Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Deterministic Damnation

Some people that I talk to don't seem to get the direct implications that a simple deterministic universe necessarily results in. So they say, yes, my actions may not be free, being how they are determined from previous states, but that doesn't mean I need to fall for a fatalistic view of life. It is still myself who is performing those actions and I might as well do my best and live life to the fullest. I can't actually tell that I'm not free, in my personal experience, the machine of my brain is so complicated, so I might as well live as if my will were free.

Now, I'm using determinism a little loosely here. Quantum mechanics may have very well overthrown the conceptualized deterministic clockwork universe of Newton, but random will is hardly a preferential substitute for determined will. The only difference is on a global scale as the idea of fate is undermined. For if events are fundamentally of only probabilistic occurrence then our future is open to many, perhaps infinite, possibilities. Suffice it to say, our problem lies in the lack of self-chosen will.

'Free' Will is often a very confused subject. Some people will argue that as long as we are able to freely pursue our desires, we are truly free in any way that matters. But no! This is not so! It is our will which we are concerned with. Imagine you were hypnotized to desire to act like a chicken, would you then consider yourself a free agent because you could act like a chicken to fulfill that desire? Absurd!

Our very wills are determined from before we were born. They are forced upon us by the unfeeling laws of nature. When I want to eat an apple, is it I making the positive choice to want to eat that apple - or is the state of my hungry body and the directives of my chemical brain which make me want to eat it? Our desires are not our own. Many people want to have children - but why? The answer is because the desire is built into our evolutionary-designed genes to produce another generation. We don't freely choose to desire sex - it is built into the operating system of the human being.

Every time you desire anything, every time you find that you want something to happen, it is not you somehow making a decision to want it. It does not come freely from within yourself. It is forced upon you by external factors that you cannot control. What does this turn the human being into? Our consciousnesses become prisoners, unwilled observers with complete inability to do anything or to want anything on our own.

Our actions are not our own, they are only what the external factors forced us to do. We cannot be held responsible for things done wrong or be lauded for things done right. We really had nothing to do with it. We observed it, we experienced it, yes, but we, as in our wills, were controlled by the other. Our logical thinking, our desire for rationality - all have nothing to do with us. How can we even love? For love itself is forced upon our consciousness, an unwilled state.

Every interest you hold in anything is forced upon you. It is not your own. Knowing all of this - how can you take it seriously? How can you lose yourself in your interests? How can you fall in love? Can you not see the utter futility in every human effort and human achievement? None of it was done on our own accord. We may have supplied the muscle power and even the thinking power, but our wills, our essence, are held captive by the forces of nature. None of it was our own initiative. We are beasts with unself-directed instincts fooling ourselves into thinking that we chose it this way all along.

35 comments:

B. Spinoza said...

Ortho,

>Every time you desire anything, every time you find that you want something to happen, it is not you somehow making a decision to want it.

Who is this "you" that you want to make decisions? You are your nature, and your nature is a part of the greater Nature

>Our actions are not our own, they are only what the external factors forced us to do.

you are a part of Nature, so it's not like Nature is some outside force which is distinct from you forcing you to desire something that you don't want. Your consciousness and desires are just one part of the eternal flow of nature

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

You've just destroyed the individual.

Without free will we are consciousnesses trapped inside the bodies of automatons. You are now deconstructing consciousness itself. You are making me as much a party of Nature as is an insect or a leaf floating on the wind. Meaningless.

Why is that of value? How does that make human life worth it?

B. Spinoza said...

you should learn to appreciate the insect, leaf, and flower too, instead of putting it down. What distinguishes us from these things are the fact that we are aware and conscious of them, and therefore we can appreciate them, but they can't appreciate and gain enjoyment from us

Anonymous said...

Orthoprax,

Isn't it possible to determine the source of the desire and if its something thats logical then there may be no reason to reject the desire. It might be something that your essense truely desires.There are things that definatley influence your decisions but as long as you are conscious of the things that are influencing you and aware of the reason for desiring it, it might be ok, thats why were have choice compared with animals.

"Every time you desire anything, every time you find that you want something to happen, it is not you somehow making a decision to want it."

But that doesnt mean you have to follow your desires you have choice of whether or not to follow your instincts based on reason, no?

If you use your ability to reason, then you can think on your own and determine how you want to lead your life based on the capabilities that you have been given which gives you some choice in decision making.

"When I want to eat an apple, is it I making the positive choice to want to eat that apple - or is the state of my hungry body and the directives of my chemical brain which make me want to eat it?"

you still have the choice of whether or not to act on your desires... do you mean a fat person must always remain fat, are you giving them this excuse???

the point is a person has the option to follow all of his desires or to reject and channel some of them. this makes us responsible for our actions

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

Your appreciation is forced upon you by external forces. Sometimes the human ride is nice, but it is still nothing but a ride.


Anon,

You've totally missed the point. It doesn't matter what the source of the desire is - it didn't come from you. Even your desire to rationalize it and seek its logical source didn't come from you.

Your very use of Reason, which you think saves free will, is still determined by external forces.

"do you mean a fat person must always remain fat, are you giving them this excuse???"

A fat person will be whatever he will be, but he won't have any control or input as to what his future may hold. I cannot hold him responsible for being fat anymore than I can laud him for becoming thin.

"the point is a person has the option to follow all of his desires or to reject and channel some of them. this makes us responsible for our actions"

No, the very desire to reject your other desires is itself determined by external factors. Don't you see the insidiousness of the trap?

David Guttmann said...

One of the ideas behind praxis in religion, and not all religion necessarily contain praxis, is changing the detrministic nature of the world. It is a little what is behind Ramban's understanding of Ein Mazal leysrael. IOW one does something counterintuitive such as resting Shabbos, which has an impact on a deterministic universe.

Rambam's Hashgacha operates under a similar concept.

lakewoodyid said...

>Every time you desire anything, every time you find that you want something to happen, it is not you somehow making a decision to want it. It does not come freely from within yourself. It is forced upon you by external factors that you cannot control.

>Our actions are not our own, they are only what the external factors forced us to do. We cannot be held responsible for things done wrong.....

Baam! I just took my gun and shot someone. Sorry, but it isn't my fault. It was forced on me by "external factors" which I "cannot control". I apologise for desiring to kill John Doe, but "it wasn't somehow me making a decision to want it".

Makes sense, orthoprax?


>We observed it, we experienced it, yes, but we, as in our wills, were controlled by the other.

And who exactly is this "other"??

B. Spinoza said...

orthoprax,

>Your appreciation is forced upon you by external forces. Sometimes the human ride is nice, but it is still nothing but a ride.

enjoy the ride and try to make it the best one you can

Orthoprax said...

David,

"One of the ideas behind praxis in religion, and not all religion necessarily contain praxis, is changing the detrministic nature of the world."

That's one interpretation, but I don't see how it releases you from the absurdity of life without free will.

Then again, Calvinists and others seem to do just fine.



LY,

No offense, but this discussion is apparently beyond you. I'm not asking you disprove determinism, which I assure you your little story did not, but if you believe it is correct to tell me how you would you orient your life around it.

"And who exactly is this "other"??"

A characterization of the blind external forces of nature.



Spinoza,

"enjoy the ride and try to make it the best one you can"

Do I have a choice? ;-)

Ben Avuyah said...

I can't disagree with anything in your post, and since I am a naturalist and an empiricist, and believe that our behavior is determined by genetics, experience, and brain chemicals, I agree that we are enjoying the ride (or not).

The amazing thing is the power of the illusion of choice. Very few people ever doubt that this illusion is absolute reality.

I have often wondered if the internal monologue that we experience as "our thoughts" is not just a by product of the hyperactive speech centers that have so differentiated humanity from our animal cousins. The long and verbose internal statements (thoughts) may make our very mechanistic innards seem much more open to debate and even appear to be under our control and will.....perhaps..

I also wonder if this illusion of choice is necessary for a functional being, and has been selected for over the millenia. People who feel they have no control over their situation often suffer from depression. Perhaps a counsciousness that creates free will with mirrors and glitter is natures balm for the emotional well being that is so important with us high strung cognates at the top of the food chain.

Baal Habos said...

Orthoprax,
> Qantum mechanics may have very well overthrown the conceptualized deterministic clockwork universe of Newton, but random will is hardly a preferential substitute for determined will.


Some of this concepts of predeterminism are familiar to me from reading "A brief history of time".
But truthfully, I don't follow all of your discussions. Why isn't the "randomness" that Qantom Mechanics injects into the equation, enough to possibly mean there is free will?

Either way, even if its all predetermined, we all live AND think as if there were free will. "We" believe that we decide to type a comment in OP blog or not. Actually, there might be an analogy to Libido. Thinking of sexual performance is enough to create anxiety to interfere with Libido. Thinking about predeterminism in life may also cause problems. Just don't think about it other than as an intellectual issue. Thinking about it from a functional issue drove me batty. Till I stopped thinking about it.

Orthoprax said...

Ben,

"The amazing thing is the power of the illusion of choice. Very few people ever doubt that this illusion is absolute reality."

But if you know that it is an illusion - how can you take it seriously? Is the trick simply to not think about it?

"Perhaps a counsciousness that creates free will with mirrors and glitter is natures balm for the emotional well being that is so important with us high strung cognates at the top of the food chain."

But why would evolution favor the creation of consciousness in the first place? If we have no control over what we do and all our actions and reactions are determined by external natural forces - what does consciousness add to it?



Baal,

"Why isn't the "randomness" that Qantom Mechanics injects into the equation, enough to possibly mean there is free will?"

It can, but it isn't the free will that you think you're talking about. It's not *you* making the choice, it is random factors controlling the choice. Not much better than strict determinism.

"Thinking about it from a functional issue drove me batty. Till I stopped thinking about it."

Ok, so we can say the same about any controversial issue that people hold emotionally necessary. God, the afterlife, angels, miracles, spirits, faith healing, voodoo magic, etc. There's no end to what you can justify that way.

Baal Habos said...

> Ok, so we can say the same about any controversial issue that people hold emotionally necessary. God, the afterlife, angels, miracles, spirits, faith healing, voodoo magic, etc. There's no end to what you can justify that way.


Daniel, I once read an article that this "random factor" leaves room in the world for a God. Random factors may also include free will, I'm not sure of the mechanics but it certainly can be stated that we don't have a complete understanding of it.

> There's no end to what you can justify that way.

True.
So what would you like to do? Close your eyes and go to sleep for the rest of your life?

We have no choice but to THINK and make decisions. And just as we decide to buckle down, study and go to Med school we can decide to not murder.

I still think about pre-determinism but only from an intellectual perspective, not from a "how should I run my life" perspective.

Orthoprax said...

Baal,

"Daniel, I once read an article that this "random factor" leaves room in the world for a God. Random factors may also include free will, I'm not sure of the mechanics but it certainly can be stated that we don't have a complete understanding of it."

Sure, it does leave room. The way it works is that within these random events it is believed that there may be a superior order, a higher plane on which other types of mechanics work. Other mechanics like miracles or free will.

Unfortunately, it is wholly speculative.

"True.
So what would you like to do? Close your eyes and go to sleep for the rest of your life?"

Does it matter what I want? I want whatever I'm directed to want. The joke given about this debate is that we must believe in free will, we have no choice. ;-)

"I still think about pre-determinism but only from an intellectual perspective, not from a "how should I run my life" perspective."

Then you're just not taking philosophy very seriously. Not the worst sin, really. Though if you read the New York Times today, they had an article on the consequences of recent genetics research that seem to indicate that things like dance talent and obesity are genetically directed.

I hate to give up on free will, but if belief in it seems to fly in the face of all the direct evidence then where can I appeal to? The supernatural? But then where does that stop?

Ben Avuyah said...

>>>But if you know that it is an illusion - how can you take it seriously? Is the trick simply to not think about it?

I don't think we have any choice but to take it seriously...it's all we have. We have no access to the inner workings of our minds.

I'd love it if we could stumble on some mechanism that allowed free will, but it's not looking good.

dbs said...

Orthoprax,

Look, I totally get your point. Obviously, (since we’ve discussed this before) it isn’t a problem which bothers me, which, as you and Ben point out, is probably just my own defensive wiring. I do understand the implications.

So, with the disclaimer that this may be my involuntary response at work, here is what I think:

I think that we have free will. As I’ve written, it is a fundamental part of the human experience. Just as we experience consciousness, we experience ourselves making choices. Choosing, determining, differentiating – these are what define us every moment of our lives.

How do I reconcile the experience of choice with the fact that we are biological beings interacting with external forces? First, the answer may well be the quantum physics which you dismiss. I think that you are not appreciating a fundamental lesson; not all problems have deterministic answers. In quantum mechanics, a solution to, say, the location of an electron, can only be defined in probabilistic terms. This really does mean that the electron can be anywhere. The only thing which can ultimately define its location is an ‘event’. And, each event gives rise to a new set of probabilities.

But, even if this model does not end up working for the human mind, I just believe that there is a solution. Just as I believe that there is a solution to the first fact problem – one which we do not yet understand – I believe that there are many concepts about the mind which we can not yet fathom. Consider that just as we do not have a concrete idea of infinity, though the concept is mathematically valid, so we do not have a concrete example of a pure random occurrence, though we can describe it mathematically.

In a way, free will is like existence. We can’t prove that it is reality, but at least it is an experience of ‘reality’ which we all share.

Orthoprax said...

DBS,

Ah, excellent. You've hit the nail on the head. ;-)

Free will is such an integral experience in human existence, as well as so fundamental a point in human activity, that I am willing to depend my basic philosophy of life on the truth of its reality over any current scientific or philosophical arguments to the contrary. I am more likely to promote the idea that there are errors in those theories than that freedom of will is a complete illusion.

Essentially our experience of free will trumps any theoretical argument against it - for we experience it directly. That's as empirical as you can get.

Furthermore, determinism is hardly a scientific argument. It is unfalsifiable. For even if we were unable to locate a cause for an action, we could always imagine that there still is one.

(As far as Quantum Theory and free will goes, the point is that free will is not equivalent to random will. QT says that random events occur, but our wills are clearly not random. That would be akin to the acts of madmen, not rational actors. That said, there may be truth within QT regarding free will, but you can hardly point to it as anything better than speculation.)

dbs said...

Just one point regarding QT. Probabilistic and random are not the same thing. In a way, QT is saying "I can tell you the odds of this happening, but until it happens, I can't predict it."

I'm not sure if that helps, and I don't think that QT is going to end up being the real model for how choice works. For me it is just a hint that there are things which don't have to work the way that we intuit about them.

Shtern_Zeyer said...

I don't think you are 'experiencing' free will. You are experiencing something that you interpret as free, but the question would be how can you interpret it as free if you can't even explain what you mean by free.

The "philosophical arguments against free will" are simple question on what do we mean by free.
One argument would go something like this; my "I" is my consciousness, my consciousness is all my experiences up to this day. So is it this consciousness (i.e. my experiences, i.e. my circumstances) which you call "I" that guides my actions?
Now how would you call the above free? In the end it's my circumstances all over again.
You are calling something free when it is not.

As to your point about losing individuality.

In my mind this is the most important excercise i can ever do. Realizing through a philosophical process that there is really no "I", there only is a combination of many existences that we encapsulated with the word I.
When I will really truly realize the above, i will then have reached the goal of Kaballistic and Hasidic Teaching of Bitul HaYesh, and I will be Mevatul myself to the whole of Havayah/Existence, to the vast infinity/Ein Sof.

At that point and time I will no longer have any will to look after myself more than after the next person, I will be completely objective and will bring to fruition the dictum of Hillel on what he thought to be the crux of Judaism "DeAloch Sani LeChavroch Lo Tavod"

I will NOT do the above becaue I "should" do it, or because it is the 'right and moral' thing to push myself to do.
I will do it because this is how i will automatically see as the natural way of being, there will be no reason for me to do otherwise.

Even today I have a certain level of realization of the above point so that to some extent the natural way of my being is to be unselfish etc. but being that there is a lot of inclarity and confusion i also see the natural way of being that i shoud look after myself only, living in the illusion of 'self'. I call it an illusion because it simply is not the true state of affairs, it is not what really is.
Once i will follow reality, i.e. i will follow the true existence of reality i will follow Haviah/Existence, which for the less philosophicall inclined has been personified.
The level of personifcation depends on the level of sophistication, to some its personable as you and me, to some it has some kind of personality (maybe even defining it with the pardoxical term of 'unknowable' undefinable). But in the end it is all just a way of guiding my action along the above mentioned principle utilizing a concept of 'as if' there is a God "Kevayochel".

B. Spinoza said...

>In a way, free will is like existence. We can’t prove that it is reality, but at least it is an experience of ‘reality’ which we all share.

I think it is very different. Existence cann't logically be denied. Just try it. Every thought is an affirmation that something exists, even the thought that there is no existence affirms it. Free will, on the other hand, can be denied

>Essentially our experience of free will trumps any theoretical argument against it

we do not experience free will, what we experience is our desire to act which precedes action (sometimes). The idea that our will is free is a theological theory and is not directly experienced.

I don't really have any emotional attachment to the theory of free will. You guys, on the other hand, want so badly for your conscious mind to be free and to be in control of your actions that you don't take seriously the idea that your body may be in control of your thoughts or that they may be independent of each other

Orthoprax said...

Shtern,

"You are calling something free when it is not."

You're right, I would have difficulty defining it. What is important to me is that free will is what makes me, as an individual, responsible for my actions.

"Realizing through a philosophical process that there is really no "I", there only is a combination of many existences that we encapsulated with the word I."

See, that's the same type of thought experiment that is on the one hand fascinating and intellectually stimulating, but on the other hand cannot be taken seriously as a way to base life. How can I live without the stimulation that I am important, at least from my own perspective?


Spinoza,

"what we experience is our desire to act which precedes action (sometimes)."

Not so, I experience my desire, yes, but also my intent to act. I don't just want my arm to move, I control its movement.

"The idea that our will is free is a theological theory and is not directly experienced."

Theological? How do you figure?

"I don't really have any emotional attachment to the theory of free will."

That may be, but you seem to be ignoring the fact that you don't have any reason to do anything at all. As a victim of causality you cannot justify any act you make.

B. Spinoza said...

>Not so, I experience my desire, yes, but also my intent to act. I don't just want my arm to move, I control its movement.

I don't know, It seems to me that the awareness of our body movements come at the same time or after our body moves. The brain sends a signal to the hand to move, but that doesn't mean that our conscious mind is aware of it. Most of the time we move without even realizing it. If we had to have a conscious decision to move every body part, we would never do anything.

>Theological? How do you figure?

It's a central component of reward and punishment in judeo-christian religions How can God punish the wicked if we have no free will? Which is why theologians feel so strongly about it

>That may be, but you seem to be ignoring the fact that you don't have any reason to do anything at all.

It's my nature to strive and seek Joy.

>As a victim of causality you cannot justify any act you make.

I'm not a victim, since there is noone to blame. It's just the nature of reality.

I don't need to justify my actions.

Baal Habos said...

Daniel, (and company),
> Essentially our experience of free will trumps any theoretical argument against it - for we experience it directly. That's as empirical as you can get.



I'm very much out of my league in this stuff and I find it quite disturbing. Interestingly enough,for the past two weeks I've been reading a book about genetics by a Matt Ridley, see

http://baalhabos.blogspot.com/2006/06/curse-of-tiresias.html

As a result of your post, I skipped ahead to the last chapter which discusses Free will and I must admit, that it's scary. He discusses a hypothetical planned experiment by Shimojo of California inst of Tech (Caltech?) in which an electrode implanted in the brain near the area controlling voluntary movement will induce in the subject movement of the arm which the subject himself believes was voluntary. Scary stuff.

Yet in the end, perhaps to finish the book on a positive note, Ridley uses some double speak and claims its freedom because it's our own internal determinism and not someone else's.

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

"I don't know, It seems to me that the awareness of our body movements come at the same time or after our body moves."

That may be true for trivial acts, like I didn't realize my foot was stepping to the beat or something. But we have intended purposes for things that we do. I walk to the kitchen to get food. I open the front door to pick up the paper. It is simply not the case that I discover my purpose after only reaching for food.

"It's a central component of reward and punishment in judeo-christian religions"

In most of it, yes, but not all of it. There are a number of Christian sects that are wholly pre-deterministic, like Calvinism and its offshoots. Islam, though it is not Judeo-Christian, is also involved in the idea that God's will is what determines all acts.

I'd say it is a more general concern that pervades all sources of society. How can America be founded on liberty if our wills are not free? How can we punish criminals in prison if they cannot be held morally responsible for their acts? The very act of trying to convince others of the correctness of an argument has the implicit assumption that the person has the power to choose between good and bad arguments.

"I don't need to justify my actions."

You do to yourself if you seek satisfaction.

Btw, would you have no problem being hyponotized to want to act like a chicken?


Baal,

It can be a frightening subject and it goes far more to the core of the measure and worth of human existence than the debate on God goes.

In a sense, I guess it is a sort of faith. I don't fully understand how it is possible but I am willing to live as if it is so until I see significant incontrovertible evidence indicating that it cannot be so.

I am curious to see what the results would be with that experiment at Caltech. Though whatever its result I have seen theories from the opposite side of the spectrum that say that free will comes from human actions being a source of determinism in the face of a universe that is ruled by indeterminism (the opposite of normal scientific assumptions). That human minds "focus" deterministic factors and hence can be said to be self-determining.

Alternatively, the idea that we are cognizant of our own thoughts can mean that we somehow direct their causal relationship. Our belief that we are responsible for our acts makes us act as if we were responsible - hence making us actually responsible.

Though, strangely enough, it is the idea that humans are an exception in the universe as individuals with free will that brings us back to ideas of design and intention in creation and that humans were a specific goal in it. Hence free will can be used to bolster theistic metaphysics.

B. Spinoza said...

>How can America be founded on liberty if our wills are not free?

why not?

>How can we punish criminals in prison if they cannot be held morally responsible for their acts?

because they are dangerous and we want them put away so they won't harm people. And we also want incentives for people to behave well.

>The very act of trying to convince others of the correctness of an argument has the implicit assumption that the person has the power to choose between good and bad arguments.

I don't understand what you mean. I'm not saying a person doesn't have the power to distinguish between good and bad arguments. What does this have to do with free will?

B. Spinoza said...

>Btw, would you have no problem being hyponotized to want to act like a chicken?

I like being human, but thanks for the offer. I don't understand why you ask this question

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

Re: liberty "why not?"

No, it can. But then it would be false.

"because they are dangerous and we want them put away so they won't harm people. And we also want incentives for people to behave well."

That's not moral responsibility. That's treating people like natural disasters.

"I'm not saying a person doesn't have the power to distinguish between good and bad arguments. What does this have to do with free will?"

If our very opinions are determined, not by our own choice, but by external factors beyond our control then it makes the whole exercise a little silly. You cannot even guarantee that your own opinions are actual rational conclusions and not from the vagaries of your determined mind. Your whole matter of agency and the concern for holding correct views is not your own.

Orthoprax said...

"I like being human, but thanks for the offer. I don't understand why you ask this question"

It has to do with your concern for your responsibility to yourself. If your desires are themselves externally founded then rationally you should have no logical reason for preferring one set of desires over the other.

You desire because you desire. You like being human because 'Spinoza' likes being human. Complete artifical subjectivity.

B. Spinoza said...

>It has to do with your concern for your responsibility to yourself. If your desires are themselves externally founded then rationally you should have no logical reason for preferring one set of desires over the other.

I didn't say that each individual doesn't have their own internal nature. We are influenced by our own nature and external causes. But that doesn't mean my will is free in the sense that it is unlimited and not influenced by external causes. Perhaps it is correct to say that we are determined by the relationship and interaction between our own nature and external stimuli. But I don't think our will determines our nature (how could it?), but our will is determined by our nature + outside influences

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

"I didn't say that each individual doesn't have their own internal nature."

The internal nature is the same thing as your external nature. Didn't I say earlier that you destroyed the individual?

"But that doesn't mean my will is free in the sense that it is unlimited and not influenced by external causes."

I don't think anyone argues that.

"but our will is determined by our nature + outside influences"

Ok, but "our nature" is itself determined by outside influences. Hence, you are an inexplicably conscious automaton. Super. Enjoy the show.

B. Spinoza said...

>The internal nature is the same thing as your external nature. Didn't I say earlier that you destroyed the individual?

you may have said it before, but I don't agree. We all have a unique way of viewing things. We all have different personalities. It is this which makes us individuals, there is no denying this.

>Ok, but "our nature" is itself determined by outside influences.

of course, how could it be otherwise? How can I create my own nature? It doesn't even make sense.

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

"We all have a unique way of viewing things. We all have different personalities. It is this which makes us individuals, there is no denying this."

No. "We" don't "have" personalities. I exist solely as a consciousness. Whatever my personality is or my manner of thinking or acting has nothing to do with "me." I act the way I do, I think the way I think, I am the way I am without any volition on my part. These things are not "mine." I make no claim on them. Yet I cannot get rid of them either. My nature, my personality, are nothing but the manner in which I am enslaved by the dictates of determinancy.

By your making all of these things strictly mechanical, you are destroying the very factor of individuality. We are not individuals, we are merely reflections on the giant machine that is the universe. We spin on our mechanical gears powerless to escape.

B. Spinoza said...

>Whatever my personality is or my manner of thinking or acting has nothing to do with "me."

these thing are "you", there is no entity apart from these things that make "you".

>My nature, my personality, are nothing but the manner in which I am enslaved by the dictates of determinancy.

what a very strange way of looking at things. You think your enslaved by your own personality? Bizarre

>By your making all of these things strictly mechanical, you are destroying the very factor of individuality.

I am not making anything. I am trying to describe reality. I don't create reality. You can't change reality to suit your own desires. Do you want to live in a fantasy land or understand the way things are in reality?

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

"these thing are "you", there is no entity apart from these things that make "you"."

All of these things are "me"? Now we're getting into the philosophy of identity. Can you define what makes you you?

"what a very strange way of looking at things. You think your enslaved by your own personality? Bizarre"

Is it? Just think about it. Where does your personality come from...

"I am not making anything. I am trying to describe reality."

I know that, what I meant was that in your view, with those given beliefs these other beliefs then logically follow.

B. Spinoza said...

>All of these things are "me"? Now we're getting into the philosophy of identity. Can you define what makes you you?

Well, the structure of your mind is essential to what you are. Your experiences and memories would be another aspect.

>Is it? Just think about it. Where does your personality come from...

It doesn't matter where is comes from. This is your core identity. What does it mean to be enslaved by yourself? if you were to escape from yourself, you wouldn't be you (and you would be destroyed)

Also, am I enslaved by the laws of gravity? Am I enslaved by my body, eventhough it limits me? Everything has limits, that is the nature of reality.

Limits are what gives us identity. Without limits there would be no individuality

>what I meant was that in your view, with those given beliefs these other beliefs then logically follow.

I think you are also describing my opinions using negative emotional language. The universe is not a "Giant Machine", and we are not made up of "mechanical gears". Instead of arguing using reasons you are using emotion.