I am reframing a previous discussion - that I have closed (12/17/09 - 11:00 am EST U.S.) to try to set it on a clearer track (perhaps.) I noticed that certain definitions of 'movements' allowed people to skirt my point - or, perhaps to miss it entirely. I also noticed that some people don't seem to be able to follow their own stated logic to a big picture conclusion when these 'definitions' interfere. Therefore, I will not be using the terms 'determinism' or 'free will'. Nevertheless - please use whatever terms you like - I will be 'moderating' with my replies to try and keep things to the proposition, as stated.

I accept the notion that, no matter what is going on in the universe (from soup to nuts), it is impossible for a human, or any number of humans, to formulate an absolute picture that includes every detail, the relationships between all details, and the implications of these relationships. Therefore, as humans, our ability to accurately portray the past or predict the future is limited as well.

However, it seems to me, that if there are no 'accidents' or 'nonsense events' that ever occur (meaning events that happen outside of the hyper complex system of cause and effect), then everything that 'happens' is a result and becomes a cause of further events.

Therefore, anything we do as humans is predetermined by all the overall system of previous causes and, following the same logic, everything that results is part of that predetermined chain. Therefore, we have no more responsibility for the results of our actions than does a hurricane.

However, I would further assert that, since we cannot be certain that this relentless, unswerving system of cause and effect is what is actually happening, it behooves us to act as if it is not. That is to say, we should take responsibility for our actions, even if we may not actually be responsible. Nevertheless, to bring sincerity to this stance, we must, then, 'buy-in' to the possible 'illusion' that we are more than just a medium for the inexorable flow of causality.

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it is only true because it has already happened and can be observed and linked. determinism can't predict the future without omniscience though, so it is not practical to use it as a predictive tool.

the message too. the future is determined by now, but think about it like building a house of cards. Your previous works on lower levels may all indicate that you will reach the top, but you don't get there till you get there and can't automatically assume for some reason that you will. The past doesn't accurately predict the future. The future is unstable and capable of great unforseen factors.

Every one of your actions and the actions of others were determined by a complex web of interaction that is genes and environment. You have choice over neither of these. Everything. Everything that you do is a result of your psychology and how you view the world is determined by either your genetic predisposition, or the determinism of your experiences.

Study up on classical and operant conditioning in psychology. When you apply it to determinism like I did, something seems to click.
Again, anything that prevents you from completing the card house is either part of a chain of events based entirely in cause and effect or not. If not, then everything that happens may or may not be the result of something that happened before.
I am not actually saying what I believe - however - given the concept of 'everything has a cause (is an effect) and every effect becomes a cause (affects something else), and, there is nothing else going on, then it follows that the invention of forks was inevitable.

So, yes, under this idea; you were destined to type this message sitting at my desk at work wearing what I'm wearing prior to my birth in 1949?

Keep in mind that science is heavily predicated on the notion of causal pathology. However, modern science tends to make a little more room for 'nonsense' (things that fall outside of cause and effect) by talking about 'margin for error' and 'probability' and, most famously, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Mathematicians also have Gödel to thank for pointing out that even arithmetic is not entirely reliable.
Actually, I don't think Godel said that arithmetic is not entirely reliable. He proved that given a sufficiently complex system, it was possible to generate true statements within that system that were not provable within that system. Which is why it is characterized as the Incompleteness Theorem.
For me - reliability and provability are nearly interchangeable. Perhaps semantics. I suppose there is more flexibility in the word 'reliable' than in the word 'provable'. But the link to me is 'testible' of 'falsifiable'.

Cetainly, math is pretty reasonably reliable - even if it is entirely abstract.
Yes. To each question, this must be true because for every position of every atom, every person, and every event is predicated exclusively upon the event (cause) that preceded it. The moment there exists one solitary atom out of place (got there without having a cause) then the entirety of determinism fails.

In other words, every present has a history.

And so it follows that if we had some sort of akashic video machine that we could run backwards from you sitting at your desk writing your reply, we could see every event (cause) that led to your writing moment.

Beyond you, it would show your parents meeting for the first time, and the eventual meeting of their parents! But it would NOT "necessarily" show that the butterfly landing on the head of your ancestor in 1497 had any causal effect whatsoever in your existence. (Unless the action of shooing it away caught the attention of one of your "other" ancestors causing them to meet for the first time and mate.) :-)

But the clothes you wore while writing may have been directly linked to the founder of say, J.C. Penny if that's where your clothes came from. And the coffee you sipped may have been directly linked to the founder of Kroger, who decided to build a store in your area 30 years ago.

Many things have happened that had no effect on your existence whatsoever; things on the other side of the universe, for example. But all things have a common past; a point at which the akashic video can find a connection. Some say it might be the big bang. I believe it goes eternally behind that.
have you ever read the book "Slaughterhouse 5", Howard? I loved how it illustrated the concept. So interesting. I'll make a spoiler for you in private message if you didnt want to read it. It's not a long book though in AP English it really helped me figure out all this determinism stuff and start making connections to psychology.

No real spoilers here:

Basically its a fiction book illustrates time as a series of snapshots that are all laid out that one can travel through at whim. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but still, its an interesting concept.

When the seemingly omnisceint aliens (yes aliens lol) view the destruction of their universe, the human says "can't you just go back and stop the alien before he accidentally bows up the universe?"
The aliens, who can't fathom the illusion of free will look at him baffled and say basically: He has always done it. He always will. What is there to change?"

That sequence of quotes really struck me. If omniscience of time existed im sure it would work similarly.
I adore Vonnegut. I'm pretty sure he made a strong case for nonsense - even if he didn't intend to. You might check out the work of Stanislav Lem as well. He writes about a world after humans inhabited by sentient robots who have long forgotten their human origins. Great stuff.
The Sirens of Titan was the best, the whole of existence meant for one singular purpose. When I got to the end I was blown away by its brilliance.

I don't want to spoil it for everyone :).
I'm replying to something Johnny said in the previous thread about "plan for the future."

I'm not sure what difference that would make. [I think a difference is a difference that makes a difference.]

The future will happen whether we plan for it or act on our plans. If the possible universe that is described in the future looking back could have been different depending on which plan we chose, then, for all practical purposes, free will was exercised. If there is no practical difference, i.e., nothing in the world changes as a result of what we call "choice", then indeed there is no choice. And no responsibility. And one very boring existence. I rather like the non-boring one I have. And since living with my delusion of free will doesn't affect anything in the universe anyway, I'll just keep doing it because I won't harm anything.
I have to say, without the introduction of nonsense, that I cannot see how anything can be 'a difference that makes a difference' as you put it. If our plans are simply the effects of previous causality, then they are no more than effects that become further causes. I.e. nothing originates with a person, therefore, that person is no more responsible for the subsequent results of their actions than a hurricane or a photon.

(keep in mind that this is NOT my personal stance - it is a discussion about the nature OF a stance.)
I realize it's a discussion of a stance. And I disagree with the stance. I see it as intellectually sound as St Anselm's Ontological Proof of the Existence of God. If, by definition, one has removed all alternatives it is a pretty empty victory. And one hasn't learned anything in the process except for the meaning of some words. Because learning would imply that something has changed in a way that could make a difference in the future. If nothing one can do will make a difference in the future, why do anything? Thus, I see the end result of strict determinism to be, not fatalism, but nihilism.

Determinism "makes sense" if one restricts oneself to the billiard ball mechanics of Newtonian physics which we now know is incomplete and only appropriate at certain scale sizes. I don't think we know yet what the implications of quantum mechanics truly are and how they may have effects beyond their extremely tiny scale. But it is clear that even at the middle scales (humanly perceptible), the billiard balls of photons don't act like billiard balls when there are two slits in the apparatus instead of only one.


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