I've given a great deal of thought to the concept of "free will" and have determined that there really is no such thing. Logically, all of existence is a matter of cause and effect, and since we have no control over the causes (we weren't even present at the time they originated), we obviously can have no control over the effects.

An easy way to prove this precept to yourself is to look back over your life; see that turning point that changed the course of your future? How many people, how many uncontrollable events brought you to that point? See how you really had nothing to do with the path you trod thereafter?

Another interesting side effect of this train of thought is to realize that everything in the universe is interconnected and influences everything else. A simple exercise: look at what you're wearing, then trace each item (and everything in and on it) back to its origin. You'll find people who grew fiber plants (think sun, climate, soil, etc.) in one place (and you can think about what brought them to that time and place, too), factories and workers in other places from whence buttons, zippers, shoelaces, etc. came, and of course the vast array of geographic areas in which the various items of your attire were assembled. Getting aboard this train of thought will allow you to see yourself as a tiny portion of the immense universe, both impacting and being impacted upon by every other entity, from the sun, moon and stars to the ant queen that just laid a thousand eggs in your front yard.

Tying this into the "no free will" argument is simple logic. All the people and elements that went into your appearance today pushed you to make the decisions you made, totally without your knowledge or collusion. Everything that happened everywhere in the universe today will affect what you do tomorrow. Or in the next moment. And you will have absolutely no control over it!


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all quotes from skylar (how did you do that line thing by the way?):
1. Nothing exists but atoms and empty space, everything else is organization, classification, opinion, illusion.

Sure, everything else is organization and classification, but I fail to see why it's just an opinion or an illusion.

Since you're using definition #1, that's what I'll focus on.

My book is not "really" a book, it is simply a collection of stuff arranged within empty space.

What ELSE did you think it would be? Whether the book is made up of super special magical book plasm or whatever it is you think a book would have to have to really exist, it would still HAVE to be made up of smaller parts organized in a certain way. Super special magical book plasm (SSMBP) alone wouldn't make a book, since there would be nothing to hold and read from. Even just SSMBP and a blob of 40% carbon, 30% hydrogen, 10% oxygen (I just made that up. Insert true chemical makeup of books) alone wouldn't make a book. For you to have a book REQUIRES you to have a bunch of small parts, which in of by themselves don't make a book, organized in very specific way. I'd argue that SSMBP is completely unnecessary for you to "really" have a book, but you are still left with your original "problem" even if SSMBP really is required to make a book. By your logic as I understand it, nothing "really" exists whether SSMBP exists or not. Therefore, SSMBP is completely superfluous and only pushes back the (unsolvable, by your logic) problem.

Mind you, I'm not arguing for #2 or #3. I don't like #2, and while I guess I agree with #3, I think right now we're both talking about real, physical existence and not definitions of words, right? (say, of the word "book". Regardless of whether you want to call it a "book", a "libro", a magazine, a pamphlet, or whatever, that thing in the table with words written on it really does exist)

Seems like faulty logic doesn't it?

Yes, lol. I disagree with your premises that behavior, cognition, and life are a choice. They are not. You can say that the idea that the entity doing those things is choosing (freely) is false because free choice is an illusion (eesh, that's a terrible sentence. Sorry), but you cannot say that the behavior, cognition, or life themselves are illusions. The entity is still behaving, thinking, and living, it is simply not freely choosing to do so.

On a side note, I fail to see the relevance of your last argument in regards to the existence of rocks or other nonsapient objects. Maybe giving us your premises, logical steps, and conclusions as you did with your last argument would be more productive (assuming my earlier arguments didn't convince you of course)?
My book is not "really" a book, it is simply a collection of stuff arranged within empty space. What ELSE did you think it would be? Whether the book is made up of super special magical book plasm or whatever it is you think a book would have to have to really exist, it would still HAVE to be made up of smaller parts organized in a certain way.

Do you see how defining a book requires abstract thought? Books are books because we think they are books. We, using our knowledge and thought, define something as a book, while something else is paper, and something else is leather. It physically exists, but we don't know that it's a book unless it complies with certain abstract properties like shape, having pages, containing information, etc.
Yes, language is abstract in that the words used to convey ideas are used as representatives, representatives of reality. However, the reality of what the words represent does exist. You can can call an "apple" in however many languages there are, and in each language the word "apple" is expressed differently with different sounds, however no matter what you call it, the fruit we call an "apple" in English does exist. The reality of what the word represents does exist. So as with the book, call it what you want, the reality of the collection of matter that makes a book a book does exist no matter if you label that reality as "book" or "horse."
No, it's not just that I am calling it a book. The book is a collection of things that have to be organized (abstractly) a certain way in order for it to be a book. It has to have pages, information, and a cover.

If we take it apart, it ceases to be a book. We can have loose pages, we can have ink, we can have a binding, but they don't count as a book unless they are put together in book form.
I agree, when the collection is complete, that is when we call it a book, when all the pieces are all together that make the reality of a book a book. That is when we call it a book.

And when these pieces are not together, we call them pages, paper, ink, binder, what have you, depending on what pieces you are experiencing. We don't call them a book at that time.
This is one reason why I can't fully subscribe to determinism.

My book certainly does obey the laws of physics, but it is more/different than the laws of physics as well. The book is also abstract and Newtonian physics have no bearing on the abstract.
Define "abstract." What is abstract about the reality of the book? Or is just your perception of reality abstract, not the reality of the collection of matter that makes a book a book?
I completely agree with TJMorgan. To quote what I said in the earlier post: "Regardless of whether you want to call it a "book", a "libro", a magazine, a pamphlet, or whatever, that thing in the table with words written on it really does exist". .... You could be a snail and not even call it anything, but you would have to alter the way you interact with the environment if there was a book in front of you. What you seem to be arguing against is some sort of philosophical idea about our cognitive abilities, not against determinism or the actual physical existence of something. Incidentally, your argument reminds me of the propaganda movie "what the bleep do we know?" (haven't seen it? don't.), where they say that we don't perceive things we have no knowledge of. For example, they tell the "true" story of american indians looking out at the ocean and not seeing spanish ships because they had never experienced ships before, that it wasn't until they noticed the wake/waves of the ship (something they HAD experienced), that they physically perceived the ship. You seem to be arguing a similar thing.
You are correct. I am not attempting to argue against the physical existence of anything.

I can't speak for the mind of a snail, per se, but I do think that all animals that have any sort of mobility need an understanding of spatial orientation one way or another. If not, they wouldn't last long. I think Richard Dawkins commented on this a bit. So, yes, even the snail would need to have some level of abstraction. Spatial orientation, as you know, is an abstract concept.

I haven't seen what the bleep, so I can't comment on that. It sounds outlandish from your description.
What we call "apple", "horse", "book", etc... are abstract mental constructions which sort out what we see into groups. We put everything, even ourselves, into groups by hierarchical definitions. When you break them all down, they have specific characteristics and properties, which makes them what they are. They are all made up of atoms, they exist.
All quotes from Ruth Dickson.
I would agree to this if I hadn't personally experienced the phenomenon of acquiring "knowledge" out of the blue, so to speak.

Could you elaborate? Any other instances of this happening besides "character possession"?

in which the people they create begin to act and speak in ways that seem out of the author's control. [...] I attribute this phenomenon to "cosmic consciousness", for want of a better explanation.

Unfortunately, I am no psychologist or a neurologist. However, from the little experience I have, I think it is very premature to jump to the conclusion of a "cosmic consciousness". Surely, it is not KNOWLEDGE per se that is involved in character possession, at most I assume it is a feeling that is accompanied by the author's attempt to think as if through another person, right? In this particular case you're not claiming that you/the author actually KNEW something factual that they could not possibly have known, are you?

Ever heard of VS Ramachandran? I recommend his book, "phantoms in the brain" (if you haven't, I also recommend looking up the lectures he's given in beyond belief, TED, and others). In it he describes a plethora of strange, exotic brain phenomena. From people who don't know the right side of their body exists and who say their own arm is that of their uncle's, to people who believe every person in their lives has been replaced by an impostor, and even people who truly believe they are dead. All these examples are far more extreme than your character possession example, and are perfectly explainable without a cosmic consciousness. My point is that while I don't know specifically what causes character possession, the simplest explanation (given other brain phenomena) is that it is simply another weird quirk about the brain.
You can say you have control, that you have free-will, that you have a choice, as many times as you like, but you have yet to make a good case for it, prove it, provide evidence for it, sources, anything. If this is all you have that you say suggest free-will, this "higher, transcendent, uncaused consciousness" you speak of, which the creationists call "god.", then I am still unconvinced. Why is my "higher, transcendent, uncaused consciousness" unconvinced, because the lack of evidence "caused" it.


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