of reductionism is that while as humans we see the universe at different meta-level that helps us a lot to understand reality, but the universe itself only operates at a single fundamental level. Let me illustrate: if you look at your hand, you are likely to just think of it as “your hand”, but that is in itself an abstraction level as you are in fact looking at a structure made of your fingers and palm, but that is itself a level of abstraction and we can go down like this recursively until we arrive at the fundamental level, for the universe there is nothing there but billions of fundamental particles interacting with each other, which forms a structure that as a being able of complex thought you identify through a mental model as a hand, but that is nothing more that a soup of particles in a certain configuration.
In this case the identity between “hand” and “fingers and palm” is easy to visualize and apprehend and thus you would think me silly if I made statements such as “When your fingers and palm grab a glass of water, it’s actually your hand that is grabbing the glass”. But you are making that exact mistake in regard to cat pictures described as pixels or consciousness described as neurons, they are not separate entities but different descriptions created by our mind for easy computation of the same fundamental concepts


I think you are missing my point. At no point from “grabbing your glass with fingers and palm” to “grabbing your glass with your hand” does a subjective phenomena that can’t be explained in terms of it’s objective physical parts arise. That is different to the case of consciousness. We can explain in objective physical terms the neurons in my brain etc. (just like the fingers and palm) but we can not explain my subjective experience in those terms (unlike my hand). If I were to put my hand in boiling water, feel pain, then remove it because of the pain, a reductionist would say neurons fired in my brain which caused my body to react and remove my hand. That makes sense in objective physical terms, but it omits the subjective experience of what it was like to have felt that pain. The same reductionist explanation could be given to a person who was not conscious, and did not have a subjective mental experience of that pain. Consciousness can’t be explained without that subjective experience (what it’s like to be you, to feel pain), and subjective experience can not be explained in objective reductionist terms.


But… It can ? What it’s like to be you and the feeling of pain is just as well more “neurons firing” about the fact that they are firing about the pain. It’s how the algorithm “feels from the inside”. As for the impossibility of communicating to others the exact nature of those qualia, it’s not a failure of reductionism, but a failure of the mental model of people hearing the explanation because of the “feeling about feelings” nature of that information that causes a recursive information loop when trying to convert it from a reduced form, nothing more. The illusion of “more than the sum of it’s parts” comes from that difficulty to reconstitute qualia, but not an observation about the reality of things.


It isn’t though, it still isn’t explaining what it’s like from the inside. You can give the same reductionist explanation of neurons firing to someone who doesn’t feel from the inside. There’s no account for the singular subjective point of view.

Could you give me a link that explains this in more detail?

The problem with the idea that qualia is incommunicable in reductive terms because of the fault of “mental model” is that it denies that we gain any knowledge in our experience of new subjective phenomena. Let’s say I had never experienced blue before, yet knew every reductionist physical characteristic of blue and every brain state of when a person experiences blue. When I first experience blue, I still gain new knowledge of what it’s like to experience blue despite knowing all the reductionist physical properties. From a reductionist perspective I know all the information about blue already, because I know all of it’s physical properties and therefore haven’t learnt anything. But that just isn’t the case, when I experience blue for the first time I discover new attributes that blue has, these attributes aren’t in any reductionist explanation.

I’m not sure if I understand your position, you believe there is qualia as we know it? That’s contradictory to the belief that consciousness can be explained in reductive physical terms. Qualia by it’s very nature is only introspectively accessible, it’s the experience of our individual mental lives. If it were explained in objective reductionist physical terms how would it be qualia?

Also, what do you mean by “not an observation about the reality of things”? Are you suggesting that consciousness as “more than a sum of it’s parts” isn’t objectively observable so therefore not real?


I should ask you that one thing : imagine that there where two people in front of you, one that “feels from the inside” and one that doesn’t, but you don’t know which. How would you differentiate the two ?

But… you don’t get any new information about the color blue. At best, you are getting information about your brain structure as you experience the specific sequence in your visual cortex that corresponds to the color blue; but you don’t have any more insight or information about the color blue.[quote=“Paul_Thinks, post:69, topic:111549”]
Qualia by it’s very nature is only introspectively accessible, it’s the experience of our individual mental lives. If it were explained in objective reductionist physical terms how would it be qualia?

The failure of communicating qualia is a failure of communication, not information, because qualia are just a concept, a word to quickly label a category of processes related to “feelings about feeling”, but qualia are not real in the sense that there isn’t truly something physical or objective to attach to it, but it can be a useful metaphorical abstraction when discussing this kind of topic.

That’s not directly what I was implying in the original quote, but that’s a good time to address this anyway: anything that isn’t observable (in the physical sense of the term) nor has any direct influence on the universe is to be considered with overwhelming probability to not actually be real


I couldn’t. That’s the point: there is no reductionist physical explanation that can explain the difference.

You do though? Before experiencing blue you could have already known the specific sequence in the cortex that would correspond to the colour blue (and all other reductive physical properties) but still you would not know what it is to experience blue. You only know what it is like to experience blue until after you have had the subjective individual experience, that is when you learn the subjective qualities that blue has.

But then you are just saying; “things are only real if they are explainable in reductive physical terms therefore qualia we experience aren’t real”.

I think I’ve had this argument with you before. We don’t find out if things are real or not by only observing physical phenomena. In fact the very criteria that you use to distinguish between real and not real is itself non-physical. So by your own criteria your argument is not real.


That’s only the supposition you are making, but in reality if you assume a person is given complete knowledge of the color blue in term of data, then that would be enough for them to conceive of what it is like to see blue.
Let’s make this analogy simpler by imagining we are talking about robots: one robot has a camera than filters out blue and the other has a normal color camera, but they are otherwise identical. If the first robot is given all the data that describes what happens in the RAM and CPU of the one that can see colors, then it would be able to run a simulation of the color blue, and perceive it as if it was able to see the color, even if it can’t actually see it

You don’t determine realness directly by observation, but anything that (precisely as I say it) “can’t be physically observed nor has direct consequences on the universe” is not real. As such I would indeed say that anything from idea space is not real by itself (in a Platonic way), but the set of rules and logic engraved in my brain’s configuration is real (it is something physical that can be observed) and a handy label for that is to call it “an idea” and by metonymy we usually say that ideas are real because of that.
An argument for the truth of that principle is as follow (in a short way, I may expand if needed): imagine two worlds, one were the concept that can’t-be-observed-nor-has-consequences is real, and one a copy where it is not. Since it is not observable and has no consequences, then those two universe should be perfectly identical otherwise, and since that phenomenon add to the information entropy of the description of that universe, then the base probability of that universe is much lower than it’s counterpart, and as such it is much more logical to make the assumption that you are in a universe where that thing doesn’t exist


That doesn’t work as an analogy though. There is no what it’s like to be those robots, they have no internal subjective point of view.

“the set of rules and logic engraved in my brain’s configuration is real (it is something physical that can be observed)” is from “idea space” it’s self though, which means by your own argument it isn’t real. Our observations are theory-laden, we can’t observe (and thus supposedly determine what is real) unless we have a preconceived idea about what it is we are observing. Stars are real, but we don’t observe stars, we observe white dots in the night sky. We only know those white dots are stars because of our ideas about them. If “idea space” isn’t real then nothing we observe is real.


I personally don’t believe in free will - because I believe that everything eventually follows a predetermined trajectory. I don’t think that automatically translates to having no reason to make any decisions in life though. If I “decide” to not study for an exam and as a result I fail the exam, I think it was within my predetermined path to have failed that exam.


So. You live through a day. As you fall asleep you have the choice to go back to the beginning of the day and do it over again. However, you will have no memory of what happened that day. You are literally turning back time. Would you make the same decisions? Yes. Which is why the question of free will doesn’t matter.


“If two people have exactly the same circumstances happen to them, they will have the same result”

But their choices have an impact on what route they take pretty much sums up what I think about this


Free will exists = Someone saying it doesn’t
Free will doesn’t exist = Someone saying it does

Philosophical debate about non-tangible items is just a waste of time. If you put as much thought into getting a engineering degree maybe you’ll make an actual impact.