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Philip Cunningham on determinism vs free will


Notes for the vid are here:

George Ellis stated much the same thing when he noted, in Einstein’s denial of free will, that if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options. … More.

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


Nature, as defined today, cannot be all there is. Science demonstrates that.

Determinism makes no sense, whatsoever. Life, intelligence, personhood (personal will), are all inextricably interconnected, as is the nature of their creator as an omniscient, omnipotent godhead integrally predicated. Axel
If you saw the science fiction movie "Arrival", you might be interested in reading the short story "The Story of Your Life", by Ted Chiang, upon which "Arrival" is based. (A link to a short 32- page pdf is at the bottom of this post.) "The Story of Your Life" has some very interesting things to say about free will, teleology, and language. So, without any other comment, I offer some quotes as food for thought. If you've seen the movie you'll know some context, but even if you haven't you might be interested, and motivated to see the movie and/or read the story.
Consider the phenomenon of light hitting water at one angle, and traveling through it at a different angle. Explain it by saying that a difference in the index of refraction caused the light to change direction, and one saw the world as humans saw it. Explain it by saying that light minimized the time needed to travel to its destination, and one saw the world as the heptapods saw it. Two very different interpretations. The physical universe was a language with a perfectly ambiguous grammar. Every physical event was an utterance that could be parsed in two entirely different ways, one causal and the other teleological, both valid, neither one disqualifiable no matter how much context was available. When the ancestors of humans and heptapods first acquired the spark of consciousness, they both perceived the same physical world, but they parsed their perceptions differently; the worldviews that ultimately arose were the end result of that divergence. Humans had developed a sequential mode of awareness, while heptapods had developed a simultaneous mode of awareness. We experienced events in an order, and perceived their relationship as cause and effect. They experienced all events at once, and perceived a purpose underlying them all. A minimizing, maximizing purpose. . . . The heptapods are neither free nor bound as we understand those concepts; they don't act according to their will, nor are they helpless automatons. What distinguishes the heptapods' mode of awareness is not just that their actions coincide with history's events; it is also that their motives coincide with history's purposes. They act to create the future, to enact chronology. Freedom isn't an illusion; it's perfectly real in the context of sequential consciousness. Within the context of simultaneous consciousness, freedom is not meaningful, but neither is coercion; it's simply a different context, no more or less valid than the other. It's like that famous optical illusion, the drawing of either an elegant young woman, face turned away from the viewer, or a wart-nosed crone, chin tucked down on her chest. There's no "correct" interpretation; both are equally valid. But you can't see both at the same time. . . . If the heptapods already knew everything that they would ever say or hear, what was the point of their using language at all? A reasonable question. But language wasn't only for communication: it was also a form of action. According to speech act theory, statements like "You're under arrest," "I christen this vessel," or "I promise" were all performative [my emphasis]: a speaker could perform the action only by uttering the words. For such acts, knowing what would be said didn't change anything. Everyone at a wedding anticipated the words "I now pronounce you husband and wife," but until the minister actually said them, the ceremony didn't count. With performative language, saying equaled doing. For the heptapods, all language was performative. Instead of using language to inform, they used language to actualize. Sure, heptapods already knew what would be said in conversation; but in order for their knowledge to be true, the conversation would have to take place. . . . First Goldilocks tried the papa bear's bowl of porridge, but it was full of Brussels sprouts, which she hated." You'll laugh. "No, that's wrong!" We'll be sitting side by side on the sofa, the skinny, overpriced hardcover spread open on our laps. I'll keep reading. "Then Goldilocks tried the mama bear's bowl of porridge, but it was full of spinach, which she also hated." You'll put your hand on the page of the book to stop me. "You have to read it the right way!" I'm reading just what it says here, I'll say, all innocence. "No, you're not That's not how the story goes." "We'll if you already know how the story goes, why do you need me to read it to you?" "'Cause I wanna hear it!" . . . I suddenly remembered that a morphological relative of "performative" was "performance," which could describe the sensation of conversing when you knew what would be said: it was like performing in a play. . . . Like physical events, with their causal and teleological interpretations, every linguistic event had two possible interpretations: as a transmission of information and as the realization of a plan.
http://discours.philol.msu.ru/attachments/article/264/Chiang_Story%20of%20Your%20Life.pdf jdk
I don't know why philosophers keep chewing on this old question. Every answer is circular and tautologous, therefore it's not worth worrying about. polistra
Good to know he is doing well. kairosfocus

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