Saturday, May 9, 2009

24c William of Ockham

Why do we need to pay extra attention to a subject like free will now that we are on the verge of leaving the Scolastics behind?

Well, it is a philosophical issue, but for philosophers in the Middle Ages it was even a bigger issue. They were not only philosophers, but also theologians. Or actually, they were christian theologians, who were also interested in philosophical matters.

And that is the point...they had a problem with free will. And the other magic word is "EVIL". They all observed how there was evil in the world, caused by men. And on the other hand there was their creator, all Goodness, Love and Perfect.

I did some 'research' on that myself once. I studied Genesis....God created that serpent and i concluded ....with that mean attitude to mislead and lie to people?! If that creature hadnt been there in paradise.......... it made me wonder about the origins of evil and my present 'condition humane"......:-)

Anyway, there was evil in the world and man who caused it and the willingness to do so, the ability to do so. You can imagine that these theologians had a lot to explain.

It all started already about 400 B.C. with Democritus. He said that the universe existed of atoms, that are in constant motion. They bump into eachother like billiard balls. Thence the universe is just on big chain reaction, in which collision A causes movement B and so on. All predictiable by laws of physics.

Then there was Aristotle and later Thomas Aquinas and his ontological proof of the existence of God, using this phenomenon of causality to ask, who was the first cause?

And then there was Plato and all after him, who said that we all strive for virtue. That is our focus. When you know you have insight, you know that you only can do and go for virtue, for acting good. But if you have that insight and you only can do good, is there then still free will?

The more is looked up articles and references regarding this subject I got the feeling I had opened the Box of Pandora. This subject is huge and then we not even have dropped the word 'determinism'.

Let us have just a glance at what the debate was in the Middle Ages. In the first place they escaped of determinism, which would be a logical consequence of the First Cause argument: all is just causal.

This causality applied to the material world and our actions are caused by the will, an immaterial cause. And a physical, material cause can have no effect on something immaterial. Thence we have a free will.

As a second step the Scolastics postulated the existence of intellect and will, where the intellect was the power of judgement and the will the instrument for choosing. And there was a third element: desire , passion.

A lot of the Scolastics held that man could not do evil, if the intellect judged planned actions, for intellectually man knows what his goal is: happiness. Thomas Aquinas reinforced this line of reasoning with the Aristotelian idea of 'telos' - goal. Every action has a goal. And man's main goal is happiness.

So he must be stupid if he does evil. It can only be caused by ignorance, striving for temporary pleasure, mind clouded by passion. Their issue was, what has supremacy: the intellect controling the will or an autonomous will, which might take into consideration what the intellects says?

And then I closed that Box of Pandora. Too big an issue. You could give a hundred lectures on only this subject. I wanted to return to the main road: great mind 25...Nicolaus Copernicus. Let's look at the stars next class..:-)

The Discussion

[13:18] Maphisto Mapholisto: seeing stars now!
[13:19] Herman Bergson: This really is a massive subject....
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: ,very
[13:19] Herman Bergson: so I held back....I got into so many questions
[13:20] Herman Bergson: the most intriguing is determinism
[13:20] Rodney Handrick: define determinism
[13:20] hope63 Shepherd: come on herman,.you throw meat to the dogs..lets talk about passion in the minds of those old guys.. and not to start with the christian ascets
[13:21] Herman Bergson: it means that all your acts are caused by other things which are caused by other things and so on
[13:21] AristotleVon Doobie: So determinisn is the devil made me do it?
[13:21] Rodney Handrick: ok...
[13:21] Herman Bergson: It means cant act otherwise then you act
[13:21] Herman Bergson: no choice or free will...
[13:22] AristotleVon Doobie: Of course that is ridiculous.
[13:22] Rodney Handrick: sounds like cause and effect
[13:22] Herman Bergson: That was the problem with the Ontological argument with God as the uncaused cause.
[13:22] AristotleVon Doobie: We cause the effects.
[13:22] Herman Bergson: if all is causally related all is a big chain reaction
[13:22] Herman Bergson: yes indeed
[13:22] AristotleVon Doobie: And we are just on for the ride?
[13:23] Alarice Beaumont: so a murderer just had to kill the person he did?!
[13:23] Herman Bergson: something like that...
[13:23] AristotleVon Doobie: Not so, I think.
[13:23] Herman Bergson: yes..that would be a logical conclusion Alarice
[13:23] Maphisto Mapholisto: Free will is a requirement for merit for achievement, the autonomy and dignity of individuals, and the value we attach to love and friendship.
[13:24] Alarice Beaumont: then he cannot be punished!
[13:24] AristotleVon Doobie: If you have stupid free will and intelligent free will I can see how the stupid free willers might lean toward determinism.
[13:24] Herman Bergson: Yes Maff
[13:25] Maphisto Mapholisto: alarice is right - we need to at least suppose free will to make law possible
[13:25] Ewa Aska: herman didnt Wittgenstein say some thing about free will?
[13:25] Herman Bergson: We cant take this issue lightly.....
[13:25] Maphisto Mapholisto: we may see and believe as though our actions are causually determined, but we must act as though we ado so of our free will, otherwise responsibility, accountability, liability, law and the orderly running of society in a democracy cease to be possible
[13:25] Herman Bergson: He might have Ewa..:-)
[13:26] Maphisto Mapholisto: i'm never sure sure what he said, eva
[13:26] AristotleVon Doobie: Maff is correct but democracy is not the answer.
[13:26] Herman Bergson: I agree Maff, but philosophically this problem isnt solved at all
[13:26] Maphisto Mapholisto: no
[13:26] Ewa Aska: lol its hard to understand him lol
[13:26] Herman Bergson: let's have a closer look at the situation...
[13:27] Herman Bergson: In physics we accept determinism..cause and effect..
[13:27] Herman Bergson: And even in human life we accept it to some extend...
[13:28] Rodney Handrick: well...that what our sense can determine
[13:28] Ewa Aska: yes
[13:28] Alarice Beaumont: right
[13:28] Herman Bergson: We explain behavior by refereing to past psychological events.....traumas we got in our it
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: Seems to me that existence is nothng but cause and effect.
[13:28] hope63 Shepherd: experience yes.. determined, I
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: Ech side of the equation.
[13:29] Aron Silverspar: i agree with alarice...
[13:30] hope63 Shepherd: ari.. cause is a sperm.. effect is that it could enter a cell.. that's you
[13:30] AristotleVon Doobie: huh?
[13:30] hope63 Shepherd: well. i was not commeting on the result lol
[13:30] Aron Silverspar: the only free will i to decide my actions..but i have to its no free will...
[13:30] Herman Bergson: I think we should keep this theme of Determinism on our agenda, like we keep the Universals there too
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: Life must be in balance.
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: our agenda keeps getting more and more complex
[13:31] Maphisto Mapholisto: free will refers to the power to choose. It doesn't necessarily mean our actions have no causes or can't be undertsood
[13:31] hope63 Shepherd: in movement..
[13:31] Herman Bergson: I must admit, that I was a little overwhelmed by the subject when preparing class.
[13:31] Maphisto Mapholisto: what? the man we call the Brain?
[13:32] Herman Bergson: free will - determinism - moral responsability
[13:32] hope63 Shepherd: that's sean connery..
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: Responsibilty must be at the core of the question of free will.
[13:32] Maphisto Mapholisto: what is your gut feeling on the matter, herman?
[13:32] oola Neruda: If anybody says he can think about quantum physics without getting giddy, that only shows he has not understood the first thing about them. ... If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet. --Niels Bohr
[13:32] oola Neruda: that goes for this subject too
[13:32] hope63 Shepherd: ari why.. and responsible for what..
[13:32] Herman Bergson: so it definitely shoud stay with us in relation to ethical subjects
[13:33] Maphisto Mapholisto: they didn't call him a Bohr for nothing
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: Responsible for yourself.
[13:33] Herman Bergson: good question gut feeling......actually pretty uneasy
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: Intelligent folks will use free will intelligently.
[13:33] Herman Bergson: a need to know more before I make my statement
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: and it depends on who is defining free will too
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: You are the captain of your ship.
[13:34] Alarice Beaumont: yes.. definitely!
[13:34] Maphisto Mapholisto: that's why i said gut feeling and not brain feeling ... we never have all the data
[13:34] Herman Bergson: right..
[13:35] Herman Bergson: And this subject really makes me feel uneasy and gives me a strong need for more data
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: There is no devil and no woman enticing you to eat the apple.
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: If you eat the apple you chose to.
[13:35] Maphisto Mapholisto: aristo, how do you know you are the captain? how do you know that you aren't conditioned to believe you are the capatain, and that that conditioning is just one more example of your thoughts being determined from outside yourself
[13:35] Herman Bergson: I have no apple tree on my parcel, Aristotle, but there are women..:-)
[13:36] Osrum Sands: Early Genis is hebrew poetry not science
[13:36] Rodney Handrick: I agree with that Aristotle
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: :-))
[13:36] Alarice Beaumont: I do, too.. one can always choose the action!
[13:36] Herman Bergson: yes..just think of Skinner and his behaviorism
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: Evolutinary forces ar the only thing we have little control over.
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: And free will can determin whether I survive to procreate or not.
[13:37] hope63 Shepherd: sorry ari. absent for a moment.. but no woman to encite you?
[13:37] Maphisto Mapholisto: i wonder if youre a smoker, or overeat, or have ever done anyhting you regretted, aristo, if you have so much contol over your own self
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: I can blame no woman.
[13:37] Rodney Handrick: I think to understand free must come into direct contact with the natural order in order to understand the senses we possess...for starters
[13:38] hope63 Shepherd: stop blaming yourself ari
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes indeed an I became intelligent because of the pain.
[13:38] hope63 Shepherd: lol.. ari a masso
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: No the masso stays stupid.
[13:39] Herman Bergson: Well..dont let's make it too personal..:-)
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: No it is universal.
[13:39] Herman Bergson: it is about philosophical subjects not persons
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes.
[13:39] Maphisto Mapholisto: yes, we understand as universal, even if we challenge ideas in each other
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: We are all humans.
[13:39] Herman Bergson: If everybody just would have a look on the subject Determinism
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: I will.
[13:40] Maphisto Mapholisto: zooming in
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:40] Rodney Handrick: Consider a natural disaster...who survives and who doesn' will...choices?
[13:40] Osrum Sands: back to Skinner and behaviourism. I feel we have our intelligent free will but we can choose not to follow it - hense behaviourism
[13:40] Herman Bergson: There is a great source...the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: excellent
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes, on the coast we have fools that build their house on shifiting sands.
[13:41] Herman Bergson: It is of really high (academic) quality
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: Thsi is stupid free will.
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: loaded with information
[13:41] Osrum Sands: hahaha onya Aris
[13:42] Rodney Handrick: And yet they consistently will?
[13:42] Maphisto Mapholisto: what should we be looking out for with determinism, herman?
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes here becaus the government bales them out. At least the ones who survive.
[13:42] Alarice Beaumont: yes .. free will and determinism.. they want to stay no matter what!
[13:42] Herman Bergson: Just read about it and try to figure out whether or not the problem is solved
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: free will.. is just ignoring the wills which indoctrinated our wills..
[13:43] Maphisto Mapholisto: lol, Hope
[13:43] Herman Bergson: is all determined in advance by cause and effect or are w e free
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: Free to cause the effect.
[13:43] Herman Bergson: and if you dont get the answer..then try to find the border between determined and free
[13:43] Osrum Sands: Was it Milgrim who did the electric shock experiment overiding ones free will
[13:44] hope63 Shepherd: the question is where and what could be a cause ..herman..
[13:44] Maphisto Mapholisto: i wouldn't worry too much about the advance bit, or first cause, but that really we have no effective power of choice given all we know about genetics and social conditiong, is a very 'now' issue
[13:44] Duo Afarensis: mligram
[13:44] Duo Afarensis: milgram
[13:44] Herman Bergson: Oh open a new can: causality
[13:44] Maphisto Mapholisto: yes, that was milgram, Os
[13:45] Osrum Sands: ta Mapf
[13:45] hope63 Shepherd: uif you think of the beginning of your life.. is free will already programmed in you'
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: The seed of cause is planted in the mind.
[13:45] Rodney Handrick: It's got to be related to our natural order the determines free will for starters...wiil to live, will to survive...etc.
[13:45] Herman Bergson: Milgram..isnt that the man of that shock experiment?
[13:45] Maphisto Mapholisto: can free will be programmed or is that a contradiction in terms?
[13:45] Maphisto Mapholisto: yes, herman
[13:45] Duo Afarensis: yes it is
[13:45] Osrum Sands: yes Herman
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes Rodney, fundamental aspects of our ancient brain.
[13:46] Maphisto Mapholisto: a study of dubious ethics on social influence
[13:46] Osrum Sands: point how ones will can so easly take over another's will
[13:46] Rodney Handrick: Well Aristotle, if free will is already programmed into the leads to the possibility of incarnations...
[13:46] hope63 Shepherd: will to live will to survive.. the development of will and brain is because species had time not to wory about time..
[13:46] Ludwig John: I think the easiest definition is: I have a free will, when I feel myself free
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: We decide with our free will how the fundementals ar effected.
[13:46] hope63 Shepherd: are you louis'
[13:47] Osrum Sands: my brain hurts !!!
[13:47] Herman Bergson: LET"S STOP FOR A MOMENT !!! ;-)
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: if you don't have a free will you cannot decide anything ari
[13:47] Maphisto Mapholisto: interesting thought ludwig - is believing that one is free the same thing as actually being free?
[13:47] Maphisto Mapholisto: stopped, boss
[13:47] Rodney Handrick: Well Ludwig, that means each individual will have to do a self analysis. How many 'really' do that?
[13:48] Herman Bergson: Let me make one last remark on Ludwig's definition
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: analysis doesn't mean that youare free..
[13:48] Herman Bergson: If you let me....
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: waiting for Herman.
[13:48] Maphisto Mapholisto: go herman
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: hmmmm
[13:49] Herman Bergson: The definition of Ludwig is we here these days
[13:49] Herman Bergson: he says : I think the easiest definition is: I have a free will, when I feel myself free
[13:49] Aron Silverspar: i ve heard is...but i heard a good wordwise long time ago: NOONE IS MORE ENSLAVED, AS THOSE PEOPLE, WHO BELIEVE THEY ARE REALLY FREE...
[13:49] Ludwig John: yes at least for me as an idividuum this definition is sufficient
[13:50] Herman Bergson: I think he will among others find Descartes on his path
[13:50] Herman Bergson: We are talking about certanty of knowledge here
[13:51] Osrum Sands: shifting sand once more
[13:51] Herman Bergson: and the first thing Descartes would say is that this feeling can be a dream state, a halluciation
[13:51] Qwark Allen: ninja turtles
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: All I know is there is alot of supid free will out to wade through.
[13:51] Herman Bergson: there is no way to establish the certainty of knowledge related to that feeling
[13:51] Maria Monnett is Online
[13:52] Rodney Handrick: I agree Aristotle...
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: Take Iraq for example.
[13:52] Alarice Beaumont: people can be lured into believing they are doing what they want.. actually they are doing what another one wants!
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: Deception.
[13:52] Herman Bergson: YEs Alarice..think of sects
[13:52] Alarice Beaumont: yes
[13:53] Herman Bergson: brainwashing
[13:53] Ludwig John: yes and why not - some feel free even when they are doing what others said to them
[13:53] Kirk Smythe: secret socities will
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: We must be analytical in the use of free will.
[13:53] Alarice Beaumont: so no free will... even if one thinks so Ludwig
[13:53] Alarice Beaumont: mmhh
[13:53] Ludwig John: yes maybe
[13:53] Rodney Handrick: hmm...
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: Be intelligent.
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: And survive to procreate.
[13:54] Herman Bergson: Let's make this appointment...
[13:54] oola Neruda: people wear masks....
[13:54] Herman Bergson: when we have dealt with all 100 philosphers we will concentrate on thematic philosophy classes
[13:55] Osrum Sands: Wonderfull thought Prof
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: Pray tell us about thematic.
[13:55] Alarice Beaumont: ;-)
[13:55] Herman Bergson: and we will choose subjects like free will , determinism, and so on
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: good idea by then we may have some better perspective of it all
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: or not
[13:55] Osrum Sands: haha
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: :-))
[13:55] Maphisto Mapholisto: lol, Gem
[13:55] Ludwig John: ok
[13:55] Herman Bergson: you definitely will have Gemma
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: I'll work on it.
[13:56] Rodney Handrick: One of use has to invent a time machine!
[13:56] Maphisto Mapholisto: your free to do so, aristo. I'll just do what i was brought to do
[13:56] Herman Bergson: I thank you for you attention and good discussion..:-)
[13:56] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes, invigorating.
[13:56] Rodney Handrick: thanks Herman
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: does Determinism have another name?
[13:56] Alarice Beaumont: Thank you Herman
[13:56] Ewa Aska: ty herman
[13:56] Ludwig John: detemination?
[13:56] Herman Bergson: is the word for it
[13:56] hope63 Shepherd: blasted. i missed at least four pages of the discussion..
[13:56] Maphisto Mapholisto: a tough one today, herman. Thnx

Posted by herman_bergson on 2007-12-04 17:06:50

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