Wednesday, June 01, 2005

On the other hand...

"if understand you correctly, you for your own reasons can't/don't want to believe that life/existance has meaning outside of the meaning we assign to it so you live in a framework that currently causes you the least amount of cognitive dissonance."

There are times when I desperately want to believe in a higher meaning in life. I come closest to this when I follow the line ofthought of a deterministic universe, which our universe fully appears to be, wherein my own free will is an illusion. But if our own wills are fake - what are _we_? What does it mean to be human or an individual? An utterly meaningless universe because even our own wills and reasons for living are not our own, but ones pushed upon us through causality.

So I affirm my free will even though the evidence is against it. I'm not sure I have free will and I admit that I could be wrong, but what kind of life can one lead if they believe that their own wills are not their own? Life is too short to think that way.

This doesn't mean the discussion is over though, but just that I won't lay down to determinism. I will struggle with it. And so I think that if I'm willing to make this concession to my own happiness, perhaps I can do the same for God.

I'm not against the typical theistic idea of God, I'm really not. I just don't think it's real. I think I might be willing to entertain a belief that there exists _something_ out there which is responsible for the universe, our own existence, how we ought to be even if we have no idea what that thing may be. But if this is God, I find that one cannot believe in it as it may be because it is unfathomable.

Positivism is very attractive because what you do believe is very likely to be true. But it's limiting because even things you cannot prove may very well be true as well. Maybe life is too short to be worrying about always being sure you're right about things.


Hrafnkel said...

Indeed. I occasionally feel the same way about determinism and free will. So what if it is an illusion? Isn't our culture fascinated with the illusions pulled by magicians? Why should it be any different with our predisposition to the [possible] illusion of free will. I say just enjoy the show, regardless of reality.

hayim said...

I wonder why your post just reminded me of this dialogue :

Say you are, even if it's not true.
What am I to say?
Say, I am happy.
I am happy.
So am I.
So am I.
We are happy.
We are happy. (Silence.) What do we do now, now that we are happy?
Wait for Godot.

I don't think anybody wants to live in an absurd universe.

Ben Avuyah said...

I guess determinism has never bothered me very much. Lets theorize, say science and neurology get to the point where basic human emotion and behavior become predictable down to even the minutia of daily activity… what ? It just means you are a highly evolved animal that does things for a reason. Any time you follow a given set of guidelines or rules a certain amount of predictability is induced.

Furthermore, even in a predictably deterministic universe, doesn't there still exist the choice, even if predetermined, to abide by random number generation ?

Example, If this Die lands on one I'll waste time on the web for another hour, two: get some work done, Three: go the beis medrish and daven mariv.

Roll…C'mon baby anything but 3…..anything but 3 !!!

Oh nuts, 3….

Uh, best two out of three !

I mean, in a world in which you can choose randomness how predetermined could it be ? Trust me without that role the odds of me showing up for a random mariv, well, we'd need an improbability drive to calculate it.

After working with people for a great many years I wouldn't be surprised if certain thought processes and emotion generators in human beings are similar to that big popcorn popper machine they pull the winning lotto balls out of.

How else can you explain humanity ?

Orthoprax said...

Ben Avuyah,

"Furthermore, even in a predictably deterministic universe, doesn't there still exist the choice, even if predetermined, to abide by random number generation ?"

But you're not abiding by randomness for a random reason. You go back cause and effect, cause and effect from your decision to follow randomness and you won't find any "free" choices among them.

"I mean, in a world in which you can choose randomness how predetermined could it be ?"

Well, actually, predetermination is unlikely as you mean it. I was using "determinism" more to mean that our wills are the result of causal agents and not out own freedom to choose. Quantum mechanics tends to destroy the concept of a determined world but it still retains its causal arrangement, especially on the macro level.

"How else can you explain humanity ?"

Hopefully as more than mindless automatons.

Orthoprax said...


"I say just enjoy the show, regardless of reality."

Hard to enjoy the show when you can clearly see the strings...

Hrafnkel said...

Then demand your money back.