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Free Will?

Religion and Philosophy
Forum rules
we are introducing this on a trial basis and that respect for other's views is important e.g. phrases like "your imaginary friend" or "you will go to hell" are not appropriate
Bubblesofearth
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Re: Free Will?

#409189

Postby Bubblesofearth » May 4th, 2021, 9:21 am

vrdiver wrote:
My point is that whilst the velocity of that precisely located particle may be somewhat smeared, the consequences of that particle's interaction with whatever it collides with will be identical every time you rewind-and-replay the universe.

Unfortunately, without being able to rewind and replay the universe, or at least build a sophisticated enough model the represent such an event, we'll never know.

VRD


So on the one hand you are stating the consequences will be identical and then you are saying we don't know.

I think, again, that there is an issue when it comes to quantum mechanics of trying to interpret the phenomena in an every-day kind of experience and logic. The idea that if two starting conditions are the same then the outcome must be the same comes from classical physics, as does the concept of determinism.

If a particle of given position does not have a defined momentum then how can the starting conditions be replicated even in a temporal rewind when those starting conditions are fundamentally uncertain?

BoE

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Re: Free Will?

#409203

Postby vrdiver » May 4th, 2021, 11:07 am

Bubblesofearth wrote:
vrdiver wrote:
My point is that whilst the velocity of that precisely located particle may be somewhat smeared, the consequences of that particle's interaction with whatever it collides with will be identical every time you rewind-and-replay the universe.

Unfortunately, without being able to rewind and replay the universe, or at least build a sophisticated enough model the represent such an event, we'll never know.

VRD


So on the one hand you are stating the consequences will be identical and then you are saying we don't know.

I think, again, that there is an issue when it comes to quantum mechanics of trying to interpret the phenomena in an every-day kind of experience and logic. The idea that if two starting conditions are the same then the outcome must be the same comes from classical physics, as does the concept of determinism.

If a particle of given position does not have a defined momentum then how can the starting conditions be replicated even in a temporal rewind when those starting conditions are fundamentally uncertain?

BoE

Not quite. I'm saying "we'll never know", which is different from "I don't know"; i.e. it is unknowable.

Re the thought experiment of replaying the universe; we are not "replicating" the universe. We are imagining that the universe is "reset" and played again. Think of it as an outside observer (yeah, I know, the observer influences the observed...) who gets to travel back in time and watch the universe unfold again. If we accept the observer is only there for the sake of the thought experiment, but not there for the replay in reality, what agent will cause the universe to play out differently? Saying "we can't rewind the universe" misses the point of the experiment; the whole point is that we have (somehow) and the observation is on the replay. Anything less than a perfect reset invalidates the experiment so can be ignored, at least for our discussion of free will...

Let me ask the question in reverse; if the universe were to be rewound and replayed, with all starting conditions identical, why would anything different happen? I'll go back to Occam; will the universe replay, or will some unknown property manifest and change things?

If we accept that matter, at the quantum scale, has wave properties, that's fine since those same properties are present in any subsequent repeat play. In fact, by definition, those properties are identical! We can't calculate some of the states of those properties, but since they are identical, then what exists to make the outcomes different?

Uncertainty is a human concept. All it does is put a marker up to declare the limit of our knowledge; it is not an actual "force" or agent that exists in the physical world.

VRD

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Re: Free Will?

#409217

Postby jfgw » May 4th, 2021, 12:28 pm

vrdiver wrote:Uncertainty is a human concept. All it does is put a marker up to declare the limit of our knowledge; it is not an actual "force" or agent that exists in the physical world.

Uncertainty is a fundamental aspect of the physical world.

What the physical world has no access to is the means by which that physical world can exist. What, if anything, decides the outcomes of those uncertainties is, I consider most likely, above the realm of physics and will not be subject to physical limitations.

Quantum mechanics is unintuitive. The means by which the physical world can exist will be even less intuitive.


Julian F. G. W.

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Re: Free Will?

#409225

Postby ursaminortaur » May 4th, 2021, 12:55 pm

jfgw wrote:
vrdiver wrote:Uncertainty is a human concept. All it does is put a marker up to declare the limit of our knowledge; it is not an actual "force" or agent that exists in the physical world.

Uncertainty is a fundamental aspect of the physical world.

What the physical world has no access to is the means by which that physical world can exist. What, if anything, decides the outcomes of those uncertainties is, I consider most likely, above the realm of physics and will not be subject to physical limitations.

Quantum mechanics is unintuitive. The means by which the physical world can exist will be even less intuitive.


Julian F. G. W.


Even in a classical universe unless the starting conditions are exactly the same to infinite precision there will chaotic interactions since many phenomena in the world are governed by non-linear equations - think of the weather and butterfly effect. Hence unless there were really special starting conditions, eg everything set to exactly zero, which could be replicated exactly reruns of a classical universe would not repeat exactly.
Note. This doesn't stop a hypothetical observer outside of the universe seeing the complete future of any particular such classical universe - however in any repeat he would see a different future.

In a world which also incorporates quantum effects - Heisenberg uncertainty, virtual particles popping in and out of existence in a vacuum etc - then an exact starting condition such as everything being set to zero is also ruled out.
Last edited by ursaminortaur on May 4th, 2021, 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jfgw
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Re: Free Will?

#409227

Postby jfgw » May 4th, 2021, 1:04 pm

scrumpyjack wrote:The other aspect of this idea of a 'spirit' that I find no sensible answer to is where is the dividing line? eg If you say the human being has a spirit, and the human being with hardly any mental capacity has a spirit, then logically other animals have a spirit, all the way down to the single cell amoeba? It is an absurd concept and one of the things that put me off the whole idea of religion.


Not having an explanation does not prove non-existence.

If you replace references to a spirit with ones of consciousness in what you have written above, we get,

"The other aspect of this idea of 'consciousness' that I find no sensible answer to is where is the dividing line? eg If you say the human is conscious, and the human being with hardly any mental capacity is (partly) conscious, then logically other animals are conscious, all the way down to the single cell amoeba? It is an absurd concept and one of the things that put me off the whole idea of religion."


Julian F. G. W.

ursaminortaur
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Re: Free Will?

#409230

Postby ursaminortaur » May 4th, 2021, 1:09 pm

jfgw wrote:
scrumpyjack wrote:The other aspect of this idea of a 'spirit' that I find no sensible answer to is where is the dividing line? eg If you say the human being has a spirit, and the human being with hardly any mental capacity has a spirit, then logically other animals have a spirit, all the way down to the single cell amoeba? It is an absurd concept and one of the things that put me off the whole idea of religion.


Not having an explanation does not prove non-existence.

If you replace references to a spirit with ones of consciousness in what you have written above, we get,

"The other aspect of this idea of 'consciousness' that I find no sensible answer to is where is the dividing line? eg If you say the human is conscious, and the human being with hardly any mental capacity is (partly) conscious, then logically other animals are conscious, all the way down to the single cell amoeba? It is an absurd concept and one of the things that put me off the whole idea of religion."


Julian F. G. W.


Take it a couple of steps further - through viruses and the non-living precursors to life. Then the absurdity of what is being said is made clear with "consciousness" as well as "spirit". Unless of course you want to subscribe to the idea that every atom or sub-atomic particle is conscious.

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Re: Free Will?

#409231

Postby jfgw » May 4th, 2021, 1:14 pm

ursaminortaur wrote:Even in a classical universe unless the starting conditions are exactly the same to infinite precision there will chaotic interactions since many phenomena in the world are governed by non-linear equations - think of the weather and butterfly effect. Hence unless there were really special starting conditions, eg everything set to exactly zero, which could be replicated exactly reruns of a classical universe would not repeat exactly.
Note. This doesn't stop a hypothetical observer outside of the universe seeing the complete future of any particular such classical universe - however in any repeat he would see a different future.


If I could find that pesky butterfly responsible for today's weather :evil: ...


Julian F. G. W.

scrumpyjack
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Re: Free Will?

#409233

Postby scrumpyjack » May 4th, 2021, 1:16 pm

jfgw wrote:
scrumpyjack wrote:The other aspect of this idea of a 'spirit' that I find no sensible answer to is where is the dividing line? eg If you say the human being has a spirit, and the human being with hardly any mental capacity has a spirit, then logically other animals have a spirit, all the way down to the single cell amoeba? It is an absurd concept and one of the things that put me off the whole idea of religion.


Not having an explanation does not prove non-existence.

If you replace references to a spirit with ones of consciousness in what you have written above, we get,

"The other aspect of this idea of 'consciousness' that I find no sensible answer to is where is the dividing line? eg If you say the human is conscious, and the human being with hardly any mental capacity is (partly) conscious, then logically other animals are conscious, all the way down to the single cell amoeba? It is an absurd concept and one of the things that put me off the whole idea of religion."


Julian F. G. W.


This is getting to be a repeat of Bertrand Russell's famous teapot orbiting the Sun
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_teapot

Perhaps we should consult the pastafarians for the Flying Spaghetti Monsters doctrine on all this?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

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Re: Free Will?

#409235

Postby CliffEdge » May 4th, 2021, 1:20 pm

What happens or exists at any place in the universe is a manifestation of (behaviour of) the universe at that place.

jfgw
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Re: Free Will?

#409236

Postby jfgw » May 4th, 2021, 1:26 pm

ursaminortaur wrote:Take it a couple of steps further - through viruses and the non-living precursors to life. Then the absurdity of what is being said is made clear with "consciousness" as well as "spirit". Unless of course you want to subscribe to the idea that every atom or sub-atomic particle is conscious.

One point made by Roger Penrose is that not all of the human brain is conscious. The cerebellum, for example, enables us to ride a bike without thinking about it. This is distinct from actually learning to ride a bike, which involves consciousness.


Julian F. G. W.

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Re: Free Will?

#409237

Postby ReformedCharacter » May 4th, 2021, 1:27 pm

CliffEdge wrote:What happens or exists at any place in the universe is a manifestation of (behaviour of) the universe at that place.

Isn't that just saying that what happens in the universe is what happens in the universe ie. just stating the obvious?

RC

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Re: Free Will?

#409251

Postby ursaminortaur » May 4th, 2021, 2:05 pm

jfgw wrote:
ursaminortaur wrote:Take it a couple of steps further - through viruses and the non-living precursors to life. Then the absurdity of what is being said is made clear with "consciousness" as well as "spirit". Unless of course you want to subscribe to the idea that every atom or sub-atomic particle is conscious.

One point made by Roger Penrose is that not all of the human brain is conscious. The cerebellum, for example, enables us to ride a bike without thinking about it. This is distinct from actually learning to ride a bike, which involves consciousness.


Julian F. G. W.


Automatic actions such as riding a bike without thinking about it is usually thought of as non-conscious or unconscious activity rather than conscious activity. Conscious activity is when you are thinking about and planning your actions. As far as I can see that indicates consciousness most likely arises from a feedback process.

http://blog.motivemetrics.com/Psychologists-Agree-Life-is-ACTUALLY-Like-Riding-a-Bicycle

When you first learn to ride a bike or drive a car, you must expend an absorbent amount of conscious effort to stay in control. You feel uneasy about your new behavior, you are vigilant and conscious of everything going on. It’s a very foreign behavior and because of this the brain is experiencing each and every bump and readjustment as a new experience. But then after a bit of riding, as if the brain has suddenly found the right program to run, you are off riding around with relative ease. The conscious effort to balance, grip the handlebar, remember where the brakes are, exert the right amount of pressure with each foot on the pedal, and even keep your eyes on the front tire and road all seem to fade away out of awareness. You just experienced the transformation of a conscious process into an automatic nonconscious process.
.
.
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A neural process that has functioned and proceeded numerous times prior, like riding a bike or reading a book, becomes nonconscious (or implicit) over time in a cognitive process known as automaticity. Automaticity is the result of the the brain trying to effectively allocate all of its precious cognitive resources.

As a result of this shift of consciousness, we no longer think about every interaction. For example, accustomed automobile drivers on long trips sometimes experience “Driving Without Attention Mode (DWAM)”, “White Line Fever” or “Highway Hypnosis”, in which portions of the drive are controlled almost exclusively by the driver’s nonconscious, outside of conscious awareness. As a result of the largely automatic nature of the experience, the driver can’t remember parts of the drive or stimuli he responded to along the way


Here is Michio Kaku's take on consciousness and feedback loops

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEGx96PMiOo

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Re: Free Will?

#409254

Postby vrdiver » May 4th, 2021, 2:18 pm

ursaminortaur wrote:Even in a classical universe unless the starting conditions are exactly the same to infinite precision
.
.
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In a world which also incorporates quantum effects - Heisenberg uncertainty, virtual particles popping in and out of existence in a vacuum etc - then an exact starting condition such as everything being set to zero is also ruled out.

But that is missing the point of the thought experiment!

We are playing the same universe twice. Exactly the same universe. No changes whatsoever in the starting state between round one and round two.

Whilst that may be a physical impossibility, it's irrelevant to the thought experiment.

To reiterate: if the universe was to be reset to the exact same state as it started, then what would make anything turn out differently from the previous run?

VRD

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Re: Free Will?

#409255

Postby jfgw » May 4th, 2021, 2:20 pm

scrumpyjack wrote:This is getting to be a repeat of Bertrand Russell's famous teapot orbiting the Sun
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_teapot

Perhaps we should consult the pastafarians for the Flying Spaghetti Monsters doctrine on all this?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster


Both absurd and irrelevant.

If Bertrand Russell had suggested a cluster of diamonds orbiting the sun, we may at least consider the possibility that something happened to create that cluster. He may not have proof but we would not have disproof either, and it is not as ridiculous as a teapot!

I have as much proof that you exist as I have that Russell's teapot exists. The patch of stubble that remains after Occam's razor has done its thing is metaphysical solipsism - why should I believe in anything-else? My mind is the only thing I can be sure of, so nothing-else exists. You (and everything-else around me) exist only in my imagination, and I challenge you to prove otherwise.

Or maybe Occam's razor is a flawed concept. I see no logical justification for it.


Julian F. G. W.

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Re: Free Will?

#409257

Postby CliffEdge » May 4th, 2021, 2:29 pm

ReformedCharacter wrote:
CliffEdge wrote:What happens or exists at any place in the universe is a manifestation of (behaviour of) the universe at that place.

Isn't that just saying that what happens in the universe is what happens in the universe

RC


No. Things do not happen in the universe. Things that exist and happen are the universe.

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Re: Free Will?

#409266

Postby jfgw » May 4th, 2021, 3:01 pm

ursaminortaur wrote:Here is Michio Kaku's take on consciousness and feedback loops

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEGx96PMiOo


Feedback loops look interesting. This makes sense to me: If a loop does not need to involve free will, we do not need to be conscious of it. It is only when we need to make free-will decisions that consciousness forms part of the loop. That would be the difference between riding a bike and learning to ride. It would be the difference between unconsciously driving past a turning and consciously talking to someone (usually at the same time).


Julian F. G. W.

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Re: Free Will?

#409268

Postby ursaminortaur » May 4th, 2021, 3:04 pm

vrdiver wrote:
ursaminortaur wrote:Even in a classical universe unless the starting conditions are exactly the same to infinite precision
.
.
.

In a world which also incorporates quantum effects - Heisenberg uncertainty, virtual particles popping in and out of existence in a vacuum etc - then an exact starting condition such as everything being set to zero is also ruled out.

But that is missing the point of the thought experiment!

We are playing the same universe twice. Exactly the same universe. No changes whatsoever in the starting state between round one and round two.

Whilst that may be a physical impossibility, it's irrelevant to the thought experiment.

To reiterate: if the universe was to be reset to the exact same state as it started, then what would make anything turn out differently from the previous run?

VRD


I think my hypothetical observer who could look at the classical universe from outside answers that question. According to both Special and General relativity the observer would see a block universe in which past, present and future would all be visible simultaneously. If the universe were then rerun with exactly the same initial conditions, eg with special conditions such as everything set to zero, then there would be no difference betwen the original block universe he saw and the new rerun block universe. However, as I said, due to chaos theory any deviation in those initial conditions would change the block universe created.

A universe which follows the rules of quantum theory though pretty much rules out the possibilty of rerunning with the exact same initial conditions - thus allowing differences due to chaotic interactions. In addition Heisenberg uncertainty, the random nature in which wave functions collapse and the random nature in which virtual particles can pop into and out of existence mean that even if somehow the exact same initial conditions could be setup then the rerun would not follow the same path as the original universe. (In the many-worlds interpretation a possibly infinite set of universes would result from each run).

However since the quantum changes are all random there is no more of a place for "free will" in such a universe than there is in Special or General relativity's block universe.

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Re: Free Will?

#409273

Postby mc2fool » May 4th, 2021, 3:18 pm

vrdiver wrote:To reiterate: if the universe was to be reset to the exact same state as it started, then what would make anything turn out differently from the previous run?

Quantum stochasticism, i.e. having a random probability distribution. It does, however, depend on your interpretation of quantum mechanics.

"Although quantum mechanics has held up to rigorous and extremely precise tests in an extraordinarily broad range of experiments (not one prediction from quantum mechanics has been found to be contradicted by experiments), there exist a number of contending schools of thought over their interpretation. These views on interpretation differ on such fundamental questions as whether quantum mechanics is deterministic or stochasti c..."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretations_of_quantum_mechanics

Note that on the matter of being deterministic or not, 7 interpretations say No, 4 say Yes, and 2 are agnostic.

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Re: Free Will?

#409280

Postby ReformedCharacter » May 4th, 2021, 3:34 pm

CliffEdge wrote:
ReformedCharacter wrote:
CliffEdge wrote:What happens or exists at any place in the universe is a manifestation of (behaviour of) the universe at that place.

Isn't that just saying that what happens in the universe is what happens in the universe

RC


No. Things do not happen in the universe. Things that exist and happen are the universe.

Yes, of course things happen in the universe. Do you accept that there may be other universes? If so, then things may 'exist or happen' outside this universe too.

RC

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Re: Free Will?

#409323

Postby CliffEdge » May 4th, 2021, 5:39 pm

The universe is not a big place with things in it. The universe is a bit heterogeneous thing.

An analogy (poor of course) is a tree on your TV screen. It is a manifestation of the screen in that place. You could not take the tree out of the screen into your room.

It is important. It means that we can never know the true inner workings of the structure that is the universe. (Please don't bring God or religions into it.)


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