8 Bit Philosophy: Do We Enjoy Being Free? (Sartre + Final Fantasy)

It can be a rather daunting thing to have nothing but your own choices setting your path... but then that itself assumes a rather utopian outlook where nothing on this plane of existence can influence what options are available to us.

Can someone born into poverty truly choose to become a doctor if the government of their country provides no means for those without money and no connections to draw money from to attain an education?

Regardless, however much or little control we have over our lives, abnegating responsibility for what choices we can unambiguously make is simple cowardice.

There is simply no way of knowing if "choice" actually exists or not. Unless we can replay history to see if the results turn out the same, it remains a strong possibility that we have no choice. If we are not free, because choice is an illusion, we also have no responsibility. And yet in order to have a functional society, we must believe that our freedom is real, our choices are our own and that we are responsible for what we do, to whatever degree the context of any situation allows.

leviadragon99:
It can be a rather daunting thing to have nothing but your own choices setting your path... but then that itself assumes a rather utopian outlook where nothing on this plane of existence can influence what options are available to us.

Can someone born into poverty truly choose to become a doctor if the government of their country provides no means for those without money and no connections to draw money from to attain an education?

Regardless, however much or little control we have over our lives, abnegating responsibility for what choices we can unambiguously make is simple cowardice.

Good question, though one might offer that a person in poverty might transcend that poverty through hard work, financial planning and ambition. Part of it is what privileges we have to draw on and part is what privileges we earn for ourselves. Sometimes the former is so lacking that the latter seems unobtainable. It crushes the spirit, especially when one sees those born with much of the former have so little need for the latter. Can someone born into poverty and with little access to the cash needed for school really become a doctor? There are those that have, I'm certain. But just because some can, and have, does not mean that that should be the standard of expectation.

I think a society should nurture the talents of its people and value those talents more than it does class. I also think society should allow talented people to flourish when they work hard and apply themselves. I don't think class should be the prime determining factor in success and I don't think society should coddle the lazy. I believe there's a middle ground here.

Hearing all this I can't help but think what Nietzsche would say.

Relinquishing one's choice to chance, or gods, or other pointless reticules of fate is a flaw in its most critical sense. Given that one who seeks to surpass their previous self needs to recognize this, they would probably make out to make sure the choice is always theirs; defining themselves not by what society or their "role" should be, but what they think is best for their growth, and given a good ubermench also seeks to improve their morality, then presumably what's best for the growth of others as well.

Of course... I suppose that there's a few other sides of this... One is the rebuttal that even trying to act in accordance of a role that could be higher than one's actual self is a form of bad faith.
...A counter to that in that choosing the roles we want to uphold is sometimes a bigger and more meaningful choice, and often a harder one than the choices it makes for us, and sometimes choosing to uphold that role is itself a tough role.
...And a companion argument that when the role you're trying to fulfill is based on being strong enough to make those tough choices for yourself and owning up to them, it levels the playing field in what you're capable of choosing, in that while what once might have been an easy choice to make because you're weak but a bad one is suddenly made harder, while the hard choice that's the "right" one is now something you should strive to make.

In the later-most side... The implication is that trying to achieve a role you've taken upon yourself is not always in "bad faith", as rather than letting you avoid the consequences of freedom by making choices for you, it can open up choices that you would have otherwise acted like they were already made for you.

For example, a choice between laboring under someone's rule or fighting back would otherwise be no more than "I have no choice since I'm too weak". While choosing to live up to the role of the Ubermench, the choice is opened up, and you can examine the consequences of the choice. Such as "Is the rule of this person so good that they deserve to?" vs "Would things be better for us if they were overthrown?". And in the case they choose the later, they can also choose which way they think taking them down would be best, and how best to become strong enough to fulfill that method.

Its a thought.

Gorrath:
There is simply no way of knowing if "choice" actually exists or not. Unless we can replay history to see if the results turn out the same, it remains a strong possibility that we have no choice. If we are not free, because choice is an illusion, we also have no responsibility. And yet in order to have a functional society, we must believe that our freedom is real, our choices are our own and that we are responsible for what we do, to whatever degree the context of any situation allows.

leviadragon99:
It can be a rather daunting thing to have nothing but your own choices setting your path... but then that itself assumes a rather utopian outlook where nothing on this plane of existence can influence what options are available to us.

Can someone born into poverty truly choose to become a doctor if the government of their country provides no means for those without money and no connections to draw money from to attain an education?

Regardless, however much or little control we have over our lives, abnegating responsibility for what choices we can unambiguously make is simple cowardice.

Good question, though one might offer that a person in poverty might transcend that poverty through hard work, financial planning and ambition. Part of it is what privileges we have to draw on and part is what privileges we earn for ourselves. Sometimes the former is so lacking that the latter seems unobtainable. It crushes the spirit, especially when one sees those born with much of the former have so little need for the latter. Can someone born into poverty and with little access to the cash needed for school really become a doctor? There are those that have, I'm certain. But just because some can, and have, does not mean that that should be the standard of expectation.

I think a society should nurture the talents of its people and value those talents more than it does class. I also think society should allow talented people to flourish when they work hard and apply themselves. I don't think class should be the prime determining factor in success and I don't think society should coddle the lazy. I believe there's a middle ground here.

Well, one of the things to understand also is that every person wants to be prosperous and do something of value, or which they enjoy. The needs of a society however mandate that the vast majority of people need to do basic labor for little reward for it to function. See, every kid wants to be a Doctor, an Astronaut, or some kind of leader, and pretty much every person wants a lavish and comfortable lifestyle whether they admit it or not. The exceptions to this exist, but are very rare, and oftentimes come about as a result of one kind of conditioning or another. At the end of the day though society only needs so many Doctors and leaders. The big question in today's world is of course how one decides who gets to do what, and how the people at the bottom of the totem pole wind up there. Philosophies like Communism or various forms of "Anarchy" tend to be omitted from such discussions because at the end of the day both ensure that the unpleasant jobs that society requires in vast quantities are not going to be done. As a result we wind up with various socialized or competitive systems whereby people people are assigned work based on capabilities and more important society's need, or through a form of ruthless social Darwinism. That said the truth remains that the people at the bottom are always going to be miserable and looking at the top with envy. Those in an "assigned" system will look at the leaders and think that if they could compete fairly they themselves could lead or do an important job, those in competitive systems tend to think it's unfair that they can be kept down by someone who is simply smarter, better looking, more charismatic, or simply more ruthless than they are and think they would benefit if society stepped in to more directly control things.

Societies exist in the long term, and as such things tend to work multi-generationally where people both leave their success for their children, or the children of the unsuccessful wind up with few opportunities. No system is able to do away with this as there are always going to be long-term, multi-generational issues. In an assigned system those at the top will of course want to assign family members and those they know to the better jobs, in a competitive system while fortunes are won and lost the children of the successful usually wind up benefitting from that success.

The problem is that Sartre's philosophy doesn't work except on the smallest scales, because the first thing it does is omit any kind of higher order or principle existing within the universe. "There is no god" a statement I disagree with, but even if one disregards the supernatural in all it's forms including things like Karma, you still wind up with a situation where mankind becomes it's own god through a sort of societal consciousness, basically the edifice that is society makes decisions and creates pressures beyond the control or understanding of the individual that can literally wind up giving them a "Fate". Even those who resist their fate usually do so due to opportunities within, and allowed by, their society.

The whole stereotype of criminals blaming society is an old one, but few people really bother to examine that. At the end of the day we've all probably had things happen to us we didn't like, with literally nobody we can address or confront on the other end. Society works on it's own beyond any individual, people get marching orders, and if you do follow the decisions up the tree you oftentimes wind up with a situation where it comes down to long standing policies which exist for objectively good reasons (even if they don't benefit you) and which were set by groups of people or might have existed before the current bureaucrat was ever in office. I don't articulate it well, but society can be a nebulous, incredibly powerful, and incredibly capricious entity (due to all of it's contridictions) that intentionally changes only very slowly, and yet has overwhelming power over the individual. In other words it's very similar to the concept of a god. Indeed various writers have approached the subject of society becoming a god, and bureaucracies achieving self awareness. To an extent Neil Gaiman's "New Gods" approached this subject and had confrontations between old gods like Odin and new ones like "Media" (which has it's own avatar).

To put this into context in case someone doesn't get it. Take the case of the woman torn between two lovers, why can't she have both? The reason is because society decided this is not permitted, and of course everyone was conditioned to think that way, as a result she's forced to make a choice with that choice conforming to certain parameters.

To look further at that, the reason why she has to make a choice like that is because society decided Polygamy is a bad thing as it usually amounts to the richest and most powerful men taking all of the women (or the best ones) and then forcing out the young men to avoid competition with them being unable to marry. It also leads into various arguments about how without families it leads young men to war and violence, and also arguments about eugenics where by the best men breeding with the crop of the best women it leads to a superior institution among the rich and nobility, while the poorer people, forced to breed multiple times, and among inferior stock, wind up becoming inferior due to the genes and it cements the social system. Eugenics are a touchy subject, especially nowadays when it comes to people, but it has been part of the thought process. One might say "but Therumancer, that only applies to men marrying multiple women, why can't a woman have multiple husbands" the answer to that comes down to the civilized ideas of equality, especially nowadays, whereby you cannot make special laws holding back a group of people despite the occasional intrusion of common sense, this if your going to pass a law like this you cannot prevent a man from having multiple wives exclusively, it has to apply to everyone (in this case wives with multiple husbands). The point here being is that there is some solid logic involved here, even if some people are going to disagree with it, and policies have been made about it that go well beyond any current decision maker or authority. These policies, and the societal pressure, thus force the woman into the position of having to make that choice to begin with, in part because if she doesn't choose one the penalties she can face potentially legally (if she marries both) or socially (if she maintains a husband and a lover without marriage) make it impractical, and even destructive to all involved, not to make that choice.

I don't view Nigel as not having a choice though, or acting in Bad Faith though. He made the choice to become a Black Mage in the first place, when he likely had a chance to become a White Mage. He clearly wanted to use/do black magic, and he's chosen a path that specializes in exactly what he wants to do. As such, he's maximizing himself to do what he wants to do. In the case of the wife, however... you're right on that. She's letting the choice be made for her by having the prospective mates fight over her to prove dominance, and how much one of them cares for her.

I know this well, I had a woman set me up to fight a friend that was interested in her as well. I told her I would not fight for her. If you want to leave, go, I'm not going to be constantly proving myself to you. She ended up clinging to me tightly, and I ended up breaking with her later because I distrusted her so.

A better one would be to claim how someone in a certain class SHOULD act, as opposed to how they actually are. Take the Fighter for instance. No one expects him to be very smart or worldly in knowledge and lore, so he may act like an idiot and push away books because it's not "powerful" as a pursuit. He may even act overly violent because he's viewed as a meatshield/idiot who just wanders around to hit things with a sword.

Notice however that the Fighter can become a Knight, who uses healing magic, and also, in some games, gains "cover". For anyone who played the Fighter up to that point, you're shocked: He was purely physical, and quite destructive, yet now he has abilities to heal others, and take damage for them, expanding his capabilities.

Therumancer:

Well, one of the things to understand also is that every person wants to be prosperous and do something of value, or which they enjoy. The needs of a society however mandate that the vast majority of people need to do basic labor for little reward for it to function. See, every kid wants to be a Doctor, an Astronaut, or some kind of leader, and pretty much every person wants a lavish and comfortable lifestyle whether they admit it or not. The exceptions to this exist, but are very rare, and oftentimes come about as a result of one kind of conditioning or another. At the end of the day though society only needs so many Doctors and leaders. The big question in today's world is of course how one decides who gets to do what, and how the people at the bottom of the totem pole wind up there. Philosophies like Communism or various forms of "Anarchy" tend to be omitted from such discussions because at the end of the day both ensure that the unpleasant jobs that society requires in vast quantities are not going to be done. As a result we wind up with various socialized or competitive systems whereby people people are assigned work based on capabilities and more important society's need, or through a form of ruthless social Darwinism. That said the truth remains that the people at the bottom are always going to be miserable and looking at the top with envy. Those in an "assigned" system will look at the leaders and think that if they could compete fairly they themselves could lead or do an important job, those in competitive systems tend to think it's unfair that they can be kept down by someone who is simply smarter, better looking, more charismatic, or simply more ruthless than they are and think they would benefit if society stepped in to more directly control things.

I would take some small exception to some of what you say here, but it'd mostly be nitpicking. Some people are quite happy with doing what work they can find and enjoying what pleasures they have, without a strong ambitious urge to go further or even want further. I tend to be one such person; I find the idea of mega-success sort of repulsive, as I think it'd strip me of too many relationships to be worth it. But I am not most people and so you point stands. Those with privilege gained through birthright tend to see systems that allow them to exercise that privilege as preferable. Those born without privilege gained through birthright tend to see systems that allow them easier access to earned privilege as preferable. The two types of privilege tend to be at odds with one another, though I'm not certain they have to be. In any case, I find nothing particularly disagreeable about what you say above.

Societies exist in the long term, and as such things tend to work multi-generationally where people both leave their success for their children, or the children of the unsuccessful wind up with few opportunities. No system is able to do away with this as there are always going to be long-term, multi-generational issues. In an assigned system those at the top will of course want to assign family members and those they know to the better jobs, in a competitive system while fortunes are won and lost the children of the successful usually wind up benefitting from that success.

Quite true here as well. Though one can build a society that puts more emphasis on talent than birthright. This is done by nurturing talent through education. Education opportunity is the single most effective way to mitigate the multi-generational issues created by the inevitable class system. It is undoubtedly better to have a well educated population, even among those who, by choice or chance, end up doing the menial labor of society.

The problem is that Sartre's philosophy doesn't work except on the smallest scales, because the first thing it does is omit any kind of higher order or principle existing within the universe. "There is no god" a statement I disagree with, but even if one disregards the supernatural in all it's forms including things like Karma, you still wind up with a situation where mankind becomes it's own god through a sort of societal consciousness, basically the edifice that is society makes decisions and creates pressures beyond the control or understanding of the individual that can literally wind up giving them a "Fate". Even those who resist their fate usually do so due to opportunities within, and allowed by, their society.

I am one such person who rejects all notion of the supernatural, but I do agree with you that "fate" may exist and may even be likely in the sense that, whether by nature or nurture, we are "programmed" to react certain ways. How many of our choices are made, free of the bonds of taboo, tradition and other such societal pressures? None. If I were a betting man I'd guess that free will was an illusion altogether. But even if it is an illusion, we must act as if it's not. This is why it's so important that we craft that edifice you speak of with care. If we admit that society at large is responsible for guiding our collective "fate" more than we'd want to admit, it is paramount we pay fine attention to what we've built. This I think again reinforces the notion and need for the best system of education possible.

The whole stereotype of criminals blaming society is an old one, but few people really bother to examine that. At the end of the day we've all probably had things happen to us we didn't like, with literally nobody we can address or confront on the other end. Society works on it's own beyond any individual, people get marching orders, and if you do follow the decisions up the tree you oftentimes wind up with a situation where it comes down to long standing policies which exist for objectively good reasons (even if they don't benefit you) and which were set by groups of people or might have existed before the current bureaucrat was ever in office. I don't articulate it well, but society can be a nebulous, incredibly powerful, and incredibly capricious entity (due to all of it's contridictions) that intentionally changes only very slowly, and yet has overwhelming power over the individual. In other words it's very similar to the concept of a god. Indeed various writers have approached the subject of society becoming a god, and bureaucracies achieving self awareness. To an extent Neil Gaiman's "New Gods" approached this subject and had confrontations between old gods like Odin and new ones like "Media" (which has it's own avatar).

Criminals may very well have a valid complaint, but much as we can't accept that we have no free will, we can't accept that criminals aren't responsible for their own actions either. Without getting into the minutiae of morality by example, I think it suffices to say that every society has its faults and strengths and we are both part of, partially in control of and at the mercy of society all at once. As with the above, the best we can hope to do is educate ourselves and be as moral as we can be. No matter how slow a society changes, an educated society can at least hope to change for the better, if we define better as being that which is more moral and ethical.

To put this into context in case someone doesn't get it. Take the case of the woman torn between two lovers, why can't she have both? The reason is because society decided this is not permitted, and of course everyone was conditioned to think that way, as a result she's forced to make a choice with that choice conforming to certain parameters.

Right you are, and this was my thought when the example was brought up as well. We may think of the woman as abdicating her choice, but in reality, she is hamstrung by a taboo. From her perspective, the best choice might not be husband or lover, but both.

To look further at that, the reason why she has to make a choice like that is because society decided Polygamy is a bad thing as it usually amounts to the richest and most powerful men taking all of the women (or the best ones) and then forcing out the young men to avoid competition with them being unable to marry. It also leads into various arguments about how without families it leads young men to war and violence, and also arguments about eugenics where by the best men breeding with the crop of the best women it leads to a superior institution among the rich and nobility, while the poorer people, forced to breed multiple times, and among inferior stock, wind up becoming inferior due to the genes and it cements the social system. Eugenics are a touchy subject, especially nowadays when it comes to people, but it has been part of the thought process. One might say "but Therumancer, that only applies to men marrying multiple women, why can't a woman have multiple husbands" the answer to that comes down to the civilized ideas of equality, especially nowadays, whereby you cannot make special laws holding back a group of people despite the occasional intrusion of common sense, this if your going to pass a law like this you cannot prevent a man from having multiple wives exclusively, it has to apply to everyone (in this case wives with multiple husbands). The point here being is that there is some solid logic involved here, even if some people are going to disagree with it, and policies have been made about it that go well beyond any current decision maker or authority. These policies, and the societal pressure, thus force the woman into the position of having to make that choice to begin with, in part because if she doesn't choose one the penalties she can face potentially legally (if she marries both) or socially (if she maintains a husband and a lover without marriage) make it impractical, and even destructive to all involved, not to make that choice.

And this is a great demonstration as to why that edifice we produce must be as carefully calibrated and well thought-out as possible. We must be progressive in our thinking. If a tradition exists because it's based on the good sense of a society from a hundred years ago, we need to examine that tradition and the sense behind it. If we find the good sense of now contradicts the tradition, we should do away with it. If we find that the good sense backing the tradition still stands, we should keep the tradition. What we should avoid is tradition, and taboo, for their own sake. Tradition should exist to serve us, not the other way around. This is how we avoid making the Gods of tradition that you speak of. Do we exist in a society that would really suffer if polygamy was law? I can't say, but if we were to find out that polygamy is either beneficial or even simply neutral to the health of society and its people, there's no reason it shouldn't be the law.

Thanks for your detailed reply. I hope I've added a worthy response of my own. Cheers!

I always find stances that are against religion based on these arguments completely off base. Christianity assumes free will and responsibility, so there is a non-argument as the basis for Sartre's argument.

I always felt the best outcome of the woman was this:

She leads them to each other, they realize she is a big 'ol slut, grab a bear and she gets neither.

Baresark:
I always find stances that are against religion based on these arguments completely off base. Christianity assumes free will and responsibility, so there is a non-argument as the basis for Sartre's argument.

I always felt the best outcome of the woman was this:

She leads them to each other, they realize she is a big 'ol slut, grab a bear and she gets neither.

Well, I mean, they would both have to be big, burly, hairy men with latent homosexual feelings beforehand...

I miss 8-bit theater.

I'm not sure this deals with happiness at all. It's just a discourse on free will and the implications of it.

The counter question should be that if we were not free, would we be able to be happy or would even that just be our programming.

The alternative is important to consider.

Lightknight:
I'm not sure this deals with happiness at all. It's just a discourse on free will and the implications of it.

The counter question should be that if we were not free, would we be able to be happy or would even that just be our programming.

The alternative is important to consider.

If happiness is just part of the programming, we aren't even free to be not happy. Happiness, like all emotions/reactions would just be a consequence of our perception, run through the filters of our programming. The good news about this lack of control is that we are not simply selfish beings driven to ensure our own survival. If we were free to turn off our emotional output, or simply alter it to whatever we desired, then any input could lead to any output, which would be dangerous for our nature as moral/ethical beings.

We may or may not have any freedom as it relates to our programming, since it is possible to prove that we are in some ways bound by it and impossible to prove that we aren't completely bound by it. We do have some freedom from societal pressure though, as the demolition of Maslow's hierarchy demonstrates. If an individual is not even bound by basic necessity to be happy, they certainly don't need society's approval to be happy. But still, whatever effect our basic needs or society's approval has on our actions as they relate to our own happiness, we may very well still be slaves to the programming that underlies who we are. Even if we are free of the bonds of society and basic necessity, we are still slaves to ourselves. Maybe!

Is it just me or is Sartre's philosophy kinda ridiculous? Nobody acts independent of outside influence. I believe people have freedom in the sense that they can act in accordance with their own will, rather than be forced to act a certain way by an outside authority. But ultimately we're all products of our environment, if we weren't our actions would just be random, and what could be more meaningless than an action made at random?

Baresark:
I always find stances that are against religion based on these arguments completely off base. Christianity assumes free will and responsibility, so there is a non-argument as the basis for Sartre's argument.

I always felt the best outcome of the woman was this:

She leads them to each other, they realize she is a big 'ol slut, grab a bear and she gets neither.

Christianity also punishes you for free will by calling your choices as sins. for example the slut shaming you just did.

Strazdas:

Baresark:
I always find stances that are against religion based on these arguments completely off base. Christianity assumes free will and responsibility, so there is a non-argument as the basis for Sartre's argument.

I always felt the best outcome of the woman was this:

She leads them to each other, they realize she is a big 'ol slut, grab a bear and she gets neither.

Christianity also punishes you for free will by calling your choices as sins. for example the slut shaming you just did.

But some people have the opinion/belief that people who cheat, or even lead men to fight one another just so they can "prove themselves" to be terrible people. It's not just Christians either. Slut is a term used for someone who is considered loose, and I've seen it applied to men as well. Jut because you have free will doesn't mean you should entirely act on it, especially if it'd hurt someone. Me? I'm not into open relationships. If I were being cheated on, and/or being pitted against another man by my wife just to choose for her, I'd be under the same belief: She's a terrible person who will easily spread her legs even when in a relationship, and I want nothing to do with her. To me, that's shameful.

Please note: This does NOT include men and women who are porn actresses who do this to pay bills, or are in knowingly open relationships. This thought track only applies to men and women who engage in such acts while with someone who actively believes they're in a closed relationship. Also, the woman has no right to choose both if unless both the men in question are comfortable with this choice. If they are, more power to them, otherwise, no, she doesn't get that option.

Strazdas:

Baresark:
I always find stances that are against religion based on these arguments completely off base. Christianity assumes free will and responsibility, so there is a non-argument as the basis for Sartre's argument.

I always felt the best outcome of the woman was this:

She leads them to each other, they realize she is a big 'ol slut, grab a bear and she gets neither.

Christianity also punishes you for free will by calling your choices as sins. for example the slut shaming you just did.

LoL, I didn't slut shame anyone. She is a fictional person who has no social standing so therefore, there is nothing to shame. But whatever you say. To the point at hand, it still gives you the freedom of those choices. No one can guarantee any decision is free of consequence, actually, no decision is free of consequence. Those consequences will change from society to society or value system to value system, but you are still free of make those choices.

Crimsom Storm:

But some people have the opinion/belief that people who cheat, or even lead men to fight one another just so they can "prove themselves" to be terrible people. It's not just Christians either. Slut is a term used for someone who is considered loose, and I've seen it applied to men as well. Jut because you have free will doesn't mean you should entirely act on it, especially if it'd hurt someone. Me? I'm not into open relationships. If I were being cheated on, and/or being pitted against another man by my wife just to choose for her, I'd be under the same belief: She's a terrible person who will easily spread her legs even when in a relationship, and I want nothing to do with her. To me, that's shameful.

Please note: This does NOT include men and women who are porn actresses who do this to pay bills, or are in knowingly open relationships. This thought track only applies to men and women who engage in such acts while with someone who actively believes they're in a closed relationship. Also, the woman has no right to choose both if unless both the men in question are comfortable with this choice. If they are, more power to them, otherwise, no, she doesn't get that option.

Yes, There are other people that think certain actions are not good too, but the person i quoted raised christianity as somehow above it.

And yeah, you claim to be one of those people that do not like women to have choice in their relationship. Also cheating only exists if the partner hides it, thus no cheating exists in open relationships.

To hold somone as yours and only yours without allowing that person to make her own choices, to you, thats not shameful, to me, thats just selfish.

And yes, the woman has every right to choose both, its just that men also have right to not continue the relationship afterwards.

Baresark:

LoL, I didn't slut shame anyone. She is a fictional person who has no social standing so therefore, there is nothing to shame. But whatever you say. To the point at hand, it still gives you the freedom of those choices. No one can guarantee any decision is free of consequence, actually, no decision is free of consequence. Those consequences will change from society to society or value system to value system, but you are still free of make those choices.

Just because its a fictional character does not meant it cannot be slutshamed.

See, the problem with choice and responsibility is that if certain actions will result in eternal torment its not really freedom. If you get punished its not a free choice. a free choice in a simple example can be picking which pencil to use. going to hell for being gay is not free choice.

P.S. sorry if my thoughts drifted in this one, im a bit.. high... on painkillers.. today.

Gorrath:

Lightknight:
I'm not sure this deals with happiness at all. It's just a discourse on free will and the implications of it.

The counter question should be that if we were not free, would we be able to be happy or would even that just be our programming.

The alternative is important to consider.

If happiness is just part of the programming, we aren't even free to be not happy. Happiness, like all emotions/reactions would just be a consequence of our perception, run through the filters of our programming. The good news about this lack of control is that we are not simply selfish beings driven to ensure our own survival. If we were free to turn off our emotional output, or simply alter it to whatever we desired, then any input could lead to any output, which would be dangerous for our nature as moral/ethical beings.

But here's the thing, there is no noticeable or intrinsic difference between having been programmed vs. self-programming if you will. There is no inherent difference between whether or not I'm typing this because I as a being am creating this of my own free will compared to if I'm creating this as a created simulation of a being with free will. To me, it would be impossible to know the difference and even if told the truth and shown the reality it would be impossible for me to not feel like my reactions to that information are my own rather than the programming they could be.

So, at the end of the day, free will vs predestination make no difference to us. Not morally or otherwise because it still appears as though we are in complete control of our actions. What would be really messed up would be if only some of us had free will and others had none. Boy oh boy would that be quite the experiment of some bored deity/programmer.

With that in mind, would you rather be programmed and happy or unbound by programming and unhappy?

We may or may not have any freedom as it relates to our programming, since it is possible to prove that we are in some ways bound by it and impossible to prove that we aren't completely bound by it. We do have some freedom from societal pressure though, as the demolition of Maslow's hierarchy demonstrates. If an individual is not even bound by basic necessity to be happy, they certainly don't need society's approval to be happy. But still, whatever effect our basic needs or society's approval has on our actions as they relate to our own happiness, we may very well still be slaves to the programming that underlies who we are. Even if we are free of the bonds of society and basic necessity, we are still slaves to ourselves. Maybe!

I think it's somewhat of a mistake to consider the fact that we do have items to base our decisions off of as programming. Free will is more in our ability to evaluate the decisions on our own merits even if the factors we evaluate and the merits we measure them by are influenced by the environment around us and our own biological heritage.

Are we comprised of biological and environmental influences? Sure. Is biology just extremely advanced programming where DNA is concerned? Yeah. Is our environment just a long list of mathematical interactions between energy and matter that is controlled by a set of scientific parameters both known and still unknown? Sure. Is that any different from a program? Not really.

But the element of randomness and chance provided by both the environment and the way DNA is distributed is so extreme as to remove the notion of a guiding hand or forced conclusion. Predestination isn't really there as long as chance is part of the equation and the dice aren't weighted to one side. There is a difference between calculating the trajectory of a cue ball as well as its subsequent interactions before sending it on its way and tossing a ball onto table while blindfolded.

So in a way we are programmed but in another way that programming is so very organic as to make programming irrelevant to being "forced" to do something. Instead, it's just who we are and we get to make decisions because of who we are rather than who someone wanted us to be. Influence is different than overt manipulation and control of external forces.

Let's consider No Man's Sky for a moment. A procedurally generated universe that mankind has achieved to some degree. If we one day created a version of that so advanced as to allow for the possibility of sentient A.I. to randomly (albeit as a result of the procedures or way the universe was constructed) generate then I would consider that A.I. to have free will. That goes away if the procedure is specifically tweaked to alter the A.I. If the procedure is tweaked to make trees provide shade and it has an unexpected consequence on any A.I. then I wouldn't see that as someone else enacting their will on your own so much as the nature of the universe changing.

That humans so frequently create miniature universes (video games and other sims) with their own physics and rules makes me consider strongly that our own universe is merely one such thing. Given significant enough technology I have no doubt that one day we will create our own universes with naturally occurring life and as such it makes me strongly doubt that we'd be the top-universe. Especially if that newly created universe could then go about evolving to a point where it might create its own.

If this is the case, then not only would the idea of God be entirely legitimate if not outright likely, but his seemingly infinite powers would be easily explainable and while magical to us not really magical at all. That's something fairly weighty to consider if someone is an atheist rather than an agnostic. I consider agnostics to be the only true skeptics for this reason and have placed true Atheists in a similar camp as members of specific faiths (though, as Dawkins pointed out, many Atheists are moreso De Facto Atheists than full blooded faith in a null which is consequently also in the agnostic camp).

Either way, I do not equate having been influenced by others, even God, to be programming unless your attributes are specifically selected and designed so that you will be a certain way and respond accordingly. Then that's where free will drops off. But if chance and unknown exists? Then it wouldn't be that different then how you have a strong role in what your children will be without actually haven't control over them.

Mmm... that felt good to write out and solidify. Thanks for the opportunity.

Strazdas:

Baresark:

LoL, I didn't slut shame anyone. She is a fictional person who has no social standing so therefore, there is nothing to shame. But whatever you say. To the point at hand, it still gives you the freedom of those choices. No one can guarantee any decision is free of consequence, actually, no decision is free of consequence. Those consequences will change from society to society or value system to value system, but you are still free of make those choices.

Just because its a fictional character does not meant it cannot be slutshamed.

See, the problem with choice and responsibility is that if certain actions will result in eternal torment its not really freedom. If you get punished its not a free choice. a free choice in a simple example can be picking which pencil to use. going to hell for being gay is not free choice.

P.S. sorry if my thoughts drifted in this one, im a bit.. high... on painkillers.. today.

Well, by definition slut shaming means to publicly shame someone for having multiple sex partners simultaneously, which I'm fine with anyone doing if that is what they want to do (having multiple sex partners that is). Since the character is fictional, they don't have a social standing that can be damaged by the act of calling them a slut and they aren't even named and don't look like anyone in particular. For the record, I don't call real people sluts. I don't like the word simply because it's amazingly simplistic when talking about a person and is kind of hard on ears.

About responsibility: Eh, I don't agree. You can't murder someone without facing life in prison or possibly the death penalty depending on where you are. That is the same thing. You have ability to make that choice and no one can stop you from making that choice, but that choice is not free of consequences.

When Sartre talked about God and not having free will to choose, he seems to mean that God give people direction and decides what people will do with their lives, meaning they don't have the freedom to choose. But that isn't how the whole thing works in Christianity. In Judeo-Christian religions, you have the freedom to choose your path as a sinner or a saint, otherwise punishment in Hell would carry no weight because you are either meant to be there or not with Sartre's thinking. Also, since the Reformation, there has been so little concentration on Hell, some have even come to believe it is not a place (by that I mean people who are Christian and devoutly believe in God and worship as thus do not consider it a place, kind of like Purgatory being removed by Catholicism).

We may have to agree to disagree on this one.

Disclaimer: I'm not by any remote measurement all that informed about Sartre, I'm only going by what I was told in a few forums and learned in a few videos. I could be interpreting his words completely wrong. These 8-bit Philosophy shows are a bit short on details, but they aren't meant to be in depth either.

Gorrath:

Lightknight:
I'm not sure this deals with happiness at all. It's just a discourse on free will and the implications of it.

The counter question should be that if we were not free, would we be able to be happy or would even that just be our programming.

The alternative is important to consider.

If happiness is just part of the programming, we aren't even free to be not happy. Happiness, like all emotions/reactions would just be a consequence of our perception, run through the filters of our programming. The good news about this lack of control is that we are not simply selfish beings driven to ensure our own survival. If we were free to turn off our emotional output, or simply alter it to whatever we desired, then any input could lead to any output, which would be dangerous for our nature as moral/ethical beings.

We may or may not have any freedom as it relates to our programming, since it is possible to prove that we are in some ways bound by it and impossible to prove that we aren't completely bound by it. We do have some freedom from societal pressure though, as the demolition of Maslow's hierarchy demonstrates. If an individual is not even bound by basic necessity to be happy, they certainly don't need society's approval to be happy. But still, whatever effect our basic needs or society's approval has on our actions as they relate to our own happiness, we may very well still be slaves to the programming that underlies who we are. Even if we are free of the bonds of society and basic necessity, we are still slaves to ourselves. Maybe!

Always a fascinating subject to discuss, especially in terms of modern science. We are not just our programming. We do have some level of freedom of choice. I can decide to go to work, get there and turn around and come home. Or I can choose to just go to work. Or I can choose to call out and not go at all. And this choice can be modified on the fly. Our "programming" will certainly dictated how comfortable we are with those decisions, but the those decisions are always in front of us and an option.

I subscribe to Daniel Kahneman's theories on this myself. We have two systems in our brain (analogy in coming). We have a fast automatic system and a slow thinking system. This is where Heuristics comes into the conversation. Anything that is tough for our slower system causes a lot of mental stress, so our brain develops shortcuts. We hear "What is the probability of...", and our brain will always substitute it with, "what is the likelihood.....". Similar questions but ultimately very different. Probability seeks a number that is exact, where likelihood seeks our feelings on what is most likely to be the case. Our brains ignore base rate, as he says. That is part of our programming. But ask that some question to someone who has time to think about it and research, they can find out what the actual probability is.

In that frame of thinking, people have free will about a great many things. Essentially we have free will about things that we have conscious control over. We also decide what is acceptable to us. We have a base line that is built into us, which is different for just about everyone, within a certain range of course. But, through cognitive therapies we can actually change those aspects with work. If you look at how an addict works, for example. Their brain has essentially been wired to seek certain things. But cognitive therapies can rewire how it works. It can find ways to substitute other things for the addiction, things that are constructive in some way. So, through that sort of reprogramming we can edit out baseline of who we are. Most people don't need to do this, however, though you can essentially make yourself into anything with the right amount of work based on these things. And those things will be your choice.

But, we also do so many things we are not consciously aware of, our brain handles so much that we are not aware of. How it coordinates walking over uneven ground without a conscious thought is simply mind boggling, which is why robotics progresses so amazingly slow. This is necessary because the slow aspects of our brain is amazingly lazy. It just doesn't want to do anything that it doesn't have to do. So we rely on what our brain wants to automatically do in a ridiculous number of situation. But our brains are also creatures of habit, so when we do something enough times, that becomes the automatic way. When I get to work, I always take the stairs rather than the elevator. Yet I know people who don't even consider the stairs. They walk in and with no thought press the elevator call button. I walk in and just hit the stares, it's amazing.

It's really crazy how we all can be so different too. Which makes me always wonder how right the concept of us not having "free will" can be. The easiest thing to do is dress like other people, work like other people, have the same worries (all within a given society of course). But I work with people who are nothing like me. We interact with each other, we work side by side in our own ways, we are very very diverse. Even when you look at ways we are similar to other people, we tend to be very different in many minor ways. I work in IT, I love video games, I go to the gym 5 days a week. My team lead: Works in IT, Runs Marathons, Fixes cars for fun. Co-worker 1: Works in IT, Loves vintage videogames, Will never see himself inside a gym. Co-worker number 2: Works in IT, originates from Jamaica, is a professional student.

We are so different but we all spend 8 hours a day essentially doing the same job. We all have comparable educations and goals, but we all approach our "happiness" in our own way.

It's a mixed bag really. Fascinating subject. I could ramble on for hours.

Lightknight:
But here's the thing, there is no noticeable or intrinsic difference between having been programmed vs. self-programming if you will. There is no inherent difference between whether or not I'm typing this because I as a being am creating this of my own free will compared to if I'm creating this as a created simulation of a being with free will. To me, it would be impossible to know the difference and even if told the truth and shown the reality it would be impossible for me to not feel like my reactions to that information are my own rather than the programming they could be.

So, at the end of the day, free will vs predestination make no difference to us. Not morally or otherwise because it still appears as though we are in complete control of our actions. What would be really messed up would be if only some of us had free will and others had none. Boy oh boy would that be quite the experiment of some bored deity/programmer.

With that in mind, would you rather be programmed and happy or unbound by programming and unhappy?

I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusions here. In practice, predestination vs. free will is only a question of academic curiosity, for now. This is why, even if we really did find out that people aren't actually free to make any choice, we'd have to continue on as we were anyway, assuming free will where there was none. Society, designed as it is now, simply cannot stand without justice, and justice cannot exist without responsibility, which in turn cannot exist without free will. Your assessment is the same as my own, even if it seems likely that we are less responsible for our actions then it is necessary to pretend. This is one of the very few cases, much like the "brain in a jar" thought experiment, where knowing the truth wouldn't actually affect the way we have to go about things, even though it contradicts our believed reality in a massive way.

If we found out some people had free will and others did not; that would be even more horrifying. Imagining a world were some part of the population can be held accountable for their actions and some really can't is a bit horrifying! As for your proposed question, I'd need more information. I value happiness a great deal and would likely select it, even if it made me a slave to myself. If I could be unbound from myself, changed in such a way as I could make any decision based on whatever criteria I decided, but it also made me miserable, I would not see a great deal of value in that for myself or for anyone I cared about.

I think it's somewhat of a mistake to consider the fact that we do have items to base our decisions off of as programming. Free will is more in our ability to evaluate the decisions on our own merits even if the factors we evaluate and the merits we measure them by are influenced by the environment around us and our own biological heritage.

Are we comprised of biological and environmental influences? Sure. Is biology just extremely advanced programming where DNA is concerned? Yeah. Is our environment just a long list of mathematical interactions between energy and matter that is controlled by a set of scientific parameters both known and still unknown? Sure. Is that any different from a program? Not really.

But the element of randomness and chance provided by both the environment and the way DNA is distributed is so extreme as to remove the notion of a guiding hand or forced conclusion. Predestination isn't really there as long as chance is part of the equation and the dice aren't weighted to one side. There is a difference between calculating the trajectory of a cue ball as well as its subsequent interactions before sending it on its way and tossing a ball onto table while blindfolded.

The only way to know if we, as humans, have any real control over our decisions and not merely the illusion of free will would be to reset the clock and rerun the experiment. Since this is impossible, there is no way to verify. We can only presume that we are, in many ways, dealing with a program that is ourselves, a program that at least limits our choices, our freedom, and maybe steals our free will entirely. Does the uncertainty principle defeat the idea of us being slaves to ourselves? Perhaps it does, I'm not certain we know. But we are, I think, more akin to the predictable bank shot than we are to the random toss. Maybe on some level the uncertainty principal proves that we have a nugget of free will in us, or maybe that's stretching the principal too far. The problem is that we can only demonstrate that our "choices" have an element of randomness. We might define that randomness as choice, but is it choice? The randomness inserted by the uncertainty principal makes proving free will even harder in its own way though. If we admit that we can't be certain the same situation is actually the same situation, how do you demonstrate that a different choice is different because of free will, or only different because the situation is different?

So in a way we are programmed but in another way that programming is so very organic as to make programming irrelevant to being "forced" to do something. Instead, it's just who we are and we get to make decisions because of who we are rather than who someone wanted us to be. Influence is different than overt manipulation and control of external forces.

I'm not sure I understand this part. The programming isn't done by someone else exclusively. I don't believe in a universal creator myself so I'd define this programming we have as, "The limitations imposed on our decision making by all internal and external forces in any given situation." Now, I admit this definition is something I just pulled out of my backside, so if it's quickly demolished I'll hardly be grumpy, but at first glance I think it holds up? It's not so much that we are who someone wants us to be, but that we are who we are because of our sum total of nature and nurture. Our "programming" is really just our self, that self being comprised of all of our experiences and the filter of our genetic predispositions.

Let's consider No Man's Sky for a moment. A procedurally generated universe that mankind has achieved to some degree. If we one day created a version of that so advanced as to allow for the possibility of sentient A.I. to randomly (albeit as a result of the procedures or way the universe was constructed) generate then I would consider that A.I. to have free will. That goes away if the procedure is specifically tweaked to alter the A.I. If the procedure is tweaked to make trees provide shade and it has an unexpected consequence on any A.I. then I wouldn't see that as someone else enacting their will on your own so much as the nature of the universe changing.

That humans so frequently create miniature universes (video games and other sims) with their own physics and rules makes me consider strongly that our own universe is merely one such thing. Given significant enough technology I have no doubt that one day we will create our own universes with naturally occurring life and as such it makes me strongly doubt that we'd be the top-universe. Especially if that newly created universe could then go about evolving to a point where it might create its own.

If this is the case, then not only would the idea of God be entirely legitimate if not outright likely, but his seemingly infinite powers would be easily explainable and while magical to us not really magical at all. That's something fairly weighty to consider if someone is an atheist rather than an agnostic. I consider agnostics to be the only true skeptics for this reason and have placed true Atheists in a similar camp as members of specific faiths (though, as Dawkins pointed out, many Atheists are moreso De Facto Atheists than full blooded faith in a null which is consequently also in the agnostic camp).

I wrote two full, lengthy paragraphs about atheism here and promptly deleted them since they are not wholly relevant to the topic at hand. As much as I LOVE talking about religion, faith, atheism belief, ect. I can't help but feel I'd be derailing things mightily if I were to rant and ramble about the subject. I think, suffice it to say that I am what Dawkins says, atheist de facto and an agnostic as well.

That out of the way, you talk here about the idea of simulated universes, which is an interesting concept. I have read the argument before about how the likely hood of our universe not being the "real" universe is practically guaranteed. I think it may be based on some problematic assumptions, the biggest of which is that a universe like ours could even be programmed. I don't know that it could or could not be, so I'm not willing to assume that it can. But, as we both seem to agree to above, it doesn't actually matter. Even if our universe is a simulation, it's our simulation. Even if our trees are fake, we have no reason to assume they are, and even if we proved they were, it likely would not change how we need to act. Even if we are just brains in a jar experiencing some programmed simulation, we still have to live out this programmed simulation, so that knowledge alone doesn't really alter our practical lives.

Lastly, as for sufficiently advanced A.I. having free will, I would be willing to accept that it has free will to whatever degree we do. After all, if we are basically programs, there's little to no real difference between us and an A.I. If we presume we have free will, because we can't prove we don't, then there is no reason to think a sufficiently advanced A.I. wouldn't have it as well. But, just as that A.I. would be constrained by the bounds of its programming, so are we. Does an A.I. have free will, or are its decisions simply a matter of set calculations? If we are no different than the A.I., then we may very well just be doing the same thing. The A.I. might not even realize that every decision it makes is just a preset output based on its program and the same may very well be true of us. So really, A.I. may not get us anywhere closer to answering this immensely difficult question.

Either way, I do not equate having been influenced by others, even God, to be programming unless your attributes are specifically selected and designed so that you will be a certain way and respond accordingly. Then that's where free will drops off. But if chance and unknown exists? Then it wouldn't be that different then how you have a strong role in what your children will be without actually haven't control over them.

Mmm... that felt good to write out and solidify. Thanks for the opportunity.

Well, as I mention above, our programming isn't just nurture but nature as well. If it's fair to say that we are "programmed" it is certainly true that the program is an adaptive one. We are programmed even by experiences that don't involve another thinking being. We don't need our parents to tell us not to touch the stove top if we've already burned our self on it before.

And thank you! I love these kinds of discussion in the extreme. As always, I find you to be an excellent partner for any discussion. Kicking ideas around with you is a blast!

Edit: Also! If you want to argue about religion and its various tendrils some time, I'd be excited to, though you may find that I've nothing to say that you may not have already heard. Still, I love a good academic punch-up, especially when it comes to subjects I know a bit about!

Baresark:

Always a fascinating subject to discuss, especially in terms of modern science. We are not just our programming. We do have some level of freedom of choice. I can decide to go to work, get there and turn around and come home. Or I can choose to just go to work. Or I can choose to call out and not go at all. And this choice can be modified on the fly. Our "programming" will certainly dictated how comfortable we are with those decisions, but the those decisions are always in front of us and an option.

I subscribe to Daniel Kahneman's theories on this myself. We have two systems in our brain (analogy in coming). We have a fast automatic system and a slow thinking system. This is where Heuristics comes into the conversation. Anything that is tough for our slower system causes a lot of mental stress, so our brain develops shortcuts. We hear "What is the probability of...", and our brain will always substitute it with, "what is the likelihood.....". Similar questions but ultimately very different. Probability seeks a number that is exact, where likelihood seeks our feelings on what is most likely to be the case. Our brains ignore base rate, as he says. That is part of our programming. But ask that some question to someone who has time to think about it and research, they can find out what the actual probability is.

In that frame of thinking, people have free will about a great many things. Essentially we have free will about things that we have conscious control over. We also decide what is acceptable to us. We have a base line that is built into us, which is different for just about everyone, within a certain range of course. But, through cognitive therapies we can actually change those aspects with work. If you look at how an addict works, for example. Their brain has essentially been wired to seek certain things. But cognitive therapies can rewire how it works. It can find ways to substitute other things for the addiction, things that are constructive in some way. So, through that sort of reprogramming we can edit out baseline of who we are. Most people don't need to do this, however, though you can essentially make yourself into anything with the right amount of work based on these things. And those things will be your choice.

But, we also do so many things we are not consciously aware of, our brain handles so much that we are not aware of. How it coordinates walking over uneven ground without a conscious thought is simply mind boggling, which is why robotics progresses so amazingly slow. This is necessary because the slow aspects of our brain is amazingly lazy. It just doesn't want to do anything that it doesn't have to do. So we rely on what our brain wants to automatically do in a ridiculous number of situation. But our brains are also creatures of habit, so when we do something enough times, that becomes the automatic way. When I get to work, I always take the stairs rather than the elevator. Yet I know people who don't even consider the stairs. They walk in and with no thought press the elevator call button. I walk in and just hit the stares, it's amazing.

It's really crazy how we all can be so different too. Which makes me always wonder how right the concept of us not having "free will" can be. The easiest thing to do is dress like other people, work like other people, have the same worries (all within a given society of course). But I work with people who are nothing like me. We interact with each other, we work side by side in our own ways, we are very very diverse. Even when you look at ways we are similar to other people, we tend to be very different in many minor ways. I work in IT, I love video games, I go to the gym 5 days a week. My team lead: Works in IT, Runs Marathons, Fixes cars for fun. Co-worker 1: Works in IT, Loves vintage videogames, Will never see himself inside a gym. Co-worker number 2: Works in IT, originates from Jamaica, is a professional student.

We are so different but we all spend 8 hours a day essentially doing the same job. We all have comparable educations and goals, but we all approach our "happiness" in our own way.

It's a mixed bag really. Fascinating subject. I could ramble on for hours.

I'm sorry that I cannot spend the same time talking with you that I did Lightknight. If I had two brains and four arms or an extra bit of time in a day I would offer it to you. I think I may answer some of what you say here in my response to him, so if you'd like, I would enjoy you reading the post I made for him. I will add a few things to specifically respond to you though, since you've earned that and more by taking your time to respond to me.

By way of example, you say that having the ability to decide to go to work or not demonstrates freedom of choice. But is this so? Is it not possible that your actual decision is determined by a whole slew of factors that undermine the idea of free will? You may think you have a choice, and you may think that your decision is your own, but as you point out our brains do a whole lot of work that our conscious mind has no control over. The only way to know for sure if you have any free will is to replay the same decision over and over to see if you make the same choice. And I don't mean day-by-day, I mean the exact same situation. If you were to make the same decision every single time, without exception, did you ever really have a choice in the first place, or are you a slave to your own nature? The problem is, of course, that we cannot run this experiment because we can't go back in time.

What I find fascinating though is comparisons of twins who were separated at birth. The similarities in "choices" made by the twins are striking, sometimes even shocking. This suggests that their nature has dictated a lot of how they feel about a wide variety of things, that their genetic programming has determined a lot about them that we may have thought were simply choices. How much of what we do is determined by the nebulous idea of free will and how much of it is pre-determined by our nature and what nurturing we've received is a huge unknown. What we can say for certain is that we do not have complete freedom of will. What we can't say is that we have any freedom of will at all. But I make this last statement without a great foundation of certainty because we all may be thinking of "free will" in very different terms. What I will agree to, as I did with Light, is that we do have to act as if we all have free will, even if we can't prove we do and likely even if we could prove we don't.

Lastly, I very much enjoyed reading your response and I hope to have elaborated more on what I mean. I wish I had time to say more right now but alas I running very short of it. You have my sincere thanks and my assurance that I'll continue to talk more about this as time allows. Cheers!

Baresark:

Well, by definition slut shaming means to publicly shame someone for having multiple sex partners simultaneously, which I'm fine with anyone doing if that is what they want to do (having multiple sex partners that is). Since the character is fictional, they don't have a social standing that can be damaged by the act of calling them a slut and they aren't even named and don't look like anyone in particular. For the record, I don't call real people sluts. I don't like the word simply because it's amazingly simplistic when talking about a person and is kind of hard on ears.

About responsibility: Eh, I don't agree. You can't murder someone without facing life in prison or possibly the death penalty depending on where you are. That is the same thing. You have ability to make that choice and no one can stop you from making that choice, but that choice is not free of consequences.

When Sartre talked about God and not having free will to choose, he seems to mean that God give people direction and decides what people will do with their lives, meaning they don't have the freedom to choose. But that isn't how the whole thing works in Christianity. In Judeo-Christian religions, you have the freedom to choose your path as a sinner or a saint, otherwise punishment in Hell would carry no weight because you are either meant to be there or not with Sartre's thinking. Also, since the Reformation, there has been so little concentration on Hell, some have even come to believe it is not a place (by that I mean people who are Christian and devoutly believe in God and worship as thus do not consider it a place, kind of like Purgatory being removed by Catholicism).

We may have to agree to disagree on this one.

Disclaimer: I'm not by any remote measurement all that informed about Sartre, I'm only going by what I was told in a few forums and learned in a few videos. I could be interpreting his words completely wrong. These 8-bit Philosophy shows are a bit short on details, but they aren't meant to be in depth either.

You claim you are ok with people having multiple sex partners whereas in your original post you said that these people deserve to loose both partners. a bit contradictory here.

Fictional characters do have social standing. and it can be damaged. for an obvious example imagine of superman was suddenly racist.

See, if there are known set rules of consequences then the choice is no longer free (same thing applies to speech btw, if you get punished for speech then its not free speech). While obviuosly we will agree that such rules are needed in some cases (like your mentioned murder example), i do not agree that this allows the person freedom of choice (ignoring for the moment the whole concept of choice being fake)

Except that it IS how Christian god works. God guides people, makes apparitions and miracles, god has "a plan" and "Works in mysteriuos ways". Many christians believe that whenever something happens it was "meant by god". that is part of how they accept problems. Christian god is a very meddling god.

Yes, Reformation did change the religion a lot in order for it to survive reality, but that still did not remove concept of hell or sins now did it stop god from ruling the world.

Sorry I don't have anything to contribute to what looks like a very productive discussion, but I do have a question about 8 Bit Philosophy in general: is it just me, or do all the episodes feel one act too short? At least, this seems to be the case with the episodes I've seen (the ones uploaded to the escapist). A question is proposed, the framework for the discussion is laid by explaining a historical philosopher's viewpoint in great depth, and the episode ends. We... we never got around to actually discussing the proposed question!

Gorrath:

I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusions here. In practice, predestination vs. free will is only a question of academic curiosity, for now. This is why, even if we really did find out that people aren't actually free to make any choice, we'd have to continue on as we were anyway, assuming free will where there was none. Society, designed as it is now, simply cannot stand without justice, and justice cannot exist without responsibility, which in turn cannot exist without free will. Your assessment is the same as my own, even if it seems likely that we are less responsible for our actions then it is necessary to pretend. This is one of the very few cases, much like the "brain in a jar" thought experiment, where knowing the truth wouldn't actually affect the way we have to go about things, even though it contradicts our believed reality in a massive way.

Exactly, and I find this point fascinating. That free will and predestination are functionally identical from observers on the inside of either.

If we found out some people had free will and others did not; that would be even more horrifying. Imagining a world were some part of the population can be held accountable for their actions and some really can't is a bit horrifying! As for your proposed question, I'd need more information. I value happiness a great deal and would likely select it, even if it made me a slave to myself. If I could be unbound from myself, changed in such a way as I could make any decision based on whatever criteria I decided, but it also made me miserable, I would not see a great deal of value in that for myself or for anyone I cared about.

What I mean is, is the horror at the idea that you are just an automaton great enough that you would rather not be an automaton and unhappy with your life as opposed to being an automaton that experiences simulated free will that isn't real but is happy with your experience? For example, in the original Matrix one person decided to be a traitor. In exchange, all they wanted was to be put back into the system but be given a lavish lifestyle (I always thought it was silly that they were given mundane lives since giving them happy lifestyles would have meant almost no reason for revolution since the real world was in such dire straights). So, is free will more valuable to you than happiness? Is it really valuable at all? You and I have both posited that either scenario would be indistinguishable to the free willed/predetermined so even though I'd guess you and I value the notion that we are masters of our own fate we'd like be "happier" with being happy.

The only way to know if we, as humans, have any real control over our decisions and not merely the illusion of free will would be to reset the clock and rerun the experiment. Since this is impossible, there is no way to verify. We can only presume that we are, in many ways, dealing with a program that is ourselves, a program that at least limits our choices, our freedom, and maybe steals our free will entirely. Does the uncertainty principle defeat the idea of us being slaves to ourselves? Perhaps it does, I'm not certain we know. But we are, I think, more akin to the predictable bank shot than we are to the random toss. Maybe on some level the uncertainty principal proves that we have a nugget of free will in us, or maybe that's stretching the principal too far. The problem is that we can only demonstrate that our "choices" have an element of randomness. We might define that randomness as choice, but is it choice? The randomness inserted by the uncertainty principal makes proving free will even harder in its own way though. If we admit that we can't be certain the same situation is actually the same situation, how do you demonstrate that a different choice is different because of free will, or only different because the situation is different?

The thing is, I don't think the randomness reached in the uncertainty principal is necessarily true randomness as you're discussing it here.

All we really know is that the observation of quantum particles produces what appears to be random values. We have no working theory for why or how it happens. We also know that as we transition between the quantum universe into the macro universe that randomness simply doesn't happen because the true state of a system is probabilistic and the likelihood that a million photons will take a random turn all at once is beyond miniscule.

What is a HUGE mistake in the scientific community would be the claim that because we do not know why something happens differently even with cloned photons that it must therefore be random as in "uncaused" or "Without cause". That would be a significant leap in logic. It is correct to say that we are unable to predict the behavior but this isn't that difference from saying that we can't really predict how rolling a dice will end up. We also call the way dice roll to be random. But both really mean the same thing, unpredictable. There may very well be factors causing a particle to behave in a certain way we now call random, but our current concepts of reality don't allow some of our data to commute. Like the ol' momentum vs position. You can't say something has momentum and that it exists in a specific point because momentum requires two points to describe. So the two things just don't commute. For us to begin to understand how things cause a photon to behave one way as opposed to another our entire system would have to be so drastically overhauled as to be able to replace the uncertainty principle altogether. This isn't necessarily impossible, but it does mean that the randomness isn't due to our inability to collect data (a dice roll can be measured in a way that a physics engine can simulate the vectors and other factors impacting its course, the factors impacting a photon cannot). Thankfully, the uncertainty principle produces far more accurate results than previous concepts did before so we at least know we're very close to the right track even if this principle doesn't end up being the end-all concept.

Regardless, I will warn you that the randomness observed in quantum mechanics should be seen as entirely unrelated to free will and determinism. What I mean when I say that our programing has to be sufficiently random in order to still constitute free will is everything to do with causation and manipulation. If I throw a dice, I am not causing the dice to land on any number. I am merely causing the dice to be thrown and the environment and qualities of the dice(aka programming) will determine how it lands but my initial force is only one influence on the landing. In a sense, it is free will if a dice was sentient and had any impact on the landing. However, if I placed the dice on one side and thereby determined how it would land, that is the lack of freewill on its part regardless of sentience since it had no honest roll in its actions. Humans sometimes take away the free will of other humans and such.

So sufficient chance is the only thing that equates to free will. It's the only thing that can. If who we are is specifically designed and caused by someone who planned it that way then that's the loss of any will of our own unless that "someone" was particularly incompetent in their planning and the result was unexpected.

I'm not sure I understand this part. The programming isn't done by someone else exclusively. I don't believe in a universal creator myself so I'd define this programming we have as, "The limitations imposed on our decision making by all internal and external forces in any given situation." Now, I admit this definition is something I just pulled out of my backside, so if it's quickly demolished I'll hardly be grumpy, but at first glance I think it holds up? It's not so much that we are who someone wants us to be, but that we are who we are because of our sum total of nature and nurture. Our "programming" is really just our self, that self being comprised of all of our experiences and the filter of our genetic predispositions.

Would you say that because I cannot grow wings this moment and fly then that constitutes a limitation imposed on our decision making and somehow impacts my having free will? I'm not sure limitations matter so much as that there is more than only one choice. If you knock me out and drag me to Alaska then me going to Alaska was the only option I had and so a choice could not be made. If you asked me if I wanted to go to Alaska or Maine first then I have a choice in the matter.

Free will isn't omnipotence or anything like that. I'd say that even an omnipotent being could be predetermined to behave in a certain way in the same way we could be. They'd just have a wider range of options than us.

I wrote two full, lengthy paragraphs about atheism here and promptly deleted them since they are not wholly relevant to the topic at hand. As much as I LOVE talking about religion, faith, atheism belief, ect. I can't help but feel I'd be derailing things mightily if I were to rant and ramble about the subject. I think, suffice it to say that I am what Dawkins says, atheist de facto and an agnostic as well.

Sure, I'd say anything short of a full "faith" based Atheist would fall into the agnostic category. It is dishonest for a person to say they KNOW God does or does not exist. An honest person should never fall on the full Deist/Theist side of the scale either. So I consider all of the in-between categories to be the domain of the rational and scientific thinking community. This grates against the ears of a self-proclaimed Atheist who have a firm view of their position as being in contrast to crazies that also believe in the unproven, I know and apologize for that grating, but John Huxley's intention for creating the term Agnostic was to say that he does not know that God does or does not exist and therefore does not have to decide one way or the other. In so making this term, he forever contrasted it with the term Atheism boxed into being an affirmation of the negative. Dawkins understands this and made his scale accordingly. I think it is a good scale for that purpose even if it avoids the use of the term "agnostic". But this also explains how something so contradictory as an agnostic theist/deist can exist. Someone who doesn't know that God exists but has chosen to live their life as if God does. I respect that sort of person far more than someone who point blank claims God does or does not exist as they have firmly left reason and skepticism behind as long as God existing and not existing are both options on the table. If we discuss this topic any further, I assure you that we will do so philosophically rather than particular to any religion. Atheism, Agnosticism, Theism. These aren't "religions", these are actually philosophies regarding cosmology. Christianity, Islam, and even organizations affirming the nonexistence of God, those are religions and are entirely unnecessary to discuss the merits of some sort of creator on a philosophical level.

That out of the way, you talk here about the idea of simulated universes, which is an interesting concept. I have read the argument before about how the likely hood of our universe not being the "real" universe is practically guaranteed. I think it may be based on some problematic assumptions, the biggest of which is that a universe like ours could even be programmed. I don't know that it could or could not be, so I'm not willing to assume that it can. But, as we both seem to agree to above, it doesn't actually matter. Even if our universe is a simulation, it's our simulation. Even if our trees are fake, we have no reason to assume they are, and even if we proved they were, it likely would not change how we need to act. Even if we are just brains in a jar experiencing some programmed simulation, we still have to live out this programmed simulation, so that knowledge alone doesn't really alter our practical lives.

Exactly. A simulation of reality (if made sufficiently well) would be inherently unnoticeably different from actual reality. Simulated DNA should mirror organic DNA and all of that.

Lastly, as for sufficiently advanced A.I. having free will, I would be willing to accept that it has free will to whatever degree we do. After all, if we are basically programs, there's little to no real difference between us and an A.I. If we presume we have free will, because we can't prove we don't, then there is no reason to think a sufficiently advanced A.I. wouldn't have it as well. But, just as that A.I. would be constrained by the bounds of its programming, so are we. Does an A.I. have free will, or are its decisions simply a matter of set calculations? If we are no different than the A.I., then we may very well just be doing the same thing. The A.I. might not even realize that every decision it makes is just a preset output based on its program and the same may very well be true of us. So really, A.I. may not get us anywhere closer to answering this immensely difficult question.

Good point. However, if we can create A.I. that behaves unpredictably and predictably according to whatever it chooses and we haven't specifically programmed it to take the actions that it has. I would say we have influenced it but we have not predestined it. Your point attempts to establish that since we may be predestined then anything we build is predetermined by the a priori environment that predestined us. However, I if there is enough lack of certainty in the creation of the being then that basically distinguishes it from determinism and places it into the category of free will or chance. If we don't have control over how it evolves then the thing/things that made us behave in a certain way doesn't either. At least not through us.

Chance = free will.

If the simulated intelligence behaves in ways we cannot account for and in ways we did not directly cause, then it is irrelevant as to whether or not our actions are themselves caused and predetermined.

Well, as I mention above, our programming isn't just nurture but nature as well. If it's fair to say that we are "programmed" it is certainly true that the program is an adaptive one. We are programmed even by experiences that don't involve another thinking being. We don't need our parents to tell us not to touch the stove top if we've already burned our self on it before.

Sure, but this is what I meant by discussing our genetic makeup vs our environment. Aversion to pain would be genetic makeup.

And thank you! I love these kinds of discussion in the extreme. As always, I find you to be an excellent partner for any discussion. Kicking ideas around with you is a blast!

Thank you! You too. It is exciting to be able to word out theories and concepts I don't get to have with many people. It certainly allows me to flesh out the weaker areas of my thought process while giving me the opportunity to figure out if I'm wrong.

Edit: Also! If you want to argue about religion and its various tendrils some time, I'd be excited to, though you may find that I've nothing to say that you may not have already heard. Still, I love a good academic punch-up, especially when it comes to subjects I know a bit about!

When I discuss the notion of a creator/creators, the discussion is entirely void of religion or theology. It must be discussed from the angle that we know nothing about the being or beings if they in fact exist or existed (or sure, will have existed, stupid time travel). Too often my discussions with Atheists devolve into complaints they have about Christianity specifically which isn't a topic I'm trying to speculate or defend on.

Too often people forget that if someone or something REALLY created this universe, then discussing them really isn't religion. It's merely theoretical discourse on cosmology and isn't a religious discussion anymore than discussing who stole the cookie would be. We, as scientific minded individuals, should approach such matters as though they are natural processes. If God does exist, then I believe God's abilities would also be examinable in the same way we can examine how a bird flies.

Link Satonaka:
Sorry I don't have anything to contribute to what looks like a very productive discussion, but I do have a question about 8 Bit Philosophy in general: is it just me, or do all the episodes feel one act too short? At least, this seems to be the case with the episodes I've seen (the ones uploaded to the escapist). A question is proposed, the framework for the discussion is laid by explaining a historical philosopher's viewpoint in great depth, and the episode ends. We... we never got around to actually discussing the proposed question!

I agree fully. It absolutely lacks in evaluation of any kind. Something that would really benefit people watching it.

 

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