Date: Sat, 3 Apr 1999 16:50:58 EST
Subject: Re: A more "sciency"-sounding mysticism.
In a message dated 4/3/99 5:30:01 AM Central Standard Time, EGraham1@aol.com
<< Most people's perception is that their actions are not determined.>>
To the contrary, I think most people percieve that their actions ARE
determined - My actions are determined by me, I think most people would view
it the same way.
>>I cannot conceive of how genes and memes could break down the chain of
determinism (or infringe on truly random events, if they exist).<<
Allow me to reword this so that I can endorse the statement.
I cannot conceive of how genes and memes could break down the chain of
CAUSATION (or infringe on truly random events, if they exist).
>>Yes, I am suggesting that our subjective experience could be
consistently at odds with reality.<<
Perhaps only if they have been taught to consistently MISINTERPRET their
experiences. But then it isn't their experiences that are at odds with
reality, but their interpretations of their experiences that are at odds with
reality. Free will is an experience created in part by the phenomenon of
*control*. Control is not the same as cause.
Determinism is an extention of control - enabling control through prediction.
We say that the universe is deterministic, because with greater knowlege we
can make better and more accurate predictions/determinations and with better
predictions we can exercise a greater realm of control.
To the extent that anyone can determine what I will do, I CAN - at least to
the extent that I am capable of exercising self-control and self-knowlege.
Perhaps someone else could amass enough information about me, to make a
better prediction about what I would do. That still does not mean that I am
not also determining my actions and exercising control. And it is THIS
self-determination - aside from any other determinations or predictions that
someone else can make about me - that people are *referring* to when they
talk about free will - however they misdefine it.
>>However, if we define our *self* as an intentional system<<
I don't think it really matters if we define it that way or not, that is what
it is, which really follows by what you said later:
>>From the intentional stance (which as you point out, is the way we innately
If we innately view ourselves that way, as to the existence of self it would
not really matter how we define self, the defining of it doesn't change the
reality. I think the defining of self falsely is a memetic strategy of some
religions - if you are worrying about your "eternal-soul"-self you are
probably serving religious purposes.
The answer to these misdefinitions is not to claim that the self or free will
doesn't exist, but to redefine it correctly. Otherwise you are just feeding
the memetic strategy of religion by contradicting people's direct
experiences. What are they going to believe, you or their experiences -
however misinterpreted they are? And if you will "lie" about that, what else
will you lie about? (Of course I am not saying you are lying - I think you
are just being too reactive and not reflective enough - but it would be
simple enough for someone in less agreement with you to believe that you are
>> However, if we define our *self* as an intentional system formed from the
some total of information contained in our genes and memes and as Richard
Brodie points out genes and memes are agents in a sense, we are justified in
calling our *self* an agent.<<
>> From the intentional stance (which as you point out, is the way we
ourselves) we have goals and ambitions and we attempt to control our
environment to achieve these objectives. We (the sum total of our genes and
memes) do exert control over our environment, but this does not mean we have
broken free of determinism, there is still no "free will" at work.<<
There is no uncaused free will misinterpretation at work. That doesn't mean
that self and free will are "just illusions".
P.S. - I peeked over at some of the CoV EM List stuff on "The Meme Machine",
and some folks are getting all excited about how all of this self-denying is
so supportive of Buddhism's veiw of the self as an "illusion". I told you
this is turning into sciency-sounding mysticism.
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