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[Jan. 23rd, 2005|12:44 pm]
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[i_hunt_veggies]
in my philosophy class last semester we went over a brief section of determinism. hard determinists (holbach, hume to name a few)hold the opinion that nothing is done voluntarily. that is, every action we perform, even down to every thought we think can be reduced to a material form (e.g we do not "love" someone because we want to, it is nothing more than large doses of dopamine being released when we are around them.) to put it another way they are, in most respects, completely opposite from dualists, who stress there are two fundamental substances in the universe: material and non-material (e.g spirit/soul/intent.) needless to say, any hard determinist isn't going to allow any non-material spirit. when we die, we die. we don't have any emotions or intent that can survive without neurotransmitters, because at the most fundamental level, thats all our emotions are. so...just thought i'd ask where you guys' opinions were on this topic that, when the argument gets broken down, it isn't only a matter of whether or not everything can be reduced to material or not, but if the hard determinists' view sounds more rational, we are in a huge dilemma for proving human freedom of volition/intent. hope this was clear enough, i'm not a very elegant writer.
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[User Picture]From: i_hunt_veggies
2005-01-25 03:48 pm (UTC)

Re: way to step up, dude

neelofer, in regards to energy reforming into the soil; it is a good point, but..like you said before that, we have to distinguish between the body and the soul, (unless you are a materialist, which you don't claim) now...the body i could see, returning to soil and becoming part of the earth. the problem i have with the soul doing the same is that the soul is a non-material substance. the non-material souls' turning into physical energy, to me, would be more far-fetched than believing that the non-physical soul passing into an existence in a separate non-physical realm. thoughts?
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[User Picture]From: i_hunt_veggies
2005-01-26 05:21 am (UTC)

Re: way to step up, dude

i have difficulty understanding how your energy "floating around" in a non-material realm is more depressing than just dying and becoming soil. keep in mind this realm is, by many, believed to be completely blissful, not only by virtually every major religion, but by people such as timothy leary, and the vast majority of people with experience in the field of altered states of consciousness, be it either meditation or psychedelics, to name a few. we're talkin a realm that is orgasmic in pleasure. obviously not bodily pleasure, but perhaps...i like to think of it as a realm with total communion with God and infinite knowledge and use of reason enabling us to have an eternal "eureka" moment as we use this knowledge and reason to finally understand every little fact about the universe, and the nature of everything.
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From: mercyisgood
2005-01-25 03:06 am (UTC)

i'm not a determinist (in that sense)

well, kenny, i'm almost positive that you aren't a determinist. but, one major problem for me with this idea is creativity. how do people do creative things if all they are is an assemblance of chemicals that are secreted at various times in order to produce various results? plus, my being a christian prohibits me from reducing myself to a bunch of chemical reactions. and, like neelofer said, it is possible for humans to control their reactions to events. you can choose not to "lose your temper." not a great argument, but there it is.
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[User Picture]From: i_hunt_veggies
2005-01-25 03:55 pm (UTC)

Re: i'm not a determinist (in that sense)

hey rusty, you're right. i'm not a determinist because "faith" plays a big part in my life. i have faith that we are in control of ourselves and our destiny. the temper is a really good example actually. but, it seems that a determinist would just say your "choosing" is an illusion. your brain chose for you, and it seemed like a voluntary action. for instance, (and my lack of psychology knowledge will show here, but that point is irrelevant) say you are in a situation where i, working with you at churchill, purposelly spit hot latte in your face; you tell yourself "dude, i'm about to get ticked". but, your adrenaline glands don't start to pump the right amount for you to "get ticked" and so you say "nevermind, i'll keep my composure". here, you are given the illusion of thinking you have chosen not to beat my ass, when at the nature, you didn't do that only because your brain did not react the way you unconsciously expected it to. again, i don't agree with this, mainly because of faith. but i do feel like its a fun argument.
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From: beyondfinite
2005-01-29 06:12 pm (UTC)
Hey, guys hope I'm not too late to post. I've been watching the posts. This is going to be fun.

As in to my feelings about the topic. I have two issues with the determinist view, both through personal experience and personal philosophy.

There have been days, months actually, in which I would whole heartedly agree with the determinist side, that we are only a splendid arrangement of molecules.

However, as you stated Kenny, it seems we are slaves to our biology with no freedom. I always looked at it as liberating, being a biological being. "Free of moral obligations, I am a biological being, nothing but matter." I can do what ever I want because there are no consequences there is no judgment on me unless I choose to accept it.

So with this stance, I may feel liberated within the determinist camp. But you also raised the question of free will. Correct me if I am wrong about that. And this is the difficult one ... do we, being only molecules have a choice. Or are we slave to how our neurons fire and hormones flow?

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From: beyondfinite
2005-01-29 06:13 pm (UTC)
My stance, is both yes and no. Yes, without our neurons, we will die. If we lose only a few we will lose function or memories. And Yes, the artificial stimulus of our neurons can elicit involuntary movement, action, or thought, making it appear as if our minds are just the result of neurons firing off and nothing more.

However, I fell that the determinist view fails to recognize the power of the mind and its influence on our physical bodies. I'll cite to examples. First off the power of imagination and creativity. Ya'll cited this. Given both would be impossible without our brains. However, it is from our circuitry that something greater is made. For instance a molecule can not perform the functions of an organ. Nor an organelle in a cell, nor a cell on its own, nor one type of tissue. However, it takes several tissues to make it functional. And the tissues and the functions they are capable of are dependent on the cells which they are formed of.

Each level is dependent on the levels which form it. But is much greater than the sum of its parts. I think the mind can be thought of in the same way. The determinist are only recognizing the fact that the mind is dependent on the body. However, I believe that the mind being greater than the sum of its parts, is capable of free will.

I may be saying this confusingly…..Umm… An elephant is standing upon four telephone poles. It is dependent upon the poles to hold him up. He cannot step anywhere where there isn’t a pole, for he will fall. The mind is the elephant our mind and the poles are our brain. He is capable of moving the rest of his body, as long as it doesn’t make him fall off the poles. Therefore, he is dependent on the poles for without them, he would fall and cease to be. Just like our mind and brain. Further more if I were to raise one pole, he too would raise his leg with the pole underneath. Or if I were to stretch all the poles further apart, he would have no choice but to move with it. Think of this both biological and artificial stimulation. Or if I were to remove the poles underneath his front feet, he would have no choice but to stand on his hind legs and his range of movements that he once was capable of would now be quite limited for the poor elephant would need to balance. Think of this a brain damage.

At all times the elephant could move in anyway he wished, free will. His actions and his capabilities were affected by poles on which he stood. But he could do as he pleases.
If looking at the world in a wholly physical sense (in a way deterministic), I believe that we are still capable of free will are decision may be affected/ skewed by what is happening biologically, but if we can

Furthermore, what if the elephant wanted to grab an apple on a nearby tree. He stretched and stretched but he could not reach the apple. It was much lower than he could reach. The poles he was on were too high up in the air! OH NO! Poor elephant. The elephant, dejectedly stomped his front right foot. However, being so great and large. His weight drove the pole deeper into the earth. He had an idea! So He started stomping around on his poles, whistling a tune while he stomped the poles deeper into the ground until he came to a height where he could grab the apple. And it was good.

The elephant had just affected the poles, which he was dependent on. If he had no free choice he would be unable. The poles did not make him squash them down. Nor they choose to be lowered.

The same is with our mind and brain. I’ll cite one example, Buddhist monks and novice meditators had functional MRI’s performed while they were doing a compassion meditation. There was a striking difference in both the structure and function of the two groups’ brains. Based on this evidence, they believe that this effect was caused by the MENTAL training of mediation. Therefore, meditation, a strictly mental exercise, can affect the brain.
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From: beyondfinite
2005-01-29 06:14 pm (UTC)
Maybe my logic is wrong. But the fact that humans are capable of consciously modifying their mood, their biological state (heart rate, etc.) and now the brain itself, suggests to me that the mind is not a complete slave to physiology function but capable of its own “free will”.

Associating human will as a function of the mind would then suggest that humans are capable of free will.

Sorry for side stepping the topic of dualism and determinism, just wanted to try and disprove the absolute vailidity of the determinist view point. Because it is hard to reject reason and scientific evidence.

Hope this wasn’t confusing. Feel free to argue or criticize my logic.

Oh and sorry about the elephant stuff.

Peace
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[User Picture]From: i_hunt_veggies
2005-01-31 12:05 am (UTC)
hey matt,
i do understand your feeling liberated (in an ethical sense) as being a biological organism; the only thing i have to say about this topic is when you say there is no judgement upon you unless you CHOOSE to accept it. the only problem with this...is that if we are a mere biological organism and determinism is true, your "choice" is an illusion. or rather you don't have one.

on the topic of the mind's influence on the body: this is a very, very interesting topic for me. one argument, from the materialist camp, i have learned in my phil. classes is the "problem of interaction". this denouncement of dualism questions how the non-physical mind could affect our physical body. take all psychologoical/neurophysiological knowledge known to man, go back and trace the steps that the brain takes to react to stimuli, and try to show a materialist where your non-physical mind has a physical effect, where your non-physical wants turn into physical brain states. for example: at what point is my non-physical "desire for knowledge" causing my physical body to log on to this community? the materialists view this as an impossible, even absurd question. i have no idea how to respond to this. but my response is, i'm still a dualist, i have a non physical mind that survives physical death; i have no idea what the relation to my mind and my body is, i'd like to think they are connected, but i am amost completely ignorant of this question.
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[User Picture]From: i_hunt_veggies
2005-01-31 12:05 am (UTC)
hey matt and all,
i do understand your feeling liberated (in an ethical sense) as being a biological organism; the only thing i have to say about this topic is when you say there is no judgement upon you unless you CHOOSE to accept it. the only problem with this...is that if we are a mere biological organism and determinism is true, your "choice" is an illusion. or rather you don't have one.

on the topic of the mind's influence on the body: this is a very, very interesting topic for me. one argument, from the materialist camp, i have learned in my phil. classes is the "problem of interaction". this denouncement of dualism questions how the non-physical mind could affect our physical body. take all psychologoical/neurophysiological knowledge known to man, go back and trace the steps that the brain takes to react to stimuli, and try to show a materialist where your non-physical mind has a physical effect, where your non-physical wants turn into physical brain states. for example: at what point is my non-physical "desire for knowledge" causing my physical body to log on to this community? the materialists view this as an impossible, even absurd question. i have no idea how to respond to this. but my response is, i'm still a dualist, i have a non physical mind that survives physical death; i have no idea what the relation to my mind and my body is, i'd like to think they are connected, but i am amost completely ignorant of this question.
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