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About clock40man

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    Reading, Stoicism, Philosophy
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    "But between theology and science there is a No Man's Land, exposed to attacks from both sides; this No Man's Land is philosophy."
    Bertrand Russell
  1. I've begun to enjoy the experiment. For me, it's more about acknowledging that I don't have much control over my personality or my thoughts, but considering Harris' writings about cause and effect, and his analysis of criminals, I feel like I can choose between my thoughts. I can consider all my thoughts and and consider cause and effect, and choose which ones I want to accept. It may be the case that I don't really have much choice over what I choose, but Harris has us consider that we each can be grateful for the rational choices we do make. I've come to consider that much of what makes me the person I am is the result of fate or blind chance. There is so much about the situations I find myself in that are literally not up to me.
  2. Harris and others really do believe that no one has free will. Harris sees himself as something of an evangelist, convincing others that they should believe it, because it's true. He isn't saying, "I imagine we don't really have free will." He lays out his reasons for believing that this reality, is one in which humans don't have free will, including experiments on the cutting edge of neuroscience. I suppose if you want to get technical, we're discussing the difference between a world in which people believe they have free will (but they don't), and on the other hand, a world in which people understand and accept that they don't have free will.
  3. Regarding a world with or a world without free will. Perhaps one measurable difference? Perhaps a world in which people do admit that neither they, nor anyone else has free will, would be different, in that we would all be more accepting of others. If we truly believed that the person we're dealing with has impulses, makes judgments, etc, because of preceding factors that took place before the other was born, and over which the other has no control.. perhaps if we would think about those realities, then perhaps we'd be more likely to forgive others.
  4. That's about where I'm at. I've been watching Sam Harris for quite some time. And I personally know 2 people who can and will explain to you why they believe they have no free will, at some length, including their reasons for rejecting compatibilism. From what I can tell, they're successful, happy, moral people who feel lucky to have the thoughts they have and to live the lives they're living. I doubt that believing one has no free will would result in the disaster that most people (including Daniel Dennett) assume it would cause.
  5. I don't deny that I feel like I have a locus of control and free will. I've mentioned that, paradoxically, if anything, this experiment makes me think more about cause and effect, and more about the consequences of my actions. I certainly feel responsible, and I certainly consider the consequences of my actions. The question is, do I really have free will? or am I just a product of a deterministic universe, complete with a feeling of free will? Harris argues that we do not have free will. Not even a little. That's my experiment... I will, for 30 days, accept that Harris is correct. The argument is: if determinism, then free will is impossible. We feel like we're making free choices, but do we really choose the choices we make? If I ask you to think of a country, what country do you think of? Do you actually choose the answer? Or does the answer merely form of it's own accord? Do any of us really choose our own thoughts? Harris argues that the types of people we essentially are, is not chosen by us. Our personalities were determined without our consent, because of events that are outside of our control. He suggests that he feels lucky that he is the type of person he is, instead of a violent criminal. Harris suggests it's something of a mystery that some people are the types of people who are decent citizens, and others are the types of people who commit crimes.
  6. It is certainly possible and advisable to prevent a violent offender from harming others. And it's possible to do that without assigning blame.
  7. Yes, I suppose if one is very forgiving of others, that attitude will be condemned as a moral hazard. "hold them accountable..." that seems to be the consensus. But, if they don't have free will, what would be the point? And of course, we will always need to protect ourselves from others who are deliberately vicious. I pity and fear them. Harris definitely argues for the necessity of prisons for deliberate offenders, but motives are always to be considered. How did someone get to the place where they were guilty of committing a crime?
  8. I thought you guys might appreciate this...
  9. My wife and I were listening to NPR in the middle of a weekday (that is very unusual for us), and heard a well-known neurosurgeon being interviewed. He was asked about his life and his divorce, and said that he was used to making life and death decisions and was always on edge. With a life like that, it was difficult to take his everyday life as seriously. He also brought up free will, and mentioned the Libet experiment and others like it, that suggest that we really don't have free will, but rather our unconscious brain is calling the shots, and that the conscious brain is merely given the illusion it's in charge. I get the sense that people who truly believe they have no free will are more accepting of their own mistakes, and the problems that arise in life. Not apathetic (he's still a practicing neurosurgeon, and still making life or death decisions), just more willing to accept their own flaws, and the flaws of others, more willing to accept whatever happens in this universe, the good and the bad. If we're truly living in a deterministic universe, is there really anyone to blame? Lately, while living as if I have no free will, I find myself more willing to take a couple of steps back. To think about situations, to think about the judgments I make, instead of reacting to them. I find myself wondering about the judgments..... Was I really being objective?... or was I just reacting to initial impressions that may or may not have been accurate?
  10. I'm starting to enjoy existential philosophy. An article in Philosophy Now magazine recently referred to them as the "punk rockers" of philosophy. For the most part, it's about acknowledging that the individual is important. Societies are often wrong, and it's individuals who are willing to point that out. It's nothing new, really. Socrates said he listened to his inner voice, and for that reason questioned the assumptions of his society. If all humans, everywhere, and at all times merely conformed and adapted to society, what kind of society would we be living in? One example? It was hard work to get slavery abolished.
  11. Then we're in agreement, the human population in general is able to handle the fact that they will die... and they're not fatalistic about it. So, it stands to reason that they can also handle the fact that it is very probable that we are in a deterministic universe such that it rules out free will, and also not be fatalistic about that probability, especially given the example of Sam Harris and others who are convinced that they have no free will.
  12. It still comes down to cause and effect. And for whatever reason, I find myself looking for the most rational and most objective ways to live my life, and most rational and objective ways to consider causes and effects. I suppose I could sit down and try to work out exactly why I am the way I am today, but for the most part, I just accept myself for who I am, and work out for myself what is truly important in life. Know thyself.
  13. If this truly is a deterministic universe, and all things, including our own thoughts and actions, really are predetermined, then why not sit back every once in a while and watch the show? If one truly enjoys one's thoughts, then why not enjoy them? And by sit back and watch, I mean to hang on less tightly, to observe causes and effects, and to think and act and watch ones thoughts and actions. It's actually quite liberating. I was impressed lately by these words from Seneca (quoting Hecato), "'What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.' That was indeed a great benefit; such a person can never be alone. You may be sure that such a man is a friend to all mankind."
  14. It's pretty much the same. I don't have control over my thoughts, but I do recognize cause and effect, so I think through reasons and consequences. And I feel pretty lucky to be the person I am. To have the thoughts I have, the life I have.
  15. Nothing eventful happened yesterday. I do find it strangely comforting at times to acknowledge that I have no free will and that this is a deterministic universe. I find it easier to let go of things. I don't really see any drastic changes, because I still acknowledge that there are causes and effects. It's more like believing I have no control over my thoughts is itself comforting because I'm in a place where I listen more closely to those thoughts.... And believing that no one else really has any control makes me more likely to try and understand where their reactions came from. I had a good conversation with my wife last night about flow and living one's life as an art form. ---------- Post added 10-05-2016 at 08:36 AM ---------- You're right. There are plenty of people (Harris and others I have met in person) who believe that determinism rules out free will, and yet they don't feel trapped, do they? Why do you suppose that is? I suspect it's because they are truly convinced that they are dealing with reality, and they enjoy their thoughts (it's not as if any of us has any control over our thoughts, right?)