Intelligent Design Mind Naturalism

Another naturalist slam at free will

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From Scientific American via Business Insider:

In a study just published in Psychological Science, Paul Bloom and I explore a radical—but non-magical—solution to this puzzle. Perhaps in the very moments that we experience a choice, our minds are rewriting history, fooling us into thinking that this choice—that was actually completed after its consequences were subconsciously perceived—was a choice that we had made all along.

Though the precise way in which the mind could do this is still not fully understood, similar phenomena have been documented elsewhere. For example, we see the apparent motion of a dot before seeing that dot reach its destination, and we feel phantom touches moving up our arm before feeling an actual touch further up our arm. “Postdictive” illusions of this sort are typically explained by noting that there’s a delay in the time it takes information out in the world to reach conscious awareness: Because it lags slightly behind reality, consciousness can “anticipate” future events that haven’t yet entered awareness, but have been encoded subconsciously, allowing for an illusion in which the experienced future alters the experienced past. More.

As usual, they offer a tricky little experiment.

Free will is an itch that naturalism just has to keep on scratching. It’s not a philosophical conundrum for the naturalist: His bread-and-butter depends on the idea that the mind is not real, and neither is free will.

Yes, it’s bad for science, but then he expects to be eaten last.

See also: How can we believe in naturalism if we have no choice?

and

“I will ” means something after all

From the files:

Paul Bloom: Okay, so maybe we materialists went too far, but … Bloom, Yale psychologist, writing in The Atlantic on the recent backlash against the materialist perspective he espouses, takes a more sophisticated approach to warding off criticism than “you just didn’t evolve so as to understand Evolution,” the usual type of explanation.

What is the backlash and why?:

Does science know the answers to absolutely everything? (Widespread backlash against scientism)

Decline in belief in God masks rise in superstition

Are two out of three people really secret torturers?

“I will” means something aftr all

An end to th madness (the fall of the DSM)

Scientists clash over the origin of monogamy

The slow death of a pseudo-discipline

8 Replies to “Another naturalist slam at free will

  1. 1
    Zachriel says:

    News: but then he expects to be eaten last.

    HAMLET: A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a
    king, and cat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.

    KING CLAUDIUS: What dost you mean by this?

    HAMLET: Nothing but to show you how a king may go a
    progress through the guts of a beggar.

    http://www.rhymezone.com/r/gwi.....polonius#w

  2. 2
    Aleta says:

    News writes,

    His bread-and-butter depends on the idea that the mind is not real, and neither is free will.

    I assume by “not real” you mean “not a non-material entity or capability”: that is, you are assuming that the mind and free will have to be non-material things in order to be considered real.

    This assumption presupposes that the dualist perspective is true, which is certainly not a certainty. I believe the mind is real, and I believe that organisms possess self-directed agency (which we experience as “free will”), but that mind and will are biologically based and part of the material world. My definition of what is real is different than your because I think the things you think are real (an immaterial mind and will separate from the material world) don’t actually exist.

    I’m hoping to have time later today to respond to the article you posted, as I have some more specific thoughts on that topic, FWIW.

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    Actually, one of the strongest arguments against free will would be the existence of a God with demonstrable foreknowledge of the future:

    Matthew 26:33-35King James Version (KJV)

    33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

    34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

    35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

  4. 4
    JDH says:

    I believe that organisms possess self-directed agency (which we experience as “free will”), but that mind and will are biologically based and part of the material world

    Aleta – I have to admit I do not understand this statement to be logically coherent. Please follow my argument and then explain.

    1. The statement starts with the simple words “I believe…” That is actually all you needed to say to establish the claim of the first clause.
    a) “I”. In calling yourself I you are already recognizing your self as an entity distinct from other portions of the universe. You are declaring there exists something that is “I” and therefore there is also part of the universe that is not “I”. You admit to being a person.
    b) “believe” – in saying that this “I” believes something you are saying this entity which is separate from other entities chooses of his own free will to assert objectively that a certain idea (or belief) comports with reality.

    2. You then claim that this mind and will that makes this choice belongs to the material world. I see several contradictions here, and I can’t believe you are not intelligent enough to also see them.

    a) You are making a claim of objective truth being discovered by something which can only know subjective experience.

    b) I do not know what it means for any “WILL” to be part of the material universe. “WILL” implies the ability to say “YES” or “NO” INDEPENDENT of external factors which belong to the set not “I”. But the ability for a “WILL” to say “YES” or “NO” contradicts the very essence of materialism, mainly that there only exists unintelligent particles responding to unguided forces.

    c) If we only consist of unintelligent particles responding to unguided forces, there really is no basis for separating out what you call “I” from what is not “I”.

    I don’t know the mental gymnastics you go through to get around these contradictions. Please explain. I assume that many of us do not think you will not be able to in a logical coherent manner. You may be able to obfuscate with analogies, but you will not be able to explain a coherent way around what seem to me to be inherent contradictions.

  5. 5
    JDH says:

    @severesky

    Actually, one of the strongest arguments against free will would be the existence of a God with demonstrable foreknowledge of the future

    It certainly would be a strong argument if you were talking only to people who are time bound. IF you are talking about an eternal God talking to time-bound subjects it would be a terrible argument.

    Let me explain further by analogy.

    Suppose a great 2 dimensional mathematician was explaining to the rest of his 2-d beings how a closed line which eventually comes back to the same point without intersecting itself ( i.e. an arbitrarily tweaked circle ) distinctly separates all of space into 2 separate regions the interior and the exterior. He states emphatically – You can not get from one region to the other without crossing the closed line.

    He is of course correct for all beings that are trapped in only 2 dimensions.

    However, simple common sense recognizes that any 3 dimensional being can get from one region of two space to the other without crossing the line simply by exiting the plane on the outside of the region and entering on the inside of the region.

    I suggest the book “Flatland”. It will hopefully teach you to see allow for things outside of the space you occupy.

  6. 6
    goodusername says:

    JDH,

    I think severesky’s point was simply that if God (or anyone) can know the future, then the future is determined. Giving a possible explanation for how God can see this determined future doesn’t really do anything to address the problem of foreknowledge.

  7. 7
    JDH says:

    goodusername,

    Thanks for trying to explain, but I think you are missing the point. The very fact that you label it “foreknowledge” shows you are time bound.

    We simply can not understand what it means to experience the same time more than one time or different times simultaneously. We are time bound.

    All time bound beings might think that Severesky has a good argument. However they would be wrong because they do not have the knowledge ( experience of the eternal ) in order to make the judgment. It is always dangerous to extend the base knowledge of your world as an argument for the situation in a super set of your dimensions.

  8. 8
    Zachriel says:

    JDH: a) You are making a claim of objective truth being discovered by something which can only know subjective experience.

    Which is why objectivity is not an absolute, and often defined operationally in science (multiple observers, different methodologies).

    JDH: b) I do not know what it means for any “WILL” to be part of the material universe. “WILL” implies the ability to say “YES” or “NO” INDEPENDENT of external factors which belong to the set not “I”.

    Will is not absolute; for instance, humans will almost invariably choose chocolate over a hot poker in the eye.

    JDH: c) If we only consist of unintelligent particles responding to unguided forces, there really is no basis for separating out what you call “I” from what is not “I”.

    While language and abstract thought often include distinct dichotomies, the universe is not always so tidy.

    You are engaging in black-and-white thinking.

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