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Thread: Is the mind's ability to predict multiple outcomes a prerequisite to the idea of free will?

  1. #1 Is the mind's ability to predict multiple outcomes a prerequisite to the idea of free will? 
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    If the universe is deterministic, then free will doesn't exist. The universe is clock-work, and everything in the future (even thought) is determined. Free will only seems apparent, a byproduct of the survival of genes that results in the brain's ability to predict multiple outcomes.
    Even if the universe is indeterministic, where information can enter and/or exit it (e.g. via wave-function collapse), it doesn't imply that I have free will. This is because I have no control over that unpredictability, therefore whatever I think is still fully puppeteered by something else.

    People I know have been criticizing my two options as a false dichotomy, and give a third possible scenario: the mind is metaphysical.
    What does "metaphysical mind" mean?
    Does it mean that the mind is able to create new information?
    If yes, what would count as evidence that supports this view?

    In either case, it seems very clear to me that the idea of free will can only exist in the mind of someone who has the ability to predict multiple outcomes.

    Free will seems to exist, but I don't think it exists.
    The ability to control my thoughts seems to exist, but I don't think it does.
    I feel like a separate entity; a tiny, mentally powerless homunculus that's lying in a fetal position, all alone, at the back of an infinitely big, empty, and cold room called "my brain".
    I feel like I'm cursed to watch a lifetime of sensory video, destined to be held morally responsible for unavoidable actions, only to get cast into non-existence when that video ends.

    Anyway, which part of the brain/nervous system is in-charge of predicting multiple outcomes?
    Have anyone been born without this function?
    If yes, has that person been interviewed?
    Is he able to understand questions?
    What kinds of experiments have been done on him?
    Is there any single-word term for "free-will doesn't exist"?
    I've got so many questions.


    Last edited by RamenNoodles; September 16th, 2017 at 01:22 AM.
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  3. #2  
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    Define freewill (you've been told this before)--unless you do this, every reader has to start from their own definition.

    A lot of the challenge you face with such ideas it parts are just dressed up pseudoscience... ("via wave-function collapse"), other parts seem to compartmentalize your decisions as if they are separate from yourself. For example "The ability to control my thoughts seems to exist, but I don't think it does." Why you are pretending your thoughts are separate from yourself, which makes no sense..... your thought might be inevitable based on your genetics, memories and how you process sensory input--there is NO DOUBT they are from only your brain and hence being controlled by your brain.


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  4. #3  
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    Yep, there are good philosophical arguments for and against free will but as soon as quantum woo (a la Deepak Chop and and his ilk) come into it it's bollocks...

    Raman, read more before posting daftness...
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    If the universe is deterministic, then free will doesn't exist. The universe is clock-work, and everything in the future (even thought) is determined. Free will only seems apparent, a byproduct of the survival of genes that results in the brain's ability to predict multiple outcomes.
    Even if the universe is indeterministic, where information can enter and/or exit it (e.g. via wave-function collapse), it doesn't imply that I have free will. This is because I have no control over that unpredictability, therefore whatever I think is still fully puppeteered by something else.

    People I know have been criticizing my two options as a false dichotomy, and give a third possible scenario: the mind is metaphysical.
    What does "metaphysical mind" mean?
    Does it mean that the mind is able to create new information?
    If yes, what would count as evidence that supports this view?

    In either case, it seems very clear to me that the idea of free will can only exist in the mind of someone who has the ability to predict multiple outcomes.

    Free will seems to exist, but I don't think it exists.
    The ability to control my thoughts seems to exist, but I don't think it does.
    I feel like a separate entity; a tiny, mentally powerless homunculus that's lying in a fetal position, all alone, at the back of an infinitely big, empty, and cold room called "my brain".
    I feel like I'm cursed to watch a lifetime of sensory video, destined to be held morally responsible for unavoidable actions, only to get cast into non-existence when that video ends.

    Anyway, which part of the brain/nervous system is in-charge of predicting multiple outcomes?
    Have anyone been born without this function?
    If yes, has that person been interviewed?
    Is he able to understand questions?
    What kinds of experiments have been done on him?
    Is there any single-word term for "free-will doesn't exist"?
    I've got so many questions.
    I think you are worrying too much. The universe does not seem to behave deterministically. Both the Uncertainty Principle and Chaos Theory have effectively put paid to that idea.

    I take your point that you could conceivably argue that your decisions are nevertheless a product of the degree to which outcomes are deterministic, plus a random element from that part which is not, which in theory leaves your will controlled by the world and not by "you".

    But in practice, whatever influences there are seem to be so numerous, subtle and undetected that they give at least a very good illusion that we control our actions by our will, a lot of the time. It seems to me the pragmatic position to take is that if it looks and quacks like a duck, then let us proceed on the basis that what we have in fact is a duck, until someone can demonstrate the contrary. So why not assume that our will is free or free-ish, for most people, most of the time?
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  6. #5  
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    My take on it is that there may be no free will but there is no way to predict before the event whatever decision will be made before the fact as there are too many parameters we don't understand...
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  7. #6  
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    Without engaging any question of will and concentrating on determinism/indeterminism. Chaos theory is wholly predicated on an absolute determinism. Ie the classical definition of function whereby for any particular input there is one unique output. In chaos theory it is determinism which provides for the unpridictability of chaotic systems.
    When we talk about quantum mechanics we are seeing a very large number of stochastic inputs, which according to the law of large numbers will approach a mean. Thereby a stochastic system is approximately predictable.

    Caveats; To the best of my knowledge, it is only systems of nonlinear equations which are chaotic, and a very large number of inputs are required for stochastic systems to approach a mean.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Without engaging any question of will and concentrating on determinism/indeterminism. Chaos theory is wholly predicated on an absolute determinism. Ie the classical definition of function whereby for any particular input there is one unique output. In chaos theory it is determinism which provides for the unpridictability of chaotic systems.
    When we talk about quantum mechanics we are seeing a very large number of stochastic inputs, which according to the law of large numbers will approach a mean. Thereby a stochastic system is approximately predictable.

    Caveats; To the best of my knowledge, it is only systems of nonlinear equations which are chaotic, and a very large number of inputs are required for stochastic systems to approach a mean.
    Aha, I was half expecting this response. I mentioned Chaos Theory because my understanding of it is that infinitesimally small uncertainties in initial conditions give rise to arbitrarily large changes in outcome. Which would seem to me to mean that given QM and the consequent intrinsic imprecision in starting conditions, it is not deterministic in practice, in the real world. Is that not right, do you think?
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  9. #8  
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    "infinitesimally small uncertainties in initial conditions give rise to arbitrarily large changes in outcome." The point is chaos theory shows that we don't need to get as small as quantum effects--an entirely deterministic system with Newtonian physics and extremely simplified electrical laws and thermodynamics is all we need. Sometimes I wish somehow we start learning on non-linear systems--because quite frankly somehow people get the impression that most natural systems are linear--nothing could be further from the truth.

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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Define freewill (you've been told this before)--unless you do this, every reader has to start from their own definition.
    I define free will as "the ability to create thought without needing to fully depend on external influence".
    To create thought without needing to fully depend on external influence is to create information from nothing.
    In other words, to exercise free will is to create information from nothing.
    Information cannot be created from nothing, therefore, the mind cannot exercise free will.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    For example "The ability to control my thoughts seems to exist, but I don't think it does." Why you are pretending your thoughts are separate from yourself, which makes no sense..... your thought might be inevitable based on your genetics, memories and how you process sensory input--there is NO DOUBT they are from only your brain and hence being controlled by your brain.
    Because of my definition above.

    I am a mind, not a brain. The brain is a thought generator, and also concentrated subset of the external influence.

    The brain creates thoughts fully dependent on external influences.
    The mind is the observer of these thoughts, not the controller of these thoughts.

    How about the last paragraph to the OP?
    Anyone got a clue?
    Last edited by RamenNoodles; September 21st, 2017 at 09:27 PM.
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  11. #10  
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    What about you guys? What are your own definitions of free will, and do you think free will exists based on your own definitions?
    Do you think that you have the ability to control your thoughts?
    Last edited by RamenNoodles; September 23rd, 2017 at 09:55 AM.
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