Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Free Willy-Nilly

Reading your notes viz. to free will inspired me to dig out a few of my own scribblings on the subject. My negligible reading on this turf hasn't induced me to follow up on any particular line of argument. The result is a rather flimsy, somewhat Kantian, doctrine on my own, though surely I'm not the first to articulate it this way. ...and cut and paste is hardly the way to structure a coherent essay. Any suggestions to make this a tad more coherent?

oTo make a prediction, some sort of a determined universe is implied. To take advantage of those predictions, to act upon them, to act at all, implies a free will. One assumes the first in order to capitalize on the second.

If we try to study ourselves or our fellows as free beings in a determined universe, we must specify where their freedom ends and the universe takes over. I've yet to encounter any remotely satisfying answer to this dictate. Descartes famously halts the universe at the doorstep of the pineal grand (as a way to escape the goring bulls of scarlet capped cardinals.

But now we find it hard to forbid the scientific inquiry from any corner of experience. If we study, we study man as a determined being.

But when we act out our lives with our neighbors, we (are best to) grant them the dignity of their own free wills.

oThe science of Bohr, Heisenberg, etc. topples any mechanistic conception of a determined universe. But it does so as a price paid for increasing the predictability of the universe (or, more exactly, our ability to predict the universe).
Random appears to have a rightful place in a determined universe.

Free will is not generally associated with random, but it is associated with unpredictability.

We are allowed no real evidence for either free will or a determined universe. What evidence could there be? Man is a creature that maps patterns of his experiences. Some patterns yield ì exacting predictability. We describe such patterns with elegant (and sometimes not so elegant) formulae, (not only with Newtonian classics, but quantum mechanics.)

But a pattern is just that: a pattern. We're left short of proof for causality. The correlation may be endless, but to conclusively demarcate the necessary and sufficient conditions for any event remains beyond our grasp.

Cause is a relationship of predictability within a closed system of description.

We are predictable not because we are determined, but because we assume a determined universe into which we paste the patterns of our chosen observations. And into which we paste ourselves.

oSo off I go, positing man with a determined will; not because it IS so, but because from our perspective-the perspective of investigation we have adopted-it is impossible to see (detect) a free will.
...

But free will is not a physiological fact. Its the name of where you place responsibility.

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